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  • Writer's picturetimothy martiny

Missions-Not a Trip-But a Lifestyle

So, we ended up in the U.S. for Christmas. For most of the 14 years we have been missionaries in Guatemala, we have celebrated it there, away from our families, so it is nice to be with relatives for a change.

As good as it was to spend time with loved ones, there was an aspect of Christmas in Guatemala that we missed, celebrating Christmas with those we serve.

We have embraced that our calling is to live a service life and extend to others the love, grace, and compassion our heavenly Father has extended to us.

Hosting and participating in Christmas celebrations for the orphaned, vulnerable, and disabled children we serve has been a part of our holiday tradition for so long that not being there to do so created a vacuum in our hearts. Two of our daughters, Vanessa, 12, and Jessica, 10, along with their two cousins, had been working on preparing a show for the family Christmas dinner.

A friend of ours in New Orleans heard about it and invited them to perform at the nursing and retirement homes he was visiting, sing Christmas carols, show love, and bring Christmas cheer to the residents.

It was a wonderful experience. The people loved it! We could see the smiles and joy brought to their aged faces as the kids belted out Christmas choruses, performed their songs, held their hands, and prayed for them. It truly was a wonderful thing to see.

Everyone participated, from Julia, our oldest daughter, down to Alison, who was 5 years old. It was a perfect way to remind our children of the true meaning of Christmas, not toys, parties, or dinner, but the celebrations of the birth of God's son over 2000 years ago.

One thing I found in my many years of service is that we, as Christians, are called to LIVE in missions. Reaching out in service to others, loving the least of these, helping our neighbors, and sharing the Gospel of the good news of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection is not something that we are limited to doing 2450 miles away in Guatemala, where we serve as missionaries. Neither is it something for those here at home to simply do when they go on a trip.

We must take on the proper understanding that missional living starts with a true understanding of who God is. God, by his very nature, is a "sending God" who has taken the initiative to redeem us, His creation. Because the church comprises God's "sent" people, the living church, or body of believers, is the instrument of God's mission in the world.

It is not so much that "the church has a mission" as "the mission has a church."

Engaging in a missional lifestyle means we see the mission as the originating impulse and our organizing principle. It means we pattern our lives after what God did with Jesus Christ, sending him out to the world.

If we consider that, as 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, we are "bought with a price," then our lives are no longer our own to do with as we please. As Christ was sent out, so are we, and we must understand that being missional means that we go out to those who need to be served, not just expect them to come to us. Being missional represents a significant shift in how we think about the church. Being missional means engaging the world as Jesus did—by going out rather than just reaching out. If being missional means that we, as a church, are living IN mission, then it is a sign that we are the true church.

Living in missions is a lifestyle that we must embrace day in and day out if we are to truly call ourselves Christians or followers of Christ. It must be something that we live and breathe so that when, like the Samaritan who helped a beaten, robbed, and destitute man by the side of the road, we come across someone in need, we understand that our mission is to stop and serve them.

Serving children in an orphanage in Guatemala or bringing joy and happiness to septuagenarians in a retirement home in New Orleans are all equal demonstrations of living out the mission, as all are equally loved in God's eyes.

Our time here, serving others in a different yet equally important way reinforced that Missions is not a trip but a lifestyle.

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