We're currently sitting in the airport waiting for our airplane to arrive. This has been a great time to get to know the team that we'll be working with. Angie is a phenomenal woman with a heart for God! She works with pediatric hospice patients - something I doubt that I could ever do. She's traveling to Conakry to minister to some of the kids there. She'll be working in an orphanage and doing whatever God has for her this week. She's hoping to be able to connect with a local hospital and make herself available to whatever needs they have. She'll be traveling with us to and from Conakry, but she won't be with us during the bulk of our "vision trip."
Pray that God gives her the right connections for her to be able to minister as the Lord leads. Of course, even as I write that I'm confident that God will give her the right connections to do the work He has for her. Let's pray that she'll be open to serve her Lord and Savior however He leads.
Dan is a fine young man who is completing his fourth year of college. His family owns and operates a business that flies doctors around the states to harvest and implant body parts. Theyíve been able to save dozens of lives to date. Heís hoping to be part of that business as a pilot later in life. Dan did a great job of explaining the technical aspects of our flight across the Atlantic Ocean as we made our journey. He knows his stuff when it comes to airplanes and cross-continent travel. He too is praying about what God has for him on this trip and Iím looking forward to seeing what it is!
ACC has had a chance to meet Bob and Dian a bit through the videos we showed during worship the past couple of weeks, but let me tell you a little bit more about them. Bob has served as a youth pastor for many years, as well as serving the Lord on the mission field overseas, before landing here in Ohio as a lead pastor. He and I have similar hearts. He's a guy who loves to have fun, loves to talk, and loves to do ministry on a deep level - investing in making disciples who make disciples. Another great thing about Bob is that he's not afraid to just strike up spiritual conversations with anyone. He'll just sit down next to someone and strike up conversations that easily turn to spiritual things. He and I were together during a day at Stubenville where we prayed to see if the Lord wanted plant a church there. I was impressed at how easily he went up to a group of guys at began to ask them what it was like to live in that town and identify the spiritual needs of the area. I'm looking forward to being with him these 10 days and to see how the Lord uses us for His glory.
It's odd to just sit and watch people and wonder about their lives. What's important to them? What are their families like? Where are they going? What connection to God do they have, have they had, will they have? How is God working in their lives? Iím praying for them, asking what God has for them, asking what God would have me do to intersect with their lives. I know that in some witnessing philosophies I've embraced in the past, it would be a good idea to do some "street evangelism," telling people that they need Christ and talk with them about how they can know Him. True, this might be a starting point for a close relationship with Him, but more often than not it is just a discussion at an airport. It takes much more to make a disciple of Christ. It takes a lasting relationship that just isnít possible to make at a chance encounter at an airport. It takes someone who is willing to come alongside of someone while theyíre far from God, help them meet Him, and then help them gain some firm ground in their relationship with Christ.
Christ called us to make disciples and making disciples is a much more detailed process than having one conversation. Don't get me wrong, if the Lord prompts me, or if I have a chance to have just one conversation with them about spiritual things, I'll be obedient to His leading. But I don't want them to think that I started a conversation with them just so I could "convert them." Thatís part of a current negative stigma of Christians and I don't want to play into that negative stigma.
Lord, show me effective ways to invest into lives, not for my glory, but yours. Not with my ideas, but with yours. Not for temporal effects, but for eternal ones. Amen.
James E. Bogoniewski, Jr.