Have you ever met a group of young adults and instantly took a liking to them? Further, after a few minutes you realize that you are touching, ever so briefly, the future? And you felt hope and confidence arise in your heart that these young people were going to be leaders to my grandchildren’s generation. That happened to me Monday in Professor Bob Roberts’ missions class at Northpoint College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I regret that I didn’t take a picture of them.
Bob, is a good friend and an experienced and wise missions leader. He served as a missionary in the Philippines, and later as a pastor in Michigan. He is also a member of the Michigan Network Missions Committee. When he began to speak the class laughter ceased and all eyes were focused on him. Instant connection and communication. I heard John Maxwell say once in Baltimore, that communicators want you to get it. Good teachers want you to get it. Great students catch it and then run with the ball.
A few of their questions that stood out to me were these.
1. What are the challenges you face on a missions trip?
2. Which age group is more open to missions?
3. How should a church budget for missions?
4. What works best for a missions’ presentation at a local church?
5. What do you wish missionaries knew before they visit your church?
6. What do you expect from a Window on the World?
Once the subject of missional churches came up. It’s a phrase that in my opinion is redundant. Missional should be said of every church. If the church is not missional how can it be a church?
One of the students surprised me with her clear definition of the “first gospel” so called because it contains the first promise, the heart of the Good News fulfilled in Christ. God declares there will be war between the seed of the woman and someone descended from her will defeat the devil and destroy sin. The Message captures this war imagery clearly. “I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.”” (Genesis 3:15, Message)
Later another student brought a tears to my eyes as she role played having to tell a missionary their congregation would not be able to support them at the moment. Her discomfort was real. Does she want to become a missionary eventually? It really is painful to say no. Most of the time, I can say to a missionary call us back in another quarter, let’s see where we are at with our missions giving. Sometimes we do have to say no for another reason that doesn’t have anything to do with finances. If we do we are clear so that the missionary is not left hoping and wasting time and money calling back.
I left them thinking, I will be praying for the good success of these students and later in the car, I thought I really liked them. They were respectful, joyful, and fun to be with. I wouldn’t underestimate what God is going to do through those students. Their professor has communicated well!