Mar 6, 2011

Lessons Learned from Africa: What missions is truly about

Sorry everyone for not posting in so long. I just looked at the last time I had put something up and realized that it had been a lot longer than I had originally thought. As some of you may know, last month, my mom and I traveled to Africa to pick up a boy we were adopting and during that trip I learned many important lessons, such as this one:

“God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Oh let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth.” ~Ps. 67:1-4


What you may not realize is that most of the time, when I’m looking for a topic to write on, I just flip open my Bible and write on the first verse or section I read. I did the same thing with these verses, but it always amazes me how the Lord molds that into something that I have been dealing with or something I’ve been thinking about. This passage is both. When my mom and I got to Africa, I was expecting our time to make an impression, and it did, just not in the way I had anticipated. It wasn’t until after we had been there for two weeks that God showed me what I was to learn. First of all, you must understand my mindset during those two weeks. I had envisioned myself as some glorious engineer who would come in to one of the third-world, African countries and suddenly, because of me, it would become a first-class power. In the core of that thinking was providing houses and jobs for the poor. Rarely, however, did I think about the people’s souls. Our second Sunday there, my mom was talking to me and showed me the incredible mistake that was clouding my thinking. We often imagine that Satan leads us astray by tempting us with sinful, wicked thoughts. True, but they come in more than one form. My thinking, though a good thought and a good purpose, was not the best reason for the best purpose. Though it was a good goal and, when done for the right reason, is an admirable calling, because it was distracting me from what God tells us is to be our first focus, it was a sinful thought. Since that time, through talks with my mom and dad, Bible reading, books, and prayer, the Lord has directed my thinking towards another course. As the passage says, “You shall judge the people righteously.” I began wondering whether God’s judgment of me would be “Well done, good and faithful servant,” or “Depart from Me, for I never knew you.” We have a calling: preach the Word. We are not to first think about how to fix the world’s housing problems or even how to feed our families. Our first thought should be to our God and how we can further His glory. We are to care for the souls of our family, friends, nation, and world. What was bogging my thinking down was the notion that I should first meet the physical needs of the people, and then their spiritual needs, when it should have been the other way around. I am starting to realize the full meaning and need of David’s words, “God be merciful to us and bless us…that Your way may be known on earth.” As for you, don’t get so caught up in a career that you are in or are going to be in, that you lose focus of our true calling: first and foremost to evangelize, train, encourage, and strengthen in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord. No, you need not spend hours a day preaching. God has called you to a specific physical job that may not be that of a missionary. But you do need to be constantly praying for the lost, encouraging the Church, and also consistently being bold in your faith. There are times when a specific person will be in every conversation, thought, and news article. Let’s change that to all the time and make it the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Your brother in Christ,


“Let the peoples praise You, O God; let the peoples praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us,

and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.” ~Ps. 67:5-7

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