|A Man on A Mission....Christopher Columbus Statue near downtown Santo Domingo|
This past weekend at Generation Word Church in West Des Moines, Iowa, I was reminded of Paul's First Missionary Journey. I wondered as I read line by line of the book of Acts, how a man could be so devoted....so focused, so determined to fulfill his......well, mission. Here is but a part of the story:
Let's catch up with Paul and Barnabas. They've left the church in Antioch after hands were placed on them and the Holy Spirit directed them with "set apart for me these two for the work for which I have called them". With them was John Mark, a helper.
The three traveled to Cyprus and Paphos, Salamis and to Perga.....where John Mark, left them to return home. He apparently didn't feel he was being used in the proper manner. That his gifts were not being utilized. Yet Paul and Barnabas continued on, facing Jews and Gentiles who were in amazement of their knowledge and wisdom of Jesus. And then there were those who distrusted them and made life miserable.
In the town of Lystra, things took a decidedly different note. "Then the Jews from Antioch and Iconcium (where they had been previously, but been run out of town) came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe".
Okay, first off. As our pastor Galyn Weimers so eloquently put it, "how many of you would have gone back into the city?" I mean you've been stoned and dragged...presumed dead. And by most accounts you'd probably look pretty beat up. Like black eyes, puffy and scarred face. Why the heck would you make your way back for more? I think I might have said, "hey, let's go on down to Derbe and forget this place, shall we?" But Paul had a different plan. Here's what he did ....
"And when they had preached the gospel to that city (Derbe) and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God".
Now, that's what I call a tribulation. What more can one expect to have to endure? But that was Paul. Doesn't it make you wonder why Barnabas went untouched? There was not one mention of Barnabas being throttled. Apparently, Paul was the bigger threat of the two.
So let's process this for a minute. How much different do you think Paul's experiences were compared to Barnabas....or even John Mark, who ended up rejoining them on the journey? Would you expect either John-Mark or Barnabas to be as bold.....as convicted as Paul? Interesting to say the least....
And now almost two weeks later, I'm in the processing stage of our mission trip to Santo Domingo and the Dominican Island. My experiences were unique to me. I've got images of people and their culture that might not resemble any other snapshot a person took in their mind.
Am I the same person as I was before I left? Not on your life. As I'm sure most of the others aren't either. But they probably have the same question eating at them....that is, if they truly want to use this trip for furthering God's kingdom. What's next God?
That's the process many of the 24 of us are in today. Praying, waiting and listening to God for direction.
And if it's any help, imagine what Paul had going through his mind after completing his first journey. You know what he did? He did it all over again. Paul's Second Missionary Journey.
If you wonder what this mission trip stuff is all about and how it will impact your life, perhaps this might help in the processing......
Several years ago I interviewed a young man by the name of Scott Wallace. Wallace, 18, had returned from his first mission trip to Africa. I asked him to forget the camera was rolling and to talk to his friends in a manner to convince them of the importance of a missions trip. Here's what Scott gave me.....