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The Church Unleashed

So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. -Eph 3:10

 I recently ran across this verse and it stopped me in my tracks. I was dumbfounded and had to read this one verse over and over again and still I thought there is no way this actually means what it is saying. How could the church make anything known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places? I figured that they would know more about what was going on than we could. And yet, there is was from the hand of Paul.

I had to go to google and see what people who are smarter than me had to say about this verse. After reading some different sources I was blown away by the power that the church holds in this world and in the spiritual realm. Apparently, the rulers and authorities in the heavenly place don’t even fully grasp the manifold wisdom of God and it is the responsibility of the church to show them.

Wow, ok, so how do we do that as mere mortals? Paul goes on to tell the Ephesians that Christ gives us that power through faith in him. Verses 14-20 sum it up very well;

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.

Paul’s prayer is that God would grant us the strength and power, through the Holy Spirit, to comprehend God’s love and know what is inherently unknowable for man and also that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. Then he caps it off with an amazing truth: God can do far more than what we can even imagine. That right there is how we, as the church, can make known the manifold wisdom of God to the heavenly places.

Here2There so believes in the church’s responsibility to also make known this manifold wisdom of God to our world that those same powers are available to and placed inside of us can and should be used to glorify His name from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the Uttermost.

What are you doing allow God’s power to work through your life? Is your church doing anything to tap that power and unleash God’s people into this world?

Here2There can help strengthen your missions strategy. Our passion is to see more people going to more places to share God’s love and make disciples. For more information go to here2there.org.

Bryan Nicholson

Media and Marketing Lead

Jerusalem, and in all Judea AND Samaria

Who are we as the body of Christ? In Hebrews 10:5, when Christ entered our world, He took on a physical body prepared for Him. In His physical body, Romans 5:8 demonstrated the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly—especially through His sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. After His bodily ascension, Christ continues His work in the world through those He has redeemed—the Church now demonstrates the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly. In this way, the Church functions as the Body of Christ.

Where it comes to the global church in scripture, there is no other book in the Bible that best describes the description of the church then the book of Acts. In John Phillips’ Commentary of Acts, he stated that “The book of Acts is the inspired history book of the Church and should be treated as such.” Phillips further explains that it is “a story of almost constant expansion.” Fellow Commentator John MacArthur in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Acts 1-12 went as far as dubbing the book of Acts as “the first volume in church history.”[1] Ever since the book of Acts was lived out and written down, the church as we know it has grown globally. The founding fathers of the Acts church heard and understood that call. How we understand that same mission that has been handed down to us, directly influences the global growth that we see today. So now that we know the church, what is our mission?

Merriam-Webster’s Learners Dictionary describes a mission as “an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel.” Although the definition may seem simple, one should never limit themselves or strive for such mediocrity. Missions can be looked at from three basic levels. From a personal level, from the point of the church and finally from scripture. Acts 1:8 should be considered the gateway to the church mission movement. It is the who, what, when, where and why of the church. That when we receive power, we shall be witnesses, for the Lord Jesus to the world. So, what does that look like today?

In Understanding Church Growth, Author Donald McGavran proves that “there is tremendous church growth going on in the world today.” He has also reported as many as 20,000 new Christians a day in China alone in the 1980’s. With these kinds of numbers coming in on a global scale, we must ask ourselves what part the Western Church is playing in this global growth? What is the church’s involvement in the Global missions drive of the 21st century? The first stop scripturally for most would be Matthew 28:18-20 the great commission with the reminder that we are to go to all nations. The next would be back to Acts 1:8 were they would use the flawed theory of sequentialism that we should now take steps to go from our own Jerusalem and step by step go to the outer peoples. With that flawed logic and the decline of Christian beliefs in the Western church, we would never leave our Jerusalem.

In Acts 1:8 we are called to be witnesses with the emphasis on being. Where you are and what you are doing at that time, you are all called to be witnesses. Most Christians will never move overseas and become full-time missionaries, nor were they ever meant to, but how many have been given the call and not followed through with it, we may never know. We all do have a part to play, and the bible is very clear about enlisting every Christian and every local church in the grand plan of global missions. The local church is called to be the engine of church planting and gospel delivery. In his book Missions: How the local church goes global, Author Andy Johnson reminds us that “Churches don’t need a complicated missions program. They need the Bible and the wisdom to know how to apply it.” It is important to understand that the local church is called to action and that we are all called to be witnesses. The church is to cultivate a culture of service among its believers. To encourage some to serve abroad if they feel God’s calling, and the others to serve locally, like as stated in Collisions 3:23 “whatever you do, do it for the Lord.” It does not have to be something complicated, but it must be something. So where does the church stand today when it comes to global missions and people that need to hear the gospel?

According to JoshuaProjet.com, a leader in the tracking Unreached People Groups (UPG), reports that 41.3% of the world’s population are considered Unreached People Groups (UPG). That is 3.14 Billion people that have little to no access to the Gospel of Christ. Of those UPG’s, there are a reported 30,900 Christian missionaries and workers that represent 3.14 Billion people.

The other 59% of the world population or of the 4.45 Billion people in the engaged/evangelized world there is 419,000 missionaries and 5.25 million Christian workers reported in those reigns. In short, 97.5% of the Missionaries and workers in the global mission’s field, are working in the 59% field.

To go even deeper we must ask the next question of what part does the American church play in sending men and women to the front lines of missions? An article in Christianity today states that out of the 419,000 million reported missionaries in the field of the world, 127,000 come from the US. That would mean out of the 350,000 churches reported in the United States, 1 in 3 will send out one missionary. So why are we on the decline when it comes to sending servants?

The fact is that we live in a sinful and broken world. People in the west want to make a difference in the world, and this is evident with the increase in short-term mission’s trips. The world’s ills are endless and often cascade one off the other. Today, the culture that a woman is born into could lead to lack of education, which leads to reduced employment opportunity, which leads to early marriage with children she cannot feed or maybe even human trafficking. The answer for most would be that we remove the women from the situation and train them for a better life, but that plan is centered on the power of the people and not God. On many fronts, the fight against social injustice has taken over the global message. The alleviation of social injustice has its place, but it should never override the gospel message which gives freedom to all.

The first part of Acts holds the key to getting back on track as the western church. We tend to gloss over the when and the how we do it. First, we must receive the power which is where we draw our strength. Secondly, we must get down to the core of the message and who we are a witness for, which is the source of our power. As witnesses, we have to let God be God, and that is the how. We are called to get back to the foundation of the gospel and away from social programs and distractions. Witnesses must get back to the basics of teaching men to fish through discipleship and not just giving a man a fish for a day. So, what can we do if we are not the sent ones?

In Serving as Senders, Author Neal Pirolo recalls a statement that helped him to understand the need for global mission’s senders. “In secular war, for everyone person on the battle-front, nine others are backing him up with what is called the ‘line of communication.” If this is true for the secular battlefield, why not the spiritual battlefield? The sender’s responsibility is also to financially and prayerfully support those that are called to the field. We must understand that some will be sent, and the rest will be the senders, but like in 1 Peter 3:15, whether we are local or global, we are ready to give an account for the hope that is in us. Here2There (Here2There.org) is here to help train spiritual soldiers and churches for the field through partnership development and missionary care.

Finally, without those that are called, and those that support, in no way can we fulfill our calling as the body of Christ as stated in Acts 1:8. How can those that are lost ever here John 3:16 if no one will tell them. How can they believe without hearing? Someone must tell them, and someone must send them. Which one are you?

 Stephen Gant

 

Is it really that simple?

Sometimes the hardest things in life are the things that sound so simple. We know that God is in control and that he works things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). How do we know? Because we have seen it happen in other’s lives, and we have seen it in our OWN lives. Yet, here we are almost always doubting, almost always having to try and talk ourselves into believing it. It’s as if there is something inside of us telling us that God has given up, we have already used up our “tokens” of when God is going to come through. We know that’s not true, but we live as if it is. We talk about how cats have “9 lives”. Sometimes we limit God in the same way. There are so many people around the world that are in need. If we go to God and ask him AGAIN to help us through ANOTHER struggle, there is this fear that he will say, “Hey, I have been there for you X amount of times already, it’s someone else’s turn”, or “You are really in a bind this time, there is no way, I can help you with this.” But, the reality is, that GOD is GOD and He is the ONLY one that can get us out of EVERY single bind, He is the ONLY one that can help EVERYONE all at the same time no matter what. In fact, He LOVES it. Let me say that again. HE LOVES IT!! He loves it when we come to Him with our burdens and cares(Psalm 55:22, I Peter 5:7), He loves it when we are always seeking Him (Matthew 6:33, Deuteronomy 4:29, Psalm 63:1). The problem isn’t God, but instead it’s us.

We KNOW that God is in control and taking care of things, but even the slightest little thing can rock our faith and make us doubt. Not completely doubt, but it gets us worked up to where we worry and are anxious. I think there’s a reason the Bible says “have courage” (Deuteronomy 31:6-8) “don’t be anxious” (Philippians 4:6, Matthew 6:25-34) and talks about “peace” (John 14:27, John 16:33) so much, because God knows that we are constantly losing our courage,  becoming anxious, worry over everything, and not at peace, and all he wants for us it to have peace. It’s not an easy solution unfortunately, but it’s about being MINDFUL. God teaches us what to do..we just have to do it. Mindfulness = prayer. If we are constantly praying, like God asks, and doing so with a thankful heart things would be a lot different. (Philippians 4:6)

So the question is why aren’t we? Maybe because we find comfort in a strange way through our anxiety? Maybe we  have been “taught” through what we’ve seen, were raised, or through other circumstances that being anxious and worried is our “go to”. Maybe it’s easier to just complain and “vent” than it is to talk to God, or maybe we are afraid to tell God how we really feel, or that God won’t listen, or we feel rejected by His answer not being what we want to hear. So we just complain about it, worry about it, and drive ourselves crazy, until we have nothing left but prayer..then we feel good. Imagine that, after we pray we feel better and at peace.

This isn’t an easy topic, but if we can train or retrain ourselves to pray first, pray always, and feel confident to tell God EVERYTHING because he already knows anyway, and make it a habit, then we may find ourselves more at peace more often.

 

Disclaimer: If you are experiencing severe anxiety or panic attacks, this may be a mental health issue that can not and will not go away just through prayer. In addition to praying, please seek help from a Christian professional. There is nothing wrong with talking to a professional or taking medication. God has given doctors and therapists the gift to help those in need. Seeking outside help does NOT make you less of a Christian or mean that you do not have faith. It means that you are doing the right thing to take care of yourself!

1.) If you have any debilitating anxiety/panic attacks please seek professional help from a Christian therapist, or Psychiatrist, right away.

2.) In the blog above there is a list of a few reasons why people are anxious. Which one describes you? Is there another one not listed that fits you better?

3.) Find at least one time a day to spend in prayer, asking God to take away your anxieties. List them one by one giving them up.

4.) Start your day in prayer asking God to give you the strength to deal with any stressors, without feeling anxiety.

5.) Please feel free to reach out to Here2There Ministries at here2there.org@gmail.com

 

TAKE AWAY: Pray FIRST, Pray ALWAYS, Pray EVERYTHING!

 

Christy Paul, LMHC

Monuments – Mobilization – Miracles

You are probably asking yourself how are these three things connected in any way. Just follow along and you will see.

My wife, Donna, and I recently returned from a trip we had been planning and looking forward to for a long time. We visited South Dakota and the great sites of Mt. Rushmore, The Badlands, The Black Hills, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Monument, and a whole lot more. It was an awesome trip as we saw sites so different than what we are used to in the flat lands of Florida. The weather was certainly diverse as we went from temps in the 80’s one day to in the 30’s the next with snow, plus winds of 35 to 40 mph gusts.

Our first day in South Dakota was very hot as we had expected much cooler temps. I am one that likes to have our trips planned out so we see everything we possibly can in the time allotted to see it. Thus our first day landed us at the historic Mt. Rushmore Monument. There etched in stone are the faces of four US Presidents that shaped our nation’s past and set the course for her future – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. I was awestruck at first glance of these massive stone carvings in the rocks of the Black Hills towering peaks.

.While sitting high up in the amphitheater awaiting the evening lighting ceremony, Donna noticed a small crowd of people gathered around someone at the lower left part of the seating area. They seemed very upset and then she heard someone scream, “Medical Emergency” ! She made me aware of the situation and asked me  to go offer my assistance ( I am a certified CPR / AED/ First Aid Instructor).

Upon reaching the scene, I quickly became aware of an elderly gentleman in full cardiac arrest. There were those already doing CPR and Rescue Breaths on the man, but I offered my assistance as I know this gets very tiring very fast. Someone then arrived with an AED unit (Automated Electronic Defibrillator) and I began assisting with the use of this on the man, who was still in full arrest.

After several rounds of CPR and two sets of shock from the AED, the man began breathing on his own and his heart started beating again. By this time other medical professionals were on the scene and began to take over the needed care assuring everyone the man had strong pulse and heart rhythm. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, but one in which I felt prepared to do what  needed to be done.

I’m sure by now you must be thinking what does all this have to do with “Missions”?

A week later I have had time to reflect on this incident and what I participated in and witnessed. This man visiting the Monument is just like so many going through life never expecting something like this to occur. But, he was dying right in front of us. He was much like the many Missionaries and Churches that are experiencing a slow death due to lack of vision, passion, direction, desire, and relationship. We all know others in this weakening condition.

Then there was the call to action in which many capable and compassionate people, all strangers as this man was there alone, came to the man’s need. They Mobilized to accomplish a work which saved the man’s life. I witnessed people trained and skilled coming together with one purpose in mind, reviving this man.

What a great example of that which needs to take place with our Churches and Missionaries today. Here2There Ministries teaches and trains both Church leaders and Missionaries in the skills of developing Church Partnerships. When educated and trained, both Members and Missionaries are able to be Mobilized in ways that create meaningful Partnerships which lead to productive relationships in the lives of the Missionaries and the Church. I invite you to visit our website at here2there.org and check out the Church Partnership section to discover more.

Such relationships and partnerships don’t just happen, any more than that man at Mt. Rushmore could save himself. It took a team of people to act in one accord using the skills they had learned to accomplish the task.

Oh what a Miraculous task it was! A life was saved! PTL!! That is the same result we see when Churches and Missionaries form Partnership bonds that revive their lives and their ministries in ways that can only be described as “Miracles”. Just like the church at Jax Beach that was looking for a Haiti connection was introduced to two ladies who started Christian Academy of Petit Gouve, Haiti,  and had attended a H2T Missionary Training on how to establish Church Partnerships met and formed a relationship that will lead to great things taking place for each.

Or the Missionaries from Kenya that see Church Partnerships as a solution to their sustainable funding issues have identified seven churches which H2T is coaching them to become Partnership Churches with their Kenya Missions. It will be life changing!!

If you have not read the book Antioch Revisited I highly recommend you do so to learn more about the need for Church Partnerships and the advantages of doing ministry in Partnership Relationships.

Wayne Dinsbeer

Church Partnership Lead

The Yes in Every Moment

“There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

I rarely turn down food that did not require me to front any cash, and can therefore understand why one may wonder how this phrase came to be. Most often, I have heard this phrase used almost interchangeably with the phrase, “What’s the catch?” We are prompted to be suspect of the generosity that is implied, and, while that is a valuable lesson, what I have found instead is a deeper understanding of my attitude and relationship with God.

Regardless of the motive of the one providing the “free lunch,” we, as the receivers of the “free lunch,” are paying for it. The price is opportunity cost; the value of every alternative we are turning down by making a choice. For example, I offer to buy you whatever you like off the menu if you join me in going to Sonny’s. Imagine, the joy of barbeque without the impact on your wallet. After accepting my offer your friend makes a similar offer but they are going to get sushi. Now your decision to go to Sonny’s has cost you the spicy tuna roll you would have ordered at the other restaurant. Perhaps you hate sushi, and avoiding that meal sounds good to you, but you have also cost yourself the option of going home and not having to spend time with me at Sonny’s. I could go on, but I will spare you with a summary; saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to others. The alternative is also true, even to say “no” to making a choice is saying “yes” to delaying a decision.

We already know this though. We are doing this in every moment, deciding to go to our friends’ house rather than staying home, choosing to water our plants rather than letting them die, and so on. Such things may seem small but we use the same process on a grander scale and often with more difficulty.

I recently made the decision to quit my job at the Lord’s prompting. I thought that it would be easy following God, finally knowing what He wants me to do in life. I couldn’t believe that I had this opportunity, but just as soon as I had it I was painfully aware of what I would be giving up to follow Him. I looked around me and saw the life I had built so far. There wasn’t anything glaringly wrong or sinful that I needed to escape, really it just wasn’t God’s end goal for me. Even though I had wanted to serve God my whole life, when I finally had a specific direction I became selfish and mourned the loss of the other options. At this time I understood how difficult it is to not only say “no” to temptation but to say “yes” to God’s plan. I had grown accustomed to the idea that I would work in a certain field and just live my life for Jesus as best I could, but now I need to move, I need to start over, and I need to learn new things. I am so thankful that this is the case, but it wasn’t easy taking that first step to quit, and the time after letting the pieces fall has required direction and faith.

I think about people who have already taken the step to leave the life they’ve always known to go and share the gospel. The joy of knowing that God has a purpose for you is unlike anything I’ve ever known, but somehow it’s still easy to fall into feeling alone or thinking, “maybe this is as far as I was meant to go.” Making it through the seconds or hours or months between now and the next step can be the most difficult. Without dependence on God and the support of brothers and sisters in Christ, it can be tough to keep saying “yes” to God when He is asking for your all.

So this is my challenge to you, dear reader, if you feel you are on autopilot, try to see the choices you have been given. Our God is mighty and all knowing but still lets us have a say in how we live. This is our chance to show stewardship, not just with physical wealth but with our hearts and minds. Also, when you look at others, especially those serving in ministry, try to see what they have had to give up. It may be time with their family, a consistent church home, the willingness to say “yes” to their own daily needs. Pray and partner with one another. When we operate as the family of God and bear one another’s burdens, or “share the bill” so to speak, we are strong and God is glorified. In saying “yes” to the Lord’s prompting, we can be part of what lessens the cost to someone else who has already done the same and in saying.

 

Verses for thought and inspiration:

Luke 14:25-34

Galatians 6:2

Joshua 1:7-9

1 Samuel 15:22

James 1:27

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Pamela Burchard

H2T Volunteer

Dream Big

As a counselor who does a good bit of Life Coaching, I often hear people restrict their goal-setting based on self-imposed barriers rooted in their past and present selves. For example:

  • I cannot have the family life I want, because I am too often away to develop good parenting skills.
  • I cannot seek the education and career I want, because I am already well into my adult years.
  • I cannot become the person God wants me to be, because of my past transgressions.
  • I cannot enter into missionary or ministry service because I am not young enough.

Of course, each of these excuses are based on fear and have roots running deep from one’s weakness of faith. Never the less, these feelings are very real for the person experiencing them, and for most people, they will direct their lives. We have all heard the term, self-fulfilling prophesy; but most of us do not realize we are experiencing them.

Here is the problem with a self-fulfilling prophesy: It is the manifestation of a lie-of-the-world, which is self-imposed as a real and true boundary that one allows to become true.  Right now, you may be thinking that you are capable of conjuring up something good and believing you can accomplish it – and I will not dispute that possibility. But I will suggest that it is next to impossible for our flesh, which lives in the world, to develop any concept that is truly and completely in accord with God’s design.

In general, we are small thinkers.  We think that we are thinking outside of the box when we are clever enough to set our goals in such ways that they dodge our weaknesses. We try to manipulate the world by allowing the one who despises us, to show us how to navigate around the very obstacles he places in front of us. It is a good thing the pioneers did not allow an ocean to keep them from finding the American east coast, or allow the Rocky Mountains to keep them from finding the West. Allowing the world or ourselves to direct our paths while compensating for our past, causes us to seek small outcomes. We can successfully think big, but only if we stop looking back and allow God to take us forward.

Dream Big in the Spirit

First of all: If we let God be the director of our every move, we can and must be ready for big outcomes. If we are to think big, we first must shed from our understanding, the idea that God is subject to the restrictions of the world.  Thinking Big begins with knowing that the Lord lives in us (Rom. 8:10-11) and is working to remove personal desires (Gal. 5:19-21) and replace them with spirit provided fruit (Gal 5:22-23). Also, know that the Holy Spirit is all about forward motion and big thinking. We learn from Jesus himself in John 16:13, that the Holy Spirit will show us things that are to come, and that everything He says points to truth – which is by the way, validated and confirmed through the Holy Bible.

So, if one is to dream big, their dreams must be based on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not be understood to be restricted by the passions of the flesh. Our dreams must never be based on the past, but on the future according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Do not let the Past Shrink your Dream

You are about to start thinking that I am one of those crazy philosophers who is sure he can make truth out of anything he desires. Well here goes:

The past does not exist. It is not real and it has no practical hold on the here and now. It does not live, and it has no DNA— as much as the world wants you to believe that the past can ride around on an amino acid inside your being, it is just not possible. The past is just not real and has no power to control your ability to Dream Big.

Give me a moment and I will get to the biblical crux of my argument, but first I want you to try a couple of things:

  1. Reach out and touch your past.
  2. Modify your past to make it better agree with your current thinking.
  3. Give your past (modified or not) to someone who is sitting near you, so they can experience it.

Were you able to do any of these things with your past?

Is the past real?

Here is the point: The past has no actual ability to keep you from dreaming big, because it only exists in your memory; not as DNA, but as a simple electrical impulse stored in a microscopic nerve in your brain. It is so powerless that a microscopic bit of plaque can block its ability to transfer to any other nerve to create a memory recall (Alzheimer’s).  The past is an intangible thing that only exists as a memory, much like a bit of data on a thumb drive.

Live in the Now, not in the past.

God told the people of Israel to “remember not, the things of the past.” (Isaiah 43:18) He went on (according to the same verse) to tell them to not consider the past. I find this rather exciting because God is telling us that it is indeed possible to make a plan without including or using a memory. In fact, he is actually stating that it is possible to completely abandon a memory of the past. This sounds a lot like dream big freedom.

It was God’s desire to move Israel forward, but He needed them to abandon their memories of the past, to eliminate the world’s hold on their motivations. Jesus came to move us forward, by making it possible for God to not consider our sins when He decides our eternal fate (1 John 1:9). God desires that we move forward, so he made it possible for us sinners to have a mechanism that would make it possible for Him to send us into eternity with His blessing – Jesus Christ. Now take a breath – that was a lot to read, even if you were not reading aloud, but it is impossible to separate anything from that statement.  The word forgive in Greek is aphiēmi which translates as send forth. In spite of our pasts, God wishes to send us forth, not hold us back because of our past.  Thanks to Jesus Christ, we are able to move forward without looking back. Do you remember what happened to the one who looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah?  Just remember this: We are made new and able to dream big. (2 Cor. 5:17)

So, who decides what is big?

Finding deficiency in ourselves is common and very easy to do. We tend to look in the mirror and see the one who must make the decisions, formulate the plans, create the environment, and seek success. That moment we see looking back at us, our human self who is in charge is the moment doubt and discouragement enters the equation. We want to dream big; but do we have big in us? Many times, big is something that is just a little bit better than what the moment has to offer. Just ten dollars more, is bigger than the eighteen dollars an hour we are earning now. Fifteen minutes more, is bigger than the two hours I get to spend with my family. Just one year newer, is bigger than the fourteen-year-old car I am driving.

We are limited in our ability to dream big, because we are looking to ourselves for the intelligence, creativity, organization, leadership, and experience to make such a dream become a reality. We are looking in the wrong place.  How many times have you heard, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding”? I am sure it has been many. What you may not realize is just how far reaching the acknowledgment of our lack of understanding should be. We are completely limited in our ability to look into the future and see the result of our plans, but God’s vision is eternal. He knows the outcomes and the ways to reach them. So:

  • Dream Big: Make the difference the Lord wants you to make.
  • Dream Big: be the parent the Lord calls you to be.
  • Dream Big: Be the overcomer that only the Lord can make you.
  • Dream Big: Be the witness, minister, missionary, and servant the Lord made you to be.

 

You can always dream big when you put God out front, because out front and moving forward in big ways is how God does it. If you are ready to dream big and move forward with missions in your church, contact Here2There at here2there.org@gmail.com.

Mark Painter, MCM

Missionary Care Lead

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operations at Here2There

In late May, early June of this year I met with Stefanie Nicholson to discuss Here2There and the needs that exist within the organization. I had raised money for mission trips, went on a mission trip (Mexico 2012) and volunteered at events for the organization, but I really didn’t know what we do. After a few more meetings we determined that my skills and background were suited for the day to day operations, but I still really didn’t know what we do. Not until we opened our home, hosted our team and our Haiti partners, Beverly and Rachael, did I really come to know and understand what we actually do. Hearing their story, their needs and how we help did I truly understand our role. Hearing Beverly talk about partnership both in Haiti as well as in the states emphasized to me our main goal, connecting the missionary in the field with the church here at home. Hearing her talk about the effects they have and the love they share with children and families reminded me where the missionaries focus needs to be. That focus needs to be on their mission and not their funding. It needs to be on those around them and what God called them to do. 

As Operations Manager my role in our organization is to insure our focus is on our mission and not the process. Walking our team through Traction, a book that focuses on business principles and processes, will give us insight so we can streamline our processes, Increase our bandwidth, and duplicate at every level. We are preparing so we can help more missionaries like Beverly be on mission, help more churches be on mission, and help people like you share in building the kingdom of God.

A few weeks ago I asked the question, “Where does the business stop and ministry begin?” As we continue to grow in our quest to be better in business, we have learned that when we are about our Father’s business, we are in the middle of ministry. The more effective we are, the more He is glorified in all that we do. We are preparing for the wave. The wave of churches that catch the vision of “Being on Mission.” The wave of missionaries that understand the power of partnership and connection to their supporting churches. The wave of financial partners that catch the vision and want to support our mission. The wave of volunteers that want to do what I did before taking a greater role in the organization. The wave of prayer partners that believe.

Once you learn what we do, and the impacts we make on His Kingdom, the more you want to be a part of the wave, part of the Great Commission. 

Wayne Pierce

Operations Lead

When was the last time you called?

Recently we posted a note on Facebook urging people to take 5 minutes to call, text, Skype, FaceTime, or fax your missionaries just to say hi – they miss being in the loop. I read it and passed it on but didn’t really think too much about it right then. The thought kept coming back to me though and I couldn’t shake the idea that we take saying hi to someone for granted but when I put myself in their context it could be just the thing that they needed that day.

Just about everywhere I go in the United States people say hi to me. Even people I don’t know and have never met before will say hi in passing and often throw in the, “how are you?” question when I know they don’t really care or even want to know how I am doing. But put yourself in a world where no one looks like you and wherever you go no one says, “hi, how are you?” And every day you go out it’s almost like you don’t even exist unless of course you’re buying something. That’s a tough concept for me to really wrap my head around sometimes. If that were you, how important would it be to hear a friendly voice or see a friendly face to keep your sanity? The reality is that many of our missionaries live in that world.

I love the small little story of Epaphroditus. The Philippians church was so concerned for Paul that they sent Epaphroditus to him as a messenger and to take care of Paul’s needs. Evidently supporting Paul financially wasn’t enough for this church that they sent someone to care for him. We can certainly be caring for our missionaries in several ways but one, and possibly the easiest, is to make a phone call or Skype call to them. It certainly doesn’t have to be about anything major but could just be a check-in to see how things are going and listen and have a friendly conversation. I recently read an article titled, “Closer to the Truth about Current Missionary Attrition: An Initial Analysis of Results.” In the article they concluded that too little missionary care was the greatest preventable reason missionaries return home. We have a responsibility to our missionaries and it starts with a phone call.

Is your church in regular communication with their missionaries? Find out and if not see if there’s a way that you can get involved in brightening a kingdom worker’s day.

Here2There has many ideas and ways that you and your church can begin or continue to build on the relationship between churches and missionaries. As a church figure out ways to include them in what you’re doing. An easy way to start is to Skype them or have them record a communion meditation. Visit our website here2there.org and contact us if you want to know more.

Bryan Nicholson

Media and Marketing Lead

*https://www.alifeoverseas.com/closer-to-the-truth-about-current-missionary-attrition-an-initial-analysis-of-results/

 

Profile of a Sent One by Bradley Bell

The other day I received an e-mail from Upstream Collective which included their last blog. One of their team members, Bradley Bell wrote an amazing blog that lists “key qualities and capabilities that would seem desirable in a missionary”. Profile of a Sent One is a great resource for churches as well as they prepare to send and take care of their missionaries in the field.  If you are a church or a missionary and you need help with missions, contact Here2There Ministries at here2there.org@gmail.com. You can also check out our website, www.here2there.org.  Please enjoy this weeks blog, if you want to check out more from Upstream Collective visit their website at https://www.theupstreamcollective.org/.

What constitutes the ideal missionary candidate? It’s fitting to begin such a discussion by examining conventional wisdom on the subject. From C.T. Studd in the Congo during the 1920’s:

Send us people with initiative, who can carry themselves and others too; such as need to be carried hamper the work and weaken those who should be spending their strength for the heathen. Weaklings should be nursed at home! If any have jealousy, pride or talebearing traits lurking about them, do not send them nor any who are prone to criticize. Send only Pauls and Timothys; men who are full of zeal, holiness, and power. All others are hindrances. If you send us ten such men the work will be done. Quantity is nothing; quality is what matters.

His words are certainly bold and reflective of the times. Perhaps excessively so, though they carry certain helpful themes of initiative, endurance, focus, and unity in the face of a difficult setting. In somewhat contrasting tone, William Carey described those he aspired to work alongside in the mission:

Let us often look at Brainerd…in the woods of America pouring out his very soul before God for the people- Prayer, secret, fervent, expectant, lies at the root of all personal godliness. Competent knowledge of the languages where a missionary lives, mild and winning temper, and a heart given up to God—these are the attainments which more than all other gifts, will fit us to become God’s instruments in the great work of redemption.

Carey seems to give more attention to the inner person, the character expressed in affection for God and intercession for people. It’s also interesting and notable that he includes language acquisition dead center in that effective godliness. Now contrast it with a modern request for field workers:

Azerbaijan needs the kind of worker with a high capacity for relationship, those who are able or have learned to endure daily inconveniences or difficulties with grace and patience, those who can be purposeful and goal oriented without allowing last minute interruptions to get in the way, but instead to take advantage of these if possible. An effective worker in Azerbaijan needs to be able to learn language fluently and must demonstrate consistency and a bit of self-starting to achieve this.

Here we’re informed of several practical expectations for a fitting sent one. Based on the context of Azerbaijan, which is important to consider, the worker must be relational, goal-oriented, and motivated. Do you see some of the similarities between the three quotes?

Perhaps one of the most challenging expectations for a missionary candidate is the capacity to suffer. An arrogant deception that the North American church has embraced is the idea that ‘God loves me so much He would never ask me to do anything that is uncomfortable, let alone dangerous.’ But that flies in the face of Scripture, church history, and present day reality for most of the world.

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis said, “Martyrdom always remains the supreme enacting and perfecting of Christianity. This great action has been initiated for us, done on our behalf, exemplified for our imitation, and inconceivably communicated to all believers by Christ on Calvary.” Anyone who follows after this Christ, especially those who seek to be sent, must wrestle with this reality. Mission is always at least a thousand daily deaths to self, and perhaps much more.

Given that none of us is perfect and the fact that the body of Christ is made of up many different parts, each of which is important for the functioning of the body, here is a sketch of key qualities and capabilities that would seem desirable in a missionary. The goal is to send godly people who are both competent and effective in missionary service.

1. CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER

The most crucial characteristic of a potential sent one is a healthy, abiding relationship with Christ. If that is in place, then certain other characteristics will be natural and noticeable. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) sums them up; but, for the sake of specificity, here are some key qualities for missionary service: love, holiness, humility, interpersonal relationship skills, the ability to forgive and ask for forgiveness, joy, steadfastness, compassion, faithfulness, responsibility, initiative, self-control, etc. These qualities would express themselves in such areas as stewardship of time, stewardship of money, family relationships, relationships with the opposite sex, thought life, etc., as well as the healthy desire for and practice of spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading Scripture, meditating on Scripture, memorizing Scripture, hearing the Scriptures taught, worship, fasting, fellowship with the saints, witnessing, reflection, etc.

2. BIBLE KNOWLEDGE

Every sent one must absolutely know the essentials of the gospel message and understand how Scripture fuels growth in a walk with Jesus. He or she should have a working knowledge of both biblical and systematic theology, though he must not necessarily be a seminarian. The standards here will vary depending on the anticipated ministry. Many traditional mission agencies have a requirement for some college and/or seminary courses. Your church should certainly consider the wisdom of other churches and agencies, but must ultimately decide the standards you will set for those you send under the leadership of the Spirit.

3. MINISTRY SKILLS

A sent one should possess:

  • Capability, confidence, and joy in sharing the gospel
  • Ability to disciple a person into a closer walk with Jesus
  • Understanding of one’s own spiritual gifts and evidence of their use and growth in the local church
  • Application and eagerness in hospitality

4. PROFESSIONAL SKILLS

We need to send people who are well prepared to do whatever job they are going to do on the field. Their preparation would involve completing the required academic training as well as sufficient on-the-job experience to make them a helpful contributor where they will be working.

5. MISSIONS KNOWLEDGE

The candidate should have a good knowledge of the biblical basis of missions, the general history of missions, current issues in missions strategy, and more than a passing acquaintance with the history of the intended target country, including missionary efforts there both past and present. The Perspectives course is a great way to get a strong foundation here. The aim is to produce well-prepared people who are willing and able to learn from the wisdom of those who’ve gone before them, and who have been applying their knowledge in the neighborhoods long before they head to the nations.

6. EMOTIONAL WHOLENESS

One’s ego takes a beating on the mission field (which is not necessarily a bad thing!). Language learning and figuring out your ministry and how to do it effectively can take years. Before venturing into that storm, a person should have a healthy self-image and a clear understanding of who they are in Christ. Issues from the past should have been worked through so that they are no longer a consistent burden on the soul. There is not much extra energy available on the mission field to be carrying around a lot of emotional baggage.

7. CROSS-CULTURAL INTELLIGENCE

Living and communicating effectively in another culture is a challenging task! Thankfully, there are ways to develop these skills, such as building relationships with internationals at home, as well as on international mission trips. The primary point here is not knowledge but adaptability on such things as thought process, food, language, and being able to live without all the creature comforts we’re used to.

8. RELATIONAL ABILITIES/FAMILY LIFE

One of the most important abilities a missionary must have is building and sustaining harmonious relationships with a variety of other people. Interpersonal conflict is one of the major causes of missionary attrition. Therefore, good candidates are people who are thoughtful of others rather than easily irritated, can resolve conflict in peaceable ways, and work to build up others in a spirit of unity.

Also, if single, there should be a contentment with that state in life, at least as long as God keeps one there, and relationships with the opposite sex should be appropriate. If married, your relationship with your spouse should be bionically healthy and vibrant. If there are children, you should be bringing them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

9. LOCAL CHURCH CONNECTEDNESS

Finally, the candidate should have a deep bond with his/her local church, in areas both of fellowship and service. This would be exemplified through ministry involvement, how well they know the structure, ministries, and leadership of the church, and how well people in the church know them and their vision for ministry. There should be a wholehearted endorsement by the elders of the church of this person’s intention to serve as a sent one.

BRADLEY BELL

Bradley is the Director of Content Development. He has been at Upstream since 2014, producing blog and social media content, authoring The Sending Church Defined and Receiving Sent Ones During Reentry: The Challenges of Returning “Home” and How Churches Can Help, and serving as a board member. He is also the lead pastor at Antioch Church. As a former global sent one, Bradley reflects on missions and formation at Broken Missiology.

Peace

A while ago I did a blog about anxiety. In it I talked about the verse Philippians 4:6 where it tells us not to be anxious. In that verse I pointed out that Paul, the author of Philippians, is telling EVERYONE to not be anxious, which means EVERYONE experiences anxiety. He then goes on to tell us how NOT to be anxious: praying with thanksgiving when presenting our requests to God.

Today, I want to go to the next verse and talk about Peace. In my opinion peace is the BEST feeling in the world. I love it when everything aligns just right, and I feel at peace, and can actually relax. But, unfortunately, that feeling doesn’t come around too often and when it does, it doesn’t last as long as I’d like. In Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) it says “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus”

I think it’s safe to say that this is something we all want, to be at Peace knowing that God has it covered. There may be things that we don’t understand, or we may not really know how something is going to work out, or even how God Himself works, but knowing that He’s got it covered, and therefore we can be at Peace is an amazing feeling.

As a missionary, pastor, or someone working in the church, it can be tough because we KNOW that God is in control, we KNOW and have SEEN the impossible become possible, yet we still worry and fret about things working out. Whether it be our family, health, the ministry, or even getting through traffic some mornings, we all want this peace, and we know that we can attain it, because we have, but what must we do to keep it?

In verses 8-9 it continues, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you”.

These verses make it sound so easy doesn’t it? “Wow, if I just think more “positive” then I will be more at peace”. But, when our world is spinning around (and that may be if you’ve ever had or are prone to getting panic attacks) it’s not so easy to just think about lovely things. In fact, sometimes we have to face reality. We can’t always go around thinking that everything is rainbows and butterfly’s when our world is falling apart, when we aren’t sure how we are going to make the next payment, or if someone close to us may breathe their last breath, or we received horrifying news about our own health, or are having a dispute with a close friend. It’s very difficult to think positively and be at peace in these moments. Or, sometimes, when we are going through the hardest of times, we do have peace, but it’s when we are going through the everyday routine, that we might feel burdened, that God’s not near, and lacking peace.

I think the important thing to gain from this verse is for us to make a habit. Every day when we pray, to be thankful, everyday look around us and see all the beauty and good that is around.

Years ago, I was counseling a student that was not doing well in school both academically and behaviorally. Every single day he was going home with notes from the teacher pointing out every time he got out of his seat, talked out of turn, or didn’t listen or follow directions well. The student wasn’t getting any better, and the parents and teacher were both at their wit’s end. I suggested to the teacher “I would like for you to try and find 3 good things that this student does each day, it doesn’t matter what they are just 3 good things, when he is sitting in his seat, when he is sharing, when he asks a good question, colors his page well, anything, I would like to see 3 positive things”. I did not discourage her or tell her not to continue to write about when the student was doing poorly, but when she was encouraged to write 3 things that he was doing well, naturally those negative notes got less and less, and the students behavior improved. You see, when the teacher was focusing more on finding something positive to say about the student, she didn’t have the time and opportunity to continue to see that he was misbehaving, therefore her perspective changed, and so did her attitude towards him, in turn causing him to do better as well.

I believe this is what Paul, through the Holy Spirit, is trying to teach us. He is isn’t saying that if we just think about the positive nothing negative will happen. But, if we focus on the positive things in our lives, then it won’t give room for us to LOOK for the negative things. It will completely change our outlook, and our perception. Then, once our outlook and perception changes, so does our behavior. During the good times and the bad times, we can recognize “the God of Peace” living in and around us.

1.) If you are having a hard time finding Peace today, I encourage you to pray and ask God to show you what good things He’s doing in your life

2.) I would like for you to write down 3 good things that you see each day. It can be in nature, it can be something someone said, or did that was encouraging, it could even be something like getting a good parking spot, or not having to fight through traffic!

3.) If you feel like your life is so burdened that even though there is a lot to be thankful for, you just can’t get out of the “slump”. Please contact a professional.

4.) If you have any other questions, want to know more, or need to talk, feel free to reach out to Here2There Ministries  at here2there.org@gmail.com

Christy Paul, LMHC