Hello dear ones! So…I took a trip to Belize and I learned a lot. I’d like to share something that stood out to me: what it means to be mission minded. First, I want to share some verses that most Christians know.
“37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 22:37-40King James Version (KJV)
We are called to love, God and others. We are called to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. The good news is that God the Father, sent His son, Jesus, to save the world from it’s sins, to restore the relationship between humanity and it’s Creator. Jesus Christ died and took our punishment upon Himself. Three day later He came back to life and conquered death itself. We no longer have to be slaves to sin and death. If we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, then we will be saved and we will be the children of God. It’s simple. Once we belong to God, He then fills our hearts with His love and Spirit. The Spirit empowers us to share God’s love and Truth with the world.
God has given us this great gift, but we are not to hoarde it. We are not to hide away from the lost. We are called to share this good news, to share Jesus Himself. Yet, sometimes we treat Jesus like our little secret. We have the keys to the kingdom but we’ve hidden them in our pockets. The world is starving and we have the food bank…but we’d rather keep it to ourselves, so the dirt and blood of the world won’t sully our white robes. Yet Jesus, the one we follow, wasn’t afraid to touch the lepers, to heal the demon possessed, and set free the sexually immoral. He wasn’t afraid to embrace US in OUR filth and brokeness.
This was my first international missions trip but it wasn’t my first mission. I started my first mission the moment I became a Christian, in 1998. I’ve been blessed, in that the Lord answered my youthful prayer: “Lord, please keep me on a tight leash. Please do whatever it takes to keep me from straying.” God has answered that prayer over and over. The times I would stray, something always happened to bring me back before I got too far. Usually it was hardship. I say that to say, my Christian walk has been a committed one. I can only give glory to God for this because HE is the one who made sure we stayed close. This summer will make 16 years of the best friendship I’ve ever had. So I’ve known that my mission is to share Christ with everyone, in my home town, in my state, in my country, and in the world. God made it clear to me my senior year, that my Highschool was a mission field. He took my eyes off of dating and the trivial issues of teenagedom and gave me a heart to reach my generation.
This missional mindset stayed with me for many years in my youth. But something changed when I got married and had my son. I still reached out, gave, and looked for ways to share the gospel…but I started looking inward. I started building up my lil kingdom. My focus was my family…protecting and prospering MY family. I made a little comfortable nest and I sat on it. Every now and then I would peak out at the world and throw treats: “God loves you!” “God bless!”
God had indeed called me to be missional minded with my family, to be a light at home as well as the world. But He had not called me to ONLY be a light at home…to isolate myself. Now, I understand how I slipped into it. My twenties have been filled with physical illness and several losses. I put a good bit of work into homeschooling my son and it’s a big part of the calling God has given me. Sometimes a calling can become an idol though. My love for my family has sometimes turned into idolatry, and fear has crept in. When you cling tight to your life, you will lose it. Fear is a great way to lose what you love.
“24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26King James Version (KJV)
I issue this warning to all my fellow sisters: mother and wives: Be careful, that your family doesn’t become your god…that you don’t become so comfortable, that the cries of someone else’s child mean nothing to you. Don’t spend so much time building up your own kingdom that you forget God’s kingdom. Because if your family becomes your focus, instead of Jesus, then you will do whatever it takes to protect them…even if it hurts Jesus. Let God protect your family. Open your tight fist and give your treasures to God. They really belong to Him anyways. He can take much better care of your family than you can.
So, back to the point of this post: Mission Minded. In Belize, I was thrown out of my comfort zone, and in my mind I acted like a brat at times. I got really upset when I found I couldn’t call my son every night. My phone card didn’t work. I got homesick often. But when you’re on a missions trip, you have to deal with yourself pretty quick. I couldn’t stay in a crummy mood. I had to get focused on God and put myself aside.
- When you’re mission minded, you lay down yourself for the sake of others. You put aside your negative attitudes because you know you are being a witness. We were told to smile despite the heat and the bugs, because the people of Belize needed our encouragement. The people o f Belize live in harsh conditions all the time and it’s like Christmas when we come to visit. We give them a boost, to keep on ministering. But if we complained the whole time and focused on ourselves, then the people of Belize would not be encouraged. We would not be able to reach those kids for Christ, if we frowned while we were jumping and dancing to songs. Okay, I’ll admit…I got tired and many times I didn’t feel like playing. But when a sweet Belizean girl asks you to play, you just do. These kids die from fevers and infectious cuts. They have to worry about jaguars eating their livelyhood and then coming after them. Who am I to complain? It’s not about being fake, it’s about choosing to only share encouragement. It’s about truly loving others.
- When you’re mission minded, you fellowship with others with the same mission. I couldn’t isolate myself from the group. I did everything with the group because we had to be on the same page for the mission to work. We had to be unified. I had to communicate with the team. We encouraged each other at the end of the day. We prayed together. We worshipped together. We were able to do a mighty work because God used our unity. It was amazing to feel such closeness to people I barely knew. Most of us wept at some time or another. We remarked that this is how church should be. We were bound by our mission. The mission was the one thing we had in common.
- When you’re mission minded, you’re open to be used however God sees fit. The newcomers like me, didn’t know what to expect. I had no clue that I’d have to improvise and just go with the flow. We had to be flexible. When Drew, my mission leader, disappeared, I didn’t expect to be thrown into sharing the gospel on the spot in front of a bunch of kids. As scared as I was, I still did it, because the mission was more important than my fear. Many people had to throw away their inhibitions and step into roles they had never been in before. My friend who has a desk job at a hospital, had to give out medicines to people and explain how to use them. We all did whatever had to be done. No one said “Oh, I don’t do this” or “This isn’t my job!” We were willing vessels in the hands of our God.
- When you’re mission minded, you leave your arms open. When we got off the bus at the school, the children ran to us. “The gringos are here! The gringos are here!” That means “white people”. It’s a bit overwhelming. But when you’re on a mission you have to be open to loving everyone. You embrace people with God’s love. You can’t hide away. Personal space, your reservations, insecurities etc…they all go out the window! Some children were easier to love on than others. There was this crippled boy who followed me around a bit. My heart broke for him but it was difficult to be near him because he would just come up and slap me on the leg or something. It really hurt. He probably had some mental issues too. I’m not sure. Or maybe it was emotional because handicapped people aren’t treated with much kindness over there. In the U.S.A. we really look out for the handicapped. In Belize, they are sometimes treated like animals. I struggled with how to share love with someone who kept hurting me. But I couldn’t close my arms to this boy. You don’t close your arms when you’re on a mission.
- When you’re mission minded, you abide in Christ and put aside distractions. I had some free time and I had time to goof off a bit…relax etc… But my personal devotions were most important. I didn’t have time to be distracted by social media. The schedule was pretty packed so I had to make an effort to put Christ first. Worship time and group devotions were great, but I needed to go to the life source myself. I needed to abide with Jesus and keep my personal relationship strong, or I wouldn’t have had the strength to minister to others. Intense daily ministry can drain you quick, especially when you’re not in your comfort zone. I could not share Christ’ love with others, if I didn’t know it myself. I had to be reminded that God loves me. I had to be comforted when I was lonely. I had to have God’s encouragement when I was insecure. My problems didn’t stay home while I flew to Belize. No, they all came with me. I just had to face them for once, because the distractions were not as available.
So what is my point? The mission didn’t end in Belize. The mission isn’t just for missionaries. It’s not for super christians. Dear ones, the mission of Christ is for all of his followers, every day of your life. We should be living mission minded always. The souls of the lost are too important, for us to be distracted, complaining, and isolated. I know it’s not easy. I have struggled trying to be mission minded at home. It’s hard to love the spoiled and the rich. It’s hard to love those who know better but still do wrong. But everyone needs grace. Everyone needs God. I’d venture to say, that those in first world countries, desperately need the mission minded. Why? Because they think they’re alive when they’re really dying. They think they are rich, when spiritually they are poor. They’ve been given everything yet they still doubt God. It may be harder to be mission minded here, but it is just as important as it is in a developing country.
So my encouragement for you today is to remember that you ARE on a mission. Abide in Christ, so you’ll have the strength to carry it out.
God bless & remember the High King lives! ~Amber Dover
PS: More details on Belize (including pictures), to come, Lord willing.