Yesterday, our first and only full day of camp is over. It went by quickly with laughter, fun and games, English lessons, and of course, lots of conversation about Jesus. Some of the notable highlights of the day for me were a snowman building contest, a devotion by Jenn Carson, a gospel presentation in the evening (and discussion that followed) and impromptu dancing to songs that we learned from summer camp. This mission, however, has not been without its challenges. We have all struggled with fatigue as we wrestle with jet lag. illness has plagued several of the camp leaders (Czech and American alike). And now as I sit here in dark of the morning with an icy wind blowing outside, I am again praying for the health of the team. With the joys and challenges, it has given me pause to think about God’s heart for missions. Why should we do it?
Let’s suppose we could have sat in on the meeting in Antioch that led to the commissioning of Barnabus and Saul. Perhaps one voice that didn’t get recorded in scripture went something like this “Missions is a great cause to get our people involved in. Statistics show that missions minded churches are also growing churches. We will probably increase our numbers if we are more missions-minded”. The challenge with this attitudes is that the focus is on how missions benefits the local church. Thankfully, this wasn’t the attitude of the men of Antioch. Scripture records that the leaders of the church were praying and fasting and God called them to set apart Paul and Barnabus for the work of missions. Missions is God-focused.
What about missions as an amazing training opportunity? People who go on foreign missions trips often are transformed by the experiences they have. Maybe every church member should be required to go on missions trips. Actually, I’m not suggesting this either – though some religions do, The flaw with this thinking is that missions is all about benefit to the missionaries. Imagine how successful a second missionary trip recruitment program might have gone at Antioch: “I have grown so much through this trip – being stoned and left for dead really grew me as a Christian.” Again, this is not how it went. When Barnabus and Paul returned to Antioch, they told about everything that God had done with them and how God had opened a door to the Gentiles. The focus was not just on God, but also on others. Missions is not just God-focused, but also others-focused.
I think the best example of the proper missionary motivation comes from God himself found in the familiar verse of John 3:16. God loved the world – Jesus was sent because of God’s love for others. God gave his son, (and Jesus willingly submitted to the father) – missions may involve sacrifice. Lastly, the the whole point of Christ’s mission was to bring salvation. These are all great things to remember whether we are in the Czech Republic or Chandler.
So as I close today’s blog and prepare for the day, I want to leave you with a challenge and encouragement: remember that Jesus died for even the most unlovable people in your life. His love for you is meant to be shared. Think about who God might be calling you to reach out to this Christmas season, then reach out with the power and boldness that comes from knowing our risen savior. Jesus is with you on mission, even to the very end of the age.
Thanks for following along with your trip. Your prayers make a huge difference. We look forward to returning and sharing all that God has done. Until then, God bless!