Saturday, July 13, 2013

As You Go

On July 5th, 4 teams of Tallowood’s high school students and sponsors left in vans to begin their summer mission trip.  Like other mission trips, they have spent months planning for the week of ministry.  In preparation, the students and adults have prayed, read the book of Acts, read Francis Chan’s book The Forgotten God, memorized Ephesians 6:10-20, attended 5 training sessions, and prayed some more.  Unlike other trips, they did not know the exact location for their week of ministry, other than they would be in New Mexico.  From the beginning of the training, they were to pray and ask God to lead them to where he wanted them to be for the week.  With a map of New Mexico in front of them, they were to pray, be prepared, trust God’s Spirit to lead them, and go in obedience.
The teams didn’t even make it out of town before one van load stopped to help a couple fix a flat tire.  As they were going, they prayed with and for waiters, waitresses, and cashiers, bought an extra hamburger to give to a man, helped a couple pack up their tent and supplies, and shared their love for Jesus all along the way.  One group prayer walked around a fireman’s house that had burned down.  They even bought supplies and participated in a fund raiser for the fireman.  The groups have shown us that ministry is what happens as you go and not just at the final destination.
Each group felt God leading them to a different destination – Albuquerque, Clovis, Portales, Santa Rosa and surrounding areas.  They spent the week ministering wherever they went – while eating; visiting with people in the park, on the street, at a skateboard park, or at campgrounds; at churches for youth activities; Vacation Bible School for kids, youth, and adults; participating in projects for the church; impromptu concerts in the park and town square; giving away cold water on a hot day; at an orphanage where they helped move kids from one cottage to another, weeded, baled hay, cleaned steers, painted, helped with scrapbooking, and ministered to the kids and adults; at youth events; at a church softball game; and at a homeless mission where they helped move beds, set up a soup kitchen, and organized the store.  And those are just some of the ways they ministered during the week.  Because they were willing to go to the people, others were blessed this week.
On Thursday, the groups met together for a time of retreat and sharing at Glorieta and then they will begin their return home today.  They have experienced the joy of ministry as a group as well as individually this week.  My prayer is that this will not be the end of the mission trip for these youth and adults, but rather the beginning of a new chapter on their life’s journey as they continue to live out what they’ve experienced
*Living by faith
*Trusting God
*Listening for His voice
*Living in Obedience
whether they are in Houston, a city in New Mexico, or anywhere else in the world.
 This week as I’ve prayed and read the blog about the groups each day, I’ve been encouraged and challenged.  I’ve wondered how the people responded to a group of believers who showed up to help because they are followers of Jesus.  Some people who received help were believers, who may have even prayed about their need, while many others who were blessed aren’t believers yet.  How many were overwhelmed or challenged with their situation and because some believers went in obedience they received help and hope during these days?  How many went about the rest of their day with purpose and joy after encountering the love of Jesus in our youth and adults?  I’ve also wondered what it would look like if I took seriously Jesus’ command that as I go I am to love and minister to others and make disciples of all nations.  What if all Christians did?
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

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