PARTICIPANTS NOT SUPERHEROES

“You should go to Germany.”

It was late fall, and my wife and I were having dinner at my mentor’s home in Lexington, Kentucky. We had been spilling our guts out to these sweet people - everything. This was an incredibly challenging semester for myself (and my wife – she might as well be a student, too). We both were experiencing tremendous amounts of fatigue (emotionally, physically, spiritually)  and simultaneously attempting to reflect on the the ways we had grown during our first 3 months of marriage.

“You should go to Germany.” You can imagine the host of questions. Why do this in our first year of marriage? How are we going to fund this? We were reluctant, hesitant, unsure – we had no clue what to think. Only God knew. 

The city of Berlin has opened its doors in response to the refugee crisis in the Middle East. In the heart of the city is the Lighthouse, a community center which allows refugees to relax, converse with Germans, and drink some coffee. The Lighthouse is led by an Alliance missionary couple and a Syrian missionary couple. Through these particular avenues, the gospel is proclaimed, and light breaks through spiritual darkness.

We knew God was calling us to this. Over the next several weeks, my wife and I committed ourselves to prayer regarding the trip. In the midst of our questions, we continued sensing nudges from God that this was something he wanted us to do. We kept trusting God through our questions. It was as if God was answering our questions while we were asking them. God continued to open the door wide, and several important people in our lives encouraged us, prayed with us, and supported our endeavor. 

This was not your typical missions trip (at least from our perspective). We were not going with a group, not doing any type of “building” project. We had little knowledge of the German culture, and no experience with refugees. To be transparent, we felt insignificant. Doubt was a constant voice in our heads.

Could it be that doubt is where God wanted us?

God kept proving himself in the process of our fundraising. We raised the amount needed within a month. At every step, God was abundantly providing, in big ways and small.

Morgan and I came to realize that this trip is not about what we can “get out of it” and “what this will do for us.”  This attitude leads to a distorted view of God’s mission and His work in the world, and takes the posture that missions is about me, what I will get out of it, and how God will bless me for it.

The reality is, we are participants. God is not looking for superheroes. Neither are the missionaries at the Lighthouse. We are merely participants in God’s mission. We are not going to “add” ideas to present to our hosts. We are humbly submitting ourselves under the leadership and guidance of our hosts, and becoming learners on this trip. We want to learn from refugees and posture ourselves to listen. We are not the center of attention, but we want to put God on display, and have eyes to see Him at work.

I recently completed Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. Wright critiques much of Western thought regarding Jesus’ resurrection and gives an incredible description of our mission as human beings in God’s new creation.

Jesus’ resurrection and ascension have started in the in-breaking of God’s kingdom on earth. We are the agents God has invited in to bring about the kingdom of God to the earth. We are joining in God’s mission to bring about new creation.

“Our response must be that because we believe in the resurrection of Jesus as an event within history, we believe that the living God has already begun the process of new creation, and what may seem impossible in human terms is possible to God.”

God is writing His story, and by His grace, we are included in it. Not only are we partakers in this new life by the Spirit, but we are invited to labor alongside Him in the work He’s been doing since Creation. We humbly submit ourselves to the work of the Spirit in our own lives, and the Spirit’s work in Berlin. God is making all things new.


Landon Stuart loves people, coffee tasting, running outdoors, traveling to unfamiliar places, and donuts. Landon is a full-time student in the M.Div program at Asbury Seminary and a graduate of Taylor University. He is passionate about the future of the Church and seeks to enrich approaches to preaching, Christian formation in leadership and discipleship, and the Christian witness.  He and his wife, Morgan, reside in Wilmore, KY.