One of the most amazing things about love is that it is always concrete. It is just as impossible to love someone abstractly or theoretically as it is to love no one in particular. When one person loves another, love flows out in concrete actions during the course of living life, from a small thoughtful gift to a standard-issue bear hug, from a shared bowl of movie popcorn to decades of daily deference and sacrifice. It is, I think, a part of being human: we desire others to express their love to us in these sorts of ways, and we too desire to express love in these ways as well.
God himself is the author of love in all of its concrete glory; in fact, the love of God is never merely general or generic. The Apostle John writes, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). The most concrete act of love in the history of the universe involved the Father sending his Son into the world on a mission: to give his life in love for the life of a world that did not love him. John continues, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (4:10-11). God’s love came far before we loved him, and now he calls us to love in concrete ways that mirror his own. And this means, among so many other things, developing a passion for becoming involved in the same mission that he inaugurated in sending his Son Jesus to be our Savior.
In the last few months we have looked at all sorts of topics related to global cross-cultural missions. Back in May, June and July, we covered the “What?” “Why?” and “How?” of missions as we know it in the church today. Then in August we looked at why Argentina itself needs missionaries, followed up in October with a look at why David is headed to Argentina as a missionary. After these articles then, the question remains: how can I become a part of God’s concrete plan of love around the world? In other words, how can I become a part of cross-cultural missions and ministry in a place like Argentina? The answer has very much to do with showing love concretely to people around the world through the missionary work of others.
Being involved in missions almost always means being involved as a partner in the actual ministry of actual missionaries. If God has given you a passion for the Gospel to go forth around the world, a passion to see the church built up around the world, and a passion to see God’s name glorified around the world, then connect with the ministry of a cross-cultural missionary! And fortunately for everyone who is reading this, you know someone who is planning on serving as a missionary in Argentina and who urgently needs partners in his ministry: the Rev. David Alenskis.
Now, at this point I would to clear my throat and say that I am naturally reluctant to write articles that are self-promoting. It is better, as Jesus points out in his parable, to be called from the foot of the table to sit at the head by another. But the truth of the matter is that I am not here writing to promote myself: I am promoting God’s work. I am not asking for people to support me, I am asking for people to support God’s mission work in Argentina. And so, on behalf of myself I must be timid, but on behalf of God’s purposes I will be bold! I say this because this mission needs your support, and I urge you to give yourself to it as God leads you. Here are a few concrete ways in which you can mirror God’s love by becoming a part of this mission:
- Learn More. Get to know the, need, goals, plan, and people of the mission. You can learn more about these and so much more by logging on to the mission’s website, or even better, by sitting down with me over coffee or having me over for dinner. I love to share about what God is doing for his glory around the world!
- Pledge to Give. The budget of my mission is structured around the gifts of people who have pledged to give every month to the work of this ministry. I spoke this past week with my boss at my missions organization who informed me that I am still short by one full third in the amount of pledges of monthly support that I need to be able to head on the mission field. Even a pledge of $25/month will make a huge contribution to sending me to the mission field in Argentina. Please consider making a pledge: I will not be able to go without them!
- Commit to Pray. As important as financial gifts are to the mission, the regular prayers offered by God’s people are even more important to the success of God’s mission in Argentina. I plead with you to get in touch with me in person or through the website and commit to pray regularly for the mission and those connected with it.
- Receive the Updates. The more that you can stay current with the mission, the more faith you will have in God’s power and goodness, the more passion you will have for world missions, and the more involvement you will have in the mission itself. Let me know through the website or in person if you would like to receive weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly updates about the mission!
- Stay in Touch. A final way that you can be involved in this mission to Argentina is correspondence! Let me know what is going on with you and your life through emails, phone calls, letters, and care packages, and help encourage me and those whom I serve with your words and actions. It may even mean a trip to come see firsthand what God is up to among the people that I serve!
Each of these is a concrete expression of a commitment and passion to God’s concrete love and purpose in sending missionaries into the world to bring glory to his name and salvation to the ends of the earth. I urge you to prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to become a financial and a prayer partner in his work in Argentina through this mission, and to come talk to me if you are at all interested in mirroring the love of God in this kind of powerful way!
This is the last in a series of six articles by Fr. David on cross-cultural missions and the Christian life, initially published in the December 2010 edition of The Resurrection Times.