I hope you all enjoy this collaborative, initial blog entry that Garrett and I wrote together!! We felt this message was so important to everything that we are doing here so we decided to start with it.
Have you ever been part of a church that has commissioned and sent out missionaries to unreached parts of the world? It is both beautiful and inspiring to watch someone give up all the comforts of home to go be God’s hands and feet in another country. Many times, this decision means having to learn a new culture and language, committing to being out of the country for long periods of time, living in an uncomfortable environment that is often hostile to the Gospel, and being isolated from the very Christian community that trains and sends the missionaries out.
Sound familiar? When you go on deployment you have a lot more in common with the foreign missionary than you may think. You give up all the comforts of home, you have to immerse yourself in a new culture and language, you are gone for long periods of time, and you will often be one of the only Christians among a group of people that desperately need the love of Jesus.
Maybe this still seems like a stretch. After all, the missionary’s primary responsibility is to share the Gospel whereas the servicemember deploys primarily as a warfighter. But don’t miss the bigger picture! It may be the US government that sends you out as a warfighter, but it is the Almighty God who sends you, wherever you go, as an ambassador of His love and even as a warfighter “against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). You are a part of God’s perfect plan, just like the missionary. He has you in your specific unit, on your specific deployment, and with those specific people for a very good reason. Being a missionary is hard work. Most people who sign up to be foreign missionaries expect this. So you should expect to work hard too! If you understand that your military deployment is like going on mission, you will know how to prepare and you will have the right expectations. Now you can get excited! God wants to use you as his missionary in big ways for His glory, to share the Gospel with your fellow service members and people all around the world!
And what is this “Gospel?” It is the good news of Jesus Christ as beautifully summarized in the following verses:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus!], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7