Let me just say that I don’t highly recommend a quick trip overseas. Unless you don’t mind dealing with jetlag, aren’t going on business, and can just relax and sleep. Sleep and relaxation did not happen on our trip to Edinburgh. But lots of good stuff did happen.
The first being that the only time my dad and I have done something on our own was when he drove with me out to California to attend Fuller Theological Seminary. We spent two days in the car, two days trying to find me a place to live, getting me in that place, and then he was off. So this time, it was a total of 7 days, traveling 3800 miles each way, and walking most of the city of Edinburgh. We also had twice daily meetings with our key contact (a very good friend of Mark’s from his university days), 3 church visits + meeting leaders, and then one long meeting with a church leader. Let’s just say it was a very busy, tiring trip, but we got A LOT done.
I will say too that traveling such a long distance is hard. I’ve made the trip to the UK enough to know what to expect, to know that it ends up taking a total of 24 hours, and that the airports have made life really complicated with all the security checks. So it’s a bit of an endurance test. I don’t sleep on airplanes at all, so between all our plane travel, I read three books. My right eye has twitched non-stop ever since . . . and I still have not processed all that happened during our week away.
Yet these are the things that impacted my heart and haven’t left:
1.) The value of worship – we were really blessed to be a part of two worship times that were so good. I could feel the weight of all my worries, all my questions, all my fears just lift as we entered God’s presence and praised Him for who He is. It did my heart so much good! I felt like we received such a refreshing, new motivation, and renewed vigor from both of those times. In one of the services, there were people from Nigeria, Japan, Singapore, China, Finland, England, Scotland, and of course, the US, and it blessed me so much to see a little glimpse of heaven. Heaven will be filled with people of every nation and every tongue worshiping God in their heart language, which will be such a mix of song, dance, and love. It excites me so much to think of that, and I love times like that. Which leads me to my next thought . . .
2.) The worldwide Body of Christ needs each other – on our flight back from Edinburgh to the US, my dad sat next to this older man from the States. He asked my dad why he had been in Edinburgh, and my dad responded by telling him that we’re thinking of starting a Bible school there. The man’s response was that we were 500 years too late as there are churches all over Edinburgh, so why on earth would they need a Bible school? And I’ll keep all comments on that to myself, but I will share this. There are many church buildings all over the city; however, a huge number of them have been converted into night clubs, apartment buildings, offices, and any other thing you can think of. It’s really sad to see a beautiful old church building and realize it’s a night club. But I think that’s a reminder of two things – a.) the Church is not the building. b.) if a Church is not alive and vibrant, it will die out and become the very thing it was never meant to be. Scotland has a rich Christian heritage, but it’s a long way from that now. We heard several comments from church leaders and church members that Scotland is needing a new thing in order to revive, awaken, and push the Church forward. It’s realizing that the things of the world, secularism, political correctness, liberalism, etc is taking over, and it will take over the Church if the Church does not move forward and reach the people within the culture. As I pondered that, it hit me that God uses the international Body of Christ to bring in new life and new movement. It is so easy for the Church to get in a cultural rut; each country has its own church culture. After all the traveling I’ve done, I know for a fact that God has a Kingdom culture that is so far better than any culture on this earth. So yes, we’re Americans who want to bring the Word of Christ and the life of Jesus to a foreign country. Yes, the country of Scotland has on fire Christians, but these Christians want help to move forward. We’re determined to not bring anything American. We don’t want to bring anything of our own culture or own way of life. We just want to come along side them and strengthen what is there. That alone brings renewed excitement, renewed vision, and renewed purpose. The Body all over the world needs that; we all need each other. I know it pleases God when we reach out to help the nations.
3.) The cost and effort of taking the Gospel to the nations – the more my dad and I walked, talked, and experienced Edinburgh, the more realized what a huge job this will be if we choose to take it. The dollar is very weak right now. The pound is worth significantly more than our dollar, which means that this endeavor will be very financially expensive. That alone kind of felt overwhelming to me. The team that goes will have to raise twice as much money as other missionaries. Nothing in Edinburgh was cheap. And we’re not even talking about the cost of leaving your home, your family, your comfort zone, and your own church behind. The cost will be high for those of us that go. Yet I was so encouraged by my father’s heart and determination to obey the Lord’s leading. He feels the cost is worthwhile. If we can stir the fire in another nation, then it’s worth it. If we can bring a bit of the Kingdom culture and spark a city for God, it’s worth it. If we can strengthen the churches that are already there and help them bring in the harvest of souls, it’s worth it all. It won’t be easy, but in light of eternity, it will be worth it. We need more men and women with my dad’s heart and determination. And that leads me to my last thought –
4.) The old and young need one another – I’m kind of in this awkward middle age type phase of life. I’m not young and in my twenties anymore, but nor do I have the wisdom and knowledge of my dad’s generation. I’m smarter now than those younger than I am, but I’m not as wise or experienced as those above me. Yet I see the strong points of both ages. I see the passion and fire of the young people; I see their hunger for God and their desire for a new way. And I see this in the older people as well. I see the wisdom, maturity, patience, and determination of the older generation. I see them wanting to team up with the youth to teach them, mentor them, and spur them on. But I see the young people not realizing that they need the older ones; they reject the things of old. They think they just need people in their same generation, and yet if they all stick together, they will miss out on so much. The younger people need what the older people have in order to properly steward the fire and passion that they have. They need the wisdom of the older. So I feel like I’m in the bridge generation; the age group that can draw the two together and link them up. If we can properly unite all the generations in the Body of Christ, we will form a wise, experienced, passionate army of God that will not quit but will see Heaven come to earth in this time and age. That is so exciting! I want to be a part of that.
I have much more to process, but I’ll leave this here for now. I’ll also leave these lyrics + song as we sang this in one of the church services that blessed me so much, and my heart grabbed on to these words as this is our purpose all over the earth.
Our Father by Bethel Music
Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be Your name
Your Kingdom come quickly
Your will be done the same
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Let Heaven come to
Earth as it is in Heaven
Let Heaven come
Let Heaven come, let Heaven come
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the power
Yours is the glory forever, amen
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the power
Yours is the glory forever amen