In fact, the money wasn't even originally in our account, but was the result of selling a Southwest Airlines voucher on Ebay. My husband traveled frequently for business at the time and would receive such vouchers periodically, which we didn't need, so he would sell them for cash. As a newly-single-income-family, with mom now at home with young children, we desperately needed money more than airline tickets! What we did with that check has, in my opinion, changed the course of our family.
You see, we took that check and gave it to someone who was taking a short term mission trip to Ghana, West Africa. A boy, actually. An eight-year-old boy in my husband's Awana group was going with his father. "How nice for them," I thought. "If God says go, you should go. More power to 'em," I inwardly told myself. At the time we were living in an apartment, having sold our first house much more quickly than we thought we would (a great problem to have!). We had scrambled to find a place to live while we built a new home in a neighboring city, a beautiful upper middle class suburb. It was an exciting time, but we were "short" on cash, as such transitions can be quite financially draining. We received the support letter from this sweet boy, looked in our bank account, and didn't see funds readily available. Luke remembered the Southwest voucher and we gave what we had. There. Done.
But, we weren't done. Not by a longshot. Up until that point our means of supporting missionaries had been through tithing to our church, which we knew supported missions worldwide. We received periodic updates from our denomination's publications or via email. This time it was personal. We knew this boy and his father. I knew his mother. I couldn't imagine what that would be like, your husband and young son half a world away! How could she put them on a plane like that? They would definitely need prayer. I caught a vision, though, of what they were going to be doing- taking the gospel to those who had never heard it, muchless going to villages where they had never seen a white person. Whoa! How must that be, to be used of God like that? Good for them! So, I prayed. I prayed more personally and fervently for that mission trip and for that part of the world than I had ever prayed.
I believe this is a prime example of "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Until we consciously, deliberately gave what we treasured to the work God was doing in another country, my heart had not so firmly been planted there. My heart definitely followed my treasure.
And it never returned. Such a transformation took place in our family as a result of contributing to and praying for this trip, it would take me miles of posts to write about it. I will tell you that by the time my daughter was ten years old, I found myself where I "couldn't imagine" that mom had been several years earlier: putting my young child on a plane with her father to go half a world away to share the gospel. That's one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. My heart certainly followed my "treasure" that summer as well! Within months, our family returned to Ghana together, and again the following summer. It has become a driving force in our family, so much so that we are now preparing to sell that house we built six summers ago in the beautiful country club subdivision so that more of our resources will be available for involvement in mission work.
I titled this post after a typo I made at the beginning of it. I mistakingly typed "mission grip" instead of "mission trip." When I saw those words together, I smiled. Missions has a firm grip on our family. It has infiltrated how we see our earthly possessions, how we interact with our community, and how we see our ministry at our church. My daughter and I are preparing for another trip to China in just a few weeks. My son told me the other day he wants to go anywhere... anywhere God would send him. "I just love mission trips!" he said. Praise You, Lord! You have done this!
"It is insufficient to proclaim that the Church of God has a mission in the world. Rather, the God of mission has a Church in the world."
~ Tim Dearborn ~
The church, the Body of Christ, is made up of many members, all with different functions and callings. I know that not every family is to do what we have done, and there are certain seasons when our family has been called to stay. (I am reminded of the man whom Jesus healed who wanted to follow Him, but Jesus told him no, to go home and proclaim Him there.) Missions does not always entail going across the world, but so often just across the state line, across town, across the street or across the room.
Wherever you are to go, here is what God told my anxious heart the night before my first transatlantic flight, "The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you." (Deut. 31:3) Jesus Himself crossed the barrier 2000 years ago, leaving the familiar and walking foreign soil.
I have learned that "mission work" is not just for other people, the uber-Christians, the super spiritual, or for those who sell everything and go live in a hut somewhere. Involvement in missions ...from sending money, reading biographies, praying through the countries, emailing missionaries, reading their blogs and praying for them while dinner is in the oven or the kids nap... is for all of us! "The God of missions has a church," and that's us!
Let's let it grip us.
The other "In Other Words" participants have touched my heart today. Go to Laurel Wreath to be linked to their posts and be touched as well, or to write your own take on this week's quote.