What are we doing here, for heaven’s sake?
Here we are, in an enormous nation, the epicentre of major geo-political developments, an industrial and financial powerhouse, an ancient and infinitely intriguing culture, and the scene of an awesome Kingdom explosion in recent years, and…
I spend hours struggling with a single reluctant child who doesn’t want to learn (no, not one of our own kids - one of the local boys whose vision of his future isn't quite the same as his parents').
I must constantly call upon local friends to navigate the paths of local law enforcement, travel, on-line shopping, etc. I am illiterate, ignorant, unable to understand what is said to me in the streets and unable to make myself understood.
So, why am I here?
Long-term, the answer is easy; we’re learning local language and culture so that we can have a significant impact supporting the local family of followers.
Medium term, it’s also clear; we’re supporting our local partner in her education venture, being the native English-speakers her business needs, so she can have a significant impact supporting the local family of followers.
But what about right now? How do I justify my existence right now? What am I doing today that’s worth anything?
That question is dangerous for two reasons; firstly, because it betrays my captivity to a ‘RIGHT NOW’ consumer culture; "if it isn’t valuable today, then throw it away, it’s worthless", “That’s SO last week!” By contrast, my dad came from an era of severe economic depression and never threw anything away. From my earliest childhood our family garage was an Aladdin’s cave of dusty, greasy, wonders from which he could create anything and fix everything. My own hoarded clutter is a mere shadow beside it. But I learned the value of storing up treasures today for an unknown future. In many ways, that’s what we’re doing now – gathering odds and ends of experience, relationships, knowledge, culture and language, and trusting that at some point in the future, our Father will put it all to good use. Today is not wasted just because I can’t see the profit immediately.
And then, the question is dangerous because it implies that our presence here is only justified by our works. Preachers going all the way back to the Apostle Paul have had plenty to say on that issue. We have value in our Forever Family and in the eyes of our Father NOT because of our works - because we are achieving certain targets - but because we are His beloved children. We are not justified by the things we do (as if we have the power to achieve anything of eternal value on our own!) but by his love for us.
We do expect, however, that his love will call forth love from us – that his work for us will inspire good works in us, too. And we are constantly aware of how so many in NZ have given sacrificially to make it possible for us to obey the call to come here. So…
What are we doing here, for heaven’s sake? Living. Yep, we’ve got specific roles and functions in an exciting education venture, but mostly what we’re doing is whatever we need to be doing just to live in a particular place. Just like everybody else. And it’s that stuff – the day-day stuff of living, that provides the most fertile soil from which the Kingdom might grow.
So while I might occasionally feel anxious about how little we're apparently doing of eternal value, we can see, on reflection, that we still get to do work of value even now, in our apprentice years. I guess there really is a plan, even if I don't know the details and we can trust that it will all work together for good for those that love Him.
Roger serves with Tranzsend in East Asia.
If you are interested in learning more about the work of Tranzsend, or would like to know more about any opportunities available, check out the Tranzsend website transzend.org.nz or call 09 526 8440.