I am currently on a short-term missions trip to an English Teaching camp in Germany! Each day a team member writes about his or her experience and today is my day! So here are my thoughts:
Phrases like, Auf Wiedersehen! See ya! Tschüss! Ciao! and Have a great summer! were repeated over 100 times as we said goodbye to both campers and fellow staff workers this hot July afternoon. Mixed emotions of relief of the season of relaxation to come and remorse over the season of investment we would leave behind flooded each one of us in the team. After sending off the teens with our contact information, and final encouragements to be in the Word, we ate lunch, praised God for the week, and headed to the nearest little town for some celebratory ice cream.
After dinner back at camp we had a meeting where each of us shared some of our most memorable moments at Neues Leben, and some of the biggest lesson God has taught us through this trip. I was so encouraged and impressed by all that God has been teaching the members of this team. They are amazing, god-fearing, delightful young people. Probably the most exciting thing to me is that through this camp ministry and the trials and blessings that came with it, God has stirred in each of our hearts (among many things) a renewed passion for knowing and defending the gospel. I know that I (and many of us on the team) far too often take the gospel and its truths for granted. I belittle it in my life and don’t realize or utilize the enormous power it should have in helping me to die to myself. I wasn’t focusing on the power of the gospel- until God started using circumstances at this camp to refocus my heart on its incredible, undeniable, grace-centered, Scripture-soaked, truth based on the person and work of Jesus Christ. I know I need the reminder of the power of the gospel in my life. Not just for my own spirit and joy in freedom, but also so that I am able to properly present it to others when God brings those opportunities.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-7 “ For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.”
This week we each have been challenged with questions of what is simply preference in worship or word choice in teaching, and when is it much more serious than that and in need of rebuke? These were the questions that were most encouraging to wrestle through, because it made us look to the Scriptures for answers. Our dear supporters, I just want to say how proud you would be of each of these team members. They were quick to defend and focus on the beauty and necessity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and gracious in the way they processed and approached things.
May this be an encouragement to you to take time TODAY to reexamine your understanding of the gospel in your life. It has almost become a buzzword in our society. So stop and think. First, do you KNOW the gospel? One easy way to find out if you do know-try sharing it with someone today. Even if it is someone who already knows it! Practice verbally teaching the gospel. Secondly, does the gospel CHANGE you? Does it make a difference in your life or are you still relying on your own power or your own good works or how you feel to make you righteous or close to God? What does it mean in your life?
For the Team,