Journey 10.40

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Where does your passion intersect with God’s heart? Do you feel He is leading you to explore ministry among Muslims but don’t know where to begin or even what that looks like?

Next summer you can be a part of our Journey 10.40 trip, an awesome experience in Europe and the Middle East where God is doing some amazing things among Muslims. In just eight and a half weeks, you’ll be able to serve in ministry in three countries in the 10/40 Window, learning from missionaries serving among people in Spain, Jordan, and Albania.

As a member of the Journey 10.40 trip, you’ll walk alongside a multicultural team of missionaries serving in Spain as they minister to North African immigrants. The next leg of your trip will take you to Jordan, where you will study Arabic and get to know refugees and Christian workers who have stories to tell. Finally, you’ll travel to Albania to be trained in the skill of storytelling, while having time to invest in Albanian youth.

enjoying family timeIf you feel God is calling you to serve in Muslim ministry, this is the experience for you. Space for this trip is limited, and applications are due by December 1, 2017. Team members will be notified on December 15 if they have been accepted.

DATES:

May 16–19: training in Marion, Indiana
May 19–June 3: Spain
June 3–June 28: Jordan
June 28–July 13: Albania
July 13: back in the U.S.

We All Have a Story

I am going off the beaten path today, because I have something on my heart and I’m feeling inspired! Will you join me on a journey to explore the importance of story? I would like to share how God can use your story to impact others.

I’m Micah Metz, social media coordinator at World Gospel Mission. Often in my job, I am searching for ways to package and post stories that will impact people and cause them to act and react to the mission and plan of Christ in their lives as well as other’s lives. I have been doing this for almost two years now, and through reading and researching so many amazing stories of God’s transformative power, I have constantly been reminded of something: “We all have a story.”

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Micah Metz, Grayson Metz (son), and Maggie Metz (wife) Photo credit: Stuart Fritz

Len and Betsy Phillips, missionaries to Albania, stated in their latest prayer letter, “We are learning that each staff member and each student at our school has a unique and fascinating story reflecting the working of God’s grace and love.”

Story has fascinated me from a very early age. I grew up watching superhero cartoons, and I fondly remember things like family movie night on Fridays. I drew pictures and played with my Batman action figures for hours just imagining elaborate stories. What draws us to stories? What makes us go back to movies, books, music, etc. over and over?

We were created by the Creator to create and relate through story and expression. It is about community and unity. I recently released a comic book I have been working on for six years. Through all the trials, countless hours of editing, heartache, and victory there was one thing that consistently made me persevere: I have a story to tell. Since the comic has come out, I have been asked, “What gave you the drive to do that for six years?” The answer is simple: I love God, and I love comics.

How profound right? It’s almost funny how much we try to figure out special ways to somehow infiltrate other cultures or people groups by imitating—like some kind of ministry ninja—what we think they want. The truth is that people grow in community when there is a real authenticity of who we are in our story and our efforts to connect. There is always value in meeting needs; this is a big part of what we are all called to do as missionaries. However, we fail to achieve the whole gospel message if we stop at works. (I am referring to everyone who is a Christian as a “missionary,” because that is our role.)

James 2:14–17 (NIV) reads, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

The Bible tackles deeds but what about story? Oh my, the story is everywhere! First, let’s remember that Jesus taught most of His lessons through parables. Second, let’s consider the importance the Bible emphasizes on story:

  • Romans 10:14 (NASB) – “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
  • 1 Chronicles 15:8 (NASB) – “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name, Make known His deeds among the peoples.”

I could go on and on. The lesson is that the bible values this balance of sharing story and deed.

Now that there’s an established Biblical need for story and deed, the real question is how do we take our story and go into the world and share it effectively to bring about real relationship building and life change? How do we become the missionaries we have been called to be wherever we are?

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do have some strategies that I have observed and tried. It goes back to your passions, gifts, experiences, and influences. God uses all things together for our good. My struggles, my pain, my victories in Christ were all part of my experience when I wrote the comic book. This is the story I share with others when I talk about my comic with them.

The key is to live a life that is dedicated to Him and to begin to let habits form through constant reminders of scripture, prayer, and relationship. The key is to not settle.

We as humans have a tendency to waver back and forth in our faith, often caught up in the good or the bad that make us think we’re doing better or worse than we really are. When we have an attitude that shows we will not settle and we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us who we can help and interact with today, it becomes less about us and more about others. Habits can be trained and minds can be renewed. Romans 12:2 (NIV) states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This brings me to my final and maybe most important aspect of storytelling as it relates to sharing the gospel. If we are built to be in community and share in story through creativity and experience, then listening should be a huge priority. Our stories are shaped by living life with others. This requires the practice of patience and deliberate attentiveness to others. This may be easier said than done, but isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

ACT: Missions is messy, but comfort zones create distance. Today, get out of your comfort zone and go talk to a neighbor, someone in line next to you at the store, or an older person you know is wanting to share stories with you. Listen, learn, and then act. Ask them what you can do to help them today and in the future.  Be a missionary today!

It All Starts with a Seed

Three students met together for Bible study and fellowship and to encourage one another in their Christian walks. The University Discipleship Movement in East Africa began at Kampala International University in Uganda with that seed in 2002. The students met only once a week and each attended their own churches on Sundays.

As time went on, more students joined the fellowship and other groups began to form. Eventually, the students started United Faith Chapel, a thriving community of believers and a full-fledged, student-led church in Kampala.

But God’s transforming work did not stop in Kampala. As the ministries at United Faith Chapel grew, students at other universities throughout East Africa asked the church to help them create their own student-led ministries, leading to the expansion of UDM. WGM is a part of this student-led movement, and Jonathan Mayo is one missionary who is very passionate and excited for how UDM is spreading throughout East Africa.

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Photo credit: Mayos

In the Mayos’ latest newsletter, Jonathan stated, “Our passion is to disciple and mentor students who will transform their world for Jesus Christ.”

“We have been blessed to see God’s kingdom grow during our years in Uganda. We have seen the missionary force grow, the church grow, Heritage International School grow, and the university ministries grow. In the last few years, our focus has been on students, both in universities and at Heritage. Students are growing closer to Jesus and are being challenged to be change agents for Him in their communities and countries. Heritage has students from over 25 countries. On the 20 university campuses where we work, the students represent at least 11 African countries. The mission field has come to us as we disciple and mentor these students. They have the potential to return to their home countries and bring transformation to their nations. Some who have graduated are now serving as lawyers, pastors, doctors, politicians, missionaries, and teachers. The potential for their impact is limitless!”

Praise God for this amazing ministry WGM is so fortunate to be a part of! If you would like to join WGM in helping the University Discipleship Movement, look at the action steps below to find out how you can partner with us to make a difference in lives in Africa.

GIVE: Help provide Bibles, Bible study materials, books on leadership, and other needed materials for UDM. Make checks payable to World Gospel Mission and write account #150-21343 on the memo line. Send check donations to:

World Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 948
Marion, IN 46952-0948

MORE: Learn more about UDM Africa.

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Photo credit: Mayos

Community

In America, we have the luxury of personal space. Can you imagine living close to, worshiping with, and sharing life with those you work with inside and outside of work? Bob and Andrea Parker are missionary doctors serving at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. In their latest blog post, they talk about this reality.

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Our Kenya Field Missionary Colleagues
By Andrea Parker
Photo Credit: Dylan Nugent

People often ask us how reality differed from our expectations in moving to Kenya. In many ways, we didn’t know what to expect from life and work at Tenwek, and we tried to approach our new life without too many assumptions. But, there were some things that surprised us. For me, it was living in community.

I had not anticipated how living in such close proximity to those we serve with would affect me. Or how it would feel to live with the same people we work with and worship with and socialize with and do school with. This was a cost I had not counted.

It’s easy in that situation to begin to resent the community and those in it. I began to miss the compartmentalized and often virtual life that seemed so easy in the United States, where I could choose who I wanted to know and who I wanted to be known by. And I could so easily separate the various parts of my life – work, church, home, family. And in doing so, I could control appearances. But, at Tenwek, there is literally no facet of our lives that is not shared with others in our community.

About a year into our time in Kenya, a seasoned missionary shared with me a profound reflection on living in community – that if we let it be, community is one of the most refining processes we can ever experience. And why is it so refining? Because it forces us to acknowledge and respond to our own impurities.

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“Our residents (and Bob) work together to untangle themselves from a human knot.”
Photo Credit: Dylan Nugent

Community walks into my house uninvited and stays longer than I planned, and it knows my lack of kindness when my schedule or efficiency is disrupted. Community hears me yell at my child in anger through the very thin walls. Community sees me lose patience and snap at a trainee or staff member. Community sees the way I turn a needy person away without gentleness or compassion. Community knows way too many of the times I’m not living a life of love or reflecting Jesus. Community is invasive and frustrating and hard. And community is indeed refining. Much like a marriage, it is that reflective mirror held in front of my face that reveals all the blemishes I want to pretend are not there. But unlike a marriage, I didn’t really choose this community. And sometimes our personalities and beliefs and approaches to life are very different. In all likelihood, most of them wouldn’t choose to marry me, and I might not choose to marry them.

At first this all sounds rather unappealing. Who of us really wants to be refined? But when we let it, the difficulty of community gives way to a messy beauty. Sharing life, which means sharing the really bad and sharing the really good. Because for all the irritations and struggles, when people show up ready to know and love one another, it destroys the idea and appeal of self-reliance. I must rely on others because I cannot and will not make it on my own. Community lets me borrow food when I’m out of a necessary ingredient. Community watches my child when I’m up late at the hospital and makes sure she has dinner and companionship. Community remembers my birthday (even when I don’t necessarily want it remembered). Community knows when I’m ill and checks in. Community brings me a plate of the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had on a day when I don’t think I can make it through.

To read the rest of the Parkers’ ministry blog, follow this link: Parker blog.

ACT: Christ encourages us to live in community. This week, think of someone who is either a neighbor or someone who you see often but don’t talk to and do something for them—bring them a plate of cookies or offer some type of help or service. Be a light in your community!