Last sunday we had the team from our church who had just returned from Sri Lanka share some of the experiences they had, and explored as a community what God is calling us into in terms of international mission.
As a church plant we have had significant impact locally in our community with projects that culminated in our church planting a community project that the church funded and 100 people from the church volunteered on that has now grown to have it's own facility, and gathers volunteers from other church and around the area we live, meeting thousands of people every year.
And we have emergent, something national that our church is very much part of. But international mission is something it has taken us time to get to as we have grown, and it has been worth the wait. As the team shared on sunday several thoughts went through my head/heart/soul.
1. The Blessing of Technology: With the blog we set up, the team posted daily what was happening, we could send hem comments, prayers, love and support, and see photos and videos. In our congregational space for we could watch videos and photos and sounds recordings together. It brought us so much closer and with more immediacy into a shared experience.
2. The Necessity of Gathering: In contrast to the luxury of consumer choice in the West, we saw and heard stories, photos and videos of christians who had lost loved ones in the Tsunami and their homes, gathered together to worship, pray, to find God. A gathering impulse that the Tsunami seems to have strengthened. In the face of adversity, people draw closer together with Jesus, they don't disperse.
3. Mission is Action: The only way to plant a church in Sri Lanka is to do ministry to the poor, and then gather around that expression for worship and exploration of Christian faith.
4. The Power of Serving: One of our team is a Doctor, and in a Buddhist area, that was hostile to Christianity, he apparently had a huge impact, not from seeing people for medical care but for when he got on his hands and knees and cleaned up the vomit from someone who was sick. The talk of the village was about a christian doctor who would lower himself to do such a thing.
5. People with so little give so much: And how in the West we have so much and give so little in comparison. We took lots of money, which I'm sure the people who received it were grateful for, and offered practical help, but the team seemed to all come back having received more than they could ever give.
I played this video, called Miniature Earth, based on a text called 'State of the Village Report', to help us get a sense of how rich we are, and how connected we are to the rest of our planet (thanks to Josh Case for link to this movie). We played it with U2's 'One" and Mary J. I wasn't prepared for the impact the movie had with our community, I thought it was good, but in the context of everything else it was outstanding.