Recently I visited Clarkston, a suburb of Atlanta GA, where many refugee people have begun to call home (away from home). Many will stay a couple of years and then relocate to another American city where they can find jobs or more of their own cultural community. Several Christian ministries have a presence in Clarkston. One is the “Friends of Refugees” which seeks to help refugees get on their feet culturally and economically.
Friends of Refugees have purchased a plot within Clarkston on which they hope to construct a meeting and training center for refugees. It is currently a community garden in which families can have their own plot of ground to plant vegetables.
As you can see, the refugee family must take ownership of their plot, even to the extent of finding their own fencing. Imagine if you were from an agrarian background how meaningful it could be to get your hands into soil again!
Brian Bollinger (left) leads Friends of Refugees. Matt Seadore (North Ave Presbyterian Church) was my guide to Clarkston ministries. Thanks guys for showing me yet another #NearFrontiersTREK.
I was in Atlanta recently on another #NearFrontiersTREK and was encouraged by the creativity of this “coffee truck.” Called “Refuge,” it intentionally trains and employs refugees to the Clarkston area. The second picture is an inside sitting area which used to be a car sales building. Isn’t it great to see the various ways God is birthing ministries?!
Have some believers rightly rejected the “prosperity gospel” only to embrace an equally dangerous lifestyle heresy?
I was reading about Barnabas, the missionary colleague alongside the apostle Paul, and was struck by the fact that Barnabas first appears in the Acts account as a generous donor toward the compassion ministry of the first church. As a land owner, Barnabas could have taken a fiscally justifiable approach and hung on to his asset (the land) so as to donate what profit the land produced. Instead, Barnabas sold the land and gave sacrificially. Further, he did not give on condition that his wishes would be respected, but laid his gift at the apostles feet, releasing control (Acts 4:37).
Here is what I conclude from watching Barnabas: The obedience that makes a cross-cultural missionary is the same obedience that makes a sacrificial giver. And sacrificial giving may be the entry point to the world of mission, as it was for Barnabas.
But I wonder if many of us have subconsciously concluded that God has asked us to give, not sacrificially, but moderately. Our evidence? Just look at the capacity God has given us to achieve and maintain our comfortable lifestyle. Are not my skills God-given? Did He not make my education possible? Did God not give me the opportunity to work and save? Surely the way of life I enjoy is what God wants me to maintain with a grateful heart.
Having rejected the prosperity gospel have we succumbed to a moderation gospel? Barnabas shows us that sacrificial giving stems from the same kind of obedience as leaving home on mission. Dependence on God’s supply did not begin when he and Saul left Antioch as the first missionaries (Acts 13:1-3). It started back home when he heard about the need to feed the poor, pulled out the title deed to his land and put it on the market.
Well, my title oversells my post. All I am saying is that a prayer meeting for mission at my home recently was really fun because we had several nations represented. Made me think of Jesus… when He got angry with the money changers in the Temple, the thing that ticked Him off was that the commercialization of worship had taken over the court of the Gentiles so they were excluded from worshiping God. Little wonder Jesus turned over tables shouting: Don’t you know my Father’s house is a house of prayer for all the nations!
Here is a picture of our recent prayer time. We prayed in 5 different languages. What a #NearFrontiersTREK.
Thanks to Mosaic Church in Little Rock Arkansas for sharing this video clip. Dr. John Perkins is a statesman and a prophet for today’s church in America. His suffering as a black man in a white man’s world, his encounter with the love of Jesus Christ, and his calling believers to long-haul reconciliation make him one of the great leaders of this time. Here is a 6 minute segment well worth watching. Please do
2016-01-10 Dr John Perkins Clip from Mosaic Church on Vimeo.
Here is an 8 minute video that explains the plight of refugees. Learn what countries host and cause the most refugees. (2015).
Introduction to the Refugee Highway (2015) from IAFR on Vimeo.
A stirring overview of present day refugee realities along with a biblical perspective. 8 minutes.
Camping plan with my Muslim friend
Despite my best intentions ...
She invited her workmate to dinner... and they laughed
Consultation was a blessing
We enjoyed a gathering of several nationalities!
Thanksgiving for my muslim friends
It was a feast of food and conversation.
P.S. If you have a little time, please check out my articles:
Today I met a former high school math teacher who began to feel the burden of God’s love for all peoples. Near his home in an American city was a mosque, so he began to pray how he might bring the love of Jesus there.
After an extended season of prayer, he decided to go to the mosque. He was invited to meet the imam. The visitor told the imam that he was a follower of Jesus, and had a heart to help people. He wondered if there might be a student or two who was struggling with their mathematics. Could they use some free tutoring? The imam not only accepted the kind offer, but encouraged all the children from the mosque to come for tutoring.
That was eleven years ago. The teacher has not only continued the tutoring, but has brought many volunteers to the mosque to help out.
Opportunities for showing the love of Jesus abound right in our towns. May God give us hearts to serve, and commitment to pray for direction and open doors!
This Christian math teacher offered to tutor children at a local mosque and found a welcome reception. #NearFrontiersTREK
Photo credit: alamy.com