A Lesson Learned Long Ago About Encouragement

Our team packed into a couple of small vehicles and made our way down the pothole filled streets where we would then turn off the paved roads and down the bumpy one-way dirt roads. We traveled these dusty roads until we came to a clearing, where mud huts and grass roofs were scattered around the villages in this West African country.  As the people came out to see who was arriving in their village, they quickly began gathering members from the local Baptist church.  Word had reached them that we were coming. 

Once gathered, we would share Scripture with the church members, offer a word of greeting from the church in the US, and pray for the believers.  We did this same routine repeatedly, spending only a short amount of time at each village.  After many stops, I pulled Stevens aside.  Stevens was a local pastor who worked with our team.  Missionaries came to his village the day he was born, and his witchdoctor father named him after the missionaries that day.    

“Stevens,” I wondered, “are we doing any good by traveling from village to village and staying only a short amount of time?”  His slender 6’6” frame leaned down to me as he insisted with his English accent, “Oh, never underestimate what your encouragement does for our people! It’s huge!”

Light bulb moment!  That’s exactly what Paul is getting at in Acts 14 and 15.  Toward the end of his first missionary journey and the beginning of his second, Paul made it a practice to travel back to the churches previously planted and “strengthen the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22; 15:41).  Why?  Because we all need encouragement. Perhaps like never in recent years has the church needed encouragement in the faith. 

Paul tells these early churches, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  Today is no different.  Life is hard. The fight against sin is hard.  Living for Jesus is hard.  Now throw in the mix challenges like viruses, political turmoil, escalated racial tensions, financial strains, mandated and self-regulated quarantines, and the tragedy of death.  No wonder even the church is weary.    

During it all, the church is still called to the Great Commission. The gospel moves forward even when the world is in a pandemic.  Preachers still preach. Evangelists still share. Missionaries still cross cultures.  The church continues to make disciples.  But in times like this, it’s easy to become discouraged and weary.

Like Paul before us, what pastor might you encourage this week?  What missionary can you contact and pray for that he or she might be “strengthened and encouraged”?  What church can you lift in prayer and then make aware that you did just that?  You and I might be surprised at what a simple word of encouragement and prayer will do for other believers seeking to make disciples of Jesus.  As my friend Stevens says, “Oh, never underestimate what your encouragement does for our people!  It’s huge!”  Go and do likewise.    

Are you missing your blessing?

For this week’s blog post I would like to share an inspirational story written on June 26th by KY-MSC Missionary Laura Roberts, Executive Director of Starfish Orphan Ministry in Paducah.  So thankful for missionaries and ministries such as this that show and share the love of Christ daily to families across Kentucky.

Yesterday at Starfish Orphan Ministry a young woman came in with her mother. She explained her story about how she had found herself homeless and pregnant with 2 children. She had to give up her children temporarily while she got her life back together.

The good news is, she worked hard and got them back, and was moving into an apartment yesterday. The problem was, she had nothing. (Like no beds for her or her children to sleep in, no towels to dry with, no chairs to sit in, no pots and pans to cook in…). We explained to her that we had almost everything she needed, even pictures to hang on the walls, she and her mother both cried. They were humble and thankful. We explained that it was God blessing her and her children. God had led people to donate much of this, and allowed us to be a tiny part in the process of blessing her with it.

My friend and I prayed with her and her mom, as they both wept. This girl had all the required paperwork to back up what she had told us. When we were done with that part of it, we had explained that we did not have anyone to deliver to her right then. She said she had someone that could pick it up.

When the elderly man arrived in a small pickup truck to get the apartment full of furniture , he explained that he had just gotten out of the hospital, and could not lift anything heavy, and would not be able to make multiple trips. He had just felt sorry for her and offered to drive.

It was almost end of the day, there were no men there, some of the volunteers had already gone home, but there were myself and four other women left. We came from different backgrounds, but it didn’t matter. We had different skin colors, but it didn’t matter. We had different reasons for volunteering that day. One of us was ordered by a judge to be there, but it didn’t matter because she said “I’ll call my mom, she will help too. So, 6 women loaded the big box truck and headed out at the time that “volunteer time” was over. We worked together to deliver this gift to this mom and her children.

We all left feeling blessed to have gotten to see the difference made. A very pregnant mom and her children would have had to sleep on the floor, but instead their family was together for the first night in a long time, and they each had their own bed! Praise God!

When I climbed into my bed last night I thanked God for their beds and my bed. I thanked God for the people who donated the items, and for the people who folded and sorted the items, for all the people and groups who have raised money for us to buy the material to build the beds and those who have donated to them, for the friend who oversees the bed building, for the mattress company who donates crazy amounts of mattresses for children in need. I thanked God for the foundation that supports Starfish with operating expenses so that we can stay open and all other donations can go to help the families like this one and for little children who raise money with lemonade stands or recitals in Grandma’s yard. I thanked Him for the churches that support Starfish monthly and the individuals who stick a random check in the mail or donate online. I wished that all those people could have been there and seen that Mamma cry!

Then I thought about the blessing. …. who was blessed today? The woman and her children obviously, but I guarantee you that each woman that helped today would tell you that we were blessed as much as the woman was!

Starfish is getting more requests each day. Our overfilled warehouse is looking vastly different! We are very low on some types of furniture. We have missed out on lots of furniture lately because of no one to pick it up.

For those who deliver and pick up, we provide masks (if you want to wear them), we provide hand sanitizer, we have a spray that kills germs on surfaces, we have gloves available. We can have the items waiting outside.

We desperately need people on call to go pick up and deliver. We have a church group (who I am SO thankful for) who comes the second Saturday of each month to do pickups and deliveries, but we really need at least one more to do another Saturday. We need drivers and lifters. It could be that your family would want to make up a pickup/delivery team!

If people could understand the blessing, if they could have been with us yesterday, there would be people fighting to do it!

If you want the blessing of helping, please call 270-519-7340.

On a Mission From God

Moses was chosen, called, and commissioned by the Lord to deliver and lead the people of God.  Though reluctant to lead at first, Moses demonstrated himself to be a skilled and effective leader.  His uniquely close relationship with God was the foundation of his leadership and enabled him to lead amid a diverse and often difficult group of people.  God himself spoke this validating word of Moses in Numbers 12:7, “He is faithful in all My house.” 

Throughout his journey of faith Moses demonstrated that leaders must have vision, perseverance, and the ability to endure the pain of leadership without compromising their character.  Our character as leaders is always on display to those around us and to those who follow us.  If we crumble and fall into the pit of unhealthy leadership and practices, it will have crippling and devastating consequences for the people entrusted to our care as leaders. If we are not healthy as church leaders then the family of faith will be vulnerable to the plague of disorder and dysfunction.

Humble leaders attract followers and create an environment of trust, and trust is vital to healthy relationships and healthy organizations. Arrogant, autocratic leaders may dominate for a time, but they do not build trust among those who follow them. And eventually, most see their kingdoms crumble around them in the tremors of seismic rebellion.  There is a difference in leading people and driving people. 

 Spiritual leaders have been entrusted by God to lead those whom God has placed in their care. Humble servant leadership is not weak leadership. For leaders, it is not between being strong or weak, the choice is between building God’s kingdom and helping people discover God’s purpose for their lives or building our own little earthly kingdoms and exploiting those entrusted to us.

Leaders who are strong and humble value the people entrusted to them, and when you find this kind of leader, you will find healthy and growing churches and organizations. This is the kind of leader that people will follow.  This kind of leader produces confidence in the heat of the battle.  This kind of leader inspires trust when storms arise.  This kind of leader motivates people to reach heights they never dreamed possible. Ultimately, this kind of leader enables people to reach the place promised to them by God.

It is a paradox that the one whom God entrusts in leadership can be both humble and visionary; he can be a person of grace and yet bold; he can be consumed and yet at peace; he can be filled with compassion and yet speak the truth without compromise. Moses learned the lessons of leadership as a shepherd in the desert and by answering God’s calling with trembling yet unwavering faith.  And in the end, it was said of him in Deuteronomy 34:10, “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

When leaders recognize the privilege of being chosen and called by God and give of themselves to humbly serve those entrusted to them, they are secure and can endure because they know, as Elwood Blues put it, that they “are on a mission from God.”

It’s a Perfect Fit

For several years, the Kentucky Baptist Convention has helped local churches and associations to conduct medical and dental clinics that minister to the needs of people in their communities.  The clinics have traditionally been conducted on weekends during the months of March, April and May.  However, the work to meet the medical and spiritual needs of people through the clinics begins months earlier.   The KBC equips churches, assisting with volunteer and medical personnel enlistment, evangelism training, logistics, clinic set up and a follow-up strategy.   

One of the resources provided to churches hosting a clinic is use of a modern, state of the art dental unit owed by SEND Relief of the North American Mission Board.  The cost of the unit and supplies used while in Kentucky are provided by the KBC as a service to our churches. The unit has two operatories and is fully equipped to perform most any dental service, including x-ray. 

The dental unit was purchased with Annie Armstrong Easter offering gifts and is needed to perform the services provided at the clinics, but it isn’t nearly as effective without Martha Smith.  Martha has faithfully served as the primary coordinator on the dental unit since the KBC’s first clinic.  She was ready to go again this year, until COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the clinics scheduled for 2020. 

Martha has been working in dentistry since 1975.  She brings to the clinic each weekend she volunteers, her love for the Lord, her experience in the dental field and an infectious smile.  This ministry allows Martha to mix her two passions, dentistry and helping others.  “It’s a perfect fit for me!”  The weekends on the dental unit are long.  They begin with set up and prep before the clinic opens and Martha won’t finish till the clinic ends and everything has been cleaned and put back in its place. 

It’s obvious that Martha loves what she does and just as obvious is the fact that the dentists and assistants volunteering on the unit love her.  It’s not uncommon for a church hosting a clinic to ask, “is Martha coming again?”  

Martha shared with me that she enjoys listening to and sharing with those who come to the clinics for help. God has opened her eyes through the ministry to the many problems and difficult situations people find themselves in.   They come to the clinics for medical and dental help, but Martha knows that their real need is spiritual healing that only Jesus can provide. 

Martha is thankful that God has provided this avenue of ministry for her.  “I don’t know why Christians think they need to go overseas to serve, when there are so many opportunities for using our gifts and sharing the gospel right here in our own communities”, she said. 

I’m excited and thankful that Martha is willing to use the gifts God has given her for His glory.  She and so many others are blessed because of her obedient service.  Christ followers will always find it a “perfect fit” when we use the gifts and talents God has given us for His glory. 

Listen, Lament, Pray, Repent

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. The Gospel is about reconciliation with God through Christ that results in peace between all relationships, where God and man, man and woman, humanity and creation can flourish and work as He intended. As believers, we are ambassadors for Christ, and we are to proclaim the gospel to people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Questions: How do we partner with Him? How do we become faithful, obedient witnesses?

As the Body of Christ, it is not just in the wake of scandal, civil unrest, abuse or unjust actions, that we should speak forth the gospel, but in all places to all peoples where brokenness reigns and Jesus’ kingdom is not being reflected or preached. As believers in a fallen and broken world, we should continually lament, confess, repent, and seek reconciliation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are some steps to help us in these challenging days:

  1. Acknowledge that these are not isolated incidents. Abuse, racism, mass shooting, brutality, corruption, and war are not isolated incidents. Violence, oppression, land theft, racialization, classism, and genocide against people of color and other vulnerable people exist not only in other countries around the world, but also in the US as well. Poverty, inequality, and abortion are not one-off happenings and the scourge of greed, self-absorption, and fractured families are part of every community and daily life in a fallen world. Current events are moments that push suffering to the forefront of man’s consciousness, but this suffering is constant. As believers in the States, we need to speak out against racial oppression and atrocities that are committed against our neighbors, who are black and brown, not only today and tomorrow, but also every day until the Lord returns. Romans 12:15-16 says, not only to rejoice with those who rejoice but to mourn with those who mourn. As the church, we must place our hope in Christ alone, and work together as His ambassadors!
  2. Please stop talking and listen. Take time to listen to those people in pain and who are immobilized by grief and wrestling with anger and rage because of the constant and consistent suffering and violence in the world highlighted by events in the headlines or a particularly tough season in their lives. Read James 1:19-20.  
  3. Lament and Confess.
    1. Cry. There is no shame, condemnation, or weakness in weeping.  Share with a friend, pastor, or leader out loud why you are angry, sad, or afraid and allow your emotions to come. Read Psalm 13 or 88 and write out these truths in your own words if you have difficulty getting thoughts together.
    1. Confess: It is sin and violation of God’s purposes in this world when we crush the image of God in other people either implicitly or explicitly by actively oppressing the poor and marginalized or passively allowing them to continue. Read Psalm 103 and write these truths in your own words if you have difficulty.
  4. Forgiveness and Blessing.
    1. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah enters God’s Holy presence, and he is convicted of sin and immediately confesses. Instead of being condemned, he was cleansed and sent out as a witness. Similarly, when we confess our sinfulness before God, He is just and mighty to forgive us, not condemn us.
    1. Ask the Lord to expose any tensions or challenges of prejudice, racism or unexposed anger or bitterness in your heart. If needed, ask your neighbor, brother, or sister for forgiveness for your words, deeds, actions, or inaction.
  5. What does it look like to Repent & Reconcile practically? Repentance means that we turn away from our sin by confessing our sins to Christ, asking for forgiveness, and following God’s word in deed and action through the power of the Holy Spirit. Reconciliation is the work of God, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, to bring about peace with God and man. Here are some first steps:
    1. Pray: Alone or with a group, grab your bible, a journal and pray. If you do not know how to pray, the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-12 is a great place to start. You can email [email protected] and we can share some resources with you as well.
    1. Proclaim: Read Psalm 24. In it we see that the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”. That means our schedules, finances, the ground we stand on, the air we breathe, and the bodies we have belong to Him. Write down the time, talent, and treasure that you have and ask the Lord to show you can use those gifts to share gospel and be an ambassador for Christ! Praise the Lord for what he has given to you and offer it ALL back to God because He gave it to you!
    1. Partner: With the time, talent and treasure you brought to God, look at ways you can partner with your church and leverage them to share Christ and serve the poor, marginalized, oppressed, and displaced people in your community, state, nation, or around the world. Then, follow through with what the Lord shows you. Keep in mind, success is not in the progress but the obedience to the God who loves us.

The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. If you have any questions, concerns, or need help getting connected, email me at [email protected] or call 502-489-3404.

Within the Family

One of the largest and strongest horses in the world is the Belgian draft horse.  These horses are so strong that one Belgian draft horse can pull 8,000 pounds.  What an incredible feat.  Apparently, if two stranger Belgian draft horses are harnessed, they can pull 22,000 pounds.  Notice that their combined strength more than doubles their ability.  However, when they train and pull together, these two Belgian draft horses can pull up to 32,000 pounds—four times the amount that they can pull alone.

I recently shared about a mission survey that the Missions Mobilization Team (MMT) of the Kentucky Baptist Convention sent out to our churches.  Our desire was to learn how our KBC churches are engaged in missions and how we can better help them reach KY and the world for Christ.  In my first article detailing the survey results (“We Are Stronger Together”), we focused on two areas: praying and giving.  This last article, I want to share about the results as they pertain to mission engagement locally, nationally, and internationally.

Two-hundred and forty-six churches participated in the survey.  When asked how many churches are engaged in missions locally, 75% said that they are.  Indeed, it is encouraging that KBC churches are beginning in their own Jerusalem as Jesus instructed (Luke 24:48).  As a follow up question, participants were then asked how many partnered or worked locally with a KBC or SBC connection.  Of responses, only 20% of the churches engage locally with KBC or SBC partners. 

Moving our attention to national mission engagement, 46% of participating churches said that they are engaging somewhere missionally nationally.  When asked how many of the churches are partnering with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) for their national mission engagement, only 22% said that they are.    

As we think on a global scale, participants were asked about their mission involvement internationally.  Of responding churches, 57% affirmed that their church is engaging internationally.  However, only 30% of those churches are partnering with the International Mission Board (IMB) or Baptist Global Response (BGR), the Disaster Relief arm of the IMB. 

So, what did we find out from this survey?  For one, our churches are much more engaged locally (75%) than nationally (46%) or even internationally (57%).  However, in their local engagement, they often partner outside of the KBC and SBC family.  Another lesson learned is that our national and international engagement, while closely averaging a combined 50% of churches, is relatively low when it comes to partnering with NAMB or IMB/BGR (only 22% and 30%, respectively).

As I noted in my first article, these churches support the Cooperative Program overwhelmingly at 96%.  Perhaps at that rate we can pull 8,000 pounds for gospel advancement.  However, what if in our partnering we meant not only giving, but our going too?  Maybe instead of pulling 8,000 pounds, we can pull 22,000 or even 32,000 pounds.  When we stay within the family and “pull together” in our praying, giving and going, we can accomplish much more, even in some instances four times as much.  As the Missions Mobilization Team of the KBC, we would love to help your church engage your Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world as we “pull together”.     

Freeda Harris Mission Mall

In July 2019 Richard & Amy Greene, along with their son Alex were introduced as the new directors of the Freeda Harris Baptist Center in Pike County, a gospel-focused ministry partnership of the Kentucky Baptist Convention & the Pike Association of Southern Baptists.  This ministry provides individuals and teams the opportunity to experience missions through service ministries such as construction projects, evangelistic events, VBS, community development and mobile ministry outreach to the local and surrounding areas. 

“We hit the ground running,” Richard says.  In the next six months the Freeda Harris Baptist Center hosted 9 mission teams, had a Labor Day cookout for the community, a Back-to-School giveaway, a Fall Festival, and a Holiday Dinner for the community in December.  Christmas gifts, including the Christmas backpacks, were given to over 1000 children and the Gospel was presented.  They also had clothing and food giveaways and Richard even went on an international mission trip to Belfast, North Ireland. 

As things slowed down a bit in January and February, the Greene’s did work on the Center, adding fresh paint, bunk rooms and preparing more space for mission teams that would come to serve.  “Then March happened,” Richard says.  “We found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic and everything in the ministry seemed to come to a screeching halt.  We had to rethink some things.”

The Greenes came to the Freeda Harris Baptist Center from Magoffin County, where Richard pastored a KBC church and directed a center similar to Freeda Harris.  At the Magoffin County Center they had operated a thrift store that had been very successful, not just in the ability to bring in income for the ministry, but also in outreach to families in the community.  “It gave us the opportunity to meet and reach more people,” Richard says. 

The Greenes began to pray about the possibility of opening a thrift store at the Freeda Harris Baptist Center.  They began to see donations come in that would be good items for a thrift store and contacted their donors to see if they would be agreeable to their donated items being sold to benefit the ministry.  With permission granted, Richard & Amy began plans to open the store.  But, when COVID-19 hit with all its restrictions, that was not possible at the time.  This led the Greenes to think about launching an “online” thrift store.  Thus, the Freeda Harris Mission Mall was begun on Memorial Day, May 25.  Plans are to sell household goods, home décor, tools, and other such items at a reasonable price so that they can generate an income stream to help support the ministry.  The Center is also blessed to be supported by several individuals, local churches, the Pike County Baptist Association, and the Kentucky Baptist Convention but this will give them extra funds to serve more people.

Please take time to shop the Freeda Harris Mission Mall.  Go to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FHBCMissionMall/) and browse,  Each item has a short description, an item number and the price.  To purchase, you will need to private message Richard & Amy with the number of the item you are interested in.  They will get back with you to schedule a time for pickup and payment. 

Those interested in donating items for the mission mall can contact the Greenes as well.  Please note that they are not accepting clothing at this time.  However, if you have clothing to donate, they can direct you to a clothing ministry in the area.

The Mission Mall is just one way you can assist the ministry of Freeda Harris.  They welcome mission teams of all skills to come serve with them and the area churches.  To schedule, please contact them for details and a date. 

And please pray for Richard, Amy & Alex as they serve through the Freeda Harris Baptist Center to reach the community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.    

Thanks for your support.  You can email Richard at [email protected]

Do Not Be Alarmed

For most of us our world has changed in 2020.  Our world has been drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are washing our hands and using sanitizer more.  We are social distancing and wearing face masks as we try to not get too close to one another.  Many of us have stockpiled food, water, and even toilet paper.  We are weary of the nightly reports of stay-at-home extensions, new cases, death counts, and growing unemployment.  Most Americans believe that it will be a long time before things return to normal, and social media chirps constantly about the new norm.  As we begin the re-opening process, it appears the response to this deadly disease has left us with more questions than answers.

The pandemic has ground our economy to a halt, but it has not slowed the famine in Sub-Saharan Africa that has left millions starving.  It has not ended the Iranian – U.S. tensions that witnessed another close encounter in the Persian Gulf this week.  According to the United Nations Refugee Agency it has not decelerated the number of displaced people across our globe.  Nor has it curbed the active early tornado season that spawned over 100 twisters and left 73 people dead.

I do not claim to be an expert, but I think that I can accurately proclaim, life can be a dangerous venture.  The journey of life often passes through dark valleys.  Valleys that can leave us anxious, frightened, and insecure.  And many ponder “What if it all gets worse?”

As I read the Bible, I am thankful that God is honest with us.  Jesus shared with His disciples and reminds us that difficult days will come. He tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that there will be wars and rumors of wars, famines, pandemics, and natural disasters.  He predicts His church will be persecuted, people will turn on each other and spew hatred against their neighbor, false prophets will appear, and wickedness will increase.  Jesus shares that things are going to get worse before they get better. 

Yet do not miss an important word that Jesus shares with His followers right in the middle of this calamity-filled proclamation.  Jesus shares this key directive in Matthew 24:6 as he teaches about the coming tribulation, “See that you are not alarmed.”  This word “alarm” in the ancient language means “to wail, to cry out in despair, to be hysterical.”  Jesus counsels us when bad stuff comes, do not panic, or fall apart.  And He tells us why with His next words in this passage of Scripture, “because these things must take place.”

Must is a vital word in this passage because it asserts that all events, everything that takes place in this world, from the mundane to the chaotic are part of God’s plan.  God uses all things to accomplish His purposes and plans.  When the world seems to be careening out of control, be reminded that God is still on His throne, and our Lord has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us. He declares to us that trials and tribulations will come in this world and they are very real, but do not let these present troubles blind you to the fact that a better world is coming.  Jesus has formulated the predictive model for our world’s pandemic, and He has established a treatment plan that will cure all that is wrong in our present age.

If you have placed your faith in Christ, it will all work out in the end, and by His grace, He will get you through today and tomorrow. And by the way, if this world is a chaotic mess, be assured it is not yet the end.

Will COVID-19 Distract Us from the Vision?

The world’s attention has been on COVID-19 for the last several months. We’ve seen how the virus can be passed from person to person and we’re learning daily how to protect ourselves and those we love while creatively ministering in a constantly changing world of uncertainty. I’m concerned about those who might be infected with the virus, but I’m even more concerned about those who have yet to be infected with the love of Christ.

Prior to this “new normal” surrounding COVID-19, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd announced a five-year initiative to reach every person with the Gospel in every town, every city, every state and every nation. Vision 2025 contains five major strategic actions for the SBC to accomplish by 2025.  My prayer is that COVID-19 will not be a distraction from these goals. Now, more than ever, we must work together to bring this vision to fruition because the world is looking for hope that can only be found in Christ!

One of the goals is to increase the total number of full-time, fully funded missionaries by a net gain of 500, giving the SBC 4,200 full-time, fully funded missionaries through the International Mission Board (IMB).

I find this goal humbling and challenging because our new normal is something many of our missionaries content with every day in their ministry settings. While we’re dealing with a contagious virus for what is probably only a brief period of time, our missionaries serve in places where things such as infectious diseases, intestinal disorders, flesh eating bacteria, and parasites that cause fatal diseases, are common daily occurrences.

So, how will we callout and enlist those God is leading to serve?  What will we do to contribute toward an increased number of missionaries?  I believe this goal is attainable, but it’s going to take every pastor and church taking hold of it and doing their part locally.   

Here are some practical steps that each local pastor and church can take toward increasing the number of missionaries serving on the field:

1. PREACH sermons that challenge people to go – 21% of missionaries were called to serve as the result of a missions sermon in their local church.

2. AFFIRM those upon whom you recognize God is leading – to the one who is questioning his or her abilities, your words may be the confirmation they need to go.

3. HOST a missions conference – 20% of missionaries felt called to serve after listening to a missionary speak. 

4. PROMOTE missions offerings – we will only realize an increase in missionaries going when churches send the necessary financial resources to sustain their ministries.

5. SHARE what God is doing through our missionaries – how exciting and stimulating it is to hear stories or see videos that help us to understand what missionaries are doing and how they’re making a difference.

6. PARTNER with missionaries – going becomes more personal when over a period of 3-5 years when a church is Skyping, sending teams, providing prayer support and sharing ministry resources with specific missionaries.

7. LEAD your church to engage in a short-term missions experience – many full-time vocational missionaries were inspired to go and serve as the result of a short-term missions trip.

8. PRAY and lead your church to do so – the fields are ripe unto harvest and the need for missionaries is great.

I suspect the fears and concerns over COVID-19 will pass, but our concern for the lost who have yet to hear the hope of the Gospel should never pass. Satan poses a much greater risk to humanity than COVID-19, so we should work together to make the kingdoms of this world the Kingdom of our Lord.  If our desire is to see people from every nation come to know Him, then we should be willing to do all that we can to accomplish the goal of more people going as missionaries. 

3 Keys for Sharing Christ with Muslims

For over two decades, the Lord has blessed me with opportunities to serve Him by sharing the gospel with Muslims around the world. As 1.8 Billion Muslims are fasting and praying during Ramadan in midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, now is the time for Christians to share Christ. Here are three keys:

1. Prayer and Fasting

Let us confess it before Christ. Christians usually fall short in this area. We profess to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but all too easily we fall into the habit of relying on our own efforts. Among the conversions I observed, prayer and fasting were a common denominator, and God was moving. In order to reach peoples who are entrenched in other belief systems, we may very well need to engage in all-night prayer as our Lord practiced. It may mean fasting and pleading with God to break barriers and open hearts. Prayer and fasting are not man-centered ways to manipulate God or attempt to force his hand. Rather, they convey our utter helplessness to win souls. They express our total dependence upon the power of God, and the truth of the gospel (Matt 6:16-18)!

2. Real Relationships

There is no generic Muslim. There are diverse individuals who practice the same faith. When we think our calling is only to win people to Christ, it can turn the missionary task into something detached, impersonal, and faceless. Instead, we must realize and actively remind ourselves that it is our calling to win people to Jesus. We win individuals, and every person is not only an image-bearer whom God loves, but also every person needs Christ. Every Muslim I know said they knew of at least one Christian they could go to with their questions when God began to work in their lives. Maybe you can be that one. But you must be a true friend, even if they never convert.

3. Jesus Stories

Serving others is commendable, but it is not enough. The gospel is a message that must be verbally shared and carefully explained. A Muslim background believer I know once shared with me that Muslims view loving service from Christians as something that should be expected as if Christians owe them a debt. In other words, they think Christians should serve them because Muslims have the final revelation from God . . . or so they believe. It will never do to merely love and serve Muslims in the name of Christ. Humanitarian aid is wonderful, but it is not the ultimate need of Muslim people. The Word of God must be spoken to them. The gospel must be proclaimed. Muslims must be called into account before the true and living God. The Bible calls God’s Word “the sword of the Spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Acts of love and service are good, but they are not the heart of the missionary task.

It has become my practice to speak to my Muslim friends just like I would talk to a friend in church. I share what God taught me during my quiet time in his Word. I talk about stories from Scripture or Bible verses that apply to both of us. They may ask, “Are you trying to convert me?” I simply respond, “Only God can speak to our hearts and convince us of truth.” Until they walk away, I keep sharing the Word. As we pray and fast for Muslims during this Ramadan season, may we bring Jesus into every encounter with our Muslim friends, and trust him open hearts to gospel. Remember, it is never a matter of if, but it is only a matter of when the next person will believe. When the gospel is preached, the Lord changes heart for His glory.

If you or your church have any questions or want to learn more about reaching Muslims for Christ, please email John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected]