I began my missions journey because I wanted to change the world. Now I feel quite small. But lucky for everyone involved, the burden of the Great Commission is not squarely on my shoulders. This unfinished task of going and making disciples of all nations is the call of every believer in every generation and we each have our own part to play. Sometimes that looks really big and people write books that turn into movies about it. But most of the time it looks unimpressively ordinary where love is displayed and taught in the shadows.
For my families second week in Mongolia, a country of less than 2% Christ-followers, it has looked like the biblical ministry of fun. The kids that come into WEGO’s New Hope Children’s Home usually arrive via horrendous circumstances with little or no knowledge of God’s love for them. I know there is a lot of pain hidden beneath the smiles but watching these kids belly laugh is a sacred experience. I’ve yet to make a trip to Mongolia without stretch marks across my face cheeks. Our children’s home is a place of tremendous joy and I’m grateful that my family gets to join the party while we are here.
Google tells me that the Bible mentions the word ‘rejoice’ 248 times so I guess God is pretty serious about it. We are called to rejoice in all circumstances, to be cheerful about giving our money away, and to even count trials as joy. It is the stuff that makes life bearable regardless which cards we are dealt, like growing up in an orphanage just outside the coldest capital city in the world. It is much deeper than having fun and laughing but it’s tough to have one without the other. Bringing another person joy is like speaking a blessing into a curse. Making someone smile or laugh is a slap in the face of disappointment and pain. That is what we have been about this week and the easy truth is that these kids give us far more joy than we could ever bring to them.
I’m thinking about the daily games of UNO that Mukhbayar keeps winning. I’m thinking about Sunday’s soccer game when one of the boys held my hand the entire time I ran around the field scoring goals (because I’m twice everyones size and highly competitive) or the smile on a kids face when they juke me with the ball or they get congratulated for a good game. I’m thinking about the bright eyes when Carlie walks through the door holding some newly baked deliciousness. And I think about yesterday when my family got to take three siblings out for a day o’ fun. We went to a big new mall, ate some food, spent over an hour with everyone falling on ice-skates, looked at dinosaur fossils with ice-cream cones in hand, and finished off the day with fifteen-year-old Aruika learning to drive on a country road.
There has been a tremendous amount of joy and laughter these last 14 days. I’m not too sure that smiles alone will hasten the fulfillment of the Great Commission but it’s a pretty good place to start and, for this week, it is enough.