Adult Team Blog

Shining Through Summer Missions

Even though we strive to let our light shine throughout the year, the summer months provide unique opportunities to creatively bless others and share the gospel.

Sometimes summer missions involves reaching out to children in our community through Backyard Bible Clubs and Vacation Bible School. Sometimes it means traveling to another country to tackle a specific project to help a ministry spread the gospel.

I love summer at my church. From VBS to short-term trips, there are a variety of missions opportunities available for families and individuals of all ages.

I am most excited about a project our myMISSION group is doing—providing food for a staff appreciation event at Cedar Lake Lodge, a local facility for intellectually disabled adults.

Letting Go

“The next ten years, at least,” was always my answer when people asked me how long I wanted to live in the Middle East. Following the greats before me like Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon, I admired the kind of faith and sacrifice they possessed.

My whole life geared toward that moment of stepping on the plane and beginning this adventure I had prayed for, researched, and anticipated.

In that moment, I thought that was the final surrender, to leave behind my family, my friends, my comforts, and my ability to communicate within my culture. I really did think I had reached my one big free fall and everything after was going to be a continuum based off of that jump.

Little did I know the true surrender would happen 2 years later, when God told me my one-way-ticket plan was not His and it was time to go back.

What?

Did I hear this all wrong?

Big Potential from a Simple Invitation

If you’ve grown up in a family that regularly attended church, that’s amazing. It’s also not the norm for many children across America.

I live in the Bible Belt of the South, where it’s easy to assume that everyone goes to church and knows about Jesus. However, this is so not true!

I have been babysitting for a sweet family for about a year. The more I babysat, the more I realized that I didn’t see any biblical-based items around the house—no children’s books with Bible stories, no cross decorations, and no Noah’s ark toy sets.

However, one day in December, I noticed a candy cane with a piece of paper tied to it. The paper explained how the candy cane represented the shepherd’s staff from the Christmas story, and it also looked like the letter “J” for Jesus.

“Where did you get this?” I asked one of the children.

“From the after school Bible club,” he replied. “I go once a week.”

Let Go and Let God

Recently, we learned we needed to take our 15-month-old son to an ear specialist. He’s had nonstop double ear infections for the past several months, and after multiple rounds of antibiotics, it’s time to think about next steps in his treatment. Some of our options include placing tubes in his ears or removing certain parts of his ears, nose, and throat in order to prevent infection. Though the process is painful and unpleasant, it will be a necessary procedure to protect his body from a hostile takeover from toxic organisms.

God-Pleasing Sacrifice

“Sacrifice” is not a word frequently heard in our postmodern culture.

In a society that strives for more, bigger, and better, the idea of sacrificing anything is almost unthinkable. However, the concept of sacrifice may be widely misunderstood, even for Christians.

We recall the Old Testament stories of sacrifice involving the slaughter of animals for the redemption of sin. And we accept that Jesus became the Lamb slaughtered—sacrificed—for our personal sin so that we have been redeemed by His blood shed on the cross.

Under the New Covenant—in other words, after Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as a substitute for our sin offering—we are told to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom. 12:1). Our bodies—our entire lives—are to be living sacrifices instead of dead sacrifices. What we have to offer as worship is not a dead substitution but, instead, a life that is “holy and pleasing to God.”

An Unexpected Platform

Microphone on stage

Recently, while walking through a subway station, I was approached by a stranger. I assumed he was a lost tourist, but he was a photographer taking photos of New Yorkers for a blog. I quickly realized he writes for a very popular photo blog that has millions of followers. He asked if he could take my photo and share my story. I’d never thought much about what I would say if approached by this guy (as I’m a big fan of his work), but here I was standing there with a great opportunity to share my story.

I said yes, and his first question was something along the lines of “What are you most passionate about?” So I started talking about Christ, the gospel, and church planting. I stammered through several things and really don’t remember all of what I said. I honestly didn’t say anything profound; I just rambled on about my life and the things I do.

Selflessness Continues!

The cards keep coming in. Expressions of love and sympathy flood the post, as selflessness continues to console and bless. The heartfelt sentiments, the verses of prayer —each message is another reminder of God’s never-ending faithfulness!

There, in the midst of the stacks, are sweet, comforting words from friends like Donna Kirby— each among numerous, other souls. Hands that have lovingly composed words of sympathy, and words arriving at just the right time.

Selfless acts of love. A first-class stamp representing the heart of God reaching outward to serve a grieving daughter and her family.

Thank you, friends, for reflecting our Father’s love. Thank you for pausing to sacrifice your time, and for taking up your cross and following Jesus.

Your selfless acts of love will never be forgotten.

 

Joanie Ballard will be forever grateful for her earthly father’s legacy of selfless living! 

 

 

 

 

Serve Others

Missionaries are some of the most selfless people in the world. Many leave their comfort zone, their homes, and families to serve God and others. Missionaries give selflessly of themselves.

Their happiness is truly lasting. A selfless person will attract takers and sometimes will be unappreciated. Boundaries must clearly be set. The world may seek the advice of a selfless person and then ignore it. In order to be selfless, whole-hearted and genuine, we must take care of ourselves first in order to give our best self to others.

However, being selfless does not have to mean being a doormat. Stand on the Word of God. The Christian life is not about self-promotion; it is about self-denial.

God didn’t add another day in our life because we needed it, He added it because someone out there needs us.        

 

 

In the Wings

As the world jockeys for position at center stage, Christ followers are answering the call to serve in the wings of life. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34 NIV).

Selfless service requires self-denial, followed by missional action. My friend, retired IMB Missionary, Donna Kirby, displays this kind of lifestyle.

Serving in Hong Kong for over 35 years as a teacher and church planter, Donna’s passion for God and His people has followed her across continents and throughout communities.

Retirement is absent from Donna’s vocabulary, as she loves and leads in the English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) ministry at Fayetteville First. Selflessness exudes from this petite, 5 ft. frame as she engages in lessons and Bible studies.

Yes, the wings of life are brighter because Donna Kirby has answered God’s call!

Joanie Ballard is blessed by Christ-followers like Donna Kirby who inspire her to keep serving.

 

Minister

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

There are many ways to be a selfless servant in our communities and around the world. People are hurting and are in need of a loving Savior. Disaster relief is a good way to be the hands and feet of Jesus as we approach the season of storms, tornadoes and hurricanes. Perhaps your church could serve as a shelter or feeding center.

Hunger is another prevalent problem in our society. Try keeping food packets (granola bars, beef jerky, etc.) in the glove compartment of your car to give to someone in need. Provide a meal to school teachers during teacher preparation week. Provide a meal and/or hold a special service to recognize local fire, police and EMT personnel.

The challenge is to develop a strategic plan to spread the Gospel while we are ministering in our communities.

**Photo credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com  

 

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