Today was the first day our team gathered together for our first meeting in preparation for our trip this coming July (a little over two months!). It was exciting to see everyone together in the same room solely for the purpose of this trip. Pastor Patrick led the meeting, even though he won’t be able to make the trip. However, Eugene is leading this time around, and Naomi and myself are the only returners. That means eight others (including Andrea!) are first-timers.
One of the things I immediately noticed off the bat was that almost everyone were either in the singles affinity group or GraceLife. Even though I am one of the younger ones on the team, almost everyone has practically graduated college and have been involved in our church for many years. This is a good thing, knowing that what may come from growing in Christ longer can also mean being teachable and not impulsive (I could say that about a lot of the collegians at our church, but that isn’t the norm for collegians in general). I consider it a joy and a privilege to be able to work with these brothers and sisters in being witnesses of Christ and servants of others who share a common faith.
Logistically, we seem to have a good start. A lot of things sound very familiar for what we’ll be doing there (doing an evangelism campaign with night programs involving a skit, testimony, and a sharing of the Gospel). Our preparation is a little different this time around, reading Evangelism by John MacArthur & staff + Today’s Gospel by Walt Chantry, as well as fundraising, which will be primarily done through the month of June, so less time to raise what we each need to raise.
Already the team looks like we can mesh well together. I personally know everyone on the team, so no need for personal introductions. However, the great thing about team meetings is the natural environment created in building team unity, which is always stressed as a vital element of representing Christ well in a missions trip. We never want to hurt another or be selfish towards one another, and I’m confident that no one desires to be that way. All of them are active members at our church, and strive to grow in their love for Christ and His bride.
Reading the first couple chapters of Evangelism was refreshing to look at again, especially given my underlining/notes when I read this last year. The first chapter is ‘Theology of Sleep: Evangelism According to Jesus’ by John MacArthur, where he covers the parable of the soils (Mark 4:3-8) and its importance in understanding our role as evangelists. The parable speaks of four soils, only one of which is called ‘good.’ The rest show no persevering change in the hearts of sinners, giving us a better glimpse of what we see when people respond negatively to the hearing of the Gospel.
This illustration [of the farmer and the four soils] is a paradigmatic explanation of what evangelism should look like. It is designed to answer a basic question that all evangelists eventually ask: why do some people respond to the gospel while others do not? (p. 5)
I know this may be a question that will come to mind while we’re in Tucuman, and I would never want to allow what I perceive from my vantage point to dominate the way God sees things. We must not see ourselves as agents of change apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the one credited with changing the heart of a man or woman. How we dress or how we speak is not how God saves. He saves by way of the Gospel, and our responsibility is to be faithful to the message, and entrust God with the results, like how a farmer sows the seed, regardless of what he’s wearing, and yet is not the one who causes the growth. Knowing this, we can sleep and rest in God being sovereign over His creation, yet being strategic, humble, obedient, and confident witness of Christ to a lost and dying world, entrusting whomever we impart this Gospel to, God will do His work (as He has promised).
Jesse Johnson wrote the second chapter, ‘God’s Global Goal: The Power of the Great Commission,’ where he lays out what Scripture says is God’s heart and focus: the saving of lost souls. This goes as far back as Genesis 3, where God promises there to be a seed from Eve who will redeem a people for Himself, yet accomplishes it in different ways. Throughout the Old Testament, God calls for the people of Israel to be keepers of the Torah, a light to the world, in order to draw Gentiles in. However, post-New Testament, with the rising of Jesus from the dead, He now has given us a command, by His authority, to make disciples, which requires us to know the message that leads one from being a hater of God to being a true lover of God, baptizing and teaching them what Christ taught, all over the world. Before, believers would live to bring the nations in, and we are now sent out to be a group of worldwide testifiers of God’s grace, filled with believers who are lovers of Christ.
We are all called to be witnesses of Christ to as many people as we can, and to also live lives that do not do damage to the Gospel. I can easily think of moments where I sure lost some credibility with friends because of my sinful heart. My witness diminished at times when my heart was not treating Christ as holy. This chapter reminds me that God has always been for the saving of people from every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and we must always be as well, if we are to be imitators of God and walk in a manner consistent with the message we proclaim.
I pray and hope that our team can be bold witnesses of your Gospel truth, and that by it, many would be saved on this trip. Help us to be more aligned with Your Word in thought, deed and speech, Lord. Amen.