Sitting in the midst of empty bookshelves and partially filled boxes, I can’t help but take note of some familiar feelings. I felt them eighteen months ago as my family and I prepared our house in South Africa to relocate back to the U.S. In fact, we felt them often as we prepared for one of many home-service comings or goings during the last three decades of serving overseas. It’s a feeling of resignation (“Again?”) tinged with anticipation (“We will arrive!”) It’s a feeling of sadness and nostalgia (sorting through memories) modified by joy (getting rid of unnecessary junk).
Anyone who has prepared for a major move has probably experienced a similar range of emotions. I find myself wistfully declaring, “This will be the last time!” without much conviction.
As I look in Scripture, the people of God always seem to be on another journey. In the narrative of the Old Testament the people of Israel are on a journey. The same is true in the New Testament. Jesus’ disciples carried the message throughout the known world, as did such as the apostle Paul on his missionary journeys.
Through such journeying, the Word faithfully witnessed came back with fruit. As noted by Luther, “Therefore God gathered a church in the world not only from the one family of the patriarchs but from all nations to which the Word made its way.” (LW 6:227)
The journeys of our missionaries have taken them to the ends of the earth even as our international offices and support staff have journeyed within the United States. So the notion of “yet another journey” can’t be a surprise in the life of a mission organization such as Lutheran Bible Translators. Opportunity appears, circumstances change, governments, personnel and societal norms shift. Yet even as we journey to a new location, our purpose remains – to serve and witness that others might be reached with God’s Word through their own language.
The range of feelings and emotions of everyone involved in the LBT journey and individual journeys within are similar – resignation, sadness, nostalgia, anticipation, joy – sometimes all at one time. Our constant remains God’s Word no matter which journey (or part of it) we are on.
There is one more thing we can be sure of: this won’t be the last journey we find ourselves on, as we participate in God’s Mission so that all might hear and believe as the Word makes its way to them.