by Allee Rodenbaugh
The funny thing is, I hate chai. Seriously, I look like a whiney toddler who’s being forced to eat spinach when I drink it. It's any tea really. I grew up in the South, but somehow I do not even like the homegrown fresh-brewed tea, no matter how much sugar is dissolved in it.
What's so ironic about my hatred for tea? Well, I am moving to South Asia where tea is served with every meal and is a major part of all social interactions and conversations.
This September I have the opportunity to pack what I can fit into two pieces of luggage, hop on a plane, cross two oceans, and fly over three continents. The Lord placed a passion in my heart for the unreached when I was seventeen, and that passion has done nothing but intensify ever since. Usually when people ask me what I want to do with my life, they give me this really awkward facial expression and look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them. It often hits them that their face is revealing their thoughts and they quickly try to cover it up with a confused, but smiling face and ask: why? As I begin to explain, a vast array of questions come my way. The majority being, "What about here in America? There are lost people all around you."
I absolutely agree! And I pray that the body of believers here in America would feel the urgency and command we have as followers of Christ to make disciples wherever we are. And by make disciples, I don't mean just going door to door and reading the King James Version of John 3:16.
However, when I say unreached, I am not talking about people who are lost and don't know the Lord; I am talking about people who are lost and don't know the Lord and there is no one that speaks their language that can tell them. Or there is no church that exists among their people. That is an unreached people group.
Missions is not just a part or a department of the church. It is God's heart to reach those for whom Christ died. Jesus has commanded we take the gospel beyond just Judea (our hometown), and to the ends of the earth. I do not think I have some special "calling.” I think making disciples is a command, and that the Lord has instilled a passion and urgency deep in my heart about making disciples among unreached people groups (42% of the world).
So what will I be doing in South Asia? Hopefully "enjoying" a fresh cup of chai tea with every meal. More importantly, I will be joining a team whose goal is a long-term reproducing Church Planting Movement among specific unreached people groups. Some of my time will be spent doing Graphic Design for videographers on this team. As well, I will be helping design jewelry that is being made by women in the slums, with the hopes that their market can be expanded and that they will be able to sustain themselves and their children by their crafts. The biggest desire I have is that my time in this city will open opportunities to share the gospel, make disciples, and equip local believers to make disciples among their own people. My prayer is that through these opportunities, the Spirit will give new life to those who don’t know Jesus and the Gospel will be so compelling that it spreads like wildfire..
My body is filled with emotions right now as I prepare to move. I am excited, nervous, humbled, trying not to have major FOMO (fear of missing out), encouraged, and so much more. Probably the most overpowering emotion is that my heart is heavy. In the city I will be living in, every 6 seconds a girl is being trafficked into sex slavery. Everywhere you turn, there are bells ringing because people are waking up their God to pray to them. Five times a day the call to prayer is happening and millions and millions of Muslims are pouring into mosques trying to earn the favor of Allah. It is a dark place. But, like Robyn talked about in her blog post, ‘Why a Life of Risk is Worth It,’ I believe the safest place I can live my life is in the center of God’s will. No matter where that takes me.
So how does all of this affect Christians in the United States? How does this calling that God has commanded of all of his people work in corporate America? In your neighborhood? In your family? I challenge you to allow the calling of the Lord to transform and define your life. What could that mean for you?
For Lizzie, it was taking the passion Jesus gave her for the women in Africa and turning it into a company that would help give them hope and sustainability.
Maybe it’s finding a way to minister to the person in the cubicle next to you in the name of Christ. Maybe it’s demonstrating what loving your neighbor looks like to people who have no idea what God’s love really involves. Maybe it is focusing your relationships and conversations on the principles and values of earnest discipleship. Or maybe God is calling you to something bigger? Is there anything holding you back from doing what He has asked of you? Is there anything distracting you from your purpose?
For me it was tea (well, and a few other things added in there). Sounds crazy, I know. But my distaste for something that I know defines the Asian culture deterred me from the mission field there. Now, I hope to change something that initially was a cultural challenge for me to accept, into something I will not only enjoy, but use to start conversations about Christ with those who desperately need redemption. It’s time for me to stop allowing small things to keep me from the Lord’s desires for my life. It’s time for me to put aside my selfish desires to drink Dr. Pepper with every meal and try a new tradition. It’s time for me to whole heartedly embrace the new culture God has called me to disciple. How is the Lord calling you to disciple those in your life? What time is it for you?
For me, it's time to embrace my year supply of chai.