In August 2010, four young adults participated a mission trip to Romania to work at a summer camp as part of Lehigh Presbytery’s ongoing partnership with the Hungarian Reformed Church in Romania. Read all of their entries.
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
~ Luke 24:13-35
A few years ago, I was on a mission experience with a mission organization in Ethiopia. A group of students I worked with had spearheaded a campaign to raise money to build a well for people who have no clean water. God blessed our efforts and not one, but three, wells were built. The people of the mission organization invited us to visit the community to see their ministry in action. As we visited with people and traveled throughout the area, very frequently we would come upon a sign in front of a school, or hospital, or bridge, or well that said “This project is the result of a joint venture between the people of the town and the mission organization.”
One day, we visited a bridge and water retention system that were built on a mountain that towered over a beautiful valley. The bridge replaced an old rope bridge that often broke. The new bridge allowed the folk on the other side of the ravine to come to town to buy and sell goods, and be connected to the community…for the first time. And the water retention system created an irrigation system that allowed the farmers in the valley to have three growing seasons instead of one, allowing them to grow more food so they could sell it and share it with their neighbors.
While looking at this beautiful valley, I suddenly recognized the big picture of how this ministry worked. As they shared Christ with the community, they also empowered them to grow in all areas of life. Building bridges between two sides of a mountain also built bridges of social connectivity. Providing water for a valley also provided food to help the entire community to gain nutritional and also economic strength.
In this passage, Cleopas and another person are heading home after the crucifixion of Jesus. We don’t even know the name of the second person. As they’re walking along, they share their grief and confusion with a stranger who joins them on the road. The stranger shares the Gospel message with them, laying out the story of the Messiah in clear detail. At the end of the day, they get to their destination and encourage their visitor to stay with them. At dinner time, the guest takes the bread, blesses it and breaks it and gives it to them, and their eyes are opened and they recognize him.
They say to themselves, “didn’t our hearts burn” as he shared stories with them.
When we are in the mission field, perhaps moreso than when we’re at home, we are walking along a road to a destination, often one we’re not sure of. The “big picture” of why we’re here isn’t always clear, especially when we’re focused on ourselves and not on the things around us. As you share today, think about the big picture. What do you need to see that’s right in front of you? What makes your heart burn with passion? How is recognizing Jesus in yourself and others a part of recognizing the bigger picture? How can you share your passion with your team today?
First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem
Camp Brainerd Care Team