"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." - John 3:16 (NRSV)
When I was a member of RPC, before I even started going to seminary, my faith grew in leaps and bounds each time I joined a mission experience overseas. Bill and I were relatively new members when a trip to Belize was advertised in the bulletin. We soon made arrangements for our three young daughters to spend time at their grandparents' house for that week and were ready for our own getaway.
Once we returned, I remember talking with the elementary principal about our trip and he was curious that we had spent our vacation time doing a mission project. I'm still not sure if he thought we were crazy, but, to us, it seemed like a natural thing to do as people who look for ways to serve the Lord.
Being a part of what God is doing in the world is not a new concept to Roswell Presbyterian Church. In 1856, Henry Barrington Pratt, the son of RPC's first minister, Dr. Nathaniel Pratt, was sent as a church planter to Colombia, South America. I guess you could say it is in RPC's DNA!
Now that "mission" is in my job description, I have the privilege of routinely visiting each of RPC's global partners in Guatemala, Kenya, and the Yucatán. What a joy to see familiar faces, hear unbelievable stories of God's movement among them since we were last together, and to see faith increase in the hearts of all those involved.
I think about what one of our RPC folks said upon returning from one of these trips, "It is all about relationships. It is having the time to sit across from our brothers and sisters in Christ and realize that distance is only as great as we make it." Indeed, it is worth going the distance to learn in fresh, new ways, that "God, so loved the world, he gave..."
Lord, you've got the whole world in your hands and still, you use our hands and hearts to make an impact in the the lives of our neighbors near and far. Help us to be open to being impacted by others too. We want to see the fullness of your grace and mercy as we look at the beautiful diversity you have created in humankind. Amen.