Written by Brandon Boyd, Missional Living Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church
The summers of 2004 and 2005, God took me on an adventure that I would have never imagined, one that continues to this day. I grew up going to church but did not hear much about serving others, missions, or much activity outside the walls of the church. I am not being critical or judgmental; it was just the reality. The first time I was really exposed to doing any type of “missions” work was in college, on a couple of domestic spring break trips. I thoroughly enjoyed these trips but did not understand how God was using them to prepare me for what was to come. It was later during these two summers when the Lord made it clear what He was asking me to do.
I found out about a short-term mission trip to Romania in the summer of 2004 and felt the Lord calling me to go. It was a wonderful trip, the first overseas ministry opportunity I had, and the Lord was working, but I still didn’t understand the full extent of what He was doing. The next summer, I was able to go to India on another short-term trip. This time, the Lord fully captured my attention and began my journey into full-time missionary service. This was scary at first, as it meant going to seminary for further training, leaving my career in secular counseling, and going to live in, at that time, an unknown place in the world. It took prayers, faith, and a lot of encouragement for me to go on this adventure, but I am so glad I did for many reasons. One of those is that I met my wife and we have served together now for over 11 years, almost 6 of those years in Thailand. Mine is a story of allowing God to lead me and my family into an adventure of a lifetime.
Are you ready to live adventurously?
I know my story is not your story, nor should it be. God has created us uniquely (see Psalm 139) and given us different gifts.
- Discover who He made us to be. One of the most important things we can do in our walk with Christ is to discover who He has made us to be, how He has gifted us, and how He wants us to use those gifts. It is up to us to then be obedient and follow Him on the adventure He has designed for us and our family. However different we may be, one thing we have in common, as believers in Christ, is that we are each tasked with taking the Gospel to those who don’t know (Matthew 28:18-20).
- Teach our children. Another commonality we each have is a responsibility to teach our children about Christ and to teach them to live a life in which they are also discovering who God has created them to be, how He has gifted them, and how to follow His journey for their life. Proverbs 22:6 is a verse many are familiar with: “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” This doesn’t necessarily mean a job or career. This means teaching them to be obedient to Christ by following His commands. So how do we teach them to follow Christ and to be obedient to Him? One of the most important ways is to model it for them by how we live our lives.
- Obey God’s calling. The next question is, what are we to obey? Matthew 22:36-40 give us some very clear guidelines.
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Jesus says that loving God and loving others are the two most important commandments we have been given. Each of these commands ask us to look outside of ourselves by loving God and loving the people around us. There are many examples throughout the Bible in which loving others is equated or expressed by serving them. Peter was asked three times by Christ, after His resurrection, “Do you love me?” The response was yes, to which Christ replied either feed or take care of His lambs and sheep. This clearly shows Christ’s desire for us to express our love for Him by serving others in our influence.
Is your family living missionally?
So what do these two “greatest” commandments have to do with living missionally as a family? To answer this, we need to think about how we define missions. Often we think of living in a foreign country, learning another language, and reaching a group of people who have never heard or have not responded to the Gospel. This is by all means true and absolutely necessary, but is not the calling for everyone. There are people in our families, at work, in our neighborhoods, and in our communities who may have never heard of Christ or have not responded to Him. I would like for each of us to change our paradigm of missions from being solely focused on foreign missions to being focused on loving and serving anyone within our circle of influence. These commandments to love God and love others asks us to focus on those around us, to love them and serve them.
As families, we want to live missionally, meaning searching for the opportunities God has placed in front of us to obey Him and step out in faith by intentionally serving other people as a family. These opportunities to serve give us as parents a chance to model for our kids how to think more of others than of themselves. It also gives children of all ages a chance to participate and observe obedience to Christ by loving others.
Serving others is an adventure in which we do not necessary know where it is going to lead but is always exhilarating! There are risks and challenges with serving other people, but there are joyous blessings as we see God at work in and through us and in the lives of the people we love. Serving others as a family also provides a great time of bonding as a family. It gives you shared experiences and times of reflection as your family discusses what God is doing.
My challenge to your family this summer is to seek opportunities to go on an adventurous journey together to live missionally at church, in your community, or even beyond in a foreign country.
Brandon Boyd, was born in Texas and is a life-long Cowboys fan! He moved to Arkansas at a young age and lived there until graduating from college, when he moved back to Texas. Brandon’s background is social work and counseling. He worked in outpatient psychiatric care here in the Dallas area for 8 years.
He has been a part of Stonebriar since 2002. As a part of the singles group, Brandon got his first exposure to overseas missions. It was after trips to Romania and India that he realized God was calling him into long-term missionary service; not on the front lines, but caring for the emotional, relational, and spiritual needs of missionaries. He and his wife, Cheri, tell people they spread the Gospel by strengthening missionaries. Brandon and Cheri met through their mission organization, SIM, in 2006. They married about a year later and served in Chiang Mai, Thailand for 5.5 years. They returned to the US on a home assignment and served in their home office in Charlotte, North Carolina for 2.5 years. They now serve the Lord as a part of the Stonebriar family and serve the missionaries and others sent by Stonebriar.