Your mission, if you choose to accept it...

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My dad is a loyal Detroit Lions fan, which is hard to do with a team that finds a new way to hit rock bottom every season. He sits in front of the TV every Sunday, yelling at it like the players can hear him. “God dang it Kitna!” “Judas Priest”, “Holy Mother of God”, “What the hell was that?” “Jesus Christ!” This might offend a good number of people at this school, but two thirds of the world wouldn’t even know who my dad was talking about, according to the book Stepping Out. Over four billion people live and die without ever hearing the name “Jesus”. As Christians, we are all called to minimize this incredible number. I would like to urge you today to do this by going on a mission trip. Mission trips help to evenly distribute abundance throughout the world by the hands of ordinary people whose lives are inevitably changed in the process.

In Quentin Schultze’s book, Communicating for Life, he writes, “God calls us to use communication to claim the entire world in the name of Jesus Christ. As agents of shalom, we are the Creator’s ears and voice on earth, symbolic caretakers of a world entrusted to us.” We live in a place so blessed that it is difficult to remember these blessings. Have you ever thanked God for the five different kinds of pizza they serve in Baldwin, or the bathroom that’s ten feet from your bed? In Jim Lo’s pamphlet “A Life that Matters”, he writes, “While much of the world is starving, we have an abundance of food. While many people are illiterate, we enjoy the benefits of education. While many people suffer from disease, we receive expert medical care. And while the vast majority of people live in spiritual darkness, we, as Christians, have the message of eternal life.” We live in a place where it’s easy to want more and more, when most of the world lives in a place where they just want…some. Just enough to survive. One of the hardest things to grasp is that they don’t even know what they’re missing. They don’t even know that what they’re missing most is God. It is each of our responsibilities to be missionaries for Christ and to show them what they’re lacking.

Nina Gunter, a superintendent of the Nazarene Church, said, "If you take missions out of the Bible, you won't have anything left but the covers." Jesus was a missionary, traveling throughout the nations. His followers did the same during and after Jesus’ death. Some people feel inadequate, that they do not have anything to offer or that they would spread the gospel poorly, but Jesus just threw his disciples out there. They didn’t have any training, and they didn’t think of what they were going to do or say. They just signed up for Jesus and did their best.

Gailey and Culbertson write in their textbook Discovering Missions that “Many short-term mission participants receive little or no cross-cultural training. Many people do not speak the heart language of the people in the area where they go. Most participants are on site for less than two weeks.” People wonder, how can these trips be worthwhile? Why not just send money? But these trips affect the mission participants and the people they go to. The most important part of the mission trip is the relationships that are formed, that only you can form. A person won’t feel loved from a check, and they definitely won’t find Jesus. In Matthew 25, Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Once you know about Jesus, you are called to spread this knowledge to others. It’s nice to feel comfortable with other Christians, huddled around in a safe circle, but so much more can be accomplished. A cluster of candles in a dark room lights up one spot, but if you take the candles and spread them out and hold them high, they light up the entire room. It takes only one candle to move and start spreading the light.

The day after I decided I wanted to go on a mission trip, the opportunity presented itself. There was an announcement in chapel about a spring break mission trip to Orange, TX to help rebuild houses after Hurricane Ike. I immediately signed up, and it was one of the best weeks of my life.

It was amazing to give myself to someone else that week. I could see the progress we made everyday. When we arrived at the Church house, there was nothing but wood framework on the inside. When we left, it was completely insulated and walled. Melissa, the mom, was crying as we left. She said that before we had come, her family was fighting and growing apart, but we had given them hope. I got a random thought then: Give her your necklace. I thought, "What?" And the same thought came. I didn't know if it was God or not, but I wasn't going to take my chances. I took off the heart necklace with the pearl inside it that I always wear, and I gave it to her. When we returned to the bus, a trip leader said that he liked to give out mementos on these types of trips to remember it by. He gave us cross necklaces. My cross necklace had broken two years earlier on Christmas Eve, and I've never replaced it. I was in awe of God.

It was so fulfilling to see God working specifically in my life and in the lives of those around me God showed me so much that week. I learned the impact one person, just me, could make, and I realized a larger plan. Although anyone can hammer a nail, not everyone is called to hammer in the nail in the Church house in Texas. If any one person had not gone on that trip, the trip would have been vastly different. I gained great new friends who I've learned from and I had an amazing God experience. God also showed me how He can bring good from disasters; they give us a reason to reach out and help others. I wouldn't be the same person if Hurricane Ike hadn't struck. I wouldn’t be the same person if I hadn’t gone. I wouldn’t even be giving this speech.

Mission trips like that one can help you find your life’s passion. Missionary Hudson Taylor said, “If I had 1000 lives, I’d give them all for China.” Don’t you want to figure out why God put you specifically here? Many people waste their lives, but just as many waste away by never reaching their full potential.

When Asbury college sophomore Emma Sleeth went on a mission trip to Honduras, she witnessed the impact pollution has on a struggling community. As an older teen, Emma is dedicated to transforming the earth into a healthier, safer place, According to Catherine Newhouse’s review of Emma’s book, It’s easy being green, Emma found her calling on a random mission trip, why should it be any different for you?

If you’re not going to go on a mission trip now, when will you go? When you’re out of college and trying to find a job that fits your career? Once you’re married and settling down? When you have kids? When you retire? The day before you die? The world needs help now. We are ordinary by ourselves, but God has given us the abilities, resources, and gifts to reach out and change the lives of others as well as ourselves; it's a sin to keep this power to ourselves.





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