“Do you think I can ask someone to take Jack to the airport?”
A ride to the airport is usually no imposition because everything is close in Abilene, Texas. But a ride to the international airport is another story, because it means nearly 3 hours to the DFW airport. That’s about a 6 hour round trip.
And Jack, he’s a dog. It’s one thing to ask someone to bring your family to Dallas, but to ask someone to bring your dog to Dallas on a separate day, is that asking too much?
That’s what Tia was wondering when we recently took an early morning walk before the summer sun made it too unbearable. Her family was making plans for their approaching move to Costa Rica and they’ve been asking for a lot lately.
She’s not the only missionary who wonders if she’s asking for too much. If it’s not a ride to the airport then it’s something else.
When our family lived in Venezuela it felt like we were asking all the time.
Would my brother drive us to the New Orleans airport at 3:30 in the morning? Can someone lend us car seats for the twins while we’re visiting the states? Can we stay with you–all six of us!–while Gary takes a class? Could Mom send us some chocolate chips? Does anyone have a car—a big one– we can use for 2 months? Will someone hand deliver a notarized copy to the consulate? Will you do a campaign with us? Will you send us some interns? Will you reconsider our salary—the exchange rate changed? Will you contribute to our travel fund? Dad had a heart attack, can I travel home? Will you help the church buy some property?
Others must get tired of our petitions, because we get tired of asking. It’s embarrassing. It’s humbling. It makes us feel like a needy child instead of a responsible adult. We feel like the persistent toddler asking for a glass of juice—we keep asking until the glass gets filled. And before you know it, we have another empty glass to fill.
But missionaries ask.
Just because we do it, it doesn’t mean we enjoy it. It’s easier for some than others, but most of us dread it to some degree. But whether we like it or not, we keep asking.
It’s part of our job description. We ask because…
- this job we’ve chosen is way bigger than us. So we ask you to join us. Join us in prayer, in dreaming, in completing the mission.
- working overseas strips us of the usual framework that allows us to be independent. So we ask you to support us.
- we commit to a mission without available resources to complete it. So we ask you to contribute.
- our kids love chocolate chip cookies, so we ask you to treat us–this one pushes the limit, but my mom was great to let us ask for those extras.
It’s when missionaries quit asking that others should be concerned. It happened to us when we grew weary of feeling like the needy child. The problem was that when we quit asking, it meant that we quit dreaming. We limited the reach of God’s work through us to our own resources. And the kingdom of God is too big for that.
When it comes to kingdom work, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that we feel more like a child than an adult. Jesus talked about it when he said,
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:3-5
So if you are a missionary, and feeling a little too much like a child lately, it may be a good thing.
- Humble yourself.
- Keep asking.
If you know missionaries, remember that it’s not always easy to ask.
- Welcome him or her tenderly.
- Surprise them. Ask them first how you can join them before they ask you.
- Do some asking for them–when you know their needs, ask your circle of friends if they will join the missionary in some way. Maybe you can’t help, but you know someone else who can.
Jack arrived in Costa Rica today with the rest of his family. Their flights worked out so that Jack could travel with them after all.
Tia only had to ask for one trip to the airport for their team of 8 people, a dog, a cat and a little more than twenty bags. They’ve already had plenty of training in the language of asking. Now time to learn the Spanish language before moving to Peru.
Today I’m feeling grateful to all the people who said yes to the requests of this new mission team. They’ve made it possible for the team to begin the kingdom work that requires more than their own resources.
And I’m feeling grateful for this new missionary team who has seemed a little childish lately. They let go of their securities, became like children, and asked.
Because that’s what missionaries do.
(Linking up this week with Grace and Truth)