“Mission puts everything learnt about our faith into context. It reveals the heart of God, and develops the heart He wants us to have.”
MISSION LEADS TO COMPASSION
Amie Buhari shares why going on a Christian mission helps to sharpen, deepen and enhance the faith of young believers
Ever since I started youth work in my church some 20 years ago, there has been a burden on my heart to have our young people go on mission. Can you believe I have yet to take any of the three to four generations under my care on a mission trip? Talk about a disobedient heart! We got sidetracked: developed a dance ministry; focused on internal matters, and allowed financial constraints to get the better of us. However, my conviction about young people needing to go on mission is even stronger today than 20 years ago. Jesus gave us all (young and old) the Great Commission, saying:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
This Commission is not the easiest of commands, especially for a young person. There is so much in the world that is trying to stop them from doing God’s will.
However, mission puts everything learnt about our faith into context. It reveals the heart of God, and develops the heart He wants us to have. It’s a practical exercise in the commandments (eg. Love your neighbour as yourself), developing the fruit of the Spirit, the Beatitudes and the Proverbs. Mission causes us to ‘be transformed, by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). Mission is an opportunity to put into practice what we have been taught.
There are three ways in which mission, for a young person, is essential to their growth in God.
Mission shows young people how their faith impacts lives
We can teach a young person everything from the textbook (Bible), but until they actually put their faith, the teachings of Jesus, the love of God and the Word into practice, it won’t properly take root and become a part of their being. Think back; until you felt Him at work in your lives, the Holy Spirit didn’t quite make sense. The same way, until someone actually goes out and starts sharing the Good News with others, only then will they fully understand the responsibility God has placed upon us. Theory must be backed up with practical experiences – an opportunity to work out our salvation. For a young person, existing in such a cynical world that wants to dispel every truth and power of God, they need to see that power of God at work in themselves to cement their understanding. Undertaking mission will allow the love of God to be comprehended, as a young person loves and shares the Word with others.
Mission helps young people develop humility and compassion
The truth is, your average teenager is self-absorbed. Unless things affect them directly, they really have little interest in others. This may sound harsh, but that is how they have been conditioned. The world tells our young people to “Live your own life”, “YOLO – You Only Live Once”, and “It’s all about me”. They’ve adopted this attitude of self-preservation above all else, and a way to rid them of this selfish nature is to expose them to situations where they will be humbled by the human condition. Mission does this. It causes the focus to be taken off self and put onto the other person. Because of the very real and often hard lifestyles we encounter on mission, it’s hard for a young person to not feel a yearning to help those in hardship; to soften their hearts towards others, who have nothing obvious to offer, but simply need help (the love of God in practical terms). A young person will learn to give without expecting anything in return. They will learn to love the way God loves.
Mission makes a young person grateful for what they have
In this consumerist time, a young person living in the Western World basically has everything they need. Our kids don’t realise how blessed they are, because they don’t really know anything different! Education is free, healthcare is free, and clothes are thrown away and replaced as quickly as the next meal is on the table. If young people don’t get what they want instantly, they feel like some kind of hardship has been put upon them. Learning about the struggles their compatriots in other countries go through, from an advert asking them to donate money, isn’t enough to stir them to act and, more importantly, feel passionately about wanting to share the love of God with them. However, when you are presented with abject poverty or sickness, or simply a way of life far different from your own, it changes you. It humbles you. It makes you grateful for what you have.
In my opinion, every young person should go on mission, so that they can have the confidence to tell the good news of the Gospel, and show the practical love of God with a sincere heart. It’s guaranteed to develop in our young the character of Jesus.
Amie Buhari is a youth leader and actress