Watch the video below to learn how God moved through our champions at our Vision Dinner 2018 in Chino and Santa Ana.
The Celestial City is beautiful. Encrusted with jewels and gold-paved roads, it’s where real treasures are stored and never fade. It’s where the Lord resides and where the main character in The Pilgrim’s Progress journeys to find. He knows he won’t get there right away, but it will be his last destination and the place he can finally see Jesus, the one who took away his heavy burden.
This 340-year-old, allegorical novel follows the story of a man who is appropriately named, Christian. It opens with the author, John Bunyan, who says he fell asleep and dreamed. In his dream, he sees Christian standing with a large weight on his back and a Bible in his hand. Bunyan watches as the man becomes distraught over the reality of his sin and how he might be saved from it.
As Christian commits to his quest toward the City, he experiences a myriad of trials and meets several aptly-named characters – all of which appear as relatable metaphors for any believer’s faith.
Similarly, those who are followers of Christ are woven into an intricate story in which we daily walk a path laid out for us. Unlike Christian, the decisions we make along our individual journeys are not confined to the pages of a novel. We have been invited into a more complex, more stunning narrative, and it’s one in which we know the ending.
The GO Fund’s annual Vision Dinners are themed after these beliefs. As we move toward the Celestial City, we want to celebrate the ending we know comes for those who put their faith in Christ, the one who takes our burdens. We also want to link arms with brothers and sisters whose paths have lead them to the farther reaches of the world.
Matthew 6:19-21 tells us to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven where they can not be destroyed. Followers of Christ can rejoice that there will be a reward for the work that often shows little return here on Earth. The beautiful currency we will be given at the end of our journeys are small tokens that further reveal God’s goodness and character – the ultimate provider and Father who delights to give his children good gifts. This truth is paired with the stronger, underlying reason we so desperately desire to reach the Celestial City. It is the same as Christian’s in The Pilgrim's Progress:
“There at the Celestial City, they say there is no death and there I shall dwell with such companions I like best. For, to tell you the truth, I love Him because He released me from my burden, and I am very weary of my inward sickness. In view of this, I prefer to be where I shall die no more, and in company of others who shall continually cry, ‘Holy, holy, holy!’”
You wake up, brush your teeth, make your breakfast and drive off to work. After you work through the day, you drive home. Then, dinner, plans with friends and family or you may head to bed. The next day, it starts all over again – sound familiar?
In the mundane and routine parts of life, how are we as Christians to keep the Great Commission in perspective?
Patrick and Katie Mullen met at a Bible study through a mutual friend. She said at the time, she wasn’t looking to date anyone, but she caught Patrick’s eye and he said after much persistence, they went out, fell in love and were married soon after.
Katie is a kindergarten teacher. She knew from the time she was young that she would work in education. Patrick works as a construction scheduler, which means when contractors have big projects, they turn to his business to plan out the finite details and logistics so that it gets done on time. Now, the two live in Orange county with their newborn son, Jackson.
Both Patrick and Katie understood their commitment as Christians includes the command to make disciples and to share the love of Christ with others. However, in their first years of marriage, they wondered how they might do more to influence the Kingdom of God with what they had been given. Specifically, how could they be a part of reaching the unreached peoples of the world if they themselves did not feel called to move out of the United States?
“I’ve never had the desire to be an overseas missionary,” Katie said. “I had struggled with understanding where I fit into the Great Commission. I was pretty sure [overseas missions] wasn’t my calling.”
Patrick added that they both work hard throughout the week and can feel like they walk into a repetitious cycle that is mundane or tedious.
Jack and Laura live in the Middle East.*
Both are in their second year of intensive language study. When they are not walking through their city or trying to foster new relationships, they stay home with their one-year-old daughter. Both of their passions involve serving the people of the city in which they now live.
Originally from Wyoming, Jack and Laura have wrestled with difficult transitions. Laura sometimes struggles being in their new home when she is still trying to learn the language and make friends. Some days, she must watch their daughter without any other pressing obligations or plans and it wears on her motivation.
“It’s hard remembering you do have a purpose when the day is menial or tedious,” she said.
In a land 7,123 miles from the Mullens, the question remains the same: “How will we effect the Kingdom of God in our everyday life?” For Laura, she said she resolves that in the rhythmic tasks of the week she will worship and bring glory to God by singing her daughter to sleep, by studying language and by walking around outside to familiarize herself with her city.
Back in Costa Mesa, California, Patrick and Katie were introduced to The GO Fund as a way to purposefully engage in unreached missions.
“It helped me to realize a piece of God’s plan for my life,” Katie said. “This gave me a tangible way to be a part of participating in the Great Commission.”
Patrick added that knowing his efforts at work ultimately lead to the support and urging of those who are called to move from this country is what gives him motivation. “It gives legitimacy to what we do on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
It’s the answer to a question asked on two sides of the globe: No Christian is more influential than the other regarding the Great Commission. All in the Kingdom of God are equally responsible to see it completed, but uniquely gifted to effect it in different ways. It is as if the Mullens are holding the top of a rope for families like Jack’s, who are at the bottom, descending into the dark unknown. It is a beautiful partnership, one only the King could envision.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Romans 10:14-15 NIV
This is the point of being a Champion. It is giving of yourself through your talents, your time or your treasure so that ultimately, someone who has never heard the name of Jesus or the truth of his Gospel in the Middle East will know who he is and what he has done. We all effect the Kingdom. The only remaining question: In what way will you choose to do so?
*Names have been changed for security
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