March 2012 - Vol. 58.

Kairos Gappers who served in YouthWorks-Detroit last summer

.Why the Gap?

[Spanish version: Por qué la Brecha]
by Miguel Vargas

The bulwark of the Sword of the Spirit has been built by many men and women who were willing to leave everything behind and follow the Lord. I have heard many inspiring stories from the beginnings of the covenant community movement back in the 1970s and ‘80s. Many young single and married people decided to move from one city to another in order to live in a Christian community. They left their jobs and studies and the prospect of career advancement, as well as friends and relatives, in order to serve the Lord in charismatic covenant community. We admire the sacrifices these early pioneers made to build Christian communities around the world and we benefit from the fruit of their labor. It is easy today to think that we don’t need to make this kind of sacrifice anymore. But the Lord continues to call young people today to make radical decisions to live as his disciples and to serve what he’s building in the Sword of the Spirit. We hear the Lord calling many to serve generously, offering six months, one year, two years, or even their whole lives to serve the mission he has given to our community of communities – preaching the good news and living our life together that draws others to Christ.

In recent months I have had conversations with young people from many places around the world who are considering joining the Kairos Gap Program of the Sword of the Spirit. There is a common element in these conversations: nearly everybody wants to do it, but they wonder if it might be too risky for them. It’s natural and understandable that we want to take control of our future and not miss the opportunity to move forward. After all, gappers choose to put their career development on hold for a year or more in order to serve the Lord in mission. In that time period they will miss job opportunities, perhaps professional training, and settling their state in life – whether to remain single or get married, or live single for the Lord. Gappers often move to other countries far away from the people they love most. They will probably miss important moments in the lives of their friends, and they will have to say no to many things they would like to do. It is natural to wonder if it’s worth the sacrifice involved.

For those considering the call to serve in the Kairos Gap program, it is very helpful to speak with people who previously did a Gap year in order to hear what they gained from the experience of leaving behind other good things for the sake of serving the Lord. Wise Christians who know us well – parents, youth workers, pastoral leaders, and community coordinators – can offer us helpful counsel in sorting out the questions and concerns involved in making a good decision. 

The most important person we need to consult, of course, is the Lord Jesus himself. Do we trust him to lead us in making the right choice? If we choose to serve him in a Gap year, will he provide for us all that we need – physical, spiritual, and emotional strength? We know that he had power to open the Red Sea for Moses and the people of Israel and to lead them safely through the wilderness for forty years. Jesus not only had power to perform many miracles, such as feeding 5000 people, he also had power to rise from the dead after three days in the tomb. We believe that his power is still at work today – bringing people to new life in Christ and raising up Christian communities around the world. If the Lord has done all this for the sake of his people in the past, will he not be able to give each of us a job, a place to live, a stable life and future, after  we have given him one year of service? Scripture gives us the assurance of God’s care for us: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have served his people and continue to serve them” (Hebrews 6:10).

Is it God’s will that you should do a Kairos Gap year? Or your son or daughter, or the young person you care for in your youth group? I don’t see how the Lord could be upset with any young person who chooses to offer him their whole heart, life, gifts and talents, abandoning themselves completely into his providential care. This kind of offering pleases the Lord and brings him glory.

I can share from my own personal experience, since I have now lived and served in different communities for more than three years outside of my own country, Costa Rica. It’s definitely worth doing. I have lived hundreds of miles away from home, missed important moments in my loved ones’ lives – both joyful and difficult moments. I have had to make significant adjustments and cultural changes to adapt to the customs of the people I have served in other places. I have also had to serve for long periods of time not knowing if I was making any useful contribution to the people I was trying to serve. But in all that time the Lord has not let me down. He has been there for me, giving me support in every circumstance of my life – in my morning prayer times, in the daily routine of community life, in serving, and in caring for others. Is this kind of life and service really worth doing? I firmly believe it is. I have no fear that wherever the Lord might send me, whether to return to my home country or go to another country, he will be there with me to establish me in the job and service he wants for me. 

The sacrifice the Lord asked some forty years ago of our parents and those who went before us in the Sword of the Spirit is not a thing of the past. The Lord continues to call us to serve him as disciples on mission. He continues to ask the same from us – to offer our lives to him, and to freely choose to serve wherever he leads us. I believe that he wants us to be even more radical in giving him generous service. We do not need to let fear or insecurity hold us back from responding with trust to the Lord’s call. Our God is a faithful God who never forsakes those who wholeheartedly offer him their lives. I believe that our communities and the world around us need – today more than ever – the free and generous offering of young and courageous people who are willing to proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the world.

[Miguel Vargas is a Kairos Mission leader currently participating in the Servants of the formation program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA and the Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor.]

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