I remember clearly the day I received my first pair of glasses (half my lifetime ago). My parents were prompted to get my sister and I eyewear when they discovered we couldn't properly see distances. Ordering the same frozen dessert from Dairy Queen because I couldn't properly see the sign was getting a bit old. ; )
As I slipped on my my new glasses on that special day, I was taken aback by the brightness and clarity of the world around me. There were so many things I had apparently been missing. Details - like a man's unshaven face and leaves on trees jumped out at me. I wouldn't trade a clearer vision for those pre-glasses days! The "burden" of putting something on my face every day, all day, is no comparison to the great benefit of being able to see clearly.
In early November I began a four-month journey in an online course - the "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement." Just a few minutes ago, I finished listening to a lecturer speak about God's movement through history - from Biblical times up to our day, and how He has used people all over the world to advance His message of love, grace and redemption.
Through this course, I feel as if I have put on new spiritual glasses, gaining a greater vision of what God has been and is doing in the world. Taking a huge step back, I am gaining a greater glimpse of God, His incredible purposes and how He wants to involve each of us in His global, history-enfolding and unfolding plan.
During one of my recent Bible studies with the island girls, I asked them why they had received salvation. Most replied, "to be saved from sin" or "to go to heaven." These are true, but are really only a small part of a very big picture. I asked the girls that if they had a cure for a horrible disease, would it not be wrong to withhold that information from people who desperately needed it?
You and I have indeed been saved from sin and thus we are destined for eternity in the presence of God in heaven, but being a follower of Christ is so much more. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave "marching orders" to His disciples.
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." - Matthew 24:14 (emphasis mine)
Many of us long for the return of Jesus, but may not realize we have an important part to play to help usher in His second coming. The Great Commission (given in Matthew 28) was not Jesus' words only to the 11 disciples, but to all of His disciples in all future generations. I am a missionary, but so are you. If you are a Christian, you are automatically a missionary - to be a witness for Christ. You have been given a message, a mission and a mandate. We have information about the "cure" for the horrible worldwide "disease" of sin.
"But," you may ask, "I don't feel called to a foreign land." All around us, whether in the U.S., Africa or in any place around the world, there are lost people - needing to know the hope of salvation and God's incredible love and purposes for them. You can be a missionary to people that other Christians will never meet or reach.
I encourage you to find out what God is doing around you and in the world, and take your part in the big picture. You will be amazed as you gain a greater vision of God's incredible heart and desire for peoples of every tribe and tongue to someday worship Him.
May God bless and strengthen you as you serve Him in your corner of the world!
A brief update on what is happening here:
- This week I am taking 10 students from our island school to a Word of Life Bible camp outside of Kampala. (Read this previous post for more information.) Some of the students are new Christians and/or those who need deepening of their faith. One young man in our group is Muslim and one young lady is Catholic. I have been praying for "my" kids as well as the others who will be at the camp - that they would see God in a new and deeper way, and thus be drawn to walk closer to Him. I would so appreciate your prayers this week!
- The island school concluded its year on Nov. 24 and now the teachers and students are on holiday until late January, when the new school year begins. Please be in prayer for the students - for God's protection of their minds and bodies. Some come from non-Christian homes and villages and peers who often pressure them to make wrong choices. We desire the island students to be lights for Christ in their homes and communities!
- The Morning Star Ladies' Bible study is also on break. In my last time with the girls, I challenged them to memorize Ephesians 5:1-17 during their two-month holiday. Pray that the words of this chapter would penetrate their hearts and minds, and that the lessons on purity taught during the Bible study in the recent term would be recalled to rightly direct their decisions and behavior.
- Christmas time is coming! The SHIM family will soon be going on a holiday break, but there will still be a lot of activity going on, with visitors, traveling, and holiday gatherings in the coming weeks. Pray that our focus would remain on Christ during this special season and that we would have opportunity to share His hope with whoever we meet.
May God bless you abundantly and grant you joy, hope and peace as you reflect on His blessed birth in this special season!
P.S. I highly recommend the Perspectives course to any and every Christian. Classes are available online and in classroom settings around the U.S. and the world. Visit www.perspectives.org for more information.
Photo Source: Microsoft Office Clip Art