I was standing at the hospital bedside scanning some medicines for my elderly patient. Her daughter sat there as well, much as she had the day before, because Mom was experiencing the typical confusion present in the hospital among the older population. She was finally coming back around to her usual self, and I was enjoying watching her personality emerge. She reminded me of my Nanny, who had passed away years ago, so I was happy for this particular assignment. Despite her recent confusion, anxiety, and restlessness, we had gotten along swimmingly somehow. As her daughter had called me a “Godsend,” I had told her matter-a-fact, “we just get along like peas and carrots.”
“Did you say you’re a missionary?” My elderly patient suddenly asked.
I chuckled to myself. I had said no such thing. I mean, it wasn’t unheard of, as I had been a missionary twenty years ago. Despite the passage of time I still remembered it like yesterday. I could recall all the miraculous things I witnessed, the people I encountered, the souls brought to know Jesus, and especially the ones who didn’t. I could also remember when my time on this particular journey came to a close. Over half of the people I had met and worked with in this organization were continuing in the traditional mission field. Some more going to Africa, a place I’d always wanted to go. They felt the call to a life of mission work, but the call I was feeling wasn’t the same.
As much as my young, twenty-one year old mind wanted to serve on the foreign mission field, my heart wasn’t in it. I felt the Lord urging me to return to the United States, to finish my nursing degree, and to serve Him there.
Years went by, lots of ups and downs, periods of being a prodigal daughter, and periods of returning to Him. All of this flashed through my mind as I stood there at the hospital bedside, and I considered my life now as a Travel Nurse.
I answered back to her, “I guess you could say I’m an Atypical Missionary.”
I then explained how when I sought a new assignment across the country to work as a nurse that God would open doors and close doors. I trusted His hand, and I went wherever He said to go. It wasn’t like He boomed in a deep voice from the clouds, “I need you in South Carolina, Brie,” but rather that I prayed for Him to get me where He needed me most, then I trusted where the chips fell when it came time to choose an assignment. If San Antonio, Texas didn’t call for an interview, I didn’t take it personal. I took it as a closed door.
When it came time to go on the job, each and every day, I prayed. I said, “Lord, go before me and make the way. Give me good patients and a good day.”
When I prayed “good patients, good day” I didn’t just mean an easy assignment where nothing crazy happened. I also meant good, as in His will. I trusted I would receive the patient assignment I was meant to have. Sometimes that meant the angry, noncompliant and chronically ill twenty year old man. Maybe it meant the dying mother, or perhaps other times it was the mentally altered elderly lady. I followed His lead, and I served each patient like I was serving Jesus.
Well, that’s probably more how I try to be. I know for sure that I get flustered, frustrated, and tired. I get angry and fed-up. But my goal is to treat each patient like the Lord would want, so when I see myself getting frazzled I try and remind myself that I am where I am for a reason, and with purpose.
I’m an Atypical Missionary.
And I reckon as Christians we all are.
It’s easy to think your life doesn’t matter in the grand scheme. A stay-at-home mom can feel useless in God’s kingdom purposes, missing the fact that she’s an Atypical Missionary too. She’s serving on the mission field of parenting. She’s raising up a new generation of Christ Followers, teaching them to love as He loves.
A bank clerk may feel fruitless in the mundane, day-to-day tasks, not realizing a smile and cheerful greeting may be the only kindness a customer has seen in a long time. That teller is an Atypical Missionary.
It’s a profound blessing to be an Atypical Missionary on a mission field that’s easily ignored. We assume it’s the unreached people groups who need to hear most about the Lord, and we miss out on the service we can provide to hardened hearts that think God has forsaken them. Those hurt by religion may not know about the unconditional love of Jesus until they see it through you. A man whose image of God is distorted by the poor example of an earthly father, may only learn the true Father Heart of God by his buddy’s Godly example of fatherhood on a daily basis. You leading a life for Christ is mission work.
A tired teacher worn out by state testing requirements and the lack of discipline given to children at home might miss the fact that she is in essence the only shining light of love a child may experience. She’s an Atypical Missionary helping save a life and mold a future.
How many of us save a friend from committing suicide by giving them a hug when they needed it the most? How many of us by handing a five dollar bill to the homeless man on the corner inspired him to reach out for help? How many of our small acts of everyday kindness can be multiplied in a pay-it-forward, ripple effect? How many of us are the hands and feet of Jesus without even realizing it?
You can be a missionary without traveling outside the country.
You can serve the church without being a deacon.
You don’t have to hold a particular title to be of service to the Lord.
You don’t have to be a preacher, pastor, or minister to share the word of God with others.
You can be an Atypical Missionary right where you are. You don’t have to wait for God to put you in the right place. Perhaps He already has. Perhaps you’re serving His kingdom purposes right this very moment, and you don’t even realize it.
We don’t have to wait, saying, “God, send me and I’ll go.” Instead we can say, “I’m here. Use me now.”