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Missionary life includes the ordinary

I stopped brushing my teeth as I heard a familiar melodic chime from outside, one that resembles an ice-cream truck’s chime. I grabbed the big garbage bag by the window and rushed out of our apartment with toothpaste foam still around my mouth. That job done, I jogged quickly back to our apartment hoping that I wouldn’t be spotted by my neighbours with foam dribbling down my chin. Later, I stood in front of our open refrigerator and stared at the empty space, where the bread was supposed to be. I’d have to add that to the list for the next trip to the supermarket.

At this point, I stopped to ponder how banal our lives as missionaries have become. There have been wonderful gospel conversations with Japanese seekers and the joyful privilege of seeing Japanese Christians grow in their love for Christ as we’ve studied God’s Word together. But, as I poured boiling water into my cup noodles, I wondered if early missionaries ever had problems deciding what to eat for breakfast or found that they had run out of clean shirts.

A large part of our day can get caught up in the most ordinary tasks: laundry, travelling on trains, and figuring out what we are actually buying at the supermarket. Then we can spend a long time deciphering the letters we received and trying to understand our receipts so we can figure out our expenses. Tasks and events that probably won’t make it into missionary biographies.

“It seems like a good day to sun our futons,” my wife said, looking out the window.

As I placed the futon over the balcony rail, the Benedictine monk’s phrase “Ora Et Labora” (Pray and labour) came to mind. St. Benedict believed that prayer and work are partners, contemplation is combined with action. Through prayer we honour God with the words we say, but through work we honour God with the things we do. This is a timely reminder for us all, especially during this time of national emergency, where we are to stay in the house and our days might be filled with even more seemingly mundane tasks.

Everything that we do, no matter how trivial, we do to honour God. It puts the way we live our lives in a different light.

By Shao, an OMF missionary in Japan

Will you pray for Japan?

  • That missionaries, especially new ones, would not be frustrated with how much time it takes to do ordinary daily tasks.
  • That all Christians would honour God with our prayers and even our seemingly trivial deeds.
  • That God would work through the small things in our everyday lives to further his kingdom.

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