My first mission trip was on the other side of the world to Taiwan in 2003 (if you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly, right?). We were part of a small team representing the SC Baptist Convention, led by Dr. John V. Platt. At 65 years of age, Dr. Platt, who had literally traveled the world on mission trips, wanted this trip to be like it was his first trip. He poured just that kind of enthusiasm into his planning, execution and overall leadership of our little team. On the long plane ride over as he was talking to his seatmate, he tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “start praying – I’ve got him reading from my Bible.” Dr. Platt was a great man who walked the Walk, in my book.
When I learned of Dr. Platt’s passing on March 17, 2012, I recalled a moment on the roof of our host missionary’s home in Taiwan back in 2003. Dr. Platt and I were up there watching 747s land at Taipei Intl and I asked him, “What does a missionary in Columbia, SC look like?”. I’d been struggling with the notion that I would travel half way around the world to share Christ but wouldn’t walk across the street to share Him with my neighbor back home. As I recall, Dr. Platt didn’t say much…he just smiled.
It wasn’t long after our return when it dawned on me that, here in America, I already know the language, love the food, have relationships with “the locals”, and enjoy a job that provides for me and my family. Isn’t that often what missionaries strive so hard to build so they can minister effectively? When I prayed about this, the answer to my question on that rooftop in Taiwan became clear: Take a look in the mirror; that’s what a missionary in Columbia, SC looks like.
Dr. John V. Platt served God in his time, and now he is Home. We too will be Home before we know it. Can we resolve to make this our “why” or our vision in life? Let’s serve God in our time, allowing Him to define our greatness – whether it be here in Columbia or on the other side of the planet.