by Ron Hilliard, vision trip participant
Nineteen Frontier Fellowship friends from the US are on a vision trip in the Middle East to learn from our ministry partners about how the Good News of Jesus is transforming lives. Experience this partner visit through the eyes of those traveling with Associate Director Dan McNerney.
“….and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” —Revelation 5:9-10 (NIV)
I’m frequently reminded in these changing times that we now live in a world that is global. This is true in business and finance for instance. And it is also true of what is often referred to as the global Church. We have the incredible privilege of what former missionaries and followers of Jesus only hoped and prayed for—to see God fulfill His promise of gathering the nations to Himself.
Participating on a vision trip with Frontier Fellowship is like pulling back the curtain and getting to watch and understand what God is doing in gathering the nations. It is like getting out of the stands at a sporting event and going down onto the field where you get an entirely different perspective.
It’s one thing to hear the stories of what God is doing amongst the nations of the world. When we do hear such stories or read about them it often seems so far away. We have no context to help us understand the story. We typically don’t have relationships with the people who would bring the stories to life.
It’s quite another experience to meet the people who live these stories and who have been impacted by the grace of God. The people we have read about in the past now have faces and names and stories to tell. The gathering of the nations becomes real when you can eat a meal with a person and ask questions of each other. The gathering of people from different tribes and languages and people and nations who love and serve God is a small glimpse of what heaven will be like when the promise of Revelation 5 is fulfilled. To experience a foretaste of the future with God fills our hearts and ignites a passion to see this promise fulfilled even more. A vision trip thus feels like a glimpse of what God is doing to gather the nations. It is to experience on a small level what heaven will be like!
As of this writing, I am only on day two of such a vision trip. We met with the ministry staff who are all serving together to tell the story of God’s love and grace to a specific nation in the Middle East. Each one of these servants are from the same nation. All are part of the nations that God is gathering and all are, as Revelation 5 reminds us, priests who are serving God.
Just being around these servants is inspirational. As they shared today about the context of their ministry, we heard stories of how God is at work bringing people to Himself. And we also heard stories of people who gave their lives in following and serving Jesus. These were more than just stories that were told to us by the ministry staff. They were stories told by a daughter whose father was martyred. Stories told by a pastor whose brother was beaten and killed. Stories told by friends and family members of people who were willing to take up their cross and follow Jesus.
Today, the gathering of the nations became real to me. The grace of God was seen in the faces of sisters and brothers who face incredible struggles as followers of Jesus. I was both encouraged and challenged to live my faith in ways that honor God no matter what the cost. Today, on day two of this vision trip, I saw Revelation 5 being fulfilled. And it is life changing to meet some of those from the nations that God has gathered and to begin to consider how all of us from these nations might serve as priests together.