Bridges are innovative, helpful and life-changing.
If I may borrow the metaphor again, I want to share five “bridges,” or distinct ways to be involved in missions wherever you live. It would be fantastic to cross all five bridges at some point in your life. But in the meantime, attempt to cross as many as you can, even if you’re unable to cross a border.
It’s simple in theory yet challenging in practice.
Jesus tells us that, the fields are white for harvest, “therefore ask the Father to send out laborers into the harvest fields” (Luke 10:2). We’re to pray for laborers, people who will go and tell others the good news. You can pray for the needs of the world without ever leaving your hometown.
The opportunity may never arise that allows you to go to another part of the world as an ambassador for Christ, but the opportunity already exists for you to influence such places and peoples through prayer. Prayer moves the hand of God.
Why not try it right now?
Pause from your reading and ask the Lord to send more workers into the harvest fields. Pray for a particular place or group of people who are on your mind. As you do so, you’re crossing the bridge of prayer.
Giving means to be generous of your time, talents and treasures.
But let’s face it, most of us find it hardest to be generous with our money.
Money is power, money is security, money is prestige, money motivates and money means success. The scriptures are full of references encouraging us to give away our money. Why? Because ultimately God is power, God is security, God is prestige, God motivates and God brings success. Money replaces God in our hearts and there’s not room for both. As a famous person once said, you cannot serve both God and money (look it up)! It’s one or the other.
How do we defeat the tug of money on our hearts? We give it away.
A wonderful place to practice this discipline is in missions. Almost every missionary and missions’ agency is underfunded. More people would go if they just had the funding.
Practice giving in a way that costs you something and that involves a sacrifice on your part. Pass on the coffee you buy every morning and give to missions. Or better yet, keep the coffee and pass instead on the doughnut you buy with the coffee and give that to missions. You’ll still get the caffeine you need, you’ll avoid those empty calories and you’ll advance the cause of Jesus around the globe. As Michael Scott, of the television show The Office, says, that’s a “win-win-win,” something we’re all after.
Now, some of you reading this will be blessed with the ability to generate vast amounts of wealth during your lifetime and may have the ability to give millions of dollars or euros to the cause of world missions. It will be a challenge, but it will be a great service to the kingdom. Others of you will need to pray for the ability to give a little when all you have is a little, which may prove to be a greater challenge.
But we are, everyone, asked to give and give generously all of our lives.
Curiosity is vital to missions. There’s no substitute for learning about the world around you.
Does one part of the map interest you more than another? Always thought it would be cool to visit Africa? Did your ancestors travel from another country to get to where you were born? Or your parents?
Go online or go to the library and start learning about places that intrigue you. If no place comes to mind then ask the Lord this question, “Lord, what’s an area of the world you’d like me to know more about?” Then go with the first place that pops into your head. An Internet search will provide tons of information about your places of interest. A search for recent news stories will help bring you up- to-date on the politics and needs of the people of each country. Research on religious beliefs or activities or festivals will yield new insight.
Don’t let the overabundance of material scare you. Skim a little, pray as you go, and ask the Lord to use what he will.
Maybe you’ll get the chance to visit with people from the nation on your heart or maybe even take an excursion to the country itself. If so, don’t hesitate. Do it. Nothing aids learning like hands-on experience. You will be forever changed and your heart will be captured. That’s a good thing.
Whether it’s reading, watching videos, meeting people or traveling, learning is vital to the missionary mindset. Let your mind wander all over the world. You will not cross a bridge, let alone build one, if you have no interest or concern with what’s on the other side!
Sending involves building the bridge and helping others to cross it.
This includes learning and giving and praying, but this especially involves encouraging. You won’t find many people who will encourage you to give up your plans and go to the world as a missionary. The idea of you leaving your home and culture is foreign to most folks.
Historically, people have left their homelands for two basic reasons: tragedy and opportunity. War, disease, famine and pestilence send refugees across borders in search of safer places.
The Great Famine of Ireland in the 19th century, caused by the failure of the potato crop in successive years and a callous government, sent Irish immigrants to the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. So many came to the US that there are those who claim that up to 25% of all Americans have some Irish blood running through their veins. Of course, this statistic may simply be an invention of those who promote Irish pubs and Saint Patrick Day parades, but regardless, many good people were forced to flee in order to survive.
The other reason people leave their homes is for opportunity. The promise of free land provided by the United States government in the 1800’s drew thousands and thousands of settlers to the American West. They left homes, familiar surroundings, family, and especially problems for the dream of a new life.
Few, however, leave in order to help strangers find their way to God. Some have described sharing the good news of Jesus as, “one beggar helping another beggar find bread.” We are not often encouraged to beg.
A sender is one who helps others go. You can be one who speaks highly of missions and one who gives an enthusiastic response when hearing of a friend’s desire to go. You can gather other like-minded people to pray for and promote missions. You can be a voice for missions in your local church.
People will need your encouragement to go, and if you look, you will find many ways to help others get to the field.
You cross this bridge as you head to the world or as you cross the street to talk to someone about Jesus.
Everyone who’s a follower of Jesus, who claims to be a disciple, should try to go at some point in life. You may not get very far or it may not mean a lifelong calling to live in a new part of the world, but go, we must.
Go for a week, a month, a year or a decade. Try it. Do it. You won’t regret it. Remember, adventure is worthwhile!
As John R. Mott, the director of the Student Volunteer movement once observed years ago, there are many places “where open doors remain unentered.”
Going to the ends of the earth, missions, and involvement in the Great Commission as given by Jesus is not an optional item for his disciples. All Christians are invited and expected to join in. It’s a participatory exercise.
Christianity is a missionary religion. So pray and give and learn and send and go. Cross a bridge. Let’s do something together to change the world.
Which bridges have you already crossed?
Which ones would you like to cross again?
Which bridge is next on your list?
- Champlain Bridge by KMo Foto
- Confederation Bridge by Nicolas Raymond
- Peace Bridge by Neil Howard
- Lions Gate by James Wheele
- Lynn Valley Suspension by Sebastian