So we ended up in the U.S. for Christmas. For most of the 14 years we have been missionaries in Guatemala, we have celebrated it there, away from our families, so it is nice to be with relatives for a change.
As good as it was to spend time with loved ones, there was an aspect of Christmas in Guatemala that we missed, celebrating Christmas with those we serve.
We have embraced that our calling is to live a life of service, to extend to others the love, grace and compassion that our heavenly Father has extended to us.
Hosting and participating in Christmas celebrations for the orphaned, vulnerable and disabled children we serve, has been a part of our holiday tradition for so long, that not being there to do so, created a vacuum in our hearts. Two of our daughters, Vanessa 12, and Jessica 10, along with their two cousins, had been working on preparing a show for the family Christmas dinner.
A friend of ours in New Orleans heard about it, and invited them to perform at the nursing and retirement homes he was visiting and to sing Christmas carols, show love and bring Christmas cheer to the residents.
It was a wonderful experience. The people loved it! We could see the smiles and joy brought to their aged faces as the kids belted out Christmas choruses, performed their songs, held their hands and prayed for them. It truly was a wonderful thing to see.
Everyone participated, from Julia, our oldest daughter, down to Alison, 5 years old. It was a perfect way to remind our children of the true meaning of Christmas, not toys, or parties or dinner, but the celebrations of the birth of Gods son over 2000 years ago.
You see, one thing that I found in my many years of service is that we as Christians are called to LIVE in missions, reaching out in service to others, loving the least of these, helping our neighbors, and sharing the Gospel of the good news of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, is not just something that we are limited to doing 2450 miles away in Guatemala where we serve as missionaries. Neither is it something for those here at home to simply do when they go on a trip.
We must take on the proper understanding that missional living starts with a true understanding of who God is. God, by his very nature, is a “sending God” who has taken the initiative to redeem us, His creation. Because the church is comprised of the “sent” people of God, the living church, or body of believers, is the instrument of God’s mission in the world.
It is not so much that “the church has a mission” as “the mission has a church”.
Engaging in a missional lifestyle means that we see the mission as both the originating impulse and our organizing principal. It means we pattern our lives after what God did with Jesus Christ, sending him out to the world.
If we consider that as 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, we are “bought with a price”, then our lives our no longer our own to do with as we please. As Christ was sent out, so are we, and we must understand that being missional means that we go out to those that need to be served, not just expect them to come to us. Being missional represents a significant shift in the way we think about the church. Being missional means we should engage the world as Jesus did—by going out rather than just reaching out. If being missional means that we, as a church, are living IN mission, then it is a sign that we are the true church.
Living in missions is a lifestyle that we must embrace day in and day out, if we are to truly call ourselves Christians, or followers of Christ. It must be something that we live and breathe, so that when, like the Samatarian who helped a beaten, robbed and destitute man by the side of the road, we come across a someone in need, we understand that our mission is to stop and serve them.
Serving children in an orphanage in Guatemala or bringing joy and happiness to septuagenarians in a retirement home in New Orleans, all are equal demonstrations of living out the mission as all are equally loved the in God’s eyes.
Our time here, serving others in a different, yet equally important way, reinforced to me that Missions is not a trip, but a lifestyle.
*Inspiration from this article came in part from an article on www.gotquestions.org on what it means for Christians to be missional, you can see the full article here: https://www.gotquestions.org/missional.html