I usually keep a pretty low profile at the gym. (Well, if the truth be told, the, er, "profile," is actually a bit different than I'd like. There is nothing quite like joining the kings and queens of Spandex for a few minutes to make one aware of... um... "profile" issues. But I digress. And, you know what I meant: though I'm a fairly extroverted person, when it comes to the gym, I usually try to slip in and out as inconspicuously as possible.)But today I varied a bit from the routine. It was all because of my friend Mike.
Mike is a fellow missionary. His official assignment is to help the American Baptist Churches of Michigan serve the mission of Jesus Christ as faithfully and effectively as they can. But, like the other missionaries I know, his love for the Lord and for people continually finds expression in ways that go well beyond his official assignment.
Mike and I had a great conversation a little while ago, as part of International Ministries' Responding to the Call discernment process. One of the things that have stayed with me from that inspiring conversation was when Mike said,
"The gym is my congregation!"
Mike has been working out a lot in recent years. And, in the gym, Mike is just himself. No "Pastor Mike." No "Rev," let alone, "Rev. Dr." Just "Mike." And people talk to him. He listens. They notice. So, one day another guy figured it out, and asked Mike to pray for him. In the whirlpool. With a bunch of other guys. So God has given Mike an unexpected "mission field": the gym.
I loved Mike's stories about mission in the gym. As I listened, I decided that I would basically continue to keep my "low profile" (see "Spandex, Kings & Queens of," above), but stay open to opportunities as God brought them my way.
Today, as I was slogging away on the elliptical trainer, one of the guys I often see in the locker room called out to another guy that he, "D," was going to take a trip to Vietnam and Thailand. Whoa. Time to move to the next level.
D is a runner, and looks it (see "Spandex, K..."). He is also a car salesman and a Deacon. (Hey, it's not like I've been totally anti-social at the gym!) So later, in the locker room I asked D, "You going to Vietnam for a race, for church or for a vacation?"
"You know Vietnam?"
"Yeah, a little. Mostly Saigon."
"Been there to work with pastors and leaders in some of the churches."
"Churches? Oh man. God sent you to me today!"
And we were off and running. I don't yet know where this will lead. So far, we have mostly talked about food, accommodations and such. But "D" did begin to explore with me how the gospel gets shared in places like Vietnam and Thailand. Lord willing, at the very least our conversations will help to connect D's faith--and that of his congregation--with what God is doing through brothers and sisters in Vietnam and Thailand. I'm praying for more. We'll see.
My conversation with D was far less dramatic than Mike's impromptu prayer meeting in the whirlpool. But the point is the same: mission is where you find it--or better... where it finds you!
I continue to be grateful for the way God nudged me through the experiences Mike shared in our conversation. Maybe the Lord will do something similar for you today. In any case, I pray that the Spirit of God will keep the eyes, ears and hearts of all of us open to the opportunities to serve those whom the Lord brings into our lives today... in unexpected places! To whom is God sending you today?