As you read this I will be moving around Missionfest Toronto, milling with the crowds at the hundreds of booths of mission societies and Christian organizations. We will be well provided for at a beautiful facility near the airport, with all the latest "mod cons" as my Brit friends would have said. When the time comes my daughter, her friend, my friend and I will attend workshops of our choosing or cram in to hear the next famous plenary speaker or worship artist. All the info we could possibly need about it, and much more, will be in a glossy program handed to us in our first moments. An amazing way to be with the rich to learn about how to serve the poor, either in money or in faith.
I hearken back over twenty years to Missionfest Vancouver, held in the gymnasium of Burnaby Christian Fellowship, British Columbia. We were newlyweds, staffing our booth for ACTS, Africa Community Technical Service, the small mission my husband founded and ran, overhead and salary free, out of the basement of his home in North Vancouver. It was in the early heady days of missions finding their voice in the mainline body of Christ. We were taking courses on being a World Christian, and giving talks about our work with cut and pasted newsletters, home made displays and African artifacts. Our tiny children bounced around as I taught action songs to Sunday school groups like "I am a House of Prayer". Ah, those were the days. I knew who I was, and what to do. Life was busy and exciting. We were missionaries who had a message, whether sitting at a booth at Missionfest or talking in a church or writing up the latest info on our doings in a newsletter. I used to say that it was much more fulfilling and uplifting to be part of Missionfests than to go to "charismatic" conferences.
Now I visit so my daughter and her friend can hear a wonderful speaker espousing a simple life, Shane Claiborne, a guy who often gets sent away from churches because of his clothes, until he tells them he's their guest speaker. I wonder what else will be relevant to my life? I am excited that Missionfest has come this long way in those twenty plus years. Or am I? What does it say about the western church that this vision has been enriched and fulfilled over and over again, even if it is held in a posh place in a big city? I suppose that is the way things happen here in North America. And if it results in people making important choices to support various mission efforts or answer a "call" to the "mission field", then I guess it will have fulfilled its mission.
Well,I'll wait to tell you next week how it was. I am sure God will have some precious moments for me, whatever their content. He will continue His journey with me, walking me through my life with His "sealed orders". One thing I know for sure now, although it has taken some time to get there: I don't need to apologize for not being a "missionary" any more. I don't need to prove my human "doing". My human "being" is enough for my life in Christ, and enough for me.
This is thy work, these are thy possibilities; contentment to sail with sealed orders, because of unwavering confidence in the wisdom of the Lord High Admiral.
F.B.M. (April 16 in Streams in the Desert)