"Why are you here?"

It seems as if at least once a week I am asked some form of the question, “why do you live in this country?”  That got me to thinking, maybe I could come up with a way to answer that question that gently brings up spiritual things for further conversation.  Here is how I have been answering that question: 

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“Is it ok if I share a story with you?  When I first started university I had a dream of becoming a doctor.  Part of that dream was a desire to help other people, but added onto that were the additional benefits of gaining respect from others, academic achievement, and financial security.  However, because I started following Isa Al-Masih when I was in middle school, it was more important to me to walk with God than to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. 

Because of my desire to walk with God, I found a mentor in college who taught me how to study and experience God’s Word on my own.  Through studying the scriptures with Him, I leared a few things that changed my thoughts about my future career.  

First, in the Holy Gospel Isa Al-Masih taught, “Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust destroy and theives break in and steal.  But store up treasures for yourself in heaven, where moth and rust cannot destroy, and thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When I heard this, I saw that many of my motivations for becoming a doctor where aimed at the goal of storing up treasure on earth.  But the better thing to do is to store up treasure for myself in heaven. So, I needed to figure out what treasure in heaven looks like. 

Then, I read that the prophet Solomon taught that “whoever pursues righteousness and love will find life, righteousness, and honor.”  Those things sounded to me like heavenly treasures, so I decided my life should be about pursuing love and righteousness.  

Even though I could have pursued those things through working as a doctor, I felt it was better for me to find a different way to pursue love and righteousness by serving others, so I decided to pursue a career in agricultural development.  

Then, after I graduated from university, I was invited by a friend of mine to move here and work with his company that is working to increase the livelihood of people in this country.  His business is based on the principles of righteousness and justice. I was happy to accept his invitation because he has the same vision and hope as I do. I am very excited to learn about the culture here as well as about peoples lives here, and to learn with people about how to improve agriculture and quality of life for all of us.”  

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Sharing this story leads to questions about my personal life, the impact of our development work, or at the very least lets people know what I am about.  It has been really cool to see what our Father brings out of those conversations. 

 

--Richard 

Photo by Lena De Fanti on Unsplash