Is your Vineyard church involved in a missions partnership yet? If not, why not? Perhaps you’ve run into roadblocks or you don’t know where to start. Maybe you think your church is too small or you don’t have the money? You’re not alone. But let’s not just leave it there. Let’s push into those hesitations.
Tim Mengler, the Pastor of Crystal Lake Vineyard in Illinois and the Partnership Leader for the Mozambique Partnership, has asked to share his story and experience with missions partnerships. We are exploring how he’s faced these struggles and overcome them.
This is part 6 of a 7-part series. Click on these links for previous releases:
- Part 1: You’re never too small & it’s never too early
- Part 2: Where do I start?
- Part 3: The issue of money
- Part 4: Won’t it be a distraction?
- Part 5: They need relationship
Mission trips seem scary
Of course there is always this notion that international missions trips can be scary especially for the average person who has never been on a missions trip. Yes, I think that fear is real, but if we are willing to follow the voice of God and not give in to the fear, the reward can be overwhelming, in a good way.
The first international missions trip I ever took was to Tanzania and Senegal. Of course, there was some fear building up to the trip. A combination of the unknown risks and being so far away from my family made it unnerving. The time in Tanzania was wonderful and largely uneventful. I made lots of new friends and learned a lot. But when we got to Senegal, I had a few experiences with God. One day I was standing on the roof of our children's home we were visiting looking out over the city. I was troubled by how dirty and polluted the city was. I didn't expect that level of pollution on every level. I could also feel the spiritual darkness. It was tangible. In that moment, I said quietly in my heart, "I hate this place." Immediately, I heard God speak back, "I hate it too. That's why you're here." And in that moment, God also broke my heart for the people who lived in this nation and this city. I will never be able to get them out of my heart either. They are very near and dear to God.
Then a few days later, I found myself again on the roof. (Apparently, life happens on the roof.) This time, I was feeling overwhelmed by the goodness of God and what He was allowing me to be a part of. I looked out over the city and said, "Why me, God? Why do I get to be a part of something so wonderful?" Again I heard God speak back, "Because you were willing." I had faced my fears, left the safety of home, and gone somewhere way out of the ordinary in obedience to God. He was now rewarding me with a heart for a people.
Later we went out to a remote village in the desert sands. We asked if they had ever heard the name of Jesus. They said no. But as I looked around the village I saw Coca Cola products. I was really struck by that. I asked the Lord, "How come they have Coke, but they haven't heard the name of Jesus?" What I heard back was, "Because Coke is motivated by profit, but my church is motivated by comfort." Are we willing to face our fears, leave our comforts and get off the couch, and go to a people who have never heard the name of Jesus?
On this trip I also got to see God work in an amazing way. On Sunday we attended church at what was, at the time, our only church in Senegal. During ministry time, an older man named Doucre' came up to me and asked for prayer. He said he had a lot of pain in his hips and walking was getting difficult. I prayed for him for a minute, and then asked how he was doing. He said he felt better, but I thought maybe he was just being nice to me. So I prayed a second time. This time when I asked how he was doing, he just walked away. I didn't think too much of it. Then a few hours later he came running up to me with a huge smile. He was exclaiming that he was completely healed. He went on to say that he didn't mean to be rude when he walked away but that he was so touched by God that he just had to get away and be alone with God. The nurse who works with our missions told me that Doucre' was always asking for pain medication and really was struggling to walk without pain. She said she couldn't believe what had just happened. The whole time she is telling me this Doucre' is bouncing up and down in front of me like a little kid in a candy store. (Remember, he is an older man!)
Later that same day, we went into the remote desert village I just mentioned above. It turned out, Doucre' spoke four languages – one of them being the language of the village chief. We asked to speak to the chief, and he said yes and rolled out his mat on the ground for us all to sit on. Then Doucre', who was just healed, started to talk to the village chief in his language about Jesus. That moment was not lost on me. I very subtly took out my camera and took a picture of that moment. I had faced my fears and gone to a strange land to watch God do amazing things, and I got to be a part of that. By the way, there is now a Vineyard church in that village too.
Comfort and feeling safe can't be our highest goal. If we face those fears and respond to God's call in obedience we might just get a whole nation of new friends and a front row seat to see God do amazing things.
Tim & Amy Mengler planted the Vineyard of Crystal Lake Illinois just outside Chicago in 2005. As a church their first foray into mission was with the Senegal partnership. Then toward the end of 2013 they were invited to join the work that God was doing in Mozambique. Tim and Amy took their first trip to Mozambique in June of 2014 and of course fell in love with the people and the nation of Mozambique. Tim now leads the U.S. side of this partnership.