Why 1 Thessalonians 2:8? (MET)

1 Thessalonians 2:8 was this year's theme verse for the Missions Exposure Trip (MET) in Sorsogon. In 32 words, the Apostle Paul expressed his kind of evangelism-- one fueled by love that builds genuine relationships.

He wrote, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."

DCF's leaders chose this verse for several reasons. Topping the list was their desire to reemphasize relationship-building in evangelism.

This was their heart because of the modern fast-food mentality of Christians that substituted genuine friendships with impersonal and canned evangelism formulas. Such mentality is fueled by an unhealthy interest in numbers and by misguided empire-building principles.

The student leaders wanted Paul's brand of evangelism not only among the MET participants but also the members of the Dormitories Christian Fellowship in UP and the Living Word Christian Fellowship in Quezon. Their strategy was to give hands-on training to the MET members who will then spark evangelism movements in their respective campuses by Gods's grace.

Prayerfully, the movements that will arise will balance faithful and Biblical preaching of the Gospel with genuine love and relationship. As the students share Jesus with their lips, they will also exhibit Him in their life while genuinely loving people as people, not simply conversion prospects.

It is true that one week is not enough to build lasting friendships with people, especially if you start out as total strangers. This is where the partner church comes in. The MET team always works with a local church in its target area. While the members go out and sow seeds, the church follows up on those who respond positively or show interest in the Gospel.

In Sorsogon, several people who heard about Jesus willingly gave their address and contact number to the MET Team. The students who joined the True Love Waits Seminar did the same when they filled up the attendance sheet. These were all turned over to Pastor July of the Sorsogon Bible Christian Church.

Technology also posed blessings for this MET Team. Some members who developed friendships with the locals have the privilege of following up people through Facebook and mobile phones. Even if they could not be there physically, these new found friends are one text or PM away.

One other feature of the verse that particularly appealed to the students was the driving force of evangelism focused on love. It is interesting that Paul started with the statement, "We loved you so much," underlining the truth that the love they felt for the people of Thessalonica compelled them to share Jesus.

This kind of love is of God and not man. Afterall, how can you love someone you have just met? And this love was shown by introducing Jesus and His transforming power to the lives of the people they met. This is done not through mere words but by their very lives.

Perhaps the image is most clearly seen in the lives of missionaries. Many Christian missionaries turned away from a potentially lucrative work or comfortable life to spend time with people to journey with them towards Christ. Why do they do this? Out of their love and concern for people, and their desire to honor God.

In one short week, the students of the MET team experienced this kind of life, though theirs was shorter and potentially more comfortable than the daily struggles of full-time Christian workers. However, they still had a taste of sharing Jesus and investing a part of their lives in several people's faith journey towards Christ.

They may never know all who responded to Jesus' call of repentance and faith, but their joy is the unchanging affirmation that "your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58)."
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