Why We do Missions

The understanding that “we are called” and “we are sent” is at the foundation of our faith. The scriptures are full of stories of persons who responded to a call and were sent on mission for God. Abraham and Sarah, our parents in the faith, met God in the desert and entered into a covenant that from that moment claimed a people dedicated to God’s mission. Isaiah had a vision of God in the Temple and heard the voice of the Lord saying “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” and Isaiah answered “Here am I, send me!” (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Jesus spent his ministry calling persons and sending them on God’s mission.  Jesus understood himself to be called and sent when he announced to his hometown synagogue in Nazareth that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Jesus summed up the Christian lifestyle in a simple formula – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30) When asked by a lawyer to explain who was his neighbor, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. The Samaritan was a good neighbor because he had compassion and was able to cross cultural and religious boundaries to help someone who was obviously hurting and in need of help. And then Jesus said, “Go and do likewise!” (Luke 10:25-37)

The New Testament instructs those who would be followers of Jesus to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless, heal the sick, care for the widows, and nurture the children. We are called, wherever we are in the world, to love all of God’s creation and to demonstrate that love with action.

Therefore, putting our faith into action is at the very heart of our Christian calling and not just something that we do in our spare time after we have reached our personal goals. Through missions every person in the church has the opportunity to serve and to live their calling and their lives more faithfully. And when we reach out in this way, using what God has given us in the service of others, we have “life-transforming” experiences.

We have discovered that when we work alongside those who are poor or oppressed, we are blessed in profound ways. As we move into different cultures and experience the reality of other contexts, we begin to live our lives with greater sensitivity, understanding, and compassion. This kind of living and understanding can be life changing and church energizing.

David Runnels
Dir. Student Ministries
First UMC, Lufkin, TX

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