On a sticky Midwest Sunday in June nearly two years ago, I found myself facing a small group of people in a large sanctuary as I introduced myself as their new senior pastor. I saw mixed emotions on their faces—excitement, fear, joy, uncertainty—and I realized that my emotions mirrored theirs. I had no idea what to expect of this new assignment. I was afraid of failure, yet eager to begin.
My attention was drawn to the Gospel of Matthew:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16 ESV).
As I meditated on those words, I asked Jesus to open the doors to let my light shine so that others would be brought to know Him.
How could I reach the diverse community of university students, professors, doctors, working professionals, impoverished minorities and large immigrant population among whom I had been placed? As I pondered this assignment, the Holy Spirit spoke and prompted me to email a woman who oversees international student services at the University of Illinois. I told her about myself and offered to help in any way that I could.
Before I knew it, I found myself teaching international students at the University of Illinois. I have been given access to people who long to know American culture, many of whom are major influencers in their home cultures—the rich, the royals, the most intelligent in the world. The students come from diverse religious backgrounds, and many are meeting Jesus for the very first time. I get to talk about Jesus, to encourage the international students through the tough times of life, and just to love them.
We do not know to whom God will send us, but we do know that, as believers, we are sent to be the light of the world. Christ is the light of the world (John 9:5) and has now empowered us to be conduits of His light. May the Holy Spirit move you to see afresh to whom He has sent you. I pray that the doors of influence will be opened for you, and that you will be a city on a hill, shining the light of Christ into diverse peoples and places.
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