When I hear someone say "missionary" I immediately think of mission trips to Nicaragua and Peru or people I know living in the mission field, living in relatively safe places, spreading the Word of God. However, when I hear of people like Shane Claiborne and Brother Yun... for whatever reason, I feel like the word "missionary" doesn't quite fit. Yes, of course, they are missionaries... but they seems more like superhero missionaries... going to far off places where the people desperately need to hear about Jesus... but willingly putting themselves in harms way in the process.
When I first read his story, I could help but draw immediate and apparent similarities to the Apostle Peter. I envision him sitting in a prison cell, always faithful, but I'm sure, also wondering how in the world God was going to work out his situation, so to speak. I remember reading this to my kids a while back, only to have the oldest ask, "Is that true?" My answer was somewhat sarcastic: "What? You don't think it's possible for angels to release shackles, let sleeping guards rest undisturbed, and have Peter escapes prison walls without being detected?" In her most serious disposition, eyebrow arched high, she simply said, "No." The only word that justly reassures is... miraculous. Brother Yun's life... his entire life... in my opinion, magnifies this word, as only God's grace can. To be held in a maximum-security prison in China, legs beaten until crippled, only to walk out six weeks later... through gates and barriers, usually closed, that were "miraculously opened." Now, Brother Yun travels the world sharing his story with countless others, encouraging them to preach the word of God in countries where such actions are punishable.
Shane is in his late twenties (maybe thirties, by now), living in one of the worst communities in Philadelphia. As a resident of A Simple Way, Shane works with other residents to expose elements that foster poverty. Chan writes that "their lives are about loving the very poor and broken in one of America's hardest cities" by feeding the hungry, spending time with neighborhood children, running a community store and planting community gardens in areas once described as decrepit. Shane travels around the country sharing his life with others. He stays with a host family when he travels and requests no money for his time... he only asks for those in attendance to give what they can to A Simple Way. In 2003, Shane also went to Iraq with the Iraq Peace Team. While there, he visited sites that were bombed daily, as well as hospitals where the injured were taken. He attended worship services with Iraqi believers.
Lives given over to God... am I the only one terrified by this? Obviously, these stories are the lives of others, not meant to be replicated by us, but still... What have I given over to God? What part of my life have I surrendered... completely? Where am I following Him... completely? I'm still living in that precarious place where the fear in my head is weighing down... suffocating at times... this love and willingness in my heart. I'm still holding on to things of this world because I'm fearful of what letting go really means. I "know" that following God and claiming His promises for my life is far better... far richer... far more sustaining... but I'm still afraid to let go...
This one is for me gang... but, by all means, join in!
I'm going to spend some time tonight talking to my husband about the things of this world that I'm refusing to let go of... also asking him to do the same. I'm not looking forward to the conversation... but I'm anticipating some growth to be born out of my certain discomfort!