A Day More About Missions than Green Beer

Today, of course is St. Patrick’s Day.

Nancy intends to cook up a pot of corned beef and cabbage before the day is out. She got some Guinness Stout for the occasion also. My mouth is watering already, even though I just finished lunch not too long ago.

Nothing wrong with any of those aspects of the day, in moderation of course, but how much we will have missed the point if we do not acquaint ourselves with the man behind the day, St. Patrick, called by some the patron saint of Ireland.

Mark Driscoll has an excellent post on him entitled St. Patrick: One of the Greatest Missionaries Who Ever Lived.

Let me whet an appetite of a different kind with this pull quote from the post by the man whose family used to go by O’Driscoll:

In faith, the forty-something year-old Patrick sold all of his possessions, including the land he had inherited from his father, to fund his missionary journey to Ireland. He worked as an itinerant preacher and paid large sums of money to various tribal chiefs to ensure he could travel safely through their lands and preach the gospel. His strategy was completely unique, and he functioned like a missionary trying to relate to the Irish people and communicate the gospel in their culture by using such things as three-leaf clovers to explain the gospel. Upon entering a pagan clan, Patrick would seek to first convert the tribal leaders and other people of influence. He would then pray for the sick, cast demons out of the possessed, preach the Bible, and use both musical and visual arts to compel people to put their faith in Jesus. If enough converts were present he would build a simple church that did not resemble ornate Roman architecture, baptize the converts, and hand over the church to a convert he had trained to be the pastor so that he could move on to repeat the process with another clan. Patrick gave his life to the people who had enslaved him until he died at 77 years of age. He had seen untold thousands of people convert as between 30-40 of the 150 tribes had become substantially Christian. He had trained 1000 pastors, planted 700 churches, and was the first noted person in history to take a strong public stand against slavery.

For the rest of an intriguing and to-the-point mini-education on this giant of church history click here.

Before the day is out, take a peek. Give thanks for a gospel-inflamed heart of the past like this one. Ask God to raise up others like it in our generation for His glory, the good of the church, and the joy of the nations.

Touching North Korea

I meant to do this post weeks ago. The holidays and a cruddy cold took care of that notion.

Still, anybody who reads a newspaper or watches the news knows that North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-Il slipped into eternity in December. His son, Kim Jong-Un has succeeded him as the new ruler of one of the world’s remaining Communist countries and the most dangerous place on the planet to profess faith in Jesus Christ, according to Open Doors USA.

What can we do to touch this most closed-to-the-gospel nation on planet earth? We can pray. We can intercede with the confidence of Isaiah 64:4 that no one has a God like we do who acts for those who wait for Him.

Open Doors USA suggests that we pray the following:

  • The new leader, Kim Jong-Un, will have a heart of mercy and end the cycle of inhumane dictatorial rule.
  • Those in government who have been “secret Christians” will gain more power and influence.
  • Christians who have been imprisoned because of their faith will have opportunities to lead others in prayers. And while they pray the Holy Spirit will be revealed to those who don’t know Jesus.
  • There will be an increase in opportunities to share about Jesus without fear of retaliation.
  • The joy and hope of Jesus will be revealed to those who are sorrowful and feel uncertain of the future.
  • North Korean Christians will gain a new boldness and wisdom and will seize opportunities to tell others about the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth.
  • On Christmas day especially, the light of Christ will penetrate every home and heart in North Korea.
  • Refugees who have fled into China and become Christian will courageously return to North Korea and share the hope of Jesus to a hurting nation.
  • The horrendous situation with starvation will not escalate even further because of the government’s desire to demonstrate control.
  • The thousands of starving children who are homeless will find shelter, comfort and love in a home with a believer.

Operation World says this in its preface: Prayer is indeed potent . . . especially sustained intercession for the unreached peoples of this world who do not know Jesus – is action (p. xxiii).

May we be a people of action through prayerful touching of unreached places like North Korea.

Making Much of Missions at Advent

I find myself often praying portions of Philippians 2:5-11 with folks during this Christmas season.

Where would we be if the Son of God had not counted equality with God a thing to be grasped and had abhorred the virgin’s womb? Lost – eternally, horribly, hellishly lost.

But the news is good! He humbled himself, took on the form of a bondservant, became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. None of which He could have accomplished if He hadn’t come. None of which He could have accomplished if the Father hadn’t sent Him.

No gospel-motivated missionary on the planet fails to get the significance of this. They have gone to the ends of the earth because the Father sent the Son to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). That means, for me and for my house, among other things, that we must remember missions and missionaries during the Advent season.

One way we have sought to do that practically, along with the partnership of our OGC growth group, is to collaborate together to send a Christmas care package to the Valiquette family serving in Salerno, Italy with the Acts 29 Network in church planting.

Last Tuesday evening our group gathered around a bunch of gifts we had purchased and wrote Christmas cards to Jutty, Abbey, and the children in an effort to remind them they have a sending church at home that loves them and supports them in their gospel endeavors.

Whether you do something on your own or in cooperation with a group, before the season completely escapes you, might you also take some initiative as a sender to bless a goer on some field, whether an OGC missionary or not?

If you choose to go the care package route, here is some helpful counsel I found online for your consideration:

Ask the missionary before sending your care package. This is important for a few different reasons.  First, there are some things for which the missionary may end up having to pay a duty or other tax.  Second, if the missionary is in a sensitive location, they may prefer certain things to be delivered to a different address (to be hand-carried in).  And finally, you may be sending the missionary something which they can already get in country.  We were once sent toothpaste and a large box of tissues – both of which are in abundance where we were.  Try to find out from the missionary what items they really can’t get where they are.  Trust me, most will not be shy about telling someone what they really want if they are asked!

One other thought. These days finances seem to constrain a great deal. You may not find yourself in a position to do anything that costs you money. But don’t let that rule you out in terms of making some gesture to encourage someone on the mission field. Send a note, write an email, but connect in some way.

Let them know you care about their/your cause and that this Christmas you praise God they have gone to where they have gone in the name of the Sent One who came for the lost.

Japan Disaster Relief Update

Back on Good Friday of this year, in a joint communion service with our friends at Faith Baptist Church, we collected an offering for the relief work in Japan following the devastating tsunami that ravaged the northern part of that country in March.

We put in some significant due diligence to determine what agency or individual on the ground could ensure 100% of our gifts going toward relief and relief alone.

Through a previous member at OGC, God led us to Cal Cummings, a missionary with the OPC for many years working not far from the epicenter of the quake.

At our last leadership team meeting I shared a thank you letter from Cal’s home church in Philadelphia. Our elders exhorted me to publish its contents for our assembly’s encouragement, something I am only to happy to do in JapanReliefLetter070711.

Thanks be to God for the generosity of the people of both churches and the work of Cal and others in bringing the gospel to bear on the peoples of Japan!

Pray for the Digo

We are determined.

We will seek God for spiritual breakthroughs in our adopted people group, the Digo.

You may not be able to attend a prayer meeting, but you can pray on your own.

For help in knowing what and how to pray I give you this agenda from last night’s concert of prayer: Digo Prayer Meeting.

Would love to have you join us on October 17 for our next time of prayer. Watch the events calendar for location and time.

Target Tandara

As I shared on Sunday, the Lord is on the move in Digoland. In case you missed it, the recap goes like this:

We have funded the digging of a well in Mrima, Kenya, as part of our ongoing outreach to the Digo people. The well is a God thing. It hit water at minimal depth bringing forth 750 liters a day, even during the dry season. Not just water, but clear water, clean enough to drink and bathe in. No other well in the region matches it. It’s the talk of the village. See some of the folks pictured above.

Esther (dressed in white and read, front and center), one of only two believers in the village (until lately!), for whom we named the well, recently witnessed to her nephew in the hospital. He had a vision after that and professed Christ. Since then all ten siblings have come to the Lord and even the Dad. That’s almost unheard of in Digoland (99% Muslim)!

In spite of persecution, these dear ones have stopped tithing to the local mosque and have started a house church in their home! We are working through them to sponsor a well dedication this August when four of us from OGC, Lord willing, will travel to Kenya for this and other survey purposes related to our love for the work of the gospel among these people.

Interesting note. The chief of the village, who happens to be the local imam, lives right across the street from the well we had dug. His name is Tandara and he will likely attend the dedication this summer. He is a modern day Saul of Tarsus (see Acts 9) for whom we must pray!

So the purpose of this blog post is to put us all at OGC on notice to pray to the Father that He will work in this man’s heart and bring Him to Christ. It is hard to imagine the ripple effects in Mrima and beyond if Tandara were to profess faith in Christ and be baptized.

Will you join me in asking for the wind of the Spirit to blow strong in this man’s heart and life?

Valiquette Update

On Saturdays we come to the V’s in our call list/prayer directory with only two entries.

One of them is the Valiquette family, missionaries from our church with a burden for Italy.

Recently they altered their missional trajectory to pursue church planting in Salerno with the Acts 29 network.

Click on below for a video interview with that network you can watch to catch a Q&A Jutty did with one of their reps. I encourage you to do so for the purpose of knowing how strategically you can pray for the Valiquette’s and their dream for seeing a church planted in southern Italy.

Jutty does a great job in sharing the passion of his heart. Takes a little over twelve minutes but worth your time.

Acts 29 Italy – Interview from Justin Valiquette on Vimeo.

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement

Once again this first-rate, 15 session course designed to help believers learn more about God’s heart for all nations and how believers worldwide can play an active role in the Great Commission is coming to Orlando starting January 10 at First Presbyterian Church, Orlando.

OGC will scholarship one half of the registration for those from our church who wish to participate.

One of our mission committee representatives had this to say about the course in a recent email promotion:

This class is not just for those who are “going.”  It certainly revolutionized my way of thinking in missions and has been a huge blessing for me as one who sends and prays!

A number of our folks have profited from participation in Perspectives.

Why not take advantage of the course taking place in our own backyard? You won’t regret it!

Register now here.

I Never Made a Sacrifice

Tomorrow we send off one of our own to the challenging mission field of Laos. For Operation World’s description of the needs of this Southeast Asian country click here.

Many of us have been asked to give Julia a card upon which we have written some Scripture or quote or word of encouragement that she might revisit when the need arises in country.

I immediately thought of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29-30.

29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

Then I thought of David Livingstone’s powerful reflections on his ministry to Africa based on those verses.

For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.

Julia leaves much behind in the way of family and possessions. She heads for a dangerous land, one of the world’s top ten for persecuting the church of Jesus Christ. Whatever the value of what she leaves behind and whatever awaits here there in the way of challenges and difficulties, Jesus’ promise remains the same – 10,000 % increase. Do the math.

Godspeed daughter of Eve and sister of Christ. We love you and will pray for you.