Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mystery trips...

One of the things my father has done with his grandkids and I’ve done on occasion with my kids is to take them on what we call a “destination unknown”. It’s simply a surprise, fun outing to the bowling alley, the mini-golf place or maybe something more adventurous like a hunting or fishing trip. In every case, these destination unknown outings are always a lot of fun for the kids and for their dad or granddad as the case may be. As much as I’d like to give credit to my dad for dreaming up the destination unknown idea, I can’t do it because I believe the destination unknown idea belongs to none other than God Himself. You see, in Hebrews 11:8 God’s word says “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” This refers all the way back to God’s call and promise to Abram (Abraham) in Genesis 12 when God chose Abram to be the patriarch of the Jewish nation. Abraham obeyed the Lord and God led him on quite the adventure, a lifetime adventure of faith. We could say Noah went on a mystery trip, a destination unknown with the Lord in the world-wide flood in Genesis 6. I believe that Adam went on a mystery trip and destination unknown many times when He walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day before sin entered the world. Adam was definitely in uncharted territory when he boldly went where no man had been before being the first to experience the mystery trip of marriage to Eve.

Hebrews 11:8 holds a special place in my heart about old Abraham because it was this verse God used to confirm His call upon my life to full time ministry as a Pastor. When I said yes to God, I agreed to go on a mystery trip with my Lord having no idea what adventures lay ahead. That mystery trip adventure of faith began with seminary, planting a church in New Hampshire, moving to an associate pastor role in Houston and now back to a senior pastor position here at Calvary. I’m excited however as the mystery trip continues as I’m preparing to leave for my first mission trip to West Africa. Many of you have asked about this trip so I thought I’d share a little of what we’ll be doing. Because we’re going to a country that is not “Christian”, I’ll not share the exact location here in this format. I will say that it is a very difficult place and the purpose is to see how we as churches can work together to reach unreached people groups where we don’t have a constant missionary presence with our International Mission Board (IMB). This is of prime importance because we cannot not expect the IMB to engage all the people groups without access to the gospel that have been identified. It’s going to take churches like ours who will take on the responsibility for engaging these peoples with the Gospel message of salvation. It will be up to churches like ours to develop and train lay pastors in remote villages to help them reach their own people. I’m thrilled to be going with two other pastors of sister churches in our association and state convention and we’ll see how our three churches can make a difference in a dark part of the world.

We’ll be gone from January 31st and returning Lord willing February 11th. We’ll be meeting with village chieftains and tribal leaders building on relationships already established by the pastor leading myself and the other pastor. We’ll be utilizing a “Bible Story” cloth which provides a visual illustration of a major Bible event leading all the way to Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. We’ll depend on local translators to help us share the stories of Scripture. We’ll also be training some lay pastors in some aspect of ministry. We’ll spend much time developing relationships “with people of peace” praying for open avenues of access to these remote villages. We’ll base camp in a house of some sort and make 2-3 day trips via bush taxi or hiking out to remote areas and we’ll live out of a back pack on those excursions and will probably be sleeping on the ground in villages. The conditions will be harsh. Disease is rampant and I’ve even heard of people being kidnapped by terrorist groups who have training camps in the region. Am I a bit scared? Yes and no. On a human level, I’m concerned I’ll get sick and not be effective for the team or worse for the Lord. But I know God has called me to go on this adventure with Him and that He’s going to care for us. Even if I were to die on this trip, I know God would be glorified and He’d take care of my family. I’m scared in that I’d do something culturally offensive to the people we’re trying to reach and I don’t want to do that and alienate them from the Gospel.  I pray in my weakness, God will make Himself strong. I pray He’ll open many doors of opportunity and we’ll see Him do some amazing things. I can’t wait to share with you on the other side of this trip and I know God is going to do a real work in me personally. I’m excited about this mystery trip of faith and who knows, maybe I’ll be taking you along with me next time… Until then, I’d appreciate your prayers for myself, Pastor John and Pastor Curtis on this particular mystery trip from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

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