Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Reciprocal Blessing That Took My Breath Away

If you read the blog yesterday, you know that I start missionary orientation and training with Global Outreach on Monday (two days from now). 

I pondered that blog post for weeks. What was most important to say? How could I communicate the certainty of following God into such an uncertain position? I struggled. I emailed people at Global for suggestions. 

Rory Tyer suggested I tell about the "reciprocal blessings" I'd experienced so far. I couldn't fit it all in yesterday, so I'm sharing them today.

I love that phrase. Reciprocal blessings. That's how it's been, although it seems to me that the blessings have been all mine. 

When I volunteered in the prayer room at the Global Outreach missions conference, I met missionaries from around the world who are using incredibly creative ways to share the gospel in places that would otherwise be closed to Christ. Dance studios. Art galleries. The possibilities were endless, and they prompted me to consider ways I could become more creative in sharing Christ, too.

Months ago, Rory asked me to help with a project he'd been pondering. Global considers saying thank you a vital part of their partnership with donors, but they wanted to do more. They wanted someone to help call those who had partnered financially with their missionaries and "give back" by offering to pray for their needs. They wanted to make it clear that they weren't asking for anything. 

It was a "sacrifice of thanksgiving", but I didn't see that at the time. I said no. Well, that wasn't the word I used, but it was the word in my heart. There was no way I was going to call a stranger and try to talk to them. No matter how much prayer we were going to offer.

It took considerable work in my heart to trust enough to try it. When I did, the experience nearly blew my socks off. 

I spent a week's worth of mornings making calls and praying with good people who love Jesus and help with His mission. I was awkward and probably sounded like a telemarketer, but I learned as I went along. 

The needs were incredible. New jobs. Personal illness. Impending biopsies. Family problems. Prodigal children. More than once, my call came just at the right time. We had church on the phone as we wept and prayed together. 

Some days, it was all I could do to speak aloud through my tears. As I prayed with strangers, I came to see them as family I hadn't met yet. 

One morning, I announced, "I'm not going to cry today." I was wrong, but it was the sweetest morning ever. One older lady said, "Wow. This is a God-moment for me." It was a God-moment for me, too.

The experience showed me how hungry people are for someone to care about their deepest needs. It made me more open, more ready to reach out to those I don't know yet. 

The Home Office seemed like a big, intimidating place to me, full of professionals who know far more about sharing Christ than I ever will. I wasn't sure this silver-haired woman from a tiny Mississippi town would fit in. They had gone around the world to share Christ. All I had done was send out stories from the comfort of my home.

As I sat around the table with the staff at morning devotions, I found people who loved Jesus, just like me. People with needs and concerns no less than my own. People who loved me first and made it easy to love them back. They welcomed me with open arms. Included me. By the end of the week, I wanted to be just like them.

I'm not sure how much I've blessed Global, but the blessings I've received already have been more than I ever expected. It's one of the reasons I'm excited about what comes next. 

I know not every moment will be joy and gladness, but last week, there were moments that took my breath away. I want more of those, and I believe I'll have them.

I'm telling you all this to say that you don't have to be "special" to share the love of Jesus with people who need Him. You just have to be willing. 

Not everyone can dance or draw or paint. Not everyone can orchestrate complex travel schedules or manage the finances of a major ministry. Not everyone can travel to the most remote places on the globe, but we can all do something. And we should.

Today, think about the gifts God has placed in you. How can He use them to help a hurting world? Why not open your hands and place those gifts in the Hand of The One who gave them to you. Be the hands and feet of Jesus and let Him change the world through you.

The "reciprocal blessing" you receive might just take your breath away. 

"...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35 esv
Tomorrow, my good friend, Freda Bush will be our guest blogger. She's written about her involvement in a ministry that's been quietly making a difference for two decades. It's one worth knowing about. Be sure to watch for her article.

In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: My Ever-changing Life is About To Change Again

Here's the link to the worldwide prayer guide: The Prayer List 

#moreblessedtogive #reciprocalblessing #globaloutreach