Neat and Tidy Boxes: Helping You Find Your Place in God’s Global Purpose
I like things clean and neat. I literally like to put things in boxes, put labels on them, and step back and enjoy their neatness. When I was a field missionary for ten years in central Asia, I fit people’s boxes – and my own. And, I loved the role. I loved learning language, figuring out culture, seeing people meet Jesus for the first time in their lives. And for that, I was willing to be far away from family, deal with a high security situation, and live with extreme altitude and extreme cold. That was difficult, but it was a box I understood easily and enjoyed.
Eventually, the Lord asked me to leave that place to teach and help others to do what I had been doing there. So, He asked me to base myself out of the US and go find others who would be willing to do what I had been doing. We call this training and mobilization. It’s an important job. But, I can’t make the job fit into my tidy boxes. I’m still a missionary, but I live in middle class America. I live in middle class America, but I still raise support to do what I do. I live in middle class America, but I am rarely at home.
My suitcase is my home for the most part. I sleep in about 200 different beds, couches, etc each year! I travel to visit missionaries and provide them training, encouragement and help. I also travel to find others who are wanting to go to where Jesus has not been worshipped and help them to figure out how to get to the unreached. I sit in long meetings in which we sometimes discuss way too many details. I spend hours listening to individual missionary families tell their stories and try to help as best I can. I also meet and try to help people who want to get involved in God’s global purposes but don’t know where to start. I don’t get to do the church planting myself anymore. Instead, I encourage and help others to do it. It’s not as much fun as doing it myself, to tell the truth.
If it’s not as much fun, then why do I do it? Because I can be one missionary reaching one people group, or I can help create 1,000 missionaries reaching 1,000 people groups. There is an old analogy about putting out a fire. If I see a fire, I can try to put it out myself. I might be successful. But, I would probably be much more successful if I woke up the whole town and we put out the fire together! So, right now, I’m trying to wake up Christians, show them how to fight the fire, and assist them when their muscles get too tired to hold the buckets.
Can I help you find your place in God’s global purpose? Can I help you to find your place in the team helping to put out the fire? If I can, then I will be fulfilling my global purpose. That might not fit into my old boxes, but perhaps I can find some new ones…
Pam Arlund is with All Nations Family. We at The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ first met Pam because she is a Perspectives speaker. Pam has a wealth of experience working as a linguist/translator and as a church planter in Central Asia. For ten years she planted simple churches among three people groups. She now trains others to live the Great Commission. She earned an MA and a PhD in linguistics from UT Arlington.