I grew up in a Methodist missionary family. Instead of a “PK” (preacher’s kid), I was an “MK” (missionaries’ kid). My parents were sent by the Methodist Church to the Belgian Congo in Africa where my dad served as a medical doctor. My mom actually had already been there serving as a teacher before she married dad. The war for independence broke out while they were there, so mom and us kids evacuated to my grandparents’ home in Indianapolis, while dad stayed behind until things got so bad he had to join us. The Methodist mission board then sent us to Nome, Alaska, where I spent my early growing up years. My dad was in charge of the most northerly hospital in the Western Hemisphere at that time, which was owned and operated by the Methodist Women’s Society. He served not only as the hospital’s administrator, and many times as its only medical doctor, but he also sometimes served as the town’s eye doctor, dentist, and community health administrator. He also made house calls in far-flung places via bush plane.
I mention all of this simply to say that I grew up with an awareness of missionaries, and the life of a missionary. Years later, I returned to Congo, then called Zaire, as an adult to spend some time with the Enright’s, United Methodist missionaries. During my three-week visit, I was asking myself the question, “Is God calling me to be a missionary, like my parents?” I remember returning home to Fort Wayne with a real sense that God was calling me to be a missionary, but rather than overseas, right here in Fort Wayne, right here in my neighborhood.
Alan Hirsch, missional church writer and speaker, recently met with a number of Indiana United Methodists, and he said that we’re all called to be missionaries. We’re all MK’s! We all get to play. We’re all in the game! Sometimes our church has created, especially for lay people like me, the impression that it’s only the clergy or official missionaries that get to do the real ministry. Yet, the Bible makes it clear that we are all called to bring God’s love and Good News to those around us. Just as God came in the flesh as Christ, God comes to the world in the flesh through you and me every day. Each time you look in the mirror, remember you and I are MK’s too, called to serve right here in Fort Wayne, in our neighborhoods. So, start thinking and acting like the missionary that you are and God will use you in a powerful way!
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development