That’s my impression of every single missionary family I met last week. Simply put, they are solid people.
Solid in their convictions.
Solid in their life.
Solid kids with solid faiths of their own.
If I were starting a church, I’d want any one of them planting with me. I would want them as elders, and ministry leaders. When we worshiped, the singing was genuine, and when they would pray, it was bold and meaningful.
These people get it.
Enter the interesting paradox. Given the opportunity to describe themselves in three words, I doubt any of them would use the word “solid,” or any of its synonyms. There was a humility about them. It was one thing they all had in common. It was humility born of struggle and heartache. A bi-product of moving away from family, of feeling alone in a new culture.
As one minister put it, “When you get to a new culture, it’s very strange. The very essence of your calling, mission and job is communication, yet you can’t even ask anyone where the bathroom is.”
John [the apostle] recorded John [the Baptizer] as saying of Jesus, “I must become less, he must become more” (John 3:30). Then Paul proceeded to call himself the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9), the least of the believers (Eph. 3:8), and the least of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). As his view of himself decreased, Jesus was glorified.
I think that is what has happened with these missionaries. Those that have stuck with it for the long term—who have struggled through being the new guy, struggled through learning a new culture, being worth very little (in a pragmatic sense) because of an inability to communicate, struggled through questioning the decisions they’d made, struggled through a life apart from everything comfortable, not to mention taking on the challenge of raising support from the generosity of others—those people have been humbled. They have become less, and their passion for the gospel has only grown stronger and stronger.
Growth only comes out of struggle. Life grows in the valley, regardless of how grand the mountain peaks may be. As one worship song says, “There may be pain in the night, but Joy comes in the morning.”
This isn’t to say they don’t have issues. Or sins to deal with. Or disagreements with spouses, church members and kids. This doesn’t mean their kids never run into trouble, or that everything is always hunky-dory. In fact, I got to see a few very small examples of some of these while I was with them.
Because they are real about it.
Because they aren’t shaken by it.
Because they have been through the fire and come out “without the smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27).
Because they are solid.
I want to be solid.