But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
This post was inspired by just two words: “for us”. While we were attending a communion service in a suburb of Memphis on Sunday, the pastor highlighted these two words from the above passage, and they resonated with me. How profound they are. God showed His love “for us”. Christ died “for us”.
We live in an egocentric and introspective society. Often, “it’s all about me”. Unfortunately, our next generation (Generation Y) has narcissistic tendencies. Social media makes them become introspective and reduces interaction with others. I’m hopeful that Generation Z may be more altruistic than Generation Y as early studies show.
While eating dinner recently in Huntsville, Alabama, I chatted with a man who worked for a company that repairs airplane engines. He said that he hires young people, and he is aghast at their lack of social skills. In his interviews, he wonders to himself “Didn’t anyone tell you that what you just said was inappropriate?” He attributed this to social media which has replaced face to face conversations. They don’t think about others when they speak. The focus is on self, not others.
Even Rick Warren’s best-selling book Purpose Driven Life starts off with the famous line “It’s not about you.” In a short sentence, he conveys the principle that your purpose is not to be selfish, but to be selfless.
Christ was selfless. He gave his life for us. You and me. He didn’t do it for himself, but for others. That’s the ultimate in selflessness. As John 15:3 says, there is no greater sacrifice or expression of love than one who lays down his life for another.
We, on the other hand, tend to be selfish. We are more concerned with our circumstances, our bank account and life style. We live in an affluent fog. When I visit sub-Saharan Africa, I end up coming away with one distinct impression: our commitment to Christ in the western world is very shallow by comparison.
We have not been called to hang out in neighborhoods with Boko Haran or Al-Shabab. We have not been called to live in an extremely poor country where the average family income is less than $100 a month. For that matter, we haven’t been called to drive 3 hours on rough roads just to go 35 miles.
We haven’t been called to live in areas like northern Kenya or Tanzania where drought has existed for the past two years, and people are dying from hunger. We don’t even see appeals for humanitarian aid in our media. We have become immune to seeing the worlds’ needs, unless, of course, you have been there and have seen them for yourself.
We, at Mentor Link, are ultra-efficient with our money. We partner with indigenous and self-supporting NGO’s, churches or denominations that are already on the ground. We do that for several reasons, not the least of which is that we don’t have to overcome or understand cultural or language barriers: our partners do that for us.
We do not act as an endowment. We don’t give money. We give leaders tools like 40 Days with Jesus or our leadership training modeled on how Christ mentored his disciples. We give away our materials freely. We don’t try and monetize our resources because our audience can’t afford them.
This model, of course is different from what missions has looked like in the western world over the last century. That model involves putting a western missionary on the field in some country and support him (or her) there for several years. It is expensive, and to my way of thinking, an economically inefficient method. Our reach and breadth (we are now in over 80 countries and have trained over 70,000 pastors in just 17 years) tells me that our model is an effective and efficient model.
Having said that, I am a fan of short-term missions, less so for what those involved can do for others, but for the change in the hearts and minds of the people going on a missions trip. Over the years, I have rarely met anyone who hasn’t been changed by the experience. It’s transforming and life-changing in most cases. It might be economically inefficient, but spiritually invaluable.
The transformation includes changes to our vision. Suddenly, we see the world differently. One quickly starts thinking about others – what our actions does for others, just as Christ going to the cross was “for us”. We are told to die to self, and this is one way where we can see and feel what that looks like by being involved in missions for others. We can’t experience it at home because of our affluent culture.
Our challenge is clear which is to deepen our faith and love for others and take our eyes off ourselves and invest in others. One step would be to get involved in a short-term mission. As a mentor, you can encourage your mentee to take that step as well. They say one picture is worth a thousand words. Well, one mission trip is worth a thousand sermons in my opinion.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Mentors can encourage their protégés to go on a short-term mission trip. It will be worth the cost – both in time and money, and will teach them lessons about living for others that you cannot.
WORSHIP: Listen to Hillsong sing “Draw Me Close to You”
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