There are things that basically all Christians know to be true. Jesus came to save all men – check. There are lost people throughout the world – check. However, despite knowing the right answers to such questions, we often fall victim to our desire to be comfortable and pat each other on the back for being such good, faithful Christians. Sometimes we just need someone to bring the truth and power of God’s call right to our own doorstep so that we can’t brush it off as someone else’s job anymore.
Thankfully, those of us at Shiloh had a chance for just such an experience when Dr. Bill Richardson came for the weekend. About 50 people came to the Friday night and Saturday morning sessions in which he covered different ways that churches should be involved in God’s work in the world, many that are not our first choice.
He talked about being a church of missionaries, made up of people who are ready and willing to take up arms and infiltrate their own communities with the saving power that Jesus provides. The Lord’s people are given the power to storm the gates of hell and snatch back the lost to live in His Kingdom, and Bill challenged us to mobilize and join that battle.
Then he spoke of what it takes to be a church for missionaries, the kind that understands the job to be done and works hard to provide the support that is needed, well beyond financial contribution. This involves prayer, prayer and more prayer, knowing the struggles the missionaries are having and striving to uphold them, encouragement, and providing any tools that would smooth the way. He challenged us to have a new perspective on how we measure success on a mission field and to rejoice with every new believer.
He didn’t stop there. After a lunch that included Bill, the team, and the elders and their families, we moved to a meeting with our newly formed Mission Support Team. Bill spent time walking through how they can best serve their field workers and what is necessary to make the work an active part of the home church’s life. Having a mission team on the field should affect the church family as they take ownership of their part in God’s mission. The MST will be an integral part in keeping awareness and prayer a regular part of the church’s life.
The weekend still wasn’t over; we had more time with Bill and took advantage of it. Bill preached the sermon on Sunday and taught a combined adult class. He covered how involvement in missions is a step of faith and then gave an overview of Latin America, discussing signs within those countries that indicate readiness to receive the Gospel.
On Sunday morning, the elders officially announced that they have committed to supporting us, Team Arequipa, for at least 5 years. We were very blessed by their desire to be involved with us in this work, and we are eager to get started, confident in their love and prayers.
All in all, many of us came out of the weekend motivated to take action for the Lord, to be bold and draw on the power He has provided to break down walls and reach hearts. We have been reminded that the Gospel holds power in itself and does not rely on skilled teaching and perfected methods to have an impact. God does the work; we must merely take Him with us where He is needed and let Him do so. Check.