By Ryan Lawless
Oftentimes, it is confusing for us men to understand what our true calling is in this life. Are we called to marriage, priesthood, single life? Are we called to go to a university or continue working after high school?
The world lies to us men. It preys on men’s bodily weaknesses. It tells us that to be successful and a good provider for the family we must have a good job making lots of money. We need to have a big house, living every day in excess. Fathers are allowed to work long hours and remain hidden in the background: even the mother signs his name on the birthday cards to their kids.
The current norms in society also say it is okay for men to indulge in the exploitation of women because ‘there is nothing wrong with just looking.’ This nonsense is everywhere: we get it in our face, on the television and even driving down the street. Unfortunately, the thinking of the world has seeped into the minds of the men we serve in missions.
My name is Ryan Lawless. I am a full-time lay Catholic missionary serving in a small town, Ahuano, in Ecuador. I live in a community with two other single men. We pray every day together. We are blessed to grow spiritually and fraternally. We take care of one another: praying over the other when they are sick, working together on projects and in preaching, and having a good time just being guys. We are men missionaries living the Gospel and spreading the Gospel to a people in a foreign land.
I never thought I could be called to this life. Before I heard the call to missions, I remember reading Scripture and thinking, ‘My life is way too comfortable. Am I living Jesus’ words?’ At that time, I was working, making good money, taking my vacations, and able to utilize the convenience of the American culture as I pleased. Then I asked myself, ‘How can I know what kind of man I am if my faith has never been truly tested?’ I was tired of living a complacent, lukewarm life. Is this what I was made for.
People need strong male leaders willing to fight against the injustices against the poor and to encourage every man to live the life they were made to live. In Ahuano, we see the negative influences from the lies of the world. The families have many problems.
Many of the fathers drink too much. Often it is quite blatant, as we see men passed out in the streets. Sometimes, they get so drunk they go home and abuse their wife and children. They are not praying in their homes. Many of the young men lack motivation to work harder than they have to. Spiritual formation among Catholic men is also severely lacking in this region.
Who do they need, but the true Man! Who is going to lead them to Christ, but us, men missionaries for Christ!
You are called to be that leader, especially in leading others to know the Lord. Before I joined FMC, I would shy away from those opportunities to be a leader. I did not want the responsibility. Since being in Ecuador, I put my trust in the Holy Spirit. I lead prayer groups and home visits. Now, I will just begin to speak, trusting the Holy Spirit will provide the words the people need to hear.
The men of this world need men missionaries to reveal to them the love of Christ. Sometimes that means showing your confidence in Jesus and your love for others by encouraging admonishment for their sins.
It is not always easy, but it is necessary. The men need to see that they can live a different life as a man: a stronger man, who puts all of his fears, anxieties and struggles in the hands of the True Man.
They need to know that this is not a weakness. Truly when your body and soul more intimately unite with the One who created you, then you become the man you were created to be!
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