A short line of little boys and girls formed in front of the podium. They came forward one at a time to ask a question of our friend Christina, whose face filled the computer screen. They asked questions like “What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten in Nigeria?” and “What’s your favorite part of being a missionary?”
Through Facetime, we were chatting across 6,061 miles with Christina Reipe. Christina is a language surveyor and member of our congregation currently serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Nigeria.
Facetiming Christina was just one part of our month-long focus on missions. During their planning meeting last summer, our session decided to designate February 2020 “Missions Month” at Immanuel RPC (West Lafayette, Indiana, USA). They tapped into existing connections between our congregation and various mission fields and collaborated on logistics (hosting, meals, etc.) with our RP Global Missions congregational missions advocate.
On the first Sunday in February, a brother who heads up ministry in Central Asia opened the Word with us. He shared how God is at work reforming hearts and growing His church despite the persecution in his native country.
The following week, two elders from churches in East Asia visited us, and one of them preached from Romans 10, calling us to “join the greater movement of the gospel to the nations.”
On the third week, our church enjoyed an international-themed fellowship meal between services. Dishes from Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Puerto Rico, and South Sudan filled the tables. The spicy pig intestines proved particularly memorable!
Pastor David Hanson from Southside Indianapolis RPC preached in the morning. During our evening service, he gave an update from the RP Global Missions board. Together we praised God for His work in Japan, South Sudan, and South and Central Asia!
On the final Lord’s Day in February, our own pastor, Jared Olivetti, preached from Psalm 22:25-31. Throughout the message were sprinkled bits and pieces of John G. Paton’s story. Pastor Olivetti reminded us that Jesus is on a worldwide, generational mission of worship. “Where is Jesus going? He’s going everywhere. He’s going around the world and He’s calling you to follow Him…. God wants all of you, of course, to serve Him. Some of you will likely stay here, but God wants some of you to leave.”
These last words he directed particularly to teenagers. At the end, he handed out copies of Paton’s biography to teens in the church encouraging them to start reading it that very afternoon.
In the evening, our focus turned to God’s work in Africa. It was then that we Facetimed with Christina. We also watched a video from the Sebalds, friends of ours who are Lutheran missionaries in Liberia. Their ministry uses agriculture to reach out to Liberians with the gospel.
A Month of Lessons
This theme of missions was not limited to Sundays. Several of the Wednesday night small groups used this time to study God’s Heart for the Nations by Jeff Lewis. Pastor Olivetti also encouraged the children to memorize Psalm 67. Any child who recited or sang Psalm 67 received a prize.
Setting February aside as a missions month was a huge blessing to our church. It left the words of Psalm 67 ringing in our hearts. It reinvigorated our passion for carrying God’s Word to the nations. And, it renewed our desire to see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
Mariah Larson is a member of Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church. She is 15 years old and homeschooled. In her free time, she enjoys blasting the music of Les Miserables, doing handstands, and working out.