OK, I’ll admit that—once upon a time—I didn’t look forward to “Missions Sundays.” Feeling that I wasn’t “called to the mission field,” I could never relate to the stories from far-off lands, and the subtle “ask” for support that generally followed. Besides, I would say, isn’t there enough of God’s work that’s not being done, right here at home?
Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve “grown up” in the Lord a bit since those days. I no longer find it necessary to feign some sort of illness when a missionary speaker is on the schedule; in fact, I now actually find their insight and message to be quite refreshing. After all: missionaries get to say a lot of challenging things I think many pastors would love to say about Christian service and responsibilities, but they can—as a guest speaker—get away with it! :)
There’s something even more endearing about a missionary that’s spent time away from American culture: their perspective. The guest speaker Sunday at our church was on furlough from Ecuador, and--for the first time--was compelled to expose his children to the public school system. This tender-hearted pastor shared with obvious sadness his dismay over the huge increases in “sensual” dress and aggressive behavior of American teen (and pre-teen) girls since his last return to the States. He lamented the backtalk, and the lack of respect young people were exhibiting toward their elders. But one sign of the changing times stopped that missionary dad in his tracks.
All new students, upon arrival at school, were required to fill out a general information form…you know…name, address, phone number, birth date. At the very bottom of the form, though, was a chilling question: With which parent do you reside? Not, “what is your family’s address,” but “with which parent do you reside?” Turns out only 6% of the students attending that suburban school actually live with both of their biological parents. Apparently, the so-called “traditional family” has become the exception, rather than the rule.
Our guest missionary speaker wondered aloud whether God—as He had sometimes done with His people Israel—had already chosen to withdraw His hand of protection from us. Indeed these are dark times, but really--since the fall--times have always been dark, haven't they? And our God's grace has always been sufficient, His love unchanging. I believe that God's beautiful promise to Solomon's subjects in Old Testament days remains essentially the same for us today. If we Christians would only choose to respond to His love in humility and obedience, God's essential forgiveness and healing would flow exceedingly and abundantly across our embattled nation, and the world.
If my people, who are called by my Name, would humble themselves and pray…and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways…then, I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land.
II Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)
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