MARIAH CUNNINGHAM | GUEST
This past summer, I piloted a children’s curriculum that focused on missions. The final lessons focused on “going.” I have had a focus on missions most of my life through serving on churches’ missions committees, studying missions as an undergrad, and working for MTW. I am all about the “going,” but while I was teaching this curriculum, I saw the “going” in a new light. There are three Scriptures that were used in the curriculum that resonated with me about Kingdom expansion and simplified my understanding of the “going.”
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you.”
In this passage the Lord is telling Abram to GO! Not only does He tell Abram to go, but He also tells him to leave his country, his people, his family, and all that he knows behind. This is where questioning and doubt start to come in. I am a planner and like to be organized, so this type of thinking really gets me worked up, but the last part of this Scripture is the best. It says, “I will show you.” I love this so much because it is such a powerful encouragement displaying that God is faithful, He is with us, and He will show us. We may not always see the path nor is the path always easy, but He will show us the way to go and be with us in that journey.
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’”
This is another passage where God says GO! After God directs Jonah on the where, He tells him the what, “Call out against it.” God was direct with Jonah by telling him the where and the what, but it was the why that Jonah struggled with. Although he grumbled, complained, and made the journey very difficult on himself, Jonah still went and, in the end, God was glorified. I know in my own life, my attitude reflects more of Jonah than of Christ. I complain when things do not go according to my plan. I grumble when people don’t show up at the last minute and sometimes, I even ask, “what is the point?” Even through my poor, pitiful attitude God can be glorified and the more I grasp onto that concept, the more joy I will find in the journey.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
After I taught the two passages above and was reminded that God will show us the way and that He will be glorified no matter what, this last passage was the icing on the cake. I was so encouraged by the “GO” in this passage. Go out your front door, go out to your neighbor, go out to your gym, go out to your church, go out to your kid’s school, go out to the grocery store. Just go. Not only does it tell us to go, but it gives us the who and what. You do not have to go far out your door to find other nations. God has put on our doorsteps the opportunity here in the United States to reach the nations in such close proximity to where we live. When engaging the nations, this Scripture gives us three directives to follow; make disciples, baptize them, and teach them. We can look for opportunities through community organizations, libraries, or schools to build relationships with other people. These relationships may turn into opportunities allowing the Gospel message to be shared through common experiences or interests such as cooking. I would like to share a brief story of how cooking brought a friend of mine into a relationship that crossed cultural barriers.
My friend is a very busy lady. She helps take care of her father and grandkids, teaches piano, is involved in her church as the director of music, the director of ESL, and many other things. Not only does she serve her family and church, but she also serves her neighbors. A new Afghan couple moved into her neighborhood and after several interactions between the males of the households, the women were introduced. The Afghan woman spoke very little English, and the interactions were very strained. It was decided that the Afghan woman would teach my friend to cook Afghan food. This was not an easy task; a lot of hand signs and pointing were used. After several months, the Afghan woman learned some English, they were cooking together, and a relationship was blossoming. Then the Afghan family invited my friend and her husband over for a birthday celebration. This was a very special moment as this invitation represented that a bond of friendship had occurred. Not only had two people met to learn about cooking, but hopefully through the grace of God, the relationship will flourish and allow the Gospel to be shared.
My friend may seem very brave, and you may not think you have opportunities like the one she had, but I encourage you to look around your community for easy ways to engage cross-culturally. Check with other local churches to see if there is an ESL program you can volunteer with, some of these programs need people for childcare while the parents learn English. The library is another resource to investigate. Libraries often offer adult learning classes for different ethnic groups. Many large cities have refugee organizations that assist people as they enter the country, these organizations always need help. If you are in a rural community, check with the local school district to see if they have migrant worker or immigrant families that have needs. With all these ideas of volunteering, engagement, and showing the love of Christ through service to others, you will impact their lives and be a light for the gospel. Remember that Christ is with you and will equip you to participate in kingdom expansion.
Sisters, be encouraged in the GO!
Photo by Paul MARSAN on Unsplash