Someone recently told me that it was pointless to pursue my dream of living a life of service in Africa because the whole undertaking was hopeless and I would never accomplish anything. It wasn't the first time I had heard this. In fact, it wasn't the first time someone told me that there was plenty of work to be done here in America and that my efforts would be much more appreciated and effective at home.
This brings up several issues for me. I understand how much poverty, homelessness, and brokenness permeates our society. I understand how frequently it is brushed under the carpet and ignored. I understand how much work needs to be done here at home. I understand and I am involved in a great many outreach initiatives while I am still here. However, just as some people have a desire to pursue a career in the field of engineering or teaching or law or medicine, so some have callings to travel internationally and fulfill work that needs to be done abroad. One cannot point the finger at a teacher and tell them that they would be more effective as a doctor because there are so many sick people that need care, as there is just as great of a need for teachers. Futhermore, one cannot point the finger at a teacher in a small town and tell them they would be more effective teaching in an inner-city school because there are so many troubled children in need of good teachers, as there are just as many children in need of good teachers in a small town setting.
It all comes down to calling. It makes me wonder how many people in our current popular culture take into consideration the idea of vocation. When one is choosing a career, is it based on monetary gains and a "getting paid for having fun" mentality? How many people actually consider where they can be most effective with the skills that they have?
Frederick Buechner once described vocation as "the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Do all the good you can for all the people you can whenever you can. For some that may mean supporting small business development, as the company for which I work now. For others, it may mean giving up material possessions and working with AIDS victims and refugees in Eastern African countries.
There is too much work that needs to be done for one person to accomplish, but that never stopped Mother Theresa or Florence Nightengale or Winston Churchill from abandoning their visions.
If one is blessed enough to have a clear sense of their calling in life, shouldn't every step be taken to acheive it?