Rachel Willowby, Round Trip:
It was our sophomore year at Wheaton College, and my friend Anna and I were hashing out our reasons for applying to the HNGR program (Human Needs and Global Resources). The heart of the program is a six-month internship with a Christian organization somewhere in the Global South. It’s an intense and often difficult six months. As I talked with Anna, what emerged as my main reason for wanting to go was to be in an environment where I would have to totally depend on God. “I don’t want to be complacent,” I remember saying.
Anna looked right at me and said (and this is why I love her), “Even missionaries get complacent, Rachel.”
At that moment I realized that going overseas just to be challenged in my faith was both selfish and ill-conceived. If I felt too complacent in my nice suburban setting, the problem wasn’t the place. The problem was me. My desire to be close to God was a good one, but I was about to go to an impoverished place and essentially use it as a Petri dish for my own spiritual growth. It was selfishness dressed up in the trappings of love and compassion. . .
As usual, I posted this quote then kept thinking about it (I know better, but I can’t help it.)
- I wish more people were aware of their motives for doing “missions.”
- We will have to wrestle with the same issues regardless of where we are (great point by Rachel).
- Coming to Africa to have our faith shaped and challenged is not all bad. It’s certainly better than feeling like we have it all together and wanting to help fix the world.
- We will be more effective (anywhere) when we recognize that we are broken people constantly needing to learn and change.
- Just because we are broken doesn’t mean we can’t contribute in meaningful and signficant ways. God has gifted many of us with special tools and experiences that are quite useful here, and cross-pollination can be great (as long as we Westerners see it as a mutual partnership.)
PS: A six-month intense internship is a lot better than a six-day fly-through. You have a lot more time to absorb and learn.