Wednesday, 28 July 2021
Steve Early (Mobilisation Director) shares the journey he went on to serve on the mission field.
-- 1999: THE SOUTH WEST HIGHLANDS OF ETHIOPIA --
I am on top of one of the tallest peaks in the area with a missionary colleague and three leaders of the fledgling Me’en church. We are focused on mapping a tract of land that has been given by the local government to the church. The site is spectacularly beautiful and the church leaders seemed fascinated with the view, laughing and calling out into the distance.
I ask them, “What are you laughing at?”
One of them responds, “We’re not supposed to be here.”
I’m sure of my directions so I say, “Yes, this is the land the government has given you.”
The same leader says, “No, this is the most sacred place for the Me’en people.”
Another leader continues, “This place is so restricted that only one person from a family can come here to make offerings. If anyone else comes here, they will be seized by an evil spirit and die.” He paused and then he said, “But we’re here and we’re not afraid.” And with unmistakeable sincerity, all three men said, “Praise God!”
-- 1987: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON --
Turn back the clock and I’m sitting in a café with an elder from my church. He believes I should consider whether God is calling me to missions and asks if I would consider going to Ethiopia for one year.
I answer politely, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Undeterred, he asks me to pray about it.
I begin to pray about it and the ground begins to shift. I find myself thinking about Ethiopia – a lot. Work colleagues who have never shown any interest in my faith, start asking me questions about God. Three couples from church tell me I would make a good missionary and they would support me financially if I were to serve. Bizarre.
Suddenly, I become aware of a growing dread, wonder, and awe; a realisation that I’ve been offered an invitation and not just by my church.
The biblical motivation for missionary service is important to SIM as we work with individuals and their churches to understand their place in global missions. But there is this other side, as well: The deeply personal, our relational God, acting in an intensely personal way. At the heart of a commitment to missionary service is God’s question: “Do you trust Me?” But it’s not just a question, it’s an invitation.
Standing on the top of that peak in Ethiopia, I saw the fruit of my response to God’s invitation twelve years earlier. Seeing the liberating power of God in the lives of those Me’en believers highlighted an even more enduring motivation for missionary service: The beauty of God reconciling all things to himself in Christ. As God transforms lives through the Gospel, there is an overcoming of the divisions of language, culture, ethnicity and nationalism.
Do you want to start a conversation with a Mobiliser to serve on the field? Please visit sim.org.au/enquire
Photo credit: Steve Evans
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