OUR CONNECTION MATTERS
Therefore, go and make disciples
... (Matthew 28:19a)
There was a party in Atlanta last week. Actually, it was more than a party. It was a grand celebration. The General Board of Global Ministries celebrated 200 years in mission and ministry. 200 years of sharing the good news of Jesus. 200 years of building medical clinics and homes for widows and orphans. 200 years of feeding and clothing people and visiting the sick and imprisoned. 200 years of following John Wesley’s example of caring for people holistically – mind, body, and spirit.
GBGM offers this simple explanation of the beginning: “On April 5, 1819, the Missionary Society was formed in New York City in response to the mission work of John Stewart, a freeborn African-American, among the Wyandotte Native American people in Ohio.”
There’s a lot we can learn from this statement about how we can be involved in mission and ministry today. One thing we can learn is that large endeavors often begin as small, humble events. Even the largest Live Oak tree in South Georgia grew from a very small acorn.
Are you wondering what you can do for God’s kingdom? Ask God what simple act he would like you to accomplish. Then do it. Who knows what might grow out of one simple, local, and uncomplicated act. God may be calling you to plant a seed that will grow far beyond anything you might imagine.
Another thought comes to mind. I seriously doubt John Stewart began his work with the Wyandotte people thinking, “200 years from now people will remember the work I’m doing.” Actions that are servant-oriented and start with a desire to serve God by serving others often seem humble, lowly even. Jesus set the example by washing the feet of the disciples, eating with sinners, and sharing the good news that God wants people to draw close to him with everyone who had ears to hear. We should follow his example of service to others without seeking reward or recognition, trusting that God the Father will see our loving hearts displayed in our work.
Another example we can learn from the GBGM statement is the fact that a man reached out to people who were different from him. A man of mixed African and European heritage reached out to Native American people during a time in our country when neither group was valued as human beings. It is human nature to want to remain in our comfortable setting with people we know, people who look and think like us. But God calls us to think outside our self-created boxes and reach out to everyone around us.
An old preacher once told me that if all my friends were Christians, I needed to add some new friends. In order to share the gospel, we have to be in relationship with people, and many of those people won’t look or think like we do. Step outside your comfort zone and open the door to a relationship with someone you would not normally spend time with. You might find that you’re the one drawing closer to God as you learn to love a new-found neighbor.
As we consider the 200th
anniversary of our global work in mission and ministry, remember to start small, step out of your comfort zone, and trust that any reward or recognition that comes will come from the God who knows the secrets of every heart, including yours.
Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.