Every year the CMA Church (Christian Missionary Alliance) asks it’s congregants to make a faith pledge: a dollar amount that each person pledges to give towards missions which is above and beyond our normal tithe, believing God will provide the funds for us to keep our pledge. It’s a big deal. Last year over 61 million dollars was given to support some 700 international workers.
As part of preparing to make a faith pledge, our congregation hosts what we call, “Taste of the Nations” each year. Once a year missionary shares about overseas work and we have dinner as a church family, sampling foods from several countries. Sunday morning our missionary shares the message and we are given the opportunity to ask God how he wants to use us. Are we being asked to give? To pray? To send others? Or to go ourselves?
Not everyone is meant to go, but it is a good spiritual health gauge to ask oneself periodically, “Am I willing?”
Our last event was so much fun. It is family friendly, so our whole family attended (shortly after Baby Melody was born, so she’s itty bitty in the pic).
Our 17 year old daughter Becca with Baby Melody
The foods, including fare from Korea, Africa, Europe, and South America, were all delicious.
My favorite part of the evening was hearing about what God is doing in areas where people are hearing for the first time who Jesus is. Even my 8 year old was listening with rapt attention.
I was reminded of Paul and his comrades in the book of Acts, returning to share what God was doing through their ministry with the church in Jerusalem, their sending church.
Our missionary came to us from the 10/40 window, from a volatile region we often see on the news. It’s a region we’ve been led to believe is dangerous for Christians. Certainly, a place where very few have heard the name of Jesus, or if they have they do not understand who He truly is. To protect the missionaries we were not permitted to take photos of the speakers.
What I heard was that the government of this country represented by our speaker is not so opposed to Christianity. In fact, Christians are recognized as good for their cities… kind and giving, helping the locals. The persecution usually comes into play when an individual born into Islam converts. It is the family who typically seeks retribution. And yet, the locals are apparently disenchanted with Islam and hungry to know the God of love. “God is using their difficult circumstances,” the missionary shared, “to pry open their hearts.”
Jesus is appearing to many in their dreams, healing broken bodies just as He did in the gospels, and sending these precious people to churches where they can receive the Bible in their own language and to learn what they must do to be saved. More churches are being planted and the Kingdom of God is growing… outgrowing the pace in which we are sharing Jesus with others here in our free U.S.
#1) We heard, “Grateful people pass God’s love to others.” Be ready for Christ’s return.
#2) We were admonished, “Always invest what God gives you into eternal value.”
#3) We were encouraged to serve because the Kingdom (of God) is Love.
But, as important and necessary as all these things are, none of these things is the key to successful evangelism. What is the secret?
Fear is the greatest killer of our faith. What if…
… I don’t know what to say,
… I say the wrong thing,
… they don’t believe,
… what if my friends laugh at me,
… if I am rejected,
… I am persecuted,
and on and on and on.
How often we give ourselves too much credit. How often we have too little faith.
Yes, the Kingdom of God is carried in the hearts of men. But it is the Power of God that draws them. That is the perspective changing statement I carried away and that will stick with me always. That is the key.
It is the Power of God and not what you or I do or say. We are only tools in the Master’s hand. He is the Savior, from start to finish. He draws them, He saves them, and He sanctifies each and every one.
What a wonderful God He is!