[Guest Post by Laura – When we were first introduced, her story startled me. Not only has she experienced the joy of serving God and the church overseas, but overwhelming heartbreak. If you want to read her previous guest post on anxiety, rape, and kidnapping please click here. I’m encouraged to learn that she is now safe in Ireland and still serving God. Let’s praise God with Laura today!]
Church is the body of Christ–it’s about His people.
Currently I’m serving in my third country, which means it’s also the third time I’ve been involved in a church in a foreign country. Each church has looked different, yet each church has taught me about the Church, the body of Christ.
I’ve sat on wooden chairs in a building that is exceptionally cold in the winter. I’ve played an out of tune piano for the weekly hymn. I’ve stood against the wall at a church breakfast while everyone else is eating and talking around the food table.
I’ve sung worship songs in Portuguese and eventually forgotten the English words to the songs.
I’ve listened to sermons in a former movie theater.
I’ve played youth group games on wide cement steps.
I’ve sung a worship song, part in English and part in Zulu, on a Sunday morning. I’ve led four and five year old children in and out of classrooms and up and down stairs during Holiday Bible Club. I’ve sat on the floor around a table drinking hot chocolate while playing Apples to Apples.
I’ve wandered the countryside with a group of young adults. I’ve listened to children chatter through half of a worship service. I’ve stood in a group of people and learned where the best local places to eat are. I’ve discussed the best type of car to purchase over tea and sandwiches. I’ve learned the proper way to serve tea and coffee after church.
All of these experiences have changed my perspective of church. Church doesn’t look the same in other countries, but the Church does.
God has shown me that church isn’t how comfortable the seats are or what the building used to be used for. It’s not how amazing the music is or how perfect the PowerPoint slides are. It’s not how often the service starts on time or how orderly the potlucks are. It’s not about how everyone does or doesn’t dress. It’s not about how loud the children are or how quiet the adults are.
It’s about the Church.
The people who smile at you each Sunday and greet you, even though you can’t communicate with them. The people who thank you for playing the piano, even when you do a horrible job. The people who make sure you are on the bus and not lost while on a church outing. The people who teach you how to make tea and coffee. The people who accept you into their Bible study group.
The people who clean your apartment after your home invasion. The people who give money so that someone else can purchase clothing for you. The people who invite you on a group outing less than a week after you arrive in the country. The people who spend hours searching for a car for you to buy.
The people who make you feel welcome in their church.
Missions will change your perspective of what church looks like, and I believe this is one of the greatest blessings of serving as a missionary. Because missions will help you focus on what is really important, not on a building or a worship style but on the Church, the body of Christ.
Each of my experiences has shown me how God uses the Church to reach the world with the Gospel.
How He uses the Church to provide encouragement and support in our lives.
How He uses the Church to bring glory to Himself.
A cold building, a new language, a different format – none of these things matter in the end. What matters is building the Church.
Laura has served in Portugal and South Africa and is now serving in Ireland. God has given her a heart for teen and young adult girls, as well as a love for drinking coffee and living overseas, and she loves when all three of these come together. She writes regularly about life, travel and healing on her blog http://continualtransition.wordpress.com.
[Photo: kruggg6, Creative Commons]