As you quiet yourself for this brief time, be willing to be open to God in whatever way that may take place.
Matthew 10:5-23 (NRSV)
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has always been active in sending people to spread the gospel message. We currently have missionaries planting churches in Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, and Mexico. Two Cumberland Presbyterian families have partnered with other organizations—one serving in Uganda and the other in a closed country. We have a total of 20 missionaries. Japan Presbytery sent a pastor from Japan to Louisville, Kentucky, where many Japanese immigrants have settled. In addition, the Missions Ministry Team is working with Cumberland Presbyterian churches in Spain, Australia, South Korea, and Haiti. We have councils of churches in five countries and 5 presbyteries outside the United States. Currently, there are Cumberland Presbyterian churches in 14 countries, including the United States.
While I have not experienced God’s call to go a distant land to share the gospel, I can imagine that it would be thrilling, overwhelming, and frightening. People who answer this call give up the security of life as they have known it. They leave behind most of their possessions as well their family and friends to go to a place where they probably will have difficulty communicating and the culture will be unfamiliar.
Even if God is not calling you to go to a distant country, all of us are called to share the gospel. Many of our churches throughout the United States are experiencing declines in attendance/membership. Between 2012 and 2016, approximately 30 Cumberland Presbyterian congregations have closed. While new churches have been started during the same time frame, the growth in this country is not keeping pace with the losses. That said, our work in Hong Kong grew by 52% in the past 10 years, and the work in Colombia by 30%. Cumberland Presbyterian churches are being started in different countries almost every year. We have challenges, but there is much to celebrate.
God called Samuel McAdow, Samuel King, and Finis Ewing to start a new more than church 217 years ago. How will you respond to God’s call to share the gospel?
Loving God, we are thankful for those who take your word to people in other countries. Help us to be aware of the need to share your word with those around us wherever we are. Let us know your will and help us to find the courage to follow your plan for our lives. We will no longer turn away from the pull you’ve placed on our hearts. Grow us in your Son’s image and send us forth in his example. In your name we pray. Amen.
Go with God.