A Devotion from Nic Allen, Pastor at Rolling Hills Church
In John 14, Thomas exclaimed to Jesus that they didn’t know the way. Jesus responded, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” It wasn’t enough for the disciples to know that Jesus was the route to truth, but that he was truth. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to describe himself as the way to life but that he, in fact, was life.
The year was 2010. Our girls were two and three years old and we had the brilliant idea to take them on a national mission trip to New Orleans with a team from our church. The goal was a family mission trip experience and our girls were among the youngest. To say that sleeping in the upstairs Sunday school wing of a post-Katrina church building and showering in community restrooms with toddlers was an adventure would be a wildly courteous understatement. Why did we do it? Missions.
Why did we continue to do it year after year in their young lives? Missions. Somewhere along the way, God birthed a call in us and in our church to make missions (praying, giving, and going) part of the DNA of our children’s lives. Following the sage wisdom of Horace Bushnell, the father of the religious education movement in America, we gleaned as parents that we should aim to raise kids who never remember a time when they were not seeking Christ in life. Because central to seeking Christ is his Great Commission, we knew that missions had to be central to their very DNA in life. We didn’t want them to remember their first mission trip or ever recall a moment when missional living wasn’t part of everyday life and missionary going wasn’t part of their calendar every year.
Fast forward to two teen girls who are fresh on the ground from summer missions in Brazil serving with JMI, and they’re busy leveraging Christmas gifts from grandparents to plan for future opportunities. The work of JMI is alive in the world taking the joy of Jesus to people in need of hope. It’s changing the trajectory of poor, orphaned, and vulnerable children and we see that in the most incredible stories. It’s also shaping the perspective of high school missionaries who are at critical junctions in their life with Jesus trying to determine their way in the world. The discipleship growth that happens on a mission trip with a gospel-centered organization simply can’t be qualified in numbers on a spreadsheet or a promotional blurb on a website. It isn’t just life-changing. It’s life.