International Missions… That’s not for me… maybe?
I remember sitting in my mentor’s office over 5 years ago on a cool day in February. I had pestered him for several months about setting up a meeting with the directors from General Baptist Headquarters for me to do an internship in a far off land over the summer. The time had finally arrived and I sat in a room with one of my best friends from college, my mentor, and two guys from Poplar Bluff, MO. Sitting there as a millennial (one who hates commitment) only seeking an adventure of a lifetime for the summer, I was taken aback when these guys started talking about long term missionary service and the career for which this internship would prepare me. I can remember distinctly clarifying my call to ministry in an urban setting stateside. I said, “ugh… that’s not for me”. Well, maybe I didn’t say it, but I sure did think it. The director clarified and said, as plain as he was telling me that biscuits and gravy is a good meal any time of the day, “Mat, this is an important trip even still because it will give you a heart for the people and you can pass it along.”
I went on that internship, and it did indeed change my life. I guess I did a good enough job because that same director offered me a job at the headquarters the following year upon graduation. I felt my role start to develop as I was helping churches all across the United States see the importance of international missions. From there I moved to a little bigger city with a little urban feel, but not much, to help a church planter get started and more me to learn some critical lessons about keeping missions, of all kinds, a priority from the start.
Last year when I moved to Evansville to begin as pastor here, I just knew I was where I was supposed to be and nothing more. It wasn’t until I had been here for a year when I helped host a missions event for many of the area churches. Following an event where our church, which averages 50 people, housed over 110 people from close to 11 churches and raised over $1100 I realized one major thing: that was international missions. Sitting in our empty sanctuary the next day I just kept thanking God for the road I had traveled that had made me so passionate about international missions because I had eaten from their tables and slept in their beds so many summers ago. No, at least now, I’m not called to live in another country, but I am called, just as we all are, to help those who are. I am thankful for the individuals God put in my life to make this fact know to me for such a time as this. Who has God placed in your life right now to show you the importance of the Great Commission?