Monday, December 17, 2007

Am I a real missionary yet?

Of course I know that we're all missionaries in a sense, but it always kind of bothered me that I am not able to do full time missionary work (in the more traditional sense) because I'm stuck paying off these blasted student loans (the biggest regret of my life -- trust me, a post on that is coming soon). God sure knows what he's doing, though. It turns out I absolutely love teaching English, and knowing what I know now, I would do it even if I didn't have this gigantic ball and chain known as student loans weighing me down. Mainly because I teach adults (which isn't to say that you can't share your faith while teaching kids -- I just think it's a bit more difficult), I'm able to be in contact with people and share my faith in ways that I couldn't if I didn't teach. It's also a great way for people who aren't completely fluent in Chinese yet to minister. However, because it's dangerously easy for "tentmakers" to fall into a "I'm a lone cowboy who doesn't need anyone" kind of thinking, Ian and I have been praying about starting a partnership with one of the missionary organizations in Taiwan. All of them are great, and most of them kind of have their own specialties.

I have to say though, I believe in OMF's mission to the working class of Taiwan and to the urban marginalized people in the Wanhua district of Taipei with a passion. Probably because I'm a Human Services major who was on the road to becoming a social worker not too long ago. Throughout college, I did internships and practicums with drug addicts, prostitutes, abused women and children, the homeless, and the elderly (I finally settled on working with the elderly -- little did I know that I'd end up getting married right out of college and being an ESL teacher in Taiwan). Needless to say, I've always believed it to be my calling to work with marginalized people. Now Ian is helping OMF working with children from broken homes (in desperate need of some positive male role models), and I have the opportunity to work with prostitutes from the "tea houses" in Wanhua. There's a woman named Kelly who is particularly on my mind. From what I hear, she's a lovely woman who wants to learn English. Not that learning English is some all important thing that can save her, but it is a way for me to form a relationship with her. She's quite motivated! She's been teaching herself by listening to English radio programs. She's in her 50's, and she's quite shy. So this Friday someone is taking me by her teahouse, and if she isn't busy, hopefully she'll speak to me and see that I'm not a scary monster or anything. Then hopefully I can teach her some English, and more importantly, be her friend.

Please pray for me -- especially that God will keep providing the motivation I need to learn Chinese. It's a lucky break for me that this woman happens to want to learn English, but it would be ridiculous for me to think that I could get away with ministering to the urban marginalized people of Taiwan in English. When you talk about the important stuff -- faith, love, life and death -- you want to speak the language that you pray with, the language that's in your heart. It's my job to adjust to THEIR language -- not the other way around. Most of these people don't have the luxury of taking time to learn English anyway, so I better get crackin'!


  1. Girl,
    You are exactly where God wants you and being a blessing to them!

    I'll be praying for ya!


  2. I think that God will use the student loans for His Glory(as you are working:) and meeting with others.

    Even before you master the language(or minor it:) you are a living testimony of Christ. Your life reflects the just shine as you learn.

    By the way when my husband was stationed in Germany..we opted to live off the base and in the German community. I immersed myself and the children...

    the way I learned the most language was when I found Mickey mouse cartoons in German. It was something I already had seen many times and so picking up the German word was easy. I also watched made for American tv shows in German.

    wow! Oh and at Thanksgiving(before the internet) I spent hours translating what Thanksgiving was and shared my custom with my new neighbors(I was 23-28 in Germany) boy once I shared they did too...I learned so much about Germany,where to shop...etc.

    They were amazed at someone choosing to have more than one was one way to share my faith (be fruitful and multiply) and right after my 25th birthday I had one son and then while still 25 9 months 10 days later I had my third son...I was like a Barnum and Bailey circus for awhile(the oldest was 3) So three little boys,but i made life long friends by living my faith as much as witnessing...

    OK apparently I cannot be shortwinded! prayers from New Mexico

  3. And the winner is Mr. Magoo and you share the prize!!!

  4. YOU are so see where God is leading you...and learning Chinese...
    HIS plans...they will amaze!
    your heart is revealed in your writing Cathleen...
    you are such an inspriation...halfway around the world!

  5. I'm glad you're doing this. I know it was something you have been thinking and talking about for some time now. Good luck on Friday!

  6. Thanks for all the prayers, everyone! Jennifer -- I love your long-winded comments of encouragement! Ali -- I still miss you like crazy!

  7. Actually our church says that as soon as you leave the church grounds you are entering your mission field.
    We even have a sign to remind us.

    Maybe you could share with her your desire to learn the language-you could both benefit from the relationship. She could feel like she is giving for what she is also getting.

  8. Sharon,

    I think you're on to something!


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