[This is the third (missions) of a nine-part series on empowering a faith community to impact the world. Already hospitality and evangelism have been explored.]
You’ve been there before.
It’s that place of connection and you realize God is surreptitiously present. Gratitude washes over you. There you are alongside someone out of your common experience and that someone is looking deeply into your soul and you into his or her soul. It’s a God-moment – almost an out-of-body experience.
Heilsgeschichte, to use a fancy German word, is embodied in this notion of missions. Heilgeschichte is the interpretation of an event or series of events in human history as the activity of God in salvific liberation.* Missions is allowing yourself to be in the best position possible to meet someone and be mutually liberated.
This faith-forming encounter is foundational in the Christian education configuration toward empowering a faith community to impact the world. Missions, or being sent, can be local or global, of course. It’s all about the human/divine encounter to impact the world.
The encounters that have significantly engaged and faith-formed me transpired with the Roma (gypsy) pastors and children in Bucharest, Romania. Over a twenty-year period I have been present with them at the ministry site called Gypsy Smith School (for pastors) and Project Ruth for Children. Without fail, I find the God-in-them connecting with the God-in-me. Transformation occurs.
Connecting congregants with a missions engagement is critical to their faith formation. A combination of necessary ingredients includes dropping one’s routine, knowing another’s need, asking God’s empowerment, and giving one’s self away.
Many of us committed to memory the scripture we call “The Great Commission,” Matthew 28:16-20. The imperative verb here is make – “make disciples.” “Make” combines all the necessary ingredients: going, baptizing, teaching. These are participles and subordinate to the holistic “making disciples.”
I submit this interpretation of missions: don’t ignore people around you. Abandon routine. Pay attention. Know another’s needs. Allow God’s empowerment. Give yourself away. In this way missions takes place.
*(adapted from http://www.dictionary-theologicalgerman.org/index.php?letter=H)