International Ministries

Un-missionary Work

January 17, 2013 Journal
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Needing to learn about Adoniram and Ann Judson, in order to build the celebration of their departure for Burma into the May World Mission Conference, I started reading one of their many biographies.  I laughed out loud when I read how Adoniram often lamented the time he spent doing what seemed to him to be "un-missionary work."  He was referring to his development of the first Burmese dictionary.  We know now that the dictionary was a vital tool for ministry for Judson and other missionaries and people groups from Burma, but, to Judson at the time, it did not seem like missionary work. He simply did it because, in order for the Gospel to be made accessible for the peoples of Burma, it had to be done. 

This week, a significant amount of my time has been spent on what could feel like "un-missionary work."  I am producing the flier and the informational sheets about the European Baptist Federation's Anti-trafficking Network conference in April in Spain.  I am by no means a graphic designer, just as Judson was no linguist, but this is work that must be done if we are to encourage churches in European countries to take the Gospel to women in prostitution. 

Back before Christmas, I made a quick trip to Amsterdam to plan the conference program and then to Spain to visit the church that will host us and to see first-hand the hotel in which we'll stay.  I am by no means a travel agent, and a quick trip to Europe hardly seems a "work assignment," but it is necessary to be sure that the hotel in which we stay, at a reasonable cost, provides an environment in which people can rest and chat and that the church has the space we need for meetings.

Another "un-missionary work" this week has been to invite people in the U.S. and Europe to sponsor some Eastern Europeans to come to the conference.  I am not a trained development person, but, again, this is something that must be done if we are to build bridges with Eastern Europeans and encourage them to prevent women from ending up being exploited in prostitution in the West.  (If you want to help someone come, please let me know! A bake sale in your church, for instance, would certainly pay for at least 1 person's hotel and meals and perhaps even for a flight!) 

In a seminary course on prayer, I read from an author whose name I cannot remember:  "When we see life as God sees life, all of life becomes a prayer."  Perhaps Judson learned as I am learning,  "When we see work as God sees work, all of our work is 'missionary'."  Of course, we must be sure the work is one that provides dignity and that does not exploit others' dignity, but, perhaps we all need to see more of what we do as an offering of work to God. 

Thank you for partnering in this missionary work!  

We will hold the memorial service for both of Jim's parents on Saturday.  Thank you for your prayers!