We held an organizational meeting yesterday of short term missionaries planning to return to Guatemala this summer. It was good to be together, talk about budgets, airfare, and accommodations, and best of all … to share heart-felt stories of past trips and lives transformed and brought to Christ, in part, due to our friendship and outreach.
I so enjoy setting back and observing how God has given life to faith in the lives of each or our fellow travelers. It is such a privilege to serve as a team. Every member is precious.
It is easy to forget the value of working together, as disciples of Jesus, for a common goal: loving God and loving neighbor. The ways of the world and the work of sin want us to be forgetful, to be distracted, to take our eyes off of Jesus.
My own denomination is on the verge of division over issues of doctrine and morality. “They will know we are Christians by our love”? not if you listen to the vitriol and poison being spewed by some of my colleagues and fellow Christians. It would be easy to become depressed and catatonic by the hate and hurt that is being propagated.
Our own country feels like it is in free fall towards an armed confrontation with a maniacal leader and his murderous henchmen. Name your country and pick an incident. Granted, I am a peace-nick, a follow-the-Gospel-message-of-Jesus-at-all-costs, kind of Christian. Where is the “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” in this whole mess?
International missions help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, even in the midst of life’s most challenging storms. Crossing cultures and tribes to reach out and lift up is an antidote to division and strife. Kindness without an expectation for reciprocity is better than a fire extinguisher on a hot fire. Love, simply because this is what Jesus tells us to do, is the most perfect solution to all that threatens God’s beautiful creation.
Pouring a concrete floor for a family that had only been surviving in a cornstalk house, fitting an elder to their first wheel chair, or delivering a malnutrition kit to a hungry family and praying with them helps me to keep my eyes upon Jesus.
International mission experiences remind me to
- Repent of my selfish and sinful ways, of being easily distracted, of not loving my neighbors as Jesus so desires
- Be humbled, by what love does for the world, and how love changes me
- Be the love of God, everywhere that God leads me
- Be still and take a breath, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill and refresh me
- Keep my eyes on Jesus, and let God take care of the rest
What a privilege it is to serve. Won’t you join me?