Adult Team Blog

Perseverance and Love

myMission Perseverance and Love

It was 20 degrees outside. I thought my tired shoulders were going to crumble under the weight of a backpack crammed full of Bible story books. My legs were stiff from the cold and from walking over 15 miles the day before.

Resting wasn’t an option. I was following my determined translator all around a small rural town in western Russia. Marat was a fast walker, and if I lost him, I would be all alone in an unknown location with no way of communicating with anyone.

So I walked. And walked. And walked.

Periodically we would stop at a housing complex and leave Bible storybooks in mailboxes, lightening our packs a few books at a time. Occasionally we would see someone outside and speak with them.

The fear of getting lost may have kept my sore legs moving throughout the day. But something else had me getting up out of my warm, cozy bed every morning that week.

My first day in the country, I gave a small teddy bear to a boy whose face lit up the room when he received the gift. On the bear was printed the only Russian phrase I knew: “God loves you.”

The Failed Lemonade Stand

I was the kind of kid who would do anything to make money. Whether it was washing the car or watching my little brother, I jumped at the chance to make an extra dollar.

In the summer after fifth grade, I decided that I wanted to set up a lemonade stand at our neighborhood pool. My parents said that was fine, but I would have to pay for the supplies.

After recruiting my brother as a co-investor, Mom took me to the grocery store where I learned that investing in a lemonade stand wasn’t cheap. After getting cups, lemonade mix, ice, and a cooler, I realized that I needed to sell a lot of lemonade to make a profit.

As the day went on, I grew more and more disappointed with my results. Even though I sold a few cups of lemonade, I was still in the hole. Worse yet, my business partner/brother had abandoned me to play in the pool. “Does he have to cover more of our debt if I ended up doing all the work?” I asked my mom.

Looking back, I can see that working that lemonade stand taught me a lot about earning money. While I felt like a failure in the moment, I now realize that the situation was a great lesson.

Called to Action

I love being active. I love playing sports and games, exploring new neighborhoods, and doing hands-on projects that show others love and compassion. This call to action is apparent in our Christian life in many ways. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to sit tight and watch the work of the Lord. We are called to take up our cross and follow the Lord—through action. This is great news! We get to be an active part of God’s plan for His people.

For many years, I’ve been active in missions, taking trips to places like Thailand, Haiti, and even Iowa, but God has more often and with more impact called me to action in the places I have lived. There is nothing like the joy of seeing a friend or neighbor come to know Christ. There is greater love shared through continuous relationship with those hurting around us.

Not-So-Nice People

I’m not sure how it fell on the ears or landed in the hearts of the disciples when Jesus called them to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Him (Mark 8:34), but for me, it painted images of beautiful sacrifice.

I’m talking about teaching Bible stories under a scrubby tree in sub-Saharan Africa, climbing rocky hillsides to take the gospel to an unreached people group tucked in high-elevation villages, eating raw fish to take one for the team (the missions team, of course), or studying long hours over complicated Bible passages. These are the self-denying, cross-bearing activities I was ready to embrace. But when a selfish, whiny, paranoid woman wandered into my life and God told me to deny myself and love her unconditionally, well . . . it knocked me for a loop.

Don’t get caught up in the larger-than-life, grandiose ideas of what sacrificial living has to look like for a believer. It can be all those things, but it can also mean sitting at the bedside of an aging parent or learning to love a difficult person who has never known Christ’s love. Look far away and then look close to home: how is God calling you to deny yourself?

Simple Love Goes a Long Way

Three weeks after I moved into my new apartment, I met Kana. Kana and her daughter had just moved in across the hall. The immigrant single mom had recently lost her job and didn’t have much outside support.

After a couple of “hellos” in passing, Kana and I ran into each other one day as she was looking for a job. We had a long conversation about her recent hardships and how discouraged she was; she also expressed deep gratitude for her new home and how she hoped this was a starting point for her and her little girl. As I stood and listened, I realized how much she needed the love and support of a family. I told her about my church and how much it means to me to have a church family to support me when things are hard.

Voices of Annie

Each year as Easter rolls around, I look forward to hearing the voices of Annie. Some of the voices are male, others female. Some speak with a heavy French accent, others with a southern twang like me, yet others with a western drawl. Each voice is sweet and strong, speaking passionately about how God is using him or her to fulfill His work in North America.

These are the voices of North American Mission Board missionaries supported through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, telling their stories on videos provided by NAMB.

To view the many videos, visit AnnieArmstrong.com. Prayerfully select the videos to share with your group.

Kimberly Sowell reaches thousands of women through her speaking and writing ministry. Visit KimberlySowell.com for more information.

Get Creative for Annie Armstrong

Looking for some great ideas for how to promote the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions? There are tons of ways to promote missions, and missions offering seasons are great times to get creative. Here are 3 ideas to incorporate into your plan:

  1. Do a FaceTime or Skype call with a North American missionary. If he or she is not available during your meeting time, consider asking the missionary to send you a video.
  2. Host a special prayer meeting for the offering. Use the time to talk about specific needs across the United States and missionaries serving in cities and to pray for specific people and needs.
  3. Invite a church member who has been on a domestic missions trip to share about his or her experience serving in a missional context. 

Pray and help create a plan that will increase your group’s heart for missions and, in turn, missional giving.

Christy Dyer is a North American Mission Board church-planting team member serving through missions engagement and mobilization in New York City. To read more about her ministry, visit BrightHopeBigCity.com

Easter Bracelet

One spring afternoon, I invited the women in my section of the neighborhood to come to my house for a finger-food supper and Easter fun. We shared food and exchanged pleasantries and then I handed each woman a paper plate covered in beads, thread, and a bracelet clasp. Beginning with the Last Supper, I shared the Scripture of the Easter story, instructing the women when to add the next bead of the story. A brown bead symbolized the bread, and a deep purple bead the wine. A flower bead represented the betrayal kiss in the garden. The women listened intently to each set of Scriptures, waiting with anticipation to find out which bead came next.

Halfway through the story, one woman said shyly, “Excuse me; do you mind if we stop for just a moment? I left my boyfriend when I came over for the party, thinking I’d just drop in for a minute and come right back, but I’ve decided I want to stay. I just want to call him and tell him not to wait on me.” What a beautiful confirmation that this Easter party was God’s idea to share Christ with my neighbors!

Glorifying Jesus

We want our life, our work, and all that we do and say to glorify Christ.

We pray, read our Bible, keep the commandments, and guard our marriage vows. We show compassion to others and follow the Golden Rule. We are involved in church and strive to trust Jesus more. We exhibit a good work ethic.

All those are indeed vital to living a life that pleases Christ.

Lloyd Stilley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gulf Shores, Alabama, noted that there is something more we can do to bring even greater glory to Jesus.

“Serving Christ by serving others is your destiny in this life,” Stilley said. “If serving Christ by serving others is your destiny in this life, then the best possible way to serve is by leading another person to Jesus.”

Helping someone come to forgiveness in Christ is the utmost service that a believer can do for Him, Stilley said. Telling an individual how to receive Jesus Christ as Savior is a Christian’s “best possible work.”

That brings glory to our King!

Leigh Pritchett lives in the southeastern United States, a missions field that is “white unto harvest.”

I Didn’t Want to Do It

What teenage girl hasn’t begged God, “I know I have done wrong and have no right to ask this, but please don’t let my mother find out!” Certainly I had many times. But 15 years into adulthood, what was God asking of me? I’d been invited to speak at a church on the topic of my choice, but God was calling me to share the testimony of my tumultuous, sin-laden teen years. Why make me do this in front of several hundred women? It was going to be painful. I probably wouldn’t be invited back. But worst of all, my mom’s best friend asked to accompany me to the event. Oh, the humiliation!

I didn’t want to do it. Talking about one’s sin and failures is never fun, but I had to believe that God had a purpose. On the evening of the event, I took the stage and told my story. Some women wept. Some were flabbergasted. Some nervously nodded on their way out the door, but a few stood in line to weep with me over their daughters’ trials. It was in these intermingled tears that I witnessed how God blesses obedience. And praise God—Mom’s friend and I both survived.

Pages

Back to Top