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 the final piece 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
- Part 6: Mission trips seem scary
What I didn't expect
There is a whole lot about my missions experience that I didn't expect. Things that you thought you knew for sure now seem completely different, richer, fuller, more colorful.
My view on theology for example has changed. I now find myself reading books like Theology Brewed in an African Pot. I realized that I had a disturbingly American theology and now find myself thinking, “What would the Africans think.” All the time I find myself thinking something and saying, "That is a uniquely American problem." I see Christians here in the states complaining that we are becoming a pluralistic society, and I think about how Africans have been faced with that for decades. I see Americans complain that we need more social welfare and that the Bible commands it. I see Africans honestly quite content with a bowl of rice. I appreciate rice now. I see Americans try to use the Bible to get more – more prosperity, more power, more social standing, more knowledge. I see Africans use the Bible to try and reach their relatives and neighbors who worship their ancestors.
I find myself loving and craving foods that just a few years ago I had never tasted before. I can't eat chicken or rice and not remember fondly the many humble meals shared in a grass hut with people I had never met before. The only things we held in common were Jesus and the Vineyard. Now we share friendship because we have eaten together, and that food reminds me of them. I find myself listening to African folk music and African worship music more and more. I don't understand the many languages, but the music still has a haunting beauty to it. I find myself humming African melodies. My wife leads our worship team here in our church, and they now do African worship songs during our worship time. I find myself waiting eagerly for the next communication from any of our friends in Africa. I bet I have 50 or more Facebook friends from Africa and many others that have no way to communicate with us. We just pray for them, miss them, and hope to see them again. I have a family here in my church that says they can't wait to take me to their village back home in Cameroon. I can't wait either! In the past few months I have had four different African doctors contact me and say they want to work with us in Africa. My life is so full and so rich…so many incredible people and stories, all because I said yes to God and went on mission with Him.
In July of 2015 I went into Chicago's O'Hare airport's international terminal to pick up Savimbe. Terminal 5 at O'Hare is very large and very crowded, so at first we were having a hard time finding Savimbe. As I was making may way through the crowd, suddenly I heard a voice from behind say, "I love you man." I whirled around because I recognized that voice. There he was, and we hugged. Who will you meet at an international airport with an I love you, only because you said yes to mission?
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.