You may have heard some people say that because the cost of supporting a Western Missionary and their family is so high, it’s better to take that money and invest it in national workers. I’ve personally heard some teachers that are pretty adamant that the Lord no longer needs “Western Missionaries” on the foreign field at all, and I don’t agree with that statement. In this next short clip, I ask the pastors from our #missionsunplugged Conference this question.
After our Missions Unplugged Conference I sat down with our speakers and asked them a couple more questions that people had texted us during our Q & A session earlier that day. (which you can see in full HERE)
Here is the first of six videos where the guys will answer the questions we never got to. My prayer is that this dialogue can be an encouragement to you as you may have had some of these same questions go through your mind. Stay connected to watch the the rest of these!
I came across this blog post on The Gospel Coalition’s site and thought it was definitely worth sharing. Let’s pray and ask the Lord to give us practical ways like these to show our missionaries how much we appreciate and love them.
In my own experience, church members often appreciate missionaries, admire their sacrifice for the Gospel and think highly of their ministries. Yet it’s hard to understand that returning for furlough to one’s “home” country can be a highly exhausting and stressful experience for many missionary families. Between the tension-filled task of an international move, setting up a new place to live, a frenzied travel schedule and finding one’s missionary budget stretched to the limit, a missionary faces a multitude of challenges during furlough.
Many missionaries that I know get reprimanded by their mission leaders to physically rest, spiritually recharge, invest in their marriages and reflect on ministry practices during furlough. These are formidable challenges amidst busy schedules. To borrow a phrase from Henry Nouwen, many missionaries come home on furlough as “wounded healers” who desperately need the body of Christ during their home assignment.
Recently, Jason Helopoulos challenged us to be like Philemon in encouraging the hearts of the Lord’s people. The apostle Paul commended Philemon as embodying traits which refreshed the body of Christ: “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people” (Philemon 1:7).
What would it look like for the body of Christ to refresh the hearts of missionaries on furlough? Here are a few practical ways that you can serve those who serve:
• If you are part of a bible study or small group, adopt a missionary family from the supported missionaries of your church. Pray for them regularly. Send care packages, birthday cards and encouraging letters.
• Buy a kindle for a missionary. Tell them to make a long list of books they want to read. Regularly buy kindle books for them when they return overseas.
• If you are a dentist, offer free or discounted dental work. If you are a lawyer, offer to update their last will and testament. If you are a counselor, offer free marital counseling (i.e. a marriage tune-up). Use your vocational gifts to bless the missionary body of Christ.
• Offer to host a dinner party where the missionary can share about the ministry. If there are financial needs, share those needs with the group so the missionary doesn’t have to.
• Offer to keep in storage some of their earthly belongings while they are serving overseas.
• Send a missionary to a Christian conference or spiritual retreat where they will be equipped and refreshed for the ministry.
• Purchase return plane tickets for the missionary’s family. Two overseas trips in a short time frame (to the States & back to their field of service) are extremely expensive for most missionary budgets.
• Offer to give the missionary couple a date night every week or two. Instead of inviting the whole family to dinner, offer to take the kids for a night.
• Own a condo or time-share? Gift a week (and spending money) to a missionary family.
• Nominate yourself as Chairperson of their Furlough Committee. You might be a committee of one, but you can scout out housing in advance of their furlough, equip the place with some furniture and leave a Fruit Basket (or Krispy Kreme donuts) on their front step when they arrive from overseas.
• Loan (or give) a car to a missionary family to use during their furlough, and find a couple car seats for their children.
• Tell the missionary all the ways you have diligently prayed specifically for them.
• If the missionary family homeschools, offer to buy some curriculum or books for the missionary kids.
• Have your own kids adopt a missionary family. When the family returns overseas, encourage your kids to pray for the missionary kids’ international or home schooling, friendships with national kids, foreign language learning, good health, and that the kids will come to love and serve Jesus Christ.
• Ask to see the pictures. All of them. Via photos, see their adopted clan, meet their missionary colleagues and get a feel for their ministry context. It´s cathartic for missionaries when people are interested in their life and ministry.
• Ask the missionary family for a list of movies they want to watch during their next term overseas. Purchase 25 DVD movies so that the missionaries can enjoy a “movie night” during their next term of service. Netflix and quality DVD movies (gasp!) still are not available in many countries.
• Set up a home office for their furlough: desk, chair, computer and printer.
• Encourage your kids to invite the missionary kids over for playdates, play on their soccer teams and take them to youth group. Remember, while the parents may enjoy long-lasting friendships with members of their home church, missionary kids often experience all these new people as strangers.
• Let them know you are filled with joy at their service and sacrifice for the Gospel.
• Tell them all the ways you will be praying for them during their next missionary term.
One of least-helpful things people often say to missionaries on furlough is this: “Let me know how I can help.” That places the missionary in a difficult spot – is this person just saying that to be kind? Do they really want to hear about our deepest frustrations and concerns right now? Are they asking to be on our support team?
A better idea would be to choose 1-2 practical ways to refresh the hearts of the missionary saints among you. Pray for them. Invest in their ministry. Become personally invested in their lives and in their ministry. Take the challenge: dare to be a Philemon to a missionary. I bet you’ll be glad you did.
The clip below is a 20 minute video discussion that I have with Pastor Brian Weed, the College and Young Adults pastor here at C.C Philly. In this video we basically talk about what advice I would give to someone who may feel called to missions. I hope that it can be a resource for those who have a stirring in their hearts but may not know what to do next.
A friend of mine sent me this article by Daniel B. Wallace, a top Greek scholar. I think it explains very clearly what Matthew intended as he wrote Jesus’ last words to his disciples and the end of the Gospel of Matthew. These points can be very helpful for us to think on and pray about.
“I don’t know the source, but I suspect it is from a Christian magazine article written in the last 75 years. My guess is that this idea would have found fertile soil during the Great Depression (when funds were definitely low and excuses for lack of action could be high; for a parallel, see Jas 2.1-13).
There’s a myth foisted on the Christian public about the meaning of the Great Commission (Matt 28.19-20). It goes something like this: “In the Greek, the word translated ‘Go’ is really a participle and it literally means, ‘as you are going.’ But the words ‘make disciples’ are an imperative in Greek. That’s the only imperative in these two verses. Therefore, the Great Commission is not a command to go; rather, it is a command to make disciples as you are going, or make disciples along the way.” The exposition based on this understanding of the Greek text then attempts to salve the consciences of the congregation, permitting them to do nothing about the lost if it at all means going out of their way.
There are two major problems with this treatment of Matt 28.19-20. First, it is a misunderstanding of the Greek. Second, it is a misunderstanding of the historical context. This blog will deal with the first issue.
As for the Greek, it is true that the word translated ‘go’ is a participle. But it is not a present participle, which is the one that would be required if the meaning were ‘as you are going.’ It is an aorist participle, πορευθέντες (poreuthentes). As such, it hardly means ‘as you are going’ or ‘while you are going.’ The basic idea would be ‘after you have gone,’ and as such would presuppose that one would have gone forth before making disciples. But in collocation with certain kinds of verbs this basic meaning is altered. When an aorist participle is followed by an aorist imperative in narrative literature, it almost invariably piggy-backs on the force of the imperative. That is, it is translated like an imperative because the author is trying to communicate a command.
A great illustration of this is found in Matt 2.13-14: “‘Get up and take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to look for the child to kill him.’ Then he got up and took the child and his mother during the night, and fled to Egypt.” In v. 13, “Get up and take” is a translation of an aorist participle followed by an aorist imperative. That the reader is to understand that this was a dual command is seen in the fact that Joseph got up during the night and fled to Egypt. The urgency was not in taking Jesus and Mary only; it was in getting up quickly, then taking the child and his mother out of Bethlehem.
The construction in which the participle and verb combine so that the participle borrows from the mood of the main verb is known as attendant circumstance.
With the same participle as is found in Matt 28.19, we see this idea repeated elsewhere in Matthew. Here are all of the passages in Matthew of the aorist participle of poreuomai followed by an aorist imperative (each time the translation of the participle is italicized):
* Matt 2.8: “Go and look carefully for the child.”
* Matt 9.13: “Go and learn what this means.”
* Matt 11.4: “Go and tell John what you hear and see.”
* Matt 17.27: “Go to the lake and throw out a hook”
* Matt 28.7: “Go quickly and tell his disciples”
* Matt 28.19: “Go and make disciples”
Matthew 9.13 even has both the same participle and the same imperative as Matt 28.19. What you will notice is that in every instance the main idea is what the imperative says (look carefully, learn, tell John, throw out a hook, tell his disciples). But the participle is never to be taken in a casual sense of ‘as you are going.’
However, when the present participle of poreuomai is used, the idea of ‘as you are going’ is indeed found. Here are all the references in Matthew (with the translation of the participle in italics):
* Matt 10.7: “As you go, preach this message”
* Matt 11.7: “While they were going away, Jesus began…”
* Matt 28.11: “While they were going, some of the guard went into the city…”
Check any English translation. They should all tell the same story. If Matthew had wanted to say ‘as you are going, make disciples’ he would have used the present participle of poreuomai instead of the aorist. In every other instance when the aorist participle is followed by an imperative in Matthew, the force of the participle is a command. However, you should also notice that the command to go is a necessary prerequisite for fulfilling the main injunction in the sentence. It cannot be dispensed with, but neither is it the main point. This is why Greek uses the participle instead of two imperatives: the second imperative is almost invariably the main point, while the aorist participle is the necessary prerequisite. For example, Peter could not throw a hook in the lake until he went to the lake (Matt 17.27); the women could not tell Jesus’ disciples that he had been raised from the dead until they went (Matt 28.7). How does this relate to the Great Commission? Essentially, it means that the apostles must go before they could make disciples.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that grammar is inconsequential! Matthew’s grammar paints a picture and urges an action, and we seriously err if we neglect what our Lord is really teaching at the end of this Gospel”.
The month of Ramadan started yesterday. I think it’s a great time to be remembering to pray for the Muslim world. Currently almost 1/4 of the worlds population are Muslim, rising from 12% in the last 100 years. Though Islam is growing, we also know that many Muslims are coming to Christ every day. Disillusioned by Islam, seeking a loving God, and freedom from their sins, many Muslims have put their faith in Christ, are we need to be praying for this movement that is happening all around the world. As hundreds of millions of Muslims are seeking Allah to reveal himself to them, and are seeking him for specific things in their lives, let’s pray that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would reveal Himself to them as the True, and Living God, and that they would know Jesus, His Son, as their Messiah and Savior.
For daily topics to be praying for during the month of Ramadan you can go HERE .
Also, if you want to read more about Ramadan, and in particular the “Night of Power” – which is the last 10 days of Ramadan, when many Muslims have seen visions of Jesus, and have turned to Christ, then please read below. I took this from 30-days.net who have done a great job giving us the facts, and the resources to be praying.
The Meaning of Ramadan
The name Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word ramida or ar-ramad, denoting intense scorching heat and dryness, especially the ground. From the same word there is ramdaa, meaning ‘sunbaked sand’ and the famous proverb Kal Mustajeer minar ramadaa binnar – to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Some say it is so called because Ramadan scorches out the sins with good deeds, as the sun burns the ground.
The Special Feeling of Ramadan
Ramadan brings out a special feeling of emotional excitement and religious zeal among Muslims of all ages. Though fasting is mandatory only for adults, children as young as eight willingly observe fasting with their elders. Children look forward to the excitement of sighting the moon and eating special meals with their families. Adults appreciate the opportunity to double their rewards from God and seek forgiveness for past sins. As Ramadan emphasizes Muslim brotherhood and community all feel a particular closeness.
Muslims have to change their whole physical and emotional selves during this 30 long days of fasting. A typical day of fasting begins with getting up early, around 4:30a.m. and sharing a meal called Sahur together before the fast begins at dawn, about 5:10a.m. As dawn breaks, the first of five daily prayers, Fajr, is offered.
As the day proceeds, fasting Muslims are constantly bombarded with messages from their stomachs that it is time for breakfast, snack, lunch, and so on. And each time, Muslims remind themselves that they are fasting for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah and seeking his mercy. They offer the second and third prayers during early and late afternoon, respectively.
Fasting helps one to experience how a hungry person feels and what it is like to have an empty stomach. It teaches one to share the sufferings of the less fortunate. Muslims believe that fasting leads one to appreciate the bounties of Allah, which are usually taken for granted – until they are missed!
Throughout the day Muslims are encouraged to go out of their way to help the needy, both financially and emotionally. Some believe that a reward earned during this month is multiplied 70 times and more. For this reason, Ramadan is also known as the month of charity and generosity.
To a Muslim, fasting not only means abstaining from food, but also refraining from all vice and evils committed consciously or unconsciously. It is believed that if one volunteers to refrain from lawful foods and sex, they will be in a better position to avoid unlawful things and acts during the rest of the year.
Breaking The Daily Fast During Ramadan
The fast is broken at sunset. The Prophet Muhammad recommended breaking the fast with dates. Muslims are urged to invite others to break the fast with them. These gatherings are called Iftar parties.
Just after breaking the fast, and before dinner, Muslims offer the fourth of the five daily prayers, which is called the Maghrib prayer. After dinner, Muslims go to their houses of worship, called Mosques, to offer the Isha prayer, which is the last of the five daily prayers. The day ends with a special voluntary prayer, the Taraweeh, offered by the congregation reciting the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.
The Last 10 Days of Ramadan
The last ten days of Ramadan are considered highly blessed, especially the 27th night which is also called the ‘Night of Power’, or the ‘Night of Destiny’. It is believed that on this night the prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Qur’an. For many Muslims, this period is marked by a heightened spiritual intensity and they may spend these nights praying and reciting the Qur’an.
After 30 days of fasting, the end of the month of Ramadan is observed with a day of celebration, called Eid-ul-Fitr. On this day, Muslims gather in one place to offer a prayer of thanks. It is traditional to wear new clothes, visit friends and relatives, exchange gifts, eat delicious dishes prepared for this occasion, and wait patiently for the next year.
I was just looking through my new copy of “Operation World”, and was thinking about ways that I could point my family toward praying for those who haven’t heard of, and don’t know about, the most precious gift in Christ Jesus. We have all heard the phrase “He is the reason for the season”, and that is absolutely correct. How sad it is that still 1/3 of the world has little to no access to that “Reason” and have no access to the gospel in their own language – some 6,000 people groups still unreached or least-reached. It’s also sad that in our own country we have commercialized this holiday to the point that even many believers have fallen into the business of buying, and have gotten so wrapped up with things that will lead to no spiritual fruit. I think as believers we should pray about opportunities to use this season to point our families and Christian brothers and sisters to be praying for those around the world that still need to hear the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some things we could do would be :
1. Buy a copy of “Operation World”, and every night at dinner read/pray through each country using the running calendar at the bottom of the book.
2. Use the tradition of giving gifts for the glory of God. Buy things for others that will help them in praying for the nations. If it’s for a spouse, buy a missionary biography. Adoniram Judson, John G. Patton, Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael – great books have been written about their sacrifice for the gospel, and the reward that followed. If they don’t like to read – buy it anyway, and read it out loud together before bed!
For your kids – there are wonderful picture books about these missionary heroes of the faith (in our bookstore especially), as well as young reader books that would be a great introduction to these missionary heroes. In addition to those books, you can also buy for them cartoons that they can watch about the life of these missionaries, and the people groups that they were seeking o reach. Check out the Torchlighters Set which includes 8 movies – you can get them at our bookstore, or from www.visionvideo.com.
3. Talk to your kids about the area that Jesus was born, and show them where it was on a map. Begin to pray for Muslims in the Middle East, and for our persecuted brothers and sisters in those closed countries. Log on to www.persecution.com and read some of the stories on the Voice of the Martyrs website about the persecution that is currently taking place in the Middle East.
4. Buy a world map for your family for Christmas so that when you pray for these various countries/people groups you can put a visual on where they are. As American’s we need to bone up on our geography – it’s shocking how much we don’t know/care about where places like “Suriname” are. Here’s your test. Where is Suriname ?
5. Keep “Operation World” next to your couch or night stand so every time you hear about another catastrophe/humanitarian crisis/civil war, you can look up that country and be praying for their spiritual awakening and the needs of the believers in that place.
6. Keep Christ at the center of everything that will be taking place over these next couple of weeks. When we talk to our kids, or our spouse, lets lift up the name of Jesus, pointing each other to His marvelous grace and mercy in our lives and to His many, many, many blessings that He showers on us every day! In remembering His blessings, let’s pray for those who are still living in the darkness of their sin, and ask the Lord to shine the light of His grace and mercy in believing faith on their lives. Let’s not succumb to the enemies plans to get us so side tracked with meaningless things that we don’t redeem this Christmas season for the glory of Christ.
Hello everyone. I’m excited to write that we have just received the newest edition of Operation World here at the C.C. Philly bookstore. For those of you who are familiar with this book, I don’t have to say much about it, except go get it! For those who are not familiar with Operation World – let’s just say it’s a MUST HAVE for any believer who is serious about world evangelism, and praying for the nations to know the glory of God in Christ Jesus. I could spend lots of time writing all the different reasons why you should get it, but I won’t. I’ll just point out that it is an extremely helpful tool, packed with information about every country of the world, and will aid you as you pray for the nations. My encouragement if you have a family would be to grab a copy, and read it after dinner or devotions, and use it as an aid to pray for each specific country – maybe dedicating a week to each country – that’s what I’m doing. I’ll end this by quoting what Joni Eareckson Tada said about this book.
“For years I have used Operation World to pray for people in every tongue, tribe, and nation. Operation World is time-honored and well tested global manual of prayer which will provide for you everything you need to bring the nations of the world before the throne of God. It will expand your heart, vision, and passion for the peoples of the world and God’s deep desire to reach those in the darkest corners with His help and hope”.
Let’s start speeding the work of world evangelism through prayer! Get your copy at Straight From the Heart Bookstore, or at http://www.operationworld.org/.
Hello everyone, sorry it’s been awhile since my last post. I guess I’m not doing very well with my commitment for a once a week update. I just wanted to write to ask you to pray for our Medical Missions Trip to El Salvador which will take place from September 26th – October 3rd. This trip was a trip that we had to postpone last November because of paperwork that couldn’t get done in time in El Salvador, and because of lots of red tape that we didn’t know about going in. Anyway, the Lord’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts far beyond ours right ? SO I think that last November wasn’t His timing, but I am praying that this September will be! And I am asking you guys to join me in praying for this trip. All the important paperwork is done, and it has all been submitted to the El Salvadorian government. At this time we are just waiting for the official “green light” from them. Please pray that we will get that soon, and that we can go ahead with the final planning and preparation for this trip. As in all trips that we do, we want to see Jesus magnified and exalted amongst the El Salvadorian people, and we are going to use free medical care as an open door to tell them about our glorious God and Savior. We will be able to meet some of their physical needs, and most importantly get a chance to share the gospel, and pray for them all while they will be at a Bible teaching church in their mountain village (where the clinics will be held). SO I am very excited about this opportunity but we certainly need your prayers for this trip – for right now in particular, so that we can get the approval from the government to host these free medical clinics. I will keep you guys updated on the status of everything as I get more information. Thanks for praying!
Secondly, I just waned to share with you a great resource that my buddy Matt Ellison from 1615 told me about. The book is called “From Akebu to Zapotec” and although I think it has been around since 2002, I have just learned about it recently. We just started carrying them here at the bookstore at C.C. Philly. The book is basically a children’s book with illustrations and info on Bibleless peoples going from A to Z. Each people group has their own page with a beautiful illustration and then a story about life in their culture. It’s a great way to get our kids to be thinking about these peoples, to be praying for them, and also for the Lord to send someone to give them the Bible in their language. Those of you who know me know how close to my heart that is. This is just another tool, another resource which enables us to talk to our kids about the importance of sharing Christ and His Word with those who have never heard. Check it out, I know you will not be disappointed !
Well, if your reading this, you can see that our Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia Missions Blog has undergone a major (and much needed) upgrade. Much thanks to Bill who put lots of time into this new layout, and design. With this new look will be coming a renewed commitment (on my end) to post more about what is going on here at C.C. Philly in regards to fulfilling our missions vision, as well as more post of articles that will help to equip us all for the task at hand – completing this Great Commission!
Now, speaking of finishing the task at hand – I wanted to share with you guys a great website appropriately named “Finish the Task”. You can get to it by clicking HERE. The purpose of the website is to get the church to engage in reaching those people groups around the world that currently have no churches working with them, and no witness for Christ among them.
“Today there are currently 639 unengaged, unreached people groups with populations over 100,000, together numbering over 535,000,000 souls that are still beyond the reach of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are spiritually lost, and helpless like sheep having no Shepherd. Among them Christ remains unknown, unacknowledged, and unadorned.”
Go on their site, it’s great. When you go on, you can also see some updates on some of these groups, and how they have now been adopted by some churches. That being said, though they have been adopted, the work is far from over! I think on average your looking at a 30-50 year commitment to really influence these people groups in all areas regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m praying that this site will motivate you to pray for these groups, and also to ask the Lord what part you should play in getting the gospel out to them. I can tell you that our church will be adopting another people group to go along with the Tarahumara of Northern Mexico who we adopted years ago and have seen the N.T. translated, and Lord willing will soon see the complete Bible translated in their language. We are praying about two specific groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are very closely related to the groups that we are working with in Northern Zambia. The difference is that no one is currently working with these groups (one of them is 800,000 strong) ! Please ask the Lord to give us wisdom on choosing this people group, and then wisdom as we begin to start forming a plan to reach them, and to begin to share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The area that they are in is extremely remote, so please also pray that we can make the right connections in regards to traveling to them in the most safe and timely manner.
I’ll be keeping you posted in regards to this group, as well as what we will be doing this summer. All very exciting stuff ! Check back soon for more updates.