What Do You Do?
Hello from America! I gotta tell ya, I’ve been home from The World Race for 28 days and it’s been really, really good. My first Colorado sunset danced with the mountains, putting on an extraordinarily beautiful performance and my little cockapoo, Pudge, peed with delight at my arrival home. My people have hugged me so tight I could hardly breathe in the best way and my family at Fellowship Denver welcomed me back with joy and curiosity. I recently hosted a testimony party where I caught up 30 of my faithful supporters on God’s work completed throughout the world and I’ve eaten LOTS of Mexican food.
As expected, returning home came with loads of questions which led to the biggest stateside surprise yet. The most challenging question I’ve received isn’t, “When did you totally break down on the Race?” or “Where did you have the most impact?” or “What was your most embarrassing or angering moment?” No…the most difficult question asked is one rattled off faster than “nice to meet you.”
What do you do?
I’ve met a LOT of new people since touching down in the land of the brave and every single person, no matter the circumstance or context, most certainly ask it. I know because it’s almost always my question after the classic “What’s your name?” or the less popular, honest version, “What do people call you even though I will probably forget it .5 seconds after you tell me because I’m just really bad with names?”
“I work for Oracle as an Event Planner,” I used to spout off with profound confidence. Historically, I knew EXACTLY what I did - partly because everyone else understood what it was too - but since leaving my corporate job and transitioning into ‘a missionary’ role, my concrete ‘do’ is more like putty left in the car on a hot summer day. Honestly, before leaving, I just assumed I’d go back to the daily 9-5 grind because that’s all I knew as normal but over the course of the Race, God steered me into full-time missions as a lifelong commitment. And even though I joyfully accepted, it’s still been a leap of a transition.
For the first three weeks back, I greeted this once familiar inquiry with a pause, head tilt and stumble of words. “I work as…a missionary” came tripping out of my mouth, stubbing its little toe on the edge of my teeth. It was as foreign feeling as it was landing on the receiver’s ears.
What do you do?
What a question! Out on ‘the field’ I knew without a doubt. I hang out with street kids and local farmers, host bible studies, teach english, do manual labor, pray for people anywhere and everywhere and boldly proclaim the name of Jesus with no hesitation. But what about back home, wading in the status quo of traffic, grocery runs and coffee dates? What - as a ‘missionary’ - do you do?
The answer: You live and love like a Christian. You live and love like Jesus.
Turns out, there is no ‘field’ to be on and off of. I understand why we say it but it’s silly and we should stop. As a Christ-follower, LIFE is your field. And dare I say, if you bear the title, “Child of Light” (1Thes 5:5), a son or daughter of the King (2 Cor 6:18) — that is, if you trust in Jesus Christ, you are a co-laborer and you too, are a missionary! Isn’t that something?! Hallelujah! And together, as the Bride of Christ, we get to live our lives daily proclaiming His name out loud while openly and boldly (dare I say vocally?) loving anyone and everyone He puts in your path. Our world is too full of nice people being nice for niceness sake. Nice people are nice but we're called to outwardly declare the agape love you have for the person in front of you because of the Person who lives inside you!
What do you do?
Since being home, I’ll tell you one thing I have done: become acutely aware of my fear of man. It’s easy to put Jesus out there in another country where there is a chance the person won’t even speak english but how about in your own grocery store, running route or local snazzy restaurant? “What will they think about me?” “I don’t even know what to say.” “What if the think I’m crazy or worse yet, what if they don’t like me?” Round after round, I wrestle this fear down to the ground while Jesus cheers, hoops and hollers from inside me! It’s been spiritually exerting (not depleting - there is a difference), exhilarating and rewarding. I am determined to obediently side with Jesus and love outlandishly just like He does.
1. A testimony of saying something even when you don’t know what to say:
Sitting in Chipotle waiting for a friend, I watched lackadaisically as person after person bypassed two young adults requesting signatures on the latest petition surrounding a topic of which I’m personally wary. Then, I felt it like a shock to my system: Jesus pressing into my heart, asking me to go talk to them. “This is your field, Leah” He reminded. [Insert straight faced, nervous emoji here.] “I don’t even know what I’d say!” I retorted. Save by the bell, my friend arrived and I reasoned it would be rude to leave. About 30 minutes later, my outside humans start to pack up. Phew! Only to come inside to eat right next to us. D’oh! But I wasn’t going to interrupt my friend’s thought to go over and after a while they packed up to leave. Whew! Only to go back outside to the corner. Sheesh! An hour later, my lunch was over and they were still standing there, stomaching rejection after rejection.
Here goes nothing! “Hi! What are you guys doing?” They gave me their shpiel which I happily listened to. “I’ve been sitting in that window for the last two hours and it seems like everyone just ignores you guys. That must be hard!” They both readily affirmed my observation saying how difficult it is to be rejected all the time. “Yeah, I can imagine,” I sympathized. “I have to say, I probably have some differing views but I love Jesus with my whole heart and I just want to you to know, you are both seen, known and loved.” Smiles! HUGE smiles from the both of them. “Wow! Thank you for stoping and saying that. You’re the nicest person we’ve met all day! What do you do?” I flashed a smile, “I am a Christian missionary.” The young girl spoke up, “WOW! Really?! So cool! You know…I used to go to church but found it was full of hate. I think it’s really cool you came up to us. Thank you.”
Side note: You and I ought to be the nicest people folks meet everyday because they are also meeting the Jesus inside of us!
2. A testimony where fear almost won:
Walking into a fitting room, I noticed the woman working and felt Jesus say to my heart, “She has back pain.” After coming back out, I asked her, “Excuse me? Do you suffer from back pain?” She glanced up, startled and mildly annoyed, “Yeah…? Why?” Panic rushed over my mind and heart! “Oh, I just noticed you have something on your lower back,” I stumbled and mumbled. “That’s a radio. I’m not hunchbacked yet, sweetheart.” PANIC. “Oh, yeah…haha…okay, sorry.” I left. I mean I left left. Like I got into my car and scurried a half mile away. But even though I successfully ‘asked and dashed’, I couldn’t calm the war waging in my heart.
“Go back and pray for her! You can do it! I’ll be with you!” cheered Jesus. “You’re already far away. You’d have to turn around and drive all the way back," Chided the enemy. "She probably won’t even want you to pray for her…you really offended her. Better luck next time.”
“I go after the one!” Jesus reminded me, “Isn’t she worth turning around for?” At that moment, I flipped a big, fat U-turn, drove back and marched right back to the changing room.
“Me again! Hey, I wanted to let you know I don’t think you have a hunchback. But I wanted to say, am radically in love with Jesus and God told me you have back pain so that’s why I asked. He loves you so much and I was wondering if I could pray for you.” My sweet, startled friend looked at me like I had 7,000 heads. “Uh…sure” she conceded. I’m certain she thought I was crazy but I’m more certain that even in my blubbering, stumbling, nervous state, God is faithful to touch her heart. I walked out with Jesus, head held high, demon of fear left limp on the ground.
3. A testimony of loving people by caring about whom they love:
Walking back from a run, I’d been praying for God to send me someone to talk to and down the sidewalk came a woman walking two dogs. I stopped to pet them and we started chatting (thanks God!). We exchanged some small talk about her pups and it was clear she loved them a lot. After a few minutes, I simply said, “You know, this may sound off the wall, but I am radically in love with Jesus and if you have anything you’d like prayer for, I’d be honored to pray for you.” At first she laughed saying, “Well…I think I am doing okay…” then she drifted off in thought, “but you know, my dog, Dillan, is going into surgery next month to have a tumor removed…so maybe prayers for Dillan?” I smiled, “Absolutely! Can I pray for him right now? Will you show me where the tumor is?”
Kneeling on the sidewalk, sweat dripping down my face, I prayed healing over the pup my new friend loves, thanked God for companionship and for the gift of animals. After, I looked up to find my friend weeping. She couldn’t understand why someone would care that much about her dog. I explained how Jesus loves us with the most perfect love and it allows those who follow Him to love others. “That’s really something…I like that,” she resolved. After showing her where I live and offering to get together to talk more, I told her I expect to see her and her furry friends around. She left with a huge smile and soppy, wet eyes.
This isn’t about making people ‘feel good'. It’s about overtly displaying His love and care. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 says, “For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” We are seeking to please He who is Love by living out loud the Love He gifted to dwell in our hearts. Paul goes on to say, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Do you operate out of God’s Love, allowing others to become very dear to you to the point of an affectionate desire? That’s intense! Not only is it intense, it’s biblical. It’s what God did for us while we were still sinners and what we are called to do; to lavishly love His children and bring Him all glory. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35).
His charge to both you and me: Know, love and follow Christ and love people - sharing the gospel and your very selves everywhere you go. Such is a life of a missionary. Such is a life of a child of God. Fundraising report:
God continues to give me direction and vision of where and how He desires to use my surrendered life to take part in bringing His Kingdom and I am STOKED! In September, I will be attending and doing ministry with a Leadership Training Academy called G42. To get there, I need partners. Would you prayerfully consider giving financially? If so, you can by clicking here