Kyle Canty, an African-American who grew up in north Philadelphia, writes:
“During the past couple of years I’ve recognized the homogeneity of these circles [of the missional movement] — most of the speakers are white. Interesting enough, many of the topics that are being written about and presented at these events are topics that I’ve heard about throughout my life. (e.g., justice, mercy, meeting felt needs, etc.)
Well before these were popular topics within evangelicalism, these were important issues among black pastors, preachers and theologians. The black church finds its uniqueness in the soil where it is cultivated — usually within marginalized and oppressed communities.”
I think he has a great point. The originators, leaders, and followers of the missional movement tend to think they have come up with a new strategy, or at least are reclaiming an old and forgotten vision. And I am just as guilty.
Our friends (and fellow missionaries) Keith and Lori Doster recently linked to an article about stressors that missionaries face. The original article is called 12 Questions You Can Ask a Missionary to Help Them Stay on the Field. Missionaries are not unique to these stressors; however, they do face them in situations where they often feel vulnerable and lonely.
If you know any missionaries, I encourage you to support and encourage them by asking one or more of these questions (but not all 12 at once!). For the sake of our friends, supports, and blog-readers, I wanted to proactively answer these questions over the next few months. (Of course, feel free to ask us these questions personally.)
Question 2: “Did you take a Sabbath rest this week?”
I don’t do well with doing nothing. Last month, I had a goal to carve out 10 Mindful Minutes each day, and I failed horribly.
But even doing nothing really isn’t a Sabbath rest. In Take a Rest, I wrote, “Rest doesn’t just happen. Rest is a purposeful activity. Even more, rest is an attitude of the heart.” And I confess that I struggle to trust God enough to step back, and to disengage from my active and busy life.
My son Elijah and I just finished reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, after I read The Hobbit to all three of our children last year.
For as much as the story is about the Ring, the story doesn’t end when the ring is destroyed. At the end of The Return of the King, the Shire (where Hobbits lived) was taken over, and needed to be freed by the four who were in the fellowship of the Ring. (If you’ve seen the movies, you know that most of this part of the story was cut out.)
As the book comes to a close, Frodo explains to his best friend why he is leaving the Shire:
“I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.”
As we just celebrated our country’s Independence Day, it hits me that we should be thankful that we have freedom. However, that freedom is not about ourselves. Our freedom must be used to serve others.
And the same is true with our freedom in Christ. Jesus didn’t save us just for ourselves. He ultimately has redeemed us for the glory of the Father, and so that we can serve others.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
May you have a safe and blessed weekend.
PS — If you want something on a lighter note, watch an “Honest Trailer” of Independence Day.
**image courtesy of Zanastardust via flickr
I get excited when I hear about other missionaries teaching the gospel. For example, my friend Joseph Osborn began a Bible study with some local co-workers in Paupa New Guinea (you can start with this post and then click around to get the full story).
Within the first few meetings, he was receiving great responses and questions from the men and women in that study. It is obvious that the Holy Spirit is working through him to bear much fruit. Encouraging stories like this are part of the reason why we support the Osborns.
Honestly, reading his stories not only challenges me, but they even discourage me. Why? I read his blog, and realize that I’m not an evangelist.
Now, we have to separate the gift of evangelism (given to some) and the call to evangelize (a command given to all Christ-followers). I know I don’t have the former, but I also know that I’m not doing enough of the latter.
After all, as a “missionary,” shouldn’t I preaching the gospel be my chief focus? Am I focusing so much on relationships (sometimes an excuse for getting other people to like me), and not enough on proclaiming God’s word?
I shared this video last week on Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t think enough people have seen it. I hope it makes you think, because it definitely challenged me. This is the story of Ronald Davis:
Did you notice what gets him choked up more than anything? It’s not the struggles of finding food and shelter. What tears him down is how people treat him.
Hear his words:
“It’s really humiliating to be shaking a cup 24 hours a day, and people just look at you like you’re some kind of little bum.”
“I’m not a bum. I’m a human being.”
“I feel so bad that I can’t be going home. . . . I’m really trying to get myself together and get off the street.”
“You really lose all your humility when you’re shaking a cup, begging.”
“A lot of people look at you like you’re just a piece of crumb.”
“No matter what people think about me, I know I’m a human person.”
That’s what poverty is about. It classifies and separates. It elevates one group of people over others — elevating only some people’s physical, emotional, and social resources.
How many times have I looked at a homeless person, a beggar, a (gulp) bum — and thought, spoke, or acted in a condescending manner? Too many.
This video reminded me that when I look at those “less fortunate,” I must above all else see them as a human being, created in the image of God.
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
“And from one blood he made the whole world of humanity.” (Acts 17:26)
I’d love to hear from you in the comments: What did you think of this video?
Some thoughts from James 1 . . .
God has been good to us and gives us life.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” (vv. 17-18)
Don’t be content to only know truth.
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (vv. 22-25)
Watch your mouth. Show justice.
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (vv. 26-27)
You’ve been shown grace, and you’ve been given truth. Now live it out that grace and truth.
From GCM Collective:
Two simple truths:
- Discipleship = Head + Heart + Hands
- Theology + Venn Diagram = Awesomeness
This post is adapted from a talk I gave to a youth group at a local church.
Your life is not about you. It’s about Jesus.
It’s easy to think that this is true about missionaries in far off lands. But no matter you live, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you’re life must be completely surrendered to Him. Always, and in all ways.
We Are All Missionaries
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
And the truth is, we are all called to be missionaries. Jesus commissioned His followers (and the same call applies to us) to tell others about Him. We are not called to win anyone to Christ, but to follow Him in obedience and tell others about Him. And the latter (telling) is only made credible by the former (how we are living).
All Christians are missionaries and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). In our homes, schools, cities, countries, and all over, we represent Jesus with our words and with our actions.
But as you go to share His good news, focus on where you have been, where you are now, and where you will be.
Our second year in Allendale was quite the adventure. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here that long already; time has flown by!
I’ll never forget the rapid transition from Greenville to Allendale. Here’s a shortened version:
- Tuesday, December 14, 2010 — Joanna and I take our first trip Allendale, with two leaders from Grace Church
- Wednesday, January 12, 2011 — Interview with the Boys and Girls Club
- Thursday, January 13, 2011 — Offered (and accepted) job with the Boys and Girls Club
- Sunday, January 16, 2011 — Spent my first night in Allendale, to start work the next day
- Saturday, April 16, 2011 — After 3 months of me commuting (weekly) and several short trips to Allendale by Joanna and the kids, we all moved into our Allendale home (with the help of a flock of friends)
Even though I left my first job in Allendale, we knew that didn’t change our love of Allendale, or our commitment to serving the children of this community. We saw how God Provided Through My Job in 2011, but we were confident that He would do the same in 2012.
Well, 2012 brought more adventures, and many unexpected moments.
Quite possibly my latest favorite song (yes, I’m aware this song is several years old now — I’m behind the times), by Bebo Norman:
Majesty had come down
Glory had succumed now to flesh and bone
In the arms of a manger
In the hands of strangers that could not know
Just who they hold
And the angels filled the sky
All of heaven wondered why
Why their King would choose to be
Be a baby born to die
And all fell silent
For the cry of an infant, the voice of God
Was dividing history
For those with eyes to see, the Son would shine
From earth that night
To break the chains
Of guilt and sin
To find us here
To pull us in
So we can join in Heaven’s song
And with one voice around the throne
All the Angels filled the sky
And I can’t help but wonder why
Why this King would choose to be
Be a baby born for me
Be a baby born
Be a baby born to die