Recently, a group of young people and adults from our church returned from a mission trip to Costa Rica where they came alongside a missionary family, painting, and doing whatever they could physically. The amazing thing about the report they gave was how often they remarked that the most important thing they did was simply visit! You know what I mean – just spend time with them. How often the missionaries felt alone there. And what surprised the team was when Mark, our missionary, remarked that our church has supported his family, his parents and now him, for 50 years!
Scripture tells us that when we give financially, we reap the harvest as much as those who are physically present doing the work. Friends, that makes us family!
Nationwide, church budgets allot about 2% for missions. I am blessed to be a member of a church which gives 35% of budget to missions. I am excited about that, but the point here is this: because we are involved as a church family with so many missionaries, and because we are an independent church who personally selects and gets involved in the lives of those people, we are a world-wide community located in a small town in western Pennsylvania.
There are difficulties involved with this type of commitment, though. How many of our church family know any of our extended family (ie: missionaries) personally? One comment made repeatedly by the team that just returned from Costa Rica was, next time the missionaries visit Pennsylvania, “I can’t wait to come see them.” You see, they KNOW them now, what happens in their lives matters to the team now.
It struck me that, in community, I can’t know each individual deeply – beyond names and a hello. But I can spend the time to know some of my community deeply, and I should!
Each of the 36 individual families and 5 groups who serve with us and for us at our church represent us. And if each of those units was really known by someone in the church, they would never feel lonely! Because when you really know someone, you check in on them, correspond with them, support them, and pray for them.
True community cares about each member, those they know well, and those they don’t know so well beyond a greeting.
But if you don’t know anyone well enough to know their struggles, to support them in all things, you are not a vital part of your community.
I encourage you to invest in your community – there will be trying times, challenges, but also joy and contentment.
Today's post was written by my mother-in-law, Elaine. She's an English teacher, guidance counselor, and church choir director, in addition to her many talents in the exciting world of grandparenting.