[Editor’s note: P2C-Students offers opportunities for young adults to go on mission trips nationally and internationally. We want all people to experience God’s heart for the world. This blog series is one way to discover more about the what, how, and why of #globalmissions.]
My first introduction to global missions was rather strange. When I was a young child, a missionary serving in Africa came to our summer day camp. He captured our attention with two of his prized possessions: a tiny copy of the Bible—which he popped into his mouth—and a humongous snake skin, which he unrolled down the entire length of the church aisle.
While it took several years to overcome my outsized fear that God would send me to a snake-infested jungle, I never did get over the seed for missions planted in my young heart.
Over the years, missional activities have been an important part of my life. Recently I’ve completed a study called Xplore: a seven-lesson Bible study looking at God’s heart for the world, and how we can be involved in his global purposes. Again, my heart has been stirred as I want to more deeply engage in how God is making himself known around the world!
Just as he has used people throughout history to make his glory known, God longs for each of us to participate in this same joyful mission. Xplore outlines five ways we can do this.
Most of us pray for our friends and family, or when there is a crisis or a specific need. But how often do we pray for God’s glory to be revealed to all people? How would God respond if we were to intercede and pray for the nations to come to know him, for more people to get involved in global missions, and for missionaries, especially those serving people groups with few Christians? Scripture is filled with stories of how God has responded to the fervent prayers of his people.
As we learn to pray for what is on God’s heart, he also changes us. This past year, my husband and I joined a weekly Zoom prayer meeting that focused on praying for our local South Asian community. During the festivals of Ramadan and Vaisakhi, we doubled down on our prayers that God would open their eyes to the truth of Jesus’ love for them. As we prayed, our hearts have been opened to see and love these precious people, resulting in us developing a friendship with a Sikh widower and his son.
Practically speaking, we all cannot go overseas, but each of us can be involved in sending. The most obvious sending role is providing finances. I was blessed to have parents who modeled giving. When I was a young child, my mom would pay me to weed our large family garden. Out of every 10 cents I earned, one cent went into the church offering. By learning to give literal pennies, it established a foundation of putting God first in my finances.
Giving to God’s mission continues to be one of my greatest joys.
But giving is not the only way to send. God may direct us to use our skills and training to work with a global missionary agency to do administration, communication, training, or research. God can also use us as volunteers to:
- recruit others to intercessory prayer
- write encouraging letters to those serving cross-culturally so they continue to feel connected and valued
- provide practical help for missionaries as they prepare or return
I love the Apostle John’s perspective: as believers send others to preach the gospel, they are in fact fellow workers (3 John 6-8).
In our global world, God is bringing the nations to us. For example, in 2019, there were almost 639,000 international students in Canada, making it the country with the fastest growing international student population.
A welcomer starts with being a sincere and loving friend to those from other nations: learning about their culture, sharing a meal, enjoying a coffee, or inviting them to join in on whatever we are doing.
Paul describes this kind of welcome so beautifully in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, saying, “We loved you so much that we shared with you both the Good News and our lives.”
Welcoming isn’t just a New Testament idea. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 10:18 that God “shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.” Many Christians are already working hard to show this love; keep an eye out for opportunities to join initiatives in your city to care for immigrants and refugees.
Actually going somewhere to tell others about Jesus requires great personal sacrifice. But without it, many will never hear. Paul couldn’t have phrased it better than he does in Romans 10:14:
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
But going is also rich in blessings. Paul finishes his plea to tell the good news with these words, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
So how do we know if God is specifically asking us to go? Actually, Scripture makes it pretty clear! Every Gospel plus Acts has its own version of what we refer to as the Great Commission. Mark 16:15 says it most succinctly: “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” In John 20:21, Jesus uses himself as the model: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Read more about The Great Commission: an invitation and command.
Yet Christians often want to get a personal commission. Robert E Speer, an influential missional leader, wrote in the late 1880s:
There is a general obligation resting upon Christians to see that the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached to the world. You and I need no special call to apply that general call of God to our lives. We do need a special call to exempt us from its application to our lives.
Both my husband and I followed this call by going on short-term mission trips, and then in 1985, we packed up everything to go to serve in Uganda full time. We were convinced that was God’s plan for us. However, to our dismay, God painfully closed the doors. While we will never fully understand why, we have never regretted taking those first steps to go. Instead we have been blessed to have him open doors for us to serve here in Canada by praying, sending, welcoming, and mobilizing.
What first step can you take in going? You could:
- go on a short-term mission trip.
- connect with a long-term cross-cultural missionary to hear their story.
- daily make yourself available to God “to go anywhere, at any time, to do anything for him.”
Check out Mission Trips with P2C-Students.
When you are passionate for what is on God’s heart, you mobilize others to join in. The New Testament is full of examples of mobilizers, starting with Jesus. He modeled a life of being focused and intentional about inviting others to join him.
There are many practical ways to incorporate mobilization into daily life:
- If you pray before meals, include a request for a missionary or unreached people group.
- If you eat out, frequent the same restaurants and seek to get to know the staff by name, learn about their culture, and pray for them.
- If you are part of a small group, suggest doing a study on missions.
Mobilizers have a ripple effect. My parents were great supporters of missionaries, generously giving and practically caring for them. Their love for missions mobilized their children to become engaged in mission work, both in going and sending. Their legacy continues to live on in their granddaughters, one who serves full time in Honduras, two who have served short term in Mexico, Haiti, Kenya, and Albania, and several other grandchildren who financially support missions.
My husband wears a bracelet inscribed with the phrase “You just never know,” because it’s true: you just never know how God is going to include you in his global mission. He invites you to join in the building of his kingdom as you take steps to pray, send, welcome, go, and mobilize.