How does one form a first impression? In many ways, the initial “culture shock” first impression wore off a few years ago. Having visited Africa over half a dozen times in the last eight years, which would seem experienced in some circles but a mere novice in others, somehow the dusty streets, hazy skies, and simple lifestyle lost their wide-eyed effect a few visits ago. Even though I had never visited Malawi prior to moving here, somehow the sights are somewhat the same throughout the continent’s regions, albeit still incomparable to any sight I’ve yet to behold in the US.
So what of my first impression of this new habitation of ours? To be honest, it is still forming. However, I am grateful that the “culture shock” is not as great as it once was because it has enabled me to see with “eyes of understanding” (Eph. 1:18) the things which we were brought here to see. The souls.
It would be easy for someone to simply stand wide-eyed with jaw gaping at a man with no legs peddling a wheelchair/upside-down bicycle hybrid with his hands as a means of personal transportation…
But, what of the life of that man?
What brought him to that place?
Was he born without legs?
Was he injured by primitive medical practices?
As you drive by him in the street, only God knows. The element I am grateful for this time around is that my spiritual heart strings are moved for the life of this man. Has his physical condition hardened his heart towards the things of God? Has his family rejected him because of his situation? Does he know that there is a God who loves him like David loved Mephibosheth? Does he know that God wants to show His kindness to him for Christ’s sake? These are the questions in my mind as I take in the sights, and I pray that somehow we may be the ones to “show him kindness for [Christ’s] sake” (2 Sam. 9:9).
The missionary calling can seem so large and insurmountable, but if you get right down to it, is it not just simply loving someone? Loving their unloveliness with the love that we have been loved with? Even this seems impossible, but if God could give me the love in my heart to love just one other person in this world, I think that I would feel as though I had accomplished something. I know that I am not called to accomplish anything because it is all what God many do through me, in spite of me, but if I may be useful to Him in even the smallest of ways, I think I would be fulfilled.
So what now of the dusty streets, hazy skies, and simple lifestyle? They are merely a backdrop. A backdrop in which we might learn to be loved by God, and by some miracle of His grace working in us, we might be able to love someone else with that same love that He has so undeservingly bestowed upon us.
Until next time,