This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Jonathan Clubb, Northpoint’s Pastor of Discipleship, Students.
Hello Church Family,
I will never forget my first exposure to the other side of the world. I was a senior in high school and was invited to go along with my dad, another man from our church, and our head pastor, to Smolensk, Russia. They would be teaching and instructing men who desired to learn in a small seminary setting. My role was simply to be there and take it all in. As I look back now, I have no earthly idea why I was given the opportunity to go. The cost was considerable, as going meant I would miss almost two weeks of class, and I really didn’t have anything to offer toward the trip itself. Despite all those reasons, I boarded a plane for the first time in my life and headed out. As I said, I had no earthly idea why. Yet, to this day, it remains one of the most spiritually impactful events in my life.
Those couple of weeks watching the incredible ways God worked in people that I had never before even thought of, in a country I barely knew anything about, rocked my understanding of what it means to be part of the body of Christ. Their stories and examples of faith through persecution have altered how I think about what it means to suffer for the gospel. And the relationships built in such a small time, with people who spoke a language I still can’t, transformed my understanding of fellowship. That is precisely why you can expect our student ministries to have the same opportunities available on a regular basis.
It should not come as a surprise that God has called for all believers to be people who spread the wonderful good news to lost people. A true understanding of sin, separation, forgiveness, and grace and mercy through the work of Jesus on our behalf should drive us to spread the gospel at any chance we get. All of us are called to do so, and providing students with opportunities to fulfill the Great Commission locally and globally has some unique purposes as well. Here are some of the reasons to do missions specifically for students:
Stage of Life – I want to get students excited about missions now, while they still are planning their futures. Maybe those futures can include missions before they are locked into responsibilities that make it a little tougher to go. Without the responsibility of careers and families, it’s much easier to shift life toward missions. These trips allow our students to see if global missions might be a passion they have, and one they can work toward, without the barrier of complete life upheaval.
Viewing God’s design – Think about how small the world was to you as a teenager. It basically consisted of your church, friends, school, and neighborhood. Missions geared toward our students allows them to step outside of what they know and to grasp firsthand how the uniqueness of cultures bring glory to God. God created ethnic differences that are a reflection of Himself, and point to His wisdom and creativity. We can take joy in the incredible cultural differences that are bridged by the same faith we have in our great God.
Seeing the entire body of Christ – At the pastors’ conference I recently attended, one of the speakers mentioned that being a Christian means handing in your country’s passport and replacing it with a Kingdom of God passport. It’s important for our students to understand that the universal body of Christ goes beyond Northpoint, beyond Corona, beyond Southern California, and beyond the United States. God has graciously and lovingly brought every individual believer into the body, and seeing that firsthand deepens our love for the church. Very few days go by without me thinking about believers around the world because I have had personal interaction with them. I can remember their names and faces, and their personal testimonies of being brought into the family of God.
Spreading Hope – There’s just something about mission trips that gets us excited about bringing the hope of Christ to the world that needs Him so much. The impact of going for a time of specific outreach has lasting impact. I have had student after student express to me their excitement for the gospel after returning from mission trips, and I have watched as they went out and continued pursuing people for the gospel.
As our student ministry heads out in the next couple weeks to Spain and Alaska, please keep us in prayer and ask that God would “let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to or Father who is in heaven.”