Team Tanzania arrived safely at Kilimanjaro airport last night. Everything went well with one exception, but Sam can tell you about that....
This is my 9th trip overseas and my 8th trip to Africa. I have had people back home ask me why I feel the need to travel overseas, when there are people all around us in the United States that are lost and need to hear the Gospel. That is a good question, and worthy of a thoughtful response.
First, it is true that there are many people close to our homes that are in need of what we are bringing to East Africa. Mission work isn't just going to a foreign country to tell people about Jesus, the Savior of sinners. Mission work includes reaching out to the person across the street, in the next cubicle at work, or the Facebook friend across the country. We should be doing that personally, and with members of our congregations at home. But we are confronted with a problem. Not everyone is interested in what Christ has entrusted to us. When someone comes to us, and says "I want to know more, come and teach me" or "Come and help me reach others with the Gospel", we jump at such an opportunity.
We have come to Africa because we have been asked to come. We have been asked to come and teach and to help believers in our fellow church bodies share the Gospel through child evangelism. Our Mission Helper Program is very similar to our Traveling Vacation Bible School Program in the United States. We are going to help sister churches in other countries put on a Vacation Bible School program, and Lord willing, give them the tools to be able to do this on their own in the future. This is our prayer.
Going overseas on a Mission Helper trip or as a Part-Time Missionary doesn't excuse us from our responsibility back home. Instead, it prepares those who participate to be ready to see and respond to the opportunities that they may be confronted with in the future. Either next door, across the country, or on the other side of the world.
There is a second benefit that comes from serving the Lord overseas. It changes you. It changes your outlook on the physical blessings that the Lord has bountifully bestowed upon us in the United States. We take these blessings for granted every day. When a person comes to Nepal, India or East Africa, you leave with a greater appreciation for these blessings. You also come away with a greater appreciation for the sacrifices that our brethren overseas make for the sake of the Gospel. Working with our fellow believers overseas is rewarding, uplifting and greatly encouraging and motivational. It is a joy to see how the Gospel works in their hearts and in their lives! It changes one's perspective on what sacrifice really means.
Finally, relationships are built with our fellow believers overseas. This is beneficial to them and to us. I have personally seen the gifts and struggles of fellow believers. Knowing this I have something to keep in my prayers during the years to come. This too, is a blessing for me and for them.
Paul writes: "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" 2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV).
May God bless our witness to all the world!
In His service,