According to I Corinthians, there are three things that remain:
The past few days have given me many reasons for hope. And it is all connected to students and student leaders! Let me start with my visit to Samford University in Birmingham.
Hope: Seminary Students
Our son-in-law is a student at Beeson Divinity School (@ Samford). More than once he had mentioned a weekly student luncheon. The focus of the time is missions. The seminary faculty arranges speakers to share various mission opportunities. I thought the mission speaker did a great job, but that was not the most impressive thing.
I’ve spent my time on a seminary campus. Could I just say every event is not met with the same level of enthusiasm by all seminary students? There is an ideal world and there is the one we live in! The most amazing part of the luncheon I attended was the large number of students present and engaged. Their presence was testimony to two things. First, to the great work done by their professors to build a heart for missions in students. Second, their own desire to engage with mission opportunities. You see, unlike some seminary gatherings, this one was not a required meeting yet the overflow room was needed! I find great hope in that.
Hope: Jackson County Students
We live in Scottsboro, AL. It’s the county seat of Jackson County. This weekend several area churches combined their efforts for a big Disciple Now weekend. If you know about those things, a DNow weekend needs a mission project. One of the youth pastors called me some time ago and asked if the students could help with a ROW mission project. Of course I said, YES!
Saturday, right after lunch, I got to speak to the students. I asked them what they were doing to take the Gospel to the world. I told them I had asked that same question to a room full of pastors last year. Those pastors live in the Dominican Republic, in or near the town of Samana. The pastors didn’t have a good answer to my question. They were faithfully doing local ministry. They admitted they weren’t doing much about the rest of the world because they did not serve wealthy churches or wealthy people. Economic circumstances prevented them from going, so that aspect of the Lord’s command to His church wasn’t really on their radar screens. Then something else happened!
There was cruise ship out in Samana Bay. Why? Samana Bay is where humpback whales migrate to birth their calves. From late February to early April Samana is the place to be for whale watching. I directed the pastors’ attention to the cruise ship. Then I said:
You don’t have to go to the world; the world comes to you! What are you doing about it?
That was a major Aha! moment. They got it. The questions came in rapid-fire succession. We did a little brainstorming about how to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity they have. That was last June. Did I know about the DNow in Scottsboro? No. But God knew. And here is how all that goes together.
The students made gift bags. Those bags will be taken to Samana. Shop keepers (believers in Samana) will be able to give these bags away as tourists come off the boats. We don’t have thousands of bags, but we have enough to get started and to teach church members how to help. They can make more give away items. And what does the bag have to do with the Gospel?
Every student had a job when it came to assembling the bags. Some passed out items to go in the bags. Others carried a bag around the loop, making sure it got filled. Other students wrote cards to go in each bag. In five languages, each card says, Jesus loves you. When the bags were filled, they were put on a table where the prayer team was seated or standing. Prayer was offered for every bag we will take to Samana.
Remember my question to the students? They weren’t full of answers when I asked what they were doing
to take the Gospel to the world. But when I explained what we would do, they were eager to help. I explained to them they were literally joining hands with Christians in another country for missions and evangelism. In all probability, they will never meet the people they are equipping. They aren’t likely to see or know those who will believe because of their efforts. That changes nothing. These students engaged with others for the sake of the Gospel.
Now, those bags contain a copy of John’s Gospel. Most of the tourists will be from European countries that can accurately be defined as post-Christian. Will you allow the actions of these students to encourage you? Will you pray for the spread of the Gospel through ROW’s efforts in Samana?
Now there remains these three: faith, hope and love. Love enough to pray so others can find faith and hope!