Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:16-20
Daniel, a Slovak pastor and member of my internship committee, recently invited me to preach at his dad’s congregation in Háj, a small village in central Slovakia. The assigned preaching text for the day was Matthew 28:16-20: the Great Commission. As I prepared my sermon, I imagined that the disciples’ doubts that day on the mountain in Galilee were similar to my doubts last year at the missionary sending service in Kenosha, Wisconsin: what if I’m not good enough? Will my friends and family ever understand why I’m doing this? Am I up to this task?
The great thing about this story is that Jesus sends the disciples out—Jesus sends us out—anyway. He doesn’t wait for us to be certain, doubt-free, or perfect. We are sent out, not because of what we’ve done, but because of what God has done: loved us, forgiven us, and empowered us to do things we could never do on our own. During the second service in Háj, my eyes kept going back to a woman in a beautiful white suit. As I preached, she smiled. “Keep going!” she seemed to be saying, “You can do this!”
Daniel told me later that Anna is the president of the congregation, and that her granddaughter attends seminary in Bratislava, but is currently serving as a summer intern at Dr. Martin Luther Evangelical Lutheran Church in Muskegon, Michigan. I realized that, on the same Sunday morning that Anna was encouraging me, someone in Michigan was probably looking at her granddaughter and smiling, letting her know “You can do this!,” even in the midst of any doubts she has.
Jesus meets us, and sends us out, in the midst of our doubts and imperfections. That’s good news for missionaries, and for the people we minister with, too.
Anne Edison-Albright will complete her Horizon International Internship in Bratislava, Slovakia on July 31. For Anne’s blog, click here.