Hello to the friends and partners of the Board of World Mission. My name is Taylor Wickert and I am one of the Western District Representatives on the board. I am recording this while celebrating Thanksgiving at my home in Madison, Wisconsin and one of the things I’m extremely thankful for in my life is the past 14 years that I’ve been involved in Mission work– since I was 10 years old.
I was asked to share with you today how I find joy in the world through mission work and because of how God works in mysterious ways, I listened to a podcast just this week that talked about how closely linked joy and thanksgiving are and how that’s expressed in the Bible– specifically in the Psalms. Psalm 100 is the thanksgiving psalm, but it starts off talking about joy; Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord!
So there are other psalms that speak this way and closely link giving thanks to God and joy. The main message of the sermon was that if you practice thanksgiving to God, you have more joy in life. From my experience in mission work that is definitely true. I think I was able to experience joy in the world by getting to know so many people whose lives were so different than mine. It gave me new perspectives on life.
One of the first things I noticed when visiting our Moravian brothers and sisters in rural Alaska or Cuba or Peru is that they are joyful and they have such strong faith. It is a huge part of their day every single day. The second thing that you notice is that they are thankful for what they do have and it gives you a new perspective– a perspective that is not something most of us would learn living our American lifestyle. Experiencing that teaches you how much we take for granted that we should be thankful for like running water & health care close by, constant internet access and easy travel on paved roads. Even things like three meals a day or a clean shirt every day. But the souls I’ve met and the joy that they get from giving thanks to God has helped me learn to be a more thankful person and because of that I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I can’t find something to be joyful for.
So obviously participating in missions has helped me grow in so many ways. I have the Board of World Mission to thank for that and so that’s why I’m joyful to continue working with them even virtually through the craziness of 2020. Obviously many mission trips and camps were canceled this year but I’ve been able to take the spirit of the Board of World Mission and the joyful perspective that I gained through the other cultures and ways of life that I experienced and I’m taking that into my Madison community.
In these times it’s really not hard to be a missionary at home– just by spreading God’s love and kindness to contrast all the hate and sadness we have been seeing lately. I haven’t had to spend time, thankfully, home in quarantine because I work in healthcare, but for the most part me and my coworkers celebrate the fact that we get to help people everyday and that we still have a steady and extremely supportive job through this difficult time. Our team has even gone an extra mile to hand make cards for nursing homes and hold clothing and food drives.
Apart from work, I take my joy for mission work into my volunteering with the Big Brother Big Sister program. I don’t claim to be a missionary when I’m getting to act like a child again and take my little sister to trampoline parks and arcades and make cookies at home, making a huge mess, but bringing a smile to her face gives me that same joy. It has been a real blessing and something I’m really thankful for.
I know we’ve all had a hard year in different ways, but I hope that God has given you an opportunity to be a missionary in your community this year, but if you’re looking for more ways to celebrate the joy of mission work, visit the Board World Mission web site because there is always more work to be done. Happy Thanksgiving and God bless!