Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Missions and Surgery

I think I'm ready to say it. I've come to a conclusion. Like a puzzle, I've put the pieces together over the years but only lately have I really backed up and seen the image.

The Father entrusted the Church with Mission as part of his process of renewing all things. We go to China and Kenya and Italy and Mexico as ambassadors, yes, with the Good News to share. But that's not WHY we go.

I'm going to stick my neck out there and say that whenever anyone says 'I'll go', they are essentially signing the waiver saying that they are allowing God to do surgery on their life. We arrive on the field and are surrounded by new sights and sounds and smells. We learn a new language, a new culture. We begin to see signs that God has been here all along and slowly the strands of the web upon which we rest our faith begin to be tested; shaking, stretching, tearing. And the surgeon begins his work.

At some point in time we arrive at the realization that our Father is aiming for something specific. Maybe it is an area of unconfessed sin. Maybe it is something we need to forgive and let go. Maybe it is simply learning to really, REALLY trust him with who we are, with our dreams, with our mission. Usually it is something deep, dark and hidden; something we desperately want to be rid of but something we tend to learn how to hide in our home culture. And this is where we see the inevitable fork in the road.

The thing about this fork, this junction, is that only we really see it. No one else really does. We're strapped to the surgeon's table, IV already in and the anesthesia ready. We get itchy, we want off the table, we start talking about going home, about transitioning to a different post or ministry.

People say things like, "Are you sure this is the right time to go home?"

"But you are just now able to speak the language."

"You're just now seeing the work take off."

Now you see, these are all valid questions and observations. The missionary who stays WILL get better with the language, WILL understand the culture more clearly and WILL see their ministry grow, but that is not WHY they stay and it isn't BECAUSE they stay. It is because they remain on the surgeon's table.

They trust the Surgeon, they allow him to cut, remove, heal and bandage and in the end transform them. This transformation process is absolutely necessary in the life of the missionary for it is only in this moment of weakness, humility and transparency that we can truly be used. Remember Paul's words about weakness and strength?

It is God who works through us, not the other way around. It is God's message through us, not ours through God. It is every bit as much, if not more, about our learning and being changed as it is about us teaching someone and changing something.

The cool thing about our Surgeon is that he is humble and gentle. When He sends us, He's really calling us.

Sure you want to go?


Darrin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrin said...

Hey Jason, those are pretty good thoughts. I was recently thinking about the idea of why dollars might still be spent toward more "unfruitful" mission fields like Europe. I seems to me that 1) God isn't limited on resources, so He can "blow" all the money He wants wherever He wants, 2) that God apparently considers it a good investment to bring not only unbelievers closer to Him, but also the missionaries who carry the Message (I'm personally grateful for that one) and 3) that "bang for buck" isn't the only measuring stick. It just happens to be the one that best fits/reflects our own business-based culture. Don't Italians/Europeans matter to God? Or is He like so many human fathers/teachers/employers who say, "You had your chance, you blew it, now we'll give someone else a chance."? Calling is a lot more complex and intimate than number crunching. I'm glad you're in Italy, and I pray God will send more for the harvest! Hang in there on the operating table, and I might take issue with you about the anesthesia... were you offered anesthesia?!!! Darrin

Tara said...

Wow, inspiring writing. It's great to see how God is working in the Casey family. Love you all and praying for u.

Anonymous said...


Great writing. The only thing that I would propose is that what you wrote is consistent with being a Christ follower not just a foriegn missionary. When we surrender our lives to Christ we are now on a mission. The things you articulated (so very well!) are consistent with my experience in my "own" culture. It doesn't minimize what you wrote or minimize the extreme way you've felt it being so far outside thecomfort zone. In my life and ministry this has been the struggle. Do I go through the motions or do I really allow God/the Surgeon to get messy cleaning up and leading my life? Thanks for sharing this it was a great piece. I hope you and your beautiful family are well my brother. Take encouragement and know that as you struggle strapped to the surgeons table there you would have many of the same or different, but equally painful, perhaps sneakily painful, struggles no matter where God sends you. He is faithful and a really good surgeon!

Love and Miss you my friend,