If you have been a follower of Christ for long you have enjoyed — or in some cases endured — countless worship gatherings. Living for Jesus means a life of 24/7 worship, but the gathering together of believers for worship is both biblical and profitable. These times we gather corporately to offer ourselves afresh to God bring encouragement, edification, and fellowship with the saints.
One of the reasons I think we should regularly go to other countries on mission trips is to be refreshed in corporate worship. Sometimes we get so accustomed to our routine we can almost hit autopilot and drift through a service. I have a video below to remind you of how this is not only true of antiquated, lifeless churches full of tradition but also newer churches who have lost their focus on Jesus.
Today our Team Ukraine went to four different churches to worship with fellow believers in their normal services. Our group went to the church where my interpreter at the seminary, a young man named Sergey, serves as pastor. We sang in Ukrainian and English some familiar songs (Shine, Jesus Shine, for instance). I watched my former student-turned-Southeastern-colleague-now-IMB-missionary Russell Woodbridge jam on the bass guitar with the praise team. We observed the Lord’s Supper. Sergey told us a brief history of the church before the service, and after we enjoyed coffee, chai, and snacks in a time of fellowship.
The congregation of 50 or more consisted mostly of young adults. Enjoying a time of praising our common Savior served to inspire us all. We will be ministering with this church, called Open Hearts, all week. We will hang out with their students Monday, do servant evangelism Tuesday, and the rest of the team (I will be teaching at the seminary) will work with a street evangelism another day. We will also be sharing Christ through ESL classes and in other meetings.
We want to be a blessing to those who live here and will be serving Christ long after we are gone. When return on Saturday to American we will have many memories, but for me few compare to worshiping with other believers in their own way. When I think of all the places I have been on mission trips, the images — one church on a cold day in Romania, another in the bush of Africa or in the settlements in Cape Town, with Asians in Chiang Mai, or here in Kiev for instance –these images will stay with me always.
Get out of the country. But when you go, be sure to worship with believers in their churches. It may be the most memorable part of the journey.
Oh, here is that video…