We live in amazingly turbulent days in 2016. Who thought that a billionaire businessman would become the president of the U.S? Apparently Americans wanted change in Washington D.C. What changes will this bring to the U.S. political landscape in America and globally? These are all questions that we will see developing in the months ahead.
The one thing I know is however the U.S. election came out God is in charge. Nothing is a surprise to him as he has seen this political drama play out over centuries of time. This gives me a sense of real peace and comfort. It gives me a daily reminder to be the best I can be as a follower of Jesus Christ, whoever, is politically in charge.
Our task as followers of Jesus is to be a daily living light to those we engage with and those who watch how we live. The Word of God says in Matthew 5:16; ” In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
This is God’s daily purpose for you.
Christians in Action missionaries and national pastors and leaders are living out the great commission and great compassion of Christ every day in our countries of ministry. If it is feeding 100’s of school children in the Philippines, developing a new school for children in Liberia, medical outreaches, drilling fresh water wells in Muslim villages in Sierra Leone, leading individuals to Jesus, planting churches in Latin America and many other ministries, their light is shining brightly for Jesus.
Come and join us in this great adventure for God.
What would have happened if the plan Jesus had for his disciples had full worked? In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told his disciples to “go and make more disciples…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you”. Even though many have gone and shared Jesus, far too many have failed to be faithful in sharing about Jesus gift of eternal life. We are clearly reminded in II Timothy 2:2 how to share the gift. It is a pyramid process of sharing with someone who will share with someone else. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Is it happening like it should have, no, but it is happening across the world every day. Here is an example of these two scriptures becoming reality. This young Colombian girl was standing in a crowd listening to some Christians sharing about eternal life. At that moment she made a decision that changed her life. Following her university training she served in Thailand for four years sharing about Jesus and helping the needy. Then she returned home to Colombia and became part of the Christians in Action church which lead to her becoming a CinA missionary and returning to Thailand to partner with World Vision in helping street children. Her heart was to learn more ways to help, so she returned to the university to get her Master’s degree in this area. She is studying at the University of Argentina. While studying hard and getting top grades, she still makes time to share about the Jesus she loves. Here is a sentence out of her most recent email.
“My classmate/friend Adry received Jesus a month ago and is growing steadily in Christ and our Heavenly Daddy gives me plenty of opportunities to have conversations about Christian faith and spirituality with my classmates and professors…I enjoy this very much. I have a good group of friends from the Argentinian church, they are like my family here…It’s good to know I can count on them and we spend a lot of time together.”
This is what Jesus meant when he said ‘go and make disciples’. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote, pass it on to reliable believers who will tell others also. What if every follower of Jesus actually did share daily?
Christians in Action has missionaries actually doing this, daily, in over 20 countries.
Over the century’s Christians have done evangelism in many different ways. When Christians in Action started in the 1950’s evangelism was door to door and they got results. Then the Four Spiritual Laws became an effective tool. However, as our culture changed these methods became less effective as people where raised in a non-church environment. When individuals have a religious foundation or at least some understanding of God, it is easier to share the gift of life with them. Today so many individuals are raised in a home where God is never mentioned, so it takes longer to bridge the gap so you can share with them so they understand what you are talking about.
One of the methods that work today in parts of the world where there is a lack of health care and poverty is prevalent is the holistic approach to evangelism. For the last 20 plus years our Okinawa mission team has been sponsoring the Asian Relief and Medical Services (ARMS). Team members come from all over the world for these two weeks of intensive medical and dental outreaches. They just completed their two weeks and experienced amazing results. They treated 5,900 individuals in 8 days and they saw 2,980 individuals pray to receive Jesus as their Savior. This holistic approach to evangelism has seen and average over the 20 plus years of 40% of those receiving medical and dental care pray to receive Jesus as their savior.
There are always exceptions of individuals seeking God that we come across. However, this holistic approach to the gospel has proven to be a very affective methodology. Jesus used this method when he walk upon the earth has he feed the crowds, healed the sick and encouraged the weak. The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 9: 22-23 said; “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men that I may by all means save some. 23 And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
Can you remember when you were 8 years old? Earlier this month in India I was with a teenager who left home at age 8. His father was an alcoholic and was abusive to the family so he left home. He traveled to a town 15 miles away and tried to get a job in a couple restaurants but no one would hire him. Standing in the middle of the street he felt totally lost and desperate. Our Indian CinA evangelist and director of the boy’s home approached him to see if he could help. After checking with the police to see if this boy’s parents had put out a lost child report and finding none, took him to the boy’s home. Now several years later this young child is a teenager who loves Jesus and is growing into a wonderful young man.
Our CinA orphanage in southern India has 17 boys who have similar stories who all have come to love Jesus and are good students at school. Two young men who were previously in the orphanage have now moved on from the orphanage. One has graduated from Bible School and the other is studying at a university. God is growing these boys in the orphanage into amazing young men who are serving Jesus for life.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NIV
Our news media is filled with shootings, war, terrorism which can be discerning, but God has got this. God is in charge. Nothing catches him by surprise as he sees all things from the beginning of time to the end of time. During these times we must not live in fear but let the light of Jesus shine through us even stronger.
I have been researching information on the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. What is most shocking to me is that white evangelical Christians are the ones most opposite to Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. Yet God tells us in his Word to welcome the refugee and displaced. Most of the Syrian refugees seeking resettlement are women and children under 14. Media does not inform us that the U.S. has the most stringent 18 months evaluation process for refugees.
During the 1980-90’s the churches of Central California welcomed 10’s of thousands of Hmong and Laotian. They have assimilated into society and now are police officers, city officials and professors in our community. During this the 1980’s when I was pastor here in Fresno, our church helped resettle over 180 refugees. Then we birthed a Laotian Church which became the first Laotian Church within the Evangelical Covenant Church in America.
In light of Christmas season which celebrates the birth of the Savior of the world, who himself was a refugee as his parents took him to Egypt. They fled from the wicked King Herod who was seeking to kill him.
Remember who King David’s great grandparents where? Boaz and Ruth, Ruth was a refugee in Jesus’ lineage. So I am thinking and praying how CinA should approach this new refugee opportunity in the U.S.
During this Christmas Season let us love one another and as Jesus said even love your enemies.
It is amazing every time I see the outcomes of one of our medical and dental trips. A couple weeks ago our Latin America medical and dental team completed a week in Guatemala City area. In just four days the team ministered to over 1,400 individuals. Of those 1,400 plus 927 individuals made first time decisions to follow Jesus. Praise God! The local pastors in the areas we do the medical outreaches following every new believer. The pastors are provided a new opportunity to follow up on these new believers, provide the pastor with new church attendees and potential future leaders. The reason we do medical and dental outreaches is to have the face to face opportunity to share about the new life in Christ. Social care is always good, but the best is eternal care.
American cities bring in evangelist that cost over a million dollars for a couple nights of evangelistic outreach and often a few hundred make a decision to follow Jesus. This of course is excellent. Angels rejoice when one person follows Jesus. CinA’s medical and dental outreaches have seen well over 50,000 individuals follow Jesus in the 20 years that the Asia Relief and Medical Services (ARMS) has been doing these outreaches in Asia and now Latin America. Could this actually be the best evangelistic outreach approach?
On a different note, one of my most favorite chapters in the Bible is Ephesians chapter one. As followers of Jesus, I think we should read this chapter often. It reminds us who we are and what God is showering upon us. Ephesians 1:3 says that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” Every means every, as let us as believers and followers of Jesus live into that understanding. What a difference it would make in our life and how it would impact those around us.
One thing that I have heard over and over is the comment that ‘we live in difficult times.’ I would rather say that we live in exciting times of opportunity to let the light of Christ to shine through me. The Apostle John wrote in the first chapter of his letter, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1:5) Then John reminded us in verse 7, “if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” When we walk in the light like John is describing what happens? Read Matthew 5:16; “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.”
We as followers of Jesus must come to the realization that we are now in the minority in the U.S. like our brothers and sisters have and are experiencing in the rest of the world. The first century Christians experience this position as a minority, but used that to let their light shine in such a powerful way that in one generation that changed the world in which they lived. Jesus came to earth to serve and save the lost. He always served out of a minority position but thousands followed Him because his light was so bright and powerful. He was afresh breath of life to the people of His day. That is use today. We must simply love those around us and let the light of Christ shine through us. When we do people will be drawn to us and the light of Christ in us.
Don’t be afraid of the moral decay happening around us, but be afraid of not loving others and letting Christ shine through us. Never forget God is in charge and He is in control.
Christians in Action Missions International is simply trying to love others and let the light of Christ shine through us in the 24 countries that we have ministries. In the last 20 years alone through our Asian Medical and Dental Services over 52,000 individuals have invited Christ into their life and 120,000 individuals received medical and dental care. This does not include all the others who have made decisions for Christ through the ministries of our missionaries and country ministry leaders and pastors.
So don’t be discouraged nor depressed over what is happening around us.
Be loving – John 13:34-35 (NIV)
Let your light shine – Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
Be bold – II Corinthians 3:12 (NLT)
Here we are almost half way through 2015, before you know it the end of the year will be upon us. The question we all need to ask ourselves at years end is what have I really accomplished that will have eternal value. Proverbs 29:18 clearly reminds us: “Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.”
A vision is seeing the big picture, what you envision happening in your life, family or ministry. Another way of saying this is found in Habakkuk 2:2: “And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.”
A clear vision is reached only by clear goals or steps to the finish line. In Philippians 3:14 we read; “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Why am I talking about visions and goals? Because after 48 years in the ministry I have. seen to many pastors, missionaries and Christian workers in the work place just move through life without a vision and few goals. God expects us to dream big dreams, to cast big visions because we serve an incredibly big God who can do anything through us. Philippians 4:13 states; “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” When your vision is God’s vision all things become possible to those who believe. To see that God given vision become a reality, you must set short and long range goals. A goal must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
I am a lists guy, so each week I create a list (specific) of items or tasks that need to be accomplished that (measurable) week, month or in the near future. I set my goal for completing (achievable) that task or item by a certain date. I have to admit that on occasions my time line to completion or the size of the goal is not realistic. Therefore, I need to adjust my goal or timeline of completing that task.
Missionaries and pastors with no one watching over their shoulder can develop a culture of status quo, or just getting by. I have seen people in the ministry waste lots of precious time simply because they lack a clear vision structured around specific goals. Everything that we do in ministry should be our best and have eternal lasting value.
Work as if Jesus is returning today, plan as if he is far off and give Him your very best.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot wrote that in his journal shortly before giving his life on the mission field. He knew that the cost of the cause of Christ is everything you have.
When I think of what our CinA missionaries are doing everyday to spread the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, I am amazed. Here is some things that have been or are in motion this month through our missionaries.
Our Colombian team just completed another medical and dental outreach in the Medellin area last weekend. Our ARMS Team is leaving for their two week medical and dental outreach in the Philippines April 6th. A visit to our Guatemala ministries by a YWAM director resulted in many people praying to receive Christ as Savior. In Cuba, our missionary on the ground is holding a retreat in a week for 500 university students.
God is active everywhere; moving through his servants and ambassadors to impact individuals lives.
What have you done for Christ this week? Who have you touched with the life changing eternity bound gospel of Jesus Christ? I am amazed how many Christians are depressed or stressed out at what is happening in the world. God's Word in Revelation told of these days, but remember God is the victor. Satan has lost because Jesus arose from the grave and he is alive.
People are so open to the gospel in South America and I witnessed individuals being transformed before my eyes as they received Jesus into their heart. In early February I traveled to Medellin, Colombia and Lima, Peru with our CinA veteran missionary Tony Heredia. Tony has been serving with CinA since the early 1970’s and opened most of our CinA work in South America. He is the best personal evangelist that I have met and traveled with. He handed out tracts to every person he could from airline stewardess to cab drivers. While in Lima we decided to go to the center of the city by cab. Our cab driver was a clean cut single man in his 20’s. Tony sat in the front seat next to the cab driver and began his conversation that quickly lead to the plan of salvation. Before we reached the city center this young cab driver was repeating the prayer for salvation after Tony. He dropped us off in the city center so we could pick up some items. Returning to pick us up again in 2 hours. Back in the cab the driver was telling Tony his phone number and email so they could keep in touch. This young man had truly received Jesus as his savior on February 11, 2015.
I was amazed to watch the individuals thank Tony for the tracts that he gave to the waitress in the restaurant in Medellin to the model that was filming in Lima. Tony has one passion, to share Jesus with everyone he can. He sees individuals as walking dead, dead in their sins and heading for an eternity without Jesus. I wish I had a hundred more missionaries like Tony; fact is, I wish I was more like Tony.
The other reason that we were in Medellin, Colombia was to meet with our CinA missionaries and national pastors to develop a National CinA Board. CinA Colombia run by Colombians is becoming a reality. This is a fulfillment of II Timothy 2:2, were it says; “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” The missionaries poured their lives into these Colombian pastors who now are teaching others and sending them out to plant churches. Our church planting process has caught the attention of other mission groups who our missionaries are training. Since, we began Vision 60 four years ago in Colombia over 30 churches have been planted and several home groups that will become churches. The new President of CinA Colombia told me he wants to see a new church planted in every major city in Colombia. Praise God for his great vision.
Let me return to my Lima story about the cab driver. Sometimes God has a plan that we do not see and he interrupts our plans to make his happen. Tony and I
were to fly from Colombia to Lima and onto Arequipa, Peru to visit our CinA missionaries. The weather was very bad in Arequipa which is at 7,600 feet, so we had several plane delays out of Lima. Finally, we boarded our flight 10 hours after it was to leave. We flew to Arequipa, but the weather was still touch and go, so we circled in our big Airbus with over 100 people on board for some 30 minutes. Then the pilot decided to try to land and we were on the final approach with the wheels down, when the pilot realized he was landing short of the run away on top of buildings. Unknown to us, until he went full throttle and what felt like straight up to avoid crashing. He returned to Lima and all flights to Arequipa were canceled. We were disappointed as was our missionaries, but God had a different plan. He had a cab driver that he wanted to see saved. He also wanted us to meet a business man who was a strong Christian and originally from our church in Arequipa. Tony shared with him about our church planting training and he was excited and wants to plant a church in Lima. In Acts 16:6 the Apostle Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit, “…having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” This is how Tony and I felt about not being able to go to Arequipa.
Thank you for being a faithful to CinA as you are making a difference globally because lives are being transformed by the power of God.