Adult Team Blog

See a Need, Meet a Need

One size fits all. Not really. I have never been a “one size fits all” woman. We are all unique. Some are tall, some are small, some are thin, and some are not at all. So if “one size fits all” doesn’t work with our clothes, why do we think it would work with our missions efforts?

There are a lot of approaches to missions growth. But I don’t think that there is one magic approach that fits everyone. Here are a few that have worked in New Mexico.

Look for a need, and then find a solution for that need. We had a small Children in Action group that we wanted to grow. We noticed that many of the elementary students had to wait for older siblings to get out of sports practice to go home. So we changed the time of our CA group to that hour. Now years later, we have more than tripled the size of our original group.

My Own Little World

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost walked into someone or tripped on a sidewalk because I was looking down at my phone. In fact, there have been multiple days where I’ve walked across campus to get to class in a crowd of people, but I didn’t see any of them because I was so fixated on my phone or lost in my own thoughts.

Even though my eyes were open, I failed to see others.

Between texting friends and scrolling through Instagram, I get so caught up in my own little world and become oblivious to the one around me. With my head down, I let my world consist of my schedule, my friends, and my interests, with very little time for anything else.

But how can I live on mission for Christ when I can’t even see the ones He’s called me to serve? How can God open my eyes to the needs of the world if I refuse to look up from my own?

If we want to see the world around us, we must start by fixing our gaze on Jesus and posturing ourselves in a position of prayer, asking God to remove the distractions and allow us to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. Then everyday tasks, such as walking to class, become missional opportunities.

Spirtual Formation as a Leader

We all have opportunities to lead and to follow, and in both cases, our spiritual formation makes a difference in how we treat one another in those roles.

The Bible says that God knew us while we were in our mother’s womb and that He knows our days—including every experience we’ve had. So, often with gaping wounds, we limp into positions of leadership. We want to present ourselves to everyone as a whole person, and we hope that they won’t notice our bandages and scars. Yet the more we try to hide our wounds, the more we expose them.

How does this relate to spiritual formation? In the words of Dr. Noel Forlini, “Spiritual formation is a process of presenting our whole selves to God in order to experience the love of God, so that we can love God, others, and ourselves.”

The whole self includes everything—even the parts that we’ve worked so hard to forget about. Our hidden wounds are actually an important part of our spiritual formation. If we present them to God, we will find ourselves more able to love God, others, and ourselves.

Seeing the World Around Us

When my husband first became a pastor, we attended a language ministries conference. I was overwhelmed with the love I witnessed
among the people in that meeting. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15 NIV). God had sent the world to our doorstep, and to every nation He had given special people to love them and minister to them here in the United States.

Today we are automatically positioned to see the world around us—at grocery stores, medical offices, restaurants, the post office, theaters, and schools. Do you see them—those new to the country, struggling with the language, trying to fit into a foreign culture? They say loneliness is one of their biggest problems. They are waiting and watching for a friendly face that cares about them as a person.

A City on a Hill

So I just moved to a new city and it is vastly different from the place I came from. Along with its special climate (hot and hotter), this new city has various types of buildings that are unfamiliar to me; a different style of dress—for the women in particular; working hours that are not the same as the ones I am accustomed to; and a different language I do not understand (yet).

But out of all these new-to-me observations, I think the one that hits me the hardest is that two distinct kinds of people live here. Now, I’m not talking ethnicities or culture because this place is probably more akin to a melting pot than anywhere in the United States really. No, the two kinds of people I recognize here are those who are living in deception and those who are living in the truth. This difference is much more evident here than where I came from, though the same thing can be said about both places, or any place for that matter.

The simplest way I can think of putting it is this: There are those on this earth who are perishing without Christ Jesus and those who are being saved by God’s grace through faith in Him.

The Blinders Are Off

I grew up in rural North Carolina in a small town that was similar to the fictional Mayberry. Farming and fishing were the main industries, and families working together brought a closeness and a feeling of security that you cannot find today. Everyone knew all their neighbors on a first name basis—doctors, lawyers, merchants, farmers, fishermen—it didn’t make a difference. It was a stable, comfortable life, and my husband and I were only vaguely aware of the evil all around us until we had children.

During the 1970s we became deeply concerned about the changes we saw taking place in the world our children would inherit! The cultural changes in families, the increase in divorce, the use of drugs and alcohol, and the “anything goes” attitude of the younger generation. However, our children were still young and the evils we saw and heard about on radio and TV seemed far away from us—no need to worry—or so we thought.

A TV pastor said, “Don’t worry. The pendulum swings; this will pass.” But it didn’t pass. The blinders were off! We began to pray for revival in our country and the protection of our children.

Give and Pray

It is December, time to trim the tree, decorate the house inside and out, and send Christmas cards. Not to mention shop. Shop for family, friends, co-workers, the pastor’s family, the mail carrier, Sunday School teachers, and school teachers. Then there is the entertaining, baking, Christmas parties, Christmas cantatas, and everything else that we are supposed to do in December. Wow! Are you tired yet?

All these things are so fun and make Christmas special and memorable, but they aren’t what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about the incredible Gift that was given to us all, Jesus. We need to make sure that all our activities are about Him and not just about the holiday.

One great way to help keep the season all about Jesus is to promote the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® and the Week of Prayer for International Missions. The more creative you get, the more excited people will get in their giving. Here are a few approaches that really worked for churches in New Mexico:

Light Makes a Difference

Light is beautiful. And fascinating. Light makes a difference. It changes darkness instantly. There is so much darkness in our world. What would it take for God’s light to shine in new ways this Christmas season?

I watched a documentary recently on the Star of Bethlehem. It is amazing all God did to point to the Christ child, to celebrate this awesome gift. A light, pointing the way.

I wonder, how can we point others to Christ during this special time of year? How can we be light to others? Would there be a simple, humble corner of the earth where we could be that light, even to those as meek as shepherds? And would God use it to call even people as important as Magi from the East, to Himself?

A Mission’s Drive

It’s that time again! Time to set aside our Christmas offering for international missions. I confess I never really paid too much attention to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® that my church promoted every year. Sometimes I would write a check, but I didn’t always.

That changed when my husband’s brother received an appointment as an international missionary. That’s when I discovered the importance of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

My brother-in-law’s family spent 10 years in Malaysia. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering provided financial support and helped them fulfill their mission.

Missionary families depend on the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for their ministry and livelihood. For those of us who can’t go, giving is one way we can help fulfill God’s commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). 


Sandra Knox Miller writes from her home in Sylacauga, Alabama. 

 

 


 

A World Day of Prayer

A few years ago I had the privilege of speaking at our Associational WMU luncheon held in observance of the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer. What made that day memorable for me was not that I was the guest speaker, but what I learned through my preparation.

My text was from the book of James about Elijah’s prayer life. The phrase that captured my attention said that Elijah was just like us (James 5:17).  Elijah was a prophet. He did so many extraordinary things that I never thought of him as just an ordinary man. But that’s what he was. There was nothing special about him. Yet, his prayers affected the forces of nature.

When we gather to celebrate the World Day of Prayer, the Lord is listening to us just like he listened to Elijah. Our world needs prayer—now more than ever before. Let’s be faithful to join together and pray for our nation and our world.


Sandra Knox Miller writes from her home in Sylacauga, Alabama. 

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