My Job Description

by Michele Perry on December 10, 2012

The trees.  They know how to lift their arms to heaven and let go.

Autumn comes late to Florida. All the way in early December.  I watch the old season as it turns gold, catches flame and surrenders to the wind.  Our autumn comes in an instant and usually lasts less than a week.  It reminds me how suddenly seasons can change.

A little over six years ago I showed up site unseen in the middle of a war zone in Central Africa.  On Christmas day, I flung wide the rickety gates of my newly rented compound, welcomed home my first 12 children and served Christmas dinner for 1,000.  It was a path paved in miracles and Jesus coming where I least expected Him.

Almost six years later, our base is established on 40 acres of our own land. One of my greatest joys was to turn the keys over to an integrated field team of indigenous leaders, missionaries, and some of my first children {who came a little older to our family}.  They have grown up, been trained, and returned to serve.  That brings tears to a mama’s eyes.

I initially came to my adopted nation with a hunger to find the hurting and the broken and to love them well…. To give away all I had so they could fly higher and farther than I could or would.  I came with a job description to love and to learn, go low and slow and do only what I see my Papa in heaven doing.

In September I moved back to my childhood home in Florida.  I continue to serve my precious family in South Sudan, raising awareness as a founder so often does.  I look forward to when I next visit and can spend the long hot days hugging my babies.

The transition back to the USA was in many ways far harder than the one going the other way.  Between my 18th bout of cerebral malaria soon upon arriving back and then a terrible dental mishap that electrified my mouth and blew out my trigeminal nerve, it has been quite a welcome back!

I returned with a longing to live out what I was learning there, hereCould the same simple faith and relentless love of Jesus work here too?  Was it really just about stopping for the one person He set in front of me every day?

In the weeks since I relocated, we have a vibrant growing family here who wants to find out what missional community looks like here.  Not a strategy session, not a project to fix people’s problems, or worse fix people themselves.  Not complicated theory, but an intentional journey to the margins of our community. 

I found out this weekend in our small county alone there are 900 children in our school system registered as homeless.  There are multiple camps set up for the homeless.  There is a growing problem with human trafficking.  Suddenly my lessons of holding the broken and learning to be a friend to the outcast didn’t seem foreign at all.

All mission is local.  All ministry is local.  Your organization can be global and international in its scope and vision, but missions can only be lived out right where you are. 

My heart is leaping this morning.  I feel like my Papa in heaven has given me the best gift ever.  In a season of looking for presents, He has extended an invitation to be present among the invisible and overlooked hurting ones right in my midst.

I am reminded. My address has changed. My job description has not.

So my friend, what have you considered your job description to be in missions?  Look at your calendar and it will give you a pretty good idea. 😉 Take some time ask Jesus if He would like to speak to you about His heart for your daily purpose right where you are.

Michele Perry: Artist, Author, Executive Coach & Founder of Iris Ministries work in South Sudan
blog: From the Unpaved Road | twitter: @micheleperry | work: Iris South Sudan | USA: Create 61, Edge Creative Consulting, LLC

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About Michele Perry

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  • Beautiful. A reminder to those in the field in a foreign land and those in the field of their hometown. All of us with the same job description. Can’t wait to share this with some friend who are missionaries in their own places.

    • Colleen, bless you as you pour out His love… so glad it resonates!

  • Loved this especially:

    “In a season of looking for presents, He has extended an invitation to be present among the invisible and overlooked hurting ones right in my midst.

    I am reminded. My address has changed. My job description has not.”

    Such a rich reminder that there is no magic formula for following God or living a radical life of obedience. That can happen in your hometown, right down the street from people you went to high school with, or it can happen surrounded by a sea of faces from another land.

    YES. Beautiful post today, Michele. Glad you are on the team and writing to all of us!

    And– ouch! Malaria and a tooth-tragedy– no fun at all!

    • Laura it is a total privilege! I look forward to getting to know more family 😉 Thank you for the opportunity.

  • Sarita Hartz Hendricksen

    This is wonderful Michele and a great reminder to me as we are about to embark on a similar journey “home” to the USA. Thanks for the encouragement that the love of Jesus works everywhere 🙂

    • Sarita- Hi friend- humbled the words fit the season. Email me your latest and let’s connect. One of these days in person I pray when we are on the same continent! Praying for your move…

  • pastordt

    Beautiful, Michele. You are so right – the job description does not change with the locale. Been praying for that nerve and trusting that things will right themselves in God’s good time.

  • Love this Michelle! It’s so easy as “missionaries” to think that if we return to our home countries, we have failed. God has been teaching me so much though that their are hurting, broken, people around us everwyehere we go who need the gospel. Thanks for this encouragement!

  • a few years back, the Lord moved us from our home right smack in the midst of a fab neighborhood where we really felt a part of the community to a compound situation, so much more removed from the people we loved and that also drove us crazy. we knew it was Him… His hand was written all over it, but it has been hard because serving isn’t as convenient now. i can’t just walk around the corner for a visit and must be intentional. that is good – but i miss the spontaneity of before.

    on the other hand, it has been a wonderful season to truly focus on serving those closest to me… and learning to be more intentional about that, as well.

    thanks for such an encouraging and challenging post. hope you are well on the road to complete health again.

  • Tricia M.

    What a wonderful story The Lord wrote through you in Africa!
    Where are you in Florida? We are in Melbourne! I was just enjoying our very late fall the other day also.
    Last school year we had the wonderful opportunity to get to know a group of Turkish flight students at the university around the corner from us. It was an exhilarating time of “mission” for us as we concurrently prepared for the field overseas. There is an incredible amount of international students at our American universities, and the vast number of them never have contact with Christ followers, especially families. Many of them are from cultures where hospitality is central, and they come here and nobody even invites them to dinner. One of our friends thought everyone was looking at him as if he were a terrorist because he looks very middle eastern. We had a great time with them, shared Jesus with them, and saw them off one by one. So fun!

  • Gloria Bond

    Hi Michele,

    It’s always great to hear your inspirational writings. I know God is healing your nerves in your face – as He promises He gives His children the desires of our hearts, and we can rest in His faithfulness to His promises. I look forward to the blog where you confirm total healing 🙂 – Praise God eh.

    I too have had a revelation of my Job Description! After resigning from my job of 18 years, due to an obedience of God’s calling, I was wondering ‘what now Lord’ – but have been so blessed to have the reminder, that it has always been and will always be, to ‘share His love to those He places in front of me’. So no matter what it may be that I do with my days, the Job description He has given me remains the same. Whether I be at home painting my fences, talking with my neighbours, and spending time with those around me – or whether it be in an office, my Lord has said ‘Share My Love to those I place in front of you’. Exciting, as I never know from one day to the next, who it is that He will place in front of me, or where that may be – but I DO know that He knows!!

    I am presently reading your book ‘An Invitation to the Supernatural Life’. Fantastic!!! Thank you for your obedience in your writing of the book – I love the practical foresight you give.

    This morning I have been reading the chapter of the ‘Season of Hiddenness’ – I love it. I was reminded how I too was given the scripture of Hosea 2:14-16 back in 2001 and looking back am in total awe of my Lord how He walked me through that time with the promise of that scripture. YES He totally is faithful, and walks with us through those seasons of ‘winderness and hiddenness’. I wrote a poem about walking through the desert, and finding there the beautiful flowers that only grow in the desert – you are right, it is all about keeping open eyes for the beauty in every season eh. Thank you SO much Michele for your writings, for sharing your heart with us and sharing your journey with our Lord.

    Gloria Bond (New Zealand)

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