Since being in Cambodia for almost a month, there have been numerous times in which I have been labelled a missionary. At first I was confused by this; I had never considered myself as a missionary. In my eyes I had a job which just happened to be in another country. I questioned that if the work that I'm doing here makes me a missionary, then the work I was doing in Australia could have given me the label of missionary too.
A couple of weeks ago I talked with a friend about this confusion I had regarding accepting the title of a missionary. His reply was "let's just call you a foreign aid worker then". I said "that will do".
Since this conversation though, I've been thinking about this missionary title. Yes the job I'm currently doing does have a lot of different challenges to doing something similar in my home country. Here I am away from friends, family, and society as I have known it my whole life.
Are these extra challenges on top of the work what makes me a missionary? Is it that my church has sent me? What distinguishes me and my role from someone in Australia outworking their faith in the mission fields of social work, business, teaching, etc.
Is it that we can be missionaries wherever we are, in whatever fields we are in? Is it a posture of the heart rather than a 'position'. I find it hard to make that distinction. I don't know if there is a purpose for the label of missionary - if making that distinction is useful. Maybe it would be better for us all to have that label in whatever profession we are in.
So for now, let's just say I'm working in Cambodia... A foreign aid worker if you want.