Tuesday, October 11, 2011

my mission field

My first degree was in Theology with a Missions major. Short of a couple stints south of the border into the United States I haven't left Canada in the over 20 years since I got that degree. I used to be scared that God would send me to Africa and I would be miserable there. I did try to go on missions once but when my wife and I applied to go to Russia we were told that they had concerns for our marriage since I was too laid back and my dear one was not the quiet submissive type. I had me a strong independant woman and apparently that meant that our marriage was in danger.
Next I thought I would work in the church as a youth pastor or something but I quickly learned that adults in churches expected youth pastors to make their rebellious teens into holy monks and if it didn't turn out that way then it couldn't possibly be their responsibility.
All I wanted was to help people. If I could help them spiritually then I'd be pleased, if I could show a little bit of Jesus to people then that would be a success story and if I could just offer some hope to someone then I was the hands of Jesus in a very needy world. I started to work in jails, group homes, high schools and in social programs. As I did this I went back to school and got my second degree in Social Development Studies.
20 years later and I'm a welfare worker. I see the poor everyday and I spend most of my time trying to dispense hope. Hope is essential when you have nothing left. People give up when its bleakest out and I've learned the system enough that I've determined that I'm going to help. If no one else is there to help then I'm going to find some way to say "YES" to someone without options. I'll knock down walls and barriers to try and get to the core of a situation because if I can't get to the core then saying yes will have little impact on a hopeless situation.
A philosophy of "I just want to help people" has morphed a little into "I just want to give some hope to people", and I find great joy and life in trying to be the hands of Jesus in my world.
I'm still married to that strong independant woman and she dreams her way to good things while I try to to spur this laid back personality into areas of ambition and growth. We have joined a church community that has given us love, life and support for 15 years and we continue in our little circles of mission. We never left the country but as I age I learn more and more that I could reach out right here at home without having to go to Africa to dig wells or to Russia to teach English. The thought that God would send me to Africa no longer scares the crap out of me because I know that I can be useful wherever I'm planted.
My mission field is an urban street full of yuppies where I search in the dark corners for the folks without options. It's a very cool life and I'm blessed and fulfilled more than I can tell you.


Al said...

Perhaps part of our (or at least my) evangelical focus on 'out there' was the recognition that here in the West we have a lot going for us, and the need is definitely greater elsewhere. True enough.

As well, having a major focus on 'getting them saved', and not nearly as much thought on improving their lives, also pointed out that here at home we have lots of chances to 'get them', but elsewhere, those chances are limited.

But now that we are beginning to see that the kingdom is more about living in love than blasting them with the threat of hellfire, we are potentially more open to the vast variety of needs all around us. Sure, there are still lots of great places on another continent to live out the love of Jesus, but for some of us the call is just around the corner.

I am so encouraged to see what you do as part of the system we have here in Canada to try to make at least the basics available to everyone. From my conversations with people on Income Assistance, I know not everyone is as anxious to help and bring hope as you are. You are indeed an angel to someone who is about ready to give up. May God keep using you to bring hope and love to many people.

Craig T said...

I am very thankful for having you "out there" making a difference in people's lives, Ian (because I know you do).

Our city, and the kingdom, is lucky (blessed) to have you.