This year marks 100 years since my great-grandparents, with one small son, departed Wellington bound for South America. They went in obedience to God’s call to go and share and serve Jesus overseas. The journey, by ship, took several weeks. On arrival they faced further travel inland, first via train and then donkey. Eventually they arrived in the remote Andean hills of central Bolivia.
It was here they served for five years before ill-health forced them to return, somewhat reluctantly, to New Zealand. In the meantime, two more children were born, including my grandmother.
My great-grandparents’ roles as teachers, pastors, friends and sharers of Jesus were significant. The work they had a part in then has strengthened and, overseen by locals, continues today.
I often wonder, with some degree of difficulty, what their reality must have been like. When travel took so long, short-term service was not an option. Service overseas meant being in for the long haul. Communication from the homeland and back took weeks and returning home even for a short time was a major decision. Taking care of the basics of life involved large amounts of time and energy. This was the norm, yet the reward was immense.
Today our reality is different. Technologies develop faster than most of us can keep up with and the options for ‘doing life’ are more than most require.
Yet the need remains. People all over the world are still without the necessities. People still need to hear about Jesus. Lives still need to be transformed. And we now have options for serving and creating awareness, here and there, in ways that those who went before us did not.
In a world overly full of choice, the questions are these: How are we taking advantage of the options, as churches and as individuals of any age and stage, understanding the times in which we live, to engage with those who need to experience transformation?
And what does this look like for me?