Why Terrible People Make Excellent Missionaries

I was listening to a sermon this past week and heard this quote:

“Christianity is beggars telling other beggars where to find bread”  -D.T. Niles

What a profound quote for a struggling legalist like me to hear.  News flash: I am not a baker of christianese flavored breads (even though sometimes I’d like to think so), I am merely a beggar amongst a variety of other beggars seeking out a piece of bread from the only Baker who can offer it. The best part: the bread is free. (And who doesn’t like free bread, I mean really?)

My thought process used to go like this:  I was Sam the girl who struggled, but now that I know Jesus, I am Sam the girl who doesn’t really struggle anymore. I am Sam the girl who is “saved,”so I should sin less, fail less, and ask forgiveness… less.

What a complete load of junk. 

My initial thoughts on being a missionary involved me needing to get my life together, needing to be good enough, holy enough, or wise enough to serve in another country.  Because if I had the nerve to want to go and tell hurting and bad people about Jesus, I needed to do my best to be like Jesus…

I had it completely backwards.  It will always be impossible for me to be the “Professional Spiritual Chick Who Never Screws Up.”  To be a good missionary, I need to be bad.  Does that mean that I go out and seek ways to purposefully sin like a maniac?  No, I do that just fine on a day to day basis without even trying.

If someone doesn’t see the need for Jesus in my own life, then why would they want to invite Jesus into theirs?  I must be honest about my sin, because if I’m not then I have no right to talk about the Savior who came to die for it.  As Paul (the chief of sinners) so eloquently puts it in Romans 3:23: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Confession time.  Every now and then, I really enjoy pulling out my “Measuring Stick of Holiness” to measure the differences in how short I fall compared to how short others fall.  Well guess what, the distance I have fallen from God is no different than the drunk guy down the road, the murderer on death row, the guy who cheated on his wife, the pope, or Mother Theresa (yeah, the last two are sinners who need Jesus desperately too).  We have all fallen equally short, I am no less or greater of a sinner than anyone on this earth.

When I was addicted to porn and sexual immorality I needed Jesus, when I struggled with alcohol, lying, cursing, and self esteem issues I needed Jesus, but here’s the kicker: Even though I am a Christian now, I STILL need Jesus.  I will never stop needing Jesus.  So, when I walked into Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale for the first time when I was 17 years old, I was openly admitting to the world that I had some serious sin issues.  I walked into that church because I was a terrible person who needed help. I had finally found a place where no one had their lives together, no one was blameless or worthy, and no one claimed to be holier than thou. It was my new dysfunctional family.  But as I journeyed deeper into the Christian faith, I realized that everyone, myself definitely included, began to hide behind masks of fake perfection. When I attended church on Sunday (Holy Hour), I was on my best behavior.  I tried to meet everyone’s expectations by pretending that everything was fine and dandy when deep down I was falling apart. I would think to myself, “I know Jesus, so why am I still sinning? Why am I not fixed yet? Why am I not perfect?”

The church, the 10 commandments, and short term mission trips were never supposed to fix me.  I was never meant to be “fixed,” I was meant to be saved.

Jesus came to rescue me. He loves me, period. End of story.

It’s not “Jesus loves me BUT….” or “Jesus loves me ONLY IF I DO X,Y, and Z…”

No.  I am perfectly loved, I am completely forgiven, and I am rescued… period.

Here in South Africa, this means that people need to hear me confess.  As a daughter of the King this makes me unique because I have the ability to confess without fear since nothing can separate me from His love, not even my own sin (thanks to Jesus.)  They don’t need to hear me say things like “Oh bless your heart dear child let me pray for you.” They need to hear me say things like, “Yeah, I understand, I lived it, I struggle with the same thing.”  The truth brings freedom, and when I am honest about who I really am (which is a girl who is still a hot mess and who still needs saving from Jesus every second of every day), then it becomes less about me and more about the Savior of the world.  In my own life, the men and women who left the greatest impacts on me were the ones that took off their masks and showed me who they really were from the inside out. They showed me their sin, their flaws, and their need.

When I take off my mask, Jesus doesn’t freak out or run away.  He is not ashamed of me. He already knew what He was in for the moment He took my sins with Him on the cross.  He knew, and He chose to follow through with it.

There is a girl in Cloetesville that I am about to journey with who desperately needs to discover Jesus, but she doesn’t need Jesus any more than I need Him.  I plan on walking beside her and pointing her to the one who saved me from myself.  I plan on getting my hands and feet dirty because, hey, Jesus loves dirty people. I have no idea what this adventure will look like, but I am willing to take off my mask and get real with this girl.  I am willing to admit that I don’t have my life together, just like her, and that it’s okay! Jesus never said that I needed to get my life together.  He just asks me to come as I am and He asks me to believe that He is enough.  He asks me to trust Him and know that He is Good, that He is Gracious, and that He is God.… and with all of this being said:

Pray that I can peel back the many layers of my life, that I can meet this girl where she is at, and that I can point her to the One who rescues. Pray that I can see her the way God sees her, as my equal. Pray that Jesus will use me despite myself to love on this girl, and finally, pray that He will be glorified, in whatever way that looks like…

Author: Sam Stokesberry

“I have come to know a God Who has a soft spot for rebels, Who recruits people like the adulterer David, the whiner Jeremiah, the traitor Peter, and the human-rights abuser Saul of Tarsus. I have come to know a God Whose Son made prodigals the heroes of His stories and the trophies of His ministry.” ― Philip Yancey

2 thoughts on “Why Terrible People Make Excellent Missionaries”

  1. So, so beautiful Sam! I love this truth… Definitely has me convicted, but also encouraged. You are so right, I NEED Jesus, and I will never stop needing Him!

    Liked by 1 person

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