We began our Sus Manos retreat weekend by reading 2 Timothy 2:2. "For you must teach others those things you and many others have heard me speak about. Teach these great truths to trustworthy men who will, in turn, pass them on to others." (TLB)
This passage says in a nutshell what I hope we accomplish in Sus Manos. It is not enough to receive the gospel. It is not even enough to share the gospel with others. We want to be sure to pass it on so clearly to "trustworthy men and women" that they will be able to teach others. We discussed what keeps us from sharing our faith. Although there are many things that inhibit us, I think the #1 problem is that we have not understood that this is the NORMAL Christian life, not the life of Super Christians. I asked my teammates, "Who are MY faithful men and women?" The answer: they are. I pray that I do my part in preparing them to pass on what they have learned.
Friday evening and all day Saturday, we attended Mission Connexion. This event brings together some of the most passionate, mission-minded people in our area and beyond. Heather Mercer, one of the keynote speakers said, "The American church has an unlimited buffet," and we certainly enjoyed that buffet through sermons and workshops during our weekend. Links in this blog post will take you to videos of keynote speakers and recordings of many of the workshops. [Note: links will take you to recordings of workshops and keynote speakers.]
The first speaker was Luis Palau, a local evangelist who has shared the gospel around the world, especially in Spanish-speaking countries. He has stage 4 lung cancer and his presence at the conference was seen as a miracle. He reminded us that the harvest is plentiful, and we should be asking the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers. As Luis spoke and then as two men helped him off the stage, I kept thinking of Paul saying “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course…” Luis Palau exuded joy and confidence in God’s faithfulness and shows no fear as he faces the end of his life.
Heather Mercer, quoted above, has shared the gospel in the 10/40 window for the past 20 years and was captured and held by the Taliban for more than three months. She challenged us to stay in this for “the long game.” She quoted Luke 12:48: “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Heather insisted the work of sharing the gospel is not “worth it” because it is a great adventure or even because there is great need, as that need will crush us without the Holy Spirit to carry it. The gospel is worth it because Jesus is worthy.
Nik Ripkin´s struggle with suffering in his mission field convinced him that “evil has no bottom.” He outlined 5 responses to evil:
- Rescue us!
- Judge my enemies! Kill the bad guys!
- Forgive my enemies.
- Forgive me as I forgive others.
- Father, glorify yourself.
The final keynote speaker, York Moore, asked us to consider what our organizations can do together that we could never do apart. Our philosophy in Sus Manos is to always collaborate with the local church and other mission organizations. How is that collaboration working this year? What will Sus Manos bring to the evangelistic series in Cuba that would not be the same without us?
Mission Connexion take-aways
Mike: We are not the Lord of the Harvest, but just His workers.
Gam: I grew closer to my team and got a glimpse into the world of missionaries, a world filled with the strongest, most selfless and inspiring people.
Keeley: I really appreciated having the perspective on missions from experienced people who I otherwise would probably have never met.
Rita: Who SHOULD do the work of sharing the gospel in hard places, if not the American church with our “unlimited buffet”?