This past weekend our church focussed on missions and we were privileged to have John Brand, the UK director of the Africa Inland Mission speak at our Sunday services. I have to confess that often I find mission services uncomfortable and challenging and this one was no exception. John Brand's message in the morning was entitled "Take an i test" and he explored Matthew 9:36-38, with three main points: "Are you informed?", "Are you impacted?" and "Are you involved?".
He asked us if we made an effort to keep abreast of what is going on in other nations. In particular, do we have a copy of "Operation World" and do we use it? At this point, I had to think to myself, "Now which shelf is our copy on?". He went on to ask if what we read or hear about other nations has an impact on us or do we let it wash over us - does it change the way we pray, give or spend our time? Thirdly, we are all called to be involved in mission work, without exceptions. Obviously, not all of us will go to work overseas, but have we given this possibility serious consideration? If we do not go ourselves, are we following Christ's command in Matthew 9:38 and praying that labourers will be sent out? Are we giving sacrificially of our time and money?
My first reaction to these challenges was to feel that I barely have time to pray for the needs of those immediately around me so I struggle to pray for mission work more than once in a while. But as with so many things, it comes down to discipline. Can I honestly say I don't have a spare 5 or 10 minutes each day to bring the work of missions before God in prayer?
I've been trying to think of ways I can do this, and one thing I am now doing is praying for our missionaries with my two year old daughter - we've been going two days now and so far so good! Yesterday, we got the atlas out and looked for the country that one of our missionaries works in. We talked about how she got there and what she is doing. Then we prayed a short prayer for her. I'm also going to get my copy of Operation World off the shelf and put it in the kitchen, so I can read it and pray while I'm making dinner or clearing up. If you don't have a copy of Operation World, you can go to their website for information on today's country.
Your life circumstances are no doubt different from mine, but we are all called to be involved in mission work, even if we stay at home.
"Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest." Matt 9:38