Over 80 missionaries were present, representing about 17 countries. Families, couples, single men and women, each with their own story of how God has brought them to where they are now.
As I reflect on the week, I remember my misconceptions about missionaries. At one time, I viewed missionaries with a higher regard than most other people. I don't think I even realized that I assumed that because they received "the call" from God to serve in missions, that they were these special and holy people that were obviously better than me.
And then I became a missionary.
This term "missionary" was very uncomfortable at first. I didn't like the idea of having this great responsibility that comes with the title. And I especially didn't like other people assuming the same expectations about me that I had placed on other missionaries - that missionaries are holier than most.
In humility, and through Orientation, my view has changed. I realize that I am "not called to a people or a place or a vocation; but rather, to the very person of Jesus Christ" (Howard Dueck).
Missionaries are no different than your average Joe. They are sinful people, saved and sanctified by the supernatural grace of God.
All of the preparing and learning I have done over the past week has been extremely helpful. But I am continually reminded that heart preparation is the best way for me to really be ready to leave when August 1st comes. I am reminded that the Lord is still the most important relationship I will ever have.
My status as "missionary to Niger, Africa" may sound like I am set apart somehow as a Christian. The truth is I still struggle. But my goal to honor and glorify God remains the same.
Join me. Accept your calling, not to a place, people, or job; but to God, Himself.
"Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." -The Westminster Shorter Catechism
P.S. Check out more TeachBeyond Orientation pictures on facebook!