I was just reading about a guy in Philippians 2:25 named Epaphroditus. He was a servant leader, an ordinary guy that sat in a pew on Sunday but he was asked to go and minister to the apostle Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome for preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Epaphroditus almost died while on this mission trip, he got sick, maybe he ate some lousy hummus or a bad falafel, but Paul wrote that “he nearly died for the work of Christ,” risked “his life” to serve others.
Why don’t we see this in the church today? Maybe because we only attend weekly services on average about 2 times per month. With that kind of commitment who would ask us to go on a mission trip?
I attend a lot of committee meetings (I’m Baptist minister, what else would I do all day). Yesterday in the 3 meetings I was a part of we discussed: Drainage issues at the parsonage, problems with the new copier, sump pumps, personnel issues, choir leaders that won’t be leading at choir because they will be at state athletic events, scheduling of children’s choirs to “perform” on a Sunday morning (I thought it was about worship, guess I was wrong), deacons that are scheduled to serve (it’s what deacons do) but have to work, end of the year children’s parties, blah, blah, blah. Nothing about making disciples (the mandate given to the church by Jesus, Matthew 28:19 & 20), nothing about mission trips, risking our lives, making sacrifices, eating bad bean dip, getting sick and almost dying for Jesus. Am I not getting invited to those meetings? Are they secret?
We have twin boys that attend our church every time the doors are open, they are in junior high, a couple of really nice young men. Their mother just lost her job as the manager of the local Subway.
We are about to launch a food pantry ministry which is great, I love it, I’m glad to be a part of it, but as I left the church council meeting, I heard someone say how this single mom could come and get some groceries while she is unemployed. Yes, she can - the only problem is that you can only get groceries from the food pantry once a month and we only give away a grocery sack at a time. That’s going to last about a day. Good luck with that single mom.
I’m shaking my head as I write this - when is the church going to get it. Our job is to help this mother and her boys - I mean really help! Help until it hurts and costs us something, maybe until we nearly die (at least think we are dying).
If you are going to Rome on a mission trip, hit me up, I’m ready to go. I’ve had all my shots, I have a passport, and I don’t like pita bread, so I think I will be safe.
Go and risk it today. Push all the spiritual chips to the middle of the table, bet it all on Jesus, you can’t lose. He told me to tell you that.
Ken Ansell currently serves as a pastor and local missionary in small, rural Texas community. He plays lots of tennis and fly fishes when he can. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.