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Are You Prepared for Jesus to Come to Your House?

REF: Luke 19:1-10

If you were raised in the church as I was you probably sang the song, Going to Your House Today. If you weren’t raised in the church and haven’t heard the song you could consider yourself fortunate. Just to remind you it starts out with, “Zacchaeus was a ‘wee little man,’” and if you were short of stature, as I, you may have been called “wee”. Just as in verse 4 of Luke 19, it states in the song, “He climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus.” Now a sycamore tree is known for both it’s size as well as it’s growth pattern. Photos of a sycamore show a very dense, leafy tree that if one climbed they may not be seen. But, with a proper vantage point they could see very well from the tree. I believe this is evident when Jesus stops along that path, looks up and bids Zacchaeus to “come down, for I must stay at your house today.” Are you prepared for Jesus to come to your house today?

As we continue to read the story, we see that the crowd was not pleased with Jesus and His decision to be the guest of a sinner, yet aren’t we all sinners? I am sure the crowd knew Zacchaeus was the Chief Tax Collector of the area. There were more than likely rumors of his collection activity and methods. Yet, Zacchaeus (REF verse 8) stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it four-fold.”

Was this entire episode in time shown to us to see Jesus inviting himself to a sinner’s home, or was this showing Jesus giving Zacchaeus the opportunity to publicly confess that he is honest in his collection, and show his generosity? Regardless of the reason, Zacchaeus was prepared to both give an account as well as receive Jesus into his house. In verse 9 and 10 we see Jesus respond to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house…… For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus gave opportunity for Zacchaeus to show the world what he gives and he had prepared to receive Jesus.

So back to my original question, are you prepared for Jesus to come to your house? What would you give as an account to your giving? Would you be willing to show or publicly confess reconciliation for any wrong you may have done? I know I struggle with asking for support and recently have been challenged that it is not between us as a ministry and you or anyone else as a giver. It is between you and Jesus and if he came to your house would Salvation need to come? Just as with Zacchaeus, those around him only knew his business dealings, they didn’t know his heart and that which he had done with what he collected. Jesus knew, and Jesus knows now. Jesus knows your heart. Jesus knows you want to see Him and see His commission fulfilled.

We at Here2There just want to provide a place for your giving to go so “That All May Know Him” through the church, using strategies taught and implemented because of a partnership with Here2There and you. You are as much a part of this ministry as we are. Please today look at where you are giving, and if Here2There is not a part of it please consider us as we continue to “Close the Gap between Churches and Missionaries.”

Wayne Pierce Operations Lead

Do We Have the Heart for Sending?

Ezekiel 18:30-32 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

I think we can all agree that this is a very harsh rebuke from God towards his chosen people. There’s no question about the importance and the urgency for the Israelites to change their hearts and turn back to God as the consequences are dire for them here.

As was seemingly so common for the Israelites this was one of the many times where, as a community, they had lost their purpose and become complacent or even comfortable. It’s sad and, I think, sometimes difficult for us to see how easily it appeared for them to forget about everything that God had done for them and and turn away from God. On the other hand, how so completely human.

In so many ways we, too, have lost our way and our purpose. The Biblical basis for sending people out from our churches on mission seems to have been lost. But in all truth, “…how will they preach if they are not sent?” Have we as a people lost the heart for sending? There seems to be a lot comfort and complacency when it comes to the church. God says in that verse in Ezekiel that He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone. The urgency is still there. The importance is still there. Will the church ever get a new heart and a new spirit for sending out to the lost?

The church has so many tools and processes and resources but all too often all that it amounts to is a box to check off. In the movie The Replacements the coach is asked at halftime what his team needed to get back into the game. His response was, “You’ve got have heart…miles and miles of heart.” A deal had been struck and some of their star players had come back to the team and they were still losing in the championship game because the players didn’t have the right perspective and their heart wasn’t in it.

As a church, we need a desire to send people to the nations. We need to have a heart for the people that don’t know of the saving love of Jesus. How do we get there?

Step 1 is to pray. Pray that God will open up that desire in yourself and in your church. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers into the field but be open to the fact that you might be one of those workers.

Step 2 is to ask the Holy Spirit where you should be doing ministry.

Step 3 is to begin training and equipping yourself and your church to go.

Here2There exists to close the gap between churches and missionaries by creating strategic partnerships so that both can thrive. We would love to help you and your church begin the transition to or help to strengthen the partnerships with your ministry partners. Contact us and let us help you begin your heart change towards the nations.

6 Characteristics of a Healthy Missions Partnership

by Andy Johnson

Today we love to be connected, networked, and involved. And the pursuit of Christian missions is certainly no exception. This is largely a good thing, as local churches seem increasingly inclined to stay connected to missionaries they send and to partner more relationally with others they support. But as with all things in a fallen world, there is a potential for most any trend to work for good or for ill.

So we should make sure we think about missions partnerships carefully, wisely, and biblically. So with that in mind I want to offer six principles for partnering with overseas workers in global evangelism. Read more…

Faith Works and 86 More!

Partnership Creates Excitement
     By Wayne Dinsbeer

These words are probably some of the most often used in conversations of a christian nature. Unbelievers discount faith if they don’t see the works to prove it. Believers even fall into the “got to see it to believe it” trap far too often. Still there are a great many who take James at his word when he instructs “…show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18

For several years Here2There Ministries has been purposed with “Closing the Gap between Missionary and Church”. We have seen the need from far too many missionaries struggling on the field, feeling all alone and wondering does anyone even care we are here, much less doing this on their behalf? 
                                 
  Our solution is Church Partnerships.

Two years ago we began seeking to establish a Partnership Relationship between a Missionary with whom we had established a friendship and one of their churches. I have probably mentioned this Missionary in previous blogs. His testimony at that time was one in which he(and his wife) shared being very distraught over the exact feelings described in the above paragraph. When asked his greatest need and desire, it wasn’t for more funding or help. It was for someone to talk to and share. 

At the same time we began down the path of Partnership with this Missionary couple, we also embarked on a similar path with one of their churches. The condition of the church at this time as it relates to missions and this missionary was pretty dim. No communication or connectivity, and even less support.

This “Partnership” relationship began to grow and gel over the last two years. The Missionary now is in regular communication with members of the church and shares everything that is happening on a regular basis.

The church enjoys a much closer relationship with this missionary and looks forward to each opportunity to share in their lives and ministry. Let me explain further what I mean by “share”.  In the last six months this missionary has had the misfortune of property damage due to weather, equipment aging, and vandalism. When he communicated this to the Lead member of his MST (Missionary Support Team) from this church, the needs were immediately addressed by the congregation.
In mid August this Missionary had a severe storm hit his property on a Friday destroying much of the compound in which they live. One thing ripped from their roof was the Solar Panels which provided power. The next day he was sharing this with a number of the MST members that it would cost $3400 to replace these panels. These members brought this to the attention of the Pastor who also shared the next day (Sunday) with the church along with a desire to fund this need immediately out of the Mission budget. The entire congregation approved and the Missionary had a check in his account within 24hours. 

That wouldn’t have happened a year ago. The missionary may have called, but no one would have responded. Both Missionary and Church underwent a transformation and education in how to to do ministry in Partnership one with the other.

You can see the benefits which are obvious for both Missionary and Church. We have spoken to the examples of benefits enjoyed by such a relationship on the part of the Missionary. By the way, this expression of love and care was the third or fourth of this kind for this Missionary in the last six months. For the church, there is an excitement for having a hands on part in the work of this missionary. 

This excitement in the church has flowed over into other areas of the ministry. This church recently took part in Saturate First Coast, a nationwide evangelistic initiative to place the Gospel in every home in America. The “First Coast” part of it refers to the four counties around Jacksonville; Duval, Nassau, Clay, and St. Johns. After several nights of Prayer and Preparation over 75% of those attending on Sundays came out on a Saturday in 95+ degree temperatures and placed the Gospel in almost 4,000 homes in neighborhoods surrounding this church. 

There was excitement that day in this church that was electrifying and certainly contagious. Distribution teams included children, teens, young, middle and older adults, some in their 80’s and one in his 90’s. You should have seen the great rejoicing when several new families visited this church the following day as a direct result of receiving a gospel bag at their door. The church is now in the follow up process and praising God all the way.

The Missionary spoken of earlier returned to the states the first of September. Guess where the first place he (and she) wanted to go? Yep, that church to share their appreciation with their friends and Partners in ministry. 

I had the opportunity to speak to this Missionary on that day and ask him his thoughts about this church and their new Partnership relationship. His response was priceless. He simply said, “ I wish I had 86 more like them”. 

All of this truly began over three years ago as a group of 12 members of this church came together to become an organized Prayer Team structured to pray for God to work in lives at this church. They soon grew to 24 and now 36 meeting weekly and praying daily for the needs of others. Eight months ago this team felt the need to begin praying in earnest specifically for their church and its mission works. God answered their prayers.
And now you know the rest (and most important part) of the story.

Here 2 There continues to work on that! Our ampd (Association of Missionary Partnership Development) classes are currently working with Pastors and Leaders from four churches. This 11 month Cohort offers Pastors and Church leaders instruction, resources, and coaching in Ministry Strategy development inclusive of every area in the scope of church and mission work.

How Partnership Helps With The Blind Spots

About a year or two ago I started praying Psalms 139:23-24 every morning before I get out of bed. “Search my heart… see if there be any wicked way in me…”. I wanted God to help me see the areas of my life I skipped over, I avoided and didn’t even know existed. Guess what, He started doing it. He began revealing areas of selfishness and pride that I was seeing for the first time. He revealed self-dependency and lack of trust that I was seeing with new eyes. It has not been pleasant, but it has been refreshing at the same time.
I have been most shocked to see these areas of my life and realize they have been there for quite a while.
At some point I wonder if someone tried to tell me about these areas.
I wondered if I would have listened.

Peter was in a similar spot. He just didn’t know it…
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Galatians 2:11-14

We all have blind spots, we all have areas of weakness, we all have a need for a good friend to help us through them so we are not compromising our witness for the Gospel.

I like this idea of a close friend or brother when we talk about partnerships with churches and missionaries. When churches genuinely do life together with their missionaries, when they set up intentional areas of communication and care, they are positioning themselves to be a help to missionaries beyond the logistical ministry needs. These genuine partnerships and relationships lend themselves to point out the blind spots we are all missing.
We need someone to speak truth to us.
We need someone to point out the blind spots.

FOR THE CHURCH: Have you cultured a true relationship with your missionaries that show you genuinely care about them beyond just their ministry success?
FOR THE MISSIONARY: Are you willing to hear what your partners have to say? Do you have these needed partnerships and relationships that are open and honest helping you be the best of who you are?

If you are a church or a missionary that would like to cultivate relationships like this, please let us know. H2T would like to walk with you through this process and strengthen your partnerships. Contact us at information@here2there.org

A Sending Culture

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.”
― Henry Martyn

Sending is one of the central themes in the Bible. Early on we see Abraham sent by God and throughout the Old Testament God continually sends prophets to deliver his message. Moses is sent to rescue the Israelites. Nehemiah was sent to rebuild the wall. Into the New Testament Jesus is sent. During his ministry we see multiple times where Jesus sent people out with his final message to us telling us to go. After he ascended up to heaven Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us. Over and over again we see a biblical theme of sending. And yet, so few of our churches put any focus on sending.

 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
-Acts1:8

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
-Matthew 28:18-20

Two of the cornerstone verses in the Bible and yet there doesn’t seem to be much of a priority from the church to fulfill either. The church in Antioch met together, prayed and fasted together with the expectation the God would move among them and Paul and Barnabas were sent. Paul refers in his letters many to times where churches sent people to him to be with him and help him.

Does your church have a defined Jerusalem or Judea or Samaria or Uttermost? Do you have a vision for missions? Can you confidently answer the question, “Are you doing missions?” Here 2 There believes every church should have a Great Commission Strategy and that every church should be able to define where they are working and what they are working to accomplish. We must move beyond Love Others-Make Disciples-Change The World to exactly what does that look like and how we plan on doing it. Only then can the church focus on training people to actually go out and do it.

For help on creating a sending culture at your church we are offering a free opportunity to join us at our next cohort on SENDING. For more information go to here2there.org.

The Special-Blessing: Blessing a Missionary

Blessing your missionaries is one of the most important things you can do in the way of preparing them for service and encouraging those already in service. It is critical that your missionaries (and others you lead) know how much you admire their calling and appreciate their gifts. The Apostal Paul understood the value of the special-blessing and used it often to encourage and provide guidance to those he served through leadership. There are many examples of the special-blessing being administered to children, leadership, nations, and servants in the Bible, but this article will focus on missionaries (and other Great Commission workers).
Special-Blessing Defined
The special-blessing is based on the work of John Trent. Trent refers to the blessing he writes about as the blessing, but we have reassigned the term in our counseling ministry as the special-blessing, since it is almost always taught as an intentional tool focused on a particular gift and expected outcome. It is a tool that can be used to encourage and edify children, couples, students, athletes, pastors, business partners, employees, and missionaries. It includes all of the following:
Components of a Special-Blessing
-Touch (when appropriate)
A hand on the shoulder (like when praying), the holding of one hand (like a handshake) or holding two hands (with your spouse or child), or followed by an embrace (spouse or close family member/friend)
-Loving Intent
Always honestly intended to lift up the recipient (never for manipulation)
-Acknowledgment of Value
Acknowledges a gift or specific ability in a focused area (not general in nature)
-Acknowledgment of Future
Expresses an expected or anticipated outcome or potential.
-Pledge of Support
Expresses your desire to continue to be a part of the individual’s development (like that of a discipleship relationship, parent, teacher, spouse, employee)
Biblical Example
The Apostle Paul was a missionary, and later (from captivity) a supporter, mentor, and leader of missionaries. The special-blessings he administered to those he served, provides us a pattern we can follow to do the same for our missionaries and staff. The following is a great example of a focused blessing intended to encourage, edify, and acknowledge potential:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:3-12)

Components of Paul’s Blessing that Edified or Encouraged Timothy

Paul begins his blessing of Timothy by telling him he is invested in him through prayer. (v3) In what better way can we tell a person how much we love them than to tell them that we involve them in our conversations with God. Not just any conversation, but that we pray in thanksgiving to the Lord for their part in our life.

Paul acknowledges, before any other thing, that Timothy has given himself over to the Lord in faith; clarifying that this is the key ingredient to his value among men, and specifically his fellow Christians. (v4). Paul continues on to define the factor that makes all of this possible by acknowledging Timothy’s destiny as heaven; the result of his accepting Christ’s gift of life. (v5)

Paul acknowledges the fruit of Timothy’s ministry as the result of his acceptance of the gospel and dedication to the truth. Not only does this acknowledgment inform Timothy of Paul’s esteem, but it also directs Timothy back to the source of his ministry’s effectiveness. In this way, Paul keeps Timothy grounded to the Word and the mission of expanding God’s Kingdom (v5-7). Paul establishes a boundary for Timothy by constraining his work and message to that of the teaching and training originally given; even praising him for not (to that point) straying from it. (v7)

Paul tells Timothy of his dedication to him. He explains that in addition to thanksgiving, his prayers are intentional and focused on specific developmental goals. Paul first directs Timothy to acknowledge God’s will as he contemplates his ministry objectives. (v9) He clearly wishes Timothy to be a man who is willingly guided to understanding and wisdom by the Holy Spirit. (v9) His words serve to edify Timothy of the necessity of Holy Spirit leadership for those who wish to see their works bear fruit and please the Lord. Paul goes into detail, identifying that being pleasing to God requires one to continue to increase in knowledge, partly so they are fully able to function in every circumstance of Kingdom work. (v10)

Paul further refines his prayers for Timothy, exhorting him to fully accept that his power as a minister is the result of God’s power. He specifically calls on Timothy to use God’s power to dig deep and be courageously and joyfully dependent on God for the strength and longsuffering he needs as a leader, and to be patient as God takes him through the trials of his life. (v11)

Finally, Paul reminds Timothy that who he has become is the result of the work God has done in his life. Paul is likely just reminding Timothy of his birthright as a Christian, but he indeed takes the opportunity to tell him about his inheritance:

…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12-14)

Although Paul is not the giver of the inheritance, he is the giver of the blessing. Of course, Timothy has previously been trained as a Christian to understand these things, but that does not diminish the value of Paul’s giving of the special-blessing. Most times, the special-blessing is given at the time it is most needed, to inspire or just remind one of their inheritance.

Notice that in the special-blessing scenario, there is a promise of some sort of gain. For Timothy, the ultimate gain is eternal life; but the reality is that it is not the giving of the final inheritance that immediately impacts a young missionary. It is the knowledge that the church (in this case spoken for by Paul) appreciates their abilities and is excited about their potential. Additionally, the missionary is shown by the church that they are valued as missionaries, which establishes the feelings of security they need during their deployment.

Remember now the beginning days of your ministry. Try to recall the given special-blessings that helped you become the pastor or leader you have become. The special-blessing is a powerful tool used to provide your missionaries, children, spouse, friends, and staff a way to know how you see them and their value to you, the church, and the Kingdom. Always be honest and never use a blessing to manipulate anyone, and you will see new confidence begin to build in the receiver. Confidence that will stick with them for the rest of their life and ministry.

Mark Painter MCM/PC
Missionary Care Lead

Find Your Place On Mission

Recently I had the opportunity to join one of our Partner churches for 3 days of their week long VBS. All I can say is WOW! What this church did in preparation, mobilization, and execution was phenomenal. The hand painted back drops, individual badges, transformation of their worship space and community involvement was totally Mission minded. Their church mission statement is “Love God, Love others, and Make disciples.” For this week of VBS both young and old were living that mission. I saw so many senior adults leading groups, teaching classes, serving snacks, and leading songs. From the lead minister to their youth group members, this church was “ALL IN” reaching out to their community. As I was leaving my second day there I saw area day-care busses picking up kids for their return trip. Now that’s a purpose driven bus ministry. I recently read where seniors who care for their grandchildren on a regular basis live longer, and taking care of kids both keeps us physically active as well as relieves stress. For this week these senior adults loved on these adopted children for 3 hours a day and I am sure they were full of Joy at the end of that week. 

There is Joy in serving, there is Peace in serving, Patience can be found, Kindness can be shared, Goodness is present, Faithfulness is rewarded. Find your place on Mission, live out your churches mission, and let the Fruits of the Spirit be manifested in your labor of Love. If your church needs help with its Mission to your community and the world, schedule time with us and your leaders. We are here for just that purpose, helping the Church live and serve “On Mission”, both across the street and across the oceans.

Wayne Pierce

Operations Lead

What Happens When God’s Will Leads You To Change?

Christy Paul, LMHC

In life we go through many changes. A study done in 2013 said that 73% of students do not use their college degree. Many people change jobs 5-7 times in their lifetime, and many others change jobs every year. There are many reasons why people change jobs. They may get bored with what they are doing, or want to take a pay increase, or do something less stressful. Some get burned out, or they want to move elsewhere: closer to family, the beach, or mountains. Regardless of the reason, or if it’s a good or bad thing, the idea of getting one job and staying there until retirement has become a thing of the past.

People in ministry are no different. Just because you start off in one country, or at one church does not necessarily mean that is where God wants you to stay. What is most important is that you are following God’s will in order to have an effective ministry. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. In his letter to the Romans (1:11-13) he said:

“11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.”

Paul, as a missionary, knew that he had to take care of going and doing the will of God, in God’s timing!

It’s important to be real with yourself. God calls all of us to be missionaries. Jesus, before ascending into Heaven told us to go into all the earth preaching the Gospel. It is very important that we are missionaries wherever we are, whether or not we go overseas. That being said, full-time missionaries in foreign countries, and Pastors in our communities are very vital. Without them there would not be the access to the Gospel that there is today and we would not be fulfilling Christ’s commission. So, what happens when you are in missions work, or are pastoring a church and you begin to feel the need for a change?

First, consider where this thought is coming from? Is it based out of insecurity, like we discussed before? Is it Satan trying to make you feel like you aren’t good enough and bring you and The Church down? OR, is it from God, and he is telling you that He wants you to further His Kingdom in a different way in a different place?

Second, what are your motives for leaving? Is it because of selfish gain? Is it because you feel you have done all you can do? Is it because you believe that your time is better spent somewhere else, serving others? OR maybe you are at a point in life where you recognize that having someone new, fresh, and full of energy would do the ministry well?

Third, consider the advice of those around you that you trust to be good mentors. Many people may tell you to stay, and not leave. Others may be putting pressure on you TO leave. Find out from those wisest around you, who are honest, what they think and suggest.

And, most IMPORTANT pray and seek scripture.

If you have any further questions or need to speak to someone about what you have read and discovered in this blog, please reach out to Here2There ministries at here2there.org@gmail.com

Four Levels of Missionary Care: Part 1

There is no doubt that the ministry of missionary care is multi-leveled and multi-faceted. It’s multi-leveled in the cooperation of at least four levels of care: church, partnership, agency, and crisis care givers. It is also multi-faceted in the diversity of need of each individual field worker (including individual children) in each of numerous ministry locations and situations. Each level has its strengths and weaknesses. Yet, the weakness of one is the strength of another. There is a vital need for these four levels to continue to increase their cooperation so that missionaries are better cared for. After all, missionaries are too valuable to lose.

Read the rest of this blog at The Upstream Collective.