Becoming a missionary has never been my plan for my life. As a matter of fact, I did pretty much everything to convince myself that I should not become a missionary.
When my parents were dating, back in the days when they called one another from a phone booth and wrote letters and postcards that are now stored in our attic, my Dad had a car accident. The car was completely smashed – but my Dad got out and walked home without a single injury. This was so remarkable, that the guy whom he met down the road didn´t believe him when he said that it was his car that was waiting to be towed away. My Dad had known, loved and followed Jesus before that, but this accident made him re-think his ideas about life. He decided to “give” his life to Jesus anew, letting Him decide what to do with it from now on. And Jesus decided that he wanted my Dad, my Mom and my brother and me (who had come along in the meantime) to live in Africa. We spent five and a half wonderful, difficult, life-changing and sometimes life-threatening years in the Central African Republic, Kenya and Cameroon – and then we returned to Germany.
Returning to a home where you look like everybody else on the outside but are different from everybody else on the inside was more difficult than expected. I worked really hard to become German. And when I succeeded, I decided that I would never be anything else. This was my place.
When I was 21, I even went back to Kenya for a few weeks. Something in me found home there again, and yet, I felt the tension of looking different from everyone around me while feeling like everyone around me. I didn´t want to live like this. I wanted to have a home country that I fit into. When I returned, I announced to my parents that I would never live anywhere but in Germany.
One year later, the man whom I thought I loved left me, and I fell in love with Jesus again. And in that time I asked Jesus, just like my Dad many years before, what He wanted me to do with my life. And, just like my Dad, I felt that I couldn´t live in a place like Germany where it is so easy for people to hear about Jesus when there are places where this is almost impossible.
It´s a story for another day how God changed my mind and took me to South Africa and had me marry a South African. But in the time of asking and wondering where God would have me move and what He would have me do I started to see a picture of my future in my mind. I guess you can call it something between a vision, a dream and a sneak-preview to strange and wonderful things that were to come.
In this picture, I saw myself sitting on the floor, drinking tea out of handle-less cups and talking about life and God with women who had a different ethnic and cultural background than myself.
That was about five years ago.
About two weeks ago, I sat in a room with three Japanese ladies. We were sitting on the floor, drinking tea out of handle-less cups and talking about having babies, fighting with husbands, cooking for families when the food you buy might be contaminated from a nuclear meltdown in a nearby city and whatever else four women talk about when they feel comfortable around one another. Later, we watched a DVD about God´s design for marriage. Two of the ladies don´t know God yet and I don´t know Japanese yet, but we all come together to learn.
While the white-haired man on the screen speaks words that don´t translate into meaning in my mind my eyes wander to the handle-less cup before me.
And although I neither look like everyone around me nor feel particularly at home in this land that we have moved to a month ago, I simply know that Jesus thinks we´re in the right place. And until He tells us to leave, I don´t want to be home anywhere else.