Circumstances and experiences – like mission trips – mold us.
Other influences are our behavior, education, and genetics – all creating our personality—but the circumstances of our lives really send lessons home in our hearts and minds.
I recently learned again how the work at FH ministers to others.
I was sitting in church last Sunday hearing my pastor preach on Romans 8. Suffering is a theme in verses 16-18:
The Spirit [of God] Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
We all have (or will have) suffering. Our parents all die, usually but not always before we do. Friends, neighbors and co-workers have car accidents or come down with dreaded diseases. If you’ve ever been on mission trips, your heart may break over what you see.
Sometimes prayer times among Christians become a nearly overwhelming litany of things gone wrong. Instead of comfort, the chorus of prayer becomes a dirge of discouragement.
I feel sorry for the Apostle Paul. He had to prove (and then write about) how to overcome suffering.
That meant he had medical problems, was thrown in jail, got shipwrecked (his equivalent of a bad car wreck), was beaten up by strangers and had some fellow Christians say nasty things about him.
That was a bad assignment from God, don’t you suppose?
But he did it splendidly, right up through martyrdom. We draw much wisdom and strength from his pointing the way. It empowers and motivates us to do the same.
Christians in developing countries juggle many challenges. Food, shelter, transportation, employment, bad governments, violence, family relationships and disease—they have it in great magnitude.
They teach us Romans 8. What Paul writes about, they live out.
So if you’re ever visiting the Global South on a mission trips with FH, and you have plans to make an impact. Remember that there is plenty for you to receive from your brothers and sisters in FH communities. Praise God for the opportunity to see Romans 8 in real life—the lessons of Paul before our eyes.