7 lessons from Mexico – #4

Lesson #4: one body in Christ, many parts

One of the first things we noticed as a team was how each of us had different talents, interests and experiences, and how God had brought each one into the group to serve a role.

We initially realised this during the children’s holiday club. There was no formal meeting to discuss or delegate roles, but we were simply happy and open to serve in whatever way was needed. As we prepared and led various activities, we naturally took on the roles that were created. Each team member ended up serving in their area of gifting, whether that be leading games, worship and dancing, taking photos, handing out sweets and stickers, building relationships with the parents, or helping with arts and crafts activities.

This is only one example. There were many other instances (e.g. when doing practical work at the Christian campsite, seeing the missionaries working together as a team) when  I felt we were experiencing what Paul meant when he wrote about the Church forming the body of Christ:

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Romans 12:4-6

Some have gifts that are more upfront and visible, others have gifts that may often take them behind the scenes. As the passage says, we do not all have the same role to play, for how silly would it be if we only had eyes to form our body! We must not be jealous or proud or even embarrassed, but humbly use the gifts we have been given to serve Christ and His body, the Church. We need each other to play our given roles in order to build up His Kingdom and hold the Church together and strong. Let us not forget any member of the church, whether young or old, big or small, new or regular – whatever shape or size, each member of the Body is needed to keep it healthy, whole and functioning!

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7 lessons from Mexico – #3

Lesson #3: the Father’s heart for the lost

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The view of Tepoztlan from el cerro de la luz

During the first week in Tepoztlan, we were invited to join the church in praying for the town. We walked up a local hill that overlooks the town – ‘el cerro de la luz’, meaning the hill of light. It was breathtaking just to take in the beauty of His creation surrounding us (literally breathtaking too – some of it was quite steep!). There was something moving about seeing the church pray  for the salvation of the town people, for His kingdom come in Tepoztlan.

We had some time to pray in smaller groups. I kept my eyes open so I could look at the town as I prayed. During this time, the Lord poured His heart into mine. The heart of a Father yearning to be reconciled with His children, to see this people saved. It was so strong, so powerful, such passionate love. I don’t think it was even the whole thing, just a little taster so I wouldn’t burst, and yet my little heart was still unable to contain it. What heart would? His love is so great and unfathomable.

I have previously known this love for the lost, a heart that ached for people to be saved. But I let life distract me and I forgot. I was reluctant to speak out, not knowing what to say or how to say it. The more I let fear speak louder than the Holy Spirit, the weaker His voice becomes within me. This outpouring of His heart in Mexico was a reminder of the Lord’s passion, and of how much I had decidedly forgotten and ignored it.

It is so easy to let the more pressing things of everyday life – deadlines, exams, events, relationships – to take priority. But what is more pressing and urgent than the salvation of souls! We must remember the grace given to us was not just for us to sit happily in His blessings, but to get up and go, sharing the gospel so that others may hear the life-saving good news. I have noticed that my faith grows the most and is strongest when I have done so. When I ignore this calling to share, my faith begins to get stagnant and lukewarm. Let us fight the fears and the comforts that hold us back, and trust in the Holy Spirit as we, in faith, testify to the Truth that sets us free.

7 lessons from Mexico – #2

Lesson #2: the nations will worship the Lamb

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The team!

As a team of four meeting Mexicans, we represented four different continents – Europe, Africa and Asia meeting America. Although we all lived in the UK, we each carried different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It wasn’t something we had planned or expected, but wherever we went, people were able to see at a glance that God was indeed at work in all four corners of the world. What a blessing it was to be able to encourage others and glorify God by simply being there, even before we said or did anything! It made me realise once again that it is not by our own strengths and talents, but by His grace and our submission to His workings (having responded to His call to go to Mexico!), that God uses us to glorify Himself and bless others.

Throughout our time in Mexico, there was a theme that emerged. The first Sunday sermon in Tepoztlan, one of our team devotionals, the sermon at the church in Cuernavaca… chapters 1 and 7 of Revelations kept cropping up! The following verses really spoke to me in particular:

… Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen                                                                 Revelations 1:5-6

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”                                                                          Revelations 7:9-10

When we arrived at El Monte, the theme continued. We were greeted by a missionary, who had recently been reading a book on heaven. He shared with us his excitement for how great it will be when the Lord returns and establishes the new heaven and new earth, and how we can imagine us representing a glimpse of this – people from all nations coming together to worship the Lord!

The Lord helped me realise that I had become too preoccupied with the busy-ness of what was going on around me in the here and now. He lifted my eyes up again, reminding me to keep my eyes and focus fixed on the finish line (Hebrews 12:1-2). Let us not get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of this world, lest we get swept away by its whirlwind – but let us fix our eyes on the Lamb on the throne, holding on to the hope of a new heaven and earth where He will reign forevermore!

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The beautiful church of Tepoztlan

7 lessons from Mexico – #1

This summer I went to Mexico with WEC (World Evangelisation for Christ) UK on a short-term team missions trip for 3 weeks. It’s taken me a while to organise my thoughts and find the time to post them, but here are a few of the lessons I learnt whilst I was out there. I realised after writing the first lesson that this will take longer than I thought, so I will be continuing it as a series. I hope and pray it encourages you!

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Morning sunrise in Tepoztlan

Lesson #1: the power of testimonies

We had the great privilege of sharing our testimonies with many of the local families and church members. I could see it was encouraging for those who already believed, and intriguing to those that were yet to believe, to hear a group of young people from the other side of the world sharing with them about Jesus and how he entered into our personal lives.

However, as the missions trip was nearing its end, I began wondering if any of the seeds we had sown would bear fruit – whether sharing our testimonies would lead to the salvation of any, let alone many! I know that sometimes we are not granted the privilege of seeing the fruit (and we must be patient and faithful in those times), but I asked God to show me some small sign to encourage me to keep sowing.

Our God is good and He listens to the smallest of our prayers!

On the last day, I was reading John chapter 4 and a verse caught my eye. It was from the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman – a well-known story. Usually I focus on the conversation between Jesus and the woman, but this time I noticed what happened afterwards. The woman ran into her town telling everyone about her encounter with Jesus. Sounds a lot like evangelism, or sharing testimonies. When it comes to telling someone about Jesus or sharing our testimony, I often find myself afraid that nothing will happen, wondering if it’s worth it all. But here’s the encouraging part:

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

The power of testimonies is that it leads people to Jesus! Some of the town people believed in him before they even met him, because of the woman’s testimony. Your testimony could be the key that the Lord uses to open the door of someone’s salvation. How exciting is that! It’s easy to think leading people to Jesus is only the pastor’s role, or for someone more knowledgeable about the Bible. So often we just try to get them inside the church one way or another, hoping that as soon as they step inside, something magical will happen. With this approach however, I think there may sometimes be an underlying belief that the church is a building, or the church is the leadership – no, the Church is all the believers, including you and me!

According to this story, something as simple as sharing how Jesus has changed my life can spark an interest in people’s hearts for more of Jesus and his words. Getting into the word of Jesus actually happened afterwards, leading even more people to believe and strengthening the faith of those who already believed.

How great is our God, that He chooses to work through our testimonies! I hope this encourages both you and me to keep sharing, and to see with the eyes of faith the fruit it might bear.  Let us continue running the race and fighting the good fight – for the glory of God, and for His Kingdom!