by Nathan Murphy, senior business major
This post adapted from a speech given in Mission Team chapel at Bob Jones University on Thursday, September 29, 2016.
I had the opportunity to spend the last two summers in Australia—first on the Bob Jones University Australia Team, and then this past summer as a pastoral intern at a church in Melbourne.
As I reflect on my experiences over those summers, I’m reminded of how John Stott describes the life of the believer:
"We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God."
That sounds good doesn’t it? It sounds super radical and spiritual and stuff. If we were scrolling through Instagram and saw this quote on an obscure picture of a mountain or a rowboat, we would probably all like it—or heart it or whatever. But how realistic is it for us to live this out?
College students have plenty of reasons to NOT go on a mission team—many of which are legitimate. For some here today, your summer ministry will be working a job to continue the education God has called you to complete.
However, the fact that we are attending a Christian college means that God has led us to invest in more than a degree. And that investment doesn’t end in May. Believe me, you will learn more during several weeks of immersive, cross-cultural ministry than you will learn the rest of the year in the classroom.
If God is stirring your heart to learn more about mission team opportunities, then all the obstacles will look small in comparison to the God we serve.
But let me warn you – a mission team is the furthest thing from a sanctified vacation. It’s not something to add to your spiritual resume. And it is certainly not like working at a camp. In a camp setting, people leave their culture to enter yours. But on a mission team, you leave your culture to enter theirs.
Cross-cultural ministry will break you. It will leave you vulnerable, and force you to examine your motives.
Going on a mission team was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But the lessons God used my time in Australia to teach me are worth more to me than the diploma I will receive when I graduate.
Father, we come before You as a student body—astonished by Your grace and ambitious for Your glory. You ask us to be broken and sacrificial in our service of your Church. And in response, we ask for the courage to GO—not where our careers take us, but where the Gospel takes us. Father, make us look small so that You can look big. Reveal the idols of our hearts that prevent us from truly loving the people You have called us to. Do whatever it takes to advance the Gospel—first in our own hearts, and then across the world. Amen.
by Matt Wells, Media Assistant
You may not have realized it, but you have a break coming up.
Fall or thanksgiving break. Christmas break. Spring break. And then of course, summer.
Now, maybe you haven’t thought much about these lately. Perhaps the burden of work or school have driven out all blessed thoughts of taking any time off. But sooner than you think, you will find yourself with weeks or months of free time.
What are you going to do with it?
Here is a challenge: spend part of your college years on a cross-cultural trip. Whether a whole summer, a couple weeks, or even a year, take the time to invest in Gospel work outside your home country.
You could probably find many excuses for rejecting such a challenge. Let me list the three most daunting:
1. I don’t have enough money.
This is very practical – and very real. Overseas trips are not cheap. Laundry money cannot cover an international flight. The pressure of college bills and life in general tends to discourage any millennial from even attempting a missions trip. Even if they could raise the money from generous friends, many still need to stay home to work to raise money for next year’s school bill.
For some, this is a valid excuse. But for many, this is an opportunity to experience firsthand the faithfulness of God.
I have taken a missions trip every summer for the past three years. Every time, I worried about funds. And every time, I have had more than enough.
It did not come without effort and sacrifice. For one summer, I had to sell my iPad to raise funds. For another, I had to use some graduation money.
God won’t magically float down money from the clouds. But through hard work, I firmly believe He will provide the funds if it is His will to go. I do not say that because I know the right words to say from Sunday school. No, I have experienced this time and time again. I know this God. He is faithful. He will provide. And I have come to know Him deeper through having to step out on faith to raise funds for these trips. It will grow and stretch you – but it is worth it.
2. I’m not called to missions.
If everyone were called to go overseas, no one would be left to win souls in America. God may not have you to serve in another culture. But part of our call to serve Christ in 21st century America is a call to cross-cultural work. It is unavoidable.
The world has come to America. And if we are to be faithful witnesses for Christ, we need to have what is called “cultural intelligence.”
Maybe you’re a business major – perfect! You need cross-cultural experience on your resume. Businesses are looking for people who know how to relate to people across international borders or with coworkers of different nationalities. It is a skill not many in the workforce have, but one that a believer can easily achieve – and should achieve!
Besides, we are all called to speak the Gospel into lives around us. We are all called to make disciples. Whether or not “missions” is your thing, the Gospel better be your thing. And you can get great experience communicating it on a short-term trip.
3. I’m too busy with other things.
Family, friends, fiancé, work obligations, summer school, other ministries – a host of needs call for your attention each summer. And it is certainly not wrong to dedicate the summer to any of these things.
But consider diversifying your summers in college. Spend a summer at home working and witnessing to family or friends. Spend a summer at a camp or some other ministry. Spend a summer ministering with a church plant.
But be sure that one of your summers is dedicated – at least in part – to cross-cultural Gospel work. Don’t fall into the trap of being busy with so many good things that you miss the main thing.
The world is waiting. Millions who do not even know the name of Jesus.
Your summer is coming. What will you do with it?
Dr. Kevin Oberlin, Global Connections Coordinator
Jonah, a book that foreshadows New Testament evangelism, is a favorite among God’s people. Maybe that’s because the book demonstrates not only God’s sovereignty, but also His great mercy. In fact, these two major themes run throughout the book.
A brief survey demonstrates divine sovereignty: God appointed Jonah (1:1, 3:1), sent a wind (1:4), rescued Jonah (2:6, 9), commanded a fish (2:10), appointed a plant (4:6), appointed a worm (4:7) and sent a scorching east wind (4:8). Jonah was unable to escape God, even when he tried to flee from the Lord’s presence (1:3, 1:10). In fact, there was nowhere—not even Sheol—that God did not hear Jonah’s voice (2:2).
The second major theme is God’s mercy or compassion. Jonah knew that God is “gracious and compassionate…slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindess, and one who relents concerning calamity” (4:2, NASB). If Jonah knew this about God, why was he so resistant? After all, God not only spared the mariners (1:14) and the city of Nineveh (3:10), but also Jonah himself (1:17)!
The climax of the narrative for Jonah was not when God spared his life, but when He mercifully revealed to the wayward missionary his depraved way (4:10-11). By his own bitterness, Jonah demonstrated that he himself deserved judgment. After all, chosen people are no less culpable for their rebellion. Jonah didn’t deserve mercy. To him, mercy was good when it involved his own lot, but not Nineveh, a huge city filled with “more than 120,000 persons who [did] not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals” (4:11).
The lesson Jonah learned is for all of God’s people—for you and for me. We can easily take the tender mercies of a sovereign God for granted by claiming exclusive rights to what God Himself initiated. Jonah must have learned the lesson, because he wrote of his own failures for Israel’s (and our) benefit.
How is God teaching you of His sovereignty and compassion for all people? It is so easy for any believer to take God’s sovereign mercies for granted. Believers today may attempt to claim exclusive rights to God’s love and compassion, but we would all do much better to learn the missionary lesson from Jonah.
The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.