Starting at ground level
by Don Morris
I had just had a brief conversation with the person sitting next to me on a recent flight. We hadn’t talked about much of anything of significance, but we did eventually come to the point where I shared that part of my job involved planting new churches. After that, the passenger hid himself in his book.
A moment later, the pilot came on the intercom and said we were preparing for landing. I wondered how many times I have heard that same message over the past six years of my work with Mission USA and the travel it involves. So I kind of heard him, and at the same time I kind of didn’t hear him.
What caught my full attention on this occasion was the huge burden that began to settle on my heart as I looked out the window and observed the city where we were arriving. I also thought of the person sitting next to me that didn’t have any desire to continue a conversation when he found out I worked for Jesus. And as I looked out the plane’s window, I thought about all the hundreds, no thousands, of homes I was seeing as we descended.
“There are likely thousands of people with no real interest in God who live in those homes. And, there will be thousands in the next city I fly into, and the next and the next,” I remember thinking. I had to keep my head turned toward the window so the man next to me wouldn’t see the tears forming in my eyes.
I wondered as I prayed, “Lord, how can we Mennonite Brethren make any significant difference in this world? How can we even create a drop in the bucket in light of the magnitude of the spiritual void I’m imagining from 10,000 feet?”
What I believe God then said back to me was: “You can’t do it all, just do your part. And, remember this is my plan (to reach the lost) not yours.”
The world looks really big from the window of an airplane. But once on the ground, it doesn’t seem so huge. From the ground you can see individual people and neighborhoods. The world then becomes very real and personal. It’s in these neighborhoods that we can make a difference—and we are! As we develop a stronger and stronger vision for reaching those who don’t yet know Jesus, and as we strive to create relationships that matter, the result has been and will continue to be transformed lives.
So, what’s the moral of this story? The task of reaching people looks impossible when viewed from 10,000 feet. But when I’m next to someone, it’s not daunting at all. So do what I did that day on the plane: start with the person beside you.