by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2013
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV)
The wise men, also known as Magi, were a group of scholars from a non-Jewish tribe in the Medo-Persia kingdom, formerly Babylon. Bestowed with the priestly duties of identifying and approving kings, they became key people in Eastern government and served as advisors to royalty. In addition to being learned scientists of astronomy and interpreters of dreams, they studied Messianic prophecies and Hebrew Scriptures due to the influences of Daniel (Daniel 2:48), Queen Esther and the many Jewish people who had remained in the area.
As you prepare for your mission trip, will you be studious like the Magi? Spend time learning about the country and culture of your destination. Do you know about the history, economy or current state of the nation? What types of religion are practiced? Are the people “warm” or “cold” towards strangers? Is the nuclear or extended family valued in the society? What words or actions would be offensive? Are decisions made by one person or by the collective in a tribe? What are some other influences that shape the nationals’ daily lives and belief systems?
Do you have fears about going to an unfamiliar land? The Magi were foreigners because of the distance from their homeland, nationality and they were Gentiles (not of Jewish lineage); however, it did not stop them from going. “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NKJV) “Whoever serves me [Jesus] must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:26 NIV) Remember Jesus’ prayer to the Father for His disciples, which includes you, “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one.” (John 17:15 NET)
Similar to the wise men, are you watching for Jesus’ presence on your journey? When you accept God’s commission to “go”, He doesn’t press the pause button on everything until you arrive in the mission field. “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I [Jesus] too am working.” (John 5:17 NIV) “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19b NKJV) “No one can come to Me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6:44a NKJV) When you arrive at your destination, do not be surprised that God has already prepared people’s hearts to hear the Good News. You should be actively praying for this and looking for individuals (in your backyard or across the world) who show signs of openness to the Kingdom message.
KESHER PRAYER (connection): Father, I rejoice “…your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you [nation of your mission trip].” (Isaiah 60:1 NKJV) Thank you for the privilege of joining your work in this country as you draw people to your Son, Jesus Christ. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV) As I continue to read my Bible, give me wisdom to know how to prepare for this mission trip, your Shalom peace to calm my spirit and open eyes to see those who are ready to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Amen!