Mission

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Poll Shows that Americans Like the Idea of the Bible, but Don't Actually Read it: Lifeway reports, " About half of Americans (53 percent) have read relatively little of the Bible. One in 10 has read none of it, while 13 percent have read a few sentences. Thirty percent say they have read several passages or stories."

2.      More Than a Quarter of the Deaths in Holland are Induced: This sobering report by John Burger finds that, "Fifteen years after the Netherlands decriminalized euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, more than 25 percent of all deaths in the nation are induced, rather than by illness or other natural causes."

3.      My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience: Dr. Wang Yi, Chinese pastor who was imprisoned in December, wrote this manifesto. Please read it. Among the many jewels in the letter, Yi writes, " As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s great commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world."

4.      The Importance of Clarity in Leadership: My friend and pastor Glen Elliott with a great post: " There’s too much noise and too many distractions in our world and anything short of being crystal clear won’t be heard. More than ever, folks want and need the clarity of a compelling vision, mission and purpose. And great leaders provide that."

5.      Hearing His Voice: Please watch this marvelous story of an unreached people group who are introduced to the Word of God. It's 25 minutes of encouragement.

The Faces of God’s Movement in India

The Faces of God’s Movement in India

Just last month the updated world watch list was published. The list ranks countries that have the highest level of persecution of Christians.[i] Sandwiched between Iran and Syria, India ranked as the country where Christians endure the tenth most persecution in the world. That’s worse than Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and China. India is a very difficult place to be a Christian.

Numbers are one thing, faces and stories are another. Over the past two weeks we had the privilege of meeting hundreds of God’s saints in India who are not merely enduring extreme persecution, but doing so joyfully. Over the course of two weeks we had personal conversations with dozens of these pastors and their wives. Only one said he had not experienced significant persecution and opposition. Every other couple we met lived under the constant threat of violence and most had been beaten and thrown out of their homes at least once.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,”[ii] Jesus said.

Let me tell you some of the stories of these blessed ones[iii]:

Heading to India

Heading to India

This Friday we depart Tucson at 12:35pm and will arrive in Trivandrum, India late on Saturday after over 21 hours in the air. This will be my first time to India and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us as learners and teachers.

India is one of the most populated countries in the world (its population is a third of the land mass of the United States and yet has more than four times the US population!) and is a predominantly Hindu nation (80%) with another 13% of its population Muslim.[i] The country has been highly resistant to the gospel with a mere 2% of the population claiming to be Christian.[ii] 80% of India’s population lives in rural villages. It has been estimated there are 700,000 villages in India and that there is no church in 600,000 of those villages.

New Life forged a relationship with Pastor Vijayan (an Indian pastor) about six years ago. At that time Pastor Vijayan had been instrumental in discipling and organizing support for 78 Indian pastors in the state of Tamil Nadu, located in southern India. Most of those pastors are converts out of Hinduism with little formal training who now are leading house churches. Theirs is an uphill struggle against persistent poverty and persecution.

Six years later, by the grace of God, Pastor Vijayan’s work has exploded. He now supports a network of 1,000 pastors throughout southern India. It’s mind-boggling how God has used Pastor Vijayan and humbling that he reached out to us asking if we would be able to help with their biggest need: providing these pastors and their wives biblical training.

Port au Prince and Antioch

Port au Prince and Antioch

It was only 72 hours ago I was on Haitian soil. I have the vivid memories and the jet lag to prove it. 48 hours ago, on Tucson soil, Pastor Greg preached out of Acts 11 about the Antioch church and our call to be a church on God's multiplying mission. The sermon hadn't been planned to coincide with the return of our team, but the timing couldn't have been more perfect.

I'll return to Antioch in a second, but first let me share about a little about our trip. We had two primary objectives in our partnership with Cross to Light Ministries. The first was that we led a group of students through a week-long study of the book of Job (this study filled our mornings). The second was that we hosted medical clinics in the afternoon. By God's grace, both were successful.

Headed to Haiti

Headed to Haiti

Haiti was thrown into the public spotlight recently under unfortunately circumstances. It is disputed whether or not President Trump called Haiti “a %*$&hole country,” but it is not disputed that those sentiments reflect the attitude of many Americans toward Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  

Friday I head off with a New Life group to Haiti. It will be my first time in Haiti, but Haiti has been close to my heart for many years. Our church in Princeton had a close relationship with Haiti and we have a friend who currently serves as a missionary in Haiti I have been hoping to be able to visit for many years.

I would be grateful for your partnership in prayer as we continue our partnership with Cross to Light Ministries. Cross to Light trains up indigenous pastors and has planted dozens of churches in Haiti (below is a picture of Pastor Kyle with students at the Bible Training Center from a previous trip). I look forward to teaching at the center with Pastor Kyle, helping at medical clinics in the tent cities and villages, and assisting in construction projects.

Haiti has struggled as a people and country for over two hundred years.

Lessons from an Anti-Hero: Speak

Lessons from an Anti-Hero: Speak

Jonah doesn’t get much right. Not much at all. God called him to arise and go to Nineveh. Nope and nope. Jonah up and ran the opposite direction. But after God gets Jonah’s attention, Jonah ever-so-tentatively leans into what God calls him to.

The third call God placed on Jonah’s life was that he “call out against” Nineveh “the message that I tell you.” After being spit up by the fish and told a second time to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you,” Jonah heads to Nineveh. We aren’t told what God tells Jonah to tell the Ninevites, all we have are Jonah’s words: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”[i]

Just imagine what this must have looked like. We don’t know whether Jonah delivered this message once or multiple times as he walked through the city. The text is ambiguous about that. But it’s not ambiguous about how it must have been delivered. All we need to do is look one chapter further to see that Jonah’s heart was not at all in his message. After he delivers the message, Jonah sits perched on an overlook, anticipating the destruction of the city. In fact, if there was any pep in Jonah’s step as he delivered his message, it was that he was pouring salt into Nineveh’s terminal wound.

A God of Many Understandings? by Todd Miles

A God of Many Understandings? by Todd Miles

Miles begins A God of Many Understandings? with an event I remember well: “On Sunday morning, January 18, 2009, Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, stepped to a podium near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, to open the inauguration festivities for Barack Obama with an invocation and began his prayer, ‘O god of our many understandings, we pray that you will…’” (1). That simple opening to his prayer hit me like a tidal wave that day. “O god of our many understandings (?!)” At the same time I felt befuddlement, anger, and a sense that in that very phrase, Robinson had profoundly captured the essence of our modern religious sensibilities.

There have been plenty of books published over the recent years that have decried the slippage in the American church’s commitment to the exclusive claims of the gospel. But I promise you none have been written that are quite like this. The ambitious nature of Miles’s book is remarkable. The book is a biblical-theological tour de force that deals with a host of issues relating to the topic of the exclusive nature of the gospel.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Barbarian Missionaries: When missions goes hilariously wrong. 

2.      Smart People Work Less: How not working more than 50 hours and not working on the weekends increases your productivity by Travis Bradberry. 

3.      Habakkuk’s Anti-Fragile Faith: Krish Kandiah talks about how God builds an anti-fragile faith in Habakkuk. 

4.      The Awkward Church: Richard Clark on why real community is awkward, and why that is good. 

5.      Get Rid of That Space: If you're still putting two spaces after a period, you're doing it wrong. Here's why.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     Your Not-So Perfect Life Verse: This Babylon Bee (a satirical Christian website) had our family gut-laughing. My life verse? Job 19:18: “Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me.”

2.     Foolish and Slow of Heart: Chris Bruno asks: how does your Bible fit with God's mission? "[T]heir stupidity was not rooted in a lack of intelligence. It was rooted in their inability to see how their lives fit with the story of the Bible."

3.     True Beauty and Our God: "Imagine you could create a montage of every beautiful thing you have ever seen or wished for. Even so, you have not yet begun to comprehend the beauty of God. He is “the sum of all desirable qualities.”

4.     What Makes Lord of the Rings so Powerful? Tim Challies reflects on the fact that one of the things that makes the Lord of the Rings so moving is its connection with history. He calls for us to reclaim this lost art.

5.     What’s the Deal with National Splurge Day? Every day is a holiday! Where did all these crazy holidays come from? The Planet Money uncovers the history behind our fetish for strange holidays and how surprisingly old it is.

Why You Should Go on a Mission Trip

Why You Should Go on a Mission Trip

I recently returned from a short-term mission trip to Senegal, Africa, where our church has had a partnership with a mission agency and a local village pastor for about five years. It was the twelfth short-term trip that I’ve participated in. Each has impacted me in different ways and they have collectively shaped me. I am significantly indebted to short-term missions. 

While there are all sorts of ways that short-term mission trip experiences can be tainted, whether by our own motivations, or by our expectations, or even by the planning of the trip itself, there is still an important place for these trips and good reasons to go on one.