I worked my final shift as an employee at 2 Chez, the restaurant I’ve been waiting tables in for the last three years, tonight. For three years, I have worked as a waiter part time and for an organization called Crescent Project, also part time. For the last two-ish years now, I’ve been simultaneously working on my Master’s degree full time.
It’s been a long haul, and I have a lot of thankfulness in my heart for the experience I’ve had at 2 Chez. The time has come, however, for me to kick aside the crutch that this job has been for me (a financial crutch…and a good one) and pursue working full-time doing what I am supposed to be doing.
I say ‘pursue’ because I am a quasi-missionary, and as such I raise financial support to do what I do.
I say quasi, because my ‘mission field’ is the Church.
Admittedly, there aren’t many missionaries to the Church. What I’ve come to realize over the last 9 months or so, is that my experiences have all been building on top of one another, and I have a specific purpose. My purpose is to challenge the Church to put into practice some of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith: to love their neighbors, strangers, and enemies, as much as and like they love themselves.
You might be asking: Isn’t that what Pastors are supposed to do? I would say, “Absolutely!” But reality tells us that this challenge, to step outside of one’s own basic desires and live openly towards others, is not being accomplished very effectively by Pastors. This is not their fault (completely). The system of ‘Church’ in America especially is predisposed towards helping people become better individuals. The problem is that Pastors are paid by the people who they are helping. And those people don’t really want to be challenged to live for others more than they do for themselves. Because of this, the system itself keeps Pastors from feeling the freedom to challenge their parishioners too much…their job depends on the satisfaction of those same parishioners.
This is why I have a job. I get to stand outside the ‘Church’ as a particular community and challenge those who comprise the ‘Church’ to love their neighbors, strangers, and enemies. In America, and particularly in the American church, Muslims are the quintessential neighbor/stranger/enemy. So, my job is to implore the ‘Church’ to be the ‘Church’ by engaging in relationships with the very people they are (often) afraid of.
Because I believe that love pushes fear to the margins.
Since I am not beholden to any particular ‘Church’ in my work, I have the freedom to issue this challenge in a way that many Pastors don’t feel free to. It’s really a beautiful and necessary partnership. I had someone tell me recently that we need many people to be doing this full-time. For all I know, that guy isn’t even a Christian, but I agreed.
We need to be challenged to live and think differently about difference.
We need more people to be doing this full-time.
So, I quit doing it part-time…starting today.
This step is full of trepidation – like I said, I am not currently getting paid to do this full-time. Which means I’m leaving income on the table, believing that, since this is what I have been uniquely gifted and created to do, provision will come. Faithfulness to this calling requires me to step out in faith that this message of peace, love, and reconciliation is worth sharing. Faithfulness requires me to step out in faith, knowing that people who also believe this is important will partner with me in what I am doing by helping me do it with their finances.
If you believe this is important, I’ll invite you to partner with me too. I would be foolish not to. You may not have the same calling, but if you believe it’s important you can help me and participate with me by taking the gifts you have been given and redistribute them for this purpose.
I love that I get to do this work, and that many of my friends are also participating in this work with me. This is my unapologetic invitation to participate as well. Email me if you want to know more about what I do, and what partnership looks like at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace & Peace