On Tuesday morning, Marcos Ortega, Becky and I will begin what we are calling a “mission discernment” trip to Brazil. We will be gone for ten days and hope to come back with insight on possible LPC mission involvement with one or two Brazilian congregations. We will share the details with you and a recommendation to the Mission Committee. We are not anticipating a partnership as involved as ours with PLM in Guatemala, but we are seeking God’s direction for something that will be relational, mutual and focused on tangible ways to help bring the good news of the coming and here-already Kingdom of God to those living in difficult situations. Our intent is not to help sustain a congregation, but to find ways to come alongside a congregation and its people as they minister in their community.
Those of you in worship at LPC on Sunday will see and hear more about the trip and others may want to check out some of the details here.
Yes, we are very excited about the trip. In addition to the task of discovering God’s work in Belo Horizonte and Cachoeiro de Itapemirim and a possible call to LPC to come alongside a piece of that work, there are lots of other anticipated joys. Becky and I will be visiting with friends we have known for over a dozen years, men and women whose presence in our lives has been a huge blessing from God. We will catch up with some young adults who were street kids in the favela when we first met them and who are now disciples of Jesus Christ making a difference in the life of the favela. Marcos is making his first international mission trip, crossing the equator and cultural and language barriers. I can hardly wait to watch God at work in Marcos’ life during these ten days. And we will play tourists for one day at a place called Pedra Azul, Blue Rock.
Our trip, though, is more than just fun. It is part of the evolution of the mission life or our congregation. Like many congregations, LPC has sensed a call from God to move beyond “check book mission” to a focus on relational and participatory mission. In a post-denominational age we have learned that the tasks of mission partnership are no longer done by “headquarters.”
LPC has framed its mission work around the Risen Jesus’ words to his disciples on the day of ascension. He told them that they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Through our focus partnership with Hunting Park Christian Academy as well as our work with Abundant Life at the Bucks County Jail, Bucks County Housing Group’s food ministry in Penndel, Coalition for Christian Outreach on local college campus and more, we seek ways to witness in word and deed in our own Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Our focus “ends of the earth” mission is with Promised Land Ministries in Guatemala, but also we have been introduced to the medical mission work of Dr. John and Jessica Cropsey in Burundi and continue to share as best we can in the life of Masvingo Presbyterian Church in Zimbabwe (logistical considerations make financial and material support impossible at this time, but the Mission Committee is committed to monthly contact with our friends there).
Including potential work in Brazil, our mission budget supports fewer than a dozen causes; we want to know each cause and its people well, participate personally when possible and make our support and partnership significant. We don’t always meet our goals, but we do know that through our mission work children are fed and educated, patients are seen and treated, safe housing and clean water is provided and the Gospel is shared 365 days a year.
Trips to faraway places are the headline events of mission. They always will be. But the heart of mission is God’s people quietly, together and alone, bearing witness to the love and mercy of God by what they do and what they say wherever God has placed them – in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (os confins da terra, as I will say in the sermon in Cachoeira de Itapemirim a week from Wednesday).
Becky, Marcos and I will have the honor this coming week of representing LPC to people in Belo Horizonte and Cachoeiro de Itapemirim. Thank you for that honor. Pray that we are worthy of it as we make the trip. Christ has given each of us the honor, and the obligation, of representing him in our own Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, even to the end of the earth. So how’s your mission life?
Até Domingo (Until Sunday)