The sun was beating down on my black-leather NIV study bible. I had just returned from a two-week-long mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya with Uncommon Sports Group. On this particular day, I was reading through Acts chapter 3, which records Peter’s healing of a lame beggar and his message to the surrounding Jews who witnessed the miracle. Towards the end of the chapter, Peter states:
“When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”- Acts 3:26
This verse convicted me. It is so easy to see blessings from the Lord as material or financial. I’m blessed because I have a house. I’m blessed with this new job. I’m blessed because I get to go on vacation. I’m blessed with a car. The list goes on. It is not necessarily a bad thing to have an attitude of gratitude towards these things, but we often misunderstand what it means to be blessed as a follower of Christ.
In Kenya, it became clear that the majority of people in our world do not have the same level of material or financial comfort that we do. They don’t have a home and if they do it’s hardly the homes we are used to living in. They scrounge for any job that’s available or go without any job at all. Vacations aren’t even a consideration. Cars are a rare luxury. This is a stark contrast between the lifestyles we see as blessed and the lifestyles people in Kenya are living.
Many of the Kenyan people that our group came across were followers of Jesus Christ. It was incredible to see their faith and desire to serve Christ with their lives. So, are these Kenyan people not blessed by the God they love and serve because they lack the material and financial comfort that we experience here in the States? We know this isn’t true. When we analyze the context of this verse in Acts, we see that Peter is talking to God’s chosen people, his Jewish brothers and sisters. They had just witnessed the healing that Jesus did through Peter to the lame beggar at the gate called “Beautiful” and Peter is sharing the truth of Jesus being the Messiah with them. He closes his message in verse 26 by stating that God blessed them by turning them from their wicked ways through the resurrection of Christ. Peter didn’t say that God blessed them through the elimination of Roman taxes or a plentiful harvest, but rather through the purification of their sins through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
My biggest takeaway from this passage of Scripture and the Kenya mission trip as a whole is that blessings from the living God are not material or financial, but they are eternal. We have a restored relationship with the living God (Romans 5:1), our sins are blotted out and forgiven through Christ (Ephesians 1:7), and we have the hope of eternal life (John 3:16). No matter where you are from in the world or what level of worldly success you have, if you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you are blessed with the greatest gift known to mankind.
Are you curious about the impact of our international mission trip opportunities? Hear more about USG’s 2022 Kenya mission trip here!