July 27, 2020
As I write this email, I am hurriedly preparing for our mission trip to Cincinnati. The day is filled with doing laundry, checking packing lists, finding air mattresses, picking up a rental van and making sure all the vehicles are gassed up. With all the scurrying around, it seems like a normal summer mission trip, but every now and then, I realize that this summer is anything but normal. We have the cloud of a pandemic over us all and we have had to take that into consideration in the midst of planning our trip.
For those who are new to Grace Point, this is the 4th year we are taking a team to Cincinnati with the express purpose of supporting Brandon and Brooke Long with their church plant in Cincinnati. Each year has looked a bit different, but the main thrust of the mission is to meet people, pray with them, share the Gospel and introduce them to the new church plant. The primary method of meeting people is door to door evangelism and walking along busy streets and starting up conversations.
With that in mind, we are still going to be following the same methodology, while at the same time, wearing masks and following safety guidelines.
Some would say that we are being foolish for going on a mission trip while we are advised to stay in place and not leave our homes. Why don’t we wait until this is all over, and then go out to the mission field?
Let me assure you, this has not been an easy decision, along with just about every decision I have had to make in the past four months as a pastor. There is no seminary course on guiding a church through a pandemic, and if there was, it would probably not be very helpful.
“But God!” I love those two words that we find scattered throughout the Bible. When we don’t know what to do, we turn to the reality and the authority of the Word of God. He has the plan to lead His church, using pastors and leaders who would simply walk in faith and listen to the Holy Spirit.
The Bible has hundreds of promises of God’s protection over His people:
Psalm 91:4-6, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.”
Psalm 121:7, “The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life;”
Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,”
Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
There are many more, and it is so encouraging to meditate on the truths of God’s Word as we pray for wisdom and direction.
One of the key factors in hearing from the Lord and discerning His purposes, is to see where the Holy Spirit is leading. We should always be looking to see what the Spirit is doing and run in that direction.
For example, we have extraordinary things happening at Grace Point over the last few months. We have prayerfully opened the doors as often as we can and faithfully proclaimed the Word and worshipped together. We have seen numbers grow exponentially as more and more people from the community come for the first time to the church in search of a community that believes and acts on the Word of God.
Two weeks ago, we held our first Kids Camp in many years and impacted over 150 people from the community. It was overwhelming to see the joy and sense of relief as families gathered in the parking lot, to share a meal and be challenged by the team of performers from GX International. The fruit of the Kids Camp was immediate, and we celebrated the baptism of 12 people the following Sunday!
Getting back to the mission trip, we have a large group of twenty people all hungry to share the Gospel message on the streets of Cincinnati. I have been reading through the Gospel of Luke in my devotions this week and came to Luke 11:33, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.”
Being the reflection of Jesus in our community is what sharing the Gospel is all about. Sadly, churches and ministries who have decided to close their doors and “hibernate”, until it all goes away (whatever that means), are missing one of the greatest opportunities for us to be the light for our communities.
This is a season of tremendous opportunity for the church to boldly declare our trust and hope in Jesus as the only way of salvation for the world. Are we being reckless? Not if we are following the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Please join me in prayer for our mission team, for our church family and for wisdom for our leadership team. I believe we have an unprecedented opportunity to reach people with the Gospel in this season of unprecedented fear and uncertainty.
In 2 Timothy 4:2 Paul exhorts young Timothy to, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
This is definitely an “out of season” moment in history, and we need to continue to do what God has called us to do as the Body of Christ.