23 September, 2009

Mission, the great turn-off for conversation

Do you feel uncomfortable meeting people you haven't seen for a long time? Me too. Especially when it is unexpected. 

 Meeting long-ago-friends happens to missionaries all the time on home assignment. We come back 'home' and meet people we haven't seen for several years. Sometimes it feels like we might have the plague - though I'm sure no one intends us to feel that way. People just don't know what to say to us, besides, "Hi, how are you?" Which, as I discussed last week, is hard to answer. "Good" is the standard response here in Australia. Doesn't give much information for a continuing conversation, though. If you or they have them, kids are a great conversation continuer - you can always say, "So how old are your kids?" 

The friend who took us to Bribie Island yesterday was pondering why people have difficulty chatting with missionaries. I wondered if they're worried that we're going to do some hard-core "mission" evangelism on them? 

I do remember that people changed the way they related to me when I first expressed an interest in mission. Certainly a good turn-off for dating :-) Now we've been at it so long (nearly a decade) that people are beginning to wonder what our use-by-date is. "How much longer?" is another question we're asked. 

 It IS a weird lifestyle. Definitely "on the edge of ordinary", actually probably bordering on the bizarre. How I managed to grow up thinking that "ordinary" Christians did mission, I don't know. How come so many people think that mission is an optional extra for the extra different people in this world? Maybe it is the mystical idea of a "call to mission" that persists. Or perhaps we Westerners just like our comfort...


Anonymous said...

Describing the modern idea of a "call" as "mystical" is very accurate, I think. Not that I don't believe in "calls" - I just think we discover them by actually *doing* something rather than waiting for a feeling.

And you're probably on to something with the comfort issue with talking to missionaries. Perhaps the fact that you are willing to live "on the edge of ordinary" is uncomfortable to those who would rather not move outside their comfort zones (not necessarily geographical!) to share the gospel.

Ken Rolph said...

You aren't alone in your plight. My brother-in-law is a policeman. He always gets strange reactions when meeting new people.

There are some ways that people live which cause others to focus on the meaning of their own lives. My b-i-l sometimes says he is "in security". You might try saying you are in cultural interchange or some such.

Wendy said...

I'm sure that is correct, Ken. Imagine if you were undercover something or other. I'm just a poor liar!