Our vision statement for the Missionary Church East Central Region is “to partner with the Church in Ohio to represent the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every man, woman and child.” God has called us to participate in fulfilling His desire that every one of the more than eleven and a half million people who live in our state would have the opportunity to respond to His offer of hope, life, and eternal joy through Jesus.
Some have shared with me that this vision statement seems a bit overwhelming, and that they struggle to get their minds around how an individual church or individual Christian could contribute to such a massive undertaking. Let me say that I understand that feeling and that I share it at times. As I wrestle with developing strategic plans, managing resource availability and allocation, identifying ministry partnerships, and sharing in supporting pastors and churches in challenges they face, I can sometimes hear the whisper of the evil one: “Really, Jeff, how can anyone move such an impossible mission forward?”
In answer, the Holy Spirit encourages me: “one cup of water at a time.” As Jesus puts it in Matthew 10:42 (NLT), “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
You and I enter into the eternity-changing, overarching purposes of God at the most basic level by acting as agents of his love moment by moment. It is so simple that at times I miss it in the busyness of urgent demands, long range planning, and ongoing ministry responsibilities. God’s vision moves toward fulfillment as each of us identifies and acts upon the next opportunity to serve someone, meet a need, or express a word of encouragement. Each “cup of cold water” given in Jesus’ name touches eternity.
The challenge, of course, is to live in the present moment with enough intentionality to see the chances to “be Jesus” in the everyday events of our lives. Let’s ask Jesus to show us those opportunities and then give us His heart and energy to be salt and light in the next moment, and the next, until His Kingdom purposes are accomplished. As Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:7-8, “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The Kingdom of heaven has come near.’…Freely you have received; freely give.”