Friday, November 30, 2012

Global Missions | Mutuality

That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1:12)

In the recent visit by a good friend of mine from Ethiopia, I experienced firsthand the power of mutuality in global missions.

I have been to Ethiopia. My mission trips have been fruitful. In fact, our Acts 8 partner in Ethiopia, GCME, has strongly affirmed that what we had to offer is what they need. The GCME has invited us back. They would like us to continue to send our mission teams in the coming years.

So Acts 8 Ministries has been working with other U.S. churches and inviting them to mobilize their resources strategically for Ethiopia.

Then in mid-November, my Ethiopian friend, who is on staff with GCME, unexpectedly visited us in the Pacific Northwest. Even though we didn't plan this visit, his presence here turned out to be significant for our partnership.

He was able to meet some key individuals in the area (though we missed some others for scheduling issues). Now these influential people know Ethiopia a bit more personally. My friend also encouraged and challenged us all with ministry reports from Ethiopia, his personal stories of faith, his contagious love for Jesus, God-sized vision for his people, and passion for leadership development.

We send our people, and we receive their people. Mutuality is a necessary ingredient for fruitful global missions so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both theirs and ours.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ethiopia's Tomorrow

This week, I had the privilege of hosting a ministry leader from Ethiopia.

After our many conversations, I am further convinced that Ethiopia is at crossroads. What the Church in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian body of Christ, does today will largely determine the course of the nation's tomorrow.

Will the Ethiopian believers, both individually and communally, catch God's vision for their nation and region, lead the way of individual and societal transformation?

Will they lead the way of restoring the hearts of men and women and of healing their land?

Will they see and take hold of their destiny in Christ to be the bright beacon of hope for Africa and beyond?

Will they embrace their glorious identity in Christ as sons and daughters of the King and bring their godly and life-giving influence in every segment of society?

Will they live out the life of Jesus to be His witnesses - His life, His love, His light, His liberty, knowing that they are united with Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit - Jesus in them, the Father in Jesus, they in Jesus?

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

If the Church does not let her light of Christ shine, there will be no light of the Gospel at all in the world.

Where and how are they to step up and begin leading in the restoration of the hearts and healing of their land?

First, follow Jesus to lead others.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Leading by following. To do that well, you need to walk closely with the Father and deepen your relationship with Him. This takes trust. Trust God moment by moment. Trust Him that He is in you and delighted in you as well as leading you, teaching you, mentoring you, coaching you, strengthening you, encouraging you.

Secondly, know yourself.

This requires maturity. This is a journey.

Who you are is defined by who God is and shaped by your relationship with Him.

Because you are created in the image of God, because Jesus the Son of God gave His life on the cross for you, because you are united with Jesus, and because your life is hidden with Christ in God, you have immeasurable worth. Because you know Jesus, you are now sons and daughters of God, and therefore, you are worthy. Because of Jesus, you are destined for glory (Colossians 3:4).

In other words, the inherent worth of who you are comes not from what you have done but from who God is and what He has done for you.

Lastly, recognize that you have a unique and critical role to play in His Great Commission.

When you begin to embrace your true self in Christ, you also realize how uniquely you are created to play a critical part in His Great Commission that only you can fulfill.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Out of Love (Part 2)

God is love (1 John 4:8).

This means that Jesus defines what true love is. The way Jesus loves us, the way Jesus loved His disciples in the Gospel accounts set the standard for love.

One summary of what true love is is found in 1 Corinthians 13. But experiencing the person and work of Jesus throughout the four Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible is a rich and rewarding way to discover what true love looks like and feels like.

Jesus is generous.

Do you recall the story of the wedding at Cana (John 2) and how Jesus turned water into wine?

Traditionally, a Jewish wedding would last seven days. Every host would anticipate and start with enough wine to last the entire celebration. So, by the time the wine ran out, the guests already had a plenty to drink. And yet Jesus still produced the good wine.

God always does an excellent work. He provides the best. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17).

And Jesus is generous. He gives over-abundantly. But you have kept the good wine until now (John 2:10).  Jesus has something much better for you later and lots of it (imagine 180 gallons or 900 bottles of good wine)!

Jesus is generous. He obliges Himself to the request of His mother. Mary is thinking about the wedding. For her, Jesus' miracle would be merely a matter of convenience. Jesus understands the significance of performing a miracle. It is the manifestation of His glory (v. 11), the beginning of His public ministry leading to the cross. His miracle is not a catering service. Nonetheless, Jesus provides. Out of love. Out of goodness. Out of His generous heart.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)