When Alisha and I first began talking about serving abroad several years ago, we never would have thought we'd end up serving in Europe. After all, mission workers are supposed to go to the poor, third-world countries of this world, right?
Fortunately, our plans were wrecked by our short-term service in the Czech Republic. During this time, we encountered a new form of starvation: Spiritual poverty.
Before Jesus departs his disciples, he has one final request for his disciples:
"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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28)
As we prepared to serve abroad, we encountered a handful of mission-minded groups who interpreted this as meaning, "Evangelize all unreached people groups of the world. Once this happens, an end-game scenario is triggered during which the world can end."
Our understanding is different. To be clear, bringing the message of Christ to groups of people who have never heard it before is important and I have great respect for those who have dedicated their lives to doing exactly that. My problem with the above interpretation is threefold:
- Making disciples is different from making believers. We are not called to enter other cultures with an imperialist mentality, forcing our beliefs on others. We are called to share the vision of Christ to all those who will hear through our own lives -- actions and words.
- We don't do this so that we benefit from its completion. We do this because this is what Jesus asked us to do and it is the work of the global church to bring the Kingdom of God to earth over and over again.
- There is a necessary end to this process. The above interpretation includes an implication that once a group of people hear the name of Jesus, you can check them off your list and move on. But what happens if this group of people move away from following the way of Jesus and either become preoccupied with the legalities of religion or step away from pursuing faith altogether?
"Unreached people group" also tends to be a term synonymous with "third-world countries." As though wealth and prosperity on any level better connect us with being "Godly." Actually, there has been a growing trend in missions of churches from less-wealthy countries sending mission workers to more prosperous countries.
So, when people hear our call to serve in Spain and ask, "Why?" our response is "Why not?" While visiting Spain this past Spring, I was able to interview several church leaders and ask for their perspectives on this issue. I put together the following video which, I hope, can challenge the traditional view of what it means to send mission workers out into the world.
Let there not be any confusion: our service abroad is not an extended European vacation. As Gadea said in the video above, "Missions are where God wants us to be [...] They're about going where God wants to use you -- where God wants to expand his kingdom."
As we've moved through this process, it has become clear that Barcelona is where God wants us to be.
This Saturday, some friends are hosting a Fundraising Yard Sale. Come find some cool stuff while supporting us. All proceeds will go directly to our support fund.
We are excited to say we have filled all roles on our Ministry Support Team (MST), which means we can begin more actively fundraising. We'll be introducing our team this Sunday as we share during Trinity Mennonite Church's worship service.
We will also be leading an intergenerational Sunday school class at Trinity at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 16. Join us during that time to learn more about how our past four years in Lithuania concluded as well as what our call to Spain entails. We'll include video, Q&A, and some fun stories!
Finally, we're playing a fundraising concert on Oct. 28 at Glencroft. Details are still in the works!