October 2010 - Vol. 43

Kairos Mission Retreat in Vancouver, Canada - August, 2010

A Deepening call to Mission
By Lynne May

Praying as if it were the first time

There must be a time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans, and acts as if he had no plans at all.

There must be a time of day when the man who has to speak falls very silent. And his mind forms no more propositions, and he asks himself: Did they have a meaning?

There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed; when the man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all been broken, and he learns a different wisdom: distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from the dry land, and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill.

– Thomas Merton, from No Man Is an Island

I start with Merton because he expresses what my experience of God in my life has been in the past few years and especially these past few months. He has taken my plans and has helped me to “forget” them as I say “Yes” to his. He has listened to my worries and has peacefully silenced them. I have been a Christian for most of my life yet right now, I feel as if I am just learning how to pray.  

During the past few months, I have been experiencing deeper conversion, and in particular a deepening call to mission. I have experienced him expanding my heart and deepening my love for him and for the particular work that he has called me to right now, the Kairos mission. This summer, God significantly deepened my love for mission through two experiences in Kairos: being a part of a Kairos Away Team and being a teacher for the Campus Outreach Academy in Michigan, which was also sponsored by Kairos.  

God had other plans for me
I had planned to be in New Hampshire for my summer vacation. At the end of a fruitful and long year of service, I presumed the Lord had rest for me, but he had other plans. The vacation trip, last minute, fell through, and I was left without a vacation and with a nonrefundable plane ticket to Boston. The trip had taken awhile to plan, so I was a little frustrated yet also curious to see what God was going to do with the time I’d set aside. A few days after my trip fell through, I received an invitation to serve on a Kairos Away Team to Vancouver, B.C., to serve as staff on a high school retreat being sponsored by the Sword of the Spirit Community in Vancouver, Families for Christ Community. Almost immediately after I was asked to be on staff for the retreat, I knew the Lord was sending me to Vancouver not just for the retreat which was going to be in August but also for the time prior the retreat, for the two weeks in July during which I had been planning to be in New Hampshire. Had New Hampshire worked out, I wouldn’t have been able to serve on the retreat. With this realization, I also had a question that I began to ask the Lord in the weeks leading up to the retreat: “Why this unexpected, sharp turn, Lord? Why are you sending me to Vancouver? What are you going to teach me?”

Kairos Campus Outreach Academy in Michigan - August, 2010

Deeper love for mission
Now, that the time in Vancouver is behind me, and I can say that the main thing the Lord had for me  was a deeper conversion to him which, in turn, simultaneously became a deeper love for mission. The two weeks I spent in Vancouver prior to the Away Teams retreat, I gladly integrated into the life of University Christian Outreach (UCO) chapter in Vancouver, which is part of the Kairos network. I spent most of my days and evenings attending social and spiritual events hosted by members of the UCO chapter. The time was refreshing and inspiring!  Being with the UCO chapter there this summer renewed my heart. While I was there, I saw the beauty and significance of the Kairos mission distilled anew. I had never spent significant time with any other UCO chapter besides the chapter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and these two weeks helped me to see more clearly the privilege it is to be a UCO staff worker. I witnessed the radical decisions and sacrifices my brothers and sisters in UCO Vancouver were making for the sake of the mission, and this joyfully laying down of their lives really struck me. I felt like I was caught up again in the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and I was reminded once again of why I had made sacrifices for the sake of mission. I found new strength and hope in being with these brothers and sisters, new hope that I could give more of myself to the Lord than I had before and, by the grace of God, give more of my life to this work. 

Similarly, through serving as a teacher for the Outreach Track at the Campus Outreach Academy in Lawton, Michigan this summer, I experienced my heart being renewed for mission. The Campus Outreach Academy (COA) took place from August 15-24, but the teachers giving the material began forming lesson plans in February. In these months leading up to the COA, God used my preparations for the Outreach Track to help me reflect on the four years I was in UCO as a student.  

For example, one topic that we covered in the Outreach Track was relational evangelism. As I was writing a talk on this topic, I was reminded of the first year that I really caught the vision for UCO, how it was the first year of a new evangelistic outreach to university students living in the dorms at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Our mission students who lived in the dorms dubbed themselves the “Dormtroopers.” The fall of that year, I experienced a significant conversion and surrender of my life to Christ. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and also recall that when I experienced this, I also heard God clearly call me to take on the life and mission of UCO.  

I still remember sitting in my dorm room, praying, “Lord, why do you want me to be a part of UCO?  Why this Christian group, Lord, and not another Christian group? What makes them different from the rest?”  And he told me to trust him, to join UCO because he was dwelling with the brothers and sisters in UCO.  He invited me to join UCO, saying that I had something to give and that he had something to give me through this group. 

Trust me
And ever since then, I’ve been trying to live out of this word. When I went to the COA this year, I remember looking around the conference room the first night and realizing: “Wow, I know almost all of the people here!”  This was an overwhelming realization to me, that when I took a panoramic glance around the room, I had some shared experience with just about every person of the ninety-three gathered there. That panoramic glance about the room was a visual and spiritual confirmation of God’s promise to me four years ago in my dorm room: Trust me.  Join in the UCO mission because I am with this people, and you will receive fullness of life from me through them. I experienced in that moment deep gratitude:  how rich my life is because of my involvement in UCO and in Word of Life, a covenant community in Ann Arbor that supports the work of UCO.

And I choose this life, so rich with opportunities to sow the seed of the gospel and to build relationships, and to be part of a bulwark, a network of communities worldwide striving together for the defence of the gospel and the work of evangelism.  This life of being in a “Community of Disciples on Mission,” this is my inheritance.  

The word “inheritance” has been on my mind throughout the summer, too, and God gave me an image at prayer meeting during the COA about “inheritance.” In the image it was nighttime, and Jesus Christ, looking at me, said, “Come, follow me.”  Leading me to a small boat, he rowed us out into the middle of a large pond. And he said to me, “Lynne, look up, look all around you.  Isn’t it beautiful?”  He indicated the innumerable stars permeating the dark, velvet sky. And he said to me, “Lynne, this is your life. This is the number of lives you will have touched by the end of yours. This is your inheritance.  Isn’t it beautiful?”  

Yes, I have to agree with our Lord. It is beautiful. 
Lynne May is from Jackson, Michigan, USA. She graduated in 2008 from the University of Michigan with a B.A.in English and in Medieval & Early Modern Studies. Having participated in University Christian Outreach (UCO) in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the past few years, she has continued to serve in UCO as a Women's Mission Leader.

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