Sadly, it’s time to put my Christmas pants away. I’m not ashamed to admit it: I enjoy some holiday R&R in an old pair of red and green flannel pajama pants (trousers for my British friends). There are so many great traditions to enjoy during this season, but my Christmas pants have become a personal favorite. Ironically and symbolically each year I put these comfy, warm, and stretchy pants back in the closet and kick into planning mode for the new year. I pull out a new calendar and inevitably start thinking about my New Year’s resolutions.
Creative and compelling: here’s how global workers in Encompass’ Transformation Works Network meet needs and make disciples among the least reached.
Did you know that team conflict is one of the most common reasons for why cross-cultural workers leave their field of ministry prematurely? It’s a painful stat. It’s often caused me to pause. How good at team playing am I?
I’ve been musing on the apparent tension between global and local mission endeavors during most of my adult life. I was that home-grown kid from the heartland of America that had my world rocked by the opportunity to live into my sent-ness in my early twenties. That was when my wife and I were sent by our church in Ohio to join a disciple-making team in the world-class city of London with Encompass World Partners. All of a sudden my provincial Midwestern upbringing and the values that it represented seemed out of place with a world that needed Jesus. A world I could see from the window of a small flat in the heart of the world’s most ethnically diverse city.
The joy of hearing God’s call to missions is unlike anything else. When we feel the power of Christ’s commission to go and make disciples of all nations, we see a vision of what can be accomplished, and we dive in.
Have you experienced it...that moment when the Spirit of God makes you restless, earnest, and curious? Every time you hear conversation and discussion surrounding least-reached people groups or about making disciples—that tug on your conscience? Maybe you feel drawn to stories of going with conviction, crossing cultures, sacrificing the familiar for the foreign…the temporary for the sake of the eternal. To consider entering your name into that storyline is exciting. Fearful. Overwhelming. The questions that flood your mind have to be sorted. Fears. Faith. Worries. Wisdom. Truth. Lies. But when “the love of God compels” you, you can’t put the restlessness aside but seek the Lord’s face.
The fall semester has begun. And let's be honest: we're creatures of habit. Where our spirit desires to practice spiritual disciplines and start healthy habits, it's far too easy to spend the first couple weeks coasting, spending far too much time catching up with your friends (or if you're grade-conscious like I was...far too much time organizing your calendar/schedule/syllabi, etc.) and not the time necessary with the Lord. If you desire to grow not only in your relationship with God this semester, but to also keep your heart stirred to the call of disciple-making among the nations, then let me propose a few things to consider.
Have you ever experienced option fatigue? People who are seeking clarity in the where, when, what, how, and who of missions are often diagnosed with option fatigue. It’s is a real thing. With all these variables to consider, it can become overwhelming.
Most countries do not lay out a red carpet for the gospel. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…” 1 Corinthians 1:18. Encompass workers must enter these places creatively. Christians can't enter creative access countries on a religious visa or openly proclaim the gospel there. It’s dangerous, illegal or both. To make disciples in these places, you need to create relational bridges.
It seems like there are thousands of missions agencies out there. So many of them are doing so many good ministries. How do you choose which one to work with? Here are some questions that may help you think things through.