Another successful conference is behind us. Last week we had the honor of hosting missionaries Jeremy and Rebekah Hall and family to South Africa, Tyler and Lydia Ellis to Canada, Ryan and Rebecca Beachy and family to Mexico, Brett and Jenny Hoffman to New Zealand, and Eddie and Sarah Ziss and family to the Philippines. Additionally, Bro. Barry and Bro. Bruce also made a return to our church to deliver the evening sermons. As a reminder, the services are archived on the church's Youtube channel here if you missed a day.
I Love Missions Conference
Of all the events we hold, Missions Conference is my favorite. Say what you want about VBS, Homecoming, Trunk-of-Treats or any other, all fabulous outreach programs in their own right, but our commitment to missions is part of the reason I see Fellowship as home and can't imagine attending church anywhere else. Personally, the Conference is such a huge shot in the arm of spiritual strength and tranquility.
It Felt Like Revival
There are many churches that host regular "Revivals" for their congregations. This idea only confuses me. I find it hard to believe that you could schedule a revival in your church. Not to say the practice is inherently wrong; after all, how could putting out a call to your congregation for greater devotion be wrong? But, as I understand it, revival is something done on God's time. Even though we can't light that spark ourselves, our Missions Conference certainly provides all the necessary kindling.
God uses his people as relays for the Spirit, even those of us who would consider ourselves infant Christians, so that it spreads into the lives of those He has brought them to. Our missionaries are a clear example of making that duty our life's purpose. As such, God builds them up in such away to allow for the clear broadcast of His Spirit, uninterrupted and free of static. All this is to say: last week, we were the beneficiaries of that unimpeded flow of the spirit. I thank God for his mercy in bringing us the opportunity. The benefit isn't entirely ours however.
"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17
The life of a missionary family is a unique one; the travel, the cultural barriers, the deputation. All of these things make finding sympathetic ears a difficult task. Remember, missionaries have limited composure just like the rest of us and the stresses of such a life wears on them. One of the benefits of our Missions Conference is allowing our missionaries that all-important, face-to-face interaction with each other to seek council from someone more senior or bond over shared experiences. Their children as well get to spend time with other missionary children who understand the difficulty of a life lived on the move. I pray that each of our visitors left feeling truly refreshed and revived as we did.
May we never stop supporting missionaries. In my recent wanderings I've visited other churches, some of them with massive campuses and others with numerous well-crafted programs for their congregations but I've been hard pressed to find any mention of missions as part of their commitments. Please don't tell me that missions are "a Baptist thing" because God's word says otherwise. To borrow a common analogy; There are two kinds of Christians in the world, the ones that go and the ones that pave the way.
A common factor in God's creation is the emphasis on certain components in a system being different but equal. We see this as early as creation itself with Adam and Eve, equal as created in God's image but different in responsibility given, forming the basis of the marriage system. What that means for us is that, even though we may not be called to go, we're always called to give. A missionary without a sponsor is less effective in ministry and, likewise, so is a church without an outreach. It's all about that relay I mentioned before, that conduit within each of us for the Spirit to move through us.
Well that's enough from me. To follow our missionaries on their journeys please read their prayer letters available right here on the church blog. Ever since I began posting them I've had the honor of reading every single one and I can tell you it's a real blessing to see how our support is impacting people around the world. Thank you to those of you who offered our visitors room and board while they were here and, of course, a big thank you to Kathy and the kitchen staff who made dinner and enabled us to fellowship during the week. Last but not least, thank you to Jimmy, our lovely choir and those of you who attended the services either in person or online. Let's look forward to next year with anticipation.