by on MARCH 16, 2015 – (originally posted here)
It was spring 1973 when I happened to catch a little announcement in my home church bulletin that would change my life. It was an invitation to “Mission 73” – a youth choir trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia, for anyone who had completed the ninth grade.
To say the trip was life-changing is to cheapen the phrase, and the memory of the trip. You can read more about that here.
In the wisdom and economy of God, He decided that the best way to grow me up, call me out, expose my weaknesses, and reveal my gifts was to put me on a bus or plane with a group of people for a short-term trip, where the mission was serve Him well or fail terribly. It started with that one trip, continued on through my high school and college years, including a couple of individual or personal partner trips for extended periods, then later internationally to places like the Ukraine, Prague, Vienna, and Thailand.
Now this year we are pleased and excited to announce the launch of a ministry that provides that opportunity to others. After months of talking, praying, planning, and waiting, LifeVesting International will officially open its doors sometime near June 1 of this year, for the purpose of supporting the work of Christian pastors or other Christian leaders worldwide by providing assistance in the form of volunteer labor, consultation, and/or training.
We recognize that there are many different organizations, large and small, whose purpose is to fill Christ’s Great Commission. What does the world need with another one? Why are we doing this? Aside from simple obedience God (the ultimate consideration), here are seven reasons.
1. Because the first word in the Great Commission is still “Go.”
There is a place to give; in fact, we will probably shamelessly ask you to help us financially when the time is appropriate. There is a place and great importance in praying, and God calls all believers to that. But the first word in the Great Commission is still “Go,” and there is no substitute for a boots-on-the-ground, face-to-face experience.
That said, we have long ago discovered that you don’t have to completely relocate in order to be one of the go-ers. Significant results can happen – in others’ hearts and yours – when you give a week or two of your time.
2. Because someone we cherish has asked for our help.
I have written before here, here, and here about our Thai pastor friend Dui and his wife Gift. Last October we were blessed to have them in our home here in Mobile, and we discussed at length how his vision and opportunity had grown greatly. All they needed was groups of believers to come over to help.
Fair enough. But we didn’t need to start a new organization for that. Then one morning Dui mentioned the story in the Bible about when Jesus suggested to Peter, after the fisherman had caught nothing all night long, that he cast his net on the other side of the boat. Peter grudgingly did so, and the haul was so great the nets were beginning to break.
“So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came…” (Luke 5:7).
“I believe we have a great harvest, but we cannot bring it in by ourselves. We need our partners to come help us,” Dui said.
I was smitten. I got it. And frankly, I haven’t gotten over it.
3. Because we can’t do it alone.
Still, why not just go over by myself, or with Robin? Why not take a couple of friends for good measure? Why start an organization to make this happen?
Because we need more help than the few of us can deliver. And those who go need training, support, logistics, and communication. We will need people with skills and experience that I don’t have, and others with resources that we don’t have, to accomplish a task that the few of us can never accomplish by ourselves. There is a great, great harvest, just in this one place – and that doesn’t count the other places that will surely follow.
4. Because I have a calling to help others fulfill their life purpose, and part of that is sharing God’s love with others.
Part of my ministry is helping people just like you to fulfill their life purpose. And part of your life purpose is to receive God’s love and grace and share it with other people. Now my calling is to call you out – to stretch you beyond your comfort zones and convenience and show you a world that can be changed because you’re in it.
5. Because our mandate is unique.
My brother-in-law helps lead a missions organization that goes to the hard places. And they’re making a profound difference. My son-in-law works with a missions organization that mobilizes high school students to plant churches around the world. My father-in-law and mother-in-law went to Thailand to build a hospital in what was then a rural part of Thailand, working on behalf of a global denominational missions organization. My sister-in-law leads a nationwide missions volunteer support organization, also denominational, as well as serving on the board for other organizations.
All of the groups represented just by family members have unique mandates, philosophies, and strategies. No two are alike and each has its place. So does LifeVesting International. Our focus is on the “hot places” in the world, where indigenous pastors are confronting great opportunity, but lack the personnel resources to “haul in their harvest” by themselves. We are not here to give them their mandate, but to mobilize caring people to help them carry it out.
6. Because I’ve seen first-hand the spiritual growth and leadership development that takes place on short-term trips.
If your only exposure to spiritual growth is to “come and hear” or “sit and soak” (both of which have their place), you are missing one of the greatest opportunities to experience character development and transformation I can describe. The dynamics of a short-term mission trip are phenomenal. They’re hard, joyful, glorious, convicting, heart-breaking, heart-mending, unity-building, Spirit-filling opportunities and I believe every believer is called to “Go” somewhere unless God specifically says “Stay.”
7. Because global partnerships are changing lives in every hemisphere.
Eastern and Western, Northern and Southern, churches and individuals are being transformed by global partnerships. When you can touch and be touched by lives of people in a completely different culture and a completely different part of the world, it does something to your perspective of the Kingdom of God.
Today, for the most part, the sending countries are places like the U.S. But I envision the day when we’re working with people in Africa or Asia to organize trips of believers to come over here and help churches in America. It’s already happening in some cases, such as with the African Children’s Choir.
Stay tuned for more news as we get closer to launch. Pray for us. More importantly, pray that God will show you how you can put “boots on the ground” to help someone haul in their harvest.
What better way to be a LifeVestor?