That is my account of how I became a Christ follower, and a bit about what I understand his message to be. The final part of your question was regarding me being missionary about my faith. I am on a mission, but I don’t know as much about it as I wish I did.
When we started off signing up for the Marine Corps we were converts to the Marine way. We were hooked on the idea of being the best, the toughest and so on. I remember showing up in Rota and being hit with cynical Marines. The dream and the reality weren’t working out so well for quite a few. To some degree I became like that. I enjoyed being the short-timer with the stick of dog tags at the end of my term reminding the retention NCO that not all of us were buying into the whole story: once around the block was enough.
For many in the US Christianity has been like that. It may have been a broad part of cultural understanding, or even a very strong part of childhood. And then, somewhere along the way, the vision lost its allure and we turned our backs on finding any meaning and fulfillment down that road. To some extent that happened to me very early (13). But, as I shared, I really caught the vision for Christ in a way I had never previously understood when I was 21. That vision has been matured, even battered a bit, but it has strengthened through adversity. I am more convinced than ever that God revealed in Christ is the answer to the mystery of life.
Since I want to live out the mystery of my life well, I keep plunging forward in decisive times, plodding forward in others. I have not maxed out the depths of wisdom, beauty, justice, mercy and hope found in the life of Jesus yet. So, part of my mission is to live in such a way as to learn and grow more. That is usually through service.
What service do I have to offer? My specialty is in asking the fundamental questions about life:
- Where did we come from? – origins
- Why are we here? – purpose
- Where are we going? – destiny and the afterlife
- How can we know? – epistemology
I find that there are people everywhere who are either asking these questions or looking for questions like these to ask. I listen to what they have discovered and I tell them what I have discovered. I offer my understanding of the answers to these questions. When people want to learn more about the answers as I see them, I train them in reading Scripture and at reading their life and the world in which they live. I invite them to journey with me and others who see Jesus as the Hope worthy of our full confidence.
Practically that has meant forming small communities. In Dallas I formed a church for Spanish speakers who were trying to get a better life. We shared life together. When in need we shared food, found work together, had celebrations, prayed, learned and lived. The same happened when I moved to North Carolina for graduate studies; this time with migrant workers. I came to Asia and did similar things with communities without access to the way of life in Christ. We have seen a decade’s worth of changed lives as people have learned Christ’s way of love and peace, the Shalom of contentment through serving others.
Now my kids are growing up and I am looking at the world and seeking to see my place in it. The common phenomenon of aging is happening to me like it happens to most: the more I learn the more I realize how much I don’t know. I am still on a mission. I want to know Christ and do that by seeking to live more and more like him. I want to be appropriately loving toward God and people, and I am prayerfully considering how to do that next. As I discover what is next I will let you know.