Until a few years ago, my image of missionaries was still pretty terrible. Whenever they were mentioned, pictures of crazy Bible thumpers or a bunch of seriously righteous goody two-shoes flashed through my mind. Worst of all, they always came with a heaping pile of guilt, because while they were out baptizing prostitutes in the African bush, I was probably watching The Bachelor. And they knew it.
You want to know why? If you've ever been intimidated by the pure and shiny exterior of missions, I have a confession for you: I became a missionary for the dumbest possible reason. I wanted someone to like me.
It all began when I met a group of missionaries in India. I hadn't spoken to a Christian in months, and despite all my biases, I really wanted to be friends with them. The only problem was that they didn't like me. Or so I thought. At the time, I was doing research on Buddhist poetry, and they were presenting the gospel to Tibetans. I'd hang around their coffee shop all the time, but I always felt like an outsider. I was the Bachelor-watching, Buddhist-sympathizing heathen among missionaries. Nothing could bring me up to their level.
I got so tired of it that I decided to do something drastic: I told them I wanted to join their organization. Finally, something clicked. They got excited. I got excited.
One day, God straight out asked me, "Who told you that?" I thought about it, but I couldn't remember a single instance when a missionary or church leader had actually ever said something like that to me. On the contrary, most of them had spoken about grace and how none of us are "good enough" on our own. The idea that I had to be came entirely from my own demons, who were intent on keeping me trapped by fear and guilt. Once I realized that my feelings weren't founded on any real truth (and that I had the power to forgive anyone who had been hurtful), I felt amazingly free.
After my grand realization, I ran into some of the folks from India at the YWAM base in Kona. As it turns out, they had liked me just fine, even before I joined their ranks. I was just so weighed down by my own baggage that I couldn't see it. In a little coffee shop in Hawaii, we talked and laughed the way I'd always wanted us to in India, and we remain friends to this day.
God is so much bigger than the way you feel. And if you give him the chance, he might just turn your whole perception upside down. He did with me, and I've never been the same.
Be blessed and be free,
Liz (and Sam)
As always, support can be sent to
Sam & Elizabeth Steere
3601 Ginger Creek Dr.
Springfield, IL 62711