Jesus, right after demonstrating his authority and power over death, clarified the scope of his authority in Matthew 28:18, “… All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
All authority? That’s a huge statement and it leaves little room for the follower of Jesus to not recognize his or her place under Jesus’ authority. It demands our full attention.
Jesus then looks at the disciples and gives them marching orders that would define the rest of their lives on earth, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19). If you’ve followed Jesus for any time at all, chances are good that you are familiar with this scripture. It’s widely known as the “Great Commission”. That commission is our mission.
Literally… the mission of Heart for Lebanon is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ”.
I had the opportunity to take my second trip to Lebanon a couple of months ago. As part of my time on the ground I spent an afternoon with four Heart for Lebanon staff who visit and build relationships with the refugee families we serve; that’s their job. Every day these folks load up and head out to refugee settlements and spend their day sitting with refugees asking to hear their stories, getting to know their struggles, and praying for them in the name of Jesus.
Most of the families they sit with have lost everything… their jobs, their homes, and in many cases family members and loved ones. They are living in a foreign land. They can’t legally work, many of their children have never seen the inside of a school, and they have no idea when or if they will ever be able to return to their country and communities in Syria. Their reality is one of desperation, poverty, and hopelessness. Most of the families living in these settlements come from a Muslim background. In many cases, the violence, despair, and brokenness they have experienced leads them to question everything they believe.
Imagine being in that position; it seems hopeless…
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, walks in some Jesus-following, heart healing, khaki vest-wearing men and women who want nothing from you, but the bestfor you. They are willing to risk and sacrifice what appears best for them, to ensure your family gets the physical and emotional support needed to survive. You, for the first time in a long time (maybe ever), are treated with dignity and shown true compassion. They want to know you, serve you, and help you find a long lasting, never failing hope. The relationship built is authentic and leads to conversations about life, family, and ultimately faith.
This is how I see God moving in the Syrian refugee settlements we serve. The relationships built in the interactions described above provide a platform to engage children and adults, entire families in bible study, and life-changing conversations about Jesus Christ. Individuals and families are coming to faith in Christ, being discipled, and equipped for ministry. Our mission, the great commission, is being fulfilled and it all flows from relationship.
The reality of what I experienced God doing through the Heart for Lebanon team challenges me. It challenges me because it forces me to consider my role in the great commission, and how or if I am using the gifts and opportunities that God has given me to build relationships and intentionally invest in the lives of those around me who are far from God. Am I fulfilling my mission? The great commission in how I live my life in my community? How would you answer those questions? What does a deeper level of personal engagement in the great commission look like for you and your family?
If you would like more information on the work that Heart for Lebanon is doing with refugee families through our spiritual formation ministries click here or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube.