On a Mission
When you think of the word mission, what do you think it means? Where do you think the mission field is? What does the word missionary make you think of?
I have always known what mission means. A mission is a job, an assignment, a task that is given to a person to complete. A missionary is the person given the mission, the task, the assignment, the job. The mission field is the place for the missionary to complete the mission. But to me, missions also meant going some place far away, to another country, another culture, another continent.
I have dreams of being a missionary in far away places, like Africa or Asia. I would love to go to those places and nurse the sick and share the Gospel. I have researched organizations to join. God knows my dreams and I believe one day in the future if He is willing, He will send me to those far away places to serve Him and it will be absolutely marvelous!
Matthew 28 says, 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. This is known as “The Great Commission.” This is the command Jesus gave to His disciples. This is the mission. He commanded us, me, His disciple, to go into ALL the nations. That is everywhere, all over the earth.
This command really hit home with me last year when I was invited to go on a mission trip to Chicago, Illinois. I thought, “Why Chicago? Don’t people in the United States know You already?” I was about to learn that there is more to missions than an easy definition.
One day, as I was leaving church from the east parking lot, I noticed a little sign. The sign said, “now entering into the mission field.” I was suddenly struck with a revelation. Everywhere is the mission field! Chicago is the mission field. My work place is the mission field. McDonalds is the mission field. My home is the mission field. It’s funny, I never saw that sign before I was asked to go on the mission trip. I didn’t fully comprehend “The Great Commission” before that time.
As we prepared for the trip to Chicago, we had several team meetings. We got to know each other. We learned about the importance of unity. We learned why we were going to Chicago. Our mission was to work with the poor and homeless, to share the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ. I thought, “I can do this. I have been working with the poor and homeless for months.” I thought I knew what to expect.
What I got from that trip was so much more than just serving the poor and homeless. We also spent time together. All our time was together. We stayed in the same house, shared rooms together, prayed together, studied together, and served together. I’m not a “together” kind of person. I like my solitude. I don’t mind being together for 8 hours, but after that, give me my space.
Each day started early. We’d get up and pray. Then we would head out to offer coffee and donuts to the folks on the street. We visited the Salvation Army, Jesus People USA, Pacific Garden Mission, and the Inspiration Cafe. Chicago has the largest homeless population in the United States. Time in Chicago serving the homeless and poor was like The Refuge on overdrive. It was 4 nonstop days of serving. It was intense.
I met two really awesome people on that trip. One is a Vietnam veteran and the other is a lovely Russian woman, who could be my mom. We’ve kept in touch with each other through email.
The third morning of the trip, I asked the Lord for encouragement. I opened to Ecclesiastes 11:6, Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another — or maybe both. I was so grateful for His encouragement.
On the last day of the trip, I remember thinking I didn’t know if I could do a trip like that again. It certainly was no vacation. I had to check my heart, my motivation for going. I know I can’t go on a mission in my own strength. I don’t have that much strength. God gave me the strength to walk through His mission field. It was amazing and exhausting. There is so much poverty and desolation in this world.
I learned some pretty great stuff on that trip. I learned we are fighting a war, a spiritual war. To think God has known me since before I was born, directed my steps all my life even when I didn’t know Him, blows me away to this day. He knew when I was in the Air Force 20 years ago it would prepare me to fight spiritual warfare 20 years later in Chicago.
Being around other people all the time, I learned how my brain sabotages friendship. I finally realized that being hypersensitive to criticism has kept me isolated all my life. Instead of hearing criticism for what it was, I heard, “you’re not good enough, they’ll never like you, you’re a loser.” Praise God, I finally realized it was a big lie!
The most important thing I learned on that trip was how much God wants me to love people, all people, not just the ones who are easy to love, but also the ones who are hard to love. He wants me to love the people who’ve hurt me for no reason or for reasons I don’t understand. If I say I love God then I must love people. I learned how to love people better.
That trip was one of the best experiences of my life. My prayer is to be used by the Lord wherever I go or wherever I am however He sees fit to use me. I hope that trip was just one of many more trips to come in my life. I am so grateful to the Lord He allows me to go and to serve Him.