Especially when it comes to ‘missions’. One would think that the great commission of Jesus Christ is rather simple. “Go, therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit and lo I’m with you always to the end of the age.” Sounds simple. Our mission is to go make disciples of Jesus Christ, however nothing is ever simple as it seems to be or probably is.
Some argue that since Jesus was speaking to the apostles, that only ordained clergy can do “mission work”. Others sat it applies to all of us and when Jesus says “I’m with you to the end of the age” it implies that the entire church should be involved.
There’s all kinds of interesting discussions going on in the world of missions right now concerning short-term mission trips. What are they, who are they for, what good do they do, how do we measure success or failure? Always questions are out there and all of them need to be answered by somebody. We started this blog a long time ago to talk about the partnerships that exist between Minnesota North and North Dakota and the wider church. I have told you as I travel around both the districts that I am stunned at what people – individuals, individual congregations, and groups are doing. Our church body has certainly taken notice of all the different activities and are trying to get a handle on those for the protection of those serving and wanting to do good as well as for the protection of our partner churches around the world who sometimes wonder what it is we are doing?
We’ve heard the story of the young people who went somewhere and built some building in a foreign country and came home talking about their “mission trip”. We heard how the pastor berated them and said “you were never sent. you were never called, you were not on a “mission trip”.
In our discussions about the Mary Okeyo scholarship fund travelers we finally settled upon calling these trips a “mercy experience”. It may sound trivial but it’s important for people to know what exactly it is they’re doing. I tried to explain to them that they’re not doing mission work because the Kenyans are perfectly capable of doing their own missions. They’re certainly not doing any medical work over there because none of us are qualified to do medical work. We’re not doing teaching because the Kenyans are perfectly capable of doing their own teaching although we might help. What we are doing is observing, finding out how a partner church does what they do under the most trying circumstances that any of us can imagine. Our task is to come home and try to figure out ways that we can support and uplift our partner church in their mission. In the mean time we raise the horizons of all of our people to see what is possible out in the wider world. Over the next few days I am going to be talking about the conversations that go on in the whole area of missions and missiology. I hope all of you will try to read these blogs as often as possible especially those of you are interested in short-term mission trips and what they might mean and what they can accomplish.
Until then here is a picture that I was given by a family whose Mother passed and who had received this picture as a gift because she cared for the work being done in Africa, and the people that sent it believed that she was a ‘missionary” even though she never left her house. It is now prize possession of mine. It is made of banana leaves.