By Teresa Kiehl
To those of you who feel like God is not calling and could not be calling you to missions, I’ve got a few things I would like to say. Perhaps in your life you already do all the things that you should be doing. You go to church, your family prays together before bed-time, and you may even attend a Bible study. You hear about Jesus pretty regularly, and so does everyone else in the United States for that matter. You see letters from God on billboards, sometimes hear encouraging words on the radio and television, and even receive tracks in random places reminding you that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. You know all about God. What could possibly be the point to missions, particularly in your state of life?
Let me ask you this question. How often do you feel like you really encounter Jesus? Do you find Him at your work? Do you find Him in the store? Do you find Him in your neighborhood? How about when you go out to eat? Do you find Him then? Do you find Him in your kids? Perhaps more importantly, do they see Him when they look at you? My dear friend, your primary mission field lies before you at every moment of the day.
YOU ARE JESUS TO THOSE AROUND YOU! And they are Jesus to you! The way you act, the way you talk, the time you take to really listen and care. You may be the only way those in your sphere of influence can come to know a love that surpasses understanding. You think you are not called to missions? You are sadly mistaken my dear friend. “MISSIONS” is the reason you exist. It is why God gave you the awesome gift of life that you have.
Life is the opportunity to share HIM with everyone. Your actions speak volumes. Never forget that Jesus lives in you and you reveal Him in every interaction you have. ”Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27) Hear your call, and act on it. The time is now! There is no time to waste! Show everyone around you the joy that can be found in Christ and, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have!” ( 1 Peter 3:15)
To those of you who feel like you would like to enter into missions to a even greater degree but you don’t think it is possible, I want to share with you a quote from St. Francis of Assisi, “First do what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” No, it is not possible to convert all of Asia in one day. Even I believe that may prove to be a bit of a challenge. But I also KNOW that nothing will happen if we don’t ever try. Everything that was ever done was accomplished step by step. Little by little.
First start with what is necessary. You must be praying every day. Every day. It is necessary that you read the Bible, every day. Every day. My husband often gives talks to people we minister to and tells them the Bible is like a telephone. It is how God talks to us and guides us. I cannot tell you how many times Jesus spoke directly to me when I was reading the Bible. Just read it. I’m sure you will be glad you did.
Those are the bear minimum necessities. Next, do what is possible. Go to Mass as often as you can. Try to fit prayer in at times you usually wouldn’t, like when talking on the phone to your friend who had a bad day, or to a co-worker who is struggling with his or her family. Pray for them, and ask God to use you in these situations. Try to bring Jesus into your everyday world. I remember one of the first days during our missionary training.
One of my children got hurt, and while I was kissing the boo-boo, our mission company director came over and prayed over my child. Out loud. Right in front of me! I was shocked. It was kind of weird, but then really impressive. Why not invite God into situations like that? It was an awesome witness to me, and from then on we have followed his example. I encourage you to do the same. Bring Jesus into as many situations as possible. It might be hard at first, but like with anything else, it gets easier and easier with practice!
It is definitely possible to do these small things, but don’t stop there. Ask God to guide you to whatever he has next for you. Maybe it is giving a talk at your church, or leading RCIA. Maybe it is going on a pilgrimage or a mission trip. Maybe, just maybe, it is to become a full-time foreign missionary! I know not everyone is called to this life. It definitely has its challenges, but they pale in comparison to the privilege of sharing Jesus with those who don’t have access to knowledge of Him.
Years ago, I never thought I would be able to be a missionary while still raising my family. Now I am surprised that could ever let this be a stumbling block. If God wants you, He can find a way to get you where you need to be. You just need to have faith in His plan, and take the first step, and then the next and then the next. Keep trying to move forward and pretty soon, when you look back you will be shocked how far you’ve come! We had no money to become missionaries (after all, we don’t exactly get paid for the work that we do). When we sold our stuff, most of it went to pay off debt and the rest went to paying for our training (and we didn’t even have close to what we needed to cover the cost of training, much less our first year in missions). Yet now, I look back and see all the people God sent us to help us on our way.
Most of which were people I barely knew. Some of which were people we didn’t know at all! God will open the doors to wherever he is calling you. Don’t talk yourself out of it. God’s ways are not our ways! Many people told us that married people were not called to be missionaries, and look at us now! Six kids and barely anything to call our own and yet we have never been happier! Have CONFIDENCE. Our God is a BIG GOD!
Everyone could use a little more Jesus in their lives. Don’t waste your chance be Jesus to them. Be the encounter they need. Give more and more of yourself. Love till it hurts. Jesus did. Together we can bring Jesus to the whole world!
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Mother Teresa
By Teresa Kiehl