World-Wide Communion Sunday is October 6th. Many of the articles I read are about the church around the world. In fact I keep a whole file called “The World is My Parish” That is a line that John Wesley spoke. My heart especially goes out to much of the church who undergo extreme persecution. It is more prevalent than probably most of us realize. As I read about what portions of the body of Christ go through, it makes me question some things about the church here in America.
Do we go through the motions without really experiencing God’s presence? It is amazing how the power of God is at work in the church in other parts of the world.
Do we get way too hung up on things that don’t matter nearly as much as we think? We should never be “going to church”. We need to get busy “being the church”.
Do we not tune in to the extreme persecution going on? We think we’re being persecuted when we can’t erect the church sign we want, but believers around the world are facing much more than that.
Do we consider the church in America more highly that we ought to consider it? While we used to be the country that sent out the most missionaries, now we are the largest mission field on the planet.
Do we participate too little in Bible study groups and scripture memorization? (Although I am thrilled that so far, each Sunday, every Scripture memory verse has been “adopted”.) What we need to realize is that it may be that the only Bible some people will ever be exposed to is what is stored in our head and heart.
Do we truly believe that there is great power in prayer? And if yes, why is it that “prayer meetings” have so few people who turn out to participate. It is incredible to read about the long, gut-wrenching, heart-rending prayer times that the church in other parts of the world experience. No wonder they are also seeing the power of God at work in full display.
Do we tolerate sin far too much? Much of the United Methodist Church globally takes seriously the Wesleyan concept of holiness. We in America confuse it with being “judgmental”. Yet it is God who says “be holy even as I am holy”.
Do we cultivate young pastors and missionaries enough? This one I especially need to examine. It has been a long time since I heard anyone, including myself, make an appeal for a young person to become a full time pastor or missionary.
Do we cultivate “missionaries” for short-term trips? Yes, we send our youth, and they always have adults who help. But we also need to encourage all adults to go on a short-term mission trip. One that first seeks to best understand the local needs and culture of the people being reached. And make sure the trips are about the good news of Jesus himself, not just about using His carpenter tools.
This last one is not even a question. It is a statement. We DO NOT, pray enough for missionaries.
A Prayer for Missionaries by Missio Nexus who add this: To make the prayer easy to remember, it employs words that begin with “d.” These words succinctly reference what missionaries grapple with and would love concerned prayer supporters to take to the throne of grace on a regular basis. They summarize the real life concerns encountered daily.
Lord of the harvest, protect your workers.
Shield them from: danger, disease, deceit, delusion, divisions, diversions, denial, and demonic oppression.
Keep them hopeful in times of disappointment and discouragement – those unavoidable realities that build character and faith.
Give them determination to glorify you, whatever the cost. Amen.