We’ve all heard the verse, “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said, “You must become like little children.”
Serving as a field personnel is teaching me what this looks like it a way I’ve never experienced before. I’ve traveled to foreign countries where I didn’t speak the language; I’ve moved to new places and started new jobs and needed help from those around me.
But never, since I was actually a child, have I been so wholly dependent on other people. There’s almost nothing I can do completely on my own. Even asking for the most basic things poses a challenge. But I think maybe this is exactly the thing I’m supposed to be learning— the humility, the dependence, living a picture of what this life of faith, what this relationship with a trustworthy, dependable God looks like.
I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and a professional licensure. Once I finished school, I taught and supervised undergraduate and graduate students. But today, I’m literally learning from a kindergarten workbook.
As educated Western Christians, it’s so easy for us to think we’re the ones coming into the field to offer something. We have the experience, the credentials, the expertise, etc. But the truth is, we’re all pilgrims on this journey together. Bearing witness to the work of God within us so that the world may see and know means that God is transforming us all, alongside one another.
Where do I see the image of God in those around me? Do I see God in those who have less education but who are most certainly the expert between the two of us when it comes to speaking, reading or writing Arabic, or generally living in an Arab culture and in an Arabic-speaking community for that matter?
Do I recognize that the grace and patience, the gentle, steady affirmation and encouragement, the ‘“that-a girl’, keep going, you can do this,” that are regularly offered to me by my neighbors are God showing Himself to me reflected through their kindness?
Last week, I was watching my friend’s youngest daughter learn to rollerblade for the very first time. She needed handholding, someone to help her up when she fell or to help her balance as she tried to get back up on her own. She needed someone to coach her, to give her instructions, to teach her from their own experience. Years ago, these people had been where she was now. She wanted to learn; but she needed the balance of independence and being wrapped in comfort and encouragement as she tried and fell and tried again.
And she needed people to celebrate with her along the way. Every step of the way, they cheered her on as she made progress; every small victory was celebrated, as she went a few feet along the railing without falling—at first, still holding on, then without holding on, then away from the railing and holding on to someone else; finally on her own with no help.
People are usually good and helpful when we give them a chance to be. Leaning in to my practical dependence on those around me is giving me a glimpse of how abundant life might be if I leaned into God that way—if I learned to ask for help and to receive it well, if I learned to trust that God will lead the way, help me find balance when I fall, and encourage me to try again.
Am I open to all that I have to learn from those around me? Am I curious about new things? Do I desire to learn? Do I believe my neighbors have things to teach me? Am I willing to let myself change, to become like a little child again? By God’s grace, may it be so for us all.
Christine was appointed to serve as Cooperative Baptist field personnel in June 2020, serving with the Africa/Middle East team. Learn more about her ministry at www.cbf.net/christine. The CBF Offering for Global Missions makes possible the long-term presence of CBF field personnel like Christine. 100% of gifts to the Offering support CBF field personnel serving in the United Sates and around the world. Give online today at www.cbf.net/OGM.