When people ask me what I do for a living, I typically say, “I befriend, serve, and mentor Internationals.” Sometimes they want more information so I tell them stories about how I connect with people and ways that I see God work in their lives. Most of the time, people think what I do is awesome. “Oh, that’s so needed” is a common response (which, of course, I love to hear).
However, with the recent terrorist attacks and debates over immigration and refugees, more and more people seem to question the wisdom of allowing foreigners into our country. Rather than debate the pros and cons of these issues, I’d like to tell you WHY I love to minister among internationals.
When I help a Saudi friend learn English, I do it because I want her to feel welcomed by an American. I want her to remember the good people she encountered in the U.S. But I don’t just do it so that she has a positive experience while she’s here; I am more than an American.
When I teach a Hindu woman to drive, I do it because I want her to experience the freedom that driving brings in the Midwest. I want her to feel empowered to assist at her daughter’s school, to go get a haircut, to visit a friend. But I don’t just do it to show solidarity with another woman; I am more than a woman.
When I write a new article or teach a cross-cultural workshop, I do it because I want people of different cultures to understand and appreciate one another. I want Internationals and Americans to build strong relationships that strengthen our communities. But I don’t just do it so that people of different races and economic levels are unified; I am more than a white, middle-class person.
White. Middle class. Woman. American. I am more than the labels that define me, and my purpose is rooted in something far deeper. I can faithfully represent the U.S., and I can be MORE. I can reveal what it means to be a healthy woman, and I can be MORE. I can live a generous middle-class life, and I can be MORE. I can reflect the best side of being white, and I can be MORE. In Jesus Christ, we are ALL called to be MORE!
What MORE does God call us to be? 1 Peter 2:9-12 tells us:
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Peter 2:9-12, NIV).
That’s right! God calls us to be HIS people, HIS representatives, and HIS ambassadors. As people who once lived in darkness, we are called to shine God’s light in a dark world. As people who receive unearned favor, we are called to share God’s unending mercy with the world. As foreigners waiting for our forever home, we are called to love the immigrants living amongst us. God doesn’t call us to be less than what we already are; He calls us to be more! That MORE is what drives me to befriend, serve, and mentor the internationals God brings into my life.
During this holy season, I’d like to challenge you to think about the MORE God wants for you. What would it look like for you to be God’s ambassador in 2016? What would it look like for your family, your workplace, your community? I’d also like to encourage you to pray about making a special year-end gift to allow me to reach MORE people in 2016. You can do that HERE. (Click on “Quick Give” and select “Vast-Binder” from the “Choose Fund Below” drop-down menu.) Together we can change the world, starting right here in St. Louis!
However God leads you to live MORE, I pray that others “may see your good deeds and glorify God” both now and forever. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!