Archive for missions

Update from the land of Church Planting…

Posted in evangelism, missions with tags , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by gospel2live

Faithful readers… both of you!  The past year has been an amazing journey.  We have left the security of a good job with an established church to raise support and begin a new work.  God has provided for our needs in amazing ways.  We have added two new members to our family as our adoption of two brothers through the foster care system was completed in July.  We have rented out our old house and moved to a new house in the community where we are starting the new church.  As I write this, I am, quite honestly, both exhausted and refreshed, exhilerated and terrified, and depressed and enthusiastic about the future!  In other words, welcome to the bi-polar life of a Jesus follower!

As for the church plant, we are gathering on Sundays with a group that averages about 35-40 people.  All but one of the families who are regularly a part of our group are people that we did not even know a year ago.  Many of them had already left churches that had abandoned the Bible before they had heard about Cross Hill.  Many had not been involved in a meaningful way with ANY church as adults.  While my planning included a lot of thinking about training leaders and launching people into ministry, I have had to adjust to meet the needs of people who are super eager to learn, but are starting out with very little knowledge of the Bible.  Honestly, it is amazingly encouraging to see people reading the Bible in a way that a starving man attacks an all-you-can-eat buffet!

Here is the upside.  This Sunday we will see four adults dedicate their lives to follow Jesus in baptism.  We have another group of people that will likely want to be baptized by the end of the year.  We have people reading the Bible and asking awesome questions.  Many of our people are inviting friends, talking about the changes in their life that Jesus has brought, and “doing the work of evangelism” without me having to say much of anything about it!  Week after week, as we meet for a pretty “no-frills” Bible study, I see the Spirit of God at work in peoples’ lives in confronting their sin, reconciling them to God, and in helping them to find healing and wholeness in their lives.  Even after over an hour of teaching, people stay and hang out over coffee — despite many of them coming from traditions where a 50 minute gathering is “pushing it.”  Despite stepping out without even a salary guaranteed, God has stirred people to provide for our needs, often without even being solicited!  Praise God!

Here’s the hard part.  We have seen difficult spiritual opposition in discouragement and depression among some of our family and core team.  Marriages have been strained at times by this spiritual oppression.  Establishing patterns and routines has been extremely difficult with the amount of change that is taking place.  We are rapidly approaching the need to deal with structural and organizational issues that lie WAY outside of my comfort zones!  With the new people come new problems that tax our energy and our emotions as we walk with people through dark valleys to find their healing in the Gospel.  One of my most common thoughts is “Who is sufficient for these things?”

Here’s the bottom line.  Jesus Christ will build HIS church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!  I am NOT sufficient for these things!  Thankfully, God gives us his grace, ill-deserved kindnesses, so that through the power of his Holy Spirit people might be reconciled to God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Hallelujah!

Tithing Your Pastor

Posted in missions with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2009 by gospel2live

Dr. Michael Oh delivered the missions address at the 2009 Desiring God Conference for Pastors.  I highly recommend that you listen or watch this presentation which took the approach “Missions as Fasting.”  You can link to it here.

One of the application points that I found challenging was for pastor’s to “tithe yourself to missions.”  Because the American church is so blessed with resources that are unprecedented in world history, Dr. Oh challenged us to give up some of our own comforts to help the cause of reaching the unreached people groups around the world.  This could mean taking five years out of a lifetime to spend on the mission field.  Another alternative would be to spend one month per year teaching and training other pastors at seminaries in remote parts of the world.

While there is still a desperate need for a more consistent and correct gospel witness in the West, the vast majority of our missions spending is used to support works that take place in largely Christianized cultures.  One can argue that Europe should not count as “Christian,” but the point is that less than 3% of all mission spending is used in areas of the world that have NEVER had a gospel witness.

I would challenge you to listen to Dr. Oh’s message and ponder how you and your church can become better supporters of reaching unreached people for Christ.  Also, consider whether you can do more to give financially, in prayer, and with your own time towards seeing the glory of Christ made known to the uttermost parts of the earth.  Consider whether you should help “tithe your pastor” to the cause of Jesus Christ in the coming year.

Books For Africa

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by gospel2live

On Thursday, Luke Tamu (a pastor friend of mine from Kenya) and I were able to visit Books for Africa (BFA) in Saint Paul. They are a non-profit company that collects donated books from schools and Universities and ship them to Africa. Luke and I are trying to arrange for a sea container shipment of 22,000 books to Kenya for a library project.

Luke’s church runs an orphange for 200 children, and school for the orphanage and an additional 300 children, and a theological college for training pastors. Currently, they do not have a library for the orphanage or the theological college. We are hoping to raise the money that is needed to ship the container so that the books will be in Africa by later this summer.

Here is what needs to happen:

1) BFA needs $9,500 to ship to Kenya. They donate the books for free, we only have to raise the shipping costs. Conservative estimates for IRS purposes values a container of books at $167,000. Street value on such a shipment is probably closed to half a million dollars. So if anyone would like to ship a half million dollars to an evangelical theology college for native Kenyans who cannot afford other schools, we ONLY need $9,500. I hope to set up an account directly with BFA on Monday, so you can give directly and get receipts for tax purposes directly from them.

2) We also have an appointment with Desiring God’s international outreach people on Monday afternoon. Please pray that God would grant us favor and that they would consider a donation of theological books for the library project. BFA has mostly secular books (English, Math Science, etc) which would be useful, but we can also send our own books with the shipment if people are willing to donate. I am also hoping that we might be able to get contacts with publishers such as Crossway to also donate books and Bibles to the project. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could send a couple hundred ESV study Bibles to Kenyan pastors who have NO OTHER LIBRARY??? Please pray for this venture!!!

3) We might also be able to send books to the Theological College that might be donated by individuals or churches. So if there are commentary sets, theological books, or Bibles that are in good condition, send me a message and we will see whether thay may be helpful as well.

4)Finally, if you are able to be in or around St. Paul, MN, you can actually volunteer at BFA to help them sort and package books in their warehouse to be sent to Africa. This could be a really neat project for a church or homeschool group who would like to donate their time to this project. I will post more information as it becomes available on how you can give to this project.

Please pray as we seek to have a greater partnership with Pastor Luke and Emmanuel Community Center Churches. I will probably be posting more about this ministry in the future. Please pray with us as we consider a short term project to work with Pastor Luke this summer.

 

UPDATE — February 10, 2011:

This project was completed in the summer of 2010.  However, recent information from teams that have visited Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers have revealed that this ministry is NOT one that we will continue to partner with.  We pray that the books will end up in hands that are blessed by having them; however, it is apparent that they will not be used by Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers as we were originally told.  Feel free to contact me via email if you are considering partnering with Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers, for more information before joining in any of their “ministries.”