Today marks our two year anniversary in Cambodia, and I've been reflecting on what I've learned in the first two years of being a missionary. Here are three more things I've learned
It's easy for us as Westerners and as Christians to be ready to step off the plane into a third-world country and think we are there to save the day. To think that our cultures way of doing things is the best way, and to forget that God has put his mark on all people and all cultures. While I don't think I personally wanted to bring American culture to Cambodia, I've learned more about how to do ministry cross-culturally. I definitely don't have this one figured out yet, but one thing I've learned is how important it is to build up Cambodian believers to spread the Gospel in their own nation. My influence here can only go so far, but they are the ones who will really carry the Good News to all the corners of their nation. That's why I want to encourage the Christian students to continue sharing their faith with their peers.
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I've just been thinking about how there is so much brokenness all over the world, just different types depending on the place. Jonathan and I recently watched a documentary about human trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia. It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of those women and the pain they've experienced because of oppression and sin. Then I think about the conflict in Syria. The political situation in Ukraine. The economic inequality in the U.S. Its easy to point fingers, cite our viewpoint about what should be done, or to deny the facts. However, the Bible tells us that the world is full of brokenness because of our sin. Its not limited by country or people group, and it's not just a matter of money or education. Being in Cambodia, I've learned that there are no easy answers to fix the complex problems here. Jesus is the only hope any of us have.
My idea of what my ministry would be here has grown and changed in the last two years. Yes, my position is the Director, but that is only the beginning of why God has me here. If I ever begin to see my purpose as that job and not spreading the Gospel wherever I go, I've missed it. I am learning that I need make time for building relationships with the women at the market, the servers at the cafes we frequent, and my neighbours. If I am rushing through errands and brushing people off in order to make time for ministry, then I am missing so many opportunities to share life and Jesus with the people I cross paths with!
This is something I've known, in theory, for years, but only began to experience when I moved here. I often think about how many opportunities I wasted with neighbours and coworkers while I was living in the U.S. Often, I didn't make time to build those relationships because I was looking forward to doing it on the mission field where I was called (i.e. somewhere overseas, not the U.S.)! Its hard to admit that, but I want to move forward in life with this mindset our purpose as Christians is to love people, make time for them, and share Jesus with them no matter where life takes us.
I am definitely still learning about all these things (and many more!), but hopefully some of these are encouraging to you, too. And if you've spent time overseas (even a short time), I'm curious, what are some things you learned through that experience? I'd love to know!
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Posted in Churches/Faith/Religion Post Date 04/09/2017