For a guy who’s always secretly been terrified of the idea of being a “missionary”, the thought of going to a missions conference was a bit intimidating. I don’t remember if I actually prayed this, but as a child I at least thought “God, I’ll do anything you want me to do, just please don’t make me be a missionary or a pastor”. When going to Urbana, I tried to make a conscious effort to set aside my fears, preconceived ideas, and excuses and to keep an open mind to what the Lord had/has in store for me. Well God sure had a lot to tell me! I’m actually still processing all the info that I absorbed in those few days in St. Louis. Don’t worry, I won’t recount it all, but let me share a few of the highlights.
First off, let’s address my desperate need for a missions mind set change! I was previously focusing on the cost of following and serving Jesus, I was losing sight of the prize. The things that we may have to “give up” in this brief life are absolutely nothing in comparison to the reward that we have in Christ Jesus. What’s the end game here anyway? It’s not missions. God never intended missions to be our life; He intended a love for Jesus Christ to be our life! Serving God by living out His mission to reach the world with the gospel is an overflow of our love Christ. Too often I’ve viewed it as a chore and duty. No! “Serving” God is a joy and a privilege.
The topic of suffering challenged me. Jesus says in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” So the question arises (in the words of one of my fellow conference attendees): “What if it’s all good in the ‘hood?” What if you’re not experiencing persecution? Hmm, it get’s ya thinkin’, doesn’t it? The fact of the matter is, people will love you when you pay for their lunch, when you’re all smiley, when you take a stand for bullying, when you’re a nice person. People will hate you, however, when you share the gospel, that’s when the persecution happens. So, are you really sharing the gospel? I intend to be more intentional about actually sharing the gospel, telling the good news -the story of God’s redemptive love to others.
So am I planning on packing up and heading to some remote country to be a “missionary” tomorrow? No. Who knows? Maybe someday God will move me out to one of those unreached countries to make disciples there! The idea doesn’t seem quite so scary now…But in the meantime, am I planning on taking to heart what God was revealing to me at Urbana and being more intentional about His mission to go and make disciples right here, right now, especially in and through KidVenture -the ministry He’s currently got me in? Yes, absolutely Yes! I intend to be faithful where Jesus has got me right now. I’m super excited about the opportunities in the year ahead that God is already laying out for me! There are Summer and Christmas outreach programs to plan, children at Venture to encourage in their faith and teach on a weekly basis, a possible opportunity to partner with the Beaumont School District and build relationships and love on the kids and families there, and a whole lot more! I just need to keep my eyes and heart open to what God would have me do to further His kingdom this coming year. I’m just grateful He’s letting me tag along and participate in the amazing things He’s doing here in this community and around the world.