An Introspective Traveler

The moment you enter an airport filled with travelers, you get a glimpse of the diversity of people from all parts of the globe.  Some that would never give you the time of day and others that don’t seem to know a stranger.  Some kind, some unhappy, some are even angry–others, apathetic.

The more I see of the human spirit, the more I am convinced that
what we believe about God shapes not just how we see Him, but how we see others.
More than physical, our spiritual and emotional connection to our Creator can place us on common ground with others no matter our location or position in life.  Madagascar was no different.  I have seen complete joy on the faces of African believers as we worshiped together whole-heartedly as brothers and sisters in Christ in a thatched roof church.  Worshiping the same God on foreign soil, the felt connection of those who share a common love for the one true God is a powerful reminder that true unity begins in the heart.
It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you’ve been, how much you have or what you’ve accomplished; we are all part of God’s beautiful creation, uniquely designed for His purpose.  What connects us more strongly than any physical similarity is this common thread:  created in the image of God, we are so loved by Him that He send His Son to reveal His plan for our salvation.  Believing in the Son of God who came to save us can unite us in an unearthly way–because we all stand on level ground at the foot of the cross.
Often the world sees Americans very differently than the picture we think we portray.  Often seen as wealthy, our reputation as selfish and prideful, we can easily be portrayed as a distant benefactor with ulterior motives.  While we might have true compassion–and a genuine desire to meet physical needs, our actions might be misconstrued by the recipients–our motive seen as a mere bandaid for our conscience.  If we’re not careful, we will forget that the greatest need of our world is to know The One Who truly provides so much more than any temporary hope that we can bring.
While I am thankful for my heritage and understand how blessed I am to live in a country where I have certain freedoms and a democracy that others only dream about, I recognize the danger of my heart becoming prideful. 

“Man, am I glad I was born in America!”

I confess, I have actually said that.  While traveling to a third-world country does remind me to be thankful that God allowed me the privilege of living in a free nation, I recognize that it is a gift. Nothing I have ever done has earned me this right.  I didn’t choose it, and in a world where freedom is constantly being challenged, I am more aware than ever that it might only be a temporary blessing.  With that blessing comes responsibility– and speaking the truth in love is at the top of the list, even when it’s the unpopular thing to do.

On our very first international mission trip to Poland in 1995, we were seen as celebrities.  More than once we were asked, “Why would you come to Poland of all places?”  While the rest of the world might see a humanitarian effort, God wanted us to see it less from a human perspective and more from an eternal one.  This “trip” to teach conversational English was really a perfect opportunity to share the gospel to a city of over 250,000 people with no evangelical church. Poland was a country ravaged by communism and the war.
…(the Communist party in Poland) that favoured emulating the Soviet Union , took control in 1948 and attempted to turn Poland into a Stalinist state, wherein religion was actively discouraged in favour of Communism.
 In 1991, The government of Prime Minister Jan Olszewski was the first fully free and democratic Polish government since 1926.  What a privilege it was to tell them about a different kind of freedom–the spiritual freedom that Jesus gives to all who will receive Him!  This was more than a trip–we were on mission to make sure that the people of Radom, Poland heard the truth from God’s Word.
Though I am a native-born American, I am first a representative of Christ. As a young adult I worked in the travel business, but could never really let myself dream of being a world-traveler myself.  I took great joy in sending others on great adventures and looked forward to hearing their stories.  When God opened the door for me to experience this great big world in a way that I could never have imagined, He gave me a perspective that will forever be changed.  My citizenship is in heaven–and as the old hymn says, “I am only passing through”.
You and I, we are only temporary travelers on this earth, but what we do for Christ and how we represent Him to a lost world will last for eternity.

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