Week 46 (November)
The Work & Witness concept for getting people to help with domestic and world mission building projects swept through the Church of the Nazarene like a flash flood coming down the Nueces River in south Texas. [more info on short term missions like Work & Witness]
Divinely inspired craftsmen have been used all over the world in the spirit of the way the tabernacle was built as recorded in Exodus 31 (and reinforced by the principle in Romans 12:6 that everyone has something to contribute). The idea of getting involved in global construction projects missions began snowballing in the Church of the Nazarene not long before a 1976 earthquake in Guatemala. Thus, in God's timing, the church was prepared to respond to that tragedy. Immediately scores of men "filled . . . with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts"1 signed up to go on teams to Guatemala to rebuild "tabernacles" all over that shattered land.
Not long afterward a multi-team Work and Witness project was put together for the campus of the Nazarene Bible College in Trinidad. While many of those initial work crews went to the Caribbean and to Central American countries, they soon began traveling to Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The sunrise-to-sunset labor of men and women offering back to God the skills He has endowed them with has upset the stereotype of the rich, dollar-waving American. What's more, the workers themselves have been revolutionized as they have discovered ways in which they can be of direct benefit to the Body of Christ.
Of course, it's not only on missionary construction projects that craftsman skills have been put to work. Through the history of our denomination, a good percentage of local church sanctuaries and educational units have been built with "donated" labor.
After my father-in-law retired, he came to the little church I was pastoring in south Texas. Living in a travel trailer behind the parsonage, he spent about two months doing those many little repair jobs that always need to be done around a church building. One day we were talking in the back of the annex where he was doing some plumbing. He told me that he considered this to be his own ministry for the Lord. It was much more than just a way to pass some time, or even to enjoy doing some thing with his hands. [ thoughts on my father-in-law's passing ]
One of my missionary deputation services took me to an Oklahoma church where a member had learned the art of making stained-glass windows just to make new windows for the church. The lady's work, which was at the halfway mark when I was there, was revolutionizing the interior of that sanctuary!
Just after the U.S. Thanksgiving celebrations that year we were involved in a missionary rally. After the service a lady gently pushed two large paper sacks into our hands. Inside were hand-made, muppet-style puppets for us to use in our ministry -- well-made puppets which we put to good use in Italy. [ E-book on missions in Italy ]
It's impossible to count the people who have used their God-given skills in building or rebuilding "tabernacles" or tabernacle furnishings just as Bezalel and Oholiab did.
What about you? Has the Lord gifted you with craft skills which could -- and should -- be put to work in His service? Is there something you could do to improve the attractiveness of the "tabernacle" where you worship Him? Is there a home mission project on your district that could use you? Is there a Work and Witness project in another country where you could be of help?
The Lord has a place for you! [ song "This Pair of Hands" ]
1Exodus 31:3, New International Version
These devotional thoughts by Howard Culbertson appeared in the November 16, 1980 edition of Standard
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Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma
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