Where Can One Brave, New Act Lead us?

I welcomed a group who had traveled from the US to our home in Mexico, where they would serve for a weeklong mission trip. They were dressed like a million bucks, not the typical attire for day one of a mission trip. “Do you think someone told them they were coming to a timeshare?” I murmured to another staff member.

A man, clearly in charge and carrying a big bag of passports, was the last to step off the bus. “Here you go.” He thrust the bag into my hands. “They are all yours.” (I wasn’t sure if he meant the passports or the people.)

“Hi, welcome,” I said to him, curious how badly his travel day must have gone to put him in this mood. “How can I help you get settled?”

“I am already at my wit’s end with this group. I can’t believe we got anyone to come. I’m on staff with the church, and this is my last official week. Starting when we get back, I’ll be the pastor of our new urban church plant. We’ve been trying to get volunteers all year, and no one will help. But advertise a mission trip to sunny Mexico and look at the response.” He gestured in the general area of his team.

I was not sure what to expect after that introduction, but I was pleasantly surprised when the team pitched in during the week and engaged in new activities, ate new foods, and made new friends. By the last day, I was encouraged by their bravery and newly formed community. It had been a special time of challenge and growth for us all.

A couple of months later, I was in their city to share at their church. After the services, we gathered for a meal. As was our custom on the trip, I circled them up and asked how life had been since they’d been back: What had they been learning?

“Go on, tell her …,” encouraged the pastor who had accompanied them, joining us for lunch from his new church.

“I drive the bus for the new church plant,” one of them started.

“I’m there too. I volunteer for their Wednesday children’s program,” shared another.

“I am a Sunday school teacher, and now my family worships there full-time,” said the next one.

Round the circle we went, each one sharing where God had led them to engage in their community after their return.

“What happened?” I asked.

One lady spoke up, “I didn’t realize I had anything to offer. I didn’t realize I had anything in common with … others. Once I saw I could do, you know, all of that, so far away from home, with people so different than me, then suddenly it seemed doable here.”

There were quiet nods of affirmation all around me, and I learned an important lesson that day. The biggest obstacle to “new” is thinking that we have nothing to offer or don’t have what it takes. To make room for God to stir a calling, they had to do some spring cleaning, removing untested theories and outright lies that had accumulated in their hearts and minds like trash in the backseat of a car.

There is much at stake in this battle between the kingdoms of dark and light, and we need all hands-on deck. We need men and women of all ages and stages of maturity reaching up to Jesus, into their spiritual communities, and out to the world that is still lost. We need to hold on to the truth and each other as we engage in the oldest of stories: God’s kids doing God’s work in God’s world.

There are good stories yet to be told, and we war against an unseen but very real enemy. He wants to ruin us because he knows that hurting us will hurt God, and that’s his goal.

We need to bring all we have to bear—strength, insight, gifts, discernment, experience, wisdom, prayer—because 1 John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” We are called to partner with Him in that work, so we must keep showing up and trying something new. Who knows what one step into the unknown will lead to?


Excerpted in part from Warrior of Eden, Guckenberger, David C Cook, 2024.

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