God's Mission Matters
Open your eyes!
Faith stories: Encountering Jesus with new eyes
By Karla Koll
“Come and see what God has done” (Psalm 66:5)
When we venture into new places in mission, we often encounter sisters and brothers whose experience of God has been very different from our own. Many of them have learned the stories about Jesus in a language other than English. They express their praise and prayers in phrases that our ears strain to catch. They strive to follow Jesus within patterns of relating that their cultures have formed over centuries or millennia. We may find their worship of God exuberant and bewildering.
When our sisters and brothers offer to share their faith with us, they teach us anew about Jesus. A person following Christ in another culture knows things about God that we can’t even suspect unless that person is willing to share with us. If we open ourselves up, we will learn new things about God and God’s work in the world.
Our sisters and brothers can give us the gift of new eyes, to see not only Jesus in new ways, but also ourselves and our church. In their questions and challenges to us, we see ourselves from a different perspective. We might not always like what we see. We may find we need to change in order to be faithful to the new understandings of Jesus we have gained. We may discover that walking together in mission with believers in other places will change and deepen our faith.
Download this episode of “God’s Mission Matters” and hear stories by Dennis Smith, mission co-worker in Guatemala from 1977 to 2011 and now regional liaison for the Southern Cone (of South America) and Brazil, and by Heather Grantham, a Young Adult Volunteer in the Philippines from 2004 to 2005.
Open your eyes! episode toolkit
Use these resources to equip your congregation, network, youth group and other groups in your church for mission involvement. You may use any of these for activities in the context of Bible studies, Sunday Bible class, Sunday worship service, and committee or session meetings.
- God’s Mission Matters: Open your eyes!
Prefer printed? Download and read this ready-to-print booklet including the text of the podcast, a study guide for group leaders and a reflection on popular culture. This is a great tool for a learning session in your congregation or mission group context.
- Sample Faith Map
- Matters from Pop Culture: The Blind Side
Reflections on the movie The Blind Side by Alcon Entertainment. It relates the true story of a family that takes in a disadvantaged teenager. The movie shows how they ended up helping each other.
- My Story Matters
Watch and listen to other stories on "Open your eyes” as a good practice in mission.
- Video — Dennis Smith: Smith, mission co-worker formerly in Guatemala, tells a story about a Guatemalan woman who showed integrity when she had a chance to harm those who murdered her nephew.
- Video — Mark Adams: Adams, a mission co-worker with the Presbyterian Border Ministry in Agua Prieta, Mexico, since 1998, shares a story about when he was ministered to by the people in a Bible study.
- Video — Gary Payton: Payton, a former mission co-worker and regional liaison for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland, shares a story about how a Christian community in Russia faced persecution during the Cold War. Gary tells how his eyes were opened when he saw the faith the Russian Christians had and how it healed old wounds over the generations.
- Matters of Worship
Loving God, you are the Author of life, and our lives are part of the story of Your creation. Help us to have the eyes to see You and the ears to hear You in the lives of those around us—both near and far. In Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
- Online hymn suggestions:
I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
Hymn 364, The Presbyterian Hymnal
My Life Flows On/How Can I Keep from Singing?”
Hymn 2212 , Sing the Faith
“Open the eyes of my heart”
in Spanish “Abre mis ojos, oh, Cristo”