Culture shock

Former pastor recalls missionary work and culture shock at West Point Lions Club – Reuters

On Wednesday, the West Point Lions Club heard a moving speech from former pastor and missionary Reverend Mike Robinson. His overall message was that he was following God’s plan for his life and he was glad he did.

Robinson began his religious journey as a child, when he would sit under a tree wondering what life was like. He attributed this to the grace of God working through him. Robinson began his pastoring career in 1970. He and his wife, Kathy, had a small church in southern Illinois.

Robinson said he was studying and would soon graduate as a commercial artist when he attended a missionary gathering. He was moved by a slide he saw of a woman in front of a grass shack.

“A lady was sitting on the step, had a little child with her, a little baby in her arms,” ​​he said. “God says, ‘You can go tell people about me.’ And I said, ‘Let somebody else do it.’ I didn’t want to be a missionary. I was going to be a commercial artist.

He remembered that he had told God that he would do what God wanted him to do and go wherever God wanted him to go.

“See, sometimes if we really want to be at the center of the Lord’s will, that’s not what we want to do; those are not the big plans we have,” he said. “Even the sacrifices we are willing to make. Am I willing to do what Paul said in Galatians — follow in the footsteps of the Spirit?

Somewhat reluctantly, he decides to be a missionary. He said the worst year of his life was 1984, when he went to do missionary work in Costa Rica. In the United States he had been a fairly successful and well-liked pastor. In Costa Rica, he suddenly found himself in a place where he didn’t speak the local language, didn’t have a vehicle and lived in a small apartment.

Robinson said that to be a missionary, you have to have a sense of humor. He said he had not learned to understand Spanish well from his missionary work in Spanish-speaking countries, although people told him he would. Once in Honduras, he asked a grocery store employee for chicken, imitating the animal. He said she was laughing very hard.

Overall, Robinson enjoyed his time in Honduras. However, he was surprised by the lack of abundance there compared to the abundance in the United States.

Robinson became emotional when he remembered he needed paint for a new church. The hardware store he went to only had a gallon of aqua-colored paint, when he wanted white paint. When he returned to the United States and went to a hardware store, he was overwhelmed by the variety and abundance of paint there.

He said he believed God had greatly blessed the United States. But with its abundance came the pernicious pull of materialism. When he and his wife did missionary work in other countries, they found that not only did they not need much, but they hardly needed what they had.

“There was no pressure to have and accumulate like we have here,” he said. “And sometimes we don’t even realize we’re living under that kind of pressure.”

After returning from Honduras, Robinson pastored a church in Iowa for 18 years.

On a completely different note, Robinson brought up pickleball. It was through the sport played at the Shawmut Church of the Nazarene, which Robinson attends, that program president Don Cleveland met Robinson and invited him to speak at the Lions Club. Robinson is now Cleveland’s pickleball coach. Robinson said pickleball is good for camaraderie, exercise and meeting new people, and it’s a sport anyone can play at their own pace.

“We have a few people from the community,” he said. “We would like to have many more.”

Pickleball is played at the Shawmut Church of the Nazarene Family Life Center on Tuesdays from 5-8 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

Robinson is now living his dream of being an artist. At the meeting, three of his drawings that he had done in white charcoal on black paper were exhibited.

“I do all kinds of artwork – oils, acrylics, watercolors and pastels,” he said. “I actually teach classes at our church on Saturdays and Mondays.”

At an art show in Valley, Robinson won first place for Best Show.

Robinson paid homage to God for his artistry.