Sin has a way of shrinking our lives down to the size of our life. Our bent toward self leads us to spend most of our time thinking about ourselves. We forget that the world is a big place. We forget that God is doing more in the world than what he is doing in and through us. We forget that our church is not the only church trying to make disciples of all nations.
While sin has a way of shrinking our lives down to the size of our life, a cross-cultural mission trip can help us take our eyes off of ourselves. A mission trip can remind us that the world is a big place. A mission trip can remind us that God is doing more in the world than what he is doing in and through our church.
My recent trip to Kenya had this effect on my life. This was my third visit to Africa, an on this visit God reminded me of several things I tend to forget. The world is a really big place. Life isn’t all about me. God doesn’t need me. My church is not the only church engaged in missions. God reminded me of these things through 4 people I met in Africa.
- The Poor Pastor. This pastor lives on next to nothing. He pastors a small village church where most of his members tithe in food, not money. This pastor had no money for a real wedding, and a he doesn’t always know where his family will find their next meal. In spite of these challenges, this pastor exudes joy. He makes great sacrifices to gain access to theological training. He trusts God to provide for the needs of his family. He loves his church and wants to see his people grow in their knowledge of and love for Jesus.
- The Scholar Missionary. This man has a PhD from one of the most respected seminaries on earth. Five minutes of casual conversation reveals the depth of this man’s intellect, but he doesn’t come across as prideful or aloof. This man could teach at any seminary in the United States, and his contribution would help strengthen the church. However, this pastor has chosen a different “career path.” He moved his family to Kenya so that he could start a much needed degree program at an established Bible college.
- The Refuge Pastor. This man is from Sudan. He was forced to flee his home because of a prolonged civil war and widespread persecution against Christians. He does not know the location of his family, or if they are even alive. He lives in northern Kenya at a refugee camp where he also pastors a church of Sudanese refugees. Every few months this man rides a bus for 48 hours to access theological training. Since his church members cannot make the bus ride, he is starting a Bible college in the refuge camp to train other pastors.
- The Chinese Businessman. This man was born in mainland China. He started a company that specialized in industrial processes, programming machines that build large consumer products. He expanded his company outside of China and had great success in business. After converting to Christianity he sold his company and became a pastor at a Chinese church in the USA. Several years later, feeling called to missions, he moved to Kenya. He wants to reach the Chinese diaspora in eastern Kenya through planting churches and training pastors.
God used these 4 people to remind me … The world is big. God doesn’t need me. I want God to use me. God is on the move. The kingdom is growing.
Originally published June 27, 2016 on landoncoleman.com.