When Jesus was about to leave the world physically, he gathered his closest friends. The moment had come for them to step up and carry on the good news he had taught them. Matthew 28:18-20 tells us: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
Through this great commission, Jesus pushes us out beyond ourselves because the message of his love is just too great to keep to any one race or nation. As a professor and as a pastor, I am seeking to fulfil this call. I have participated in mission trips serving in several states as well as Liverpool, England (of course, we did some of the Beatles stuff while we were there).
In addition, I have regularly promoted mission offerings, which are used to spread the message of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth. I have been enriched by witnessing God at work away from my hometown.
In the classroom at Lenoir-Rhyne, I have also sought to live out this commission. I have had students from every continent on the planet except Antarctica. My wife, Micki, and I have often hosted international students for meals. Their stories are always enlightening. Again, I have marveled at how God is working all over the world. A generous visionary benefactor has created a fund at LR that will enable more of our students to study abroad.
A few semesters ago, a student in my World Religions class announced that she would not be back after Thanksgiving. Asserting my professorial authority, I reminded her the semester ended two weeks after Thanksgiving. She explained to me that she was going to serve in a camp for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The Rohingya are an ethnic minority who for hundreds of years have lived in Myanmar. Over 908,000 had fled violence there by the end of 2018.
My student was skipping out of my class to help run one of those camps! Last week I visited with a recent LR grad who has just returned from a year of teaching in Africa. Another student is about to finish serving in Central America before going to Africa to serve as well.
Where in the world will you find God? Certainly, we each need to be a part of supporting mission efforts financially. Reach out to someone different from you. Befriend them and listen to their story. You may even contact LR and see about taking an international student to dinner.
Friends, our world is God’s world. Every person, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, is God’s child. Our love must expand to all of them, for when we seek to embrace the world, there we will find God. Revelation 7:9 visualizes the fulfillment of God’s vision. “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.”