Category Archives: Missions

Dwelling with Non-Christians

Darrin Patrick

Preliminary Questions:

Do you love non-Christians? Do you have good friends that are far from God? Is your heart broken consistently for lost people?

Romans 10:15 – It is your job to realize that you have been sent. He wants to take away excuses for why we are not reaching the lost and propel us to go out and accomplish our task of evangelism.

God is the first missionary in that he pursues fallen humanity throughout the biblical narrative. Genesis 12 (Walt Kaiser calls this the Great Commission of the OT). The seed promised to Abraham is Jesus. Matthew 4, Jesus links evangelism, discipleship, and mission together (cf. chapter 28:18-20). John 17 teaches us that we are in the world but not of as we try to reach the world.

John 1 is the seminal chapter on incarnational ministry. An example is Zacchaeus where Jesus tells him that he wants to stay at his house. He doesn’t just tell him a message but lives out his mission in his home.

1Cor 5:9ff – it’s assumed that you will and must dwell with unbelievers. The problem Paul is addressing has to do with not dwelling with those who are sexually perverse and call themselves “Christian.”

There are opportunities for being around non-Christians: Tailgating, pay-per-view events, happy hour, video game times, basketball at the gym, a hobby (photography). “Theology at the Bottle Works” is a mercy ministry of The Journey in St.. Louis. You are not going to happen to step into personal evangelism, you have to be intentional in it. (1Cor 9; Acts 13; 14; 17 – Paul went to places with the purpose of sharing the Gospel story with Jews and Greeks). Get involved in people’s lives. If someone is terminally ill, find out about their illness through study of what they have. If someone is a “foody” find out about the fine dining culture. Essentially, care about people enough to take interest in their interests.

Recommendation: Becky Pieppert books. The problem with Christians is that we don’t know how to be ourselves.

The Seeker movement has rightly challenged us to think through missional worship. That is, helping people understand what is happening in the service (keeping away from Chriistian-ese – lingo that is not easily definable).

This is an investment and a sacrifice. It can hurt your sermon preparation; but it can help it by making you aware of real needs in your community. Christ sacrificed (through his relationships) his reputation as a good rabbi.

Our non-Christian friends need to see how we are similar to them and how we are different than them. If you are a struggling father, admit that. But also talk about what makes your desire to be a better dad. You don’t have to hit people over the head with some ideological principles that makes us distinct from them. They need to see anecdotally how we are different.

What are the people that irritate you? You have to bathe your homophobia, racism, preferentialism in the Gospel. Christ came to redeem all kinds of people.

 

Table Talk

What are the main obstacles in connecting with non-Christians?

Being yourself and honest. It is oftentimes easier connecting with people we do not know than people we do know. We have to allow people to see our lives that we do not have to have it together.

So much of what Darrin talked about has to do with being intentional in our lives and relationships. We need to try and not be so enmeshed in strategic church planting that that is the only thing we can talk about. Our passion for reaching the lost can become an idol. We theorize about how to reach the lost and do not reach the lost.

Our arrogance that impels us to micro-manage the weekly service or other gatherings of our people.

Many times we can find solace in our title as “pastor” around our Christian friends, but around out non-Christian friends there is no pretense in our relationships with them. We can go from conference to conference and leave ourselves with little or no time for people (Christian and non-Christian).

We presume that our friendships with non-believers can only be superficial and we, therefore, miss the imago Dei present within the non-believer. We short change ourselves when we fall into this false view of humanity and being connected. One of the qualifications for being an elder is “hospitality,” which means to be welcoming into your homes.

We do need to be aware of our weaknesses so that if we are tempted to get drunk ata pub, you need to stay away from those situations. That does not mean, however, that you divorce yourself from being involved in people’s lives. You can have people over for coffee or dinner.

Recommendation: Jerram Barrs, Being Human

What hobbies, interests, and activities do I participate in or could I participate in that might enable me to meet and befriend non-Christians?

We need to be reminded that Christ has redeemed us as humans. We cannot expect to be super-human. We are intended to be sanctified and become human – through and through. We need to learn how to integrate our faith into the hobbies and interests we have in the world. We can affirm our desire to go workout, sports bars, motorcycling. 

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Evangelism, Missions, Social Justice

Exclusivism & the Magi

As I mentioned I preached from Matthew 1.18-2.23 last Sunday. I preached through the narrative and organized my thoughts into three points: 1) False religion faces; 2) Unexpected worship; 3) Of an unexpected king. I understood the narrative to draw a very sharp contrast between the religious leaders and Herod with that of the magi. Of particular interest is the fact that the magi came to worship the ‘king of the Jews.’ One of the contrasts I saw had to do with the fact that the magi could read the stars better than the religious leaders read the Scriptures. This is an indictment on the religion of Herod and Israel.
While it is an indictment, too much should not be deduced from this truth. In other words, some may argue that these magi were able to read the stars and worship the king. Thus, there is no waarant for saying that God cannot work in and through other religions – after all the magi were from the pagan East (perhaps Babylon). Why would this be going too far? Well, if left to their star-gazing, the magi would never have actually worshiped the king of the world. Although they knew he was of Jewish ethnicity, they went to Jerusalem. They needed further revelation from God that this king was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea. Had they not humbled themselves before those who had been given the Scriptures, they would have remained in Jerusalem expecting to see a sign…in vain. God exalts his word in this passage by requiring them to submit their wills to it.
This is even more indicting since the Jews knew where the Christ was to be born, but refused to go with the magi. May we not fool ourselves into thinking that God has ordained some other means of salvation other than his Word being proclaimed.

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Jim Elliott: “Staying or Going”

Consider the call from the Throne above, Go ye, and from round about, Come over and help us, and even the call from the damned souls below, ‘Send Lazarus to my brothers, that they come not to this place’. Impelled, then, by these voices, I dare not stay home while [the Quichia Indians] perish. So what if the well-fed church in the homeland needs stirring? They have the Scriptures, Moses, and the Prophets, and a whole lot more. Their condemnation is written on their bankbooks and in the dust on their Bible covers. American believers have sold their lives to the service of money (Shadow of the Almighty).

 Stirred up by way of reminder by JD Greear 

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Winterize Your View of Missions

I am typically dissatisfied with the quality of articles that I find in the Perspectives mailer I get once a month. I took the Perspectives mission class a couple of years ago at The Bethlehem Institute and was challenged as several viewpoints were presented – of which I was supposed to choose (or remain agnostic!). Ralph Winter is the mastermind behind the Perspectives course.

 This morning I was pleasantly surprised as I worked through Winter’s article tracing the history of evangelicalism and its relationship to social change. He divided the history into four ‘influences.’ The first was the First and Second Great Awakening. During this time there was a sense of coupling the gospel with social action due to a post-millenial view of the last days. That is, biblical interpreters believed the world would get better and better before Jesus returned to reign on earth. Christians would usher in the millennium through social change.

The second influence was spawned by DL Moody’s ministry and dispensationalism. Due to the view of the last days, Christians believed that Christ’s return was immanent and that the world would progressively get worse. Since there was an emphasis on the unkown time when Christ  would come, there was a fervency in decision-like evangelism. That is, people were pressed to make a decision before the end of the world came.

The third influence is related to the resurgence of Kingdom of God language by such men as John Stott and Arthur Glassner. This phase in evangelical mission gives a holistic understanding of Gospel proclamation. The Kingdom of God is intended to spread to all corners of the earth. This includes teaching and healing. ((By the way, an excellent ministry that is doing this in a God-honoring way is a ministry I have supported in the past. I knew the, then, president (he was my landlord). Mission: Moving Mountains. )) Winter calls this the “Recovering of the First Influence.” He lables it (rather interestingly) the 4th Great Awakening. While this may seem a little over the top, is it?

After all, there are large movements of people converting to Christ in Africa. Much of this movement is related to humanitarian effort coupled with Good News. This will lead to the Fourth Influence. Winter writes:

I yearn to see Evangelical missions be able to give
more direct, credible credit to Jesus Christ for the impetus
behind the social transformation that they have
been doing, are doing and should be doing. Practically
none of the major religions, by comparison, has any
similar contribution to good works, small or large.

In order for this renewed resurgence, and perhaps Great Awakening, we must see social change linked to Gospel teaching. May God’s Kingdom come through Christians spreading light through giving cups of cold water and their tunic.

!! If you would like a copy of this article, let me know and I will send one to you.

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Willow Creek’s Seeker-Driven Model

Here is a helpful post on Willow Creek’s admission of impotency in programs. Thoughts?

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Numbers

Here is a thought-provoking post by a friend of mine, Clayton King.

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Could You Write a Letter Like This?

Adoniram Judson wrote a letter to Ann Hasseltine’s parents asking for her hand in marriage. He knew that he was going to Burma and did not make false promises:

“I have now to ask whether you can consnt to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this for the sake of Him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness, brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?” (taken from The Three Mrs. Judsons, p. 8).

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More Questions on Islam

More Questions About Islam [Full Article]

Is there no part of the Qur’an which modifies these violent texts in the way that we would say our New Testament modifies the Old Testament?
In fact the reverse is true. Suppose in our Bible the New Testament came first and the Old Testament came later, that would be the position in the Qur’an. All the peaceful passages that are enjoined on Muslims occur in the chapters written at Mecca. They are tolerant toward Jews and Christians. But when Muhammad gets to Medina and sets up his city/religious state, the tone towards other groups changes rapidly. The statements about slaying the pagans and killing the Jews and others occur there.
Now in Islamic interpretation, all passages that are revealed later take precedence over those revealed earlier. This is known as the ‘law of abrogation’. It means therefore that those passages that enjoin violence are actually the ones which are now acceptable.
What caused this change?
One needs to realise that at Mecca Muhammad is a despised prophet, he needs the help of all communities. But when he gets to Medina, he is now in the position of being a ruler, a legislator, a general. He has to further the Islamic community. For those who did not accept the new community – such as the Jews and Christians – it became highly dangerous, to the point of death.
Is it true that in Muslim countries Muslims who have converted to Christianity are not able to worship openly?
In Muslim countries where converts occur we need to remember the law of apostasy. In Saria, all four schools of Sunni law and Shi’i law teach that any adult male Muslim who rejects Islam, or becomes a Christian, commits the crime of high treason and that carries the death penalty. Some countries practise it – Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Sudan – but where countries do not practise it it is often practised by the communities and families.
In most countries if the death penalty is not applied endemic discrimination and persecution and marginalisation occurs. There is no freedom within Islam. It does not confer all the civic liberties either on converts, or on historic Christian communities in their midst.

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Islam Wants to Control the West?

The following is another segment out of an interview with Sookhdeo.
EXCERPT:
Are you implying that there is a sense in which Islamic communities in the West wish to take control in the West?
Yes I am. Islam is based on power. It does not separate the sacred from the secular, and it has never really had an understanding of being a minority. It must exist within a majority context.
The issue for the West is ‘how will Islam express itself?’ Will it accept that it is a minority? Will it embrace the traditions of the country in which it finds itself and be loyal to it absolutely (whilst of course, keeping aspects of its own religion and culture)?
Or will it, in order to retain control of all religion and culture, set up alternative communities, which then want power for themselves in each geographical area, as well as wanting to be protected further afield by the law. I think this is the tension.
No doubt you are following the position in Australia where there have been about twelve churches burned. I gather four mosques have also been burned. The question increasingly is how Muslims in the West see the countries that they live in. What are their loyalty systems?
When they are a tiny minority, their response to their countries is ‘we are loyal to you’. But as that minority increases and gains strength and self confidence, so it begins to change its allegiance. You can’t just see it on the basis of what it is today, you have to think of what it will be five years from now.
And then you have to look at who is feeding that community: what are the ideological and theological and religious influences that come from the Middle East, from Pakistan, from other countries? Where do the mullahs stand? What is their training and what are their influences? You’ve got to look at a number of factors.
So what should our response be?
I think that as Christians we have to retain what I would call a society built on Judeo-Christian values. Modernity is not all bad, it allows for pluralism to occur. I believe that we should be arguing for the continuing development of a plural society. We need to say to Muslim communities: “we cannot give way to your demands”. In Britain they are now asking for legal protection for their religion and their culture. We have to say no to that, they have to accept a common citizenship based upon individual equality, and not community-religious equality.
[Full Article]

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Abdul Rahman and You


A good friend of mine sent this e-mail to me today. It was very stirring and I wanted to share it with you. I will link to the article mentioned below with some excerpts…

What would we say to this Afghan man, who has been open with his faith in Jesus Christ; or, at least has not openly denied his faith in Christ? Is he a fool? Or, has he been wise? Surely he is both. He is a fool in the eyes of men, but wise in the eyes of the Lord.

We do not know the whole story. Take a moment and read this short article. It will remind you again of the ‘real war’ we (and all God’s children) are in as God’s heralds/ambassadors and servant leaders in his Kingdom.
This Afghan man represents many in the nations who are daily faced with the question of “openly following Jesus Christ,” or “quietly following Jesus in order to sustain their lives and societal peace.”

This article does not represent all Muslims. That is, some Muslims might suggest this man should not be killed. But, I believe this article shows the nature, character, and rootedness of Islam. Islam is in a crisis, and has been.

What will we do in these days? Will we be like the Malaysian government, which is afraid to disagree with the unconstitutinal mandates of the Islamic courts in its country?

Will we, and the missionaries we send, be prepared to suffer and equip others to suffer like this man?

The people of Islam need to hear and see the love of Christ. That is a love which lays down its life for its enemies. May the Lord help this Afghan man (Acts 7:54-60), whether he lives or dies, in Christ, he belongs to the Lord.

Let us consider the “Sermon on the Mount,” a great message of the Kingdom life/person:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against falsely on _my account._ Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. _But I say to you_, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…And when Jesus finished saying these these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mt 5: 1 – 7:29, selections)

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Don’t Just Sit There

If you haven’t heard, there’s a Christian in Afghanistan that is going to be killed because he has forsaken the Muslim religion and proclaimed faith in Jesus. I want to encourage some of my readers in the Washington DC area to take part in a march in from of the Afghan embassy:

From Matthew Hall:
Permits have apparently also been granted for a rally for Abdul Rahman to be held tomorrow in front of the Afghan embassy in Washington. If you’re anywhere near the Metro DC area, this certainly is the kind of cause that merits an hour of your day.

Friday March 24
Noon to 1pm
Outside the Afghan Embassy
2341 Wyoming Ave NW.
Washington DC

[HT: Matthew Hall ]

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Interview with IMB Missionary in Slovakia {Part 2}

What have been some of the short-comings of missionaries that have served in Europe?

I think one of the biggest is a lack of vision for discipleship and more specifically for church planting. Many people focus on European missions as a place to do sports camps, English clubs, and other like activities where their focus is on evangelism. Yet, Europe is a place where the Gospel has been for years but it has been distorted and there is little response to it, so there needs to be more than just a focus on evangelism. What then happens to genuine conversions in this process? How are they followed up? Evangelism can not be separated from discipleship. At the same time, there is a need for making the Gospel relevant to the people of Europe. Most of the people in Europe are atheist, agnostic, or traditionally Catholic or Orthodox. A simple run through of a tract or packaged evangelistic tool is not going to connect with these people who don’t believe in a god or don’t care if there is a god or not. Or in the case of those who have a traditional religion, they tract will only make them perceive you as a cult with some “new Gospel” or believe they already have the salvation you are trying to share with them. Using Western evangelism tactics are not useful for presenting the vital message of salvation to people in Europe and this must be taken into consideration when planning to work in this part of the world.
Another one of the problems is too much of a commitment to working with existing national churches. This may sound funny. For instance, why is it bad to work with the national church? I mean, isn’t that what our end goal is, to create more national churches? What I mean here is that missionaries will come in and spend all of their time and energy with the church and the church members. Their entire ministry is centered on strengthening the national church and they enjoy their fellowship with the local believers. But the problem is that many churches in this part of the world lack a vision for evangelism and growth in their community. The church is happy with who they have and never seek to expand and change. In this situation the missionary never has any significant ministry with non-believers, who should be the primary focus of any missionary ministry. I fully support working with the national church as well as strengthening and teaching the leaders to be missions minded, but not to the detriment of ministry to those whom have never heard the Gospel.

Specifically, what are some “methods” that could be scrapped in the missionary endeavor? Positively put, what are some missionary methods that have proved to be effective and should be utilized more?

I am still learning in this context what should be best used in this context, but I know that the best thing to do is use the Bible as a guide. It seems to me that the Bible is composed the way that it is for a reason, and thus we should use the entire Bible in presenting the Gospel. Thus I am a firm believer in teaching the Bible chronologically from creation to Christ. I see this as a tool used by Jesus, Stephen and Paul in the New Testament. The stories of the Old Testament give meaning to all of history and they point to Christ laying the foundation for understanding true salvation. Postmoderns and atheists need to see the meta-narrative of the Bible and of all redemptive history to provide meaning for their lives, and I believe teaching the Bible chronologically is the best way to do this. Another strength is that it combines evangelism and discipleship at the same time. By this I mean that as the people are learning about the message of the Gospel they are learning the truths of the Bible and about God’s personality as He reveals himself throughout history.
One last thing I will add here is that work should not be done alone by the missionary. I have seen that the best way to do any ministry is with a local believer working with or being taught by the missionary. The missionary is never going to relate on the same cultural level that a national will be able to do, thus the missionary must be training the national believers how to witness to their own people effectively. At the same time the missionary never knows what will happen to him and how long he will be allowed to stay in the country. If all of the people he is working with are only connected to him and his ministry, what happens if the missionary must leave? What other believers does this person know? Who will continue to share with these people? The missionary must be planning for effective follow-up by national believers. Having national believers knowledgeable and competent to do ministry also will further speed up the spread of the Gospel and the starting of new churches who can train up new leaders.

Someone is struggling with whether to go on the mission field, what steps should they take to make that decision?

My first response would be to have them search deeper for the reason behind their struggles. It is possible to be fighting God’s call to missions and to be personally looking for excuses not to respond out of fear or disobedience. Jonah is a good example of this. It is clear that Jonah had a call from God to go and he was fighting it. Thus, sometimes people will say they are “struggling” with whether to go or not when it is clear there is a call there. The evil one will use many sources to dissuade people from going to the labor fields, including family, friends, and even personal issues. I would therefore encourage that person to take a long look and reflect on the reasons for wanting to go to the mission field. What are their desires? What are the compelling forces behind their reason for wanting to go? What are the factors playing into their reason for wanting to NOT go? A clear call to go is not a valuable tool for missionaries, it is a mandatory prerequisite. Life on the mission field is tough and can not be done apart from God’s sustaining grace and mercy. Attacks will come and life will not be comfortable. Sometimes all a missionary has to fall back on is his call from God to be doing what he is doing, and without it the missionary will crumble and return home.

Someone is single and is worried they will not be able to “find” someone if they are in missions, what would you say to this person?

The person needs to rethink where their focus is. What is more valuable to that person: their desire for a spouse or God’s call to them to reach the nations? God does not need our help in anything, including missions and finding a spouse. So if God has called a single person to missions, then surely he means of him to go and to go without expectations. I truly believe that if someone is following hard after God then He will provide the desires of their heart. There are many people I know, including myself, who have followed God into missions and God has provided a spouse through this obedience. I know that there is no better place to find someone with an equally strong heart for missions that on the mission field serving God. But at the same time, there are no guarantees that going to the mission field automatically means that you will find God’s chosen for you. First things first, follow God wholeheartedly and allow Him to provide the desires of your heart in His timing.

What is missionary life like for a family (i.e. adjusting to culture, language)? That is, what should a husband and wife be prepared for that you weren’t prepared for before stepping off the plane?

Well, this is a little difficult for me to answer. Both my wife and I were single on the mission field in the same country where we returned as a family. Thus, we had worked through a lot of our culture stress and detachment from American culture issues previously as singles and were better prepared to return to the field as a family. The one thing that I wasn’t prepared for though was the adjustment to working from the home and being together so much. I have learned that as a missionary I do a lot of work in and out of our apartment. As a result my work time and family time has blended together and I have had to adjust to getting ministry things done in between helping to feed our daughter, play with her, change diapers, taking out the trash, picking up the mail at the post office, and so on. It has been an adjustment for a task-oriented person like myself, but it is part of missionary life as a family.

Last Question: What are your thoughts regarding miracles on the mission field and spiritual gifts?

I have never seen any miracles on the mission field, but I have no doubt that God is capable of working miracles and can and does use them at certain times. The missionary is many times on the front lines of a spiritual battle and the rules of spiritual war go beyond flesh and blood. I have heard many stories of God using dreams and visions to draw Muslims to faith and salvation and I believe that this is happening and will continue as part of God’s plan for reaching these people. There are also many stories of God using people in spiritual warfare through healings and other encounters with demons. Again, I have not personally encountered any of these happenings, but I do not discount the power of God and the truth of these stories in other places around the world.

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Interview with IMB Missionary in Slovakia {Part 1}

I’m interviewing a missionary in Slovakia with the International Mission Board.

Why don’t you start out by telling us a little of where you’re from and what you’re currently doing?
I graduated from NC State University with a B.S. in Applied Math. Currently I am enrolled in the 2+2 International Church Planting degree program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.

2+2 is not an example of the kind of Applied Math you did at NC State is it?You are currently serving with the IMB with the Southern Baptist Convention in Slovakia. What is it that led you to minister in Slovakia?
Well my first ever mission trip was to Eastern Europe and to the Ukraine. God later used this experience, as well as some other things, to call me into full time ministry. In the process I returned to Eastern Europe, but this time to Slovakia, on a short term trip where I saw an opportunity to for me to return to Slovakia for a year long commitment. During this year in Slovakia I saw a disconnect between much of the ministry we were doing and actual church planting and multiplication. Thus, after my return to America I enrolled in seminary with a desire to return to Slovakia to work towards seeing churches planted and strengthened. God opened many doors to allow my family the opportunity to return to work for his glory in Slovakia.

What do you see as the missionary’s task?
I think that the missionary’s task is to be obedient to the Lord to go and make disciples of all nations. I also believe that this ministry of making disciples can be done in many forms, but ultimately I think that the Bible clearly shows that God’s vessel for spreading his fame is through his church. Thus, any missionary ministry should have an end focus of starting churches that will multiply and start other churches.

Why should be people go overseas when there is so much work to be done here in the United States?
Sure, this is a great question. There is also a rather simple answer in my opinion. I firmly believe that Jesus clearly says to “Go… into all nations.” To me this is a mandate that we should be going and sharing the Gospel to the nations. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be sharing the Gospel to those where we are, namely, at home in the States. And it is obvious that not all will go, and that not all can go, but that doesn’t change the fact that Jesus said to “go”.

What have been your greatest challenges thus far on the mission field?
There are many challenges to being on the mission field. Most of them are directly tied to being a new culture. We respond and react according to our instincts which are culturally biased to our western, and more specifically American, culture. This can cause many misunderstandings and conflicts in the new culture as they interpret our words and actions based on their cultural filter, not ours. Another challenge has been the adjustment to the missionary life. In America, I always experienced a clear division between my school work, my job, and my family. If I was at home with my family, I was not focused on my job or on my school work. I would get out of the house to do my school work and my job was always away from home. Since being on the field, my entire life is part of my ministry as a missionary. I have found that being a missionary doesn’t mean leaving the home to go to a place to do the “job” of a missionary. My job requires me to be at home with my family, modeling a Christian family to our neighbors. It requires me to be at home all day studying language, including taking breaks to change a diaper or feed our daughter without feeling like my “task” is going unfulfilled. This has been a major challenge for me as a task oriented person. I have found out very quickly that my life now is not about completing tasks (i.e. planting churches, holding Bible studies, witnessing to “x” number of people), but it is about living out my faith in practical ways and building relationships with non-believers all the while working to accomplish the task of seeing people come to faith and group together with our believers.

How do you see the church’s relationship to sending missionaries?
I see the church as the major sending mechanism for worldwide missions. This is the model of the early church in the book of Acts. The church convened at the moving of the Spirit in Acts 13 to send out Paul and Barnabas, who then returned to the church in the end of Acts 14 to report what God had done through their obedience and faith. Thus, I think it is the church’s responsibility to teach Jesus’ command to “go” and then to support those who God does raise up to be sent out. The church should support missions financially, through prayer, through encouragement and through accountability. I think one of these that gets left out the most is accountability. The church should stay in contact with its members who are on the mission field on a regular basis. The accountability should help the missionary remain strong spiritually and to have specific goals that he is working towards in his ministry. In my context, a lot of this accountability is done from the IMB as the sending agency and arm of the SBC, but I still think there should be a stronger focus of the local churches to keep consistent contact with their own that are on the field. Even with the strong accountability I have from my fellow missionaries and leadership, it can never compare to those who know me well and intimately keeping me in line spiritually and helping me maintain my focus on my ministry.

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Muslim Missions Conference

If you’re in the D.C. area in March 31-April 1 and are interested in ministering to Muslims, check out“The Challenge of Islam to the Church, Mission and Society”. It is a seminar put on by Reformed Theological Seminary in D.C.

Here’s the schedule:
Friday, March 31
7:30pm- Welcome and Introduction of Series and Seminar
(Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director, RTS Washington DC)
7:45pm – “The Challenge of Islam to the Church”
(Rev. Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director, Barnabas Fund)
9:05pm – Questions and Discussion
9:25pm – Announcements and Closing Prayer (Hugh Whelchel)
9:30pm – End
                       
Saturday, April 1
9:00am – Brief Introduction and Opening Prayer (Hugh Whelchel)
9:05am – Session I: “The Challenge of Islam to Christian Mission” (Rev. Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo)
10:15am – Break
10:30am – Session II: “The Challenge of Islam to Society and Culture”
11:25am – Questions and Discussion
11:40am – Announcements and Closing Prayer (Hugh Whelchel)
11:45am – End

[Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo] lectures nationally and internationally on Islamic issues, multicultural issues and race issues. He is the author/editor of ten books and numerous papers on these subject areas.

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Filed under Current Events, Evangelism, Islam, Missions, World

What Kind of Faith Is This??

I came across this quote today and wanted to exhort you to think about this. The last sentence is particularly powerful as I ask myself, “For what am I willing to be ripped apart?” In North America, it is easy to write this kind of quote off as extreme and ridiculous. However, what is it that you are willing to give your life for? The Roman authorities wished to squash Christianity by such horrific deaths in the arenas. Instead, Christianity spread like fire because of Christians’ willingness to suffer for the sake of the Name.

I write to all the churches, and I declare to all men, that willingly I die for God, if it be that you hinder me not. I beg of you, be not with me in the love that is not in season. Leave me, that I may be for the beasts, that by means of them I may be worthy of God. I am the wheat of God, and by the teeth of the beasts am I ground, that I may be found the pure bread of God. With provoking provoke ye the beasts, that they may be a grave for me, and may leave nothing of my body, that not even when I am fallen asleep may I be a burden upon any man. Then am I a disciple in truth to Jesus Christ, when the world seeth not my body. Intreat our Lord for me, that by these instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God. I am not commanding you like Peter and Paul, who are Apostles, but I one condemned… But if I suffer, I am the freedman of Jesus Christ, and I shall rise from the dead in Him free. And now, since I am bound, I learn to desire nothing. From Syria even to Rome I am cast among beasts, by sea and by land, by night and by day; since I am bound between ten leopards, which are the band of soldiers, who, even when I do good to them, the more do evil to me. But I, through their injury, an the more instructed; but I do not on this account justify myself. I rejoice in the beasts which are prepared for me, and I pray that they may be quickly found for me; and I will provoke them, that they may quickly devour me, and not like that which is afraid of other men, and approacheth them not, even if they should not be willing to approach me, I will go against them with force…Fire, and the cross, and the beasts which are prepared, cutting of the limbs, scattering of the bones, and crushing of the whole body, hard torments of the Devil, let them come upon me, and may I be worthy of Jesus Christ. (Ignatius’ Third Epistle to the Romans)

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Missions, Quotations