I’ve been in the closet for almost six weeks now. Word is getting out, and apparently there will be an article about us in the Austin American Statesman soon, so… are you sitting down? That’s right, I’m a missionary. So is Steve, of course he’s the more rightful of the two of us to really be called a “missionary”, but the way our sending organization works (as in most, I think), for a married couple it doesn’t really work for one to be a missionary and the other not. If you’re going to adopt the whole not making (much) money, living a tough(er) life, living as a visible Christian, being the hands and feet of Christ, etc., it doesn’t work so well if one is and one isn’t. Like in the rest of our lives, we’re a team, so we’re a team in this, too. We were consecrated by The Mission Society on May 8 as “career missionaries” to serve in Ghana, and we are currently classified as “pre-deployment”. All of this means we are currently raising support so that we can move to Ghana for the long-term – initially a 5-year term, although we expect to be there even longer, probably until retirement. (http://themissionsociety.org/connect/connectmissionaries/people/buchele)
Clearly I’m not as comfortable with the title “missionary” as maybe I should be. Perhaps it’s because I know people who are doing what they feel like they are called to do, are not making much money doing it, and are strong Christians, but they’re not (all) missionaries or pastors. This is true. So for us, the difference is, we need the support of our friends, loved ones, and church to help us make this happen. Financial support, yes, but also, and just as importantly, prayer and other more non-tangible forms of support (although some might argue that prayer is tangible, and come to think of it, I agree). If it was easy, we wouldn’t need God so much, and the communities God has placed us in – we could just do it ourselves.
It is, in fact, perhaps funny that I seem to be having the most trouble with the name, because of the two of us, I am probably the more sure that this is absolutely what we’re supposed to be doing. People ask me, why? and while I can talk about the importance of education (in fact, I view education as a human rights issue), and using my gifts in an area of the world where they are really needed, and that it just feels right, but really what I would like to do is let people peek into my heart and see that there’s really no other plan for me. This is it. To the depths of my soul I know this to be true. I am getting more and more comfortable talking about how God has led me to this place, how I am not so comfortable evangelizing but am more than happy to share my own journey, and my own stories. And I am feeling downright comfortable with the idea of being the hands and feet of Christ in a location which doesn’t have so many people with the gifts I have, where I can do some real and lasting good, where I can do my part to bring God’s kingdom here on earth, here and now, and not worry about the job title or the benefits or what I’ll get out of it. I like that a lot.
One of the things I really like about The Mission Society is that they also are not so enamored of the term “missionary” either. It has some historic, negative consequences, and for some good reasons. They suggest the term “cross-cultural witness”, which I definitely do like better, but using that term it is less recognizable what exactly we’re planning to do and what kind of support we are asking for. But, then, that’s where we get to talk to people and explain what we’ll be doing and what kinds of support we will need, should those we talk to feel called to participate with us in God’s plan for the little piece of His puzzle that we are called to be part of.
So, that’s it, I’m a missionary. Or will be, when we finally move to Ghana. Well, I’m here now teaching for 7 weeks, so am I one now? I don’t know. But, the job title doesn’t matter as long as I know that I’m walking along the right path and moving in the direction I’m supposed to be, somewhat fearfully, absolutely, sometimes flailing in what seems to be the wilderness, but with God, not against Him, so this is good.