What Does a Missionary Look Like?

Taylor and Pierre Richard.jpg

By: Taylor Westbrook, Johnny's Kids Coordinator

I had just escorted one of our kids up to the front gate and was coming back to the guest house when this view stopped me. The view is better in the picture than it was with the sun shining brightly in my eyes. I had seen it enough times to know what I was looking at. Thomazeau is beyond the wall, beyond the valley, and up to the foothills. I felt completely alone. It seemed that I was alone.

I took note of the juxtaposition of the high walls with razor wire and the beautiful landscape beyond them. I thought back to the dusty dirt roads I grew up on and looked down at the rocky one crunching with each step beneath me. I laughed at the openness beyond the walls because of the absolute concrete jungle I've grown accustomed to these past 18 years. I stopped and asked, “what am I doing here?” 

It has lead me to think about who a missionary is, what a missionary looks like. Does he look like a 40-year old widower who is more comfortable designing million-dollar homes? Does he look like a former drug addict that was always looking for his next high? Does he look like a high school sports star who landed in rehab? Does she look like an accomplished Harvard graduate who can lead an entire state in setting new standards in education? Does she look like a successful lawyer with her own firm? Does she look like a mother of 2 that juggles marriage, parenting, work, and the PTA? Does she look like a child in grade school?

You see, I didn’t think so. None of those images are people that fit the mold of who I imagined as a missionary. I never imagined myself leading a special needs program in the third world. That ex-addict is desperate to take the love of Christ to some of the most hated people on the planet. The sports star has used his experiences to help countless Asian men find Christ as they come off highly addictive drugs…cold turkey. The Harvard graduate uses all her spare time to teach ESL to the Haitians. She strategically uses scripture and worship songs to do so. The lawyer lives modestly and is showing her two sons that investment in people is far more valuable than things. She frequents Haiti, Africa, and multiple causes that arise close to home. The wife and mother uses every platform she has at her disposal to encourage more people to join the call. She tirelessly champions the cause of the Haitians and returns as often as she can. The child successfully headed a campaign to collect shoes for kids here in Haiti. She cares for kids she has never met because she is too young to travel to meet them.

What am I doing here? Can you see the awe in the statement rather than the what in the question? I was struck yesterday by the thought we are all missionaries. The statement is cliché because we don’t believe it. We are never alone. Just beyond the wall that towered over me there are thousands of people crowding the valley and foothills. I could have turned in any direction and there would not have been any fewer. No fewer starving children, no fewer homeless women, no fewer sick people, no fewer souls needing to be rescued from the tyranny of Voodoo. I am not alone, nor are you. 

I encourage you to stop living in the questions. I encourage you to start living in the awe. Go into all the world is a journey that can lead to another land or your neighbor's yard. All we must do is be willing to change our perspective on who a missionary is.

None are worthless,

Taylor