A Love for All People
I remember looking out of the side windows of the bus as we traveled down the dirt road and through the local neighborhood. Children would come running out from their homes and chase the bus shouting and smiling. Their excitement and intrigue was undeniable. Their voices were captured in an uncommon language but their smiles communicated a common message. Love. And that’s what we were there to reciprocate. Though we couldn’t speak the same language and though we literally lived half-way across the world, through smiles and a few meaningful weeks, we were there to show them that they were loved.
I was a freshman in college when these memories were created. It was the first mission trip of my life. I joined a small team affiliated with T Bar M Sports Camps based in New Braunfels, Texas and traveled to Lusaka Zambia over Christmas break. While we were there we coached approximately 500 orphans who lived on the outskirts of Lusaka. I can still see their faces. Distinct moments of that trip that will never leave my mind. It was my first true exposure to cross-cultural ministry and this concept of missions. God had already placed a burden for missions on my heart prior to this moment but this was the first real pursuit of this burden. It was a trip that taught me so much about the world, people and our incredible God. It changed me forever. The trips have grown in number through the years and the list of places has grown longer. And through all these experiences, one constant remains; with each and every experience, I learn more about our incredible Creator and the power of this gospel that is truly for all people.
The gospel is for all people. And that is a central identity of our church. We are committed to taking this gospel to the far corners of the globe. This past Sunday you heard a testimony from the Park family and how they have pursued a similar burden. Many of you have had a chance to serve in Guatemala, Cambodia or the border. Maybe you haven’t set foot on a plane but have embraced different cultures through our ESL ministry or working with refugees around our community. The opportunities to engage the nations are almost limitless and each encounter is likely to awaken our hearts to the depths of the gospel.
I share this because I want us to continue to foster this identity in our church. We already have such a strong commitment to missions at UBC but I’m here to tell you that I believe God is leading us into an even greater commitment. Consequently, I would like you to commit to a few simple prayers today and in the days to come. First, I’d ask that you pray for those who are connected to our church who are currently serving in a cross-cultural setting. This Sunday you heard from the Parks and their heart for the nations here in DFW. In June we heard from Lydia Whitley and her family’s heart for Germany. We have the Koch’s currently serving in Colombia. I’m sure there are others that are family members or friends. Pray for these folks by name. Reach out to them and let them know you love them and support them in their work. Secondly, I’d ask that you pray for your own personal involvement in taking this gospel to the nations. What role should you play and in what capacity? Pray that God would set to flame a passion for the nations. And finally, pray for our church. Pray for wisdom and courage as we seek to embrace this beautiful responsibility.
And as we pray, let us go in the same spirit that was so evident the first time I personally experienced the thrill of taking the good news to the nations. Let us move beyond cultural barriers and offer the comfort of love. A love that is not reserved for one people, but all people. A love that is found in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. A love that is meant to be taken to the ends of the earth. - Jerimiah Smith, Pastor