Monday, December 31, 2012

This is me, not living in a hut

This week I'm at Urbana 2012- a huge missions conference hosted by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I wrote the following post (minus a few edits) 3 years ago, after I went to Urbana 2009.

This is me, not living in a hut

(Or, what I learned at Urbana 2009. Part 2. Part 1 is here.)

So either God tells you to go live in some hut in a tropical country no one’s ever heard of, or you’re off the hook.

Image source.
Either you sell all your stuff and move there and be poor, or you stay in the US and do whatever you want, and then give 20 bucks to the missionaries if your church makes a big deal about it.

Actually no. But I think that’s how I thought about missionaries and stuff. But going to Urbana changed that and helped me understand this mission stuff better. Urbana was all about God’s love for the world, and God calling people to go overseas and feed the poor and tell the world about Jesus.

So going to Urbana, it’s like “oh man, is God gonna tell me to go somewhere crazy???” I wasn’t really expecting anything like that. I was joking about it- “hey let’s tell Mom that we’re totally going to Uganda now.” ;D

It all seemed very binary in my head- like either you give up everything and go, or you stay in the US and don’t do any mission stuff. Well, you can support the missionaries by giving them money or whatever, but nothing huge. “It’s just as important that we have people staying here to support the people who go.” Ya know?

Which do I want? Well I want to have adventures and serve Jesus and live for Him. Not sure if I want to go live in some poor country. Do they have the internet?

But I don’t want to stay in the US and live a normal American life and pray for the world occasionally, and send money. I want to be more involved than that.

I realized I had been seeing it all wrong. There is another option. I can stay here in the US but not have that “normal American life.” No, I’ll be living for God in everything I do, helping people here, telling people about Jesus here.

And the more I think about it, the more I don’t want the “normal American life,” or at least what I perceive it to be. I don’t want a house full of stuff. I actually really like having an 8 ft x 10 ft dorm room. If my cell phone rings, well, it’s less than 10ish ft away from me, so it’s not like I won’t hear it. So convenient. ;D

I don’t want a life full of expensive things I don’t use. I don’t want to be so surrounded by stuff that I don’t talk to PEOPLE.

I don’t want to be focused on myself and isolated from the world. I don’t want to go to church and pray for somebody’s mom’s back surgery and not pray for the millions of people who need Jesus so bad and don’t know Him.

I don’t want to own every electronic thing in the world. Actually, at the moment, I don’t really want a TV. The only thing I really “need” to watch is football. Mythbusters is pretty awesome too.

Etc etc, the point is, I could live a lot simpler than I do now, and it wouldn’t even be hard.

At Urbana, one of the speakers told a story about a family who owned a big, successful company. But they capped their income- they had a set amount they would use for themselves, and all the extra profits would be donated. Apparently they give away a $1 million each month. Something like that.

Like, WHOA, can you DO that? No one’s allowed to give away that much money. Seriously, I’ve thought about this stuff before, how much money to give away, and if you give away too much then it’s just weird. Like, okay 10% is legit, the Bible uses that number some but there’s no rigid rule about it. Maybe even 20% would be acceptable. But if people found out you were giving away 50% of your income or whatever, they would be so shocked. And not in a good way. Not in a “oh you’re so generous and awesome” but more like “whoa whoa, are you sure that’s a good idea? Are you gonna have enough for yourself? You gotta make wise choices with your money.”

BUT okay I’m aware that I don’t really know much about money and real life because I get everything I need for free, ie, I’m on the meal plan. And my parents are awesome and they pay for a lot of stuff.

So back to the question about living in a hut on the other side of the world or not. I realized one important thing here is, what is my identity? Speakers at Urbana get introduced as “oh this person is a missionary in here or there” or “this person is the head of some big Christian organization” or whatever. And what would they say about me? “Perfectnumber628 is an engineer.” NO! How I would hate that. That’s not who I am.

Yeah the plan is for me to be an engineer. But that’s not my identity.

I want to be described like this: “Perfectnumber628 is a radically devoted follower of Jesus. She works as an engineer. On the side, ya know.” (And by “on the side” I mean “full-time job”, but that’s not the point.) Because I want only Jesus to be my identity. And not just because that’s “the right thing” to say. No... like emotionally I actually strongly dislike the idea of describing me as an engineer and stopping there.

And I desire this: that no one can talk about me without talking about Jesus.

Uh, what?

Perfectnumber, that’s not even realistic. That doesn’t even make sense. Yeah I know. But I can dream.

Seriously, Jesus is so awesome and He rescued me and He is the reason I am who I am. I pretty much wanna talk about Him all the time.

It took 1 week for Him to totally change my life and pull me out of the whole my-life-is-hopeless thing. But my problems weren’t gone then. Haha. What had changed is I KNEW that Jesus Christ is all I need. Specifically, I don’t need a boyfriend to make my life worth living. And yeah, ever since He changed my life, a year and a half ago, He’s been changing other things and solving my problems and stuff that takes time. And did I mention He’s awesome?

And I want people to see the epic freedom He offers. And how He’s the best. And living one’s life totally devoted to Jesus is the best way to live. It’s kind of a big deal.

Can we talk about Jesus more?

Anyway, yeah I know, He’s awesome, but it means I gotta change how I’m living. Like fight against my selfishness and pride. Hard stuff like that. As much as I’d like to just hang out and talk about how much I love Jesus, it all means nothing if I’m not DOING stuff about it. Serving people and loving people, pretty much. Jesus served people, and I feel like I don’t really want to. Clearly I have to get over that. I have to be like Jesus.

And there’s gotta be a ton of things I’m doing wrong and I’m totally not aware. We’ll see. It’s a process.

So in summary, yes I am going to be a missionary. Maybe in some foreign country, maybe right here in the US among people who are like me. No matter what, I’m going to be living totally devoted to Jesus, and I want to serve people and love people wherever I am. And I want to be aware of what’s going on in the world and such.

Yeah so that’s gonna be my life. Fierce devotion. Following Jesus at any cost. (Oh darn, that means fighting against my own selfishness and problems.) People might think it’s weird, but I don’t care. This dude rescued me.


  1. I love your vision for your life and affirm you in it. Living for God is about so much more than the title one has or the job one does. Where do you find yourself now, 3 years later? How have you lived out this vision and where do you still want to grow in it?

    I attend Urbana quite a few years ago and it definitely played a role in shaping the course of my life. All these years later I'm still trying to live it in my identity as a Jesus-disciple through the changing seasons of life. May you know God's guidance as your follow the call.

  2. Thanks so much! Where am I three years later? Haha, funny story... I'm still in the US, but totally about to move to China as soon as I can. ^_^