I’ve just come back from the Philippines. No, I wasn’t there to have a holiday or to work on my tan. I was part of a team of Samoan women who all desired an experience of cross-cultural mission. We had the privilege of visiting NZCMS Mission Partner Dianne Bayley and the Children’s Bible Ministries team in the Philippines.
As I reflect on my experience before, during and after this trip, I have been impacted by a number of things.
People. I’ve come across some phenomenal people who breathe and dream ‘living missional.’ They’re a special breed. Location is not a barrier, their veins are pulsing by how they might join God on his mission and at the same time mobilise others. They are today’s heroes of the faith. While I’m in awe of their faithfulness, passion and boldness, I must admit my surprise with how little interest there is in such global concerns amongst Kiwis (including my own Pacific community).
Excuses. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard phrases like “I can’t be involved in mission.” Some of the excuses have left me picking up my jaw from the ground: it’s only for those who go to Bible College, I don’t know my Bible enough, I don’t have the time. Sometimes I’m struck by disbelief. You’d think that if we’ve accepted the Good News and received forgiveness we’d be eager to share the hope we’ve found. Unfortunately, it’s not often the case. But God calls us all to participate in his mission!
Talk. We like talking about being missional but few people actually want to live it out. Why? Because living missionally will cost you, as an individual, a family, a community, a church. It could be your time, commitment or resources. But just maybe, what keeps an individual – or even a church – from being missional is that we don’t understand the benefits of it.
All this leads me to ask some important questions. Why can we so easily turn a blind eye to the world around us? Why are so many churches not actively participating with God to live missionally both locally & globally? And how did five Samoan women from Christchurch end up joining the crazy ‘missional breed’?
We must recognise that it’s God’s mission. Not ours, not your pastor’s, not your church leadership’s, but God’s. His is far better, bigger and our task is to submit to his mission. Serving God is an honour, something that made a profound impact on me during my time with CBM. Everyone there, from youngest to oldest, knew the mission. They owned it, believed it and lived it out. They were committed to it, even if it cost them something. They have limited resources but dream big and aren’t afraid. They think, breathe, sleep and dream missional.
Since coming back I’ve wrestled with what it’ll cost five Samoan women to continue living missional. And as crazy as it sounds, it will cost us everything. When Jesus laid out what it really meant to follow him many of his followers withdrew (John 6:66). So am I willing to pay the price? Most definitely, because I understand the benefits of participating alongside God in his redemptive plan to restore all things. Living missional simply isn’t an event on the calendar or an item on the to-do list. It isn’t just doing some stuff – it’s joining God in his work.
So what changed for me to start thinking and actually living missionally? It was an encounter with God. It was being deeply transformed by his word and submitting to his will. And it’s ongoing, it’s rewarding and at times it’s very challenging.
We’re on a journey and we’ve joined the ‘missional breed’ where we embrace and learn to pay attention to what God is doing in our families, neighbourhoods, work places, relationships, communities and in the church. Discovering our part has meant that we can be confident in what God is asking us to do.
Rediscovering, reconnecting and being refocused on God’s mission has been a life changing process and it’s still on going. We’re not doing it on our own; we’re part of a wider family contributing and participating in God’s mission. We’re doing our part to serve, to love, to celebrate as part of God’s family. Every part of our life is being caught up in God’s mission here and now, just like our brother and sisters in the Philippines.
What are some of the ‘benefits’ of participating in God’s mission?
What encounter or experience might help you and your group to grow in your understanding and living of mission?
Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.