Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Parting of the Black Asphalt

On our recent Peru mission trip God actually provided a miracle right before our eyes to humble me and knock me on the head to remind me of what I preach, that "Missional" is not a strategy, program or type of church, but a mindset, a lifestyle that God has called us to live.

It's easy to be "missional" on a mission trip. We go to share the Gospel and our focus and mindset is on that 24/7 while on the trip. But when we get home our focus returns to the distractions and concerns of the world and sharing the Gospel often takes a backseat. Being "missional" can easily become a one time event.

During our trip to Peru our team was all about being missional, sharing the Gospel in an orphanage, a school, in homes and during worship services every day. We had a packed schedule and I was preaching or sharing three and four times a day. At the end of this incredible trip our team was scheduled to take a trip to Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world. We all looked forward to the icing on the cake so to speak and took off early on the last day to catch the train that would take us to Machu Picchu.

We had allowed a good 3 hours to make the 2 hour trip. But an hour into the route, we were stopped by road construction. Both lanes were blocked and we were one car in a line of 7 or 8 waiting to go through. After waiting 15 minutes or so, most every one had gotten out of the trucks and cars and were milling around wondering how long it was going to be. Now there were 40 or so vehicles in line waiting.

Our translator, a young Christian Peruvian named Miguel asked me whether I wanted to share the Gospel with the driver of our bus while we waited. I remember thinking, sharing the Gospel was the last thing on my mind at this time. I was worn out from the last five days of sharing and now all my focus was on getting to Machu Picchu. After all, we had invested $2400 on the trip up there. Yes, it cost each person $240 to go see this site and now we were in jeopardy of not making it in time. My mind was focused on this. I didn't want to talk about anything else.

I asked one of our Spanish speakers to go ask the man holding the Alto sign how long it would be. He wandered down and came back with not the answer we wanted to hear. He said it will be another hour before anyone can go through. We had already waited over 30 minutes. Another hour meant we would miss the train and there was no other way to get there.

Miguel suggested we should pray as a team. I responded something about it was not up to God but up to the man who was holding the alto sign whether we could go through or not. My spirit was so defeated that I didn't want to pray in a group. I did offer up a half-hearted prayer, "if there is a way you can help us make it through God, please help us!" But now I had little hope of making it through. I couldn't see us making it, short of a miracle.

Miguel ran up to me and suggested that we all gather our passports and tickets to Machu Picchu together and he was going to take them up to the man in charge of the construction to plead to him to let us through. I thought, sure, there are 100 cars and trucks waiting in line and they are going to let the Americans go through because they need to get to Machu Picchu. What are the chances of that? Well it was worth a try. 

Miguel made his way up the 100 yards and then I could see him running back. "Everyone get in the van, they are going to let us through!" Wahoo! We jumped in and made our way out of the line into the opposite lane ahead of the cars. They looked at our passports again and waved us through. Past a tollbooth and then through the construction area where they were pouring new asphalt on the road. Then back over in our lane past the 100 or so cars waiting on the other side to go through.  It was as if God had parted the road construction and we passed through!

I couldn't believe we were allowed through while all the other cars and trucks had to wait. Yes, we made it to the train in time and had a great visit to Machu Picchu.  This was a miracle and God had shown me that He was in charge of all things. Yes, our fate rested on the man who held the alto sign, but I can't help think that God had something to do with changing the road-keepers mind.

I felt like Peter, who denied Christ three times. I had done a wonderful job of sharing the Gospel during our mission but when the mission ended, my missional mindset ended also. I did what so many of us do, compartmentalize my faith. Instead of living for Christ 24-7, I put Him on the shelf when I needed Him most. I missed an opportunity to share Christ, to pray with the team and experience God's power and answer to a prayer.

God reminded me that His mission and purpose in our lives is not a once a year thing, a mission trip or a Sunday morning event. It should be an on-going approach to living. When we are in tune with God on an every moment basis, then we should be able to respond whenever He calls, not just the programed times of our lives.

For some great ideas and practical tips on living missionally, go to

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