I recently returned from leading a team from Second Baptist to Paraguay to work with our dear missionary partners there. This trip was one of the best trips I have ever led or been a part of. Not because of the sights, or the exciting place we got to go (although it very great experience). This trip was wonderful because our sole purpose was to go, work with national pastors, and tell people about Jesus. That's it. Get up in the morning, eat breakfast, pray, and go visit people and tell them about Jesus.
Many times in missions, we believe we have to have an opening. For example, we might build houses, do a community clean up or block party, or paint a school so that we can have the right to share the Gospel. These and many other things are worthy endeavors, and ones that I would greatly encourage anyone to do. However, this trip was different. We prayed and we asked the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of those in Paraguay. As we worked with national pastors, we did not do anything out of line or step with what they desired. We simply sought to be man power to share the Gospel, so that the local pastors could then follow up and do the real work of shepherding and discipling.
We saw the Lord do a great work. Through different venues (visiting in homes, preaching, community gatherings, etc) local pastors report that between 50-60 made professions of faith. We celebrate this, knowing that these local pastors are diligent about follow up and discipleship, and that they will be cared for.
We also were able to visit with missionaries from Paraguay who are preparing to go to the ends of the earth with the Gospel. I love to be with people when the lightbulb clicks in their heads that the Great Commission was not given to Americans, but to all believers, no matter their nationality. The response is always the same-it brings a sweet unity of heart amongst those i'm with and those we are interacting with.
Finally, as you can tell from this picture, I am quite a bit younger than the team I led. You know what-it was one of the most fun trips i've ever been led. So many times we segregate ourselves in the local church by age, and this is very counter-intuitive to what the church should be. I have a lot to learn from the folks on that team. They also had a lot to learn from me. We all came home, better for the journey we took together. May this be what our local churches look like each week-young and the "not so young", in community together, for the sake of the Gospel.
Matthew is 34 years old and currently lives in St Louis, Missouri with his wife Leslie. He serves as the Associate Pastor at The Groves Church, in Webster Groves, Missouri.