Ministry Journey Blog

Thoughts on Ministry

27 Jul

Reflections on Mission

Posted in Uncategorized on 27.07.18 by Merlyn

This summer, we as a couple had the privilege of giving a chunk of the short summer (our summer here is only about 10 weeks long) to missions. Over the course of June and July we served 17 days on two different trips.

In June, we led a team of 9 from our church on a mission trip to Kenya. We patterned with a missionary with connections to our church. For the first time, she received guests from her home church and her family. During our time there we visited people in the slums of Kenya and provided food as well as spiritual food. We also had the chance to work with children in the schools of the slums, connecting with them, serving them, and leading activities for them. Another aspect of our mission trip was to do a Bible study together in a rural area with women who have HIV. They have been ostracized from their families and villages and valued not only Bible study and a meal, but healthy emotional and physical attention that they do not get. There were many other aspects to this trip and it was so powerful to watch a diverse team, people of privilege from age 14 to 82 give their time to serve.

In July we went to Calcutta India to serve together. It was just the two of us and the focus of our tie was to teach and evangelize. We led a conference for 150 current and future pastors from India and Bangladesh. These are pastors who in comparison with US pastors have little to no formal training and do not have a regular opportunity to gather for education. We provided the content for the conference and they led the worship. It was a beautiful time in the Kingdom of God as we were joined also by students from the seminary (for us, an associates at a Bible college) that are pursuing their call to serve the Kingdom in a nation that is not primarily Christian. We were blessed by this time and honored to teach on leadership, discipleship, teaching and more. 

We have always recognized that we have a call to serve, not just in our own town. Jesus was clear that we are called to our town, region, state, country and the world. To the ends of the earth. While we could focus on what we do not have, we have so much and we have been blessed with resource, opportunity and education. It is a gift to serve others and it is humbling to find that we often get more out of serving than we feel that we have given.

We do not see ourselves as missionaries, but we are certainly called to missions. We love where we live, but we love culture and the world. We worship and serve a global God.

Serving in the second and third world is eye opening as it is a reflection of how most of the world lives. It is bittersweet in many ways. We find thankfulness for all that we have both in possession and opportunity. We are thankful for new relationships and connections. We find ourselves humbled by a people that are more gracious, kind, warm and hospitable than the people of resource we encounter every day in our own country. We are energized and embarrassed to find that the people in this country that by comparison have absolutely nothing are far more happy and joyous than we whom have so much. We are challenged to see a faith that is much deeper and more mature than the faith we find in Christian churches and people in the United States. The culture shock is not found in being in poverty, it is found in coming back to a place of resource that lacks joy ad depth, to find a church and faithful that are often more focused on personal preferences and comfort than the Gospel of Jesus. That is the hard truth and the gift of missions is that we can confront it and we can learn from our brothers and sisters who have a faith in God that is so deep because without God, they truly have nothing. Perhaps their inclination to start with God instead of our tendency to go to God as a last resort is our first step in learning to have a deeper, more mature faith even in the midst of our resources. We are given much and we are to use that not for our own comfort and gain, but to serve and bless others. That is the Gospel. As Jesus notes, it is certainly hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. 

We are neither great nor special because we have given or served, we are simply trying to be the people who Christ has called us to be. In doing so, we have found more reasons to live and thinking differently, more things to learn, more ways to grow. We have found few reasons to pat ourselves on the back. Our hope is that what we have experienced may be shared, after all, not everyone can go to Africa and Asia, but we can all learn from our brothers and sisters around the world.

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