God Wants You… to Be You

Have you ever wished you had someone else’s gifts and abilities? Someone who gets so much done. People listen to them. They have tremendous impact, and they look great too.

You have similar gifts and goals, but things just don’t work out the same for you. Try as you might, your impact just creates a smaller footprint. God doesn’t seem to use you the way he uses other people.

Here is the truth. God wants you, actually needs you, to be the best “you” that you can be and nothing more. He is the one who put you together. He has plans for you. He gave you his Spirit so you could become all he wanted you to be.

An Oscar-nominated musician, who has achieved some of his goals but failed in many more of them, wrote a note to himself which he keeps in his car. It says, “God is my only audience.”

God is our only audience, and he just wants you to be you.

Consider also that we each have no idea what our impact truly is (or isn’t). Only God really knows how we are changing the lives of those around us. You may smile at someone today, which could inspire kindness in them toward someone else, then that next person pays it forward, and so on. Your entire community can brighten because you genuinely smiled at someone.

The kingdom doesn’t need another Billy Graham, Chris Tomlin, Amy Carmichael, or Andy Stanley. The kingdom, and our King, needs you to be who he designed you to be. By being the best, Spirit-empowered you that you can be, you grow the kingdom, wherever you are and whatever you do.

So don’t fall into the comparing game. Keep God as your only audience, living to please him and bring him glory. Use every opportunity to share the gifts that he has given you to make a difference in your world. Leave everything else up to him.

You never know when you might be entertaining angels. (Hebrews 13:2)

I Resolve…

A new year, a new chance to focus on priorities that will make a difference. What will you resolve to do with 2019?

Most resolutions are quite predictable – lose weight, exercise more, and quit smoking are all in the top ten. Watch less TV or limit social media might be in there for most people, too. Almost all resolutions revolve around trying to use our resources in better ways.

We would like to encourage you to have some kingdom-focused resolutions. What might you focus on this year, beginning right now, that would advance the kingdom?

Pray around the world. Probably the best resource for this is Operation World (http://www.operationworld.org/). They list every country in the world along with statistics related to it and to the kingdom. It helps us pray knowledgeably for people we’ve never met. Oh, and don’t forget to pray for more harvesters, too!

Connect personally with a missionary supported by your church. Most missionaries get very little communication from people that know them back in their home country. Encourage them today by sending them an email or connecting with them in some other way.

Consider supporting a missionary financially. This doesn’t have to be a lot of money. God can take a small amount and multiply it. Consider the loaves and the fishes, and the teaching moment when disciples watched the widow give her two only pennies. If you don’t know a missionary already, your local church leadership could suggest someone.

Engage someone from a different culture. Choose someone in your community with whom you can continue the relationship. Begin by just starting up a conversation and work toward inviting them to your home for a meal.

Commit to getting to know people, those who are regularly in your life like the barista at your coffee shop or the cashier where you get groceries. Find out who they are and what they are going through. Pray for them regularly.

 

Pick one of the above and try to stick with it. We will join you. Even just one act of kindness can change someone’s day… or someone’s life. As you make yourself available to God, he will use you.

Happy New Year!

Living In Between

We just finished the holiday season and are now between last Christmas and next – only 356 shopping days away.

You might not live from Christmas to Christmas like some, but we all tend just to wait for major life events, living for them. For some, it’s as simple as getting through the work week to the weekend. We all have an “in between” that we are enduring to get to the next event.

Many of us look past the opportunities in these in-between times. We fail to live the days to their fullest. We survive on our anticipation for the next big thing, instead of the joy that each day brings – though those joys may be very normal, regular things.

 

Joseph, the youngest in his family, received a grand promise from God in a dream, that everyone in his family would bow down to him, that he would be a great leader. In his time, where birthright was everything, this must have seemed impossible, but he believed it enough to share the dream with his whole family. God did fulfill his promise, but not until years and years of in-between time passed. That in-between was not easy for Joseph. He was sold in to slavery by his brothers, ended up in Egypt, and was thrown into prison. He was forgotten until the perfect moment, the God moment, where everything flipped on its head and he became the ruler of all of Egypt, under only Pharaoh himself.

But Joseph didn’t waste the in-between days, weeks, months, and years. He lived every one of them with commitment and obedience. He became the head of Potiphar’s household, then a trusted leader in prison. He was faithful, no matter his circumstances.

 

In the big picture, we are in between very significant events… Christ’s first coming and Christ’s second coming. We are 2000 years from the first and who knows how long from the second. How shall we live our lives in this in-between? We should strive to live each day with purpose. We should live lives of faithfulness and obedience, just like Joseph.

None of us know God’s purpose for us or how we affect those around us. The truth is, though, that our choices and how we live have an impact on others. As we live out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the people we interact with are presented with the kingdom reality.

There is purpose in the process. No matter what our path, we can choose to live our in-between times for the glory of God. We can trust that God will use us to bring about his glory in those around us.

Live the fruit of the Spirit today, in every moment as if the lives of the people around you depended on it. You represent the King and the kingdom. Be the difference in someone’s life today.

Dare to be a Joseph

Around 2000 years ago a man named Joseph agreed to be part of an incredible, unbelievable plan. Apart from being extraordinary, this plan had very little upside for him.

An angel instructed him to marry a pregnant young woman, Mary, whose child he did not father. Shortly after, he took his very pregnant wife, by foot and donkey, on the long road to Bethlehem; there the baby was born. For some reason, Joseph’s relatives there could not house them, so Mary gave birth to Jesus in stable, with animals. Once again instructed by an angel, Joseph then led his young family in an escape to Egypt – King Herod wanted to kill Jesus, so they hid there until it was safe. Somehow, they eventually made it through their God-appointed exile to return to Nazareth, where Joseph lived as the step-father to the Son of God. No pressure!

When Jesus was twelve, the three of them traveled to Jerusalem, where Joseph lost track of Jesus when he hung around the temple, questioning the Jewish leaders. Can you imagine the panic that must have set in as they realized he wasn’t with them? Once they found Jesus and went home, we then lose track of Joseph entirely.

Joseph is a bit part in the story of redemption, and yet he gave it everything he had. He did not choose his part, it was chosen for him. Still he was faithful.

Most of our lives are like Joseph’s. We aren’t anything special. We are born to normal people and live normal lives. We try to obey God’s leading no matter what he asks us to do. Sometimes the path is easy, sometimes less so. Sometimes we entertain angels, sometimes we eat with pigs. Through it all we hope to be faithful, just like Joseph, so that when we meet Jesus face to face we hear, “Well done, my good and faithful friend (servant).”

Will you join us in daring to live our lives out in faithfulness to God’s leading, no matter where it takes us and no matter what the cost?

We are praying for you!

How can I go on a short-term trip with One Challenge?

So, you’re interested in going on a short-term mission trip. Where do you start?

Pray. The decision to go on any mission trip, short or long, should begin with conversation with our heavenly Father. The moment you connect with OC about a potential trip, we put you on our prayer list. Each week on Wednesdays and Thursdays, we pray for anyone considering missions and OC, because we know and have seen the power of prayer in missions.

Learn. If you decide to pursue OC, we sign you up for “The OC Way.” This short online course teaches our organization’s history and core values, and is required before beginning the application process. Of course, the Mobilization team is always available to answer questions at any time throughout this process. Email us at mobilization@oci.org and either Connor, Jeff, Josh, or Carole are happy to talk!

Apply. If you continue to feel that OC’s values align with yours and would be a good fit with how God is calling you, we move forward with the application process! For short-termers, we ask for four references, a completed application, and a personal supplement (as well as a few legal forms). These help us get to know you a little better, so we can decide together if OC can help you follow God’s leading.

Interview. Once we receive all your application materials, we set up an interview together either in person or over Skype! We may also ask you to meet with someone from our MemberCare department should any concerns arise – we want to make sure we know our missionaries and are well-suited to caring for them once they’re on the field.

Acceptance. Congratulations! You have been accepted to OC and we are so excited to have you! At this time, each missionary’s path can look different. Where you go, what you do, and for how long all factor in here. We begin active communication with your desired field of service in order to start setting your place up overseas.

Fundraise. The length, location, and living situation of your trip determine the support level needed. If you are planning to go longer term, we recommend working with a Tailored Fundraising coach – this is through an organization we partner with, and they can prove invaluable to your financial journey. They help you stay on task to reach your support goal, providing encouragement, accountability, and various other resources.

Train. Once again, the length and location of your trip can affect the amount of training required. Longer term (1 year+) might require attending CORE or Transitions Orientation, which are both programs to help prepare you before deployment; shorter term might require only some of that, or none – i.e. a 2 week trip does not require what a 6 month trip would.

Go. When you’re fully funded and have completed training, we pray over you and the ministry God has laid for you. We are with you every step of the way and continue to pray week after week. Although we always hope for smooth sailing for all our missionaries, we know things do come up. You will be partnered with a team in country that helps with immediate needs, and we’re always here in the US to help with logistics that can’t be handled on the field.

 

Blessings be upon you, for you are the harvesters of the Lord. May God use you in special ways to bring many closer to him and grow his kingdom around the world!