Friday, July 26, 2013

To the Least of These

With God granting me the privilege of being intern at Central Baptist Church in Springhill, LA, for the second summer in a row came the honor of attending the annual mission trip to New Orleans. Last summer was my first summer being able to attend the trip and God opened my eyes to so many things in my life. I knew that He would be faithful to do so again.

Before we departed for the trip, I was in constant prayer that the youth's eyes would be opened, that they would become selfless and realize that they're living for more than just themselves, for more than just the moment. There is far more to life than a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friendship, or a vacation. In the grand scheme of life, those things don't matter. What matters is that God is glorified through our lives. Material things will pass away. If we find our identities in these things, we too will pass away. Identity in Christ is eternal.

My mindset at the start of the week was that I was going to love on kids and that by our being there, the kids were going to be effected in a way that would show them Christ. This happened, but the missionaries were also shown Christ through the kids.

Jesus says in Luke 18:16-17 "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." To receive something as a child does would be to be overwhelmed with joy. I remember when I was a little kid, any present I received was  "just what I always wanted!"

How often do we let the ways of this world hinder how we spread the Gospel? Or how often do we let it get us down? If your answer is anything like mine, it's far too often. Yes, unlike a child, adults have responsibilities that weigh them down. How much lighter would those responsibilities feel if you began each day with a quiet time?

I'll be the first one to admit that I'm not very consistent when it comes to quiet times. I usually do them every day, but at sporadic times. One day it will be in the morning, one right before I go to bed, one day it's whenever I can squeeze it in between activities during the day. I've been in ruts where I wouldn't have a quiet time for maybe weeks on end. Worst weeks of my life.

If you claim Christianity, you should know that the Bible calls us to live out the Word of God. If we aren't in the Word daily, how would we know how to live it out?

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1-2, 15 "therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [15] Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise." Working with youth, and having just been in their shoes two years ago, I know that this is one of the most difficult things to grasp as a teenager. In a world where it's all about social status, who's dating who, what brand name you wear, and what sports you play, it's hard to stay focused on the one thing that matters: Christ.

No matter what situation one is in, there is always someone who has it infinitely times worse. Those in attendance on the mission trip were able to witness this first hand. Some of the places we canvased, some of the places we passed while in the French Quarter...they were unfathomable. It breaks my heart to see someone in the conditions some of the people in New Orleans are in. The state of being which some grown adults were in, to be so uncaring as to walk around during the middle of the day drunk out of their minds.... Those who don't know Jesus break my heart. The state of our society breaks my heart. If it breaks mine, I know it breaks God's.

One of the first little girls that came up to our site on Monday was the perfect example of coming to Christ as a child. She was probably about 10-years-old. She's been a faithful participant in our program the past few years from what I've heard. We were talking to her as we were walking toward the community room of their apartment complex. When asked what she looked forward to most, I expected that she would say the cookies and Kool-Aid or getting to have fun with all of her friends. Instead, she blew my mind. She said "getting to learn more about Jesus."

We are the children of God! As children of God, shouldn't we always be eager to learn about our Father, to spend quality time with our Father? 1 John 3:1-3 says this: "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared' but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure."

So often we take for granted the freedom of learning about Christ, or having a church on every corner. A lot of places don't have that. In several countries all over the world, reading the Bible or being a Christian is illegal. Sure, it's "not cool" to be a Christian in the USA, but we won't die for least not yet. A lot of people claim Christianity because it is what is expected of them or because they think if they claim it, they can do whatever they want and still avoid hell when they die. How many of them would claim Christianity if they lived somewhere where it was illegal?

Missions is where my heart is. I yearn to reach those unreached people groups with the Gospel. I crave to see joy fill someone when they hear of Jesus for the first time. I thrive even for those moments of getting turned down, getting a door slammed in my face as I did in New Orleans, just because I know that God is faithful. This mission trip has reaffirmed my heart for missions and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Phillip Carroll always tells us that there will be a kid that will become yours for the week, that will steal your heart from the first moment. There was definitely that. My kid's name was Envi.
Throughout the week, we laughed, made her crafts, and talked about Jesus. The first time I walked her home, when I left I told her I loved her and got no response. The next day, she comes through the door and gives me a hug and tells me she loves me.

Friday was our last day with the kids. Right before they were to all go home, I felt God tugging on my heart. I looked at Envi and asked if we could talk for a minute before she left. Throughout the week when we would talk about Jesus, I would say a lot and she would reply with "yeah," or "I know," or "okay" for the most part. I assumed it was just because she was shy. When I began, I asked her if she could tell me who Jesus is. She said yes. So I said, "Okay, tell me." She just shook her head. I told her who Jesus is and that He loved us enough to die on the cross for everything that we do wrong. I showed her some verses in my Bible. She asked me "Why did he have to die for us?" and I told her since God is holy, He cannot stand the sight of sin. Sin separates us from God. God wants to be able to be with us, so He sent His Son Jesus to die for us so that through accepting Jesus as our Savior, we can go to Heaven."

Envi asked me how to pray and how to accept Christ.

Friday was filled with tears for me. The love and faith of a child... God is so good! He put us all on that mission trip for a reason.... to witness to others and to see God's love in return. Anyone that reads this, I just ask you to pray that the work that was started in the hearts of those in New Orleans continues. I pray that the seeds that were planted are watered. God is faithful and will continue working down there, but His people must receive Him. Thank you.

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