Changing perspectives on God’s global work
Written by Brad Jenkins

First Pres recently hosted Perspectives, which brought together Christ-followers from a number of local churches to learn about what God is doing around the world and how we can join that work.

We asked one of the participants, Laura Atkins, about the experience.

What motivated you to do Perspectives?

I’m on the Global Missions committee and wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about missions. I have experience with short-term mission trips, but knew very little about long-term missions, the mission field, and especially unreached people groups.

What stands out most from what you learned and experienced?

It was an incredibly rich experience. Some people were in the course for the second or third time and I can understand why. There is so much to absorb and learn, from the readings, instructors, and group discussions.

One thing that stood out is the clarity of God’s mission. There is no ambiguity – God will complete his mission and will use us to do it. These two passages are key to that:

  • Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
  • Phil 2:10-11 at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

The stories about how God is using people in surprising ways were fascinating. For example, we learned about Cuban mission workers going to North Korea and Jamaicans going to the field in Africa. Political and racial boundaries are being overcome by mobilizing the right people to the right places.

How did taking Perspectives broaden and/or deepen your faith?

I feel like the course really clarified some things for me. It’s helped me to think about what I want to focus on as I live out my own faith. It has prompted me to look at my own faith and make intentional changes toward obedience to God.

How did taking Perspectives broaden your view of God’s mission?

The study of the Jerusalem Council was really interesting to me. When God opened up salvation to the Gentiles, it provided a model for reaching all people, even people from very different cultures. I think we tend to overcomplicate things and have a lot of rules about “how church should be done,” but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

It was also interesting to learn about the current state of missions today. The information about where missionaries are coming from and where they are going was surprising and unexpected. The mission field of unreached peoples is still about 1/3 of the global population, but only about 10% of mission workers are sent to those regions.

What now after taking the course?

I’ll continue working with the Global Missions committee in supporting our missionaries in the field. I would also like to build on the work that’s been done in the past around short-term missions. This church has connections in Cuba, Ethiopia, South Africa, Vietnam and other places. It would be fantastic if we could consistently get more covenant partners out to see how God is at work in other parts of the world and to be a part of that.