Adult Team Blog

The Real Needs Around Me

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36 NIV).

The second I opened the door to my modest, safe sedan I knew it was gone. My purse. Not just any purse—my beautiful, brown leather tote that held, in a sense, my entire life. While I was disappointed my daily “goods” were gone—extra pens, a flash drive, and my planner—I felt vulnerable knowing all of my legal identification was gone. My license, passport, Social Security card, and even my journal were all stolen.

I was in the process of getting updated cards and forms this year, so I had all of my valuable, personal information tucked away in my favorite purse.

“You should contact your credit card companies, Social Security, and report your stolen passport,” the police said. “But nine times out of ten, the person who did this was just looking for cash. The thief has probably never seen a passport before and wouldn’t know what to do with any of that information.”

Praying and Giving

Missionaries tell us that our prayers are the most important thing we can do for them. Opening my eyes to the world around me causes me to spend more time in prayer for missionaries and Christians around the world. WMU keeps us focused on them, where they minister, and the difficulties they encounter as they serve God.

As I communicate with missionaries through social media, I find myself drawn into their world by the stories and pictures of their people groups and their ministry. I am especially drawn to my brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted because they bear the name of Christ.

My family has designated the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® as our “Christmas Gift for Jesus” and no gift we give others compares to this gift. You might want to consider putting your Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in an envelope this year, tie a red ribbon around it, and mark it “To: Jesus. From:_____.”

The Love in Us

In recent years, I think a lot of us have become increasingly aware of the world around us. I believe that’s because the world has been coming to us more and more. In years past, we had to step on a plane to encounter a large majority of the cultures in this world, but now we can simply step onto the sidewalk of our own neighborhoods. It’s really a beautiful thing.

It’s not always easy to see things from someone else’s perspective, but I think that is truly how we can become more aware of the world around us. That means actually getting out and talking to people who don’t look or think or act like you! As a mother, I can definitely say that I have not gone certain places when I was uncomfortable, and I’ve used my son as my excuse for not facing those fears. (I believe I read “perfect love drives out fear,” right?!)

Christ was all about unity and love throughout his ministry on earth. First John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (NIV).

On Mission in Jerusalem

In my church we are constantly seeking ways to be involved in missions. Our Director of Missions and other church leaders work together to provide activities for each month in our schools, nursing homes, hospice, shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, Thanksgiving and Christmas outreach to needy families, and associational missions. We also reach out to the military, veterans, police officers, and firefighters.

Our pastor selects an IMB missionary and a NAMB missionary for our focus each month. We learn about the missionaries’ work and where they are serving. Some women connect with them online and maintain lasting relationships. He also brings missionaries to speak at our church and encourages us to be missional in our community as well as around the world.

IMB and NAMB appoint and commission missionaries to serve in the United States and around the world, but God has appointed every one of us to serve in our church family and community. Are you on mission in your Jerusalem?

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?

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.

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