Mission to the World

When I was in ninth grade, my family lived in Kandern, Germany. If you Bing for pictures of it online, I think you’ll find that its a most picturesque little European village, nestled in the Black Forest. Its the home of a missionary boarding school, where my parents served for a year.

Adjusting to high school is a big challenge. Adjusting to a high school in another country, full of kids from around the world who weren’t entirely sure what their own cultural identity was… well that was an even bigger challenge. We had all the dynamics and politics and social games that kids in North America deal with in school, and we were never entirely sure where home was. In truth, “home” remains a concept that is fleeting in definition for me. Isn’t this whole planet home?

But, much like life at home, good friends made all the difference. Aside from my posse of trouble-making 9th grade boys, I was befriended by a 12th grade girl named Lisa, who shared my love of literature, and somewhat melodramatic view of the world. Lisa’s dad died half-way through the school year, having served most his adult life on the missions field. It was not something high school kids knew how to handle.

At the end of the year, Lisa left for college in the States, and the Wise family returned to Canada. If not for Facebook, despite its issues, I may never have seen her again. It’s 15 years later, and Lisa is now Elizabeth, married to a pastor, Sam, they have 3 girls — one a new born — and they are, themselves, headed to the missions field. Part of the process of going involves raising support, and this summer they loaded their whole family into a borrowed van and have spent the past 5 weeks on the road, visiting churches and small groups and anyone who might be willing to partner with them in bringing the Good News to a very dark and needy corner of Great Britain. Along the way, they managed to swing by our home for a visit.

Nicole thought it was a little unusual to have a family we had never met come and stay with us overnight. I remember that as being pretty normal. It turns out that we had a really nice time. We had two families packed around our little patio table on the back deck, the food was good, the kids were adorable, and the conversation was wonderful. Sam and I shared some professional background, and we talked late into the night about theology and ministry and missions and missionary kids…

And I was reminded yet again that all of God’s kids are familly. Whether Presbyterians from the deep American South, or slightly liberal Baptists from Ontario, businessmen discipling tribespeople in Africa, or Asian believers from the underground church sending missionaries to Muslim countries, we’re all His. And for those who have never met their brothers and sisters outside of the country where they grew up, I grieve for them that they might never, in this life, understand just how big and diverse and amazing and loved the body of Christ is…

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