Last month I had the privilege to take a team from the congregation in which I serve to Mixco, Guatemala to teach English as a Second Language (ESL). For the past four years we have sponsored a local school that offers 100 plus students and their families English lessons every weekend free of charge. The outcomes have been amazing! We have seen students grow in their knowledge of God and the English language. Though many of the students live in extremely impoverished conditions, their love for God and learning is rich and plentiful. Every I visit, I am always deeply moved and grateful to God for this opportunity to learn from this loving community.
For the past ten years I have had the honor to serve and partner with a number of organizations and groups in the field of missions. From medical missions in the Dominican Republic to providing English lessons in Guatemala and everything in between, I can truly say that all of these experiences have changed me and made me a better servant of God filled with more compassion, and sincerity for humanity. I have a deeper understanding of what it means to serve. The call to serve is a much deeper connection then just collecting finances or resources to aid a community. It is not a photo opportunity to say: “Look what I’m doing.” It is a mandate to invite others to connect, care, and create synergy and on-going partnerships with communities and local organizations. It is an invitation to offer hospitality and “the best” we have to give to communities who might not get resources otherwise. It is a call for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ on this earth.
Jesus teaches that God’s reign is characterized in the present, not by powerful works and miracles, but by deeds of love, mercy, and compassion, especially toward those most in need. If we cannot share freely and fully as Christ did, or if we do not make ourselves available to do so, this indicates that our relationship with God and the world is not as healthy and whole as could be. We have to give something of ourselves, something of our wealth, our comfort, our sweat and tears, just the way Christ did. And then I believe, I know, we will experience more fully the power of Christ’s death and resurrection; the significance of the sacrifice that Christ made for each of us!
This is what it means to be a Christian, a disciple. We love those who probably can’t give anything in return. We do what we can to give them what they need. And we do that not with a goal of earning God’s love or anyone else’s, not to curry favor, or to make sure we are considered righteous at the end of time. When Christians go out in missions and serve the needs of the people in this world with no expectation of anything in return, they are giving two gifts — one gift which satisfies a practical need, and one gift which opens a window to the love and grace of God that is open to all.
We are Christ bearers before others in our homes, in the church, in school, at work, in the whole world. What would happen if, every day, we were always conscious of this truth and did our best to put it into practice?
We are Jesus ambassadors to others here on this earth. We are His hands and his feet to be a blessing to all those we come in contact with. For we know that God in Christ Jesus endured the most amazing, self-giving mission in the history of the world so that all people might have abundant life, so that we might have what we need most.
What is your mission? How will you answer the call to serve? What are you passionate about? Every one of us is passionate about something. Passion can be defined in a number of ways but what it all comes down to is this: What is it that compels you to get up and get moving? What do you desire most of all in your life? What is it that consumes your time, demands your love and grabs your attention? My prayer for you this day, and as we begin to embark upon this new year that somewhere in the answer to that question, the act of helping others and showing the love of God in a tangible way resides.