Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lessons Learned Through Missions

Over the past 15 years, it has been my privilege to be involved in several short term mission projects which have included Disaster Relief projects in New York City after 911, in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and post flood and windstorm projects in Kentucky and West Virginia.  I have also been blessed to be involved in projects with church planters in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Toronto on short term mission projects. Each of these projects has been a growing spiritual experience for those of us who have been involved.

However, the most dramatic and life changing personal mission work I have ever been part of are the 12 short term mission trips I have been blessed to make to the Republic of the Philippines.  Several members of our church, (Darrell Clark, Thamer Calhoun, Rick Gunnell, and Randy, Debbie, & Joey Spurgeon) have also made one or more trips there as part of our Beacon Ministries Teams.  Each of us have gained much from the experience.  Joey even gained a wife!

Many of you have partnered with us financially to help bring the Word of God, and many material resources to faithful Filipino Baptist Church planters, primarily in the Province of Negros Oriental in the Central Visayan area of that Island nation.  While there, we have worked with our Filipino hosts in both urban and very rural settings – in college towns and incredibly poor third world type villages.  We have ministered in Colleges and Public Schools, hospitals, jails, private homes, and churches that range from simple concrete buildings, to “tent churches” and Nippa huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors.

Through the efforts of going and giving from our friends here, we have been part of constructing five church buildings there, improvement projects on those and other buildings.  Furnishing churches with several hundred chairs and other needed items, including audio visual equipment, numerous keyboards, guitars, tape DVD and CD players, and other musical and electronic equipment, hymnals, printed Bible Studies and other print material.  We have been able to conduct two, 2 day Pastor and Church Leader Seminars, helping to better equip more than 120 individuals for various types of ministry.  Over the years we have purchased nearly one and a half tons of premium rice for the churches and their feeding ministries, and above all else we have been blessed to provide them with, and to help distribute more than 3,000 copies of the Word of God, in both English and Cebuano language versions.

There are many ways in which we have been a blessing to those precious pastors, their families, and young congregations.  But they have also been a tremendous blessing to us.  I have learned many lessons from these humble servants of the Lord.  Some are new lessons, others are simply reminders of what we already know.  Some of them include:
  • Little is much when God is in it.
  • There are Believers in this world who are willing to come together at 4:00 AM for an hour of worship, Bible Study, Prayer and Fellowship before their work and school days begin.
  • Faithfulness to God is a quality that does not depend on material blessings
  • We should not try to force OUR (extra-biblical) cultural traditions upon believers in other cultures.
  • We should learn to do whatever necessary to reach our own culture, even if it involves thinking “outside the box”
  • True worship involves, Celebration, Adoration, Contemplation, and Consecration
  • The “obstacles” we face here in our ministry are not nearly as tough as those faced by Christians in many other parts of the world
  • We have not yet begun to face real persecution – but it IS coming
  • Devotion to our God deserves our very best
  • We are often far too “comfortable” in our service to the Lord
  • Full dependence upon Him, is a freeing experience
  • “Marketplace Evangelism” is a Biblical model that still works
  • We generally under-utilize our buildings and the other resources with which we have been blessed.
  • Every Christian is a herald of Good News
  • The joy of the Lord is your strength
  • Church planting, is not dependent upon an outside funding agency
  • Every community is a potential place of outreach, evangelism, and discipleship activity
  • Even if times are hard, and resources are not plentiful, keep on keeping on.
  • Lost people are all around us.  Don’t overlook any.
Jesus is coming soon.  The nets are not yet full.  Let’s get busy.