For me, there ae two kinds of vacation trips. There is a resting trip (think nice hotel or cruise with room service and yummy food). And there is a learning trip (think about visiting a new country, exploring the culture, visiting museums and libraries).
The learning vacations usually include a lot of advanced reading. I want to know about the people, customs, history and culture. And I love investigating the spiritual roots of the people I am going to visit.
As you read this musing, Lord willing I will be in Alaska. And before I left, I did a bit of study about the natives of the 49th state and the missionaries who brought them the gospel.
One author that I read, Ernest Burch, wrote, “In 1890 there probably was not a single Christian Inupiaq (sing.) Eskimo. Twenty years later, there was scarcely an Inupiaq who was not a Christian. The source of this transformation would appear self-evident to anyone aware of the following facts: 1) in 1887 the Mission Covenant of Sweden opened a station at Unalakleet, on Norton Sound; and 2) in 1890 missions were established by Congregationalists at Wales, Episcopalians at Point Hope, and Presbyterians at Barrow.”
Just think about that for a moment. A particular group of modern Eskimo natives would not have heard the gospel if folks from the Mission Covenant of Sweden hadn’t made their way to the Norton Sound. And then a group of Congregationalists established a church in Wales (the western edge of Alaska); while the Episcopalians started a work at Point Hope (also in the western part of the state) and the Presbyterians started a church in Barrow (the furthest point north).
It’s reassuring to see that God’s grand plan of sharing the gospel with some Alaskan natives required the participation of many church groups from any number of countries.
And it is exciting to note that that is still His grand plan. He wants to use folks from all kinds of theological backgrounds, ages, nationalities and cultural backgrounds. The common thread is their deep and abiding love for Jesus Christ and their willingness to be used by Him around the world.
Right now, you and I can still be part of that grand plan. We just need to be praying for missionaries and mission efforts. We need to read and think about the strategies being used around the world (there is some really exciting stuff being done on line and with social media).
We need to give generously to individuals or institutions that are focused on evangelism. And yes, we need to be open to God sending us on a short- or long-term mission assignment somewhere overseas.
So, please join me this summer thinking and praying about God’s heart for men and women all around the world. Let’s step out of our “small gospel box” and join in on all the amazing ways God is getting the gospel spread around the world.
If you need some suggestions or help finding good reading material, just drop me a note and I will be super glad to nudge you in the right direction.
One way or the other, let’s link arms with some missionaries this week!