"Where have you been?" "How was it?" "Did they make you drink strange juice or take a Red Pill?" and my personal favorite, "Wait, you were gone?"
But the most important question was "Why were you there?" At a surfa
ce level I normally say that I was there because I have been called to reach the world for Jesus and be a bridge for those who are hurting and suffering the effects of sin to find grace, forgiveness and life. At an even shallower surface level, I might say, "because it was in Daytona and it's January and I have a low tolerance for cold weather...I don't even like ice cream that is slightly too cold (I'm looking at you, Baskin Robbins!)."
The real reason I was down there was to "prepare for a lifetime of ministry." I dont think it hit me until now that I'm in this for the long haul. I know God has called me to reach cultures that are not my own. I know that he is currently equipping me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually for that task, too. But I dont think it was until I was commissioned as a real "missionary" last Sunday that it sunk in.
I had to stand up and recite something that I can't recall now, but I know was meaningful and even made me stop joking around with the 7 others at my dinner table (and some other good friends at other tables via text message) for several minutes and contemplate what the Lord is doing to me and in me.
The keynote speaker was an elderly man who had been on staff with Campus Crusade since the Reformation. He had thin white hair and had been battling cancer for several years. He talked to Vonette Bright (Crusade's founder's wife and local celebrity, pictured above) as if they were platonically involved, in the way people in retirement homes are. But beyond that, and through him leaning too far away from the microphone, he inspired me that students in the world are so lost, need hope in Jesus, and that they are worth enduring hardship for.
He told stories of becoming the first Asian director in the 70's. Again, he was very white and old. He talked of hardships with cultural differences and yet, because of his faith in stepping into discomfort, Crusade is now being used mightily to reach the most open parts of the world spiritually.
I was reminded of the last movie I saw, The Book of Eli. Like Denzel, this man told stories from a deep faith and deep experiences with God. He knew his life was ending soon. Yet he also knew that his purpose was not in vain and neither was his work. He had lived a good life and was enjoying the nostalgia of God's faithfulness. He talked as to inspire us, though told stories as if we were his grandchildren, sitting on his lap, listening to tales of war.
And now, he was content for the Lord to take him any day.
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have have kept the faith."
I pray that one day I can stand in front of a group of ignorant, uber-texting, unsanctified kids and speak like that man did of Jesus' power in his faith. I hope that my lifetime will be as rich and I will have stories that will make people wonder if I'm making them up, or if I just have taken my meds in a while. I yearn for the lifetime of ministry highs and lows that I am only beginning now.