Saturday, July 21, 2012

Are We There Yet?

I recall so many times hearing those words repeated over and over as we drove to our next camp or mission trip as a youth pastor, "are we there yet?"  Then some years later hearing those same words echo from the back seat of our van on our way as a family to visit Georgia, "are we there yet Papa?"  So many of us as parents or those who have worked with young people recall the words and the answers we used to give.  My favorite two as a youth pastor were, "about an inch on the map left to go" and "two more hours!"

I have found the same question slipping into my head as I have talked with the Lord about our mission partnerships in various locations.  "Lord are we there yet?  Have we connected like you want us to connect yet?  Is tis the partner we are to go deep with in the field?"  The challenges of building deep relationships on the field with like-passioned people and leaders is a serious process of discovery and commitment.  However, I have found myself talking with the Lord about these relationships a great deal lately.

We have been blessed over the past five years to meet some of the most amazing servants of the Lord on the field.  Specifically, in Guatemala we have connected with Iglesia Jerusalen and the members of that faithful church.  Led by Pastor Morales, this local faith family has taught us so much about ministry and mission in cross-cultural settings.  As I think about being there yet, I realize how far we have come.  I have this past week looked back over the five years since first returning to Guatemala with a team and am amazed at how far we have come!  The Father has blessed us with really good friends and deep relationships in Guatemala.  The Lord has allowed us to realize a huge step of supporting the Brown family in their move to Guatemala to serve alongside the local church and its ministries.  We have partnered with a church plant in Sajcavilla outside the city.  And we have begun to have an impact on the lives of some special families in this Mayan village up in the mountains.  

As I reflect on getting there, I realize how far we have to go.  The work is beginning to show us how deep the need is for spiritual darkness to be confronted with the Light.  The opportunities for the Gospel to spread among the local communities and clusters of houses is exploding.  The need for more resources and supplies for teaching the Word is growing with every home visit.  The requests for help with home repairs, Bible studies and food bags grows with every conversation in the community.  There is so much to be done and the urgency is so can we possibly meet the needs?  

The response to the question really has more to do with our willingness to be obedient than the location on the map we find ourselves.  Finding ourselves in a place of obedience has more to do with where we are in our faith journey than how many books we have read or how often we are in church.  The place of openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is so much more critical than how much we follow the latest words of our favorite blogger or model our lives after our favorite preacher.  The place we need to seek is a place of unwavering faithfulness to the call of God to show the Gospel in every aspect of our daily life and share the Gospel message in every opportunity the Father provides.  

As I write this blog tonight all over the world gatherings for worship are beginning and preparations are underway to gather with other believers for a time of worship and sharing the Word.  As these gatherings take place, I wonder how many of the people in attendance will be there?  How many of us will be there?  Will you and I be at that place of obedience where God can speak truth into our lives in a way that brings about a response and change in what we do?  Are you at a place where the Lord can send you to the person in your community who needs to see and hear the love of Christ fleshed out in front of them?  

As you walk through the day, where you are greeted by those who have a heart seeking the Lord, will you ask the Lord of the Harvest to send workers into the field?  Will you show the Gospel in the responses you have to those around you?  Will you share the Gospel with those whom the Father brings across your path?  Will you be there?  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How Big Is Your Vision?

Today I was reminded of why I have the best job in all the world! The view from where I sat today is so big it sometimes overwhelms me as I listen to the words being shared and sense the gravity of who is saying them. The Lord has shown great favor over the past several years to connect me and 1Way to some amazing men and women of God.

 Today I had the privilege of sitting with Pastor Morales in his home along with Greg Brown and hear this amazing man of God share from his heart.  Pastor Morales is the most humble yet wise pastor I have met anywhere on the field.  Our time today was awesome as we discussed plans for the future.  He began to talk about plans for upcoming trips and ideas for how we can best be used here on the field with teams.  He then was willing to share some of his vision for the church and long term plans.

My question for you is how big is your vision for your life here in this journey of faith the Lord has you walking?  Have you sensed His stirring lately in your heart for more?  Do you often think about how the Lord can use you to help others realize their dreams and visions for the future?  I do!  I did!

Today I began to catch the vision for some of the long term vision for ministry here in Guatemala.  I recognize that many people consider Guatemala a reached country or a place the Gospel has already been spread.  However, today I was reminded that many of the people of this country have only heard of God from the Catholic community and most of them have never heard things like,"Jesus died for your sins...He will forgive you and give you a new life in Him...God has a plan for your life and He wants to live inside of you and give you victory over sin and death!"  The Gospel has so much power to set people free and yet we are so quiet with this truth in the face of religion.

Today I was reminded of the urgency to spread the Good News through the local church.  Today the vision for ministry just exploded in my head and heart as I listened to an amazing servant of the Lord and pastor of a growing flock of Christ followers share about what he sees from where he serves.  So, are you willing to allow your vision for ministry grow?

In the coming days we will begin to share more details and plans as we develop our part of the growing vision for  ministry in Guatemala.  To begin with i would like to share with you all the opportunity to get involved today in this vision for growth and spreading the Gospel.  Immediately there is a need for pastors and leaders to rise up in Guatemala to serve the communities and churches that are opening up for the Gospel.  Part of the struggle is there is no way to support these pastors and leaders as they do feel God's call on their lives.

To share with you an example of this currently, I would like to share with you about Juan.  Those who have been to Guatemala and more specifically to Sajcavilla, know Pastor Juan.  He has been serving for a few years as the mission pastor planting a new work among a Mayan community.  He has a heart for the people.  He has a desire to sere daily among the community and meet the needs of the flock that is growing there.  Yet, even though he is doing a lll he can, he still must work several days during the week to provide for the needs of his family.  His heart's desire is to serve in ministry full-time.  He needs some folks to come along side him and support him in this passion of ministry and help him continue to reach into the community and teach the Word.

Many other young men and women are wanting to serve the Lord in ministry and leadership in the church.  However, all over the country young people are becoming more and more busy trying to survive and help their families provide.  Meanwhile fewer and fewer young people are surrendering their lives to serve full-time in ministry.  We see a trend here that also is showing up in other countries.  Fewer young people are choosing to serve the church and more are having to walk away and work and try to provide.

What can you do?  The US is blessed for a reason.  Psalm 67 clearly communicates the purpose of blessing is to "make His ways known in all the world and His salvation among all nations."  You and I have been blessed so much!  The purpose is to make His ways known.  The method in which we can be a part of this globally is to support hose young people and pastors around the world who are willing to serve and lead but need to have someone support them.  We have been granted money and resources for the purpose of spreading the Gospel through indigenous leaders and servants who will share and lead and teach.

So how big is your vision?  Can you see beyond the immediate world you live in and hear the cry of those in need?  Can you see the opportunities that await the young leaders in countries like Guatemala when through the support and encouragement of those of us with resources, they realize a calling that has been placed on their lives and the Gospel is spread through young men and women surrendering to follow full-time into the ministry?  Men like Pastor Morales recognize their days are growing shorter.  There is coming a day when someone else will take the reigns.  The issue right now is who will take the reigns and how will they be ready if they are not being prepared now for the task at hand.  You and I can be a part of an amazing opportunity to invest in the future of the church in Guatemala through investing in the future leaders who will reach the world and teach the Word!  Will you stretch out your vision and let it grow with us?  Will you let your vision get big enough to spread outside your box and spill over into the ends of the earth?  Will you give today in a way that spreads the Gospel into tomorrow?  Come on...let your vision get big!

In His Grip,