This morning I have been going through some things that I wrote way back when we first arrived on the field. Things have changed so much since then. This one particularly stuck out to me, for two reasons. One, I wrote it in July of 2004, when we had been on the field for only seven months. I wasn’t jaded or cynical at that point. And two, I need to be reminded in my current jaded, cynical state that we are here for a reason, and it really has nothing to do with my own personal comfort. Even after 10 years, I have so far to go…
The Missionary’s Prayer
Father, help me to love these people as you love them. Remind me that “Their ways are not my ways, nor are their thoughts my thoughts.” Forgive my selfish pride in thinking that my way is always the best way. Help me to see the differences between us as strengths, rather than weaknesses. When I feel wronged, and I will, remind me that I am to forgive others as you have forgiven me. I pray that they will also forgive me my trespasses, which will be many.
When the opportunity for love comes my way, allow me to put off my foolish ideas. Do not let an opportunity to show your love to someone pass, simply because I am worried about physical things. I have the blessing of going home and washing, while many here do not. When I am offered a meal of foods that are strange to me, prepared by hands that I do not know, remind me to accept it graciously and enjoy it in the spirit of sacrifice in which it is offered. Take me beyond the ragged exterior to the heart within.
When I am asked to be in places that offend my sensibilities, remind me that you left Heaven to come to a world that offended everything in you. Yes, the places here where people live are dirty, and I wonder that they can survive in a garbage dump, or a village with no clean running water…You saw earth in much the same way. Allow me to look past the physical to the eternal, as you did for me.
My purpose here is not to change their way of life, but to embrace it, and to see the beauty that their traditions merit. Show me the wonder in their worship, in their music…in their living. And when at last you call us home, I will find the joy that comes with kneeling at your feet with my brothers from this foreign land. And our understanding of each other will be complete.
” So neither he who plants not he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow…”
1 Corinthians 3:7