What I learned living with Missionaries:
Our family has had the wonderful opportunity of living with Matt, Cameron, Susanna, Benaiah, Onesimus and Mary as they have transitioned from leaving their house in Mesa, AZ to leaving the country. When they moved in, our house of four grew to a house of ten people. Along the way, there have been many shared meals, fun conversations, toddler meltdowns, dirty dishes, kids learning to share toys, fights between 2 year olds who don’t like sharing, block building, swinging, more meltdowns, scooter riding and lots and lots of noise!During this loud, enjoyable time, we have learned a little more about global missions and what it means to be a missionary (specifically, a missionary with the last name Dodd):
1. Being a missionary sounds really exciting & adventurous, but…
I associate missions with being on the front lines of gospel advancement, trailblazing, excitement, and reckless abandon for Jesus. These may all be true, but being a missionary also involves a lot of really mundane, hard work.The Dodds have moved to Canada for two separate summers to take linguistics courses, they have spent hours and hours studying Greek, they have learned about culture and language acquisition, about building a house, and about plumbing and solar electricity. They have fundraised, packed up a house, sold or gotten rid of many possessions, and trained for tribal missions… all while homeschooling their kids, being involved in small group at their church, teaching 7 year olds in Sunday school, attending elder meetings, missions training meetings and so much more. For all of the adventure that is associated with foreign missions, I have been blown away with how much logistical planning, character development, and technical training Matt and Cameron have gone through just to be ready to be sent as missionaries.
2. There is a reason they are “unreached”
Christians have classified people groups as “unreached” who have never heard of Jesus, who have never heard repentance and faith in the name of Jesus proclaimed, who have no access to the Bible or to a local church. Tribes within the Finisterre mountains of Papua New Guinea fall into this category. One of the reasons these peoples are still unreached is because they are hard to reach.Along with the multitude of tasks the Dodds have completed in order to leave the country, their work really just begins once they arrive in PNG. The tasks they will face once there include: culture acquisition and learning the trade language in Madang, surveying tribes, finding a home tribe, figuring out how to logistically get to that tribe as well as transport building supplies there, then actually building their house, moving their family into the tribe, then going through culture acquisition and language learning all over again in the tribal language. After that, all that remains is Bible teaching and proclaiming the gospel and hopefully forming a local church and developing a written form of the tribal language and Bible translating and discipling leaders in the church…just to name a few.So far, missions hasn’t been a quick and easy process for the Dodds and it doesn’t look like it will get easier. If it was easy to get to these tribal peoples then they might not still be considered unreached, but at this moment in history they are unreached and they need to hear that their sins can be forgiven because Jesus died for sinners. Jesus didn’t promise His Great Commission would be easy but He does promise that:“this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14).
3. It’s probably easy to get lost in the checklists
With the mountain of to-dos before they leave the country, the Dodds still prioritize their family. Matt and Cameron spend time caring for each other and encouraging one another. They care well for their kids. They set aside time to spend with family and friends and they are always willing to have conversations no matter how late it is and no matter how many boxes they have packed that day. They prioritize reading their Bibles and spending time in prayer.With these never ending checklists, you would think they could get totally consumed with getting stuff done and completing tasks and doing logistical/operational things. They have worked really hard, but they have always been quick to spend time together and with other people and to spend time with God in His Word.
4. People don’t transform into missionaries once they step foot on a plane
Matt & Cameron really love Jesus. They love talking about Jesus. They constantly praise God for His provision on good days and on hard days. They read their Bibles a lot and are eager to speak about how God is encouraging them. They aren’t waiting until they get to PNG to proclaim the grace of God in the gospel; they are proclaiming right now.Sometimes I think it would be easier to evangelize if I was living somewhere far away and in different circumstances. However, no one is hoping for a sudden change in Matt and Cameron once they disembark from their plane. They are just going to transition from preaching Jesus in the suburbs of Phoenix, AZ to proclaiming Jesus in a much different culture in a tropical climate in a far-away mountain range on a small island on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean.
5. The Dodds are going to be missed
I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t like the Dodds. They have impacted and encouraged so many people within our church. Their families love them. Their friends love them. They are a fun family to be around.We are so happy that God has sustained the Dodds and given them the resources and opportunities they need to begin this next phase of their journey to bring the gospel and the church to the Finisterre Mountains of PNG. They leave on November 30th and while we are so thankful God has brought them this far, we are going to be so sad to see them leave.My wife and I won’t be the same, our kids won’t be the same, our house won’t be the same because of the Dodds living with us. They have been such a positive, godly influence in our lives and we can’t wait until a still-unknown tribal village in the Finisterre Mountains of Papua New Guinea gets to experience kindness from God through Matt, Cameron, Susanna, Benaiah, Onesimus and Mary.