Hi, my name is Kelsey. I’m a young woman, an anthropologist, a Christian. I’m also a secret sci-fi fan, a lover of literature, a dabbler in musical instruments, and a curiosity junkie. To top it off, I’m also someone who has no idea what her life is going to look like in 10 years, let alone next week.
So, to escape the feeling of being lost and purposeless after graduation, I jumped on the chance to live for a year in Costa Rica. I could improve my Spanish, impress my church, make my friends jealous, and if I was lucky, find a purpose for my life.
I don’t know if it was a success or not but, through this experience, I have learned more about myself than I ever knew. I’ve gained not only a new confidence in myself but also in my faith. For better or worse, I feel like I’m ready to face the next challenge God has ready for me.
And after living abroad, I’m a huge advocate for leaving your context, learning from another, and coming back to put into practice what you’ve learned. To do that, obviously, you need to place yourself somewhere you don’t necessarily belong. The emphasis here is on going to be changed rather than to change.
But how can we do that?
My answer is: engagement, not just passive witnessing.
To be engaged in something means to fully apply yourself–heart, mind and soul. No aloofness, no reservations, no judgment allowed at this engagement party. Here, we are diving in, not with swimmies strapped to our arms, but fully submerging into the clear blue water before us. We need to feel that cool water against our skin, taste its saltiness on our tongues, be swept away by the currents swirling around us.
Diving in is, in my opinion, the only true way of getting to know something. You can read about Paris, for example, all you want in your textbooks, about its history, its culture, its landscape. But you can’t really know it until you’ve been there, until you’ve sat in the shade of the Eiffel Tower, until you’ve ordered a pastry in broken French, until you’ve gotten lost on the windy streets that make up the city. And even then, that’s only scratching the surface of that life.
And mission work is one opportunity to do just that.
Missions. What a funny word. A word filled with purpose, calling, and quite a murky past filled with a few skeletons. Missions may be one of the most influential words in our history—because of missions cultures have changed, hearts have been converted and wars have been waged.
So when I say that I’m a missionary, or that I’m raising money for a mission, or that I’m going on a missions trip I get a little bit angsty. In fact, using that word makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit presumptuous.
But, because of the Cohort, this past year I’ve been blessed to see different missions on the ground all throughout Central America. I’m thankful and happy to say: Missions has a new face and a new work ethic, one that walks alongside the last, the least, the lost. Their hands are dirty, their eyes are open, and their hearts are soft. These are missions I would be proud to be a part of.
So I want to challenge every one of us to take that dive today. And so what if you feel weird, or uncomfortable, or scared? WE ALL DO. But I try to not let that stop me from experiencing the world around me. Jesus doesn’t want our fears to rule our lives. He doesn’t want us to be confined to just live in the comfort of our homes. Jesus himself walked the dusty streets of Jerusalem and the rest of Israel, engaging people as he walked, asking questions, lending a helping hand. He’s the example we should follow.
So I say let’s follow in his dusty footsteps. Let’s walk the streets, engaging the people and the cultures as we go along. Let’s learn and let’s be amazed.