First World Problems

I’m just going to be honest. I have no desire to go to Africa. I mean, if the Lord were to call and then drag me there then maybe I would. 

But all real and great missionaries go to Africa, right? Well probably…

I have a few friends who have done missions in Africa within the past few years, including my three leaders here in Thailand. And from what I’ve heard it’s SO hard, but that it’s so good. It is such a stretch physically and materially from the life most of us know in America, let alone emotionally and spiritually draining because of all the starving and physically desperate people you encounter there. It takes quite the drive to do ministry and do it well there for an extended period of time.

Sometimes when I hear people talking about their experiences in Africa and how life here in Thailand is nothing compared to it (well yes, duh), I start hearing this lie that I’m not a good missionary, because I don’t have a desire to go there (at least for now).  I heard the lie that the things I did here for my “missions trip” really wasn’t real mission work at all. This lie said that the things that were hard here for me, really shouldn’t have been that hard at all because our life as missionaries is lavish here compared to other countries. I felt condemned for not living in a hut/tent for the past two months. 

It said that whatever I was feeling in those hard times was weak and vain.

Yes, we have it so good here in Chiang Mai. We have had so much down time to spend with Jesus and each other. Doing ministry meant going and talking/hanging out with people with intentions of loving on them without straight up sharing the gospel and trying to persuade them to follow Jesus. 
We get to eat great food, drink good coffee, and shop at night markets.  

We most definitely are not sleeping in huts, ministering to hundreds of kids who are starving to death and who have literally nothing. We are not preaching messages in three-hour church services, doing crusades, and seeing people radically saved and healed everyday…we aren’t in Africa. And that’s OKAY. 

It’s okay that we have been learning how to love Jesus and people more in our ample quiet times with coffee and good company. 

It’s okay that we have been more so learning a lifestyle of ministry in a place that is so similar to America. 

It’s okay that we are learning how to simply love people and be patient for the right time to verbally share the gospel. 

It’s okay that I’m not in Africa. 

And I think it’s okay if I never even go to Africa. The Lord is recklessly pursuing people all over the world on every continent, and is not limited to Africa. Though the people there do need to hear about and experience Jesus, it’s not the only part of the world that needs missionaries. 

Doing ministry in places like Thailand and America is just as important. Though people may physically be fine, they are putting their hope in false idols and objects. They are people living with false hope and living in complacency. It’s a whole different kind of ministry, and that’s okay.

There is absolutely no reason I should feel ashamed or condemned for being called to ministry in places like Thailand. And contrary to popular misconceptions of missionary life and what that looks like, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being called to stay and live in America as long-term as a missionary. 

It’s okay to be a missionary in a First World country and never even go to Africa. 

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24)


Chiang Mai night bazaar

Zion Café (Photo cred: Sarah Tranter)

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