Abiding Community

November 3, 2015 |
AbidingIn the weeks following our SAM Centennial conference and celebration, our executive director sent out a prayer calendar, encouraging us as a mission to gather in prayer on specific themes through the end of the year and into the new. The first set of prayer topics comes from SAM’s strategy map, where we have identified “who” we want to be: an abiding, loving, redemptive, suffering, and growing community. First, we focused in prayer on being an “Abiding Community”.

This trait comes from John 15:5 which, in context, reads:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” John 15:4-6, ESV

Though it might seem obvious that missionaries abide in Christ, and though it may even appear to be part of the job description, there is great necessity for overseas cross-cultural workers to intentionally evaluate and work to stimulate their own relationship with Christ.

In Panama, we had a recurring discussion on the topic of Biblical “rest”, and an extension of that discussion is the concept of being an abiding community:

Aside from Christ, we cannot rest.

The need for a mission organization to dwell in God’s presence is made abundantly clear when looking at the statistical data for missionary “burn out”, or emotional and physical suffering due to stress. The following information comes from a report completed by Heartstream Resources, an organization dedicated to serving cross-cultural workers and enabling their mental and emotional success:

“In Holmes and Rahe’s original study [on stress], they found that when people scored 200 points during a given year, the cumulative stress had an impact well beyond that year. They found that 50% of those scoring 200 points were hospitalized within the subsequent two years for heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and other severe illnesses. When the scores reached 300 points, 90% were hospitalized for these illnesses within the subsequent two years… The amount of stress experienced among cross-cultural workers averages around 600 points on the Holmes-Rahe modified scale, with levels peaking up to 900 and beyond for people in their first field term.” (Heartstream Resources)

Statistically speaking, it is only by the power and grace of God that missionaries can be sustained in cross-cultural work. Personally speaking, it is only by the power and grace of God that South America Mission has served the past 100 years, and continues to enable the advancement of the gospel in South America. Only a community of believers who abide in God’s power and love can effectively and healthily build for the Kingdom.

So, what did we pray for?

We prayed for passion, we prayed for perseverance, we prayed for hope, we prayed for peace: we prayed for God’s presence. To be an abiding community of believers, South America Mission must be filled with, and surrounded by, the presence of the living God. Only through Him can His kingdom come.


2 Responses to “Abiding Community”

  • Eman

    I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find out I missed out on His best for me …because of fear.Very wise words ineedd. I learned from my father who was clinically depressed and had chronic OCD all of his life that to fear the unknown, to fear that which has not yet happened (and therefore might not happen) causes one to miss out on so much of God’s blessings and beauty in life.Thanks for hosting this week. I loved the quote chosen!

    • Kenneth Massey

      May the peace of Christ this Christmas be your hope and strength, Eman. Please let us know how we can help you as you walk through life pursuing God’s beauty.