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Monday, September 25, 2017
(August 24, 1967 – January 13, 2017)
Dana Jacobs exuded love, compassion, and genuine concern for all people. She cared deeply for every abandoned or orphaned baby who came through the gate of the Africa Gospel Church Baby Centre, whispering to each one, “Your parents are coming for you.” It was a sacred calling to care for these children and to tell them that they were loved, they were wanted, and they would have a family someday.
This calling to serve with World Gospel Mission in Kenya came after some resistance. At the time her husband, Dan, felt God’s pull to Kenya in 2005, Dana was happy and comfortable in the life they had built in the United States, the result of years of hard work. They had four kids, a lovely home, and a secure future. But God had something else for them, and when Dana surrendered to His leading, they found that He enabled them to find purpose in a ministry that was greater than anything they could have imagined.
Dan gave leadership as the director of the baby center while Dana coordinated the many teams and visitors who came to the center each year. In this role, she managed the logistics involved in housing and feeding large groups, helped visitors process what they were experiencing, and served as a liaison between supporting partners and Kenyan staff. And she was famous for her delicious homemade pizza.
Dana made Kenya her home. She embraced the role of sister and mother to staff and babies alike. Dana’s impact on the lives of children will stretch across decades and around the world.
“When you go in obedience to God’s calling and surrender your life to Him, miraculous things happen,” Dana wrote in 2016 when she was at WGM headquarters for a training event. We are grateful for the years of remission she was able to have after her cancer diagnosis. Yet we still grieve, wondering why Dana lost her life at this time. Our hearts hurt for Dan, Hope, Carson, Talia, Nathan, and Andrea, and for all who knew and loved Dana.
We have confidence in knowing that she loved her Savior to the utmost and served Him with everything she had. We rest in the knowledge that she is with Jesus. Hebrews 10:23 (NIV) reminds us, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” We rejoice that Dana is in the presence of the Source of that hope today.
GIVE: Africa Gospel Church Baby Centre is a home for orphaned and abandoned children in Ngata, Kenya. You can honor missionary Dana Jacobs' memory by partnering with this ministry.
September 25-30: Praise God for the wonderful examples given in the Bible about how we are to treat foreigners.
Monday, September 18, 2017
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
Dr. Dan Schafer, President
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: 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
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: 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 email@example.com to get started on your missions journey.
Monday, August 28, 2017
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 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: 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
Rebecca Denning, Volunteer, 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.
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.
Monday, August 14, 2017
Shushan Richardson, Missionary, Lithuania
In the days leading up to the trial that would eventually result in a not guilty verdict for the man who killed my youngest brother, I went on a private spiritual retreat. It was a time of prayer and seeking God.
In those days of quiet, I read the Bible and Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper. During those days, God brought me to the cross and helped me to see it. Before, I saw the cross as a picture of God’s love, grace, and victory. My view was beautiful and joyful, but it was shallow. I realized that I had been missing the cost, cheapening the unimaginable suffering of Jesus. The cross is an amazingly powerful reminder that we are called to die, called to give up illusions that this world is fair and safe and just and easy.
It is a reminder that no matter the pain, difficulty, or cost, we are called to love and live and suffer as Christ did. I now see and feel the cross differently, overcome by the fullness of the vision. Worship for me has become all about the cross.
Like life, missions is full of uncertainty. I had hoped to return to Ukraine, but the opportunity to serve with war-affected students drew me to the country of Georgia. There, I was presented with a new cross—the Georgian interpretation where the arms of the cross point downward. At first, I bristled at the strangeness and thought it was irreverent. But then I heard the beautiful story of a missionary to Georgia in the fourth century. She came to Georgia, sharing the gospel and living such a devout life that even the king took notice. She constructed a cross of grapevines, which she bound together with her hair. Eventually, she was able to lead the king to Jesus. Not only did he become a believer but also Georgia was a Christian country by the year 337. And the cross made of twisted grapevines remains a symbol of a life and a country dedicated to Christ.
When students from Iraq and Syria were unable to enter Georgia, the ministry was relocated to Lithuania. Here, too, the cross is a central theme. The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania is an awesome site. Hundreds of thousands of crosses have been placed on a small raised area outside of a city. The hill began as a memorial to soldiers lost in battle in the 1830s. It became a place of prayer for peace, and more crosses were erected. Under the Soviet Union, crosses and other Christian symbols were not permitted. Three times during the Soviet occupation, the crosses were destroyed. Yet under threat of punishment, Lithuanian people continued to sneak in in the dark of night to place crosses at this site, proclaiming their faith in God and praying for peace.
Now, I am serving at LCC International University in Lithuania, and we have 16 students from Syria and Iraq. They have suffered the horrific events that we have only seen a glimpse of through news reports.
Recently, I was sitting with some students from Syria. We had the opportunity to speak with filmmakers who made a documentary about the Syrian refugee crisis. They asked the students how they are adjusting to Lithuania and what stereotypes they face as Muslims. One young man was quick to speak up. He said, “I will let my Muslim brothers answer, but first, I want to tell you that I am a Christian. Yes, Jesus is in Syria.”
And Jesus is in Iraq, also, evidenced by the small wooden cross one of my Iraqi students wears proudly around his neck.
Yes, life and missions are uncertain, but God is not. Wherever I go, God has already been there. The cross asks if I am willing to do more than love. Do you see the cross? What great joy and sorrow, what amazing love and suffering, what overwhelming hope and despair, what unimaginable peace and pain; but above all else, what an awesome God! I see the cross and because I do, my view of everything else has become tainted and shallow.
Do you see the cross? Look again.
GIVE: Be a part of building up believers—many of whom have survived war and persecution—in the Middle East by donating to the Yemen Crisis Relief Fund.
Monday, August 7, 2017
Have you seen the movie War Room about a woman who prays faithfully from her closet? My Kenyan friend Cynthia (name changed) was so inspired by that movie that she created a similar space in her own home.
I first met Cynthia in 2011, when we met with several girls who wanted to leave the sex industry. She has continued ministering to them since that time. Cynthia has a missionary heart, encouraging and supporting widows and other needy people in her community.
I knew the Holy Spirit was guiding me to mentor Cynthia. When she came to our first meeting in my home, she brought her oldest son, Joshua. This had not been anticipated! I knew we would discuss sensitive issues, so Joshua was sent to lunch with our worker while Cynthia and I talked.
She was in crisis at the time. She and her children had been victims of physical and emotional abuse by the children’s father. The chief had given a letter of warning to the father, and Cynthia left the home with the four boys. She had been praying for a resolution in the family.
Cynthia related how the movie War Room had impacted her prayer life. She learned that there is power in secret prayer. This had been a strengthening spiritual experience for her in the midst of all the challenges.
She had constructed a wardrobe in which to hang her clothes, and this wardrobe became her prayer closet. Each time she wanted to pray, she removed the clothes from the wardrobe and went inside to pray. She poured out her heart to the Lord about all that concerned her and her children during those precious moments of prayer.
Joshua had been observing her going into the closet, and one day he asked to go in, too, saying that he had some things to talk to God about. Soon, all four boys were spending time in the closet praying to God.
The family has since moved to a larger home, and Cynthia created a new space for prayer. This “closet” is a curtained-off area of her bedroom. She and the boys individually bring one request before the Lord and post it on the wall. When the Lord gives an answer, they mark the response. The answers to prayer are flowing!
- One day, Joshua went into the closet to thank the Lord for the cup of plain tea they were drinking. He told the Lord that he wanted to be grateful for the plain cup of tea, because surely the Lord had chosen to give their sugar to someone who needed it more. Joshua was trusting the Lord to supply for their needs. Soon after, there was a knock at the door. A woman handed Cynthia two kilos (about four and a half pounds) of sugar and a large bag of tea leaves. Later that day, three packets of milk were brought to the house. The answered prayer came about in the supply of all the ingredients needed for a proper cup of tea!
- Caleb, Cynthia’s second son, had broken his right arm playing soccer. Local physical therapy was causing extreme pain for him. Cynthia prayed over him, and the family was able to go to Tenwek Hospital to seek answers. The cast had been removed too quickly, and his arm was splinted for another 10 days to assist in healing. Caleb has to continue with daily exercises to bring back full range of motion to his right arm, but he will not need the painful therapy he had endured.
- Cynthia has started a small shop selling produce, French fries, soap, and matches. We believe God is going to bless this business as she tithes.
- All four boys are in school with fees paid by Cynthia. Joshua was chosen the leader for the Christian Union at his high school, leading devotions each Friday. This occurred even though he was late starting school, because the principal was amazed at how well Joshua knew the Bible. Cynthia has been teaching the boys from the Word of God for many years!
- Helping former sex workers earn clean money and discipling them are two of Cynthia’s goals. Recently, on her birthday, nine girls accepted Christ as their Savior and left the sex industry. Four of them are now washing clothes for other women, and Cynthia is working to encourage them all in their new lives.
A closet is certainly not required for God to answer prayer. However, Cynthia loves being alone with God in her prayer closet. It is also teaching her sons the value of prayer and that God does hear and answer.
PRAY: Please pray for Cynthia, Joshua, Caleb, Shadrack, and Levi. Pray for spiritual growth, the provision of daily needs, blessings on Cynthia’s small business, and continued passion as Cynthia helps unreached girls who lack direction in life. May Cynthia’s life also inspire you to have a special prayer place where you regularly seek God’s face in faith. God is faithful, and He will answer your heart’s cry. Is He hearing from you?
Monday, July 31, 2017
Rachel Elwood, Director of Communications
In 1952, Queen Elizabeth came to the throne of Great Britain, Singin’ in the Rain was a hit film, gas was only 20 cents a gallon, and Beverly Lewis was appointed as a missionary to the Texas/Mexico Border field. In 2017, she is celebrating an astonishing 60 years of missionary service to five countries.
Beverly was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1929, and continued to call Portland home throughout her years in Latin America. Raised in a Christian family, Beverly was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit at an early age and became interested in missions in high school when she heard a missionary from Bolivia speak and share a slide presentation. She attended Cascade College in Portland to major in education and minor in Spanish and history. She later earned a master’s degree in education from Azusa Pacific University (California) in 1983.
Beverly used her gift of teaching in every place she served, focusing on equipping church leaders. Her resume includes teaching at Taylor Institute on the Texas/Mexico border; teaching and serving in administration at Berea Bible Institute in Bolivia; and founding Wesley Evangelical Seminary, which later became part of Bolivian Evangelical University. In Argentina, where she spent most of the 1980s, Beverly designed a plan for training pastoral students, later doing a similar project in Paraguay.
In Bolivia, where she spent most of her years of service, she was also involved in radio ministry, working with the national church in preparing programs that were broadcast all over the country. She also trained Bolivians in camping ministries, producing one of many enduring legacies—today, thousands of children, young people, and adults enjoy camping ministries throughout Bolivia.
Beverly officially retired in 1995 and remained in the U.S. for five years to care for her mother. In 2000, she returned to Bolivia to teach at BEU. She wanted to do what she loved most—invest in young people in Latin America. Since 2009, she has been based in Paraguay, where she is the director at Wesley Bible Institute in Asunción, preparing leaders for World Gospel Church of Paraguay. After moving to the U.S. this summer, she will continue to teach theological classes online.
“I first responded to a mention in a slide that if someone doesn’t go to teach these people, they’ll not have the opportunity to learn,” Beverly said. “On each field, there has been an urgent need for a teacher; He opened the door for me to go. I love the promise of 2 Corinthians 9:8, ‘His grace abounds, and He generously provides what I need.’”
Monday, July 24, 2017
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ~ J. R. R Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
This quote reminds me of what it means to put your life on God’s altar. There is no knowing what God is going to use or when; He often takes a piece of my life and uses it in ways that I never could have dreamed of.
One of these instances was during my first two years in Bolivia. I felt God calling me to Bolivia to work with the El Alfarero (The Potter) University Student Center as a counselor. However, I could not start counseling right away because I needed to understand the language and culture better, so I volunteered wherever I could.
I began working in the café that served the students; making coffees and smoothies and serving food was my day-to-day living. It was an adventure. I had never worked in anything like that before. (I didn’t even like coffee at the time; although, that is a different story now!)
Then they asked if I could help in the onsite library that was used by students, counselors, and the public. Sure, I thought; I love books. As I started working, I realized that maybe God had a different plan. You see, I not only love books but also libraries. My family has a personal library in our house, and my mom had worked in a library for many years. I used to go in and help her with cataloging and shelving. It turned out that I knew more about running a library than most of those who were working in the one at El Alfarero.
By the second year, I was working on updating the library and dealing with issues that had been there since the library first opened. God took my life experiences—ones I never thought would be used on the field—and swept them up into His plans. I had placed my life and experiences on His altar, and He took off what He wanted to use.
What does God want you to place on His altar? Are you allowing yourself to be swept off into His great adventure?
Monday, July 17, 2017
We use milestones collected in our hearts and minds to construct altars of remembrance. Sometimes we find ourselves building them in a most unlikely place.
One morning while working at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, we were shocked to receive a phone call telling us our son, Chris, had a seizure in PE class at his boarding school. We quickly handed over duties, packed a bag, and started out on the long drive to be with Chris.
Upon arrival at the school infirmary, our hearts ached to see the many bumps and bruises and a cut from his fall against a wire fence and then down onto the ground. Chris was started on medication and needed to be monitored through the night. The nurse invited us to stay in the infirmary with him. After a late supper, we settled in for the night.
I was startled awake as my spirit cried vehemently within me, “I am so disappointed in you, God! I trusted you to protect my son. I am very disappointed!” God joined my heart-space conversation. “I can handle your disappointment, but I have a question for you. Do you trust Me?”
“I do trust You, but I am disappointed.”
“Do you trust Me?” I felt Him gently ask.
“I think I trust You. Why do You ask? You know the answer better than I.”
“For what lies ahead for you and your family, for where I am leading you next, you MUST know if you trust Me. Do you trust Me?”
I invited God’s Spirit to reveal what was in my heart. I saw incomplete trust. “Oh, God, I do trust You. Increase my faith to trust You more. Holy Spirit, always remind me that I know I trust God. Whatever comes my way, I trust you, God.”
Suddenly, within that room, my heart space became sacred ground and a holy quiet filled my being. Using every bump on my son’s body as building stones, along with other mental stones from experiences past, I constructed an altar of remembrance in worship to God, whom I trust.
In the years since building that altar in the school infirmary, I have often gone to that sacred heart space to worship the God I trust. He was right. I needed to know that I know that I trust Him.
Monday, July 10, 2017
“That one is for the men. This for the women. Those two smaller ones, the children.”
Dusk was just minutes away, and we had a muddy van ride ahead; it was time to get going, you might say. I didn’t take time to soak in the vision to my right. We moved along the path through the marsh, returning the same way we’d wandered in about an hour ago.
I saw the tarps the first time when they were on my left, but I thought nothing of them. They appeared to be covering rocks—flat on the top with little jars and vessels tucked in around the base. As a new missionary, I knew very little about this place, just enough to feel fear. I trusted our pastors—a couple Kenyans and a few Ugandans—assuming they knew what they were doing since they were acting like guides.
They picked up the pace, so I followed suit. One turned to me as we scrambled back to our van, “Those altars, they are for sacrifice,” she whispered from the corner of her mouth while she glanced quickly over my shoulder back in the direction from which we had come. She then gathered her dress and turned with a small wave of the hand to keep me close.
Several years earlier, I stumbled across an altar of a very different kind. This altar has a story that began with a wedding. Floyd was a young man who waited nervously at the front of a small chapel in central Indiana. His fiancé, Alberta, stepped happily down the aisle in a beautiful white gown.
Over 50 years later, a pew from that wedding chapel was strapped in the back of a red pickup while my father and I sketched out a plan to give the wood a second life. We kept the beautiful curves and notable features of the pew in plain view while thoughtfully piecing together something functional and strong. When finished, it looked like a kneeler...an altar. Its old pew shape still trimmed the sides and the top on the right and left.
While we were building, we knelt together, holding the top before it was fastened while we marked and measured and tried to get the spacing and angle comfortably correct. We used strong door hinges underneath to keep it from buckling, and we supported the whole thing firmly against the floor with our attempt at hidden feet. It ended up at my house. I prayed there many times.
There is no mistaking the vast difference between these two altars—one meant for evil, another meant for good. However, with all their differences, I find the similarities quite fascinating. Both altars are cared for as designated, sacred places. Both are intended to connect humanity with the supernatural. In both cases, humans approach the altar with sincerity, most always confident and expectant. I suspect Elijah saw this, too, on Mount Carmel as he faced the prophets of Baal. Two altars—vast in difference, striking in similarity.
In my ministry, I desire to see the lost come to the altar and seek the Lord in prayer. Yet, there is a great work that must occur before any man or woman comes to the altar of God. Before we kneel at a new altar, we must leave the one we’ve been using. A battle over the soul begins every time a person kneels at the altar of God before they’ve left their other altars. In the marshes of Uganda, in the twilight of that memorable day, I realized that my work in missions was somewhere between two altars—the death and the second life.
PRAY: The chains that keep people from a life of freedom in Christ can be blatantly obvious or hidden and secret. Pray for Nathan and others involved in sharing this message of freedom, that the power of Jesus will reach past the barriers that keep people from Him.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
It’s just two hours until my deadline. The girls are needy. The boys are playing video games. And this topic of building an altar in the midst of chaos is all too relevant. As a missionary, wife, and mom of four children, the demands on my time are many and urgent. I don’t know what you face today, but I am sure the needs around you are urgent as well. We all need to build altars and meet with God; but, it isn’t easy. I want to share three things I am learning about building an altar.
1. God knows my frame. He understands the demands on my time and how many times I have been up in the night with a needy baby. There are days when I don’t have 20 minutes to sit by myself and “do my devotions.” But on those days, He reminds me that just a glance from my eyes ravishes His heart (see Song of Songs 4:9). It’s the attitude of my heart that matters. My desire to be alone with Him is a pleasing offering even when actually being alone with Him cannot happen. This is the altar of desire.
2. God accepts my living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). As I cook, clean, and care for my family and neighbors, I can worship God. Everything that is done in love can be turned into worship. My motives are not always pure, and sometimes I serve with a spirit of resentment. When the cry of my heart is “for You…for You…for You…,” this is the altar of diligence.
3. God delights in my neediness. I don’t like asking for help. My American independence is a hindrance to my spiritual growth. He loves to meet my needs. And whenever I call out to Him in poverty of spirit or body, He comes (see Matthew 5:3); He fills me. This is the altar of dependence—it’s one of His favorite places to meet me. My prayer today is that we will build an altar wherever we are in the world and meet with the living God. He created us to bear fruit for His kingdom, and, without Him, we can do nothing.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Jared Gleason, Director of Mobilization
The Call, April-June 2017
The Call, April-June 2017
Are they waiting for you?
God is doing so much around the world, which you have learned as you have prayed through the many available ministry opportunities highlighted in this issue of The Call. So many exciting ministries are happening, and only God knows what He has in store for the future.
As you prayed through these ministries and opportunities, asking God to send more workers, did you feel God calling you to be the one who goes? Perhaps that brings feelings of excitement and joy but also feelings of apprehension and fear. That is all right. If God is calling you, He will make a way; and our team is here to help you.
If you do feel God speaking into your heart, asking you to answer His call and serve on His mission field, here are two ways you can do that:
1. SHORT-TERM SERVICE
Maybe your availability is limited or you don’t feel God calling you to serve for a long period of time. There are many ministry opportunities that ask for short-term commitments—one month to a year. We can customize a shorter experience for you that will enable you to invest in a ministry, experience missions life firsthand, and serve in a vital way. WGM has great volunteer programs for individuals, couples, and families. Visitwww.wgm.org/serve for more information.
2. LONG-TERM SERVICE
Perhaps God is calling you to explore a career in missions. I encourage you to consider the Missionary Discipleship Program, which consists of two years of service. It is designed to equip you to serve in long-term, cross-cultural ministry, focusing on discipleship and training. You will have a team of people who will work together to prepare you for service as an individual, couple, or family. Learn more at www.wgm.org/md.
GO: Are you ready to take that next step now? Want to talk to someone about your calling, or what you wonder may be your calling? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.