Moments of Conversion: Part 2 Intro to Missions Class
This next part of my story is much less dramatic, it came more as a subtle realization of what God was bringing me into. This became much more than one class for me. I was almost instantly hooked to the laid back atmosphere of the missions department and the genuineness of the professors. Especially one of them who had quite a story to tell. He became one of my spiritual mentors for his passion, his story, his experience, his prophetic wisdom, and his concern for his students. This man had been called out of the crack house to Christ. Then from the oil fields to wherever the roughest mission field would be. His journey led him to a get a missions degree where he met his team mates and his wife. He spent the next 10 years in Kenya. Now he's one of the founding pastors of an inner-city fellowship for primarily the homeless and prostitutes. He's been doing that for 10 years now also. He has a master's degree because they made him in order to be a professor, but he knows that there are more important things than degrees and formal training.
All that to say, I had the privilege to sit at this man's feet for almost 3 years. When I went home for fall break he made the time to spend nearly four hours on a Monday morning in conversation with me. He is phenomenal, not perfect but he has truly inspired me in many ways. Someday soon he's going to get fed-up with the institutional system and quit teaching. At that time he has a list of some of his students who would be willing to drop everything and peruse our passion to serve together. Sometimes I pray for this day to come sooner.
One of the first things that I remember learning in his class was that if I want to be effective as a missionary I've got to be committed. There should be none of this less then 5 years business. By then I should be just starting to feel like I have a clue as to how the culture works and how to contextualize the gospel and maybe have a few converts. But at that point leaving would be premature and undo all that had been done. So it was in his classes that I committed my life in my heart to God's service. I let go of any dreams or desires to ever return to the states and get a normal job and live like the model I had seen from everyone else I knew. I committed myself to God's wisdom to lead me into the dark places that I hadn't seen anyone go before.
Other things I learned were about loving all people. I can't believe this struck me as such a challenging thing. I was sheltered in my nice grid neighborhood. I wouldn't have known where to find the homeless, prostitutes, and drug-addicts if it hadn't been for this man's influence. Now I know the names of the homeless men I spent many cold Friday mornings drinking coffee with and eating homemade muffins. I also learned how to write amazing personal reflection papers in this class reflecting on such strange topics and my dead goldfish. And another wonderful feat was I learned how to tell stories and enjoy making speeches in a class on story-telling called "communicating Christ today." It was my favorite class I took in undergrad.
This man also introduced Brian McLaren to me. We read "A New Kind of Christian" in ethical Christian living class then he recommended "The Last Word and the Word After That" to me after I started talking about starting a small life discussion/hang-out/safe place to ponder faith/type group. I don't remember the connection now as to why he recommended the book. I just remember getting really confused about the whole heaven/hell issue that wasn't even the point of the book.
So I guess the main thing I learned from this man was that we are called to be like Jesus. In striving to be like Jesus I realize that we are to love like Jesus, heal like Jesus, connect like Jesus, restore like Jesus, revolutionize like Jesus. I'm not going to be perfect in these attempts but that's where my heart will be. And wherever God eventually sends me it's going to be a lifetime commitment of service. I've done my time with the short-term enough to realize that serving God is the only place I find fulfillment and purpose.
and that's a wrap.