We often get the question, “where are you off to next?” It’s a good question, considering that the word “missions” usually implies going out into the nations. I love the times we get to go to new places and encourage people in their relationships with God. However, there is so much to be done behind the scenes as well! Being part of a missions organisation – and being part of what God is doing in the world in general – doesn’t always mean going out.
Sometimes, it means staying back.
To better explain this point, I want to share a story from the Bible with you. This story is found in the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 30. This is the story of the Israelites taking back what belonged to them. The army of another nation, the Amalekites, had just invaded Israel. The Amalekites took the Israelites’ possessions for themselves and took their people captive. King David asked God what to do about the invasion, and God told him that he would be successful in his pursuit to take back what belonged to the Israelites. So, David followed God’s leading. David and his army found out where the Amalekites had taken their people and property. A number of the army went out to take back what was theirs, while two hundred men stayed back to watch the baggage. After rescuing their people and taking back their possessions, the army returned to where they had left those two hundred men with the baggage. What happened next is noteworthy.
A group of the army started to speak up – the Bible calls this a group of “wicked and worthless” men. This group said that the men who stayed back didn’t do anything to earn what they had just taken back. They said they should be able to have their wives and children back, but nothing more. King David, however, did not agree. David reminded these men that everything belonged to God in the first place, and told them that everyone had an equal share.
“For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.”
These past few weeks have been a lot of behind-the-scenes for Chris and myself. We’re so thankful for the opportunities we have had to serve the ones “going”, like those men in David’s time did when they stayed back with the baggage. It’s amazing to be a small part of the big picture of what God is doing!
With the Media team, I’ve helped with video and print material celebrating the things that God has done in and through the students over the past few months. Chris has just begun to work on a construction project with the base, refitting an old warehouse into accommodation for fifty students. He is excited to see the impact as students come in and out of this housing for years to come!
Chris is also spending the next three months getting ready for the Discipleship Training School he will be leading in January. Half of this school is an outreach trip, but there is so much preparation to do ahead of time. The first half of the school involves twelve weeks of intense lectures, topics ranging from who the Bible says God is to a godly view of human relationships. These lectures prepare students for their outreach trip, but also for whatever the students will be doing beyond this experience in missions.
One of my favourite things about being with YWAM Perth is that we really are all working together for one purpose. In the 18 months that I’ve been here, I’ve cooked meals in the kitchen, cleaned windows, written articles for our website, photographed events, produced print materials, and studied the bible. And, yes, I have gone into the nations to share the love of God! However, I try not to see any of these things as more productive or more “holy” than another. I love helping to keep the base running so we can keep sending people out. I love being part of mobilising young people into missions. I love hearing the stories of things God has been doing in the world, even when I’ve stayed back.
I love being a very small part of God’s big and beautiful plans.
I hope this encourages you as well in whatever role God has you. You might feel like you’re one of those staying back for the time being. Maybe you feel like you’ll go into missions eventually, or perhaps you’re passionate about God’s call on your life to work and live in your home country. I hope that this story from the Bible can help you to value your time of staying behind, no matter how long God has you in that place. As the church body, we really are working together for one goal. Each of us has a unique and individual part to play, whether on the front lines or in the background. No matter your role, we all have an equal share in the kingdom of God… just as King David said many years ago.
Thank you to Jo for the photo of us!