Acts 20:19 – I served the Lord with great humility and with tears in the midst of trials that came upon me because of the Jews’ schemes.
Gratitude Day 744
When I was in seminary, one professor shared a wise insight. He said a mission project is anything we do more than 30 miles from home.
At the time, I shared this with Hubby Rick. We have tried to embrace this concept so many times. When there was an opportunity to serve or help someone and it was about 30 miles away, we called it a “mission project.”
What we have discovered is that mission projects do not have to be 30 miles from home. They can be in your own backyard, house or community. They can be down the street, across the road or 10 minutes away.
Yes, mission work can be loading up a bus with a bunch of people and traveling hundreds of miles to help those in need. Hubby Rick and I have done this countless times. Not too many couples would go on a mission trip with 40 other people in a bus for their honeymoon. But we did! All the way to Brownsville, Texas.
After traveling for three days, everyone knew we were on our honeymoon. On the last day of travel, the women in the bus realized that our housing accommodations would not allow Rick and I to sleep in the same room. At the mission center, women were in one area. Men in another. This is how it was. It was these same ladies who found and cleaned out a storage room at 10 PM at night and set-up beds so we could have a honeymoon suite together at the mission center.
We have never forgotten their graciousness. It was a lesson that has spoken volumes to us throughout our marriage and one we often repeat as a way that we experienced God’s grace.
Was it these lady’s compassion and care for us that has encouraged and challenged us to pay their generosity forward? Yes. So, when we have found opportunities to care for someone within our reach, we have tried to do so.
Mission projects can have many different faces. It can be taking a meal to someone, a yard project, tilling a garden, cleaning out a flower bed, taking someone to an appointment, playing a game, or watering someone’s plants.
Mission projects can also be altering a dress, delivering cookies, buying a tank of gas, taking someone groceries, or giving a cup of needed sugar or flour.
But mission projects can also be listening to a person, holding someone’s hand, sending a card, or a well-timed phone call. These can be just as important and meaningful as raking someone’s yard. Too often we equate mission work with something physical. May I assure those of you who no longer feel capable of doing something physical that you are still called to serve. It just looks a bit different but is no less significant.
Throughout our marriage, Hubby Rick and I have tried numerous times to embrace various mission projects that we became aware of. Sometimes this meant someone living with us, loaning out a vehicle or making a car payment or rent payment. I share these examples not because we want recognition for them but because when we embrace these opportunities as mission projects, our focus shifts.
We help out because maybe God has put us in a place where we CAN help. Maybe we have access to resources or tools that someone else does not and we can leverage them for the glory of God’s kingdom. More than once, I have felt that these are the ways that we can be the hands and feet of God. Mission work does not have to take place within a building. It happens within the daily rhythm of live, where we see opportunities and we grasp them as a way to demonstrate God’s love to another human being.
Seeing these opportunities as mission projects removes the expectation that we will get something in return. We find ourselves blessed because we have had the opportunity to share our resources and talents within God’s kingdom. And this, my friends, is enough payment.
Recently, I have had a few conversations with various people about how they are helping others. When we see these opportunities as mission projects, I think it shifts the experience. We can go far away and help people. Or we can do it right in our neighborhood. Right in our backyard.
Yes, there are times when we should pack our bags and go help others. Or send funds to assist people who are in desperate need. This is very important mission work as well. Those of us who have been blessed should challenge ourselves to bless others with the resources God has entrusted into our care.
Yet, I pray that we see mission work not as something that must be done far away. Or even at least 30 miles from our house. It can be right in front of our eyes … if we remove our clouded lenses and see it.
Sharing this makes me a little nervous because I also believe in the power of seeing mission work as something we should do humbly. Serving someone else should not be for recognition or adoration or reward. True mission work is approached with a heart that simply wants to serve God and our neighbor. Maybe I’ve tettered on the side of not being very humble here but I pray you see this more as encouragement rather than boasting. Let me also say that for the times we have gotten it right, there have been other times when we missed an opportunity and did not embrace something as a mission project that we could have.
There are plenty potential downsides of mission work: are you being taken advantage of? Do others appreciate what you do? Why weren’t you compensated or compensated more? When does it cross into mission work? You can add your own questions here.
Here’s how I try to make sense of this. If I go into something naming it as a mission project, it removes a whole bunch of these immediately. I see this not only as something I do for the other person, I see it as an opportunity to serve God’s kingdom. The treasure is not about what recognition or compensation or honor I receive for serving. The treasure is how God views me using my gifts and talents for the glory of God’s kingdom.
Seeing these opportunities as mission work has helped me shift my thinking and expectations. There are times when we’ve gotten it right and other times we didn’t. I pray that some of our experience can encourage you to think about how you view mission projects and work. There are lots of opportunities already in our lives. May we choose to embrace those God places before us.
For the many opportunities God has granted us to serve others through mission projects, I am grateful.
Holy God – too often, we expect someone else to be Your hands and feet, rather than embracing the opportunities as ones that You have placed in front of us. May we see these opportunities and embrace being Your hands and feet to those around us. Right in our own backyards. Thank you for encouraging me to serve You and my neighbors. Amen.
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