Additional "From Further Afield" Articles


Published: 5/22/2013 11:56:44 AM


Eight years ago, I embarked on a short-term mission trip that God used to eventually change the course of my life and lead me to where I am now: a long-term missionary in Hungary.  When I got back after two weeks of seeing new and exciting places, meeting people who held to and were proud of their culture and heritage, and bonding with still others who I would have to live thousands of miles apart from, I really began to question what it means to be American.  What does it mean to make my home here?  I felt that those I met had such a distinct and clear idea of what it meant to be Hungarian, but we, who live in the melting pot of the world, sometimes have little idea of what it means to be us.
Perhaps it’s the unique way that our country was populated and built that makes defining "American” a difficult task.  Or perhaps it’s that we realize somewhere in our beings that wherever we call "home” is not what is should be.  Everyone wants a place to fit in, a place where they have friends, where they feel safe.  However, this dream of home can’t be completely realized on this earth.  We live in world muddied by sin.  Sometimes the people we feel closest to – the people who make home– disappoint us.  Sometimes we search and work so hard to define our place that we miss the point entirely.  Hebrews 11 is often referred to as talking about "Heroes of Faith.”  Of them, it is said "having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”   

Although many of these Old Testament figures did physically leave one location to travel to another because the Lord led them there, ultimately they were not focused on where they were located in this life.  They realized that what mattered was heavenly.  We who believe in Jesus as our Savior belong to another family, another country.  We belong to a place where we all fit in, where we can share a bond with others in the family of God.  It is there that we can live forever with Jesus who declares Himself to be "the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
As I mentioned in the last blog, I help coordinate English/Bible camps for Hungarian students.  The end of camp is marked by sobs and tears and hugs, and that parting is one of the most difficult many of the students have ever experienced.  There is always a closing worship at the end of camp, and this difficulty parting was addressed once in a sermon that ranks among the most memorable for me.  The pastor looked out over all of us and said that that moment was a glimpse of what heaven would be – the people of God from different earthly countries praising Him together.  No wonder it’s hard to let an experience like that go without pain.  Once we get just a quick peek at what life will be like in our heavenly country, that is what we look forward to and can’t forget.

As a missionary now, I get to come "home” to the States about once a year, and I always thought that I’d struggle with it, that I’d struggle with where I fit and my identity.  However, looking at life through the lens of my heavenly home has helped me put this earthly life in greater perspective.  I am here to do the work God has called me to do, namely, sharing the Gospel message with others and loving and glorifying God with my life.  Wherever we are led to be, we can be in connection with other members of the family of God and share Him so that still others may enter this family.

Er's vár a mi Istenünk,

Contributed by Sarah Berta-Somogyi

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