“What in the world,” was my thought my sophomore year in college when I was asked to join a group from my university for a six week summer mission. My heart knew how scared, “unspiritual,” and ill-equipped I felt for taking this sort of step of faith. “She really wants me to join her?” I asked myself. Not only did I feel fearful, I was afraid that I might miss a chance at something else. Have you ever felt that way? You have something really good before you, but you feel you must weigh all your options for there may be other possibilities out there. I feared that I might miss out or mess things up. There might be something bigger for me to do, like preparing for my future, or being responsible with my time. (It is funny, those things were so big, but 20 plus years later I cannot even remember what those other options were!) What I didn’t know, was that the next summer would help prepare me for my future and would be a great investment of my time–no matter where I ended up.
Why discuss this now — summer plans and all that? This is a good time to think about “border crossing” (stepping outside our comfort zone, spending the summer on a summer mission, etc) for if you are a college student, you may already be making plans for next summer and next year. There are opportunities you don’t want to miss. If you are way out of college, the holidays will approach soon, and it is a good time to think beyond our borders and engage with others who have crossed borders to come here. Secondly, crossing our borders stretches us and increases our faith as we step outside our comfort zone, put aside what is familiar and trust God to provide. It is a tangible way of presenting our minuscule loaves and fish before Him and seeing Him multiply it. It is one way our loving Father grows us and produces His fruit in us. Thirdly, I think crossing our borders deepens our love relationship with Him as we see Him provide and as we walk with Him when it is difficult. We don’t go in this thing alone, but He is with us and even preparing the way for us, because He loves us deeply. It is always easier to remain comfortable, trusting more in our feelings or what is known or predictable than go to another country, crossing borders and cultures. God works beyond our borders. Let’s see how.
God uses us
I felt scared to death, crossing the border into a small communist country in Eastern Europe and having my passport checked. In my fear, I thought this could be a mistake. Maybe I did miss something. Soon, as I met Anya and Katya, university students like me who spoke English, I found we had much in common. But there was a void in their lives and in their peers’ lives. As their world system was crumbling around them, they didn’t have a way to make sense out of life. Somehow, God used small, insecure, little-ole me to tell them about God’s love and the saving story of Jesus Christ. I loved their interest and their thoughtfulness as we discussed God. They fully saw their need for Christ. I thought, “If God could use me here, maybe He could use me back at school and in my sorority house.” As I stepped out in faith to go beyond my borders, God increased my faith.
God uses community
Again I felt afraid as my husband and I decided by faith to lead a team in Russia for a year with our two small boys. We had no idea who would go with us as we embarked on starting a campus ministry in a city where there was not one. Was this foolish to try? I knew there was no way I could do this alone. Soon I would find out how true this was. Russia can be a dark and spiritually dry place. Not only was it bitter cold, snow fell nine months out of the year, with short winter days. The people, like Alexey and Peter, felt the darkness of despair, alcoholism, and the void of God from their culture. At times it was tiring living in a foreign place, trying to communicate in another language and being inadequate at it. Fortunately, five student guys from my husband’s bible study and two other women from our campus went with us. How we needed each other in the midst of the darkness! As we cared for each other, we were caring also for the Russian people. For as we loved one another, we could show them Christ. Going beyond my borders showed me that as a team we were better equipped to care for the people around us.
God loves each person
Standing on a corner overlooking a sea of dark heads and bicycles, I felt overwhelmed as I realized the mass of people around me were made up of individuals. Each one was a person who God cared deeply about. Each person on the street needed to know about God’s love and forgiveness. My love drains, but God’s love is like a sea that never dries up. God has a story which reveals that He has the best plan for life and the world. For Li and Mei, science and self was not fixing their world. Who would tell them? Going beyond my borders helped me to see other countries, not just as a mass of people or people group, but individual lives, like me, who desperately need hope and love.
God goes beyond borders
The Scriptures speak of Jesus having compassion and going beyond cultural borders. He told His disciples to look up and see the people who were in distress right before them, but he also sent the disciples out from him. It was “here and there.” The needs are great here, but it is undeniable that He sends disciples out also. In Luke 24:46,47, Jesus says to His frightened disciples, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” He also tells them they will given the power of the Spirit to do this seemingly impossible task. In East Asia, often students who were changed by the gospel would then tell their peers and family members, even though it was a risk. Their lives touch many lives my life would never touch. Their borders touch borders that I can never reach. They become an ambassador the same way I am called to be an ambassador. Going beyond our borders is ambassador living. As I go, God goes beyond the borders, doing more than I can imagine.
God loves the stranger
Now I am here in my smallish college town, yet there are people living on my street with backgrounds from China, Greece, India, Africa and Poland. The borders have been crossed and they are now my neighbors. They may call this home now, but most feel a little like an outsider or “stranger.” The holidays will approach and it is a great time to welcome a “stranger.” My love with my family and friends communicates God’s love to “strangers” as they are in my home. God loves the stranger and wants to use even ordinary people like me to cross borders and show His love.
The world is close to us. Why not go? Is someone asking you to join them? If not, who can you ask to join you? Don’t miss the opportunity and adventure you can have to cross borders and watch God at work. I guarantee you, it will give you life lessons that will go with you wherever you end up. You will not be missing out or making a mistake, but making the most of an opportunity you have. God is calling us beyond our borders to make Him known. We have been blessed with much and have much to bless others with.
Overflow: allowing God’s ways to touch our lives and then our lives to pour out to others
*What opportunity do you have to take the gospel cross culturally? What would keep you from taking this opportunity? (see links below)
*Try “holiday sharing.” Share a lunch or a meal with a”stranger” over the holidays and share about your favorite holiday with one another.
*CRU has a long history and proven track record for taking students overseas and partnering with others to help them go. Here are some helpful student links for summer mission’s project:
One thought on “Going beyond borders: What in the world?”
Great thoughts Erin! I love your heart for people around us and around the world.
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