By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“(Jesus said) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”—John 13:34-35
From Salkehatchie to San Salvador. From Haiti to Honduras. From Guatemala to Georgetown. From Cuba to Cope. From Ecuador to Elloree.
People in South Carolina have been in mission this summer from “anywhere to everywhere!” Adults and youth of all ages are living a more excellent way as disciples that God can use in communities around South Carolina and the world.
Making it a priority to serve others is sharing the love of Christ through action. Those actions might include swinging a hammer, preparing a meal, playing games with children, distributing supplies to a shelter or many other possibilities. Whichever action it may be, the task of the mission experience is a catalyst that propels faithful people into unfamiliar parts of the community and the world to serve others who might seem to be different. When we are willing to show up, God’s presence is revealed in a mighty way. As we connect with those we serve, it becomes abundantly clear that we have more in common than we ever would have thought from a distance.
In 1992, Bishop J. Lloyd Knox, the resident bishop of the North Georgia Annual Conference at that time, invited me on a mission trip. It was my first year serving as the North Georgia Conference Missions Specialist, and Bishop Knox’s invitation brought my understanding of being in mission to life while we worked in the city of Alajuela, Costa Rica. I asked Bishop Knox what he expected from local churches, and his answer has stuck with me. He said that he expected local churches “to be on the cutting edge of ministry, making a difference for Jesus Christ.”
That’s what it is to be in mission. Being on the cutting edge, figuring out what it means to make disciples. Transforming the world for people where they live. Using our lives to share Christ’s love. Meeting new people and listening to their stories. Growing in an understanding of how God is at work in the world.
In his journal, John Wesley wrote, “The world is my parish.” The church is not restricted to a building. No matter where we find ourselves, from anywhere to everywhere, we have the opportunity to share Christ’s love with all whom we meet.
As followers of Christ, we seek to live out our faith through the giving of our time, talent, gifts, service and witness. It is up to us to spread the good news from anywhere to everywhere through our words and actions, sharing God’s abundant grace, love and mercy in tangible ways with all whom we meet. Your witness might just be the only sermon some people will ever hear.