myMISSION

A Taste of Boldness

A few semesters ago, I befriended two Chinese students in one of my classes. We could not be more different, but we had great conversations and I was able to begin to share my faith. When they suggested I experience authentic Chinese cuisine to celebrate the end of class, I was eager to continue our conversations while doing something I love: eating.

A few days later, I prayed continuously as I drove to the restaurant, asking for boldness to share the gospel clearly. By the time I arrived, I still didn’t feel the boldness I had prayed for, but I felt comforted by the smell of fried rice. Unfortunately, this feeling quickly vanished when my friends met me and said, “We already ordered for you!”

Soon an array of dishes came and covered our table, revealing various kinds of meat and organs. I looked at the table and felt like a contestant on Fear Factor. But then the Spirit reminded me to pray. I asked if I could bless the food, and then the conversation flowed naturally as I shared my faith and put unidentifiable meats on my plate.

A Beautiful Mystery

September is a great month . . . Fall is just around the corner while summer is still hanging on for one last breath of warm air. Summer can give us the feeling of taking a break. September puts us back on track and brings us back to reality, in a good way.

Students are getting their schedules and signing up for programs and activities. Professionals may be starting their first “real” job or getting back into the swing of things. Moms may be still trying to figure out how to get their infant to sleep through the night and maybe themselves as well. Or they are packing lunches, helping with homework, and figuring out a new balance for home life.

As leaders, we often wonder, what does God want now? Whatever season of life we find ourselves in, how will we define success? What will it take to know God’s will in this new day-to-day reality?

One missionary friend says that she is in transition, asking that same question. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, how do we know God’s will today?

My myMISSION

Missions education has played an important role in my life since I was a young girl. I was a GA, an Acteen, and an Acteens leader.

Missions education is more than having a meeting periodically. It is also more than participating in missions projects. Missions education is a specific facet of discipleship.

In order for me to be most effective in my personal witness, I need the accountability of other people. Learning about what God is doing in remote parts of the world encourages me to look for what He is doing around me. Praying together for missionaries, people groups, and other believers is a powerful way to connect with God’s larger purpose. Giving our time, talents, and resources to support missions efforts in our church, nation, and world enables us to impact the kingdom of God as part of the body of Christ instead of trying to do it on our own.

As a young adult, it is hard for me to find a missions education environment that fits me. Often I don’t feel comfortable in the missions groups of older women.

A Need for Spiritual Parents

I recently celebrated my 30th birthday, which makes me a member of the emerging generation. Who are the emerging generation? We go by many labels; most commonly, we are referred to as Generation Y or millennials. The emerging generation encompasses those of us born between 1980 and 2000, roughly.

We are the largest and most unchurched generation in America. Notably, we are the first generation in history that didn’t grow up with a church or religious background. We weren’t raised in church. We weren’t taught the authority of the Bible, the inerrancy of Scripture, or other basic doctrines of the evangelical Christian faith.

More than half of the millennial generation believes being a religious person is about doing the right things versus holding the right beliefs. The majority of the emerging generation believes religion is a private matter that should be kept out of public affairs. More than half of my generation does not see a connection between belief in God and morality. In other words, you do not have to believe in God or have a personal relationship with Him in order to be moral.

The Benefit of Staring

I have always been an observer. In my childhood years, some (namely my mom) might have called me someone who “stared.” She constantly reprimanded me in public places because my gaze would set on the most interesting figure in the room, and I would stare until my mind had found a conclusion to my curiosity.

Maybe I still am this way, but I try to be more covert in my observations of other people and less like 7-year-old Abi, with her mouth gaping open.

I have travelled the world and observed some interesting things in the public sphere, but the observations that have impacted me the most and at a deep level were those of the people who were in my direct community.

Every night as a child I would creep around the house, in denial of the 9:00 bedtime rule, and I would watch her.

She tidied up our home, watched the 10:00 news, and got ready for bed. Sneaking around, I would check in on these routines to assure my mind the world was spinning exactly as it should.

Don't Shrink Back!

Sometimes it’s hard to start something when you don’t know the end result. Specifically, building relationships with unbelievers can be intimidating when you don’t know how the story will end. You may pursue a friendship with someone for a season, and then you may drift apart. On the other hand, this person could come to know Christ and become one of your closest friends.

For those of you who shrink back with fear of the unknown, there is good news! It’s not our responsibility to make sure that an unbeliever accepts Christ.

John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.” It does not say, “No one can accept Christ unless you convince them that the gospel is true.”

Toward the end of the past semester, I ran into one of my non-Christian friends on my way to class. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and I felt bad for neglecting that relationship.

Relationships

Friends, family, and other relationships bring memories, fun, blessing, confusion, and challenges. And sometimes they are just plain hard . . . but needed.

Relationship is God’s chosen way to relate to us, and His design for how we relate to one another. Sometimes, especially as leaders, we are tempted to think that we don’t need deeper relationships. Sometimes we find ourselves out in front, with others following at a distance. But is this the best or only way? And how can we share with others? How can we be open for new relationships?

I love the fact that Jesus lived with His disciples. His call to leadership development was to “come” (Matt. 4:19). He invited others to walk with Him. He even let little children come to Him (Mark 10:13–16).

Paul shared his life with those he ministered to (1 Thess. 2:8). Some of Paul’s friends and co-laborers in ministry were people he had worked with as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3).

Someone You Raise

“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”—Andy Stanley

When we think about missions, we often define it as traveling to a foreign country to tell people about Jesus. We equate “missions” with “going” and the idea of being sent to another place.

As moms, we can be tempted to look with envy at the young or single woman who serves on the missions field in a foreign country, thinking her work for the kingdom of God is more noteworthy or impactful than our service in the home. We glamorize the missionary’s life as more important to the spread of the gospel than our daily work in the doldrums of diapers and dirty laundry.

Making Friends

Holding a baby that could easily be a Gerber model, Jill and I struck up a conversation next to our apartment pool. Obviously, the blue-eyed doll she held was the conversation starter, but we talked for a while after about her life and family.

As we talked, Jill told me, “You know, I have never really met any of my neighbors here before,” referring to the apartment community she has lived in for the last 3 years.

My heart soared when she said this, because this is exactly what my husband and I have prayed for in the apartment God has placed us in. That community will flourish and we will have opportunities to share Jesus.

With her confession, I responded, “Well now you know at least one person. We should go for walks sometime.”

There is something about being pursued in friendship as an adult. It’s as if once we all moved past school where we were in a place with a lot of people going the same direction as us, we lost track of how to bridge the divide and make friends with strangers.

Lifestyle of Learning

Have you ever had to reteach yourself how to ride a bike? Probably not. Once you have learned how to ride a bike, you likely have learned it for life.

On the other hand, some things in life require continuing education. For example, my New Year’s resolution was to listen to something in Spanish every day. I have taken Spanish in school for several years, and over time I have greatly improved!

Even though I enjoy learning the language and continue to practice, I know that I will always have room to learn more. I will never say, “I’m done! I understand all the Spanish in the world and don’t need to study anymore.”

Learning about missions is more like my lifelong attempt to learn another language. The learning shouldn’t stop. Our world is constantly changing, and studying missions helps us understand how we can best minister to unbelievers.

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