How A Nation Finds its Way into Your Heart (Part 1)

How A Nation Finds its Way into Your Heart (Part 1)

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10

“…but by love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13b

Today, it is more popular than ever to take short-term missions trips into so many places. While the potential to win the masses to Christ is great, there is yet another element of missions which should be explored: this is relationship.

It is a popular thing in churches today to go on these short-term trips. This has become a viable option for the majority of us, because we cannot commit to staying for months at a time. The short-term option, though, does not mean we can’t commit to the long-term relationship with those we are called to.

Case in point: I have been going to the Philippines since 1978. In my thirteen (13) excursions, I have built long-standing relationships with many pastors, their families and their churches. There is a history. I know their names, their children’s names and can even name some in their congregations. On the flip side, they also have met my wife, Lynda, and most of our five (5) children. The same is true for Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Indonesia. We have played games together; laughed and cried together; prayed together; worshiped together; and built relationship.

The eternal purpose for taking the Gospel to the nations is to: seek and save…that none should perish! But sometimes it takes 2, 3, maybe even 4 trips into a nation just to lay a foundation of relationship for the Gospel message to be maximized. This foundation of relationship largely involves the further building of trust and finding open hearts to you and the Gospel. As this happens, more and more doors will open to meet local, regional and national leaders.

I have experienced the servant position of washing the feet of pastors; I have stood on second-story balconies with mayors of cities to celebrate their national holidays; I have stooped to help the poor, blind and unclothed; I have sat in round-table discussions with educators and decision-makers. This did not happen in one trip to a foreign land. It took a commitment to going once or twice a year for several years to find these relationships and open hearts.

Jesus’ heart was tremendously stirred by the condition of the people and culture of Jerusalem when He said, “O Jerusalem, O Jerusalem, you who kill your prophets”, further stating, “How often I would gather as a hen would gather her chicks, but you would not let Me” and “You are like sheep without a shepherd”.

In essence, Jesus was the first missionary. But the truth heart of God delivered through this Missionary was to demonstrate a willingness to identify with those He was called to (you and me… and the rest of the world). I guess identification is a major point to make here.

In my thirty-one years of preaching the Gospel, I have met plenty who use missions’ trips as a means to brag about where they’ve been and what they’ve accomplished. For those, it became a feather in their cap, or, like a gun-slinger for the Old West, notches on the gun barrel. They were not really all that interested in identifying with the people. Someday, I hope, the thought will dawn on them that Jesus was and still is all about relationship. Surely, He did the miracles just to display God’s goodness and to once and for all - capture their hearts.

When you go to these nations, you may experience an array of emotion when presented with issues, like:

Culture shock
- unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells, food, language, weather, etc.

Atmospheric conditions
(both physical and spiritual)- altitude, climate, etc.

Overwhelming Doubts
- “Why am I here?” “Do I really have anything to give?”

Please remember the basic premise from which Jesus came: He came to seek, to save and to serve. If service remains your purpose, the other challenges will quickly fade into the distance. Put your heart out there and build relationship with people. This is the beginning of answering the question: How does a Nation find its Way into Your Heart?

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