And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers. Acts 2:42
Without fail when I return home, I’m asked: “How was your trip?” Many times I just respond with the simple answer, “It was good! Thanks for asking.” First of all let me say that when it comes to TREC, I am trying very hard to get the word “trip” out of my vocabulary. The word trip is defined as a voyage or journey, and what we do in our travels is so much more than these two words describe. I’m trying to replace the word trip with the word MISSION!
Mission is defined as a specific task with which a person or a group is charged. I believe wholeheartedly that we are always to be on mission, whether it is in Asia, Latin America, Europe, or the USA in our hometowns and communities. When we go on a “mission trip” it is very easy to compartmentalize the trip as something we do “over there” and then come back home and get knee-deep in the rat race of life. I believe God calls us to go to different areas of the world to fulfill the Great Commission, but I also believe that these overseas missions should be and can be catalysts to help us reach our communities when we return home.
So Jeff, how was your mission? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m still trying to process it. For security reasons I can’t mention where in India I was or who I was working with. I can tell you that in the states we worked in they have anti-conversion laws that make it illegal to try to convert a person from one religion to another (which only affects Christians because no other religion shares their faith). The fine is 10 years in prison and a 1,000,000 rupee ($12,578) fine. If you don’t have the money to pay the fine you have to stay in prison until you do, so this could be a life sentence for some of our brothers and sisters in South Asia. Yet, they continue to share the gospel and make disciples! They risk their lives daily to advance this precious Truth. They pray for wisdom, discernment, and protection as they fulfill the Great Commission with joy, passion, and determination. They are on a mission (not a trip) given to them by the Creator of the universe, our Savior, and the One that will one day judge us all. They do this with great love for our Savior and great love for the lost. They face the daily dangers and perils of sharing the gospel in this region of the world, not as a duty or obligation, but rather as an awesome act of love!
We had the privilege to encourage many of our brothers and sister with God’s word, but in reality, I feel like I don’t even deserve to carry their bibles. I was convicted not by the words they said, but by their lives. I left determined to pray more for the persecuted church and urge others to do the same. The struggle is real! I left determined that as a 57-year-old man, I want to spend the rest of my life advancing the Gospel and helping my brothers and sisters around the world do the same. I left convicted that under a banner of “freedom” I don’t share the Gospel enough. I saw Acts 2:42-47 in action.
I personally witnessed that the most successful pastors aren’t necessarily the best communicators, have the biggest buildings, and budgets, or get to preach to thousands. The most successful pastor is the one that washes the feet of the people. He’s approachable, he’s humble, and he loves God and loves people. He is relational. He is not just a preacher, he’s a pastor. He loves the church and loves the lost. He not only preaches about sharing the gospel but he risk his life daily to share with those who are lost.
This mission was convicting. The process of sanctification is still taking place in this man’s life. I’m thankful that He took me to the other side of the world to teach me what real success looks like and see Jesus in action. Keep praying for me as I process what He is trying to teach me. I pray that my life as a missionary will never be the same. I pray that I will be known as a foot washer, a lover of the lost, and a servant of the Most High who is on mission!
Thank you for your commitment to reaching the nations. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by people on the same mission!