Missional Confessions from an Introverted College Student
The following is a blog penned by one of our young ladies who was moved by God through our mission to Philadelphia. I am including it here because I believe the content of this document and the spirit in which it was written will encourage and propel our church forward.
In 1918, Helen Lemmel published a hymn in England entitled “The Heavenly Vision,” also known as “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” The hymn goes like this:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.” The reality of which “The Heavenly Vision” speaks, is brought to life during mission trips, like the one BLDG 28 took to Philadelphia last month.
I joined the Philly mission team about six months prior to the take-off date, and to be quite honest, as a shy twenty-year-old who knew hardly anyone else on this mission team, nervousness crept in.
By God’s good timing, I had just finished David Platt’s New York Times Best Seller, “Follow Me,” where Platt goes in depth about what Jesus meant in Matthew when he told his disciples to follow him. God’s peace enveloped me when I had nearly closed up the book and read this, “God has given us a gospel to believe, a Spirit to empower, a language to speak for a purpose – a grand, glorious, global, God-exalting purpose that transcends all of history. From the beginning of time through today, God has been at work, drawing people to himself, and using us to accomplish his will.”
The week spent on mission in Philadelphia was extremely overwhelming, in the best sense of the word. Monday through Thursday we served Grace City of Wissinoming through a variety of ministry ventures. While laboring in these tasks, I pondered deeply the purpose for serving, the purpose for the trip, and how God had uniquely ordained every duty we were each set up to do. The entire purpose for every crazy mission or semi-dangerous service was not for the better projection of Grace City Church to the community, or so that we could pat ourselves on the back; rather it was for the cause of Christ and the mission God set us out to do for his glory. The song running through my head during the day was “Boldly I Approach,” and all I could render fit for the situation was the lyrics that go, “This is the art of celebration, Knowing we’re free from condemnation. Oh praise the One, Who made an end to all my sin.” That is a reason to celebrate and a reason to serve, due to the overflow of what we’ve been given by God when we sure didn’t deserve it.
The evenings of the trip consisted of BLDG 28’s funny and famed vacation bible school, where things get pretty crazy. At our pre-trip meetings, Pastor Aaron had told us to get an idea of where we would want to be serving, especially since there are a myriad of roles to be taken on during VBS. Since the trip was so far from that first meeting, the thought never truly rolled over in my mind until Pastor Aaron declared I’d work as a crazy craft lady. If you know me at all, my shyness could likely scare kids away, and in a matter of weeks I would be speaking into a microphone to children I had never met and pouring Christ’s love in to them – nerve-wracking for sure.
To my surprise, I ended up dancing out on stage to Taylor Swift’s, “Shake It Off,” screaming, taking selfies, talking in to a microphone, wearing crazy socks, a hot pink apron, and a neon yellow shirt. Along with the other awesome leaders – patriarchs who doubled as super heroes, a super hero that doubled as a crazy dance man, a super hero who doubled as a pastor who tripled as a song man – it was incredibly clear we were not operating out of a strong morale booster for a better world and to feel good about ourselves. Instead, there was an extreme presence of the Holy Spirit utilizing us to accomplish the work of the Father, and nothing is more awe-inspiring than that.
I was shown many things on this trip, but some of my favorite lessons revealed were these:
1. We have some incredible leaders at this church.
These are guys and gals fully devoted to Christ, their ministry, this church, and their families. Whether they were chattering about Strength Finders, facetiming their families, or preaching small messages on the book of Philippians each night, God’s love and Christ’s servant heart was truly reflected in each leader of the church. It is evident that they are men and women after God’s own heart and they will continue to pour in to our church.
2. Community is important.
This concept of community was something I could never fully wrap my mind around. The idea always tickled by brain, but surely it couldn’t have been for me, for I am too timid. The Philadelphia mission trip unleashed some serious business on my negligent heart towards community. Here I was with believers who were sold out for Christ and at any time of the day you could listen in on their conversations that were glorying God. It was so incredible to sit at lunch tables in a basement and hear someone be transparent about what God has been doing in his or her life. This was my favorite lesson revealed, if I had to choose, because God put it on my heart to go outside my comfort zone and realize faith and relationship with Christ is not meant to be individualized, but to be done with one another, brothers and sisters in Christ.
In all sincerity, I did not want the mission trip to be over. Even at the airport when flights were cancelled and others wondered if we would ever get home, I had this huge smile on my face, knowing I got to spend more time with my family. If you have ever considered going on a mission trip let me strongly urge you to pray through it and go on. God will uncover serious truths to you, big and small.
To be able to go out on the mission field, in your own city or abroad, and be extremely broken, but to be used by God is a serious privilege and I feel eternally grateful for the opportunity we as a church were given to serve and for all the people who were praying for our hearts to be stirred and the children’s hearts to have seeds planted.
Lemmel’s hymn about the world turning strangely dim when you fix your eyes upon Jesus took a whole different heart grabbing meaning when I arrived home in Clearwater. I pray that we as BLDG 28 keep pushing forward to share the gospel with others and to glorify God in all we do. The world around us will become strangely dim when we are in awe of the immensity of our Father and the sacrifice of our Savior, who came to justify us, so we could magnify him, become sanctified, and then multiply by making disciples.
Maggie is a college junior, an aspiring writer, and a soon-to-be covenant member at BLDG 28.