Sunday, November 21, 2010

Missions on the Mind

From reading Scripture, it is clear that the Lord is very passionate about the nations and wants to be known among them. He's been stirring my heart to missions once again. We had a Missions Emphasis week at FCC Nov 7th through the 14th. At the Bible Study at work, November is 'Let the Nations be Glad!' month (Psalm 67:4-5). This stirring continued last night as we attended an International Student Festival at Park University. I will hit the highlights of each in the order they occurred.

Pastor Tim kicked off the FCC Missions Emphasis week in the 11/3 midweek service. He shared some amazing stats about how the nations are coming right to our doorstep like no other time in history. Our church is located mere miles from a Hindu Temple and a Muslim Mosque (unthinkable 10 years ago). There are 66 countries represented in the NE part of KC and 22,000 Muslims live north of the river. America is wasting her prosperity over the last few decades and is no longer the leading sender of missionaries (Korea now has that honor). The challenge was given from John 4:35, where Jesus said, "Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." We were also challenged to pray about how we can, as families and as a church, partner in the Gospel (Phil 1:5)

Conrad Mbewe, the Spurgeon of Zambia Africa, visited FCC Sunday and gave a wonderful sermon from Galatians 3:10-14. He powerfully proclaimed that the world is under the curse of the Almighty God because of sin, and there is a great need for the reversal of that curse. Praise the Lord, the remedy is Jesus Christ! Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal 3:14)

The next day, I got to hear Conrad preach in an executive presentation room in the public corporation where I work! While speaking at a luncheon in KC, Conrad preached Christ from Ecclesiastes via video-conference to Sacramento, Boston, Toronto, and Montreal (over 100 employees heard a clear Gospel presentation)!

Rich Casebolt enjoys a conversation with Conrad after the luncheon.

On Wed, Nov 10th we heard fromMarty Zide in the mid-week service. Marty ministers at the Midwest Messianic Center in St Louis, to reach our Jewish neighbors there. He shared about evangelism, mostly concepts that are appropriate regardless of who you are sharing with: 1) Know the Gospel, 2) Listen, listen, listen! 3) Trust the power of the Gospel, 4) Use the Word of God, 5) Use Illustrations, and 6) Pray, pray, pray!

Rich Casebolt joined the Bible Study at my work on Nov 11th. It was a more intimate group than when Mbewe was there and more interactive. We talked about the Gospel and missions with a man who has faithfully served in Thailand for the last six years! Jason Dawson (UrbanReformation) a mutual friend of Rich and myself was also there. Without my knowledge he sneaked this creepy photo of me with his phone. Makes me laugh! His picture of Rich did not turn out well at all.

November 13th was the FCC Men's breakfast. It is a time I will never forget. We skyped in a call with Ken Heizer, our missionary to Italy. I enjoyed hearing his simple missions strategy of pouring his life into relationships with the Italians and living out the Gospel with his large family before these lost people.

That same morning, we also heard from a Wycliffe recruiter. Pat (I forget his last name) shared with us of the great need for completing the work of Bible translation. 2,000 languages are yet to have the Word of God translated (not even a verse) in their own language.

This picture puts things into perspective. I was surprised to learn about the number of roles/positions available through Wycliff (not just Biblical translator/scholar). Education and literacy advancement also goes hand in hand with Bible translation, for example.

The last speaker at the Men's Breakfast is a living legend: Frank Drown. As the men mulled into the auditorium and formed lines to get our food, I wondered who the older man was who was sitting down. Turns out it was 88-yr-old Frank Drown who only a couple of days earlier emerged from the hospital with a brand new pacemaker! I will never forget the challenge he gave to the men there. First of all he was very funny. He told of how it took him and his pregnant wife five days of walking in the mud to get to the village where they served as missionaries. "How many of you guys could do that? Bunch of wimps!" He was so engaging and had the undivided attention of all. Often his voice would falter as if he was about to cry. He was so joyful to be holding up a translation of the Bible in the native language of the Indian people in Equador that he had ministered to for thirty years! Later he shared that had recovered and buried the bodies of his friends, those who lost their lives at the hands of the Waodani people (Ecuador) in 1956 . You can read more about this experience here. Frank shared how he just completed a book about this and will be available soon.

Here is Frank's wife Marie, holding the Quichua Bible open to John 3. She shared with me an unexpected insight about John 3:14 (this Bible features a picture of the serpent on the pole) and the significance that the snake had in that culture. It was cursed and therefore this people group would appreciate how Jesus became a curse for sinners when he was lifted up on the tree.

I called Aimee after we were dismissed and was so overwhelmed I could hardly get out the words! The message is simple but powerful: What am I doing to make Christ known among the nations?

I will close with one more guest speaker at our BSG at work. Dr. Jeremy Farmer just happened to be passing through Kansas City during our mission month. So he agreed to come and share with us. Jeremy was a seminary professor at Northland International, teaching Biblical languages and Old Testament. But God has called him to move his family across the world to reach the Loatians in Cambodia! Get to know the Farmers on their website, SolidJoys. He shared a similar message to the one I heard from him at Countryside a year and half ago. He traced the theme of the Gospel from Creation to Christ. Wonderful testament to the unity of the Scriptures and a great way to avoid the familiarity of Jesus command in 'The Great Commission' in Matthew 28:18-20.


So how do I make sense of all this? Just a couple of thoughts.

  • God has a big picture of redeeming this fallen world. The remedy for the curse, left by Adam in the garden is salvation in Jesus Christ. He is calling a people to Himself from every tribe and tongue (Revelation 5:9). What about me? What am I doing to fulfill the Great Commission? As a believer, we are called to either go or send.
  • Second, not everyone is called to go overseas. We are to be faithful in the sphere of influence where God has placed us. But we need to keep God's grand design in mind. His Kingdom involves not just the nation of Israel, and not just Christians in America, but the Nations! The nations in many ways are coming to us. Am I being faithful in the opportunities that He has given me, with my time, my money, my prayer life?
My wife and I have the privileged of being 'friendship partners' with two Chinese students from Park. ISI is a great way to partner in the Gospel by showing love to international students!

We attended a ceremony Friday night that featured performances from Mexico, Mongolia, China, Thailand, and many others. It also featured a Flag Ceremony where representatives from over 60 nations paraded their country's flags. We need not look far to find people from across the globe that are right here in Kansas City. We need to pray about how to show love to them, and how we can get involved in their lives to gain a hearing for the Gospel.

"Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." --John 4:35

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