July 5th 2007 1 comment so far
During our trip we had the privilege of being with several missionaries, most of whom are former students of mine at DTS. We loved that part of the trip. Their lives inspire me to step into the classroom each and every day. When class begins I don’t see students, I see missionaries whose lives will intersect with the lives of folks all over the world, most of whom I’ll never meet. What more could someone ask of God than a life filled with that privilege?
“So what’s it like being a missionary?” That question comes up quite frequently. Missionaries’ lives seem as exotic as the places they live. But the truth is, in spite of their often exotic locations, missionaries do exactly what you and I are called to do each and every day; they demonstrate the love of Christ to folks who desperately need to be embraced by Him. Being a missionary, however, places a person in a culture and a place where the way of life seems impenetrably complex and odd. Being a missionary often means living with uncertainty and, quite often, more disappointment than elation.
I just received this email from one of the missionaries that we visited on our trip. It’s a bit long for a normal blog entry, but I think it’ll give you some insight into “what it’s like being a missionary.” She wrote:
My hands are shaking and I feel like crying, but there is no point in crying. I had just woken from a nap around seven at night, and I saw from my bedroom window a man hitting a woman who was leaning against my car. He looked like he was slapping her from the side of the face, but he did it repeatedly, so finally the fifth time when he actually punched her and kicked her as she fell, I decided to go out there, hoping that just by breaking up their privacy, he would stop.
I knew that it’s normal for a man to treat a woman that way in this culture, and that it was perhaps pointless to try to stop it. I went to my car, and they got up to leave, but he kept hitting her as they were walking, so I got in my car to follow them. I hoped I could get the girl in my car. I asked from the window if everything was OK, and pointed to her bleeding face asking her if I could help and if she needed anything. He pushed her along and shook his head.
There were others on the street and they did nothing. As she started crying loudly, more people came out. No one stopped him. I asked one man on the street from my car window to help her. “I am not strong,” I said, “you go and help her.” He commented that it was not normal for a man to act like that man was acting. The man head-butted the girl. Finally some of the men went over and were telling him to stop and that they needed to leave. But it was like the neighbors were just trying to get them off of our street, not help the girl. Her face was bleeding, her shirt was torn in two places, her hair was a mess, her pants were dusty from falling on the ground. I saw my old landlady, and she told me it was just a dispute between an engaged couple. I asked if they lived on the street (wondering how she knew they were engaged), and she said that they were just passing through.
I drove around the corner to return home by going around the block, hoping that with the neighborhood men involved, it was over. Then, on the side street by my front door, I saw them again, by themselves, and he was still hitting her. I got out of my car and went inside to get help from my roommate and a Tunisian believer who was in my house. We piled into my car and went to look for the couple. They were under a tree near someone’s house and there was another man there with a water bottle letting them wash themselves off. The Tunisian believer, Semi, got out and went to speak to them. We prayed for her in the car. The man said the girl was bleeding, but that he hadn’t touched her. He told her that he was calm now. Semi told the girl to come to our house if she needed anything. Semi felt that it was OK, because there was another man there involved. We came home.
I do not feel OK leaving the girl. I feel like a coward. At different times since first going outside, I felt alternately afraid of what the man would do to me for interfering and concerned that he knew of my car and my house. I felt social pressure to not to do anything. I’m glad that Semi got out to talk with them briefly, and I have to trust her that there is nothing left to do. I feel angry, powerless and frustrated.
Sometimes that’s what it’s like being a missionary.
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