Marj Carpenter, who seems always to have something substantive to say to the the Presbyterian Church, wrote this in the August 29th issue of Presbyterian Outlook:
Once I visited a presbytery in Mississippi. Presbyterians there had just completed a mission trip to Mexico. Several of them rose and gave detailed reports of helping with construction, Bible school, and other projects. A young teenager was the last one to speak. He rose and quickly and simply said, “I found out while on this trip that Americans have too much stuff,” and he sat down.The lesson this young man learned is one we could all take to heart. The congregation to which I belong has made 4 trips to the San Luis Valley in Colorado since 1999. There is much beauty in the San Luis Valley, and much poverty. The fact that 10-12 adults can take time off from work and travel the 800 miles or so to Alamosa, CO indicates that we are blessed with resources that many do not share.
It was one of the best mission talks I ever heard.
The late Mike Yaconelli, in his book Tough Faith, suggests that it is not the "givens" of our lives that define us, but how we live within our givens. What I am still struggling with is just how I am living within the givens of my life.
In Marj Carpenter's article she makes mission personal as she relates moving stories of joys and tragedies that are a part of serving the Lord in the world. She speaks with the authority that flows from personal contacts she has made -- 583 mission stations in 126 countries. She pays special tribute to those missionaries over the years who lost their lives as a direct result of following God's call, thus showing the greatest love one have.
To close this posting, Marj Carpenter exhorts us to remember that mission crosses generational boundaries:
But we cannot forget, or be unfaithful to our generation’s responsibilities. They [our predecessors] planted seeds all over the world, and Presbyterians today are using a variety of means to carry on, taking the gospel into all the world.