Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Missions Grip

It started with a $250 check.

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."

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.


Laurel Wreath said...

I too liked your Mission Grip, I enjoyed reading your story. And yes some of us are called to go, and some are called to stay. Where ever we are is our mission field.

MiPa said...

This brings tears to my eyes. It was only after we really got involved personally with a missionary that I caught the vision. You write, "Up 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 as well" and I say AMEN. The more we consciously give the more we are entangled in others' lives. Thank you for sharing!

The Preacher's Wife said...

What a fabulous tale...You remind me of a family physician of ours who lived on 20% of his income so he could spend 80% on medical missions. May the Lord increase your tribe!

Bonnie W said...

Dear Cyndi,
My heart has been in the grip of missions since I was a child because a missionary to Brazil befriended me and took me on a missions trip to be a Jr. camp couonselor at a Bible camp in the Appalachian Mts of Tennessee. God has such neat ways of getting ahold of our hearts!

Mary said...

To be in the grip of serving God's people is a wonderful place to be. My son and daughter-in-law showed me the picture of your daughter praying with one of the children at the mission during that trip. It was such a precious picture and I would love to see you post it.

Jenny in Ca said...

I loved that title. you are so right on with this, your words really inspired me. We went to Taiwan a few years ago..parts of it were hard on this spoiled, comfort loving so. Ca girl! By the time we had gotten off the plane and gone through China's screenings (they were screening your body temp!!) I was ready to turn around and go home. A group of bible college students were at the airport to greet us, and they were singing this.."oh the joy of having nothing, being nothing, seeing nothing-but a living Christ in glory and caring for His interest here on earth." suddenly it was o.k, and I wanted to be there, I knew I was right where God wanted me.

Denise said...

Such a great post, really enjoyed it. Blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed learning so much more about your from the inside out. Prayers are bieng said as you prepare for China.

Tami Boesiger said...

How appropriate that you "accidentally' typed "grip". Thanks for an inspiring story that has me wondering how God's going to "grip" my heart.

Linda said...

This is a really moving post Cyndi. I want to write mine but wanted to read yours first. I knew it would be inspiring. How exciting to be planning to go to China. I know the Lord has amazing things planned. My heart goes with you. Put me on your prayer partner list!! This is such a wonderful experience for your children.

Heidi said...

Great story, and I loved your title before I even knew it was a typo.

Chris said...

What a beautiful testimony of the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's life. It started as a seed and has grown to lives committed to giving everything for the sake of the gospel.

I loved this...as a Pastor's wife I talk with so many who need the little nudge to step out in faith and trust God with "their fish and bread" and watch what the Lord will do.

Please email me your plans (dates), so that my family can pray for you and your daughter as you go. www.cometothetable@msn.com

Blessings my friend,

Amydeanne said...

what a wonderful and interesting story you've written.. brings out a lot of points that I can relate to! Thank-you!

Susanne said...

I love when you talk of this Cyndi! You excitement and heart just shine through!

Amberly said...

This is a great post! We have become more interested in foreign work since my husband made his first trip to India two years ago. He went again last summer. Knowing that people were here lifting him up in prayer and helping "take care" of us while he was gone was such a wonderful feeling. Those people show that no matter what your role might be--teacher, preacher, financial contributor or prayer warrior--we can all be involved in spreading God's word!

JennaG said...

We love Missions around here. My favorite thing that we do is sponsor a child through Good News India. We have "had" him for 3 years and he sends us wonderful letters and pictures and always signs them as, "Your child". I love it!

eph2810 said...

Oh, my goodness, Cyndi--how incredible...How wonderful that you and your daughter will be going together. And you son is ready to go again too. Thank you so much for sharing :)

Blessings to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful and compelling post! We must come to the realization that it is the responsibility and calling of every Christian to help in the spreading of God's word. Thank you!

Kelly said...

In missions grip--what a wonderful place to be! Loved this post. Just confirms in my heart what God has been challenging me with the importance of reaching out in service to others--in missions in some way. Thank you for sharing and challenging me to seek after those opportunities.

Jessie's parents said...

Cyndi, this post is so inspiring...as I read it, I kept thinking, she gets it, she REALLY gets it. Your family is such an inspiration to our family on so many levels. I couldn't help but think of Steven Curtis Chapman's song called "Much of You" as I read what you wrote. Below is the chorus. May your boldness for the Lord be abundantly blessed!

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today and give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of you