My sister graduated from high school while we were living overseas. She holds a diploma from an International School, and I've always been a bit jealous of that. My high school diploma is from a Midwest town where the mascot was a Mule. Yes. A mule.
The summer after my sister's graduation, as our family was preparing to bring her back to the States to start college, my parents presented her with a gift of a Senior Trip. Michele was enamored with all things European, and my parents were able to work out a 10 Day Family Vacation through 10 countries in Europe on our way home to Arkansas.
That 10 days was amazing. I was in Jr. High and thought I was too cool for the world, but looking back, I realize how special of a trip it was. My sister was in heaven, and our family saw and tasted and smelled and experienced things that we had never seen, tasted, smelled, or experienced before.
In addition to doing all the normal touristy things, we had the opportunity to meet up with several missionary families that were stationed in some of those European countries. Some we spent the night with, others we just shared a meal with.
And as my parents were busy swapping stories, I remember thinking, "How did they get so lucky to get this gig?"
I mean...if the Mission Board is sending folks to hang out around the Eiffel Tower or spend their missionary careers in a cottage in the Swiss Alps, why in the world would someone ever choose a third world country for their assignment?
It didn't make any sense to my 12 year old head.
And I actually remember thinking that my parents were downright crazy. And I was a bit bitter. Because instead of jungle life, I could've been spending my mornings frolicking through Dutch tulips or perfecting the wearing of the beret.
I have a couple of friends now who have answered the call of foreign missions and have been given these seemingly glamorous assignments. I mean....suffering for Jesus in the heart of Italy can't be too shabby, huh? Or bringing the Word to folks on the ski slopes of Austria?
But this week, as I've been glued to the Olympic coverage, my heart is heavy. Because though I love the healthy spirit of competition and the brotherly feely-good bonds of nations coming together for the sake of sport, the truth of the matter is that most of those countries that those athletes represent are lost.
It doesn't matter if a country has spectacular landmarks or serves phenomenal food or has all the modern conveniences a person could hope for.....if they don't know Jesus, they're lost. Plain and simple. Lost.
I'm actually almost convinced that it probably is harder to share the Gospel in such a place. Because the attitudes that come with having "everything" are usually harder to penetrate than those of a people who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are needy.
I'm trying to check my own presumptions at the door. Realizing that accepting the Call to go to a nation that is rich and glamorous doesn't make it easier. That cakewalks aren't handed out when it comes to missionary callings. That straws aren't drawn for assignments and the couple that gets Tuscany cackles mockingly at the couple that drew Botswana.
There are people in the world that are lost. Deeply and dreadfully lost.
And it doesn't make them any more lost if they live here...
....than if they live here.
Please take the time to pray for all of our missionary families that are actively serving our Lord. And please pray for the people that they are trying to reach -- that hearts will be opened to the Word, and that lives will be changed.