double blessing

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So far, I have had two opportunities to publically share about my recent trip to India and Thailand.  First, our home church has a missions team which prays for and field’s requests for the church to support mission projects.  We met on a Sunday afternoon, and I shared a presentation about the trip.  Hearing from someone who has been on the field is not as good as going yourself, but it is better than nothing.

The team members heard the “low down” from me – both the positive and negative.  We should never be afraid of giving people the whole truth.  Believers are already committed to spreading the gospel.  They know that sometimes it falls on hard ground, and sometimes it falls on receptive ground.  Telling it like it is allows them to praise joyfully, and to pray responsibly.

My second opportunity came for a campus ministry (AGAPE Christian Fellowship) at William & Mary college.  Penny and I meet with this organization when they have their weekly “large group” for worship and prayer on Friday nights.  The president of ACF asked me to share last Friday night.

•“encourage each other and build each other up” 1 Thess. 5:11

That was my theme.  I shared that the primary goal of my trip to both countries was to encourage the workers there.  I told about some of the things about both fields that made gospel work difficult, so that the students could get a better idea how to pray for those workers.  I also shared how many of those workers encouraged me by their determination to take the gospel to less receptive, and often resistant people.  I was encouraged that the workers in India and Thailand faced obstacles and opposition, but kept persevering in the work.

I went on to share that God has built into our lives ways for us to encourage others.  Some of those ways are…

•Testimonies.  People want to know how the Holy Spirit works in other people’s lives.  Hearing my testimony may embolden someone to answer God’s call.  If people do not hear my testimony, they might assume that the LORD is not as important to me as he is.

•Friendships.  God gives us friends for a reason.  They are not cosmic accidents.  Each of my true friends is a gift from him, given for the purpose of building me up, and I am in their lives for the same reason.

•Prayer.  Prayer itself does not really change things.  That is just a cliché that some people like to say and others like to hear.  But God does change things, and he often invites us to be part of the change by praying.  Our prayers encourage those we pray for, and their answers encourage us.  A life without prayer can be a discouraging thing.

•Gathering together.  When the author of Hebrews commanded that his readers continue to gather together, it was for the purpose of encouraging one another (10:25).  It’s not about ticking our names off the list.  It’s about ministering to one another.  When we are not there, our ministry is missing.

Short-term missions trips can be a double blessing.  You can bless those you visit by reminding them that there are people praying for them on the other side of the world.  When you get back, you can be a blessing to the people here by telling them of the courage and faith of the believers there.

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