Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why miracles on the mission field and not at home?

I've had the privilege of leading hundreds of ordinary people on short term mission trips and I've had the opportunity to experience God in incredible ways and see Him work through these common folk to do extra-ordinary things, most of which I would consider miracles of God.  Some people would dismiss them as coincidences but as you read these stories you'll see some amazing experiences and phenomenon that are hard to explain by calling them coincidences.  They are all unique, as God moves in many different and sometimes supernatural ways using common people to accomplish uncommon results.

As I chronicle these miracles of God which I have witnessed on the mission field, I wonder why these have all occurred while on mission and not at home.  Read about the miracles at http://missionfieldmiracles.blogspot.com/
Unfortunately, I've not experienced the same miraculous moments here in the every day life even though I spend a majority of my time in ministry.  Why is that?  Am I not obedient, not following God as close while at home?  Is it about location?  Is God not as involved in our every day life here as He is overseas?  Why do I experience Him in such incredible ways and with so much power on the mission field?

There maybe various reasons but I've come to the conclusion that the main reason is, it takes a total dependence upon God to really experience His power.  Here at home in my daily routine, I am going about MY business, taking care of MY needs and responsibilities.  There is not a lot of dependence upon God because I have spent years building a foundation of security and safety so that I control the circumstances of life as much as possible.  Therefore, there is little need to rely upon God until I lose a semblance of control because of health or circumstances.  

On the mission field we are more likely to have that dependence because we have left our secure life behind and stepped into an unknown world and different culture.  And when we arrive, our purpose is Gospel centered, pretty much 24/7.  There is fear, uncertainty, insecurity and a real sense of a lack of control of the life around you. Therefore, when God intervenes and works through you to accomplish His purposes, whether miraculous or not, there is a very profound experience of the power of God and intimacy with Christ.  

Well, why don't we experience this while doing ministry at home?  A fellow pastor gave a me  simple answer, "because we don't operate in freedom".  He explained to me that so much of our ministry here at home is self-centered, operated out of our flesh instead of from a pure motive, that we can't experience Christ in it.  The barrier is that I am motivated to accomplish my goals through ministry to satisfy my needs for security, accomplishment, or validation.
  
Jesus said it simply, "whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow me.  Only when I have a sincere dependence upon him do I experience the wonders of God.  Miracles can happen when we get out of our self supporting, routine and rely totally upon God.  I admire so much those serving full time on the mission field and the everyday experience of depending solely on God.  I realize that just being in a foreign place does not equal dependance upon God.  But it's my experience that there is a greater opportunity for a dependence upon God when out of your comfort zone, serving Him whether here or overseas.    

I also realize that the miracles of God that we often take for granted are the lives that are radically changed by God's grace.  We often get to see first hand, lives being changed before our very eyes and yet many times we don't get to see the fruit of our work.  Some of these stories reflect those personal changes but there are so many more that are untold, stories that are still being written in the lives of those we have encountered.

I also want to say that short term missions is the most powerful and quickest way to bring about spiritual growth in Christians.  You can accomplish in a week or two what may take years to learn from a Bible study.  So, not only have I seen life change from those we minister to, I've also seen incredible life change and spiritual growth from those who have gone on these mission trips, growth that leads to full-time missionaries and ministers. So many Christians miss out on the opportunity to impact others and be impacted by God, because many churches do not place a high value on actually sending their members.  They may give to missions but fail to actually send.  If you want to light a fire under your members for Christ, send them on a short term mission trip.  Perhaps, after you have read the experiences, you too will want to go, serve, and share.  http://missionfieldmiracles.blogspot.com/

How to choose the right path

“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and ...