In October I was privileged to spend 2 weeks traveling in Europe. I spent time in Amsterdam speaking at an association of Chinese churches. I was in Ireland (don’t ask how driving a manual on the “wrong” side of the road went) and England too. In England I had a couple of different meetings with kid’s ministry people in that country. I also drank copious cups of tea and ate more scones than any one person should in 3 days. I ended my trip in Spain where I spent a few days with leaders from Europe and the Middle East. My heart is full.
On the heels of traveling internationally I came across some common “themes” of ministry that are literally worldwide.
- Everyone needs volunteers. EVERYONE. Your struggle to find volunteers is not unique to you. Even Jesus had trouble finding workers to bring in the harvest (Matthew 9:37). I listened to a Christian worker in Russia the other day who told our group about the massive amount of kids lining up to be ministered to. They are lining up outside their community center and they don’t have workers to reach them. Everywhere I go people need volunteers. Here’s the beauty in that, God is on the move. We wouldn’t need volunteers if we didn’t have opportunities. Here’s the challenge, cast vision. People want to be a part of something that matters, not just filling a space on a spreadsheet. Casting vision not only engages hearts it set the direction for where you’re headed as a ministry. Cast vision.
- Everyone gets tired. I don’t care if you’re doing ministry in the beautiful city of Amsterdam or in a bombed-out city in Syria, everyone gets tired. Ministry can be exhausting. At the heart of it is people, and people can be draining. Being tired is not the problem. Not recognizing your need to rest is the problem. Everyone needs a break and it’s ok to take a break. Here’s the beauty in being tired, it means you’re working hard. Here’s the challenge, to not ignore your exhaustion and to do something about it. Take a nap, take vacation, change your pace, etc. Whatever that looks like for you, do it.
- People are hungry for Jesus. I could tell you story after story of people around the world who are hungry for Jesus. Even if they don’t know about him their souls are longing for him. Recently I watched a video of two little girls singing in Arabic a praise song to Jesus. That’s not necessarily unique but the fact that they are the daughters of a prominent Muslim activist in a country I won’t mention is unique. Their mama went to the Christian run community center, heard, the song, and taught it to her daughters. The oldest girl asked her mama if it was ok that she pray to Jesus. She was longing for him. This whole subject is beautiful. We have a God who calls to us, who pursues us, who creates a hunger for him with in us.
- Jesus still performs miracles. I have stories, so many stories to share with you. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and think that serving Jesus is mundane. Y’all, that is simply not true. The beauty is that the Jesus we serve in and out is not only working miracles around us he’s working worldwide and changing lives. Miraculously changing lives. I was led in worship this week by a young woman who attended a Bible camp in Spain. She went as a non-believer with a lot of questions. She found Jesus and now her whole family is walking with Him. Across the world Jesus is performing miraculous deeds. He is still at work. Last week I met a man working in a detention camp for Chinese citizens who are being deported back to China from Europe. His whole ministry is to these detainees. He and his team are leading them to Christ and as they are deported they go back as missionaries to their homeland. Miraculous. I am so encouraged by the God we serve. The challenge is to live more aware of the miraculous life-changing God we serve.
- Kids are the greatest age group to work with. I’m biased, I admit it. However, time and time again as I heard missionaries and workers share their stories their challenges came with the adults and their joy and “successes” came in the stories of children. They are consistently the most open to the Gospel, the easiest to build relationship with, and the often the “activator” in the story of faith in their families. The beauty is they are kids, which over and over again challenges the old paradigm of thinking. It makes us think outside the box and it makes us drop our eyes. The challenge is to love them well with no agenda. Kids are not meant to be chess pieces we move around in the Gospel story. They are meant to be loved and honored because they are created in God’s image. We love them for who they are, not for what they might do or become.
I have more, I’m sure I do! I’m currently writing this somewhere between Spain and the US. While other people on the plane are either sleeping or watching movies I’m finding myself writing. I am fired up about what God is doing globally and you should be too. We live in a big world but we are all still people and we’re not really all that different at all.