Culture shock, language learning, homesickness, lack of speech or knowledge—as capable as these things are of being hindrances to missions, none qualify as the biggest problem to missions. The biggest hindrance to missions is looking at the screen right now: it is self.
One way self often shows up as a problem is in relationships. It is revealed in the form of conflict.
My time here at training has been one of the biggest blessings of my life! An invaluable lesson that has been woven both in class and conversation has been the essence of teamwork. Growing up participating in many team sports, team ministries (e.g. canvassing), team organizations, I have had my fair share of conflict. What causes it? Perhaps many things can trigger the conflict but I want to suggest to you that the underlying root is self.
It’s self that is hurt when expectations aren’t met. It’s self that declares it’s exalted importance over the other person’s feelings and thoughts. It’s self that closes and hardens the heart to other possible solutions other than the ones it has already predetermined.
But did you know, that the fundamental principle of the Gospel is reconciliation of relationships? Think about it. Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our sins have separated us from God. Sin cannot stand in the presence of God—it will be consumed. When man sinned, his ability to interact with God face to face was broken. A gap was formed between God and humanity, a gap that could only bridged through Jesus. The Old Testament sanctuary, sacrifices, and rituals, were all pointing to the time when Jesus would come, the Son of God, to reconcile humanity to the Father.
This is what makes the gospel so beautiful! When we live in harmony together, salvation is exemplified. The way we live together is the gospel we preach. We demonstrate God’s reconciling power through our unity in diversity. Though we come from various backgrounds and walks of life, our goal is the same. Though conflict arises, we learn to be vulnerable with each other, strengthening each other, and finding healing together through Jesus. What a beautiful picture of salvation!
I’m so grateful to have experienced this through my time at Adventist Frontier Missions training. And it’s only the first week! God has been so tremendously good to us and I cannot wait to see what He has in store next. One thing is for sure, I want to share my experience of salvation and relational healing with others. No matter where I go, this will be the gospel that I preach. I hope you will too.