John Murchison is our special guest on today’s podcast as we discuss how more and more churches are joining the missional movement, intentionally focusing on people over programs and on reaching those not already attending the church. Chuck and John discuss how a program-driven ministry like children’s ministry can thrive in a missional church, and how kids are an asset, not a hindrance, to the missional movement.
I love missions. It’s been an important part of my life for many years. I have had the privilege of going with teams to serve in places like Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, and New Orleans In the U.S. I’ve also gone with teams to other countries like Mexico, Moldova, and Brazil. This past May I had the unique opportunity to serve my own community in Nashville after my beloved city suffered a once in a lifetime flood. It’s hard for me to explain the joy I find in going to places where the Lord leads me to go and in caring for those He sends me to love. I see Jesus in the faces of these people and in a crazy sort of way I always go home feeling that I have received much more than I have given. To be able to be the hands and feet of Christ to those in need . . . well it just doesn’t get much better than that for me.
Well, that’s what I thought until I had the chance to take my two nieces with me on a mission trip to Brazil last June. Alexi and Laine were 13 and 8 at the time. And watching them take in the Amazon and serve it’s amazing people was the joy of a lifetime. I got to see their world grow much bigger during that 10 day trip. I was able to watch them catch a bigger vision of who God is and just how wide and deep His love is. They were able to see poverty for the first time and begin to understand and appreciate all they have been given.
My nieces jumped right in to the work the mission team was doing. We worked with an organization called Ray of Hope in Brazil. (http://www.rayofhopeamazon.com/). We lived on a boat for the week and slept in hammocks. We did Vacation Bible School activities with different villages along the Amazon River. We fed everyone we met, were able to distribute waterproof New Testaments in Portuguese, and provided food bags to the neediest families that we encountered insuring that they would have food for at least a month. Alexi is a great soccer player and she and her dad led all of our recreation activities with the children in the villages. Laine loved being in charge of face painting with the children. Both of the girls were involved in skits that helped us tell the Bible story of the day.
It was a great experience for the girls and for my sister and brother-in-law. We made the trip (in June) a big part of our Christmas presents to the girls. In doing so we gave them much more than a trip. We gave them a life-changing experience that they will never forget. It is something I pray that the Lord will use to mold their hearts and their passions as they grow older. I hope He will give them the same love for missions that He has instilled in me and that they will continue to love God and serve Him by loving others wherever He calls them to go.