When I was eleven years old my family flew across the world to participate in a Discipleship Training School (DTS). While our parents were in class, my brother and I were enrolled in Foundation School, a beautiful convergence of “school plus discipleship.” Every week we not only learned math, science and all the rest, we also learned about God’s character and nature, the big picture story of the Bible, and how to hear God’s voice.
I was amazed to discover that the God I knew in theory wanted to love me in reality. He knew me intimately and wanted to talk with me, to demonstrate His affection toward me, and in tangible ways: an insightful word of encouragement from a friend, a timely hug when it was just what I needed, a pumping heart that felt fit to burst as I worshipped. Simple things, but so meaningful.
And then the real kicker came: I was at a meeting one evening where we were praying for a country that had little knowledge of Jesus. I can’t remember which country it was, but I can remember as clear as crystal the experience of being overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. I was sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair, my feet dangling above the ground, when what felt like a warm, heavy blanket settled around my shoulders. I couldn’t help but stoop a little under it, so I rested my head on my knees and wept as I cried out for these people who had never heard about this God that loves them. I thought to myself: “I have to go! I have to tell these people about Jesus!” There was no call from the front, no prompting from the adults nearby, just an innocent realisation that this beautiful Jesus I had been coming to know and love was for everyone else too.
When it comes to missions, there are so many potential emotions that could motivate us—or maybe discourage us.
For some of us there is a longing for adventure, a thrilling compulsion to explore, to go beyond all that is safe and comfortable.
For some of us, it’s our sense of justice rising up to tackle the wrongs of the world. We see the brokenness, the pain, the lack, and we want to do something about it.
If we look back at the major missions movements throughout Church history, there are a few things they have in common: they all start with an encounter with Jesus. Whether it’s an individual or a small community, the catalytic force that propels people to go beyond their own borders is a powerful, intimate, deep love for Jesus Christ.
When we face challenges, obstacles, and pressures of every kind, we must have a good foundation on which to rely; a strong fortress we can run to when the storms of life blow in to sway us from the course. Unless the very core of our identity and calling is rooted in something beyond our emotion, beyond our perspective or ability to produce results, discouragement and disillusionment may creep in all too easily.
It is as we behold the beauty of God and ponder His grace, compassion, long-suffering, steadfast love and kindness, that we ourselves are transformed. As we experience His faithfulness and forgiveness in our own lives, we can’t help but want to share that love with others too.
And then, we discover some of the best news of all: what God truly desires is partnership with us. He doesn’t just want us to fulfil a task but he wants to work with us to see it accomplished.
Almost seventeen years on from that encounter on the poky plastic chair, I can bear witness that it’s true — He really is with us always, and there’s nothing I would rather be doing with my life than helping others encounter God for themselves.
So, what about you? Do you want to go beyond just knowing about God? Do you want to really know him for yourself?
We’d love to chat some more. 🙂