Sometimes I like to skip rocks across the surface of a lake or pond. It's interesting to see how many times I can make a flat-ish rock skip. And every place where the rock hits the surface of the water, there are ripples that move outward from the spot.
The last thing Jesus told His disciples before He ascended to heaven was this:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)
We will receive power by the Holy Spirit, and we will be witnesses to the ends of the earth! We are tasked to know Christ as an indwelling Presence in our lives (the Holy Spirit), and to make Him known across the street (Jerusalem), beyond our own neighborhood or city (Judea), across cultures (Samaria) and internationally (to the ends of the earth).
This is the organizing principle of the mission work of Dayton UM Church, where I serve. We partner with ministries in each area as follows:
Jerusalem - Phil Gabriel with Trinity Life Ministry (an addiction ministry for men) in Lafayette, Indiana
Judea - Bill & Stacy Spencer with Narrow Gate Foundation (a discipleship ministry for young men) near Nashville, Tennessee
Samaria - Missy Bowman with Central Indiana Teen Challenge (an addiction ministry for young women) in Lebanon, Indiana
Ends of the Earth - Cameron & Ann Gongwer with TMS Global (public health ministry in Ghana, West Africa), Wes & Joy Griffin with International Leadership Institute (ILI - a leadership training ministry that accelerates the spread of the Gospel around the world), Joseph & Stella Otsin, with the Methodist Church of Ghana (church planting in Ghana, West Africa), Peter & Esther Pereira with Hope for Today (compassion and evangelism ministry in South Asia), and Les & Rita Peters with Impact Ministries (Christian schools & church planting in Guatemala)
Our intention is to go an inch wide and a mile deep in our mission partnerships, rather than a mile wide and an inch deep. We support a limited number of mission partners in order to make our partnership significant for each ministry.
Here's the thing. Most of us in the congregation are not called to go ourselves and work directly in these ministries. Most of us are not called to go to Africa or Guatemala, except perhaps as part of a short-term mission team. As a matter of fact, most of us secretly pray God never calls us to Africa! (As indicated in this song by Scott Wesley Brown)
The rocks we skip to make known the Christ we know are sending ripples deep into the lives of people locally, beyond our community, across cultures and to the ends of the earth! Partnering with these ministries extends the witness of our lives and our congregation far beyond the walls of our church and the small town of Dayton.
The two things we can do to directly empower these partnerships is to pray for our mission partners and give toward our Global Impact Celebration mission fund. And if God calls, we can go even deeper by joining one of the short-term teams that travel from Dayton UMC to Ghana or Guatemala for 10 days to two weeks each year.
The bigger the rock, the bigger the ripples. Together as a congregation, Dayton UMC supports these ministries with about $80 to $90 thousand each year! The impact is significant, and our witness is extended literally to the ends of the earth! I thank God for all He has done, is doing and will do through the mission work of this committed and generous congregation! To God be the glory!