A good friend once told me about an encounter he experienced with a missionary in another country. The missionary took dinner to an old widow and since my friend didn’t speak the native language, he could only watch the missionary and the widow interact. Even though he couldn’t understand what they were saying, my friend said it was an incredible thing to watch because the missionary clearly loved and cared for this woman and the woman truly needed and appreciated it. It was what Seth Godin calls art.
Later the missionary told my friend that the woman said years earlier she would never become a Christian. When the missionary was asked why he continued to pour time and energy into loving and serving this woman he explained that the way people respond has no bearing on how we love, serve, and care for them. He brought food to the widow and spent time with her not because he was hoping for a specific response but because his actions were a natural outpouring of who he is in Christ.
It’s unfortunate that in some cases a mission effort isn’t seen as legitimate unless there’s a Bible study or preaching involved. Sometimes the kingdom of God breaks into the world when a person who is hungry gets something to eat or when someone who is homeless is given a place to sleep or when a child who doesn’t have shoes is given a pair. In “The Next Christians,” Gabe Lyons refers to people with this mentality as restorers. Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes, is a restorer.