I’ve been a part of The Hallows Church for most of my Christian life. Each year I watched as our church sent out one team after another to serve Jesus in various ways and in various places across the globe. Every time that happened, I was curious. I was interested. But, for whatever reason, I was never curious enough or interested enough to do anything about it. I made excuses. Life seemed too busy.
But last year God changed that…not so much by changing my thinking, but by changing my heart–by stirring my heart.
I was quite familiar with the parting instructions of Jesus in Matthew 28 when he commands each one of us as his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). I’m quite familiar, as well, with his words in John 20 when he says just as the Father sent him into the world for a plan and a purpose, he intends to do the very same with us (John 20:20).
I’ve known these words for a long time. And, many others like them. But, last year, these words of Jesus somehow became more personal to me. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was a work of God in my heart. It was as if Jesus was speaking directly to me. “GO,” I kept hearing him say.
It felt like a challenge of sorts. A challenge to consider whether I was really listening to and obeying Jesus in my life, or whether I was mostly just listening to myself. It can be quite easy for us as Christians living in a place like Seattle to drift into a safe and comfortable walk with Jesus, often without even realizing it. I sensed Jesus challenging me in the ways I was thinking and living, and I’m glad he did.
I prayed more about his words, received his words, and responded to his words, along with those words he also made a way. In a most unexpected turn of events, I found myself in late 2019 traveling by 4×4 into the interior of West Africa with people I hardly knew, serving two different ministry organizations that God had connected me to, which God was using in powerful ways to care for orphans, provide education, advance the gospel and plant churches.
I believe God was sweeping me up in another part of his story, in another part of his world, to show me some things about himself, and to show me some things about myself. What he showed me affected me deeply. The conditions were challenging. There was limited running water and electricity. The physical and spiritual needs around me felt overwhelming. Most of the people I encountered spent most of their time trying to meet the most basic of needs.
It was uncomfortable. It was inconvenient. It was unsettling. Perhaps that was part of the point.
But, in spite of it all, a simple joy and a surpassing hope shone through the faces of so many we served, because of Jesus.
My heart was broken over what I saw. But my heart was hopeful too. I got to see how God was transforming pockets of Sierra Leone through his people. I got to see how kids were being educated, cared for and taught about Jesus who would otherwise have no opportunity or access. I got to see how Jesus was transforming villages and enabling churches to be planted. I got to see 20+ people respond to a presentation of the gospel through an interpreter in an isolated village in the southern province of Sierra Leone.
I’m grateful to God for opening these doors and my eyes to what he’s doing there.
Today I couldn’t be any more delighted that God, in his providence, is now allowing me to be a part of leading some of you to serve, to see and to experience how he is at work in Sierra Leone too.
If you’ve already taken a trip like this, then you know what I’m talking about, and I’d like to invite you to move again in that direction with us this year. If you’ve never been on a cross-cultural trip of this sort, I hope you will prayerfully and patiently consider joining one this year. Humbly listen to God. Ask him if now may be the time he is telling you to “GO,” and be willing to respond to his answer.
He can use you in so many ways to love and serve his people, to bring glory to his name and to advance his gospel–all the while doing a powerful work in your own heart too.
I hope you’ll prayerfully consider being a part of this journey with us in 2020, whether through praying, sending or going. We have three unique opportunities for you to love and engage the nations with us in 2020 (below). To be included in the conversation and/or to get answers to your questions, you can always find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For God’s Glory,
Pastor Jeff, Edmonds Expression
(Please know that we will be monitoring closely the evolving situation with the Coronavirus and will not hesitate to postpone and/or cancel any trip(s) deemed unsafe or unwise moving forward, as well adjust how we serve our partners in those areas according to their needs).
2020 Global Engagement Teams You Can JoiN
When: August 2-7
Who: Mexican Caravan Ministries
What: Building houses for impoverished families
Application Deadline: April 15, 2020
Team Leader(s): TBD
When: October 2-16
What: Poverty relief, prayer walking, childcare
Application Deadline: April 15, 2020
Sierra Leone, West Africa
When: November 27 – December 8
Who: Children of the Nations
What: Serving children and students
Application Deadline: June 1, 2020
Team Leader: Jeff Hundley