Category Archives: Missions
On Saturday, October 27th I set out from Stillwater Regional Airport to travel half way around the world and back again. Here are some of the highlights and some reflections on my time there and back.
MINISTRY IN NEPAL
After spending a brief time in Kathmandu, we traveled by car to Pokhara, Nepal where we met for a church planter’s retreat. There were an estimated 200 pastors and their wives as we packed at least 14 sessions of teaching and preaching into two days. My friend, Curtis Cook, taught four sessions and I taught three sessions. Several others from different churches taught the other sessions. We taught on topics like: The heart and character of the pastor, our weakness and power as we spread the message, making disciples, etc.
On Friday, I flew back to Kathmandu with a Nepali brother, Simson. He and another brother, Uddhav, took me souvenir shopping, and then we went and ate some KFC that had a Nepali flavor to it.
On Saturday, I went and gathered with Pastor Simson’s local church and was privileged to preach to brothers and sisters and take the Lord’s Supper with them. They showed me the progress of their new building that was still under construction. We ended our time together in the house of Uddhav, for a very mild Nepali dinner. They then took me to the airport for my flight to Munich, Germany.
Not knowing what to fully expect from the Nepali believers, I was very encouraged with what I discovered. The Nepali pastors and their wives were very kind and appreciative of our speaking to them the word of God. They were very eager to learn, and very affirming of the teaching they received. I do believe it extended beyond some sort of reverence for the American Christians, but rather they were glad to sit for long stretches to hear the word of God taught and proclaimed.
I was particularly pleased by what I witnessed when I gathered with Pastor Simson’s church on Saturday Morning. At the end of our time together we took the Lord’s Supper. This is the custom of this particular local church to receive communion on the first gathering of every month. When we took the bread and the cup, I noticed two young men who do did not participate. I asked Pastor Simson why they did not join us. He told me that they had not yet been baptized and they were presently a part of a class on baptism, and that until they were baptized, they did not take communion. I was highly encouraged by this thoughtful instruction and adherence to biblical principles.
I was also encouraged by the evangelistic zeal of the Nepalese brothers and sisters and their multiplication of churches. The goal of the particular group we met with was to plant 100 churches in 10 years. In under five years, this group has planted almost 80 churches. Now to be clear, they aren’t the only Christians in Nepal, and there is a lot of Hinduism and other godless forces at work, but what I witnessed was gospel-depth and gospel-zeal among the brothers and sisters I interacted with.
THREE DIFFERENT CHURCHES IN A WEEK
On Sunday, October 28th, I gathered with Hope Fellowship in Cambridge, Massachusetts and saw a vibrant church and heard a biblical and edifying sermon from the book of Esther.
On Saturday, November 3rd, I gathered with a local Nepali church and heard much praying and singing – that I did not understand, since I don’t speak Nepali. I saw them give, though I suspect they didn’t have much. I preached God’s word through an interpreter and we took the Lord’s Supper.
On Sunday, November 4th, I gathered with a local Arabic Church in Munich, Germany. Severely jet-lagged, and understanding none of what was being said, since I don’t speak Arabic, I know these things: They prayed to the same Lord of the other two churches. They sang together about Jesus. They preached and taught from God’s holy word. They gave to the work of ministry, and they took the Lord’s Supper together, remembering the body broken and the blood poured out for all who would believe.
This was an eye-opening experience as I was reminded that the gospel of Jesus Christ knows no restrictions of language or geo-political borders. The gospel must go to all the nations, and despite language and cultural barriers, it will not be contained until the task of the Great Commission is finished. These three congregations, though as different as could be in some ways, were no different in the most important ways. They worshiped the same God, using the same means because of the true word.
These three different churches were not so different.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS AND REFLECTIONS
- The traffic in Nepal is crazy scary. Whether in a car or on the back of a motorcycle, despite the confidence of the driver as he weaved in and out of traffic, I feared for my life on more than one occasion. I kept that to myself though and just prayed a lot.
- The food in Nepal is not for me. Uddhav, if you are reading this, the food we had in your home was the best I had all week. KFC was a close second.
- I thank God for the local church I belong to. They are gracious to be so supportive of a trip like this in which I missed two Sundays. I think it is valuable for me to be a part of missions since we are a church that heavily engages in missions, and I believe Eagle Heights recognizes this and supports their pastor going. I am also very grateful for the financial assistance I received.
- I was encouraged by our co-workers and the disciplined evangelism they are doing among Arabs in Munich. They go out every week into the city to strike up gospel conversations. They are also members of an Arab Church. I was very encouraged by our time together.
- I love my friend, Curtis Cook. Curtis invited me to go along and asked me to teach with him. One of the highlights of the trip for me was spending time with him and learning from him as he interacted with and taught the Nepali brothers and sisters. Curtis is truly a gift to me and I thank God for him.
- Dachau was sadly surreal. If you don’t know, this was one of the main prisoner/concentration camps for the Nazis during WWII. Located just outside of Munich, the Nazis took an old munitions factory and around 1933 turned it into a prison camp for those who opposed the state. Later all kinds of people were sent there, including: Jews, Poles, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholic Priests,, Russian POWs, etc. Over 200,000 people were there at one time or another and an estimated 41,500 people died there. The camp was built to house around 6,000, but closer to the end of the war, there were as many as 60,000 held there. The atrocities committed there against people who were created in the image of God is a stark reminder of what the human heart is capable of in a fallen world. The Nazis humiliated, beat, starved, executed and experimented on people in this camp. The cruelty is hard to fathom.
- I have had enough of airports and airplanes for a while. Though I suppose it is better than being on a boat for months at a time.
- I missed my family fiercely and I thank God for my wife. I saved the best for last. My wife insisted I go on this trip. She supported me and told me they would be fine without me. She was so encouraging. And I missed Lacey and the kiddos. God was gracious to bring me home to the people I love the most.
THE TRAVEL LOG
Leg 1: Stillwater to Dallas and Dallas to Boston (Saturday, October 27th)
Leg 2: Boston to Doha, Qatar (Sunday, October 28th) and Doha, Qatar to Kathmandu, Nepal (Tuesday, October 30th) – From Kathmandu we traveled 5-6 hours by car to Pokhara, Nepal.
Leg 3: Kathmandu, Nepal to Doha Qatar (Saturday, November 3rd) and Doha, Qatar to Munich Germany (Sunday, November 4th)
Leg 4: Munich, Germany to Frankfurt German and Frankfurt, Germany to Dallas, Texas and Dallas, Texas to Stillwater, Oklahoma (Tuesday, November 6th)
Total time on airplanes: 49 hours
Total time in airports on layovers: Way too long
This past Sunday the Elders and I met and we ended our meeting discussing what we were encouraged about, as well as, what areas we would like to see more fruit. We hope to see more of us sharing the gospel where the Lord has placed us. We hope to see more families come and stay with us to labor in a small city, university context that is very transient. I would like to see us excel in prayer more and more since it is an expression of our faith in God. Do we trust God and depend on Him? How much do we trust Him? The biblical quality and frequency of our praying tells the story. We will never arrive on this side of heaven, but we always seek to press forward and grow in the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11). There is more work to do.
On the other hand, one of the themes of encouragement that came from our meeting was what God is doing in mobilizing and sending people to the ends of the earth to preach the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation. Several examples were mentioned and one the opportunities we are really excited about is the possibility of doing more with international students right here in Stillwater. That was on Sunday.
On Monday my family and I gathered with the Roger’s Core Group to hear Ryan Johnson talk about what God is doing through his family and team with Syrian Refugees. The Roger’s CG has developed a relationship with the Johnsons and they support them by prayer and financial giving. I was highly encouraged and challenged to see the depth of the work, but was also encouraged to see the biblical simplicity of it. I didn’t get to hear about all they were doing because I was watching my kiddos and we had to leave early, but one portion was particularly interesting to me when he described how they are discipling people to disciple others.
Once someone comes to Christ, this is their process:
- They read or listen to the Bible together.
- They ask what the text means and what it teaches them about Jesus.
- They then ask how those listening to identify how they should trust and obey Jesus based on what they have heard. What would Jesus have them do to trust and obey Him?
- Once they grasp the meaning of God’s word, they ask who they can share this with.
- Finally, to the best of my memory, they ask those in the group how they can serve in their community.
They begin with God’s word and challenge their listeners to hear and obey Jesus so they can help others do the same.
This isn’t all they do to serve and share Christ with people, but it struck me how simple this process is and how easy it is to replicate for multiplication. They are living and serving in a very different context than that of our local church, but since Jesus walked on earth, this is really how those who follow Jesus have been doing gospel ministry. This is exactly what Eagle Heights is trying to do as well: Glorifying God together by trusting Jesus and obeying all He commands – and teaching others to do the same.
You all know that we are not a perfect local church, but we have much to be thankful to God for as He continues to work among us to make disciples of all the nations, beginning here in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I hope and pray that we will excel still more and more.
“The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” Mark 13:10 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” Matthew 28:19
We all are to be going proclaimers of Christ. We are all goers. We go all kinds of places everyday, and hopefully we are testifying that Jesus is worthy of our trust and obedience.
But not everyone can go to the nations (the ends of the earth – Acts 1:8) all of the time, though we all have a part to play. Everyone of us can pray and mobilize so others can go. “Go, send or disobey!” says John Piper. There are no other options. So what part are you playing as a part of God’s strategy that is the church local?
I have been doing some praying and thinking and did some brainstorming with the staff this past week to develop a strategy that will challenge every single person to give something to send others on mission in 2015.
When we read the Bible it is easy to miss how God’s people were led by God, because God leads in many and various ways. But it does not mean there was no strategy to accomplish God’s plan. To build the ark, there was a strategy. To conquer Jericho, there was a strategy. To build the temple, there was a strategy. To rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, Nehemiah had a strategy. To financially assist the saints in Jerusalem, Paul had a strategy. God wants us to be a part of His Universal Church to get the gospel to all the nations, but what is our strategy for accomplishing His plan?
Here is one way to be a part of God’s plan in 2015. We are calling it “15 for 15 missions challenge”. We are going to ask every single person to join us by committing to give at least $15 a month for 2015.
As an example, Lacey and I will give at least $30 a month together. Of course, if someone wants to give more or give it all in one month, that is great too. What we are trying to accomplish is to get everyone to participate in being a sending church. We can all give up three lattes or a few value meals a week for the sake of the gospel – right?
What if just 200 people committed to give $15 a month for the rest of 2015? That would be $36,000. In 2014 our total missions giving was just over $27,000. That would be a 25% increase for 2015.
I ask you to join me in praying that Eagle Heights would take this seriously and that we would continue to grow in our missions support as a going and sending people. I ask also that you would encourage people in your sphere of influence to embrace the “15 for 15 missions challenge”.
I hope God uses Eagle Heights Missions Month to teach and challenge us about praying, giving and going. I pray also we would celebrate what God is doing through us as we give more and send more for the glory of God among the nations. In 2008 we gave approximately $7000 to missions. We have grown a lot, but we can do more. I hope our faith family will get behind this. Will you join us?
Over the past year Eagle Heights gave almost $26,000 specifically for missions. This giving was above and beyond general budget giving and we used the money to support our own mission trips and individuals who went on other mission trips.
I am thankful for people who are generous with their money to support the mission of Jesus all over the world. And I want us (Eagle Heights) to ramp up the generosity and give more and more.
As a matter of fact, I don’t think it would be too difficult to do a lot more.
What if every member committed to give $10 a month to missions? Because let’s face it, some give way more than that and many people don’t give anything. But what if……………..$10 per person? Let’s suppose 300 people gave the $10 that it would cost to buy two venti lattes. $10 x 300 = $3,000.00 x 12 months = $36,000.00.
When everyone gives a little it equals a lot. And who can’t give $10 a month. Maybe a few people, but most of us with smallest sacrifice could join with others to do so much more than we currently are doing.
Even high school and university students can afford $10 a month.
The truth is a sad one – It’s not that most people can’t give, it’s just that they won’t.
And I will remind every person without shame that our basis for giving is Jesus Himself, and He gave everything He had to do the will of the Father (2 Cor. 8:9).
With Jesus as our motivation and example, I hope we will joyfully seek to give and do more. Here are a few questions that might be asked when it comes to missions month giving:
FAQs about Missions Giving
- Why not just give all my money to missions? When you give to the local church you are giving to missions. But keep in mind that Eagle Heights is on mission right here in Stillwater (Acts 1:8). Local churches use money for ministries just like missionaries use money. Eagle Heights uses its budget to employ staff, provide ministries and give to ministries and since the local church is God’s plan to advance the mission of Jesus, our first giving emphasis should be to the local church we are committed to by membership. A strong local church should be a strong missions giving and sending church.
- Why do we emphasize missions and missions giving? Because God prioritizes missions (Genesis 12:1-3; Ps. 67; Matt. 24:14, 28:19; Acts 1:8) and money is an indicator that our priorities are God’s priorities. Missions month helps us to shine the light on what God wants to do for all peoples so we do not become selfish with the gospel we enjoy.
- How much should I give to missions? After you have trusted God by supporting your local church with regular giving (tithe), ask God what He wants you to do above and beyond what you normally give. God is faithful to reveal himself to those who seek Him.
- I can’t give much, does the little I give really matter? Yes it matters. First, it matters because you have trusted God with the little you have (Luke??). Obedience is success. The amount is not the point, but rather the motive and heart. Second, if you gave nothing last year and decided to give $8 a month this year (2 lattes at Starbucks or Aspen), you would end up giving $96 this next year. Suppose God moved ten other people to do the same. That would be $960 more than last year. God multiplies obedience and we do far more together than by ourselves.
- How will this money be used? All of the money given to missions will be used for local and world missions and ministries. None of the missions money is used for the Eagle Heights general budget.
- When do I give? How do I give? We are going to take up our missions giving commitment on the Sunday, November 20th. Give by marking on your giving envelope the amount you want to give to missions.
If the truth be known, and it will be in heaven, we are good at talking about prayer and often pitiful at talking to God. We have been exhorting the people of Eagle Heights to take prayer cards and engage the global mission of taking the gospel to all nations by crying out to God in prayer for the advancement of the gospel to all the nations. But how can we consistently know who and what to pray for? Here’s what I do know, we will not go to the nations until God changes our hearts as we plead for the nations. Here are a few intentional and everyday ideas for praying for God’s kingdom to come.
- You can meet and learn about an international student who is studying at OSU. In Stillwater, Oklahoma there are 1780 students who represent 113 countries from every part of the world. http://union.okstate.edu/iss/Resources/Statistics.htm
- Core Groups can adopt a people group and pray weekly for God to raise up gospel witnesses among them.
- You can visit the website www.operationworld.org and pray for a people group every day. Operation World is “a definitive prayer guide to every nation.”
- You could give generously to missions. When you invest your treasure, your heart and thoughts will follow (Luke 12:34).
- You could read the news headlines prayerfully and cry out to God. Here are some headlines from November 22 as an example of how to pray for people groups in countries:
- “North Korea nuke revelations stir US policy worry” (57% unreached)
- “Over 330 die in stampede at Cambodian festival” (71% unreached)
- “Saudi king heads to US for medical tests” (62% unreached)
- “Experts: Demand in China fuels tiger poaching” (83% unreached)
- “Pakistani Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy” (97% unreached)
- United States of America (16% unreached)
Pray, Give, Go………. Everyone of us can and must participate in the mission.
The Numbers tell a story.
– A people group is a people with its own language and own culture.There are 16,595 people groups in the world according to www.joshuaproject.net– There are 6,864 unreached people groups in the world.
– An unreached people group is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group.
– The world population is quickly approaching 7 billion people. An estimated 3.5 billion people have never heard the gospel.
– It takes 9 Southern Baptist Churches to produce 1 missionary.
– There are 5,600 full-time Southern Baptist Missionaries presently overseas. Next year that number is likely to decline to 5,000.
– The average Southern Baptist Member gives only 2.5% to their local church. Only 27% of Southern Baptist Church Members tithe and give sacrificially.
– Matthew 24:14 – “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”
– “The gospel is only good news if it gets there on time.” Carl F. H. Henry
Will we do anything? Will we pray, give and go – to the remotest parts of the earth (Acts 1:8)?
Are you passionate about scattering and filling? You should be. God is. God’s passion for missions is unmistakably evident from the beginning of the 66 books of the Bible right to the end, or to say it another way, the whole Bible is written in the context of mission. God has been on mission from the very beginning of creation to display his glory for all to see so that He might be worshiped. Part of being in relationship with God is understanding that we are on mission with God, and that means everyone without exception or option.
In Genesis 1:26-28 we are told that God made man, “In Our image, in our likeness.” We go on to read again that “God created them male and female in His own image, in the image of God He created them.” So twice the text states that man, both male and female are image bearers for God to say something about God, to display God, to show God, to communicate God, and the reason we know this is because verse 28 says that God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” This is significant because before sin ever came into the world, God wanted people to scatter and fill the earth with His image and glory. Even though sin had not yet infected the creation of God, God’s command was to multiply and fill creation with his image and likeness.
Unfortunately sin did come into creation and yet the mission did not change, but scattering and filling became a point of resistance to God as seen in Genesis 11 and the story of Babel. In verse 5 the people come together to build a tower that reaches the sky so that they would not be scattered. I verse 7-8 God goes down and confounds their language and scatters them all over the face of the earth, and again in verse 10 it says that God scattered them over the whole face of the earth. The point is that God wants us to scatter with His image, and if we won’t scatter as image bearers who enjoy God then God will scatter us Himself. Perhaps this is why He scattered the Jews in the Old Testament with the exile and why He again scattered the early church with persecution in the book of Acts. But back to Genesis. In chapter 12 God finds in Abraham someone who will scatter and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Abraham left his home, scattering to fill.
Scattering and filling the earth with God’s image and glory is God’s passion, and God’s passion and our joy meet at the point of extending God through Jesus to others. Our resisting or ignoring this truth results in short-circuiting the blessing others would receive from us and the blessing we receive from extending others the message of Jesus.
God’s plan is for us to be a missions-minded people for His glory because God is a missions-minded God. There are 6.6 billion people in the world who need the mercy of God through Jesus. There are at least 2029 unreached people groups (ethnic groups) in the world and 1.6 billion people who have no sustainable gospel witness. God is not being worshiped and glorified through Jesus by one-fourth of the world’s population because those 1.6 billion people cannot worship what they do not know (Romans 10). I suppose the question we should pray and ask is not “should I give and go?”, but “how can I not give and go?”
Our missions goal at Eagle Heights is $12,000.00. That is the least we can do when we have 6.6 billion reasons to do more for a Missions-minded God who has always been on mission to save us and others for His glory.