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Are You Worth the Risk?

The president of a tremendously impactful global ministry was once asked how he got his start, and his response was this: “Someone believed in me and gave me a chance.”

We love that example of an unconditional opportunity given to someone untested and who could fail, but who is worth the risk.
As we move forward into the next generation of missions, we look for both people who need someone to believe in them AND those who will risk giving those opportunities. Of course, this is easier said than done.

How do you know what kind of person is worth that risk?

They are passionate: focused on the object of their passion as they actively pursue it. There is more than just talk with them. There is action. They are on the move.

They are committed: few will take risks on those who gives up easily, but they who push through adversity, who try, fail, and try again are worth investing in.

They are experienced: even if only minimally so, they have not been idle. They are at work adding to those experiences. They know what is needed to move forward, and they relentlessly seek it out.

They are learners: teachable people move forward more than anyone else. Why? Because they learn from both their own and others’ experiences, and apply what they’ve learned to future situations. In our ever-changing world, that ability is critical.

They are good followers: just as everyone is a leader, they are all also followers of someone else. The best leaders learn what their followers need through their own experiences as a follower.

What kind of person will take the risk?

They are big picture people: the story isn’t really about them, they are a only small part of a much bigger saga. Sometimes the best part to play in the story is to mentor the next hero.

They remember their start: someone once believed in them. They are humble, and know that no one is self made. They want to extend that chance they were once given to someone else.

They understand synergy: working together accomplishes more. It means a wider audience, increased product, or expanded influence. Collaboration creates community and relationship, fostering personal and corporate growth.

They understand legacy: investing in the future is crucial. It is the only way to perpetuate the current and past good work. New people bring their own gifts to old ideas. Things change, and change is hard, but new life results from it. Seeds must die for plants to sprout forth.

 

Are you looking for someone to believe in you, and give you that chance? Give us a shot. Make us believers in you!

How Far Will You Go… For the Kingdom?

The scene opens with Jesus and the twelve, and those attending them, gathered in a second story room celebrating the Passover. Jesus had sent Peter and John ahead earlier that day to prepare for the meal and in all of the rush, the custom of washing guests’ feet as they entered had been overlooked. No one seemed to mind, though. No servants had been at the door to take care of it, and the disciples all knew that role was beneath them.

The formalities had begun, with the first two cups being passed, and now they were on to the meal. The discussions at the table ranged widely, but the most common were about the strange things Jesus had been saying lately…something about death and sacrifice and that his hour had come. None of them could make heads or tails of it.

Suddenly, right in the middle of dinner, Jesus got up and walked to the doorway. All eyes followed him, brows furrowed with wonder, as he shed his robe and outer garments. Stripped to a simple tunic, he picked up the large servant’s towel used to dry washed feet and wrapped it around himself. Murmurs filled the room. He picked up a basin, filled it with water and headed back to the table where the rest were reclining on pillows. Jesus began to wash their feet. All eating stopped and many felt sick to their stomachs. Jesus had done some crazy things over the three years they had known him but this…never anything like this.

For Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, this was the last straw. He had already had his doubts, and this sealed the deal. How could the Messiah, the supposed conquering king of Israel who would deliver them from Rome, stoop so low as to wash the feet of his followers? His blood boiled with disdain as Jesus came to him. What good was all the power that Jesus had displayed if he was going to take this posture, that of a house servant? Darkness filled his eyes and his mind. His decision was made.

The enemy would have his way with Judas.

 

We often think of the humility Jesus demonstrated by washing the disciples feet that night, but rarely about that specific interaction between Jesus and Judas. Peter, as usual, stole the limelight with his verbal outbursts, and it gave Judas the chance to steal away and meet with the Jewish leaders.

Jesus, in love and humility, became a servant to the one he knew would betray him just hours later. He demonstrated just how low he would go to obey the will of his father: from the creator of all, to a servant, to a convict dying a humiliating death on a cross.

In light of what Jesus has done to establish the kingdom, how far are we, his family, willing to go to obey his leading for us? Whose feet are we willing to wash?

Don’t Sweat the Details

A potential kingdom worker once asked us, “What ingredients are needed to be a successful, healthy, long-term missionary?”

This is a great question, one that we think everyone who is considering getting involved in cross-cultural work should be asking. Simply put, we’d say major on the majors and don’t sweat the details, but we’d like to delve a bit deeper.

Being successful in cross-cultural ministry rests on four basic principles:

  1. Missionary ministry should be only out of direct obedience to God’s leading.
  2. Missionary work should be an extension of who you already are and what you already do.
  3. Missionary work should be an extension of a church body, both a sending church and the body of Christ in the location of service.
  4. Missionary work is most successful when it comes out of a life of balance and boundaries.

 

Obedience should drive everything we do as it relates to the kingdom of God. Out of obedience, we love God and we love each other, as Christ has loved us. Out of obedience, we go about as workers who don’t need to be ashamed. Out of obedience, we go to every nation and every tribe with the gospel. It is as sinful TO TRY TO BE a missionary if God has not directed you as it is NOT TO BE a missionary if he has.

 

Most people consider “calling” a special announcement from God to go into ministry, and it could be understood that way. We like to see “calling,” though, as what God has designed, gifted, educated and experienced you to do. WHERE you do that, we refer to as God’s leading. God’s leading for you changes; his calling on your life rarely does. If everything in you is designed to be a teacher, then you should teach. It’s God’s calling on your life. Where you teach would be God’s leading for you at this moment in your life. We use all these semantics to reinforce that successful missionaries are ones that apply their calling wherever God is leading!

 

Jesus established the church to be his body, his physical presence here on earth. Our assignment while here is to be Jesus to each other and share him with the world around us. We ARE the church, it isn’t some place we go to. It follows that missionaries should be part of and sent by the body of Christ in their home culture, and work to facilitate the work of the body of Christ in their “target” culture. All missionary work finds its foundation in the church and should move the church forward, in loving God, in loving each other and in expanding the kingdom of God.

 

Balance and boundaries are not things that most missionaries have. In truth, most of us don’t have them in our lives, especially in North America. Many things cause this, including the vastness of the need, the urgency of the task, the responsibilities of family and friends and even our own pride. Without balance and boundaries, though, things begin to fall apart. Picture a plate twirler: balance is not only needed to get the first plate twirling, but also to go from plate to plate and keep them going. Boundaries limit the number of plates that can be twirled. Break those boundaries, and the plates come tumbling down into a porcelain mess. Thriving and doing kingdom work in a different culture demands balance and boundaries!

 

Preparation for cross-cultural ministry requires commitment, and takes time. If you feel God is leading you toward this type of commitment, give us a call or shoot us an email.

Grafted

The NFL draft happens today. Many college hopefuls have spent most of their lifetimes preparing for this event. Everything they are is focused on this one thing. Getting drafted presents the opportunity of a lifetime. Most of us can grasp the excitement of getting paid extreme amounts of money to play a game as a way to make a living.

Let’s say that, in some fantasy universe, it happened to you. What a celebration there would be! You would undoubtedly have difficulty containing your emotions about what you had just accomplished. Your lifetime of “blood, sweat, and tears” paid off. You made the grade. You have arrived.

Upon showing up to training camp you see lots of familiar faces… veterans who have been on the team for previous seasons, other rookies who were drafted along with you, some undrafted players selected for what they could bring to the team, and… Fred.

Wait… Fred? Who is Fred?! He wasn’t on anyone’s war room draft chart. It’s doubtful that he has ever even played football beyond a backyard pickup game. How could he possibly be wearing the same uniform you are? He has done nothing you have done to get here. He just is here.

You ask around and find out from other confused players that Fred was put on the team as the result of a direct order from the front office. The team GM called him personally and asked him to show up, and so he did. What kind of team did you get drafted to? What happened to fairness and rewarding hard work?

In our upside down kingdom reality we find that none of us are “drafted” in, but all of us are “grafted” in. We are all “Freds” on God’s team. Not one of us deserves to be here. In fact, if we are honest with ourselves, our “training” really has prepared us to be on the other team.

We are paupers made princes and princesses, lepers made clean, broken people made whole, and outcasts made heirs to a kingdom. This is a story too good to be true. It is beyond our comprehension, but it is certainly true. Jesus has forged the way and sealed us for it with his Holy Spirit.

Inconceivable!

So what do we do now?

Find more “Freds” and bring them to God’s “graft day!”

Why Me?

Why me?

Most of us have probably said this, at least in our heads, if not aloud. For some of us, this phrase may be well-used! Life rarely plays out the way we want it to and, at personal crisis moments, the words why me? find their way across our lips, minds, and hearts. Consider the following story.

Having just escaped an angry mob on the temple grounds, Jesus, and those following him, walked by a beggar who had been born blind. One of his followers asked what everyone else was thinking, “Master, was it this man’s sin or the sin of his parents that caused God to judge him with blindness?” Jesus’ response stopped them in their tracks. “Neither,” he said, “This man is blind so that God might be glorified in him, not because God is judging him.”

Jesus spit on the ground, mixed it with some dirt, and put the mixture on the man’s eyes. “Go and wash this off in the Siloam pool,” Jesus told the man. He did so, and went home being able to see for the first time.

Why did Jesus’ followers think that the man’s blindness was a result of sin? The understanding of many Old Testament passages promising God’s blessing for those who pleased him and judgment for those who sinned against him was that people who suffered were being punished by God. Jesus reset their thinking by bringing glory to God in healing the man.

We still tend to think this way today. We believe that if we are doing our best to obey God, he will bless us, protect us, and shield us from suffering. When things don’t go our way, those words easily to come up in our minds. Why me?

Maybe Jesus’ needs to reset our thinking as well.

Join us in renewing our minds when it comes to suffering and hardship. We don’t need to minimize the difficulty. Hard things are hard. Suffering hurts. We should be supportive of each other in and through it all. Instead of wallowing in the why me? lament, let’s see these things as a canvas upon which God’s glory may be painted.

Glorify yourself in us, O God. Glorify yourself in us!