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FIRST-PERSON: Don’t lose the ‘I’ in missions

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–When our son, Matthew, was a preschooler, he loved to go to Mission Friends on Wednesday evenings at our church. Following prayer meeting one week, he came to his pastor’s office (who happened to be his father) proudly carrying a puzzle he had created.

As he assembled it on Larry’s desk, he became quite upset. Trying to finish the puzzle without much success, Matthew finally told Larry the puzzle was not complete. Somewhere along the way, he had dropped the “i” out of missions.

Out of the mouths of our children often come significant truths.

If we lose the “I” out of missions, we just have another program that people can opt in and out of at will. Missions is not a program; it has been a part of God’s heart from the beginning of the ages, as He sought to restore fellowship with His people. From the call of Abraham in the Old Testament to Jesus’ parting words to His followers to go and tell the Good News, missions is living a Christ-like life.

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What does the “I” in missions mean to you? For me, the “I” dictates that I grow in my knowledge and understanding of the world and its people. I am personally responsible for developing my view of the world in a way that reflects the heart of God.

The “I” in missions also means I am responsible for those I pray for and how I pray. If my prayers are always focused on my needs, the needs of my family or the concerns of my church, then I have left the “I” out of missions. God desires that out of my relationship with Him, my knowledge of the needs of the world and my personal experiences in serving Him, I lift up those around the world who are lost and those who have committed themselves to serve sacrificially.

The “I” in missions also means I am personally responsible for giving of my financial resources so God’s message can go forward in the world. Stewardship of all that we have and are is a biblical principle that all followers of Christ must commit to each day. To learn about the needs of others and pray about them — but do nothing toward providing the resources needed to accomplish God’s work — allows the “I” in missions to be lost.

So I will ask the question once again. What does the “I” in missions mean to you?

As we enter this focused season of prayer and giving for a world desperately in need of a personal relationship with Christ, what will you do to educate yourself about the needs of the people around the world? How will you pray? What will you give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions?

Matthew understood at an early age that if we lose the “I” out of missions, we have missed the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Missions is personal, and the mission call is from God’s heart to each of ours.
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Wanda Lee is executive director/treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union, SBC.

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