October 2011 - Vol. 53

.Drinking Fountains, Napkins, and Trash Cans
by Clare Darnell

As an American living in Europe for the past year, I am often asked the question “what do you miss most from home?” Besides the obvious answer of friends and family, my answer usually surprises people. I find myself often in search of common objects like a drinking fountain, a napkin, or a trash can (rubbish bin for those non-American English speakers). These objects, though present in Europe, are much more available in the United States, and it is in their scarcity that I miss them. 

What pulled me away from my home and the familiarities that it provides? I decided to do a Gap year of voluntary Christian service. In our international network of Christian communities, the Sword of the Spirit, young people (ages 18-25) have the opportunity to devout a time of their life to serve in various ways in one of our Christian communities. Often the service involves direct personal evangelism- telling other people about the Good News of Jesus Christ. This can be quite daunting especially since the typical image of a missionary in the secular world is of a person wearing an oversized cross holding a Bible in one hand and a machete in the other, thrashing through the jungle of some distant land.  But here I am, living in a modern western country far from my home and living as a missionary. I have found that at times it has been pretty hard being in Europe where faith is often harder to find than those objects I miss from home. But I have found hope in the many signs of real faith that I have discovered there. I have seen a variety of Christians expressing their love for the Gospel through their hospitality shown to me, in their generous sharing of resources for the spread of the Gospel  – especially time and money, and in the significant amount of intercessory prayer they do as well. It is through these acts that I am encouraged to continue and preserve despite the difficult faith climate in Europe.

The desperate need for Europe to hear the truth and the beauty of the Gospel, and the shining glimmers of light that I have experienced through other people’s faith, have led me to abandon those little luxuries of drinking fountains, napkins, and trash cans in order to continue being a missionary in Europe for another year. Perhaps my life would be a bit easier if I were back home doing things I am familiar with, but the joy I have experienced here in Europe to help build Christ’s kingdom overrides any small discomforts I might experience. My prayer now is that I will have the strength to continue working for the spread of the Gospel like the missionaries who I have encountered here, and that other people will also rise up and respond to the need for God’s love to be declared courageously in our homes, to a neighbor or even  in another country.

Clare Darnell is from Ypsilanti, Michigan, US. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Human Resources in 2010. She is currently living in Leuven, Belgium as a Kairos missionary for university students. 
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