Today, we are starting a brand new series titled Step of Faith. This month's focus is on church missions.
When I was seventeen years old, I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, with The Continental Singers as a sound engineer. While there, we performed in a downtown church, and this was my first exposure to a “spirit movement” or perhaps a more Pentecostal perspective.
After our group performed, they all retreated for an hour while the pastor spoke. As the sound engineer, I couldn't get up and join my team, so I stayed through the service. As the church members prayed, I felt the floor moving, and it was quite unnerving.
I came from a traditional Baptist upbringing, and speaking in tongues or more “spirit-filled” was not part of our tradition.
Needless to say, it was an experience I will never forget.
Missions are not a new concept. Missionaries have been serving all across the globe for decades, if not centuries.
Some famous missionaries are Eric Liddell (Olympic Champion), Jim and Elizabeth Elliot (a tribe in South America that killed Jim). Even Billy Graham might be classified as a missionary in some circles.
And yours truly would be classified as a short-term missionary. Whether you minister to people across the globe or the street, missions are part of our framework.
I grew up with a missions mindset. When I was a young lad, I heard the stories of visiting missionaries at my church. As a young boy, the stories from Africa or Asia were especially intriguing. I mean, Africa, it seemed a million miles away from my suburban life.
My parents fostered this global missions mindset. I knew they supported missionaries and mission organizations, and they wanted my brother and me to understand this mindset.
Over the years, our family has supported by helping drill wells in regions without clean water and provided bikes for school children in urban areas and Africa. We have helped local churches purchase land for farming or vineyards as another source of income, supported ministries. I even think we purchased a cow for a local community.
This missions mindset has been cultivated in me and fueled by my parents as senders rather than goers.
Support of missions falls into a couple of categories:
- Senders – those who provide financial resources for those traveling to their destinations. Senders can be both those that send or send & go. I have been both at different times in my life.
- Goers – those who travel, whether domestically or internationally. They can be full-time or short-term missionaries.
Scott Wesley Brown famously wrote a song titled, Please Don’t Send Me to Africa. This song was a mantra for many missionaries – short or long term. We would joke in Sunday School; God, I will go anywhere, but please don’t send me to Africa.
Africa was where many unreached people groups lived. They could be in Saharan or sub-Saharan regions, and they didn’t speak our language – how would we communicate?.
A smile breaks down many barriers when you don’t speak the language.
What does it mean to have a missions mindset?
For me, a missions mindset is about the heart. It’s about realizing that seven billion people are on the planet, and I am just one of them. It is about taking to heart Jesus’ command in Matthew 28,
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. — Matthew 28:19
Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost. Growing up in the church, preachers would tell us to “go out there and win souls for Jesus,” but what did that mean?
How was I supposed to do that?
God uses each of us differently – there is no one-size-fits-all for being involved with missions.
I felt called to travel to far-off lands in a variety of different capacities. Here's a sampling of them:
- Sound Engineer
- Vacation Bible School leader
- House Builder
Ed Young said,
“God is preparing you for what He has prepared for you.”
God is creative. He has gifted each of us with gifts and talents and then weaves our story in such a way to take advantage of our gifts and talents.
Whether you are a sender or someone who loves to go and fill your passport, God is using you to make a difference in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whether you are helping the homeless, engaging with your neighbor, or getting on a plane and headed for far-off lands – you are fulfilling the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19.
Today, spend a few minutes and look back over your life and see where God has used you to make a difference in the Kingdom of Heaven.
You might be a sender, or you might be someone who goes.
If you are new to missions, let me encourage you to lean into what the Holy Spirit may be laying on your heart.
Sometimes God puts a dream in our hearts that takes years to fulfill. You may see them as unconnected dots on your life's timeline, but God may be preparing to connect those dots for you.
Lord, thank you for using us to help make a difference for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you for using us to fulfill the Great Commission. Lord, we ask you to protect our missionaries who are in the field, traveling to the field, or preparing for the field – guide them, give them peace, open doors for conversations, and use us to help support them. Thank you for the gift of Your Son so that we can live. Amen!
Dispatches From the Field
I have been fortunate to travel the globe with many different organizations as a short-term missionary. Over the years, I have collected photographs and stories from my trips.
Each day this month, I am releasing a photograph and story from a trip. The pictorial journey is titled Dispatches From The Field, and you can get these dispatches exclusively from the Rocking Chair Devotions website by signing up for a free account at https://rockingchairdevotions.com/signup.
I have posted two pictures and stories to give you a taste of the dispatches. I hope you will check out the dispatches and see how God can use you to make a difference in missions across the street or around the world.