Community Presbyterian Church, since her inception, has always had a strong emphasis on missions ... it's really a part of our DNA, and it should be! One of my favorite missions stories goes all the way back to 1987! This was our first of many trips to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. As we publicized this trip we drew a lot of interest but not everyone could afford to go. The total cost back then was $485 ... most of that being the whopping $210 price of the roundtrip flight from Atlanta to Cancun. One of the persons interested in going was a young single man, Sean Hollis, who simply couldn't come up with that much money. I remember hearing one day that Sean had just won some sort of $1000 cash prize on a B'ham area radio station. After following up with Sean, he saw that as the Lord's provision and ended up going! Lesson #1 - if the Lord wants you to go somewhere and do something He'll provide.
We've taken several other trips to the Yucatan, multiple trips to England, one to Ecuador, and most recently to Bangladesh. Our youth have taken around ten or so missions trips over the past fifteen years.
Perhaps the greatest indicator of a church committed to mission is the number of folks it sends rather than merely how many it keeps. From our own little congregation we've seen the Jennings go to England, the Morgans to Ireland, the Donahoos to England, the Webbers to Uganda and Kenya, and the Davises to England. We've also seen former members and staff be used by the Lord to plant, establish, and/or serve churches in remote villages such as Orlando, Columbus, Anniston, Shreveport, and soon Tryon.
Community has also been active in local church planting ... with successful church plants in Pell City and Springville. And though our church plant in Leeds didn't actually particularize there was a tremendous amount of ministry and mission done there.
But before we get a bit too prideful about what CPC has accomplished in the past we need to seriously consider what we're doing right now and what we intend to do in the next 5,10,20 years. And don't think of CPC as everyone else ... rather, ask yourself, "What am I doing in terms of mission, both locally and globally?" Perhaps the Lord will continue to call folks from CPC and send them to foreign lands; I sure hope so! I trust even some who are reading this will be on foreign soil in 5 years (is the Lord calling you?) But the pressing need of the moment is local mission. I know this is easier said than done and the term "missional" is widely misused to justify almost anything in church life these days, but the mission (essentially the Great Commission - to make disciples by proclaiming the Gospel) is still before us.
I hope you're not reading this expecting me to tell you exactly what to do. I am writing to urge you to fervently pray and ask our Father for wisdom and guidance. The need is all around us ... it's now just a matter of listening, watching, waiting, discerning, and taking appropriate action when the divine opportunity presents itself (which, btw, occurs on a daily basis!!!) The Session is seeking to figure out ways to lead and encourage CPC to get involved in local mission. Please pray for them as they do this. But also go ahead now and start doing some very simple things: invite someone to worship here at CPC; have a neighbor or co-worker over to your house for supper; or tell someone you're helping your pastor do some research and ask them a very simple question - "If you could ask God one question right now, what would it be?" Then listen intently to their answer without trying to actually be God and answer that question. Prayerfully follow up with them as appropriate and watch the Spirit work.
Anyway, as we enjoy this weekend's missions conference let's ask the Lord to use us in His amazing work of mission. Whether He sends us overseas or to our next door neighbor, all we can do is be obedient. As Isaiah said, "Here am I. Send me."