Over the years I have had many stances on missionary work. I would have to say I was all for it until 2009 when my then reality was crushed. I have written on my rejection and idolatry previously, so I will not write on it here. (Though, I do want to mention that after my discovery of my position on the Autism spectrum, I wonder if it was actually idolatry or simply perseveration.) After that time of being full on gung ho, I turned to apathy. Yet, perhaps not actually apathy but rather a complete pushing away from the idea. Which may or may not be the same thing. As an example, I once was partaking in buy one get one free night at a local bar. A guy and I were talking about school and what we were studying. At this point I was not enrolled in Ozark, taking a break from pursuing the Bachelor in Christian Ministry with an emphasis in Cross Cultural Ministry. As he asked my field, I felt I wanted to distance myself (or maybe just to not be judged for imbibing.) I said I was a Marketing major with a minor in Anthropology.
Post-mire I moved from apathy to tentative eagerness. I felt like I was ready to get back on the wagon. My life (or rather, our life, as Casey and I began marriage) seemed to be moving again in a forward direction. We were even looking at NMSI apprenticeships in Europe! Unfortunately this fell through, but we started a local apprenticeship at the church we attended. This was great, until Dante came into our lives. We ceased our progress. I refuse to blame Dante. The growth he has caused in our lives is beyond amazing. However, it caused confusion. The thought of missions was still in our minds. For me, I searched for positions at churches across the country. I was (and still am) desperate to use my education for the good of the kingdom. As Casey, Dante, and I moved cross-country several times, I kept searching.
Through different jobs and even job interviews I tried using my knowledge. At Verizon Wireless, I was on the global support team and I got to talk to people as they travelled to other cultures. At Seattle Pedicab, I got to give rides to people as they came from those cultures. I always loved meeting people with limited English and seeing how to best communicate with them. Even as I attempted to be a police dispatcher, I believe my cross cultural training helped me stay in contention. However, at times this enthusiasm seemed even to me to be a façade. Whether it is from my Aspergers or simply a part of my personality from my experiences as an adult, I am not a glass half full or half empty. I am half empty with a leak. When I look at the situation (for lack of a better term), I feel hopeless. There are over seven billion alive now with millions cycling through daily. Many are living and dying far out of the church's current reach. If you consider those who are going as missionaries, or those who are already in those countries, my mind sees an impossibly situation.
This is what got me reading David Bentley Hart over the past half year or so. My mind cannot comprehend God allowing people to live with such terrible odds stacked against them being able to hear the Gospel. I am still struggling with the thought. Some days I find myself debating between universalism, purgatory, and traditional be baptized or burn. No, I am not questioning God's existence. The laws of thermodynamics answer that for me, as a start. However, this is why I found myself looking further into Theodicy now than I did as an Ozark student. Wherever I land, I remain convinced that as those who swear allegiance to Christ, we must go in some way or another because that is His command. If we are to love and follow him, we will obey. Not out of blind obedience, but out of desire for others to know the truth and beauty of Shalom before the other side.