This last May, in my role as a World Vision Child Ambassador volunteer, I had the chance to bring World Vision’s Matthew 25 Weekend Experience to Christ’s Family Church in Hastings, MN. As I prepared and participated, I saw how beautifully this resource spoke to the heart of people and was reminded of the way God transformed my life in the past.
Seven years ago, though I was a believer and knew my identity was in Christ, I couldn’t seem to break free from depression and a lack of purpose. Thankfully, God reached out and shifted my perspective to see that the purpose of my life isn’t about me at all. It’s about Him! The purpose of my life is to bring Him glory and through that rotation of focus, God brought about the joy and purpose I’d been longing for! At that time, to fulfill the call he placed in my heart, God also led me to World Vision - first as a child sponsor and later as a Child Ambassador, sharing about the impact of child sponsorship with others.
I personally believe this new World Vision resource based on Matthew 25 has the same potential to transform lives and revitalize churches across the nation. It’s a beautiful clarion call that serves to unite us around the truth of our role as individuals and as the broader church in fulfilling God’s mission. I believe that God can use it to transform us in five ways.
1. Transform our spiritual walk. In the free, four-week group guide, Matthew 25: A Life-changing Journey, World Vision President and author, Richard Stearns, writes, “Reading [Matthew 25] carefully, understanding it fully, and then living it out will change you. And as God intends, it will change the world, too.” This devotional guide is filled with solid biblical teaching, thoughtful questions, and inspiring stories that the Lord can use to draw us to His heart and His mission for the world. It is an excellent resource to help us grow in our love for God and to understand our role in His plan.
2. Transform our vision. Seven years ago, I didn’t understand the important role I have in God’s mission and life felt so meaningless. Once the Lord opened my eyes to see that we are all “called” to serve as his hands and feet in a tangible way in the world, that vision transformed my life and gave me His purpose. I believe that in a similar way, God can use World Vision’s Matthew 25 resources to work in the hearts of His church, awakening us to see needs that He’s equipped us to meet!
3. Transform our families. It’s a challenge to raise kids in a distracted and wealthy culture. As parents, we long to open our kids’ eyes to the needs of others and have compassion for them, but it can be difficult for our efforts to sink in deeply. The Matthew 25 Challenge is a unique way to help us live out Christ’s call within our families. This experience happens via text message and includes a daily challenge that helps us to step out of our comfort zones and experience a little of what it is like to walk in the shoes of “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.” As a mom myself, I feel this is a fantastic opportunity - kind of like a week of object lessons - to help me disciple my children and share with them Christ’s love and concern for “the least of these.” And it’s not just for kids! It’s a great challenge for adults as well and can unify our heart as a church.
4. Transform our neighborhoods. In week three of the Matthew 25: A Life-changing Journey group guide, we are led to envision how we can live counter-culturally here in the United States and truly BE the church in our own context. We are asked to consider how we can use our time and talents to serve in our community and build relationships. We’re also encouraged to choose an action to take that very week in response! I get excited to think of the impact this can have on our communities across the nation!
5. Transform our world. The ultimate goal of these various Matthew 25 tools is to open our eyes and see that our Matthew 25 moment is here! How is God calling us to live out His mission? Each and every one of us is needed in this time and in this place! Pastor Joe Hannah, of Christ’s Family Church in Minnesota, shared this thought so well, “I believe right now, we have a decision to make as Jesus’ church. ...Will we continue to live in fear and continue to bury our head in the sand… or will we trust God? Will we respond as Jesus’ church and say, ‘Jesus, use whatever you have given me to love the least of these?’”
I encourage you to take this opportunity, this moment in time, and engage your church in the transformational Matthew 25 Challenge. I genuinely believe the Lord can use it to transform and energize His church to fulfill His mission in the world! I’ve experienced the way His vision for my life and His vision for the world has transformed me and believe it can transform the lives of His church, as well!