And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. – Mark 16:15
“The world begins at the end of your skin.” I wish I could claim that as an original saying. But I cannot. I first heard it from the now-sainted Rev. Charles Mueller. He was a strong advocate for aggressive missional efforts. And thinking in these terms was what he did. It really stuck with me.
Where my skin ends, the world begins. Sometimes we need only look across the table at a friend who needs to learn a new and better way to live. Sometimes we may need only to cross the room to share the Good News of Jesus forgiveness, life, and salvation. Sometimes we can simply walk across the street to proclaim the gospel.
But sometimes we may go farther. This is a brief report of our recent mission trip to Kenya and Tanzania. It was a wonderfully-fulfilling experience. We were deeply blessed as we were also able to bless our brothers and sisters in Christ there.
Two examples will suffice. The new archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) is a humble and unassuming man who is seeking to bring peace and reconciliation to the church in that country. Archbishop Ocholo met us for breakfast on the Friday morning we were leaving Nairobi to visit our friends Bishop Joseph Ombasa Omwoyo and his wife Hyline.
After some good conversation, the archbishop said, “Now, let’s deal with the business.” We wondered what he was going to ask about. But we were greatly pleased to hear that he wanted to learn about the Vision For Kenyans (VFK) ministry as well as PLI. The VFK ministry had been a source of conflict and discord in the ELCK. We were glad to hear of his interest in what they are doing and we were able to lay the groundwork for some continuing conversations that we pray will yield great kingdom benefits in the months and years to come.
The original trip had not included a stop in Kenya, but this was such an opportune moment. It was truly a divine appointment, and we were blessed to be part of it.
A second example is of our time with Eric and Linda Funke, missionaries whom we have supported for some time at St. John. We were able to see the school at which they taught, as well as their home and participate in the worship service at Grace Lutheran Church in Mwanza, Tanzania.
The culmination of our trip was the dedication of the Mwanza Lutheran Secondary School in Mwanza. The three-plus hour service was quite a testimony to the importance of the school. They honored us by inviting me to share a Gospel message and participate in the dedication of the school buildings St. John had helped fund. You will see that I am at least somewhat underdressed compared with Bishop Gulle. But that was never an issue with them. Our presence as a team from St. John showed that this was a big deal – this school dedication.
They have great plans for the school in the coming years. Our part in that day included sharing the Good News of Jesus’ presence in the lives of his followers. Those who doubt, and those who boldly go wherever God calls them are promised his presence. Jesus Christ is the real reason for all of our efforts. And where our skin ends is the beginning of opportunities to proclaim his Good News – whether ½ way around the world or across the kitchen table.