The Call To Go
The awestruck assembly gazed up into the sky as a humble yet majestic figure ascended far above and was veiled from view. The air was marked by stunned silence. Before taking His heavenly throne, Jesus left His disciples with a daunting mission—to proclaim the story of salvation across all borders. Knowing the weight of this commission, He encouraged them with the power of a coming Helper. Jesus’ call has never faltered nor has it become irrelevant for those who profess Him as Lord.
Why We Went
This July, a group consisting of seven high-schoolers (including myself) and five adults made a cross-country trek to the small cluster of New England states. We left our comfort zone and stepped into an unfamiliar culture because of the same call that propelled the apostles to live for the gospel. Our intention was to lock arms with the faithful congregation of Christ Redeemer Church (CRC) in Hanover, New Hampshire. The members of CRC have faced resistance in their endeavor to build a physical church home, and our youth ministry sought an opportunity to partner with them. We went with three main objectives— “the three E’s:”
- Encouragement – Embolden the body of Christ in this difficult ministry context and be encouraged by their unwavering faithfulness.
- Engagement – Proclaim the message of the gospel to a society with a desperate need for truth and hope.
- Exposure – Experience a contrast in culture and discover what outreach looks like in an unchurched populace.
In addition to these three charges, our mission team was able to meet the church’s physical needs through multiple service projects. As we labored hand-in-hand, a deeper community was cultivated both within our group and with the congregation of CRC.
Our experience was without a doubt spiritually impactful; however, it was equally as fun. Through late-night fellowship and even participating in CRC’s youth group, we all shared much laughter and made life-long memories.
Where We Went
For a bit of context, New Hampshire has been classified as the least religious state by Pew Research, with thirty-one percent of the population claiming to have no religious affiliation. Hanover, which is home to Dartmouth College, has proved itself antagonistic toward the conception of a church, even resisting CRC’s attempts to build a church building. In the months leading up to the trip, our group prepared to engage this secular culture by participating in Providence’s GO (Gospel Outreach) Team and equipping ourselves for gospel conversations. Although our evangelism portion during the trip was cut shorter than anticipated, God truly blessed the time we had with fruitful conversations.
How Did God Change Me?
First, I encountered the body of Christ in a refreshing, new way. From the start of our time in Hanover, we were enveloped by Christ-like hospitality and generosity. The congregation of Christ Community Church (CCC), who offered their building to house us, satisfied our every need and far surpassed all expectations. Over the course of the week, church members opened their homes where we fellowshipped around their tables. Additionally, we observed a close-knit community and dependency between neighboring churches. The trip also served as a powerful reminder that we are all one family in Christ regardless of secondary differences. Finally, I was personally encouraged by how Pastor Don Willeman thoughtfully shepherds his congregation, even if the flock is small.
My perspective on evangelism was also corrected. We heard stories from believers in Hanover as they strive to live on mission within their daily circumstances. I realized that to faithfully serve as an ambassador for Christ, I must not only designate time for outreach but actively pursue opportunities to share my faith in the day-to-day.
Missions can be a scary word, yet each and every Christian has received the same commission to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). In spite of the connotation today, becoming a “missionary” does not have to take you out of the country. There are God-ordained opportunities all around us. Be intentional with conversations, and allow God to use you wherever you find yourself. I will close with the empowering words of our Lord and Savior:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8 ESV