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Living on Mission: Learning Together

As 2021 began, I was facilitating an online course called “Living on Mission in Times of Crisis.” My co-facilitator was one of Multiply’s long-term workers in Austria and we had participants from all around the world, including Colombia, Germany, Canada and Austria! Although we were all connected in some way to our church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, we represented several generations, cultures, backgrounds, languages, vocations, and time zones.

I realized that doing the course felt similar to facilitating a multi-cultural mission team that was learning from one another while on mission. And I realized again how much I love these opportunities! 

In 2020, our church had planned to send out several small teams to visit our global partners for prayer and encouragement, but then COVID-19 happened. We had also planned to host a mission team from the Wounaan church in Panama in February, but all of those plans had to change as well.

As a Missions Pastor, I have grieved these losses, because I know how valuable the opportunities for discipleship are as people live on mission together. I love seeing people grow in their faith, taking risks, learning to pray in new ways, testing their gifts in a safe community, practicing discernment together, while expanding their worldview and becoming more aware of our global church family. These experiences have been life giving to me over the years. Living on mission together, whether locally or globally, allows us to grow and mature around a common task. It is in these times that we learn to depend on the Lord together, seeking his Word and turning to prayer, supporting each other and stepping out with courage. 

In 2019, our church sent a small prayer team to Central Asia to develop relationships with our mission partners there. The morning after we arrived, we met with the local church and I watched as some of the team members experienced worship in another language and culture for the first time. The Holy Spirit was at work in our hearts as our eyes were opened to the vibrant church in this Muslim area. We were asked to lift our hands and pray over the new believers that had gathered and, although we were pushed out of our comfort zones that morning, we were encouraged by the faith and risk-taking obedience of these new believers. 

It was not only an opportunity for our team to live on mission; it was an opportunity to learn from our global family. As we joined them in praising Jesus in a language unfamiliar to us, we sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit uniting us. As we prayed together, we cried out to God in unity for more open doors for the Gospel in this city of millions. Our lives were changed that morning and throughout the week as we continued to learn from local leaders, praying as we walked the streets of this beautiful city and meeting out brothers and sisters who were a part of the new growing churches. 

The team returned to their lives and work in Saskatoon with a new burden to intercede for the world. They had also become more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their lives and in their workplaces, and more committed to being generous with their spiritual gifts and finances. 

It has been a joy for me to walk alongside individuals and teams like this and see them grow, as they have been discipled on mission. For some, it has led to further engagement in local mission opportunities in Saskatoon, a call to pastoral ministry or serving overseas in Berlin or Panama. For others, the short-term mission experience allowed them to explore new gifts and passions, such as one participant who served as team photographer and then years later started her own photography business. Others grew in their commitment to send and support missions through prayer and finances.

We have so much to learn from one another in the body of Christ. I am so thankful for the relationships we have with our church missionaries and with national believers and churches in places we partner. They have helped disciple many of us in our spiritual journeys. As we collaborate, we lift our eyes to see what the Lord of the harvest is doing around the world and in our own neighborhoods and cities. The church is growing around the world, in many places much faster than in North America. Missionaries are being sent out from everywhere to everywhere. As the body of Christ, we all have a calling to disciple others who will reproduce disciples wherever they are. What kind of kingdom impact can we have as God unites us in love and as we care for the nations with the Good News of Jesus?

As I look back on this past year, many of our plans to “go” had to be changed. Yet the Lord provided new ways to interact with our global family. Like others, we got creative and looked for ways to join with one another over online video calls. As many of our meetings and workshops went online, we invited our missionaries and global church partners to join us. We also listened in as our missionaries shared about their ministries on Multiply’s Partnership Calls over the last months. I also had a unique opportunity to collaborate with two Wounaan leaders to share their story of displacement and land issues at a conference sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). We have learned to celebrate with our global family and to enter into their sufferings as well. 

Living on mission together with others, locally and globally, has opened my eyes and heart to many needs, and also to many relationships that have enriched my life. I have had the privilege of walking with others and seeing the Holy Spirit transform us in amazing ways. Who has God brought into your life or into your church that you can connect with in the joys and sorrows of life, that you can disciple while on mission together? 

We are all called to live on mission, as sent ones of Jesus going into all the world making disciples, knowing that he has given us all authority and has left us with the promise that he will always be with us.  

Maryanne Berge is Global Missions Pastor at Forest Grove Community Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and a recently appointed member of the Multiply Board. 

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