by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2013
“About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Luke 9:28-33 NLT)
I can relate to the Peter’s misstep during his mountain top experience. During a layover in London en route to the United States, a handful of our mission team decided to take advantage of a limited window of time to explore the sights. Though we had just completed a two-week mission camp in Russia earlier in the day, we were determined not to let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity elapse by sleeping it away. Late at night into the early morning, the four of us strolled through the busy, noisy streets of Piccadilly Circus. Fear began to grip me. As I became more aware of the boisterous locals, I felt vulnerable walking single file. Our team leader, who had joined us on our adventure, noticed and directed one of the young men in our entourage to walk next to me as we finished our tour. Later, groggy from a few hours of sleep, I arrived for team breakfast and spotted my bodyguard. I navigated to his location, kissed his check and thanked him for protecting me a few hours earlier. Just as quickly as it happened, I became mortified! I couldn’t believe I had crossed the physical boundary of the opposite sex especially with someone who was much younger. Although it was an innocent gesture, my expression of gratitude was totally inappropriate.
Unity fosters spiritual energy and feelings are heightened. Just a mere 24 hours earlier we had been in the presence of God’s glory as it descended upon the Russian youth camp. In just a couple of weeks, our team’s single purpose, to introduce Jesus to those who have never heard of Him, resulted in a strong consecrated bond among us. “Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 30:12 NIV) The enriched spiritual experience magnified my emotions and disorientated my mind causing me not to filter my actions through earthly social norms.
Embarrassingly from first hand-knowledge, I understand why the rules about no bodily contact, flirting or pairing off with the opposite gender, either on your mission team or with the nationals, are put into place. For the same reason, team members are encouraged not to make promises to the nationals while they are still aglow from the ministry of the trip. Likewise, individuals should defer making vocational decisions until they have time to balance their glorious Kingdom experience with the practicality of daily life.
KESHER TIP (connection): Holy Kiss
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (2 Corinthians 13:12 NIV) In some cultures, it is common custom to kiss the side of someone’s cheek upon meeting or departing. This action is distinguished as “holy” versus a kiss of sexual nature or sign of deceit, in the case of Judas betraying Jesus. Research your country destination to find out if a kiss is the normal form of greeting. Be prepared for same gender gestures. If uncomfortable in reciprocating, check ahead with your host to determine if an alternate greeting can be given without offense.