Dan in Sri Lanka

Dan Lee recently returned from a short-term mission trip to Sri Lanka. Hear how he got on...

Emmanuel has a prophetic word over us from some years ago: “If you go to the nations, I (God) will give you Durham”. I must admit when I heard it I was a bit confused. How does that work? It sounded back to front! Surely the logical plan of action would be to reach those around us first and focus our attention on new places when the home turf is won?

As a church we at Emmanuel are so active overseas. Each week it seems there is someone jumping on a plane. Some go regularly for work, some to holiday, others for long term and short term mission. Our world vision sends people to Albania and India.

Recently I had the opportunity to serve on a team with friends going to Sri Lanka from Tyneside Vineyard Church. Who knew that a nation shaped like a tear drop and holding a deeply troubled past would carry a people with such bright smiles?

We saw Jesus doing so much in and through us at the clinics, churches and villages we visited on the east and west coats.  Here are just some of the stories...

  • A waiter with a 12-year limp healed by Jesus and walking with ease
  • A Buddhist family encountering the heart of Jesus for their son
  • A hotelier receiving Jesus when confronted with the Kingdom
  • A housebound Hindu lady set free from oppressive fear
  • Orphans experiencing the joy and love of Jesus.

I had all my expectations surpassed. Ephesians 3:20 describes the trip perfectly...

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Short-term mission has had a bad rap in recent years with many highlighting the ignorances that can exist in volunteerism. I had the same concerns with our two-week trip. Would we be stuck doing the wrong kind of “help”?

Thankfully our presence was all about equipping people to be dependent on Jesus and providing practical knowledge with local resource.

No matter what your bias might be to short term mission (or any mission) we have a command to GO! Jesus sits eagerly on the edge of his throne waiting to empower us to disciple nations by his authority. His power exists for seeing the miraculous and endurance when it is tough. Going is about weak people acting in obedience and being empowered to share Jesus. 

The early church disciples in Jerusalem were still city living five years after Jesus said GO! Maybe they were thinking: “Once we do a good a job at home then we will go to the nations”. Suddenly persecution came and as God works all things for good the Gospel had new avenues to spread as the disciples fled. I’m pretty sure endurance was needed and we know that miracles occurred - God’s Kingdom was influencing new cultures and many lost people discovered Jesus.

By going I learnt that when you prioritise home at the expense of going and sending you don’t get what you hope for overseas or at home. Malachi 3 provides great insight into God’s expectation of how we give what is God's for his fame. When we invest our time, money and resource in other places we are being intentional in positioning ourselves to partner with God. The wonderful promise in scripture is that our own land is healed as a result.  "If you go to the nations I will give you Durham" Suddenly the prophetic word makes so much sense!

I know I have been challenged. As Christians how expectant are we for God to use us? How do we invest in next door, next county and next nation in a way that brings God the fame and heals our own land? If we can see Jesus exceed our expectations when we give and go, then he will do it in County Durham too.