Wednesday, June 18, 2008

loving sacrificially and seeing the mission field on our doorstep

So, I've been back from my crazy week and a half of holidays for a few days now . . . and I think I'm finally back to my "normal" level of tiredness. ;) As those of you who read my last post know, my holidays started off with a very interesting experience at a wedding in a Greek Orthodox Church. From there they moved on to the very busy, but it was all familiar to me.

For those who remember, I spent a week last June working with a group called the Okanagan Gleaners and serving the little community of Oliver, just an hour and a half south of where I live. Well, that was the way that I chose to spend a week of my holidays doing the same thing again. I joined a group of 21 other young adults from my church for this week. We camped in an orchard (in both torretial rain, thunder and lightning and in gorgeous sunshine), spent our mornings cutting peppers (that weren't good enough to sell in stores to make dried soup mixes out of, that are then sent to orphanages, refuguee camps, etc all ofver the world), spent our afternoons doing variuos service projects in the community (free car wash, garbage pick up, handing out water and snacks, helping local churches with projects they needed to get done, helping people with yardwork), and spent our evening hanging out around the campfire. Not exactly your typical holiday . . . but it was so good!

Besides a week of lots of work and serving others, it was also a week of being away from the distractions and busy-ness of life . . . of being away from technology (I didn't turn my cell phone on more than once a day to check for any important messages all week) . . . of building amazing friendships as you spend all day every day together . . . of being in a place where it just seems easier to hear God speak. It was a great week! And I walked away with some amazing new friends and with closer bonds to the friends I already had among the group. I also came home with an increased desire to serve God in everything I do and having had God speak to me many times over the course of the week.

The time when I heard God speak the clearest was when we were spenfing an evening with a great couple that lives there and is seeking to reach out to the ever-growing Punjabi community in the area. They just have an incredible heart to serve God and a huge sensitivity to His Spirit guiding. The conversation and the things they shared and challenged us with that night were things that I needed to hear.

One of the things they talked about was the need for us to be willing to love if we are going to be leaders. And not just love . . . but do it in a way that costs us something. It is when we love others sacrificially that we are able to break down the barriers that so often prevent us from reaching others and from leading others. Sacrificial love is the kind of love that Jesus modelled for us when He was on earth. Jesus is the ultimate example of leader, and He definitely loved sacrificially; therefore, we should as well when we lead.

We also spent a lot of time talking about the whole idea of missions. So often we think of missions as being something that we have to go overseas to do, but it's not. Especially in our more easily accessible world with people from other countries living next door to us often, missions may mean just going next door and showing the love of Christ. It doesn't mean going overseas always. We need to change how we view missions and begin to see that all believers are missionaries in their workplaces, familes, neighbourhoods, schools, etc.

Those are the two major things from this past week that stood out to me. I just really felt challenged from the night that we spent with this couple. It was encouraging as much as it was challenging for my own life.

All in all it was a good and busy week and serving and growing. I'm sure there are many other lessons in my life that God began in this week, that I'm not even aware of yet, but will begin to see in the days, weeks, and months to come.

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