Missions: Local

As a child, my idea of a missionary was someone who traveled the world and spread the love of God wherever their travels took them! It was such an exciting concept, living in a strange land surrounded by people you couldn’t understand, and living in conditions that were very different than home. I aspired to do this, to travel the world and see what I could do for God. However, as I got older, it became clear that God had different plans, He started directing my heart towards various local children to teen aged programs. In a very short order my passion changed from travels to staying in Winkler and serving God in through local missions!

Local missions often don’t sound exciting to young people, they are too busy chasing after adventure to notice the adventure God might be calling them to right in their own backyard. Local missions can actually be just as exciting, and perhaps even more challenging than missions in some far off land.

What does local missions look like? It can be anything from helping a homeless person by giving them a couple of bucks, to large operations like Siloam Mission in Winnipeg, it can be as simple as saying a prayer for a strange or as complex as supporting a new family in your city, it can be seen or unseen.

This blog post is not to argue that people shouldn’t do missions far away, but that those that are called to local missions heed their calling, commit to their calling, and plant seeds in their local communities. So what I would like to look at is what does the Bible say about mission, what I see the local church doing correctly in regards to local missions, what I think our local church’s could perhaps improve/include in their local mission work.

I want to start with what the Bible says about missions, as I think the Bible is our ultimate guidance when it comes to living a life committed to God. Mark 16:15, Romans 10:13-15, 1 Chronicles 16:24, and Luke 24:47 are just a few verses where we are called to spread the Gospel and God’s love. They talk about the necessity of Christians spreading the word of God, to bring God’s love to all peoples in all locations across the globe, this means your neighbor and even those who would choose to harm you for your belief. We need to remember that in order to live a life devoted to God, we have to listen to his calling, and not our own selfish desires.

One thing I have always commended our local church’s (in Winkler) for is their ability to put aside their differences, and put on a joint worship service every year for the Harvest Festival. I absolutely love the fact that we are so community minded that we are willing to work together to further our brothers and sisters in their walks with Christ! Some things I admire my own church (Grace Mennonite Church) for is their devotion to our local youth, we put a lot of focus on our youth programs and I think it pays off, we have youth heading into all sorts of different mission fields, whether far away or close to home. I think that our church’s have a great awareness of the hurts in our local community and do a great job encouraging others to support local charities/organizations. I think our church’s as an organization is doing great work.

Where I see faults in the system, is with volunteers, I have found that over the last several years there has been a large decrease in volunteers, our church’s members, don’t seem to understand the value that their time adds, it is not all about money; money can keep a program funded, but without volunteers it won’t run. An example of this is my local church’s Sunday school program, every year we start late or just barely make it in time, because we do not have people volunteering as teachers/activity leaders. The tasks of being a Sunday school teacher are not complex, in fact they are very straight forward, everything is laid out for you and you basically have to show up and talk with the kids about Jesus! How hard is that? and guess what leading an activity station is even easier! This same rule applies to most organizations, the jobs of 90% of volunteers are easy and the only thing they require is time.

Basically, if you feel called to local ministry, don’t shy away from it because you think it won’t be an adventure or because you don’t think you will make a difference. Jump at the chance to serve your local community! God calls us to be a shining light on a hill, we live in a dark world that needs to see the light, and that applies to everyone. Live life as a servant because Matthew 20:26 says: “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”

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Summer: Up’s and down’s and everything else

This past summer was one of the hardest summers I have had in a long time. There were definitely some great times. I had the chance to go to one of my favourite places in Manitoba, I got to see two of my favourite people on this earth grow closer to God and each other, and I got to celebrate my older brother getting married! Along with those happy memories I have also struggled with myself, I have been excessively lazy, ignored what God was willing to teach me, and persistently unhappy with where I am in life. Instead of turning to God in these instances I turned to material things, finding my value in the stuff I buy and the stuff I have.

Matheson Island is one of the most amazing places in Manitoba, each year for the past 4 years I have had the opportunity to spend a week in August ministering to the children of the Island. I have loved every minute that I have spent there and this year was no different. We went as a team of people that had all been there before (except for our amazing cook Shirley) so we had already established team relationships. This made working together a lot smoother, we were able to spend time building relationships instead of starting them, we were able to connect with the children right away, and we were willing to be vulnerable. God blessed our team and I believe He blessed the people of Matheson Island through us.

Sam and Mikaela are two amazing people and I love every minute I get to spend third wheeling. Sam is my younger brother and in some ways I am more mature than him, but I have been learning a lot from him this summer. He might not know this but he has been showing me how a truly God centered relationship should work. He has also been showing me that I must depend on God when times are tough and that I need to listen to and trust God’s guidance. Mikaela has been showing me a lot too. Just today she spoke at her church in Morden and she reaffirmed for me what I have been struggling with. That God answers prayers. These past few years as a junior youth leader I have been trying to make prayer an important part of my interaction with my junior youth. This past summer though my prayer life has slipped, only recently (these past few weeks) have I been back to actively praying. Mikaela spoke this morning about her summer at camp and how she prayed that God would put her through trials this year at camp, and God answered! You can read more about it at her website: the heart of an adventurer. These two are such a blessing in my life, and I am so thankful for them.

God also blessed our family this summer with the addition of a new sister-in-law! Derek and Kendel got married on September 19, 2015 and it was a great day. Me and my older brother Derek have never gotten along like me and Sam do, but he has taught me many things over the years we lived under the same roof, not all of them good, but he taught me none the less! I am so thankful to have my family and so excited when we get new additions!

Along with the excitement of this summer there was also some hard stuff. This summer I took a break from my courses that I have been takingĀ and did the bare minimum in my relationship with Jesus (read the Bible seldomĀ and prayed very little). It created this laziness in me that I have never experienced before. Each time I took on a new task I would put it off until the last minute. This is not the way I want my life to be! I want more, and that is exactly what I have been praying for, and I know that God will answer it, because He is bigger than my laziness and He is in control.

God has put many situations in front of me this summer, from letting go of control to listening to my parents advise. I would love to say that I took these trials and applied “WWJD”, but in most cases I didn’t. I didn’t trust that God would have my back and that He would put the right people in charge when I needed to let go of control, or that my parents had wisdom enough to be teaching me things. Each time though I learned that I was wrong and that God did have my back and that my parents did know what they were talking about.

These two things: laziness and not listening to God have brought me to a place where I do not want to be. I want to live for God I want to pursue him and use the love He has for me to bless others. So for this past week I have been asking God to lead me where He wants me, in life, in my relationship with Him, in my job, relationship with co-workers, relationship with friends, and every other part of my life. I know that God will answer my prayer and I know that it is not going to be easy, but I am putting my trust in Him.

Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

My prayer today is that God will take control and lead me where I need to be, I want to play the role He has planned for me. I am scared for what this will hold in the future, but I know that I can trust God and that He will have my back.