We had been talking about short term mission trips. I showed her pictures from our first trip to Haiti, played a voice recording of my goddaughter singing Mighty To Save, shared a few special memories. “You mean, there’s things I could do, even if I can’t help with construction”? With emphasis on the word “I”, her soft voice quivered, her eyes brimmed with tears.
Oh yes, sweet lady. Yes there is. That glorious crown of gray hair proclaims your wealth of life experience, useful to the kingdom of God.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Romans 12:6-8 NIV
I’ve really wrestled the past few years with the bad rap short term missions has earned. My heart sank the first time I read “When Helping Hurts”, my cheeks got hot with shame. In several ways I was as guilty as the author charged. It kind of messed with my head and heart for a while.
At the end of the day, if you love Jesus then living your on mission is the correct response. I’m not going to debate the how we should be doing it, or elevate one organization over another. I acknowledge that in our well-meaning desire to help, American Evangelicals may have at some time or another done harm through our ministry efforts. Ok I said it.
Regardless, we are told to go. Serve. Encourage. Preach and teach. Care for widows and orphans. Protect the vulnerable. Seek justice. Put our God given gifts to work. It is His love put into action.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10 NIV
Your mission field can be in your home, across the street, next town over or thousands of miles away. Wherever it may be, Christ Follower, you do have one. I personally have found it to be true, that simple obedience brings great blessing. Giving yourself away blesses you as you bless others.
The conversation with Ms Kathy yesterday brings to mind the many people I know who don’t recognize their gifts, think they don’t have anything to give, or mistakenly believe their gifts aren’t useful. I’ve had similar conversations before. The idea is far from true.
I wish you all could spend some time in her presence, because Kathy’s sweet spirit and gift of encouragement breathes life into those around her.
“Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.”
Acts 15:32-33 NIV