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Ted Vail

Have you ever been on a plane and had your flight diverted? I’m guessing it wasn’t a welcome diversion. Most likely, your immediate plans had to be either canceled or postponed due to the change in your arrival time.

As frustrating as flight diversions can be, I can’t help but think of them as a metaphor for life. Can anyone relate to having your “flight diverted” in ministry? In life? Philip’s story from the Bible shows us an example of how God sometimes diverts our plans for something greater.

Philip was a layperson, waiting on tables (see Acts 6:1-7), when God assigned him a unique and special mission. God used Philip to cross racial and socio-economic divides to witness to a man of influence and wealth from the nation of Ethiopia (see Acts 8:26-40). Won’t it be great one day to see the fruit that was borne from that one divine encounter?

God wants to use all of us; we’re all on mission together to reach the nations. This means that you, as a pastor or leader, are needed now more than ever. Who might you have in your church who, like Philip, is “of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3, NKJV), whom God may appoint for a special mission? It’s our job to equip those entrusted to us to be ready for any kind of divine diversion. Pastors, you are sitting on an army of people God wants to release to cross barriers and help change the world.

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that today there are over 3 billion people who live in places where people do not have access to hearing the name of Jesus or the gospel message. The good news is that, in an amazing turn of world events, God has been bringing the nations to us! Jesus was in Samaria when He said to the disciples, “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35, NKJV).

At that time, Samaria represented the ethnic enemy. Though an actual place, Samaria represents for us today people who are geographically close, but culturally distant.

The U.S. right now has “Samaria” all over it! People from unreached places, where there is no adequate representation of the gospel, are landing on American soil and moving into our neighborhoods and communities.

Some may see this as a threat, but we see it as an opportunity. If all our churches were mobilized to cross ethnic barriers right here at home, imagine the reach we could have globally to share the gospel and introduce people to Jesus.

We are still called today to cross barriers to reach people. God trusts us not to close our doors, but to open our hearts and to love those who are different. Many times, the simple act of saying “hello” is a great place to start.

We have the divine opportunity to be peacemakers, to cross barriers and bring the Prince of Peace into deeply held divides. Let’s pray and ask the Lord for “missional eyes” that see the plentiful harvest beyond our own fields. The Lord, who is the boss of the harvest, is calling every one of us to reach out to those both far and near.

Thankfully, He’s poured out His Spirit on all flesh; we are all empowered to be witnesses. Let’s lift up our eyes and see the Samaria around us. Diversity within God’s family is one of our greatest strengths and a powerful witness. Foursquare family, let’s be on mission together!

is the senior vice president of global operations for The Foursquare Church.