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  • Shawn Thornton

My First Missions Trip

Monday - October 25th

Scripture to Read Today: Psalm 67:1-7


May the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you rule the peoples with equity and

guide the nations of the earth.

Psalm 67:4

In April of 2002, I left the United States for the first time in my life. I was 35 years old. Lesli and I had been invited to visit and minister alongside two of the missionaries our church supported in Hungary. One of the missionary couples focused on church planting. The other couple led a Bible Institute ministry centered on raising up church leaders for Central Europe. Both couples became good friends of ours.

If you noticed the date, April 2002, you recognize that this was just about seven months after the attacks of September 11, 2001. International travel had not yet climbed back to the same levels as before September 11th. We got some great deals as we traveled. Security agencies in Europe remained on high alert.

I will never forget that trip. God opened the door for me to preach to a thriving church plant in a small town in eastern Hungary. The church met in what was an old Soviet school. The building was dilapidated, bleak, and had no human touch or connection. The classrooms were sterile and felt hollow. Yet, the Gospel seemed even more life-giving and uplifting in that setting. Lesli and I went away from that Sunday afternoon gathering blessed beyond belief.

After a few days with our missionary friends in the church planting setting, we spent a little over a week at the Bible Institute. I taught an intensive class that week on the Book of Philippians. The students who came from all over the region of former Soviet bloc countries blessed Lesli and me with their passion for Christ and sharing His hope with others. We went there to bless them, and they blessed us.

Since that trip in early 2002, I have been in places like Serbia, Russia, Columbia, Uganda, Costa Rica, India, Israel, and Turkey. Lesli has been with me for many of these trips. We have seen God at work in major cities and tiny villages in the middle of nowhere. But God is at work!

Even the greatest of trips, in beautiful places, with incredible people, come to an end. But every time I come home, I thank God for the United States of America. How blessed we are to live in this great nation (even with its imperfections). But my heart for the people of various countries, tribes, and tongues always grows more burdened. God's heart is for the nations. He wants them to "be glad and sing for joy" (Psalm 67:4). The Book of Revelation gives us several snapshots of worship around the throne of heaven. Those snapshots include people of every tribe and tongue.

Pray for missionary friends you know around the world today. Perhaps there is a nation that interests you, you have visited, or know is a part of your ancestry. Pray for that nation, the church there, and any pastors or missionaries serving the Lord there. Ask God to give you a heart for the nations!

The Good News of the Gospel is meant to reach people from every part of the world! It is the hope for anyone and everyone!


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