Sometimes missionary life is like the life of a weed. I know, I know what a horrible thing to say right? Why would I possibly compare missionary life to that of a weed. Why not pick something beautiful like a flower, a beautiful bush or a fruit tree instead?

My inspiration for this article came from our rather stubborn garden which continues to grow weeds no matter how many times we try to trample them, uproot them and even poison them. One thing that a weed has in its favour is tenacity. Missionary life can be tough but I believe that God has equipped us often with a stubborn streak that is just a little like a weed.

Definition of a weed:

  1. A weed is a plant out of place. As a missionary I often feel out of place like I just don’t quite fit. I know that isn’t something unique to me it is common amongst missionaries and other expats. We have our own ‘third culture’, our own culture having been abandoned. However much we embrace the culture of where we now live, we still don’t quite morph to fit it.
  2. A weed is a plant growing where it is not wanted.  While some cultures greet others with open arms, others treat foreigners with suspicion. Just think about how foreigners are generally treated in your country. A missionary is a foreigner and it takes time to be trusted, accepted and loved.
  3. A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.  While missionaries do have virtues and a fantastic message to bring it takes a while to master the language and culture and communicate the gospel in an effective way.
  4. A weed is a plant that is competitive and persistent. (I have chosen deliberately to leave pernicious out of that description). A vital characteristic of a weed is that it fights to stay where it is, it fights to take ground and it doesn’t give up.

Characteristics of weeds:

These are some of the characteristics of weeds that really appeal to me.

  1. Abundant seed production. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to really be productive and get the message out there in abundance! Our job is to do just that, to multiply!
  2. Seed dormancy. That even if a seed seemingly falls to the ground there is a hope that it will take root in the future. We don’t need to be discouraged when we don’t see immediate fruit from what we do.
  3. Long-term survival of buried seed. His word won’t return unto Him void. God promises it.
  4. Adaptation for spread. As missionaries we have the ability to adapt to the changes in culture and climate we encounter on the field. Sometimes those adaptations aren’t easy but we do adapt so we can spread the message of God’s love.

So missionary life is sometimes like the life of a weed. We may at times feel unwanted but we were created for a purpose and equipped to do it.  Ultimately we are not weeds in the wrong place we are plants who have been transplanted to the exact location God wants us.

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