What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. This guest post is by Heather K.
Travelers are dreamers who live in a reality... but sometimes reality can mean 200 miles away from home. As a missionary in the US, much less Ft. Worth, Texas, I dreamed of a far away land in Africa or India. I dreamed of helping orphans and sex-trafficking slaves. But when God intervened (which He often does) my dreams became a different reality VERY close to home.
At first my pride was a little hurt, okay -- a lot hurt. And I questioned God's intentions. My heart beat for a people and culture in a different land, overseas, but God's plan for me, was a town not too far from home. When he called me to a run-down apartment on the SE side of Ft. Worth, later referred to me as "the ghetto", I gladly accepted. With a few of items from home and a heart for missions I drove my car to the desolate and outcast world of Refugees.
I'm a minority in my own home. I don't speak the same language or share the same religion with any of my neighbors. In the mornings I 'intern'/serve at World Relief, the non-profit assisting refugees in their transition. I spend my afternoons/evenings in the rich smelling houses of Nepalis, Somalis and Burmese people. And when I get home to my apartment, I battle off the arachnid, Daddy Long Legs and the creepy crawly roaches. It's not an easy life but its worth the eternal glory.
Even though I drive my personal vehicle to work, have access to the internet almost 24 hours a day, and carry a bible openly -- I still experience the dark spiritual warfare of far off lands... I sometimes feel lonely and skeptical, but am quickly relieved by the Spirit's overwhelming presence.
I used to be embarrassed and defensive when people asked where I would be serving. I reluctantly told them where and they would often grin or laugh. "I thought missionaries were supposed to be overseas!" My response: "We need missionaries here too (and all ends of the earth)." I've received sarcasm from all facets of life and also encouragement from the least likely of people. Even 'on mission' "its not that big of deal" for me to travel here and serve this vulnerable community. People assume it didn't take much for me to withdraw from college, 24 hours away from graduation. Or take a leave from a great paying job, to follow Jesus here... To go from a somewhat steady income, to a supported mission.
The truth is, it didn't. I can't consider this a sacrifice by any means. All the encouragement is greatly appreciated, but the flack is also affirming. Jesus said the world would hate me because I loved him, but not to worry because He has overcome the world... I believe that when Jesus said to make disciples, "in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth," he also was saying in your homes, at your churches and in your community.
So to the missionary that serves a week in a far off land, don't forget, there's also a place not too far from home. And to the local church, there are missionaries in your community needing your support and prayers... And lastly to the missionaries all over the world keep believe and working till you can't work anymore.