by Bucky Rogers
Founder and Executive Director of Benjamin House Ministries
Three years ago today, my family boarded an airplane with 15 bags containing all the earthly possessions that we hadn’t sold, bound for a land we felt called to minister in. A crowd of 60 people accompanied us to the airport to send us off. Many tears were shed and a lot of hugs were given. Some “final” words were passed along, and the sentiment that had been echoed so many times in the past 12 months came again, “Thanks for obeying God’s call to go.”
We tend to super-spiritualize the call to go. We put missionaries who go in a separate category, and while there is a good deal of faith required to sell everything and go, I believe there is a group of people who are vastly overlooked when a missionary or missionary family choose to go…those who stay.
In the weeks and months leading up to our departure, I did everything I knew to do to make sure family and friends knew exactly how we felt about them, and why we had to do this. Many were happy, some incredibly sad, and nearly everybody experienced both emotions at some point during those months. There’s a whole army of people who aren’t called to go. They’re called to be missionaries disguised as public school teachers, stay at home moms, business executives, and doctors. They minister in much the same way that I minister on a daily basis, and their calling is no less valid.
Another group that stays are those who deeply love those who are going. Parents, grandparents, close friends and neighbors, disciples, and others. In many ways they have the unfair burden of grieving a loss that they cannot fully allow to show. They must keep a smile, even if through tears. Their mourning happens largely internally and out of the limelight. They’re not able to fully express how fearful they are, how abandoned they feel, because they have to be strong for the ones they sent.
A third group that stays are those whose pens, wallets, and computer strokes make the going possible. Literally thousands of people gave and continue to give financially to make sure the work of Benjamin House continues on a daily basis. We are 100% dependent on their faithful “staying” power. These came in the form of $2.38 from a little boy’s piggy bank, a bundle of $1 bills from a local shaved ice stand, a random $5,000 matching grant from a complete stranger, and a hundred gifts in between…all with a story. Those who stay to make the going possible, are every bit as much a part of the going as those whose names are on the boarding pass.
The final group that stays is probably the most important and is made up of members from the other three groups. These are the folks who I thank God most for. These are the ones whose shoes I am not fit to tie. They are the rocks of Benjamin House. They are those who stay the course in prayer. It is as if as we go down into this deep cave, they are on the other end holding the rope for us. And though our hands become worn and scared as we descend and sometimes get exhausted, we remember there are those above whose hands are equally worn and scarred and who are equally exhausted. There are people who pray for us…Every. Single. Day. They make our going possible, and their staying should be celebrated.
Bucky Rogers, Benjamin House staff, and short-term missionaries