Missions motivation: The Story of my Son the Cake-stealer.

My two-year old son is a bit of a missional, cross-cultural birthday party crasher, these days.

By the time Jacq realized it was a birthday party, LB had wedged himself in between two kids directly in front of the cake. Like a tractor beam, the lure of icing and sprinkles reeled him right in. He stiff-armed his way to the front of the line. He’s a bit of a bruiser these days. We’re working on his self-awareness. He inherited that deficiency from his father.

Having just moved into an apartment complex where it appears we are a cultural and religious minority (with the majority being South Asian/Indian/Hindu folks), Jacqueline (my wife) took LB (our 2.5-year old) to the playground to meet and mingle with our new neighbors. We see it as an opportunity for spiritual conversations and even evangelism (eventually), but more importantly a way to keep from going insane in the apartment with two young kids.

Not sure if it was a language barrier or just the cultural graciousness of the hosts, but LB ended up with the largest piece of cake, and even tried to go back for seconds, despite Jacq trying to quietly extract him from the situation.

Reminds me of so many missions efforts of churches and para-church ministries. Go to a location that is either (a) exotic or (b) really spiritually dark. End up with people who are there for self-serving reasons. Missionaries for the sake of saying they are missionaries, or in some cases, voluntourism. Go to Africa on a missions trip. Spend two weeks touring and three days doing “outreach.”

It’s tough to distinguish if we are going for the cake or for the opportunity to outreach. Or, approached from another direction: is that a bad thing that we can’t clearly identify the more powerful motivating factor?

LB was there for the cake. Jacqueline was there for the break. (resisting the urge to rhyme something else… wait for it… The gospel’s at… stake. Dang it.)

What do you think? Can we have our metaphorical cake and eat it too, in the realm of missions motivation?

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