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What’s Your Status, Gladys? Setting a Course for Global Engagement
By Shane Bennett
My wife and I have a text message shorthand question to ask how things are going when we’re apart: “What’s your status, Gladys?” Neither of us is named Gladys. I just like the rhyme. And I’m hoping it will stick in your mind as I ask you what your status is relative to God’s work throughout the world. You know: missions, the Great Commission, call it what you like.
What’s your status, Gladys?
What is your part and how well are you playing it?
If you’re the epicenter of your church’s cross-cultural efforts, if you’re confident and comfortable in the role God has you playing right now, or if you’re up to your ears with an unengaged people group, this article isn’t so much for you. It is, however, for people in your sphere of influence, so please consider passing it along.
If, on the other hand, you sense God asking you to engage in a more significant way, if there’s a niggling somewhere in your heart or mind, and you’re not sure what to do or how to get going, read on. This is going to help.
The process is simple:
A. Set a course.
B. Determine the very next step.
C. Kick down the obstacles.
Let’s take a closer look.
A: Set a course.
Maybe you’re thinking about the world for the first time. That God might be asking someone like you to join someone like him in amazing global work is a new concept. You’ve got to figure out how to get going.
Or maybe you’ve been following Jesus for a while and always thought missions was a cool idea, but never actually took the leap. Now God’s saying, “The water’s great. Get in here!”
Perhaps you’ve been logging hours for the world but have this crazy hunch that God wants to strap some rockets to your efforts and light the fuse!
The first thing to remember is that you can’t do everything. If you try, you’ll be lousy at the whole list. Paul was right about that body of Christ thing: God is smart enough to equip each of us so that together we can accomplish what he has in mind. The trick, of course, is determining if you’re a hand or a heart, an elbow or an epiglottis. (Is anyone that part of the body?)
You didn’t ask for advice, but here it is: Don’t let this decision paralyze you. Trust in the equipping (and when you goof, the redeeming) power of God and get moving.
Some people shake out the basic modes of involvement in missions into praying, sending, going, welcoming, and mobilizing. Consider simply picking from the list and moving in that general direction. Definitely seek God at this point (and every other). You’d also be wise to seek the input of people who are wiser or more experienced than you are.
Keep in mind: These categories can overlap. Choosing one as a focus doesn’t lock you in forever.
If you can honestly say “I feel that God wants me to play a bigger part in his globally expanding kingdom, but I don’t know what part,” let me offer you two options to consider:
1. The unengaged
Focus your copious skills and energy on an unengaged Muslim people group. Read this Practical Mobilization column from a couple of months ago. Check out this list from the International Mission Board. Then talk to someone like the kindly mavericks at Frontiers about how quickly you can dive into the deep end!
2. The overlooked
Let me invite you, as personally as I can in an article like this, to join me in a growing effort to respond to the heart-wrenching humanitarian crisis and amazing gospel opportunity unfolding in Sicily right now. I think there’s a place for you in what God is launching, and I’d love to explore that with you. Let’s do something epic together.
B: Determine the very next step.
Regardless of the general direction you choose, education might be your next step. Perspectives classes, which may be the best introduction to God’s global purposes, are starting up right now all across the U.S. and beyond. There are other classes and curricula that cover similar ground which may be in the works in your church or town. Ask around!
Signed up for Perspectives, now what? Generally, look to see what your tribe is doing. How does the direction you want to head in work at your church? How could you contribute there? Is God unfolding something cool at your church that he has in mind for you to contribute to? Moving forward with your tribe can be very powerful.
For specifics, this site has some great ideas for each main role. Also consider these:
Set an alarm on your phone for 10.02am and simply pray as Jesus said to in Luke 10.2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Tell a fund-raising friend that you’re trying to learn to send, so you’ll support her $20 (or $200) a month for six months and then re-evaluate. Ask to get on her email newsletter list.
Get a passport! You may not be able to go anywhere cool without one.
Call the closest university and ask if any international students have signed up to be paired with local friends. Agree to be one of those local friends.
Forward this email to three friends who might walk with you as you move toward the world and God’s work in it.
C: Kick down the obstacles
It would be so cool if knowing your general direction and clearly understanding the very next step led seamlessly to action. Sadly, in the real world, things like fear, apathy, and busy-ness conspire to keep us where we are. Might as well be honest about it. What is most likely to keep you from taking your next step?
Thinking your friends will think you’ve lost it?
Wondering where the money will come from?
Mired in uncertainty?
Do this with me: Name it and un-claim it! Seek God’s power and a friend’s, pastor’s, or mom’s support—whatever is required. Take that very next step.
One caveat: If it’s all you can do right now to breathe and your next step is pretty much just trying to stay alive, please don’t let these words further burden you. My prayer for you is that God soon brings you out of the valley into refreshing green pastures and quiet waters.
So what’s your status, Gladys? What’s the main direction, what’s the very next step, and what do you need to kill to take it? God’s grace to you and to us! I’m hungry to see his purposes fulfilled on the earth. I want to see his blessing blossom in every family. And both the Bible and experience indicate it’s going to take a lot of us showing up with all the strength and smarts and persistence we can muster, coupled with the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We need you. Your contribution matters. If God is nudging you forward: engage!
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