When mission teams come to town, it’s expected that they will get involved in evangelism and taking the gospel into local communities, through performing arts and other “classic” forms of outreach. But mission teams also have a chance to shine and an opportunity to influence others, simply through the way they live and who they are. In this sense, mission teams that have come to the UK for the Forever/YWAM Olympic outreach have indeed been shining.
One team that has definitely left its mark is made up of two families from YWAM Latvia. They have been hosted by Victoria Park Baptist Church, in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.
Of course, there are the dramas, sketches and other ministry activities that such teams bring, and that a church can learn. Mary*, one of the church members, commented: “I was just inspired by how the kids have got involved in ministry. We have learnt lots that we can apply to the kids in our church. They will learn the dances and routines that the Latvian kids have brought here.”
Geoff, who serves on the church leadership, enthuses: “This Latvian team has worked very well. The families have taken the initiative, seen the opportunities and gone for it. And their kids have mixed so well with our kids – both those in the church and those from outside.”
But it’s not just the actual missions work that makes a difference. Even more inspirational for local believers can be the way they see the mission team living and behaving. Presenting the gospel message is not just about the performances and the on-the-streets work; mission teams are under constant scrutiny, both by the local church and the community in which they are working.
Doreen, another church member of Victoria Park Baptist Church, said: “It’s been incredible having the team here. The kids have been wonderful, they have taught us so much. We have learnt lots of new things that we can teach our kids.” This is about more than just the performances: it’s about lifestyle.
Mary continues: “Seeing how the Latvian families interact, and how the parents relate to their children, has shown me a new way. Having seen them in action, I feel now I could have done more with my own kids. They’re grown up, but I’m now inspired to do better with my grandkids and to have more input into their lives.”
Being missionaries – whether long-term or short-term – is not just about the ministry you do, it’s about the example you are through your lifestyle. And that’s what it means to shine.
* Names have been changed.