Some good friends of ours spent several years in Lesotho in Southern Africa, and we had the privilege of visiting them for a couple of weeks.
When they came back, we had a special service to give them the opportunity to feedback to the church some of the work they had been involved in, and tell some of the stories. In the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas comes in December, and most missionaries from the Northern Hemisphere can't get used to this, and so will have a special Christmas in July, which is the wintertime there. Bearing this in mind, we decided to have a 'Christmas' service here last July - complete with a fellowship lunch, where members of the church ate a Christmas lunch in the church after the service. My friend, Sam, led the service, and I was invited to preach.
In preparing the sermon, I wanted to try and select a passage from the stories that we generally hear at Christmas time, the Nativity Narratives, but I also wanted to preach on a verse that taught us how we should respond to mission work as Christians.
I decided on a passage in Luke chapter 1, which contains the following verse.
Blessed by the LORD God of Israel.....[He] has raised up a horn of salvation for us. Luke 1vv68, 69
I looked at the image of the horn, and how it relates to a demonstration of God's power, among other things. One way in which this power of God is beneficial to Christians is in mission work. One of my points was that mission exists solely because people don't worship, and as Christians are supposed to make disciples of all nations, then there are just three types of Christian when it comes to mission work - Christians who go to different cultures, Christians who send missionaries out, and disobedient Christians.
I had written this sermon, and had read through it several times, as I usually do, but it wasn't until I was standing in front of the congregation that I was particularly challenged by the words I was saying. I felt that through the sermon I was preaching, God was speaking directly to me, challenging me about what was stopping me going overseas. And the only answer I could give was 'Nothing!'
And so started the period of enquiry that we are still going through. We are exploring a couple of options, and speaking to organisations who may be able to support us, but we are particularly sure that God has given us a very clear conviction that we should serve Him in this way. We just need to work on the finer details.......