• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Easter Awakens Our Hearts to Hope

An Easter meditation from Janet (WT Brazil):

My family and I serve with World Team in Manaus, Brasil. Like many missionaries right now, we were unable to return to the field because of flights and airports shutting down due to the COVID pandemic. So we are temporarily marooned in Massachusetts until circumstances allow us to return.

Here in New England, it is spring. As my children and I were taking our daily stroll around our home, we couldn’t help but notice the new green shoots emerging from the ground. Among them were yellow daffodils, one of the earliest signs of spring’s arrival. After a long cold winter, we welcome their vibrant color to the landscape. I shared with my children how as a child, I watched with great anticipation for their blooms to appear because it meant that a new season was coming.

This small moment with my children gave me pause to reflect on the higher truth mirrored in the creation around me. As winter passes, gray winter months give way to green as new buds emerge from tree branches and spring up from the ground. Bleakness gives way to beauty and slowly flowers push their way through the earth. Hard soil softens as the ground warms and gentle rain provides the sustenance for plants, flowers and trees to grow and bloom. All that seemed dead was really just asleep….waiting for the proper time to re-awaken and be birthed anew.

C.S. Lewis once wrote “Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.” As we prepare to remember Christ’s death and resurrection, maybe it’s time to ask ourselves, “What in me needs to die?” In other words, what things do we need to metaphorically lay down in the grave so that we can live an abundant, resurrected life? What is hindering you from walking in the fullness of your new life in Christ?

As I have been adapting to the new rhythm of life that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us into, I have found myself at times just as easily distracted by many things that do not feed my soul. And I have discovered how times of crisis like this one reveal where my trust and hope really lies. I have felt convicted to put down my phone and stop getting caught up in things that I can’t control (that somehow make me feel like I’m in control?). Does anyone get that?!

What I have been learning lately from years on the mission field and now this COVID crisis is that times of crisis reveal where my hope lies. Our sense of security and control is lowered and this new vulnerability can create all kinds of emotions. Is something causing anxiety? Anger? Fear? Depression? There’s a reason I am having those emotions. Something is threatening my security or sense of control. I encourage you to take this time to reflect and do a soul-check, to spend time with Jesus and His Word and allow it to speak to your anxieties, worries, fears and frustrations.

And what better time to deny ourselves (whether intentionally or because we are being made to) than the Lenten season? Let’s not waste this precious time. May we look back one day and say to our children or family and friends, “Remember that time of quarantine? Remember how God moved in us? How He awakened His church to the things that really matter? How things changed not just for bad but for good?” After all, that is the Gospel message: Redeeming the time that we are given by living for the glory of God. In that you can guarantee, that nothing will ever be wasted.

As our hearts are reminded even more that we live in a broken world, let them also cry out with all creation for the Risen Lord to come like the sun rising on a glorious spring morning and once again make all things new.

Wrestling instructions

A helpful post from Karry which we will re-post here:

It seems all the world is united. We are waging a climactic battle against one common enemy. It is a virus about one-half micron tall. A few hundred years ago nobody understood. Certainly, when Paul wrote Ephesians, people knew nothing of germs.

Of course, we all should battle the Covid-19 virus. Let’s sequester ourselves, flatten the curve, and wash our hands. We believe, however, there are even greater things in play than our health or individual survival. Our ultimate concern has to do with eternity. We wrestle against the “rulers … authorities … cosmic powers over this present darkness … spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” As serious as the Covid-19 virus is, our ultimate battle is more serious. It has eternal consequences.

The whole world is living this trauma in different ways. Several times each day, we have to stop to remind ourselves. God has not lost. He has not lost a battle. He has not lost control. He has not lost sight of us. We have not slipped out of His protecting hands.

When anxiety encroaches and fear sneaks in, we stop, and we remember. We are wrestling a spiritual battle for minds and affections and allegiance — starting with us. The identity of our enemy is the devil and his evil spirits who operate under the cloak of this present darkness. Their strategy is to deceive our minds and hearts and, ultimately, to weaken our faithful allegiance to Christ. Anxiety and fear are their allies.

God supplies us with armor against such thoughts and emotions and impulses. The text says we are to take up the “full” armor God supplies. The first thing on is the warrior-girdle of truth. It is bound strong around the waist beneath all the other equipment and anchors everything in place.

Take truth. Bind it thick and strong around your core. Connect your thoughts to it. The warrior-girdle of truth will protect you from the devil’s lies and the fear he means to incite. The truth is, our perfect Father keeps his eyes on us. He has us always and forever in His hands. The world shakes now. But his love is unwavering. His intentions are undeterred. Our hope is certain. That is truth.

Lashed securely to the girdle of truth, our impenetrable breastplate is Christ’s righteousness; we have all of it. The devil cannot accuse us of sin. Jesus paid for our sin. This virus is not sent by God to destroy us. Jesus died for our sin. On our feet is the gospel of peace. This virus is not hostility from God. His anger was expended at the cross.

Faith is the shield that protects us from the fiery darts of the devil. Those lies are extinguished by faith. The reality and finality of our salvation in Christ is like a warrior’s helmet protecting our minds from the attacks of our enemy. Our salvation is sure.

While we battle to defeat Covid-19, we also remember our ultimate battle. Our primary means of wrestling comes in verses 18-20. We pray. God is our sovereign. Christ is our redeemer. The gospel is our peace. Our faith is in Him. Our salvation is settled. God’s Word is in our hands. We stand in this armor…to pray. We pray for each other, and all the saints. We pray for their protection. But we pray for more.

This armor of God is really for people like us – people who have aligned ourselves with God’s mission in history. This is a missionary’s text. It is missionary armor. I don’t want to lose sight of that. Especially in this time of crisis.  God, please grant us all boldness in witness.

All around the globe, we World Team members are quarantined. Paul himself, wrote this in chains. But he remembered, even in chains, he was Christ’s ambassador. While we wait, let’s pray and ask God to embolden our witness. Now while we are confined. And later once the quarantine is lifted.

Our Shepherd

Keep our eyes fixed on our Shepherd!

"The main line"

Resources Refresh

Sitting in discussions with our Asia leaders last week, I learned of the obstacles and challenges they each face in ministry to the unreached in that part of the world.  I was also amazed by the number of opportunities they have in front of them to launch new works to new unreached people groups.

Yet, there is a consistent problem these leaders run up against – the lack of resources, primarily people resources. 

If they just had the people, they could extend the reach of their team to a new people group, but they just can’t seem to find or mobilise the people that they need.

Sometimes, in discouragement, we might say that our lack of resources simply indicates that it is not God’s will for us to enter this new people group.  And that could be true.  Sometimes, we might say that the people resources we currently have are all the resources God has given us for the moment and we just have to work with what we have.  And that could be true. 

Sometimes though we might just need to look at the situation with ‘new eyes’.

For one, we might look at our prayer life with ‘new eyes’ and determine that it may need a “refresh”.  Jesus said in an oft quoted text: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:3). Two things catch our attention in this passage: that we are called to ‘earnest prayer’; and that the ministry we are seeking to resource is His ministry.  Rather than focusing on what we do not have (workers), we should put our focus back on the God of the harvest whose resources are unlimited.

For another, we might look at our ‘resource poor’ situation with ‘new eyes’ and recognize that we are not alone; we are part of a larger community.  Rather than feeling that we need to find these resources all on our own, we might begin to network with other like-minded WT workers who could come alongside of us in seeking the resources we need to minister to new unreached people groups that God lays on our hearts.

Finally, we might look at our current team situation with ‘new eyes’ and realize that we are actually ‘resource rich’ with current workers and colleagues within WT.  A survey done several years ago demonstrated that the average number of years of ministry on field among all our workers was: 18 years.  That’s a wealth of experience!  And maybe, we might begin to pray and challenge some of our colleagues to consider serving on other teams that are just starting, and bring that experience to this new team

May we earnestly pray the God of the harvest to supply the resources that we need!

Why I get excited

I met Jordan & Scarlett for the first time this past Sunday.  Or maybe I should say that I met them for the first time “in person” as we probably met when I spoke to their group at an Assessment Centre via Zoom presentation. 

They are seeking to join one of our new church planting ministry teams. 

Their enthusiasm is contagious.  They are excited about what God has been teaching them over the past year [even though difficult at times]; they are excited about the training they are receiving by serving in their local church, and they are excited about the work to which they feel called.

Three questions came to mind as we talked.  The first was: what has been the biggest blessing this past month? The second: what obstacle(s) do you see in front of you?  And finally: if you were the focus of a WT Global prayer thrust, what would you ask for?  

It was their answer to the last question that moved me to talk about them here.  They said, without hesitation: solidify their relational and family networks, and be at 75% of our support by April 2020 so that they could begin to plan for attending pre-field training!

The excitement of ‘going’ and yet at the same time the desire to ‘leave well’ and address relational networks and struggles that may exist.  I was challenged and blessed by their honesty.

You’ve probably guessed by now, one of the obstacles they shared that they are facing: the difficulty of partnership development and finding the needed support.  It hasn’t been an easy journey, but they have learned much through the process of how God is at work to provide for their needs.

They also know that they are part of a much larger World TEAMSo what can you and I do?  Three (3) possible ways: PRAY that God would bring in their remaining support and ‘thrust’ them out.  DROP them a line to let them know you are praying for them [send me a note and I’ll let you know how to write to them].  CONNECT them to networks you know who might be open to joining their partnership team.

There are many other Jordans and Scarletts out there.  Will we stand with them, pray with them, and see them sent out?

Worth the read (again)

I have been working my way through the three volume work of William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour.  It’s Gurnall’s meditation on Ephesians 6 and the armour of God.  A modern version of this work has been published. 

As promised, over the next few weeks, from time to time, I will share quotes from Gurnall’s work. I hope these quotes might be of encouragement and challenge to each of us. As well as to convince some of the benefit of ploughing through the 900 pages!  Here’s a quote that should give us food for reflection:

Of the two strains of pride, I think spiritual pride must be far more odious to the nostrils of God, for it is on a higher plain than carnal pride. The life of a Christian, as a Christian, is superior to the life of a man as a man. And as the natural man is proud of those things which make him seem superior in the natural state (i.e., wealth, honor, beauty), so the Christian is prone to puff himself up when he perceives that he has superior spiritual attributes.

Pride always destroys love and separates saints. Without love for all the brethren, we are bound to lose much that God wants to give. The Bible says that every saint has been given gifts to benefit the body of Christ.

So beware of pride!  The only thing that will keep you from it is humility. Remember whom you wrestle with – spiritual wickedness. Their ploy is to lift you up high in order to give you a harder fall. They will try to convince you that your spiritual accomplishments are a result of your own efforts and that you deserve the credit for them. Surely you know this is not true!  In case you have forgotten, think back to what you were like before the Holy Spirit came to you with gifts from God’s storehouse.  How can you be proud of another’s bounty?  You may be able to impress other men with your gifts, but you will not impress God.  He knows where they all came from.

How can the Christian escape those persistent self-promoting thoughts?  Run from them as you would from an enraged bear. Do not stand still to listen to these lies, or soon the devil will have you erecting a monument to yourself with the glory of your God-given gifts.  Remind yourself daily how weak you are and how utterly dependent on God for every good and perfect gift.”