We recently had a meeting with our pastor about our focus for global missions at our church during 2007 (we head it up). We want to challenge our congregation to realize that we are all supposed to play some role in missions. The progression of our discussion (and the thoughts in my head) went something like this.1. Challenge: Where is your heart? While we are not all called to sell everything we have and give it to the poor, it is still a good exercise to reflect upon whether or not we would be willing to do so. When my husband and I were considering becoming vocational missionaries, I realized that my heart was clutching quite a few material possessions. I kept asking God questions like “but do you really want me to give that up? It’s been in the family for a long time. Maybe I could just store it somewhere.” I realized I was much more materialistic than I ever thought, and drew closer to God as a result. Issuing this as a challenge may involve asking everyone to give something up for a short period of time – basically, fasting.
While this is a worthwhile challenge, it is somewhat negatively focused. And I feel like it’s something done often enough that it may not have the impact on mindsets that we hope to have.
2. Challenge: Evalute your resources and consider how you can make the most of every opportunity. God has blessed all of us – particularly as Westerners – with so much. How can we see ourselves as stewards, rather than owners? As a result, we will view our possessions in a different light and hopefully consider how we can use them to spread God’s glory.
I really liked this idea, but I walked away thinking about how we need to be on the lookout for opportunities and make the most of them when they occur. Kind of the idea of asking myself, is that opportunity knocking?
As I have pondered over this in the days since the meeting, I’ve begun to see it a little differently.
3. Challenge: How do I create opportunities with the possessions God has entrusted to me? Rather than being somewhat passive, and waiting for opportunity to knock, I need to be actively seeking opportunities.
Sometimes it will be as simple as being aware of the potential I have (the gifts, relationships and physical blessings God has given me) and seeking opportunities to use them. For example, a friend of ours was visiting with a couple in their church several years ago and sharing their heart for Africa. That couple knew of another couple involved in Africa, and rather than just saying “oh, you should meet so and so” or even “here’s their contact information”, they said “you need to meet our friends. we would like you to come over for dinner sometime and we’ll invite them.” They used their relationship and their home to make a connection that opened many doors.
Sometimes it may be more work in actually creating those opportunities. Like it may be realizing you have a big Suburban and finding out if there is anyone who wants to go to church but needs a ride. Or you have a nice camera and photo printer, and you volunteer to take family photos to go along with the Angel Tree gifts.
Anyway, I’ve just been pondering the fact that opening the door for opportunity doesn’t just mean when it’s already knocking. Sometimes it’s more like opening the door when opportunity isn’t there yet and leaving it open so it can just come right in.
Photo: Street children in Kigali, Rwanda, 2004