We hear in the news and in school and from those around us how “global warming” is causing problems. We see hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes and storms which some attest to this. Millions of Euros are being spent in researching this topic. There are many agendas at all levels to help slow down the process in order to protect this world we live in.
Please don’t get me wrong, I do believe that God created us to care for the world. But He also tells us that one day He will destroy it. I believe that day is at least 1,000 years away. I know that He is the one in control of this world and its lifespan.
But I am sad to hear so many “Christians” take up the cause and spend their energy and time on this agenda while they focus so little on the great problem. There is a climate change within our churches. We are “warm” instead of “hot” much like the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:16. We are losing our fire for the Lord. We are focusing on modern trends and new methods at the cost of losing many church members to complacency.
Many studies show that we are losing the next generation of Christians to the teachings of the world which they are encountering in schools and universities. Media has infiltrated our homes and weakened our moral standards. We are not training up the next generation to know God’s Word and to fight for it. We are weakening our “theological” teaching in Sunday School and Youth Group while the world views around us in becoming stronger and stronger.
Too many people in churches all around the world do not know what they really believe or they are starting to believe what they are hearing rather than testing it with God’s Word. False teachers and prophets are all around us and deceiving so many within the church.
We need a “climate change” in the church. We need to fight for the truth and to expose the lies of the false teaching all around us. Many churches are full of people who think they are “Christian” but are truly lost because they have never hear the truth.
What has happened to the church? We may have started with zeal and desire to share our new-found faith with the world, but we soon grew comfortable in our local church body. Where we came to find encouragement, teaching, and fellowship, we now consider “home.” But nothing in this world should really be “home” for the believer. We have a heavenly home, eternal with the Saviour.
What happened to the idea of reaching the lost, wherever and whomever they may be? We send missionaries to places near and far, but there are some places we are starting to ignore. We disagree with the governments or religions of those areas and thus we ignore them. We are not even looking at the refugees in our own countries. They are coming from lands where they could not hear the Gospel freely and now we are free to share God’s love and grace with them. But we are fearful of them and their beliefs.
We are not seeing them as lost but as the enemy. We are not trying to share God’s grace through acts of love and acceptance, but we are verbally blasting them or looking down on them. How can they know Christ?
I am not talking about accepting their beliefs but I am talking about our responsibility to share the Gospel with them. We have a responsibility. In certain cultures it takes more than 5 years of constant communication and relationship before someone can accept the Gospel. When they are coming to our culture, we have to see that this is important and can still take time and energy to share the Lord with them.
So are you afraid? or are you ready to see the opportunities to share Christ all around you? Are you willing to put the energy into being a witness of love and grace or are you too abrasive in your speech and actions?
Did you know that your prayers means so much? Did you know that each month I receive a list of those that helped me to do what I do and to live where I live. When I receive this list, I want to cry. What a blessing to have so many backing me. What a humbling experience to know that so many are praying and want my ministries to move forward. so many are willing to give of their money to make this ministry work! Wow!
Did you know that a simple hello on email means a lot? Did you know that when we send updates, it hurts that less than 1% of you even acknowledge that you read the update? Does it take a lot of time to reply and say you are praying or praising God for situations mentioned in the updates?
Did you know that we cannot always remember your names because we meet hundreds of people on deputation and furlough? We try to remember names and faces, but we often mix you up. When you write, please mention your church… or city. Sometimes we have 15 “First Baptist Churches” so the church name does not help us. But even if you do not clarify who you are, we still appreciate the minute you took to respond and the few moments you took to read our updates—We thank God for you!
Did you know that some of the churches in the New Testament sent members to check on Paul and co.? Would you consider sending members to help or encourage your missionaries? Would you consider finding ways to encourage us by send us to retreats designed for refreshment, or places to get away and rest – “Sabbath” with the Lord?
We are humans, we make mistakes. We serve a gracious God who can and does strengthen and encourage us. He often uses you, our supporting churches, our fellow saints. I cannot count the times when someone dropped a note to me, not knowing I was having a rough day, and said, “I had you on my heart today.” Thank you God, Thank you my friend!
What happens when leaders fall into sin? What happens when their sins are found out? We run across this often in our ministries. In the best scenarios, other spiritual leaders will rise up and advice and discipline the one who is straying. In the worst case scenario, some other leaders will defend that person and accuse the accusers. It will divide organizations, local churches, and families.
God wants us to confess our sins. We need to admit our wrongs and work on renewing our minds. A renewed mind will produce a transformed lifestyle. We will fall into sin from time to time. But how we handle our sinfulness is important. How we handle the “big” sins of others in leadership is important as well.
Paul was very clear in his epistles when he addressed sin in the church. The man in Corinth who was having an affair was set aside from fellowship. When it seemed enough and he no longer lived in that sin, he was invited back. We cannot ignore sins. We must deal with them and we must help that person to repent. They need to have a heart change and move toward the truth. They need to seek God’s will and submit to the discipline.
As a missionary we get to help a lot of people. We want to help spiritually and physically. We get to open schools, clinics, orphanages, and other training centres.
But I get asked all the time to help people. I am asked to help transport sick people to the hospital. I am asked by widows to buy their goods or loan them money for seeds to plant their fields. I am asked for rides to. the city all the time. I am asked for work. I am asked for money – to help in illness, to help in funerals, to help in church building projects, to help in running seminars, to help in court cases, to help educate kids, to help transport family members, to help build homes, etc…
How can you say, “No.” and yet it is impossible to say, “Yes.” Sometimes I will loan money and most of the time it is not returned. So I have learned to start with small loans until I have proven someone’s character.
I am asked to pay for training all the time. But when you give someone something and they don’t pay for it themselves, even a little bit, they don’t value it.
So we pray for wisdom to know what needs must be met and who to help. We pray for grace to learn to say, “No.” while still maintaining the relationship. We pray for strength to say, “Yes.” over and over again knowing that we won’t necessarily have even a thank-you in return let alone the debt repaid.
We pray that when we do say, “Yes.” we aren’t crossing that line of enabling which has hurt to missions in the past. We pray for our hearts not to be hardened to the many requests, but to remain tender and willing to help when and where we can. We pray for wounds to heal and forgiving souls so that we can trust again after being burned so often. We pray that we would never forget that what we own is the Lord’s and these people are His.
That is so true. I grew up in a region where we usually had a white Christmas. Where the snow covered the ground for weeks. Where it sparkled in the light of street lights like diamonds.
It isn’t just about the snow. It is about the traditions. If I lived in my home culture I would have been shopping on Black Friday, I would have been hearing the Holiday music in all the malls. I would have been attending work parties and family gatherings and school programs. I would have been involved in our church choir or play. My home would be decorated and Christmas cookies in the jar.
But here I am mowing my lawn. I have some lights but no tree. I can barely find Christmas gifts anywhere. I may gather with other expats in the area to celebrate. My national church will celebrate the holiday in their church all day long. No one makes cookies or knows about Santa Claus. In one way it is better because they remember the true reason – the Birth of Christ our Saviour!
I want to hangout with my family and wrap presents. But I will now adapt to new traditions, church all day, special food, beautiful flowers in bloom at this time of year.
Another cross cultural worker and I were having a great conversation the other day. We talked about our first impressions when we started working here. We talked about all the text book mission theories that we believed to be true and found out were not so practical in our situations!
One of the hardest things was to figure out how to balance time with family, expat friends, and nationals. We have seen others go to extremes on this topic. Some have chosen to live in the village at lower standards than many of the villagers themselves. They have often fallen sick from waterborne illnesses and had to move. Many of them have short ministry because they burn out in such extreme situations.
Others have gone to the opposite extreme and lived in a cushy mission compound surrounded by expats. They rarely talk the local language or have real relationships with nationals. They will teach seminars or translate curriculum or oversee offices, finances, or educations of expats. They may live for years in a culture and yet never know the culture.
My friend and I discussed the balance between the two. We talked about how we had been burned out when we didn’t have enough communication with other missionaries or expats. We longed to speak English and worship in our own language. We also talked about those we’ve know who have gone to the other extreme and know very few nationals.
We talked about how our kids need to know both cultures. They want to be able to hangout with other expats kids once in awhile and yet how they love playing with their national friends. We also realized how encouraging it is when we can get together with other missionaries for a Bible study or prayer time -when we can have a meal or play a game with others who are in ministry here. How helpful it is when we can even have a conversation with someone who isn’t with our same organization.
So how does one find that balance. How can we move forward in the two cultures? How can we be careful not to judge others who are at one extreme or another?