Larry Cox, one of the team members, shared with us his perspective of this mission trip. Enjoy!
From the beginning this trip was set apart from the norm of a short term mission trip overseen by Christian Fellowship. Customarily, CF sends a team that will help in practical ways or with a heavy agenda of meetings and activities, but Michael felt the Lord calling a team to Beirut to simply pray for peace in the Middle East and encourage the body of Christ, mainly the missionaries there on the ground. Even though they did spend time in the refugee camp, Larry’s story focuses more on the ministry to the team of missionaries serving them.
Ephesians 4:12 says, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building the body of Christ…”
Usually, once a team is formed the individual’s gifts are taken into account and activities or projects are planned to best utilize each person, but as stated earlier, this trip had a little different aim, but Larry felt that God had indeed handpicked this team as well, according to their specific experiences and character traits, and that became very evident within the first day of the trip.
First there was Mary Moe. Mary operates a daycare, so it was no surprise when she arrived that the 4 young moms caring for their 8 children absorbed her advice and nurturing. She was like a mother to the moms. Being so far from their own mothers during these years of becoming parents, they longed for what Mary brought, a mothering heart with vast experience and knowledge. She reassured them, counseled, and boosted their confidence in their parenting skills. She was the perfect gift to them and brought much needed relief.
Callie bonded with the missionaries immediately. They recognized in her a missionary heart and so were able to receive her words of encouragement and friendship. Because of her travels and experiences she had instant rapport with the Beirut missionaries as they could share a common bond of knowing what it is like to serve on foreign soil. The team had a respect for Callie that rarely happens so quickly. Her nudging for the Holy Spirit was embraced and led to many great encounters in worship and prayer. She was able to encourage as one who has been there and they knew it.
Both ladies posses a life of personal worship that overflowed wherever they went and it brought peace and inspiration to all. They just allowed the love of God to flow through them and that ministered in a way only the presence of God can.
Pastor Mike’s innate affection for all people caused the men in the group to connect in a way that you rarely see men do. Larry describes these men as those that have faced down the world and did not succumb to fear, and yet they each sought alone time with Mike to grow from his wisdom, anointing and expertise, even through three of the four had never met Mike before his arrival to Beirut. And in return, Mike imparted to these brave souls part of what has been invested in him by the leadership of Christian Fellowship, so in essence they received not just from Mike, but also from all the pastors that have invested in Mike over the last 12 years. Mike’s confidence and inclination to hear how the Lord wanted to direct and lead enabled the group to enjoy sweet fellowship and be built up so as to continue the work that lay before them.
Larry was the grandfather in the group. He rocked the babies and loved on the children in a way that endeared him to the hearts of each one of the parents there. When you love someone’s child, you have loved them profoundly and that is what Larry did. He also had a keen sense of what the Lord was doing at each gathering. It did not matter how mundane or insignificant the moment looked, Larry would say, “This is why we came,” and then he would explain how the Lord was ministering right in the middle of that seemingly uneventful or even un-spiritual looking encounter. Larry’s boldness to point out what God was doing and his great knack of stepping into a situation and ministering though having a genuine interest caused him to have an instant rapport with the missionary team. Mike says another important part that Larry played was his encouragement to the ladies that cooked – he ate everything that was set before him.
All our teams that travel are obviously designed by God and we love to share the stories of how that looks once the airplane lands, but this one was really sweet in that, in this case, it was about their life experiences and where they are at this particular time in life. God uses it all – especially to encourage those in other lands that do not have the daily support of a large body of believers. He is so good and kind to take four people that do not seem to have a cohesive focus, other than to pray, and use them in the perfect ways to say to our missionaries: “You are valued and I am overseeing everything, even your deep personal needs.”