Have you ever tried to recruit someone for a difficult job? For the past six years, we have been recruiting for Mission trips every spring. We begin in December by announcing when we are going to the first training event and then begin planning our fund-raising opportunities. Our congregation, has been incredible in their support for the youth and adults who go.
And every year, when we return, several folks tell me that they want to go on a mission trip some day. Then in the spring, I get calls from folks telling me that I need to talk to so and so because if I push a little, then they might go on a trip. But I never make that call. I never try to convince someone to go on a Mission Trip.
Every year, I make the same appeal for adults and youth to pay attention to the dates if you want to go – if you are led to go – if it is your turn to go, so that you don’t miss any of the important paperwork dates or the training event dates, or the fund-raising dates. What I want you to realize if you ever want to go on a Mission Trip is that this requires a great commitment.
Mission trips aren’t some vacation that we can take at the last minute if there is nothing else to do. No, Mission Trips are those events that you need to feel led by God to do, so that you can join in the planning. Numbers of people at each Center and on each work team need to be calculated in the early spring, so that we know how much money to count on and how many jobs we can accomplish.
And once you make that commitment, there cannot be any other business done during the week. During that week, each person needs to focus on the work at hand and not be trying to take care of business at home, or keeping up with your social life. That is why we discourage cell phones on the trip because they are an encouragement to let your mind wander and working with power equipment; well, that just isn’t the safe thing to do.
So here is my recruiting speech. If you feel led to go on one of our summer mission trips or on the adult trip that the District is planning in March, then carefully consider the cost and make your plans now. It may well be some of the most rewarding hard work you have ever done. It will be hot. There will be long hours. You will have to sleep on a cot and you will probably gain weight because the cooks are wonderful. There will be worship every night and devotionals to do during the day. And you will get to work with some of the most terrific youth that you could ever imagine knowing.
Sound good? I hope so, but I sort of feel like the disciples listening to Jesus. Do you remember his recruiting speech? It is found in Luke and it goes like this:
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another, he said, “Follow me.” But the man said, Lord, first let me go and bury my father. But Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury the dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God. Another said to him, I will follow you Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home. Jesus said to him, No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
Would you believe that was a pep talk – a recruiting talk? But- but – but – and we begin to think that this Jesus guy is not right in the head. These are hard words, yet – he recruited seventy people to go out and become itinerant healers and evangelists. And when they returned to Jesus, they had wonderful stories to tell of how God had been working through their lives.
Sort of like the stories our folks tell every summer when they return from their mission. Wonderful stories. Stories that bring tears to your eyes and hope for your soul.
Well, what is it that keeps you from going on a mission or from serving God when you feel God calling you? Maybe for some folks the question is this: what is it that keeps you from becoming a Christian in the first place? Perhaps it is that you think serving God is going to be hard? Or perhaps you think that you will have to change something so you can become worthy?
I suppose that the short answer is you are right and you are wrong. It seems to me that over the past several years, the main stream Christian media has made becoming a Christian and serving the Lord too easy a thing for most of us. We have heard that all you have to do is say some magic words and you will be in forever. We have heard that often misquoted passage when bad things happen, “God makes all things work for good” and somehow we have sent the message that it is easy to become a Christian and once your “in” that life will all be good – as good as one could get.
When you read the Bible, you come to understand that that God seemed to be on a perpetual building project with his disciples. Look at those faithful disciples and apostles who get their stories told in the New Testament: Shipwrecks, stonings, suffering, arrest, persecution, illness, run through by the sword, hunger, thirst, sacrifice and loss. In fact, none of the “good” guys in the New Testament seemed to fare very well at all.
It seems that becoming a Christian and a missionary for Jesus means that life is going to change. We all know that change is inevitable but the great anxiety that most of us face is whether or not the change is purposeful or not. Is there a point to change? Is there a point to the difficulties that we face trying to follow Jesus?
The Bible assures us that there is purpose, a point, and a destiny for those who follow Jesus. The prophets, the Apostles, and other followers help us to see it, identify with it and go for it. Their message is both good news and bad news. The good news is that you are in God’s hands. And the bad news is that you are in God’s hands.
No matter how confused you might be about God or your life be assured that God is not confused and knows what he is doing. God can rescue you and reshape you to fit his purposes, no matter how much you have messed up.
I would love to discuss God's plans with you. Why not come by on Sunday and let's see if we can understand together what God wants to do in your life. See you then. Allen