Recently our three new team members gathered with director Bob Rasmussen for module one of our orientation. We met in Eugene, Oregon. Here is a brief glimpse of our time together.
I heard a cool story today and want to pass it along to you.
A man flew in from a country in Asia. He was a Muslim. He had flown many long hours and was exhausted when he arrived. He was supposed to be picked up at the airport by someone, but when he landed there was no one looking for him. He waited for a long time, wondering what to do in this strange new land.
A member of the Ethiopian church in Seattle was driving taxi that night. He saw the stranded traveler. Approaching him, the Ethiopian asked the immigrant if he could help, even offering to give him a ride and let him stay overnight at home. The traveler gladly accepted, spending not just one night but two. The next day, the Christian helped the visitor contact his friends, who came for him.
Some while later, that visitor decided to visit a church in Seattle. When he entered, he looked up on the platform and who was preaching that day but the very taxi driver who gave him transport and lodging! He soon declared that whatever that taxi driving preacher believed is what he wanted to believe also. And he placed his trust in Christ.
Let’s keep our eyes open for ways we can welcome the stranger. Our loving actions, even when small, send a clear message!
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: Tweet This 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.
One of my areas of growth is that of opening my home for hospitality to neighbors as well as fellow Jesus-followers. This is a new area for me because, since my wife went to heaven, I am now the cook! Anyone brave enough to come to my home and try my culinary experiments deserves some kind of medal (or an antacid)!
I previously shared about my steep learning curve as I invited my Muslim neighbors over for dinner. I had hoped to use some beef patties I already had, only to be reminded by a friend that my neighbors may require halal beef! You can read about it in my prior post called Dinner with my neighbors.
Well, I recently had the idea of inviting people from my local church over to my home after the Sunday morning worship service in order to have some personal interaction with our first missionary. I announced it as a potluck (which I have always defined as “pick a pot and try your luck!”) so that we would not starve. But I also knew I should fix something in case others could not bring food.
So I emailed my daughter who loves to hunt online for recipes, “Please can you find me some easy crock-pot recipes that I can just pour in canned stuff?”(dumb right?). She came back with several options that were (I guess ) on the easy side. So I decided on the tortilla soup, and, if I do say so myself, it came out DELICIOUS! (Notice the way chicken soup was meant to be… big chunks of chicken!)
More importantly, we had a tasty casual meal. Others brought salad, sandwiches, pizza, and cookies. We had nice conversation around the table, and then adjourned to the living room for a time of prayer for our missionary. As everyone left, I felt gratified that my home had been used again for God’s work.
Tweet This Raise a glass to trying new recipes and hospitality for Jesus’ sake!
What experiences have you had in opening your home?
Jesus-followers in America can engage the Near Frontiers right in our own cities when we share the ministry vision of an immigrant. This is a strategic mission opportunity which is hidden in plain sight.
I met Girma Desalegn several years ago in Seattle. We both showed up at a local conference attended by people of different ethnicities. In such settings, I gravitate toward those who are of different background than myself (I am caucasian).
Girma and I talked for a couple of years about different ways we could partner together. Early in the process he began sharing his vision to bring practical Biblical training to church leaders in his homeland. His concept was a “mobile Bible school” that would take the training to leaders who could not afford one of the in-country Bible schools. He would bring mature believers from the States once a year to cities in different regions, closer to where the pastors, elders, and women’s leaders lived. There would be no charge for the training, but high demands for faithfulness were required for graduation from the two year program which Girma designed. The vision captured me.
But it wasn’t just the vision. I had been able to get to know Girma as a man of integrity and passion for Ethiopia. And he had a network of friends and leaders in Ethiopia ready to partner with him. In God’s planning, the diaspora which exists today makes possible this convergence of invaluable factors: Vision, Integrity, Passion.
Tweet This The diaspora which exists today makes possible the convergence of Vision, Integrity, Passion.#nearfrontiersTREK
Recently we had a fund-raising dinner to bring together friends of Ethiopia to celebrate what God has done over the last five years of training. Hundreds have graduated from the program. We made the financial need known, and many people shared of their resources.
One of the most important aspects of what Girma has called the Vision Leadership Institute is that every Saturday local, trusted Ethiopian leaders with more training meet with all the trainees and take the subjects deeper. They require assignments, score results, and keep attendance.
At the end of the two years there is a graduation that is a high point in their ministries.
This is yet another way in which God is making mission available to more believers today. God gives vision and brings resource to fulfill it. May I encourage you to pray that God would bring such visionaries into your sphere of influence that you might partner with them!
Tweet This Share strategic mission by coming alongside a visionary immigrant leader. #NearFrontiersTREK #Ethiopia
By “mission focus” I simply mean an intentional and continual emphasis on bringing the message and life of Jesus to those who do not yet know Him.
Tweet This 7 Reasons your Christian community needs a mission focus.
Here is a written prayer you may want to use in praying about the immigrant crisis today.