Monday, September 18, 2017

Burning Bush Moment

Viktor Rózsa, Missionary, Hungary

Burning Bush Moment
What was your burning bush moment?

In Exodus 3:1-12, Moses met God in a mysterious way on Mount Horeb. The experience of the burning bush changed his life forever. The call on Moses' life required him to wrestle with God's mission. As he spent those years in the wilderness and learned about God, he was challenged to take his relationship with the God of his forefathers to the next level. Moses had to sacrifice his comfortable life of being a shepherd for 40 years in the wilderness, surrendering his life to a higher call so that God's mission could be fulfilled to His chosen people.

I clearly remember the burning bush moment of my life. Though it was not as mysterious as Moses' experience, it changed my life forever, too. While I was attending military high school, I gave my life to Christ through the ministry of missionaries in Hungary. At that time, I was set on a course of life that guaranteed a job, financial security, and a prestigious career in the Hungarian Air Force and ultimately in NATO. I was fine with being a Christian in the Hungarian Air Force. Little did I know when I gave my life to Christ that there would be a deeper call one day. 

My burning bush experience came between my junior and senior years of high school when I lived in Great Britain during the summer to improve my English language abilities. While I was there, God asked me to enter into full-time ministry. I struggled with sacrificing a future that I thought was the greatest thing on the face of the earth. I had to surrender to God's leading so that His call upon my life could be fulfilled for His purposes in His mission. At the time, surrendering my future career to God was hard. However, as I have followed Him in this deeper call for His mission, God has shown His faithfulness time after time. 

It was hard for Moses to process his call into God's mission, and I also had to face a very serious process of sacrifice and surrender to His call upon my life to serve Him in His mission in Hungary. However, when God calls someone, He makes a way. He is alongside that person the entire journey.

PRAY: Pray for Viktor and Kristen Rózsa, new missionaries to Hungary, as they return to the country this summer. They will be working to encourage and equip Hungarian churches to reach out to youth. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Altars and Missions

Dr. Dan Schafer, President
Dr. Dan Schafer, President of World Gospel Mission
Memories fade. Don’t you find that to be true? Once so vivid, the experiences of our past lose their sense of clarity and even their distinguishing marks of reality as time and distance take their toll. Like photo paper exposed to direct sunlight, the images imprinted on our minds steadily dissipate.

God understands better than any mortal the limited ability of the mind to remember—to recall the passion, details, emotions, and commitments that were made. He knows that without assistance, people are likely, over time, to forget what they have promised Him. For that reason, Scripture often records God’s request for His people to build altars to immortalize His interventions in their lives and their resulting promises.

In Genesis 35:1 (NASB), God asks Jacob to build an altar “to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” Undoubtedly, Jacob hadn’t forgotten that night when he wrestled with a heavenly being. However, the influence of that event on him had diminished over the intervening decades. God’s solution to Jacob’s fading memory—build an altar!

Whenever God chooses to reveal Himself to us in extraordinary ways, we feel as though we will never be separated from the awe of that experience. We make promises to Him in those moments that we expect to last a lifetime. But the God who knew the need of Jacob’s heart knows our needs also, and He advises us to build altars—lasting symbols that will permanently capture the story of His interface with us and retell that story as often as needed to keep us in touch with it.

God still calls people to His service, including service as missionaries. How often I hear of people who at one point in their lives had a clear, vivid encounter with God and heard His call but then never fully acted on it. Today, the memory of that encounter with God is nearly gone.

I also meet others who after 20, 30, or more years can give a clear account of how God called them into missionary service. The difference often lies in that they obediently built an altar to God. They immortalized that moment in their mind, and that immortalized memory—that altar—has served as the continual anchor through the joys and trials of a life spent serving God.

More
MORE: Does your spiritual memory need to be refreshed? Set aside time today to meditate on Genesis 35:1-15. God was commanding Jacob to return to a place where he had encountered God. Ask God to remind you of your own milestone moments.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Will Not Sacrifice Something That Has Cost Me Nothing

I Will Not Sacrifice Something That has Cost Me Nothing
When I think about altars and sacrifice, I often think of King David. In 2 Samuel 24, David followed his pride and counted on his fighting men rather than trusting in God to be the One who fought for his nation. He was shown the error of his ways and a very severe punishment was given to the nation of Israel for his sin. David was told to build an altar at a specific place to offer a burnt offering for his sin. When he got there, the owner of the land wanted to help his earthly king so the man offered to give David anything he needed. David’s reply in verse 24 (NIV) was: “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God something that has cost me nothing. 

How this has challenged me. Our sacrifices today are not the oxen or lambs of the Old Testament, but God does ask things of us that require sacrifice—and it may be different for every person. I am a wife, mother to four children, and a bush missionary in Papua New Guinea. I LOVE my life! My house is wonderful, and when I look out my windows I see beautiful, lush, green mountains. My kids have adventures every day that kids in the U.S. can only dream about. I get to be part of a community whose language and culture is so different from my own. We are honored that God asked this of us. And yet, there is a cost.

We miss birthdays, holidays, and time with our extended families. My youngest child came to PNG at 6 months old, and she’ll be 4 before we return. She has missed out on knowing her cousins and grandparents. Some nights, I comfort my older kids as they cry themselves to sleep because they miss their cousins.  

It has cost me a comfortable life. We live four hours from town over rough roads. I have to cook everything from scratch, every day. Due to the culture, I have to wear skirts; and for this girl who loves her some shorts and tank tops, that’s hard. I also can’t wear makeup, and due to our limited solar power, I can’t blow dry my hair in the mornings on days I just want to look nice. I am introverted and don’t like big crowds, and anywhere we go huge crowds gather around to just stare. 

Seth has experienced huge stress with his work projects when a key piece of machinery breaks and we have no parts to fix it. If he’s lucky, he may find the parts after running to five different stores in town. Cultural differences can also make working alongside our Papua New Guinean brothers and sisters very stressful. Life here can be hard and exhausting.

It has cost us our health at times. Whenever Seth comes home from traveling out to preach and visit, he is ill for days afterwards. The closest good hospital is five hours away, and we have experienced the fear and difficulty of getting there in an emergency.

Seth got very sick in December 2016, and we had to make that trip. It was scary. It took a lot of tests to figure out what was wrong. It was hard trying to make sure he got what he needed and also care for our kids at the same time. He was diagnosed with hepatitis, and we were away from home—in town or at the hospital—for three weeks.  

Yes, serving Jesus has a cost, but it is worth it! The God who is Almighty, King of Kings, and the Great I Am loves me with such an unending, unconditional love that He sent His Son to be my sacrifice. How can I say no to Him when He asks me to sacrifice everyday close family relationships and some comfort and health? Jesus sacrificed His life on the altar cross for me. I have learned that HE is worth it and that HE will honor and look after those who are willing to sacrifice and daringly follow Him. 

Things may not be perfect and hard times will come, but He makes all things good! I have seen the beauty of His Church working together and have felt the miracle of prayers said in different languages from His people around the world. This is the God I serve, the God to whom I will not sacrifice something that has cost me nothing. It has cost me, but HE is worth it and has blessed me beyond what I have ever dreamed.

Act
ACT: What sacrifice can you make for Jesus? Is He calling you to greater, deeper faith? Is He calling you to serve Him through cross-cultural ministry? We’ll help you find your place every step of the way. Email us at mobilization@wgm.org to get started on your missions journey.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Anchoring at an Altar


Jessica Hogan, Volunteer, Honduras

Anchoring to an Altar
The alarm sounds early, waking Ivan from his slumber. He slips out of bed, rubs his eyes, and makes his way to the chapel in the early morning darkness. A rooster crows to announce the new day, and the crickets continue their steady chirping cadence.

He opens the chapel doors and turns on the lights, already joined by a few others who chose to give up some sleep. This small group calls themselves the Remnant of Intercession. 

Ivan walks to the front and faces the altar. The students at Escuela El Sembrador (School of the Sower) in Honduras will be waking up in an hour, and the chaos of the day will begin. But for now, he embraces the stillness. For now, it is only him and God, sharing a quiet moment.

On his knees, he bows his face to the floor.

He breathes.

He begins to pray.

Ivan is the residential life counselor with a missionary’s heart at El Sembrador. Caring for over 80 residential boys is a daunting task, which is why Ivan decided last year to dedicate the first hour of the day to prayer.

“I wanted to give God the first moments of the day,” he said. “In that time I could give all my burdens to God, and it helped me begin my work with new strength.” Over time a small group of students joined him, and together they prayed for their classmates, for El Sembrador employees, and for the leadership of the school. 

The boys at El Sembrador have a routine of school in the morning, work in the afternoon, and studying and playing in the evening. From the time the bell in the dining hall is first rung in the morning, Ivan’s work is nonstop until the boys share a devotional and then go to bed at night. It is very important for Ivan to set aside some time every day to enjoy the calm that comes with resting in God’s presence. These moments are an anchor for Ivan so that he is ready to face whatever life brings him. 

Give
GIVE:  Many students at El Sembrador come from broken homes and are rarely told they can bring positive change to their lives. By sponsoring a student, you are letting him know that someone loves him and is invested in his success. Through your prayers, written letters, and financial support, you are investing in the future generation of Honduran leaders. Sign up to sponsor a student today!

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Fell in Love in Kenya

Rebecca Denning, Volunteer, Kenya

I Fell in Love in Kenya
I fell in love in Kenya...with a dirty, hungry, homeless, 9-year-old boy. He was swinging on tree ropes near my home on the missionary compound at Tenwek Hospital. I could tell he was enjoying himself, smiling and pumping his legs hard as if it would swing him into a new life.

“Hey buddy, time to go home,” I said.

 The pumping stopped, and he walked toward me, eyes on the ground. In broken English he said, “I have no parents.”

Another missionary walked by and I said, “Hey Jenny, this boy says he doesn’t have parents.” 

“Yeah, he told me the same thing earlier.” 

The neighbor’s daughter, a Kenyan, was passing by so we asked her to translate. We discovered Emmanuel had been living on the streets and truly had no family. The three of us walked to a storage closet for orphans. We found a few outfits, a backpack, toiletries, and a teddy bear. For the next two days, Emmanuel slept at Jenny’s house and even learned to ride a bicycle.

Those days were filled with social workers and child services attempting to gather the pieces to Emmanuel’s story. Emmanuel shared that he had been homeless for at least the last six months, but the gaps in his story suggested far longer. His mother had reportedly died of HIV when he was very young, and he didn’t remember his father.  

After two days of investigative work, no family could be found. It was now time to decide what to do with this precious little one. Peter, a dear Kenyan friend, helped us arrange for Emmanuel to be placed at nearby Mosop Children’s Home, which doubles as a boarding school and has high standards for cleanliness, nutrition, academics, and medical care.  

Peter and I loaded Emmanuel in the car, his new teddy bear peering out the side pocket of his backpack. Emmanuel was squirming and showing off his toothy smile, thrilled to be going to school. As we pulled in the driveway, he practically jumped out of his seat in excitement, yelling, “Mosop-school! Mosop-school!” Children dressed in neat brown uniforms ran along the fence to greet us before teachers led us to a room where they gave Emmanuel an academic examination. It was determined he would be placed in Class 1 (the equivalent of first grade) because of his inability to write. He would need special attention to keep up with the class, but he was expected to do just fine. 

I asked that he be examined at the clinic and receive an HIV test. The teacher agreed and then offered me a tuition breakdown and a list of required school supplies. He needs what for first grade? She then told me it was time to take him around the school and orient him to his new home. I asked if I could join them, to which she politely responded, “He will be fine; we’ll see you tomorrow.” Got it, time to let him go. 

I hugged my little friend, told him I would see him tomorrow, and left him at that big school with people he had just met and a bunch of kids who I prayed would be nice to him. All night I thought about and prayed for that little guy.

I’d only known him for three days, but I felt like a part of me was missing. As I prayed, God brought three words to my mind: “God with us.” Burdened with emotions, it took me a second to remember that Emmanuel means “God with us.” Emmanuel has never been alone, forsaken, or homeless; and neither have I. 

The next day, I stuffed his footlocker with supplies, clothes, and extra goodies, including pictures Jenny’s family had laminated. Emmanuel loved opening his footlocker, coming to the pictures saying, “Tank you, tank you!” 

I was told his HIV test was negative, but he has hearing difficulty in his right ear. Inside, I breathed a great sigh of relief about the former but had a thousand questions about the latter. The teacher beat me to the punch, saying, “I think I’ll ask the nurse; I’d like to know what’s wrong with that ear.” God is with him. Okay, got it! 

For the next week, I learned how to embroider “Emmanuel Kiplangat” on all his clothes. With every letter sewn, I thought about his smile, his laugh, and his goofy “Yah!” he uses to express happiness. I thought about what I’m going to do when I leave in July, who will come to visit him on my behalf, and when I’ll be able to come back to see him. As much as my heart breaks to think of leaving him, I know Kenya is Emmanuel’s home and that the staff at Mosop will raise him to be a strong man. Instead, I should direct my thoughts and prayers on how I can support him from afar.

So, I’ve fallen for a 9-year-old boy. I can honestly say, I would give anything for his happiness and success in this world. No matter the impact I’ve had and will continue to have in Emmanuel’s life, I pray that neither of us will forget that God is with us. He is with us when we have nothing; when we are homeless and hungry, without family or friends; when we’re brokenhearted and deeply saddened; and when we have all we need and more.

Act
GO: While volunteering at Tenwek, Rebecca met Emmanuel, and both lives were changed forever. Are you ready to have your heart broken in order to share the love of Jesus with others? Click here to find your mission field.