Written by: Jake Adams
A group of 8 people from Gateway Church just returned from a trip to serve alongside a church in Lebanon, which is one of our ministry partners. This church seeks to not just share the Gospel with those in their church or in their country. They want to share with the world.
The church has over 40 “tribes”, which are individual gatherings (or church services) located all over Lebanon. Within those tribes, small groups are a way to build relationships and dig deeper into God's Word. The main church sees about 100 people per service. But with the other tribes (or campuses), over 3,000 people worship with this church throughout the world. These worshippers come from a variety of economic, educational, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
However, Lebanon isn’t without hardship. The political crisis in Lebanon has left them without a president, the tap water is unsafe to drink and each day there would be several brief power outages.
What we admired about the Lebanese people is both their ability to work with what they have and their hospitality. If anything goes wrong in our plans in the U.S. we get angry, worry and sometimes give up altogether. While we were worshiping one day at the church with the kids, the power went out. Though we were surprised, the worship leaders and kids didn’t skip a beat. They kept singing, jumping for joy and praising Jesus. They pivot throughout any twists and turns.
Right away, that word “pivot” is something we had to learn. For example, we realized that instead of having a nice, large open field to play games one day for VBS, we got a small 20’ x 30’ space to play games with 60 kids outside in 90 degree weather. How do you pivot in that moment? One thing was very apparent in the beliefs of the Lebanese Christians: God will provide.
The Lebanese people are very hospitable. We were invited for a picnic on a plot of land the church bought for gatherings. We thought it was going to be a one hour picnic and then we’re done. Instead, we set up tents, tables and chairs, fired up the grill and ate and talked about ministry and personal stories for several hours.
In Kidway, we use God’s Plan for Me to explain what the Gospel means. So we know God rules, we sinned, God provided and Jesus gives, but what does it mean to respond? Do I have to go on a trip to be a believer?
First of all, we are saved by faith and grace in Jesus. Our works should be done because we love Jesus, not out of obligation. Some of us may never “Go” internationally. With that being said, I would highly recommend trying it once. Ask your shepherding elder, Life Group leader or someone of the faith you trust. We must begin where God has planted us. We are blessed to have leaders at Gateway Church who challenge the congregation to connect, worship, serve and go. When Pastor Josh says at the end of a service “You are Sent”, you are being sent to make disciples. Maybe you give money to one of Gateway Church’s Mission Trips. Maybe pray for a mission team in front of them right before they leave.
If going to the Middle East is uncomfortable for you, then maybe try serving locally or regionally first. But don’t let yourself get caught in a trap of constantly saying “I’ll do it sometime”. I encourage you to ask the Lebanon team questions about our trip. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
We want to thank all who prayed for our team, funded our team and so many other ways you went with us on our trip.