Posts Tagged ‘missions’

Darkness is a strange thing. It isn’t really something in and of itself. It is actually the absence of something. It is the absence of Light. When it comes to spiritual matters, light represents the Presence of God. In fact the apostle John wrote, “God is Light.” (I John 1:5)
We discover in the Revelation that there is no need for the sun or the stars in heaven because God’s Presence is the light.

Throughout the Bible, darkness spiritually portrays people who are far from God. It represents the condition of “lostness”, absolute separation from God. More significantly, even than that, it portrays “deadness”. People who are far from God, not only dwell in darkness spiritually, they are absolutely DEAD. There is no real life. “The wages of sin is death,” God’s Word declares.

Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world.” The Gospel of John says, “In Him (Christ) was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness . . .”
God gave His only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, to bring the light of life into our darkness.

While among us physically, Jesus proclaimed His followers, “You are the light of the world.” He entrusted that light of life from God to us, His people. And He called us to let our light shine before men. To place our light in the candlestick so that others might see. Throughout our world today there are great pockets of darkness. There doesn’t need to be, but there is. There are nearly a billion people who have no access to the Gospel of Christ at all. There is no known effort by any evangelical church or group to reach out to and evangelize, make disciples, or plant churches among nearly 3100 different identified people groups.

God has called us, you and me to chase the darkness. He has called us to carry the light of truth in the Gospel message to the dark pockets all around our globe. There is no reason with the resources and technology available to us in the 21st century that we cannot eliminate the darkness. There will always be people who live in darkness, God’s Word says some prefer darkness because their deeds are evil. But there should not be any pockets of darkness on our planet because no one has shared the Gospel. Chase the darkness. Make a difference.5578299322_14502cc7d7_z



What does “Joy” look like? Something like the expression on the face of this woman, I suppose. Joy beyond description is something we would all love to know and experience throughout everyday. I truly believe if you could bottle “Joy” and sell it you would be the wealthiest person alive.

Last night I attended a worship service at North Trenholm Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C. So what took me out in the middle of the week to a church I am not a member of? They were bringing a mission report of a recent trip to South Africa. I walked into a worship center that was 80% full, on a Wednesday night. (I was impressed.) More significantly than the attendance there was an electricity in the air. One by one the participants stood and gave a two to three minute report of their most memorable moment on the trip. Every face literally glowed with the joy of the Lord. The pastor, Steve Cloud, brought the service to a conclusion with a challenge to the congregation to begin with him a 40 Day Journey to restore their Passion. One statement caught my attention. He said, “If you want to know the blessing these people experienced on this mission trip, you have to be On Mission.”

One of the realities of the reports that also grabbed my attention was the number of participants who indicated it was their first mission trip. It took me back to my first time. There is a Joy beyond description of making that first mission trip, totally surrendered and yielded to God. I remember the last night that I spent in Bamako Mali trying to fall asleep. Marvin, with whom I shared a room, was out washing his clothes. I remember lying on the bed weeping, singing, rejoicing at what God had done. It was a time of Joy beyond description.

The joy of the Lord is our strength, Nehemiah wrote. And true joy is found by dwelling in the Presence of the Lord. And whether it is across the street, on the other side of town, or around the world, there is nothing that enables you to experience of the presence of the Lord more than being On Mission. Will you make a fresh decision today to live your life on mission for God?

A few years ago, Mason and I traveled to Peru. We flew into Lima, and drove for about 10 hours to Chavin. It was a beautiful village set in the Andes. (Elevation about 11,000 ft). In the midst of the village is an ancient ruin, along with the home of the witch doctor and other animistic centers of worship.

One day we traveled to a small village nearby to share the Good News of Jesus. As we entered into the village, small children began running in every direction. They were screaming at the top of their lungs in the Quechua dialect of their people. Laughing, the missionary we were with said the children were screaming, “White giants are coming. White giants are coming.” I have been called a lot of things in my life, but that is the only time I remember ever being called a giant.

It is a beautiful people group. One of over 6,000 unreached people groups. That means that less than 2% of the population is evangelical christian, and unlikely to evangelize their people by themselves. Of that approximately 6000 in number, about 3600 are unengaged as well, meaning there is no known strategy to share the gospel. It is just not acceptable that many people, or for that matter any people cannot have access to the Gospel. We need some people and churches to be giants in God’s eyes to engage the unengaged and the unreached.

In 2010, I traveled to Nigeria at the invitation of NIFES, and we saw thousands of college students put their “Yes” on the table so that God might put it on the map. All across the parts of Nigeria that I traveled I saw a tremendous openess to the Gospel, and it was amazing to see the commitment level of college students tha wanted to impact their world.

A Very different setting, and a very different people group than what we encounter in Mali, high in the Andes mountains of Northern Peru are the Southern Conchucas Quechua. Another beautiful people who need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. I met a few in April of 2008.

I heard someone say recently, “our church is mission-minded.” I am not real sure what that means. Does it mean that you are letting someone else do the mission of Christ?

Christ gathered the disciples together before He left and He told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, Go and make disciples of all people groups, baptizing them, and teaching them to do all I have taught you to do.” (My paraphrase, but basically correct) Matt. 28:18-20. So it seems to me that they taught the next generation to go make disciples, and then the next taught the next, etc. SO we are all called to mission.

How can you be mission-minded? Maybe we don’t all go to a different culture. Maybe we don’t all draw our paycheck from a mission organization. But every Christian is called to mission. Somone said, ‘Put your ‘yes’ on the table, and let God put it on the map.” And I would add, let him put it on the calendar as well.

We can all pray for missionaries, and mission opportunities. Almost all of us can financially support the work of missions. And most of us can go to the ends of the earth. For me, “Mission – minded” is not enough. We are all called to be missional. That is, we may not all be vocational missionaries, but we are all to do the work of mission.

It has been a week and a day now since Christmas 2011 has come and gone. It is time to take the tree down, put the decorations in the attic, and trudge into the new year, for most. Children are headed back to school and some of the toys that were shiny and exciting under the tree have been broken, or abandoned. Life heads back to “normal”.

In 2007, our church began an adventure in West Africa. We carried the Gospel into a village where it had never been before. For the first couple of years it was exciting and new, challenging. There was a thrill and lots of volunteers and plenty of money seemed to appear for each person to go. But that was five years ago. There is nothing shocking about the poverty and hunger anymore. The stories of helping children and seeing people saved are taken for granted. And like last year’s Christmas toys, we have moved on.

Why is it that our hearts are so quickly calloused? Why is it that we are so easily distracted? Why do we tend to remain so self absorbed? Who will go? Who will pray? Who will financially support?

Day by day my heart aches more and more for our friends who struggle in the bush village. I wake up at night with them on my mind and in my prayers. What will it take until the church is willing to die to self, and make the sacrifices necessary to carry the Gospel to every person in every land?

I am drinking my second cup of coffee. It is made from a single cup “Keurig” coffee maker. I can choose the flavor from a variety pack. In a few moments I will prepare myself more breakfast than I need. I will enjoy the last holiday before getting back into the routine by watching Nebraska defeat the Gamecocks ( or maybe miracles still happen). My friends in the bush of West Africa will eat the grey and gritty “toe” dipped in some peanut sauce, if they are fortunate. Some will die from absessed teeth, some from malnutrition, some giving birth, and some at the ripe old age of 45. Most will die without Christ, and multitudes without ever even knowing that Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Our churches will argue over the style of music, which translation of the Bible, and whether or not it is time to fire the preacher. Less than 2% of our churches will grow by conversion growth, and most will relegate “God” to some tiny box in the corner of their mind. Yes, He could, but He proably won’t do anything, or so most will think.

I am not trying to be pessimistic or negative. But I want to say, “Wake up Christians.” I want to say, “Go to the work, Church.” Our time is now. Our God is great. Even so, come Lord Jesus.