I’m sure the song “This Little Light of Mine” is familiar to a lot of people.
For me, it was one of those VBS and Bible class songs that I don’t even remember learning. It was just something I always knew. It has a great lesson for us and our kids. Of course, when I was a child I didn’t necessarily completely understand its full message. It was fun to hold a finger up to represent a candle and move it around to show how we let it shine. We sang about not hiding it under a bushel, but putting it out in the open for everyone to see. We also sang about not letting Satan blow our light out. Sometimes we would even sing about where we would shine our light, all around the neighborhood or city.
Shining Light into the Inner City
Growing up attending church and being involved in a youth group, I had many opportunities to go on mission trips. Those experiences touched me in profound ways. On one particular mission trip to an inner city location, I was in in awe of the missionaries who dedicated their lives to serving that community. I was only there a week, but I knew it was not an easy task to live in an area with lots of crime, drugs, poverty, and many dark places that needed God’s light. I wondered how someone could possibly be strong enough to shine their light there on a daily basis.
Those missionaries weren’t aware that not only did their light shine for the community to see, it shone to me and the other teens on that mission trip. It wasn’t just the missionaries whose lights shone, but also the trip’s chaperones who showed love to the kids in this inner-city community.
I’ve been so blessed to grow up among so many wonderful Christian adults who taught me not only what God’s Word says, but showed me through their actions. Obviously my parents are some of the biggest examples I learned from, but because they raised me in the church, I had the chance to be affected by so many other wonderful Christians. Whether they were aware of it or not, their examples impacted me in ways that will affect me for my whole life.
An Interest in Mission Work
I guess it’s no surprise that during college I became so interested in mission work that I ended up moving to Germany and doing mission work there for five years after I graduated. Those five years were some of the most exciting, challenging, life-changing, and rewarding years of my life. God put a love of the country and the people I met there, as well as a passion to reach out and shine my light, in my heart. I will never be the same because of these experiences.
Mission Work and Kids
Even now that my family is living in the States again, we continue to have that passion and love for Germany and missions. We try to return as often as we can for short-term mission work. Now that my husband and I have two kids, it can be challenging to travel abroad and do these trips. Never, even for a second, have I considered not taking them with us. People ask us if we will take the kids and I’m sure many have wondered why or how we do it with kids in tow. The answer is always, yes, the kids will absolutely go with us! Not only could I not fathom leaving them at home (even with family members) for the duration of our trip, but one of the best things about taking them with us is that they get to have these amazing experiences as young children.
They will grow up knowing that we go on these trips to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to others around the world! What better example is there for them to see God at work, than to take them with us and let them see it first hand? They always talk about our times in Germany with anticipation and wonderful memories. They love that we go, and maybe don’t always know all the reasons we are there, but hopefully when they get to an age that they fully understand, will see not only the “why” but the “how” of what shining our light means.
Shine Your Light Where You Are
Some of you may be thinking, “that’s great, but I can’t go to Germany or another foreign country with my family.” I know that this may not be for everyone, although I do encourage you to try to go on a mission trip at least once in your life. However, you don’t have to go to a foreign country to shine your light. There are so many ways you can shine your light, even in your very own neighborhood. There are so many opportunities around us. We just have to look for them. Find something you know you can help with, or maybe you will even find a passion for something you didn’t know you had. Perhaps you can donate your time to a clothing or food drive. Look for outreach opportunities or ways you can help in the community.
Involve your whole family in mission work. Ask your kids to think of some ways they can help others. Start out small by making some treats and delivering them to your neighbors. Let your kids see that serving others and letting your light shine is fun. They will start asking you to do it again! These will make the best memories for you and your family. Who knows, maybe this will start conversations with your neighbors or others in the community and lead to them asking more questions about who you are and why you serve the way you do.
A Command to Serve
I’m not encouraging service just because it can be fun. It’s a command. 1 Peter 4:10-11 says:
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
This verse talks about using our gifts to serve. One of the main reasons I went to Germany to begin with was because some of my choir friends had told me about the trip and how you get to sing. I thought it would be a great combination for me: mission work, which I had already enjoyed in the past, and singing, which was also a huge passion for me. Who knew one trip to Germany after my sophomore year at college would turn into a lifelong passion? You might be surprised if you try to get involved in some form of service using your talents, too! It could bring a lot of joy to your life.
Bringing Glory to God
God also wants us to shine His light so that we can give glory to Him. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus says,
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Let’s do everything we can to bring God glory! It may not always feel comfortable, but it is what God wants and what He calls us to do. One of my favorite verses is in Isaiah, when God commissions Isaiah to go speak to the people. Isaiah’s reaction is just how I want to be. Isaiah 6:8 says, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.” I pray that we can all be so eager to do what God has called us to do! Go and shine your light!