[Chris Tomlin – Love. Love this song and this video :)]
We have been beyond blessed and more than humbled this week. We were invited to a Global Impact Celebration as missionaries. That’s crazy to me. Us… missionaries. We feel so unworthy. All week, we were literally surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Missionaries from all over the world… together, sharing stories, encouraging one another, telling the needs of their ministries, and talking about all God is doing in the nations. AMAZING. We met people ministering in Costa Rica, Kenya, Italy, India, Troy, Houston, New York, Mexico, Sudan, and more. Missionaries in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
One morning during our meeting, the question was posed to the missionaries – what they think is most important for teams coming to work with them and the communities they serve.
The answers were worth writing about. Several missionaries spoke up. Here’s some of what was said:
Flexibility – going to work with missionaries and being on a mission trip… FLEXIBILITY is required. Plans change, time is relative, and God is ultimately in control. Be flexible and understanding.
Get ready to work – those people answering the call to GO have to be ready to answer the call to WORK. Come ready to sweat, to work, to be sore… to serve.
It’s not a vacation – if your reason for going is to sight-see, take cute pictures with people of a different culture, smile with kiddos, and buy souvenirs… then go on a vacation. If your reason for going is to win souls for Jesus… Go with a mission!
KNOW the plan of salvation – the goal of missionaries is to see people come to know and love JESUS! Make sure you know how to present the Gospel to the people you will be coming into contact with. Know the Word… even without the Bible in hand. Know the culture, the climate of the people, and the way to present the Good News. For example, you shouldn’t go up to a person in New York City with a huge Bible in hand and prepare to have a 30 minute conversation with them. Nope. You need to go up to them and be prepared to share Christ with them and get their contact info within 5 minutes… life is busy there. Do your homework.
Partnership – if you are going to work with a church or a community in another place… stay in touch with them. Encourage the people you worked with before, during, and after the trip. Tell them you are praying for them… and do it. Even if you never go back to that exact location… pray for the people daily.
Those are a few of the answers we heard. As I sat there listening to the wisdom in the room, I thought about what my answer would be. I believe the thing that all teams must do to be effective where they’ll be working is to LOVE the people they are serving. I believe it’s the key. I believe that if you truly love the people you are serving and the team you are serving with… you will be willing to do everything listed above. When you see people how the Lord sees them, your heart grows tender and you want to do whatever it takes for them to know and follow hard after Jesus. To see the beauty in all people – the dark eyes and captivating accents of the Costa Ricans. The joy and mystery in a Kenyan smile. The busy-ness and craving for hope in a New York city subway station. The newfound independence and adventure in college students in Houston. The richness of culture and history of Italians. There’s so much beauty. If we choose to see that beauty, it spurs us to LOVE. If we truly love people… there’s nothing we won’t do. Once our hearts are engaged in the personal calling to missions… we’re hooked.
Loving people. Even through a language barrier… people understand love. They can tangibly see it. They understand when people love them.
When we love people and have a Revelations 7:9-10 mind set… NOTHING can stop us!
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
So, let’s go. Let’s LOVE. Let’s serve. Let’s partner. Let’s be flexible and learn from others’ wisdom. Let’s share Jesus. Let’s live life – in our schools, work, home, travel – with the end in mind. Knowing ALL nations and people will worship together… Yes. Yes. Yes.