He was a short, round, completely bald on top, aging professor who wore thick glasses that continually slid down to the tip of his nose. He spoke in a monotone manner and there was nothing particularly captivating about his story of being a missionary in India, but I recall him saying it took him a month to get there by ship and that he considered his 20 years of ministry among the tribal people of India to be the greatest time of his life. It still amazes me today that one simple statement this man made (over 30 years ago, now) during this nondescript presentation continues to impact my life. I first heard the idea that all true followers of Jesus should think about nations and generations during his presentation all those years ago.
I urge you to not rush past this idea. Give it some time to marinate in your heart.
My life and ministry have been shaped by the belief (and practice) that ministry to children and youth is always of the highest value and priority. It is a constant reminder to think of generations to come and of the importance to pass on a Godly heritage within family, and ministry.
The focus on nations has translated into the honor of pastoring on an island for almost 6 years, leading ministry teams in many nations around the world, helping to shape a missions-minded church, and influencing everyone possible to engage in missions.
I believe wholeheartedly in the importance and benefits of pursuing ministry that will live past me and that is spread around the world. Here are some that have stirred in my heart:
1.Fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Taking the good news of Jesus to all people everywhere has always been a part of God’s plan for each of us. (Matthew 28: 16-20)
2. Increased perspective of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is so much bigger and broader than any one people group. The Kingdom of God is larger than any one denominational (or non-denominational) practice or perspective. The diverse ways people love Jesus, serve, pray, sing, worship, minister, preach, teach, etc. is a glimpse of what heaven will be like.
3. Growth in understanding different cultures (and how different yours is).
The way people live, work, dress, play and even eat can be a great learning experience. I have to admit that in some places the challenge of Luke 10:8, “Whenever you go into a town and are made welcome, eat what is set before you” has been very challenging. On the other hand it is how I was introduced to my favorite food: Conch!
4. Understanding that you have family around the world.
Connecting with others who experienced the love, forgiveness, life and freedom of Jesus as brothers and sisters is transforming. Time after time I have witnessed tears flow from people who have only known one-another a few days but have had their hearts connected through the love of Jesus. I have watched this connection of love crush the barriers of age, language, skin color. I promise this will change your prayer life.
5. Receive a new value orientation.
You quickly realize how blessed you are in almost every area of life. You realize the “sacrifice” of giving to missions is not really a sacrifice, but it is one of the best investments you will ever make. You realize that going on a mission trip is an extreme honor. You realize you gain so much more than you could ever give. You realize that you are the one who learns, is ministered to, and who grows by serving Jesus through serving others.
Let’s repeat that statement one more time, “all true followers of Jesus should always think about nations and generations.” I challenge you to adopt this mentality. Watch how you and your ministry will grow!