August 9, 2014

What Mark Will You Leave?

By Bill MacLeod, Executive Director, Mission ConneXion

Bill MacCleodIt has been my privilege since the late 1990’s to serve on the US Board of a mission organization that places workers throughout Central Asia.  Every two years, the workers of this company who come from Australia, Germany, Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, and the US, all gather for a staff conference in Turkey.  It was a highlight to be able to attend last month, especially as we were approached by a Portland couple who said they were serving as full-time workers there today because of their involvement in Mission ConneXion.  Toward the end of the week we had opportunity to visit a number of ancient cities mentioned in the New Testament, including Ephesus and Miletus.

Cross1In Ephesus we read from Acts 19 as we stood in the very Amphitheater where an angry mob aggravated by the silversmith Demetrius, had dragged Paul and his companions off convinced their preaching was hurting the bottom-line of their Artemis-shrine-making business.  In Miletus we viewed the now dry and desolate harbor where Paul said an emotional goodbye to the Ephesian elders as recorded in Acts 20.  At the Temple of Apollo at Didyma which had been a pagan temple as far back at 600 BC, that by 303 AD Emperor Diocletian launched the most severe and systematic persecution of Christians in Roman history.  Yet, ironically, we found Christian symbols etched in stone here because, by the 5thand 6th century AD, the rise of Christianity was such that the Temple of Apollo at Didyma became the site of a Christian Church, like many other former pagan temples in the ancient world.

Ruins2The gospel penetrated, and eventually “crushed” the opposition, because of the power of the gospel, and because courageous individuals, not unlike those I met at the conference, were willing to go and tell it to the peoples in these pagan areas. In just 3 centuries, Christianity left its mark as it went from an obscure Middle Eastern sect of Judaism to becoming the state religion of the new Roman Empire by Constantine the Great!

This Fall we have planned three ConneXion training events designed to play a role in the continued propelling of workers, and the effective spread of the gospel worldwide:

You will notice that the work of effective mission mobilization does not just take place “over there”, which is why all of these ConneXion events are applicable to those who remain behind, sending and supporting those who “go” cross-culturally.  What mark will you leave?