For more than 30 years Covenant has annually celebrated missions. As time has passed there have been changes, but always the emphasis is on a congregation not getting lost in loving itself. By DNA the gospel is meant to be shared. Colorful with ethnic dress, international cuisine for the banquet, decorations so beautiful, and missionaries with passionate stories. This year's mission week was one of the best.
Initially missions week was designed and intended to welcome missionaries and allow the congregation to appreciate projects completed, e.g., short-term missions trips by congregants, monies sent, gifts in kind, and specific ventures by Pastor Bare and Laila. In time a decision was made to include local missions.
Local missions includes weekly distribution of goods in our own community, e.g., furniture, food, clothes, etc. On occasions generous folks and businesses call Covenant and offer wonderful items, including cars. We try to quickly find a home for these items. In addition, we chose local organizations that are heart-to-heart with Covenant's message of Jesus. Monthly we support Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Pregnancy Center (encouraging women to keep their babies and not abort), Good News Ministry (local jail 500 inmates), and Love INC (an organization that serves as a clearing house and coordinator for a number of churches to assist persons in need).
We thank God for these partners and are proud to be joined with them as hands and feet of Jesus to help point people to Christ and serve needs as much as possible.
Prevailing is our love for understanding that God loves all the world as much as He loves America. That all peoples, regardless of color, culture, country or creed are precious souls with an eternity ahead of them. The gospel is to be preached into all the world.
Getting the gospel message into a locality sometimes must be done by providing a well, opening a school, putting in a fish farm,providing a bicycle or farm tractor, a boat, etc. For example, if Hindus and Muslims put down a well they most often only allow people of their own religion to draw water. If Christians put down a well it is for the community---everyone can draw water.
The love of Christ manifested in relationships often must precede the sharing of the gospel. In many countries it is against the law to witness to Hindus and Muslims. Kind acts are done by Christians. Time passes. Those who do not know Christ encounter tragedies or sickness. Christians respond with compassion. Christians are asked: "Why would you help a Muslim?"
The answer is because "We love you." The door is opened to share the gospel.
As Senior Pastor of Covenant my heart is full of precious memories of Covenant generosity. In the early 1980's we raised in six weeks $20,000 to build a church building in the Dominican Republic. My sister and her husband were missionaries who founded the congregation that is still healthy and growing. Our current Spanish Pastor attended that church as a child.
In Siberia we helped to purchase a tractor for an orphanage. In Haiti we provided funds for a medical missions clinic and helped to sponsor Dr. Chuck Harris who served there as a missionary.
We helped to send our daughter Dana, her husband Rob, and sons Caleb and Ethan as missionaries to the Czech Republic. We bought a boat and motor for a missionary in the Philippines. We sent funds to build a church for Christian lepers in northern Myanmar. We helped to send thousands of Bibles into Iran. We provided food for refugee camps in China serving North Koreans. We sponsored a North Korean missionary. We provided funds for a secret meeting place to train Iranian missionaries. Wells, schools, orphanages, churches.
In addition to short-term missions trips by our own congregants to minister in various ways in various countries.
This year we are committing to bold projects. We will have a missionary board in our lobby to keep the needs and fulfillment ever before us.
Yes, we are in a building program. Yes, we need to raise funds for our building program. But Jesus said that if we seek the Kingdom of God first other things will be added (Matthew 6:33)
I cannot imagine a poorer church than a great cathedral with a mission offering plate covered with cobwebs on the altar.
At Covenant missions is DNA. We will not forget that we are the product of missionaries. The favor of God is upon those who give and send to make sure others hear of Jesus (Romans 10).
Journey with us. I promise you it will be rewarding.
There are stories yet to be written of how we will give and send to hasten the return of Our Lord!