This is Missions


It’s cockroaches and invading ants. It’s weird croaking lizards that wake you up in the middle of the night, night after night because you don’t know how to catch them or even what they would look like if you tried. It’s rats eating the garbage at night because people don’t own trash cans but throw their rubbish into a big heap.

It’s burning rice and taking 45 minutes to finish one meal because it takes you so long to get all of the rice in your mouth using chopsticks. It’s peeing on your shoes multiple times a day, for months on end because you can’t master the squatty potty.

It’s covering your babies’ cribs with nets to protect them from mosquitoes and hoping that none with malaria sneak in. It’s getting sick and going to the hospital only to have to report to the nurse in front of a room full of people all of your symptoms.

It’s driving in traffic where the only rule of thumb is to “go with the flow.” It’s hitting a man in that traffic and feeling totally justified in saying that it was his fault (which it was, and he agreed and walked off!). It’s crossing the road with cars coming at you full speed in total confidence that they will either stop or weave around you.

It’s having every person and their grandma (especially their grandma) tell you the best way to dress your child, discipline your child, feed your child, play with your child, socialize your child, educate your child, guard your child. It’s not letting your child ever splash in rain puddles because there is a whole universe of nasty on its surface.

It’s eating intestine and brain and bowel and not even knowing what it is except for the texture and your Chinese teacher filling you in. It’s running for the squatty potties again.

It’s constantly being an outsider. Even after you learn the language, you are never one of them. You are always foreign. It’s developing a complex because everyone tells you how “tall” your nose is and you wonder if they are all correct and you were oblivious to your huge honker your whole life.

It’s moving at least once a year. It’s living on the 18th, 21st, 24th floor. It’s being able to see the whole city from your balcony (and being able to see what color your neighbor’s underwear is because his balcony is only 20 feet from yours and everyone hangs their laundry out to dry on their balconies). It’s being grateful that this neighbor actually wears underwear unlike previous neighbors that you would have preferred not to see.

It’s wanting to explain to the grocer that even though you sound like a 2-year-old, you are actually fairly intelligent and can even have real conversations in your mother tongue. It’s wanting to bring a copy of your degree next time you go grocery shopping to prove it.

It’s daily being pushed out of the bus line by old ladies, toddlers, and grown men. It’s learning how to make yourself as big as possible so as to assure your place in the line.

It’s missing Christmases and Easter and birthdays and anniversaries and graduations and weddings and births because you just live so dang far away. It’s spending half of your vacation trying to recover from jet lag. It’s spending the other half raising support so that you can return to the field. It’s spending ALL of your vacations with extended family because it’s the only time you get to see them.

It’s traveling for days with newborns and toddlers to visit family or return to your “home” (wherever that is — both places feel like some version of the word). It’s trying to explain to your grandpa in Iowa what China is really like and feeling like you might as well have antennas and be speaking Martian.

It’s having to ask people for money. Enough said.

It’s hearing the same questions from locals so many times that you contemplate printing a business card that reads like this: I am American. I am 27-years-old. I am not married. I am a student here. I pay around $120 USD for rent in this apartment. Yes, I like Chinese food. No, I do not know Obama.

It’s considering Pizza Hut the nicest place that you can take your spouse for his birthday. It’s going there for all significant celebrations.

And then — it’s sharing Jesus with someone who has never even heard His name. It’s responding to your dear friend’s question with, “Yes, God can speak Mandarin!”

It’s answering the old lady in the town square that you are fostering the little blind girl because you chose her and you wanted her and she is valuable.

It’s being invited into a family’s home to share their most important holiday with them. (And then it’s trying to pretend that you like chicken feet so that they feel honored.)

It’s watching a young woman come alive with the Holy Spirit. It’s listening to her recount to you what God showed her as she was reading the Bible.

It’s telling the elderly countryside man that it was Jesus who healed him. It’s walking alongside of a girl who was abused as a child until she is whole. It’s seeing her learn what a good Father is like.

It’s sharing in just a taste of His sufferings so that you can share in His fellowship. It’s knowing Him in the sweetness of the dry and lonely place and learning that He is truly enough.

It’s knowing you would do it all again if He asked you to.


IMG_2913_2Brooke Grangard has a heart for people to know Jesus and grow in Him. She and her husband spent the last 10 years on the mission field in East Asia with their two young children. They recently returned to the States and continue as full-time volunteers in Missions with CMM. She is currently based out of the Carolinas. You can find her writing about life and faith at or connect with her and her husband on Facebook.

Why Are We Here?

Why are we here? Why have we chosen lives that cause us to engage suffering in very raw ways? Visible ways? Why do we expose our hearts to people in pain?

Why do we use our passports for more than an occasional vacation? Why do we live in places where we sweat more than we thought possible? Places where we get diseases we can’t even spell?

We say goodbyes. Our kids say goodbyes. And sometimes we say goodbye to our kids. Why?

To give someone clean water?
Access to healthcare?
A chance at democracy?
Sustainable agriculture?
Economic viability?
The Bible?

Yes, of course.

But there’s more, isn’t there? Those things, by themselves are good and right and worth doing, out of common decency and love for humanity. But on top of all that, indeed, overarching all those good things, is Jesus. He takes those good things and infuses them with something else entirely. Something holy, eternal, and altogether lovely.


The Gospel compels us to love as we’ve been loved, and that’s something worth remembering. If our work gets separated from the Word, we’re in trouble. We must let our “roots grow down into him, and let [our] lives be built on him.” Then we’ll overflow with thankfulness, strong in truth. (Colossians 2:7)

We must remain in him, refusing to forget the Story of his immense love and our surprising salvation. (John 15:5-8; Romans 5:8)

Through our actions, our preachings, our service, we announce the news that God is not absent. We show and tell the redemption of all things.

Why are we here? Because the story is bigger than suffering and pain and death. Because there is a glorious, mysterious hope that’s code-named Jesus.

Why are we here? Because we are awed by the love of God. The magnificent, sky-shattering love of God that tears time and dimensions to deliver a Son. Because there’s a Savior who was willing to bleed his heart out for the “bad guys.”

Like me.

And you.

The Gospel is a time-capsule from the future, announcing what will be. Not what might be, or could be. What will be. And in part is already.

It’s a saving. Available to all, because of One.

It’s redemption.

It’s a Father who loves unendingly and perfectly. Fully. And wholeheartedly.

It’s justice that won’t blow up in our face (although that’s what we deserve), because it’s been disarmed, defused, and fully satisfied by a Lamb.

The Gospel is peace with God.

We echo a messenger from another time and place who said, He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:6)

We say he lived, and he lives still: “But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” (Acts 2:24)

The Gospel travels to “the land where death casts its shadow” and does what light does, revealing reality, removing fear: “[T]he people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined. (Matthew 4:16)

May we never forget the Gospel.

Through our medicine and our activism, our education and our micro-finance, our preaching and our translation, our counseling and our parenting, may we preach his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

May we preach the Gospel of a poor man who purchased the world: Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14)

May we preach the Gospel of a day-laborer who’s coming back for his Bride.

May we preach Jesus, the One who steals death’s sting: “And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) Check Out infoneter

May we remember the truths penned by John Donne in “Holy Sonnet 10”:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Death does not win. Jesus does, and “everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)

So why are we here?

Because Jesus is here, proclaiming “that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

And that, my friends, is Good News indeed.

Is This Really, Ever Okay?

The following video is one we took in the downtown tourist area in Chiang Mai, SE Asia, several months ago.  There happened to be a street preacher there that night, shouting Bible verses Navy-SEAL-style, in ENGLISH, while several people handed out literature to the tourists and locals passing by.

And we walked away, trying to be open-minded about this street-preacher’s personal fleshing-out of a belief-system, but still asking,  “Is this really, Ever Okay?

Or, Effective?

Or, Loving?”

Is it possible to do more damage than good in the name of Jesus? And even with the best of intentions?

Because what we say, matters. And so does the how, the who, and the where of the speaking.

And I wonder if so often our means of communication bodyslams whatever message we’re so desperately eager for others to hear.


What do you think?  Are street preachers right always, wrong always, sometimes both or sometimes neither?  Experiences?

Thoughts about poor method trumping good message?


The Purpose of Missions: Uh, What is It Again?

I’m not going to lie– my idea of missions has had an extreme makeover during the last several years. I pushed off shore thinking I knew so much about loving-well and Jesus-following in another culture, but I continue to learn that I probably know-wrong more than I know-right.

And this can be very disheartening for the hit-the-ground-running missionary. Independent or with an organization. Short-term or long-term. With kids or single. Social-justice-minded or gospel-driven or leadership-developing . When you continue to have your neat-and-tidy-boxes of the purpose of overseas missions {and effectiveness} slam-dunked with the realities on foreign soil in the 21st century, you tend to falter a bit.

Which leads me to a question I’d love to have us as a community discuss:

What, really, is the purpose of international missions? 

Is it to develop communities or to fight social injustice? Is it to disciple or evangelize or convert? Is it to be Jesus-with-skin-on or is it to save people from hell?  Should it look like developing national leaders or empowering the local church or handing out boatloads of resources?

And I know it sounds a bit wild, for me to even be asking this. But, honestly, really, I’m serious, I’ve had conversations over the past two years with lots of missionaries here and in SE Asia, and many of them have very different opinions on the answer. And this feels ineffective and . . . well, wrong-somehow.

Doctors know they are supposed to heal. Car mechanics fix vehicles. Teachers teach. What should be a missionary’s main goal? And is there a most effective way to reach it? 

All right, the gate is open, regardless of what latitude you call home:

 In one sentence, what is the chief purpose of overseas missions? And (the real conversation-starter) what is the most effective way to reach that goal? 

And, while we’re in the conversation, do you think that the main purpose of missions has shifted over the last generation?


– Laura Parker, co-founder and editor, former aid worker in Thailand


Also, would you consider sharing this conversation via Facebook or twitter to ask your friends to join in the conversation?  I’d love to see what the general consensus is. Honest, respectful answers welcome!