Tuesday, June 15, 2004

On Becoming a Missionary Family

How did the Magruder family end up becoming missionaries ... to Cameroon, of all places?

Short answer: We got knocked off our horses!

Long answer: Remember the story of Saul on the Damascus Road in the book of Acts? Saul was extremely happy with himself, doing the Lord's work, making trouble and taking prisoners. When all of a sudden, on his way into Damascus on I-20, he encountered a bright light and a booming noise. I'd always pictured him getting knocked off his horse, but unfortunately, this is an imaginative detail, because there is no horse in the story ... but I digress. The point is that God, in a very noisy way, got Saul's attention and told him to get off his butt and do something different.

You see, about a year ago, I wrote a controversial column in the United Methodist Reporter in which I challenged the church to stay true to its own stated belief that "war is incompatible with the Christian gospel." In particular, I urged pastors to challenge young people to consider doing something else with their lives instead of becoming part of the American war machine.

That made a whole lot of people mad. I was called all sorts of things, publicly and privately.

But I discovered that I had really challenged myself the most. Because buried in the column, there at the end, were these words: "I believe that the most powerful force in the world is an army of pastors, teachers, doctors, and missionaries, when aided by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, the rush to join this army isn't vigorous."

Easy words to say when living in a cushy three-bedroom house in a suburban Dallas neighborhood, making a comfortable, if not luxurious, salary.

I found myself wondering if I believed those words. And I began to wonder where the "most powerful force" was needed.

Surely not in Dallas, Texas, home of a church on every corner, the home-church of the President of the USA, site of the Southern Baptist Vatican, and numerous TV ministries!

And so began the long journey to figure out where God was leading us, which is, as is usually the case, where the least, the last, and the oppressed are found.

In this space, I hope to keep you all abreast of the amazin' morphin' ministry of the Magruders, United Methodist missionary family to Cameroon. Keep watching, and we'll keep posting.

Peace back at ya',