I’m going to get a first hand look at what the Body of Christ is doing in Africa next week as I join my friends from Creation Festival and Compassion International on a trip to Uganda.
My entire missions trip experience is summed up in the summers of 1987 and 1988. There was this guy named Ron Luce who was working from home in Tulsa, OK who was taking a group of what turned out to be around 40 teenagers to Guatemala. He couldn’t have been more than 30 years old, to my knowledge had never done this before, and for some reason my parents saw fit to let me do this. I’m so glad they did.
We had no money, my dad was laid off from the plant, and we were in a town where there was no money because most of the town worked at the same plant and were also laid off. I remember Ron telling me on the phone that God would take care of me. He said “if someone offered to pay for your trip would you go?” I said of course. He said “Good. God will pay for it.” It sounds so cheesy in hindsight, but he was right. And God did.
What God did through and to me then was remarkable. I think one of the reasons that Teen Mania Ministries has grown so significantly is that Ron puts people in a position to not just be ministered to like so many conferences and crusades, but he put people in a position to minister.
Just like any good conduit, our own purpose and fulfillment comes only when the water of the Holy Spirit is flowing through us. All the revivals, outpourings, renewals can’t compare with the unique experience with the Lord that you can only have when you’re following Him taking the message of the gospel to world.
We want to experience the presence of the Lord. Jesus said when you’ve done it unto the least of these you’ve done it unto Me. If Jesus is in those that can’t possibly repay you for what you do; If Jesus is with the poor and the vulnerable.; then that’s where His presence is. If you can’t find Jesus or feel like you don’t have that relationship with Him? I know a great place to start.
Ask our team coming back from Haiti. I promise you that they will return from Haiti just like the disciples did when Jesus sent them out two by two. The Bible says that they returned “full of joy”. I know from first hand experience that this is true. I only wish I hadn’t let 19 years pass by before going back. I won’t let that happen again.
I tend to believe that the experience that folks are looking for when they pray for revival or for signs and wonders can only really be experienced in it’s fullest when you’re following the Lord on a mission. If you’re looking for your spirit to be renewed or to feel the Lord, save your money and your road trips to the next “outpouring” and buy a plane ticket to a third world country. It honestly might be cheaper and the experience you were hoping to find will be there in it’s most pure form.
The truth is that maybe we don’t have to choose between the two, but I think that the encounter with God that people are seeking in those environments can only be found when you’re on the go. Jesus said signs and wonders would follow those who believe (in the context of them going). He did not say that we should follow signs and wonders.
The promise of the Holy Spirit itself was to “give us power to be witnesses”. Not for entertainment or for that matter for our own tingly sensations but to give us power to be witnesses. Signs and wonders are like the air support for a ground war. Very important, but only needed to make the way for the ground troops. The context of signs and wonders in the book of Acts shows them always as part of a campaign bringing the gospel to the world. You want signs and wonders, present the gospel; especially in dangerous situations. God will get your back.
For so many years I could sit by with the idea that “it’s not my calling to go.” That it requires a special calling. I still remember the video quote that Teen Mania used from me in their promotional materials for the next year. I said “some people think that you have to have a special calling to be a missionary, the truth is you have to have a special calling not to be”. I’ve forgotten that over the years. Maybe I haven’t forgotten it so much as compartmentalized it.
You and I did not sign up to “get saved” to join a club. Jesus asked His Disciples to “follow” Him. Follow denotes that he was going somewhere. He was on the move. He still is and the invitation still stands.
It’s labor day on Monday and there will be no Conduit. If you think about it, help me spread the word that we’re taking Monday off. The following Monday I’ll be in Uganda but the team from Haiti will be back and I hope to have them share their stories of how God moved in and through them in Jacmel. They were there when the hurricane hit so I’m sure they’ll have some great extra stories.
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