God is a teacher. He is always showing us, teaching us, and revealing to us something about himself (Isaiah 2:3). In each and every day, God is actively at work in the lives of his people to shape us and mold us into the image of his son Jesus (Romans 8:29). But we all know that there are times in life when we are just too distracted by the things of this world to pay attention to what God is teaching us about his goodness, grace, and love. There is never a day when God is silent or absent from our lives; but there are many days when we are deaf and absent minded of his presence. Praise God for his abundant patience and love (2 Peter 3:9).
God is a teacher who never misses a moment to teach. One of the most fertile times of teaching is when we are on mission for God. Whenever we surrender to God’s command to “go and tell”, whether it be across an ocean or across the street, He will teach us something that changes our perspective and deepens our faith. In fact, to serve God faithfully demands true faith. And when we trust God in faith, he does “far more abundantly than we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), even when we don’t see the immediate results. This is why we are always so uplifted and encouraged when returning from a mission trip. We’ve seen and experienced God’s presence, knowing full well that he is at work, even if the “flower of the work” hasn’t fully bloomed (1 Corinthians 3:7).
In case you are wondering what it takes to get ready for a mission trip, the preparations go something like this: pray, plan, pray, plan some more, pray, pack, pray, travel, travel, travel, pray, work, preach, love, and pray some more in hopes that God will honor our efforts to share the gospel with those who have not heard. In the end, when all of the plans have been fulfilled and you are back in your own bed thinking about God’s faithfulness and your efforts to share his love with others, you realize what he has been teaching all along. So, here are some things God is teaching me because of our trip to Ukraine:
1) God is always and abundantly faithful to his people, the church. I believe God is truly faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). I know God is faithful. I have personally experienced his faithfulness in my own life. But to see just how faithful he is ALL of his people is incredibly encouraging. Those men, women, and children that we had an opportunity to teach, pray with, and serve alongside gave us evidence in their own testimony of God’s abiding faithfulness to his people in every part of the world.
2) The church praying together is powerful and undeniable evidence of God’s presence and grace. When believers pray together, God does mighty things (Acts 1:14). I believe that faithful prayer has sustained the church in Ukraine, and in many other parts of the world, where Christian believers have experienced terrible persecution because of their faith in Jesus. The reason God is moving in Ukraine is because the people there are faithful to pray. Even in the face of opposition and rejection, they can pray.
3) Every true believer cares about the “lost-ness” of their family members and friends. Time after time I had opportunities to speak with people who had questions and prayer concerns for others, not for themselves. Many of the conversations I had with people were about unbelieving spouses, children, and neighbors. When God has changed your life and given you a deep love for Christ, you recognize how good it is, and you want that for those you love. God showed me how he stirs in the hearts of his people a deep care about the lost condition of others (Romans 10:1)
4) Everyone needs to be encouraged. We all need to be encouraged at times (Romans 1:11-12). One of the great privileges I have when in Ukraine is to simply encourage the believers to “keep the faith.” Teaching God’s Word and reminding them of His promises goes a long way to encourage them to continue doing the work of the kingdom and trusting God by faith. What a blessing it is to be encouraged by one another and to be an encouragement to others.
5) There is a true bond between believers, regardless of differences in culture and language. Admittedly, there is a language barrier with the Ukrainians, which makes communication difficult at times. But when we are in worship with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, there is a bond that would be unexplainable if it were not for the “unspoken” bond that God gives us by the Holy Spirit’s work in each of our lives. Our fellowship has a sweetness that is unmistakable. The songs, even if we don’t know all, or any, of the words are still wonderful and uplifting. When we sang “To God be the Glory” and “When the Roll is Called up Yonder”, we sang in English and they sang in Russian, but God heard only praises. It was powerful. The body of Christ is truly 1 body, united under Christ Jesus, our head, and unified to do as he commands for the glory of God’s name.
Thank you FBC family for sending missionaries. God is faithful and he will honor his people’s obedience.