It is finally mid-May in Lusaka, and it seems the summer mission trips have begun! Truth be told, it’s not even really “summer” here, though the weather has been so nice it almost always feel a little bit like the spring or summer I am used to in Colorado. This week, I got to host an amazing group of women from my University in the states for a couple of days. Sic ‘em bears!! Their wonderful leader, Melanie, is the same brave lady that took me on my first trip to Africa in 2011. I know I wouldn’t have even thought of living here today if it wasn’t for that trip in college.
I am so thankful for sweet Melanie and her heart to come back to Africa year after year with a group of college students seeking to empower women and shine Jesus’ light in dark places. It is pretty cool for me to be on both sides of the trip now, having gone with Melanie in 2011, and now getting to host her and a group of young women has truly been a dream come true. I remember being in those shoes, learning to love and serve in a new and beautiful country. It just blows my mind that now I get to be the one to show them a little bit into my world. You never know what God may be up to in your midst. Every moment, every friendship, every experience has the potential to bring us closer to the story our Creator wants to write for us.
It’s like Paul’s words to his beloved friends in Philippians:
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my request for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:3-6
It is so cool to serve a God that is so much bigger than the oceans and miles that separate us from one another. Even just being able to write for GLOW and read the posts from the other contributors has been such a cool experience. I love reading about what God is doing on the other side of the world and can relate to the journey as we all have the chance to allow God to move our hearts and minds closer to Him everyday.
Here’s the group from this year with my amazing Australian friend Julie who is running a transitional home to care for pre-mature babies. She has a deep and beautiful story that she shared with the girls over cappuccinos, and they were able to visit and pray over the property for her new location. They sought to bless and encourage her ministry, and loved holding the two precious babies that are under Julie’s care. Her organization helps these vulnerable little ones receive the special attention they need while they are young, with the hope of returning them back to their families. What an honor it was to be apart connecting these two worlds and allowing each to participate in the Kingdom of God.
These girls travelled far way and powered through some pretty intense jet lag to come and work with us here in Zambia. But, you don’t have to go that far at all, in fact, God calls us to be a light right where we are. When commissioning out some of His disciples to share the Good News about the Kingdom of God He spoke of a rich harvest of believers and invited them to be apart of it:
“These were his instructions to them: ‘the harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest: ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don’t take any money with you, or a traveler’s bag, or an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.
Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house’ If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.
If you enter a town and it welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’” Luke 10:2-8
Furthering the Kingdom of God doesn’t have to include an extravagant trip overseas. There are so many things to unpack in this passage, but at the same time Jesus’ instructions are simple, and even on those big trips, it is often the simple things someone does along the way that can make a big difference. Some simple ideas based on this passage are:
- Touch base with Jesus/pray
- Know that this is difficult territory.
- Speak blessing to people and their homes.
- Accept hospitality.
- Eat together and bring about healing.
- Tell people that God is here.
We have to begin of course with prayer, because there is no way we can be sure we are doing God’s work if we don’t include Him and earnestly seek His guidance and listen to where He calls us. We must know that the task of furthering God’s Kingdom is not only smiles and butterflies, but also a lot of hard work. Just think about what Christ had to do so that we can be in relationship with the Father. Any suffering we experience is just a small participation in His suffering. But we aren’t called to do it alone, in fact the challenge calls us to lean on our Good Shepherd the whole way.
After we have prepared ourselves, the first step is so simple, speak blessing. Proclaim the good plans that God has for His people and accept hospitality in return. As we eat together and learn one another’s stories, from there we can speak healing and wholeness over each other’s lives. However, the point in all of this is to tell people that God is here. Whether you are on a mission trip praying over a sick child in the hospital, or taking an interest in the person who seems lonely at your office, with God’s help we are all participants in bringing about His Kingdom here on earth. What is your role to share in the Kingdom of God right where you are?