Well, we made it! A team of volunteers that were put together quickly to respond to a disaster caused by a massive storm in Houston came together at 4:30 A.M. this morning outside the Crossnet Baptist Network. There are 11 of us on the team, and we come from 4 different churches. We span different generations and genders, but we come together for the purpose of showing the love of Christ to a specific part of our world that is hurting right now. We drove all day in a convoy of trucks having to maneuver around accidents the whole way. We spanned six states in order to get here – but we made it! Whew!
First off, I will admit it… I am pumped! I love to have opportunities that are out of the ordinary but absolutely necessary. It is a unique showing of the unity of the body of Christ when a group of strangers can organize and come together for the purpose of missions. Our corporate witness to the world is strengthened when we see needs and step in with the gospel and love for our neighbors.
I had an experience last night, though, that I’d like to share as I reflect on this first day of travel. I was at church, and we had pre-planned Randy Bonner to come speak about Ocoee Outreach months ago. Little did we know at the time of scheduling that his night at our church would be in the midst of “mission chaos” at Crossnet. Randy runs point on organizing these teams to go forth – and our team today represents the third team to go forward from Bradley County in the last 8 days. Pretty impressive…
So after Randy speaks, I feel led to cancel the final song and just invite the 25-ish faithful Sunday night attenders to come forward and pray over Randy. Not to be out-ministered-to, Randy says, “Hey, let’s also pray for Pastor Matt” How dare he! Just kidding – please pray for me often.
As the people semi-crowd around us, I feel hands here and there. But there were two hands that stood out. One was a small hand that hit around my hip, and the other was an even smaller hand that kept jumping around in the area of my knee. I peeked my eyes open, and I saw my two boys – Noah (7) and Silas (4) laying a hand on their daddy for this upcoming mission. I know it is probably hard for them when I leave for things. Most of the time, those things are not voluntary. I leave because I am a soldier and I am ordered to leave most of the time. But this time is different. I am leaving because I am choosing to leave for a week. Silas seemed to have a particularly hard time with that thought this time. But when I looked down at his attempt to pray for his daddy, it hit me…
He may not understand it fully, but he loves his daddy, he sees his daddy’s passion, and he trusts that his passion must be a good thing.
Now, I would never go on a mission trip purely to show my children what “right looks like”. That would be dishonest and manipulative. I go because it is the right thing to do – but I sincerely hope they see and understand that. It sure does ease my burden when I think about the understanding my boys are going to have about the need for missions when they see me excited about missions and taking advantage of opportunities to go. I hope they dip their toes in the pool of missions so they can see for themselves the beauty of taking the gospel to the world.
Here’s where the point gets even bigger… I looked on Facebook today during the long drive (I was not driving – I was a passenger – DO NOT FACEBOOK AND DRIVE!). I saw this picture that Brother Don Nichols had posted. It dawned on me! There were a lot more than 2 hands that were reaching out to pray for me. There were a group of faithful believers in prayer. What if they don’t understand why I, as their pastor, would leave them to go on a mission trip? What if they are dipping their toes into the pool of missions by walking up and giving prayer support for this trip?
God is so good! He intends to use you wherever you are to impact the world in some way. That might be your next door neighbor… it might be playing with a child at your church… it might be making a new person feel welcomed… it might even be to come to Houston or Florida for Disaster Relief in coming weeks… However He is leading you to impact the world, be passionate about Jesus – and wear that passion proudly! When you are passionate about something, you might just have people that will watch – even if they don’t fully understand – and begin to imitate what you do. Truly, we can say to the world,
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1
Keep praying for me – this is just day 1 of 7…