17 May, 2010

Restraint and respect

An aspect of being a missionary on home assignment that you may not have thought about is the restraint we need to apply to our own opinions.

This applies particularly to the variety of denominations and different style churches we've visited.
We also have friends and supporters from almost every angle on the education front - from state schoolers and private schoolers to radical home schoolers. We cross paths with people who have different ideas (or no ideas at all) on mission and on Japan.

I guess you do too. Perhaps, though, you have a little more choice than we do. Most people can certainly choose what style of church you will be in most weeks. Who you choose to befriend.

On our 'rounds' we've had to sit through some interesting sermons or reluctantly become a sermon ourselves. We've had to speak about mission to people who don't in the least bit understand why mission exists at all and to others who embrace mission with all their hearts. Our work has taken us to children, young adults, young marrieds, single folk, young families and lonely elderly. We've been in thriving churches and struggling churches. Wealthy churches and poor churches. Urban churches and rural churches. We've spoken to churches where our faces adorn the wall and we're prayed for often; we've gone to places who've never heard of missionaries going to Japan.

It requires a good deal of restraint, love and respect. It challenges your prejudices, ideas and beliefs. It stretches you. I believe it is good for us. And for those who express their rigid ideas to us, it might be good for them too...or it might be their undoing.


Tim and Susan said...

Good to have you articulate it like that...and it does stretch you to be more accepting and not quite to judgmental.

Shan in Japan said...

I agree wholeheartedly! It is interesting how each person who expresses an opinion assumes that I have the same opinion they do. My dad traveled with me a few times and noticed how 'diplomatic' we have to be, as he said.
Good luck with the final preparations for returning!