My clumsy discernment of times when God wants me to pay attention is often characterised by flashes of insight that then fuel my preaching, teaching or conversation for weeks or months, or even longer.
One conviction has been with me for some years now, namely that our nation needs strong effective churches and to get strong, effective churches we need highly motivated leaders. And leaders get motivated when they see God at work in power.
Around BMS people have heard me say this for a long time: get people to parts of the world where God is at work in power, and then let them come back full of the Holy Spirit, with renewed faith in the power of God to redeem people, transform communities and thereby influence nations.
For the last few years we’ve been sending ministers’ teams to various parts of the world, and I’ve been hugely encouraged when I hear their stories of what they’ve experienced. Our Baptist college students are now able to go as part of their training and many are doing so. Hearing that ‘everywhere I go, the whole college is talking about nothing except the impact of the mission visit’ is music to my ears!
But its now 20 years since we sent our first Action Teams, 30-40 each year for a programme lasting 10 months. Many are now in leadership in their churches, in the denomination and in BMS, both in the UK and around the world. Knowing how gifted and committed so many of them are, I urge you to hear their stories and see their commitment and praise God for them! Allow your faith to rise with theirs, for many of them have seen God at work in power with their own eyes.
And if you’re aware that inwardly you pigeonhole their enthusiasm as the innocence of youth or the idealism of those not yet worldly-wise, then your cynicism will rob you of your share of the blessings they have received. Cynicism needs to be dropped into the deepest oceans, with lead weights attached!
Earlier today I was just so excited to read of the impact of a recent mission visit by one of our action teams in the north of Brazil. Can I encourage you to read their testimony here. And as you read their story, just consider whether the God who is at work in Brazil is not the same God whose Holy Spirit hovers over your church, hovers your street, your life, your family, your church.
Yes, the people are different. Yes, you can rightly say easily that the west is far more resistant to the Gospel. But what I want to know is that God is the same. With that in my bag, with God on our side, knowing that God is already at work, there are moments when I really do believe we can transform the world!
So, my personal thanks to Tim, Sophie and Ben in Brazil, and all the action teamers around the world.
Thanks for building my faith today!