I have a good friend who trusted Jesus as her Savior at a missions conference. That’s right. In the midst of a call to a group of 1,500 (mostly) Christian college students to “Go and make disciples of all nations” my non-Christian (at the time) friend decided to trust Christ!
I have been a Pastor long enough to know that in the midst of ANY sermon on ANY topic, the LORD can get His message out to people . . . but this story still makes me smile thinking about it. At first glance, it seems odd that someone would decide to follow Jesus at a missions conference . . . there is not much that feels very “seeker sensitive” about that. I mean if it had been a message about our sinfulness and the forgiveness available through Jesus’ death, it would have made more sense to me. If it had been a message about the uncertainty of the future and the assurance of the Gospel, I would “get it,” but this message was a call to evangelism that many Christians were backing away from . . . yet my friend decided in that moment to run towards the call of Christ, and has never wavered since then — serving years in foreign mission work and sharing Christ in every setting where she has found herself. At first glance, this seems surprising . . . but is it? I think for two reasons, this story should not be surprising at all:
- Her main struggle in NOT placing her faith in Christ had to do with the eternal fate of non-Christian people. At this conference (as the Great Commission was shared) she realized that Jesus KNEW of these lost people and had a plan to reach them with the Gospel . . . and that plan involved us! In a strange way, the missions conference was just the apologetic she needed to trust Christ with her all in all.
- The “normal” Christian life is a life of mission. Missions is not a secondary part of the Christian life, or an extra for the radical fringe. Missions is at the core of our new identity in Christ. We are connected to a missional God, following a Risen Savior who is still “seeking and saving the lost.” If we are abiding with Him, we will join Him on that mission in this life . . . a mission that is globally minded but locally engaged.
I was thinking about that this week because we are at the front end of an 8 day “Missions Emphasis Week” at Wildwood that we are calling “Living Words.” As we head into this week, I want to remind all of us of two very important things:
- Jesus has a plan to reach the lost . . . and that plan involves you and me.
- This plan is for ALL of us, not just vocational missionaries or Pastors. Mission is a part of the “normal” Christian life. Therefore, let’s all participate in this week and see what God is up to around the world and how we can join Him!
That said, there are a few opportunities to get involved this week that I want everyone to be aware of:
- “Living Words” Preview Event (January 14, 6:30 – 8:00 PM in the Fellowship Center at Wildwood): Come meet a number of our global missionary partners who are here this week and hear a vision for world missions from Wildwood’s staff and missionaries.
- Sunday mornings (January 15 and 22 in all 3 Worship Services and a number of our Adult, Student, and Children’s classes): Our programming for each of these two Sundays will feature Wildwood’s missionary involvement and be led by a combination of Wildwood staff and missionary partners. Make plans to join us in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 services and support programming!
- Wednesday Night Vision Night (January 18 from 6 – 7 PM in the Worship Center): Come hear from a number of our missionary partners share about how to cultivate a vision for world missions in your home. Following this event there will be refreshments and a reception for our missionary partners in the Gathering Hall.
- Next Steps (January 20 at 6:30 at the Wyatts- for details and directions contact Zack at email@example.com): College students and other young adults are encouraged to join us at this meeting for a meal and informal discussion with several of our global partners about practical advice for getting to, and serving effectively, on a foreign field.
- Discovery Roundtables (Wednesday nights beginning January 25 from 6:05 – 7:25PM at the Hallbrooke Clubhouse 2110 Hallbrooke Dr.): Join us in a series of presentations and discussions, taught by Kevin Bradford and several of Wildwood’s global partners, Wednesdays, January 25-March 8 as we examine God’s Word, get a status update on His World, and consider how both individuals and our church can be involved in His Work, impacting the nations for Christ. Sign up at wildwoodchurch.org/discovery.
I look forward to seeing you at many of these events over the next week or so!