This past summer, when Joel invited me to come down to serve and worship with the Nehemiah Teams returning from their overseas assignments, I thought this would be a great opportunity to see exactly what this ministry is all about. It was a missions opportunity for us, from Green Street, to help provide meals for those returning from the field, as well as their mentors and leaders.
Jeanne, who went in advance, looked at the resources provided, planned the three meals we were to prepare and got us organized. What I viewed as a learning opportunity and a chance to serve turned out to be more than I could have envisioned as God showed His presence through His work in the lives of these young people.
We arrived mid-afternoon on a Monday. After getting a bite to eat, we went to the camp to look at our work area and also to worship with them that evening. Worship was in what they referred to as the circus tent which was also the drop-off point for those returning from their assigned mission fields. As van after van rolled up, I watched as weary and tired twenty-somethings exited their vehicles. Some were dressed in the attire of the lands they had been serving in, others looked like typical students dressed in t-shirts, pants, leggings, ball caps, bandanas, tennis shoes, and sandals.
As I stood there, viewing this group with the messy hair and the fatigued faces, I wondered what they might be thinking, processing about their experiences. Was it the greatest experience of their lives? Was it worth it? Would they be willing to not only go again, but commit to the mission field?
It didn’t take long for those questions to be answered. As worship began that night and over the next few days, I witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit in this gathering of young people. God’s presence was greatly evident in their worship and in the experiences they shared during the debriefings that we were so graciously allowed to be a part of. Person after person who spoke, talked of their initial excitement that often turned into a harsh reality of what it means to follow Christ and make disciples of all nations. Their stories included the things we commonly hear about on mission trips; language barriers, cultural differences, strange foods, bathroom woes and other humorous events. They also included thwarted plans, sickness, political opposition, wrecked vehicles, false accusations, and discouragement which
sometimes led them to question whether or not God called them to go.
In these experiences of taking the Gospel to the nations, they experienced God unlike they ever had before.
The thread woven throughout their experiences, though in different lands, was prayer.
Time and time again they shared how they were driven to prayer. Through this they saw how they needed to place their total dependence on God and through that, the power of Christ was displayed continuously as they ministered in His name.
So often we, in the church, as in business, measure success in numerical values. It does have its place. The last night we were there, it appeared that over 60% of those asked committed to full time missions, which is awesome. But in a time where we often refer to our nation and our younger generation as being post-Christian, the “success” I see is that God is still working mightily, especially in our younger generations.
Whether we are able to physically go or not, we can be a part of missions. Like these Nehemiah Teams learned and so reminded me, it starts with the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer.
So to answer my earlier question of "was it worth it"? Without a doubt and not just for those students on the Nehemiah Teams. The thread woven is prayer.
Today is Sunday, December 1 which is the start to the week of prayer for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. We ask that you pray with us (click here for the guide) but also include our missionary families (both national and international) as well as Green Street Baptist Church - our surrendering to God's mission of making disciples and loving Him and our neighbors.