May 18, 2014.
Day three of Nicaragua and I think we are a bit anxious to settle into what we came here to do: teach English using the an easy to read version of the book of Luke. Tomorrow will begin our first day of really teaching English. Pray for us that our trip may be profitable and we might sow some seeds for the kingdom, hopefully falling on good ground and growing New Testament Christians, as this is the only seed.
Sometimes with short term mission work, the team that goes on the trip struggles with feeling like they have not accomplished anything on the trip. I know that last year after I came back from Panama, I felt like I did absolutely nothing, and it turned into a very low point in my faith. There is one thing that our training tried to really get through to us though: just because you don’t see the results does not mean you didn’t make and impact. It is our job to sow the seed. It is God who causes the growth. Listen to how Paul puts it in I Corinthians:
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
(I Corinthians 3:5-9)
Paul makes this statement after going over the problem that the church at Corinth was having at the time of creating factions after certain leaders of the early church. Notice how he deemphasizes the importances of the man teaching and emphasizes God. God causes the growth, not us. It is true that we might not see any of the results of our labor while we are here in Nicaragua, but the seed will be sown. It is up to God and the person who will have the choice to make to do the rest. Good thing too, because if it was left up to us, I’m afraid we would fail utterly.
Also, growing the kingdom is not the only goal of short term mission work, though it is the most important. Anther very important goal that we have when we visit another country or place is to encourage the church there. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but let me assure you that it means so much to these people to see how much their family cares to come down and visit with them. It means so much to us as well to get to know them and build relationships with them. I think that the importance of this type of encouragement runs deeper than either side truly realizes. I have talked a couple of different missionaries who had been in the field for several years and they tell me of how visits from people from home really refresh and revitalize them. I am happy to be a part of this refreshment.
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
(I Corinthians 14:26)
Perhaps the third most important goal of short term mission work is the maturing in the faith of the team that goes. You learn so much going to a foreign country and spending time with the Christians there. You learn so much from the culture about the things they do differently and how they think differently. You get an appreciation for people and see how not everything in America is the best way. We get a better understanding of where our faith is at and what we need to do to improve our faith. As long as we don’t crash after the mission high, we will be able to bring renewal back to the United States and spark a fire in our own sphere of influence. What a wonderful revival mission work can bring.
Pray for us, that we may do the work of The Lord.
Suggested Daily Reading: I Corinthians 3, 12-14.
Dios le bendiga.