Real Mission: Begin Again
A few of you have been reading this blog from the beginning of the pandemic, and I want to say thank you. In the midst of this crazy time, it has been a great way for me to share with you some of the intricacies of my life in mission and hopefully a platform to get you thinking about your life as a missionary: past, present, and future.
I haven’t written to you all in over a month now. At first it was the Holidays, then writer’s block, then putting too much pressure on myself, and then, the worst, shame. I felt like I couldn’t possibly write now. Too much pressure, too much expectation of what I would put on paper next, too critical of an inward eye on a simple eight-hundred-word post that didn’t have to be some profound piece of literature, just a little check-in with my people.
I want to be honest with you all about where I’ve been with this blog because I realize we do this in mission too. We get distracted, we don’t know where to start, we ignore the urging to just do something, anything, and then we give in to this sinking feeling that maybe we’re just not cut out for this, maybe we are not worthy enough to change the world.
That voice that you hear saying that does not belong to God.
God’s voice is the one that says, just say something, just write something, just be honest about where you’ve fallen short. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
Today is a new day. The beginning of a very special month in our nation. A month in which worthy children of God step out from beneath the shadow of fear and shame and hatred and are celebrated for their accomplishments in the world and for their belovedness. This February I am going to use my professional platform to share with you all the stories of Black Missionaries who, despite the circumstances of their surroundings, reached out in love to heal a broken world.
This month we will celebrate those who boldly said, “Get behind me Satan! I am walking in the light of God."
We begin with Georgia Gilmore, one of the most brilliant women you’ve probably never heard of. Georgia was a midwife and mother of six, who inspired by Rosa Park’s arrest asked herself, “what in the world can I do?” With a bit of loving self-evaluation, she was able to recognize two beautiful qualities which she herself possessed: a network of women whose children she helped bring into the world, and a love of and talent for cooking. With self-empowerment and resolve for a better future, Georgia, in her own words, “just decided to be a committee of one” and, with that, she started cooking and feeding participants of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts.
Before long, she found herself organizing other women who had a knack for cooking, and she began to sell food throughout the community to pay for the food that fed boycott participants.
As the boycott went on, she and her fellow missionaries realized that if they were going to get their spouses and friends back to work, they needed to set up their own system of transportation that was not fueled by racism, but that was fueled by good will. With this, they began a carpool of Black drivers who traveled around the city getting people whom the system had failed to work. Ms. Gilmore and her companions had raised enough money to fuel hundreds of vehicles while feeding and paying their drivers a livable wage. They got the job done despite the cards that were stacked against them.
I chose Georgia Gilmore today because she inspires me, a mother of six children (who she homeschooled, btw) with chocolate skin and a pork-chop recipe that fed a city. Georgia looked inside herself and said, maybe I can’t do everything, but I can do something, and there began a movement of women determined to make their own way in a society that told them that they were just simple housewives.
The best missionaries, in my opinion, are the ones that can look at their nearby surroundings and ask, what here does not look like the kingdom, and what skills do I have that can help change that? The best missionaries are the ones that move beyond people’s expectations of who they “should be” in order to become who they really are.
Being a missionary is about reconciling people to God and one another. It’s about silencing the voice that says, you’re not enough, and saying to the world here I am! Can you cook? Feed someone who is hungry. Are you good at math? Like to read? Tutor a child. Do you play music? Fill the silent void with joy. Love to garden? Grow some veggies for the local food pantry.
What is it that you have to share? What are you good at? What is the ordinary thing that you can do to make something extraordinary happen?
Georgia Gilmore was a bold Black woman who fed a people hungry for justice and truth. In my eyes, a great missionary who fueled a movement that changed our nation.
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