The Global Church: Part 2 – Here and There

By Julie Stoll, former Director of MBC Missions

At a Bible study in my home for English learners, I once asked the group to turn back to the first book of the Bible, intending to make a point about Adam. I said, “Let’s go to the beginning, back to the story of the time when God created the earth.” A mainland Chinese woman looked up at me and said with utter astonishment, “He did?” She had no concept of a creator God, much less of a Savior named Jesus. Months later, she came to Christ and was discipled by an Indonesian believer here at MBC Tysons. Now years later, she is a disciple-maker back in China.

That experience has helped me recognize that discipling the nations is about involvement both here and there. You can’t separate what God has brought to your doorstep here in the Metro DC area from what He is doing overseas. My interest and involvement in China and what God was doing there increased my credibility with my new friend. Without that, she may never have attended a Bible study. Without training from believing nationals, I would not have known the needs or ways to communicate effectively with new friends from other cultures. I was later to learn of her contacts back home that had been faithfully praying for her salvation.

“A failure to disciple that Chinese woman at my kitchen table would have been a failure to support her praying Christian friends in a distant part of the Body. We are all dependent on each other within the Body; it is all tied together.”

Many internationals here are emotionally and financially tied back to their home countries. We in the Body here are also all connected in purpose and empowerment with other believers there. It is not just here or just there. It is both.

Our local church has a huge diversity of ethnic groups represented. We have been blessed to have believers from other cultural heritages, to worship and minister within our church. They have made it a place where international visitors feel at home in our services. We have Latinos and African Americans, Persians and Koreans rubbing shoulders with third generation Italian-Americans, tenth generation German-Americans and with new Jewish believers. We have people from places we know nothing about and fail to ask. We sit alongside people visiting who are from unreached people groups on the other side of the world. Are we intentional about partnering with their family members or neighbors who have been praying for them for years, but they are still not yet reconciled to Christ? Now they are here sitting next to us in church, or living next door or sitting in a nearby office cube. Will we reach out to them, discipling and equipping them? Will we support them in prayer if they return to that far away community where the name of Christ is not yet known? Will we be intentional about discipling all nations, here as well as there?

A missions pastor of a local church in Arlington told me that they had adopted a people group in Azerbaijan. They have been intentional about making connection with ministries there and are meeting needs and sharing the Gospel. Two weeks later, a young Azerbaijani man walked into our own English class registration here at MBC Tysons. We immediately referred him to the Arlington church to receive his English instruction there. We found a connection for him and pray that our intentional unity across churches testifies to God’s sovereign care for him. We pray for his salvation and for his impact to aid that church in being fully equipped to minister to Azerbaijanis both here and there.

“And he made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God…though He is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:26-27

The Global Church: Part 1 – Beyond Your Reach

By Julie Stoll, Former MBC Director of Missions

Pastor and author, Francis Chan, said, “Until our vision of the church encompasses the entire globe, we do not have an accurate view of God’s church or His plan of redemption” (Multiply, pg 77). But wait! Isn’t making disciples about face time in the here and now? Shouldn’t our vision be about the work God is doing where He has planted us? Isn’t building the Global Church simply beyond our reach?

Yes, it is precisely because it is beyond our reach that it is so important to our understanding of Him and His ways. It is a God-size task to have the Gospel heard in all languages and embraced by those in spiritual captivity around the world. It is not about adding up the numbers coming to Christ. Instead, it is highly strategic. Reaching all ethnos or people groups—making disciples of all nations—is about restoring all peoples to be under God’s authority.

Remember the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11? Men rebelled against God, desiring to build their own name and do their own thing instead of obeying God’s command to fill the earth. They chose to stay together. Well, God had a different plan! He was gracious and spared mankind, but separated them by language and location, scattering them over the earth. This actually enabled them to fill the earth. Since then, He has been working toward the restoring and reuniting of all peoples under His authority.

Only our Redeemer God would graciously provide an offer of deliverance for all of humanity and then patiently work toward restoration of each of the peoples He scattered at Babel. The church began with preaching to a multitude at Pentecost (Acts 2) with men from every nation under heaven. About 3,000 people were reconciled to God that day! He is bringing all peoples home to Himself, until John’s vision of a great united multitude of all nations, tongues, tribes and peoples is realized (Revelation 7:9). This God-sized task tells us about His everlasting love for His creation, His patience and persistence to pursue all mankind over these thousands of years. It underscores His brilliance and ultimate power as He reveals Himself at just the right time to lost peoples.

So making disciples “of all nations” is not just another way of saying “everyone”. It reveals a God-sized strategic task that testifies of our God’s grace and indescribable patience toward all mankind. It also commands our participation. When we picture those from every tribe before His throne, we should see the completion of a giant endeavor that truly was beyond our reach. If it was within our reach, we would probably impose our programs and design. If it was within our reach, we may mistake our invited involvement as causative. But recognizing that it is beyond our reach defines God’s task as one in which we as a church could not have attempted alone. So the real question is, do we see ourselves intentionally participating in that global endeavor?

“Go, make disciples of all nations”, inherently includes God’s plan (to restore all peoples), God’s chosen instrument (the Body moving forward), and God’s method (to make disciples). Nothing is optional. This is the vision with which Chan challenges us: To keep our eyes focused on God’s worldwide agenda. Matthew 14:28-33 records Peter walking on the water. While Peter kept his eyes beyond His reach—on Christ—he was fine. When he focused only on his local circumstance, he sank. What is beyond our reach gives us hope. It gives us purpose. Without it, we as a church will sink.

“…Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?…” Isaiah 50:2

An Unexpected Disciple

The scent spread rapidly as he peeled back the lid from another can of sardines. I tried hard to avoid showing my disgust as the smell of oily fish quickly saturated the air surrounding our table. Sitting across from me was a man I had only just met. For weeks I had heard rumors of a Bible study group at my college, but I was hardly prepared for my encounter with the leader of this band of believers. Josiah was a cheerful man with a powerful smile–and many eccentricities. A nursing student, he had recently started college in his mid-twenties.

Josiah listened as I shared my story, his large beard parting frequently to let his lunch swim through. During that first meeting we talked about our current classes, our families, and a lot about Jesus. While our interests and upbringings were quite different, there was something fascinating about this man. After all, not many of my classmates wore combat boots to school. I didn’t know it at the time, but this man would soon become a meaningful mentor to me.

In the nine years since that meeting, Josiah and I have shared a lot of experiences. Together we baked pies, collected honey from his bees, and even built a bear cage. But more than just doing things together, Josiah invited me into his life. I have watched him deal with romantic rejection, process career moves, and navigate difficult family situations. In each of these scenarios I saw him put Christ at the center of his decision making process.

Josiah and I now live more than two hours apart, so I don’t get to see him as often as I would like. But a couple times a year I still make the drive and spend the weekend with Josiah, his wife Jenny, and their three kids. Both of our lives have changed a lot since we first met, but I am still watching his life and learning what it means to be a man of God. While I have yet to develop a love for sardines, I have gained more from our friendship than I ever could have ever imagined.

My hope for you today is that you would be open to forming friendships with godly men and women around you, even if they don’t look like the kind of mentor you want. You may be surprised how God shapes your life through unexpected people.

Follow Enoch on Twitter @EnochHaven

Trust in the Lord – Dominican Republic

By Mirqueya Guzman – Dominican Republic

MBC has been sending short-term mission trips and supporting Emanuel House in the Dominican Republic for many years. Some of you may have participated on one such trip! It is a blessing to hear more about how the Lord is using Mirqueya and her staff to share the gospel in both word and deed with the children who come to Emanuel House and their families. 

Psalm 32:8  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

At the age of 17 Jesus came into my life, he gave me a reason to live and completely changed my life. When I was 19 I was diagnosed with a terrible blood disease much like leukemia, the doctors said that it was incurable but Christ healed me for the glory of His name.

The Lord spoke into my life in many ways, always pushing me to give more time to his work. Thirteen years ago, as a high school teacher, the Lord called me to help the poorest people in my city. The Lord used my parents’ passing to heaven to speak more closely to my heart and to dedicate myself completely to his marvelous work.

I have been through many difficult stages in my life as a missionary, but every day God has come through and glorified himself, by assisting through my family, my co-workers, touching the hearts of committed people to help us, and performing miracles daily. Surrendering completely to the Lord and His work was a  difficult process for me because I loved my work but the Lord used many things including sickness to lead me towards his plan for my life.

It has been almost three years that I have been able to work full time serving the Lord at Emanuel House, to God’s glory  this has been the most marvelous, happy, and intense time of my entire life because God has blessed my life and the ministry in extraordinary ways! Having started with only 20 children we now work with 149 boys and girls and their families at Emanuel House. All of these children live in extreme poverty and every day we see the Holy Spirit transforming the hearts of the children and their parents through his word, education and the love of god through our staff.

My prayer request for our ministry is the prayer request I challenge you to pray today.  Pray that God would strengthen you and fill you anew each day with his grace, that he would allow us to continue to grow and face the challenges ahead of us with his strength.

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Forgiveness – Middle East

MBC supports missionaries around the world. Many of them are serving in locations in which the gospel is vehemently opposed. For security reasons, we cannot share their names, locations or specifics. They are living their daily lives sharing the gospel with men, women and children who have virtually no other chance to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

When reading through the Sermon on the Mount, it is sobering to contemplate every phrase the Lord Jesus taught. It must have been a revolutionary kind of teaching for those who were listening, as they had been accustomed to the Mosaic style of teaching, and here’s Jesus bringing them words to which they were not at all accustomed, and it must be said that neither are we. In Matthew 5:43-45, here’s what He says :

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighborand hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

I am sobered by the fact that the Lord wants us not only to love our enemies, but to pray for those who persecute us, do good to them, and bless them.

One of our dearest disciples and co-workers is from an extremely closed Islamic nation in the Middle East. He was an Imam, until he had a life-changing experience when the Lord Jesus appeared to him, and called him to Himself.

Since then, this dear brother has suffered great persecution, including imprisonment and torture, and, after he had persevered in the country for 15 years, eight months ago, a decree was put on his and his son’s heads. We had to get them out, and he is now with his son in a neighboring country, still separated from his wife and the rest of his family.

Soon after his arrival, the Lord led him to write an article. He sent it to me, asking me to look at it, to see if it needed any changes, and if it sounded good. Just reading the title of the article made me stop and reflect on this passage we’ve just read: “Love your enemies, bless them, do good to them, pray for them”. The title was “Forgiveness”. It took me a while to be able to read it, knowing that the person who wrote it had suffered greatly at the hands of many people and authorities; he had sat down and written his first article, away from his loved ones and his country, on forgiveness. As I finally collected myself and began to read it, I saw that this dear brother not only understands what forgiveness means, but he is now teaching on forgiveness. Is he qualified? Does he know what he’s talking about?

Lord Jesus, thank you that you demonstrated the ultimate forgiveness on the cross, when you prayed to your Heavenly Father to forgive those who were crucifying you, even while you were in the midst of torture, and you forgave them. Thank you for the privilege of knowing personally a person, one of your chosen children, who, in the midst of suffering, is writing on forgiveness. May you bless him, reunite him with his family, and continue to use him greatly to help advance your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

Grasping Firmly the Word of God in the Face of Persecution – Indonesia

MBC supports missionaries around the world. Many of them are serving in locations in which the gospel is vehemently opposed. For security reasons, we cannot share their names, locations or specifics. They are living their daily lives sharing the gospel with men, women and children who have virtually no other chance to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

This week in our house church a heartfelt testimony was shared about how often believers must endure persecution. It is very common in the lives of those with whom we serve. Working more openly with believers in recent years has caused our own family to begin, in small ways, to experience it firsthand. Paul’s letters reveal that he was quite familiar with persecution. In the last of his inspired writings, sent shortly before he was martyred for Christ, he reminds Timothy that, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV).

Paul, loving Timothy like a son, does not encourage him to run, hide, or even avoid persecution. Instead he instructs, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings” (3:14,15a ESV). The phrase, “But as for you” is so significant to me though it specifically refers to Timothy in context, today it applies to all of us as among the “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.” I so desperately want to be included among the “all,” and I trust that you do too, even if the result is that we “will be persecuted.” So how can we prepare to stand firm in the face of persecution?  Study, meditate upon, and hold tightly to the precious treasure of God’s Word so that when persecuted, we also will be able to “continue in what [we] have learned and firmly believed.”

Did you notice how important it was to Paul that Timothy knew the Word from childhood, remembering from whom he learned it?  As a child, Timothy’s learned the scriptures from his mother and grandmother whom Paul commends for their faith (1:5). As an adult he was taught by Paul through discipleship (2:2; 3:10). We can’t stress enough the importance of pouring God’s Word into our children and grandchildren, and the importance of Christ-centered, disciple-ing relationships focused on learning the truth of God’s Word. We could never start too young (our children) or to early (new believers) in modeling and teaching how to love God and to know Him through His Word.

To we who are among the “all” of verse 12, embrace Christ-honoring persecution by holding firmly to the precious, transforming truth of His Word! Express to God your deep love and desire to know Him by also loving and knowing His Word!

Please pray for this family. They have encountered a myriad of health concerns, most recently their son being diagnosed with scarlet fever, along with the difficulty of being in a high risk area. We are grateful for their service to the Lord.

Trusting in the Lord – North India

MBC supports missionaries around the world. Many of them are serving in locations in which the gospel is vehemently opposed. For security reasons, we cannot share their names, locations or specifics. They are living their daily lives sharing the gospel with men, women and children who have virtually no other chance to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

This season, I have been learning a lot about trusting the Lord in the mentoring/discipleship process. Jesus spent three years mentoring/discipling and teaching his followers, and most did not understand the truth of the gospel until after His resurrection. But those three years were not wasted. Jesus knew the Father was preparing His followers for great things. And that is what I’m learning – that even though my Hindu friends are not giving their lives to Jesus, the time I am spending with them is not a waste. I have no idea what is going on in the heavenlies, and I need to trust the Lord during this season.

Over the last several years, I have been spending time with a young Brahmin woman in north India (“Mary”). She lost her mother to cancer while she was in high school, so she often comes to me for advice. I tell her each time that the only wisdom I have is from God’s Word, and she listens. Does she believe it fully? No, but she is hearing His Word often. In Isaiah 55:11, the Lord tells us:

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

This passage has been so encouraging for me. His Word that is shared with my friend Mary will accomplish what He sent it to accomplish.

After two years of sharing scriptures with Mary, she said she would like to have a Bible. I gave her one, but she did not want to read it together. She wanted to read it on her own and then discuss it later. Well, this did not happen too much. Finally, about two months later she said to me, while we were out in a café, “I have been trying to read my Bible, but it’s confusing. Can we go back to my home and read it together?” What followed was a wonderful time in the Word with Mary. When I returned to the US shortly thereafter for a four-month home assignment, one of the other foreign believers in our city began meeting with Mary. After two months of relationship building, Mary asked Lisa if she would help her read her Bible. Lisa said that Mary remembered most of what Mary and I had discussed over the last two years!

People can become disciples of Jesus at any point in time. When Mary finally does give her life to the Lord, she will not have a faith that is an inch deep. She will have had more Bible training than most new believers. And she will have seen how I shared my faith with a Hindu, and how I was able to be a friend to Hindus while still following Jesus. She will see how I lived among Hindus and the respect I had for them, while still disagreeing with their religion. I trust God to reveal Himself to Mary; all I have to do is be faithful and continue to share truth with her.

The Wonder of Knowing Him – Latin America

By Dr. Gordon Johnson, President Emeritus Rio Grande Bible Institute & MBC Missionary

MBC has been supporting the Johnson’s since 1962. They have served the Lord faithfully in Texas, raising up missionaries, pastors and servants of the Lord to impact much of Latin America. 

We so readily quote: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

If that is true and it surely is, there are stability and joy in changing circumstances.

But what happens when age becomes the limiting factor?  It is still true. After 63 years of happy marriage, four daughters and 59 years of missionary service at the Rio Grande Bible Institute on the Texas Mexican border, Grace and I continue to find joy and stability serving him. Since July 1962 until today, we remain McLean’s first missionary couple.

My service to God has been teaching the Word, administering and traveling in bilingual ministry  throughout Latin America. My latest ministry has been writing in Spanish expository studies on the Message of the Cross, now sent to thousands to whom I have ministered; they are also published as books on Amazon.

Grace has been a faithful mother of our daughters, all now in full time ministry. Then a recent change in Grace’s eye sight has given me the privilege, in part, to be her eyes.   What a privilege to fulfill my marriage vow! Together God has given us a ministry of intercession while I mentor and write daily. My years of classroom teaching have spread world wide on the Internet and in digital form.

Age need not be an interruption of true ministry. Take heart and walk with Him. His faithfulness guarantees our joy and stability until we see Him.

What’s Your Role in Supporting the Global Church?

By Doug Peek, MBC Loudoun Small Group Leader & Missionary

Honestly, are you a little bit hesitant to pray fervently about your role in the global church for fear of what God may ask you to do, or where He may ask you to go? Perhaps you hear amazing stories about how God is using missionaries around the world and you’re tempted to think: “Those are special people, not like me,” and you’re left to wonder what it must feel like to be used by God to reach an unreached people group, or to minister to the world’s desperately poor.

This week Francis Chan reminds us that no one is called to a life that is separate from global missions, and while that may mean packing up and moving across the world, it may also mean performing one of the other essential roles in supporting the global church:

  • Praying: God, in His sovereign wisdom, has chosen to work through the prayers of His people. Do you know the specific needs of a missionary you can support through specific prayer?
  • Sending: Use your time, resources, and abilities to support those who are serving the global church internationally. Do you partner in supporting a missionary you know personally?
  • Mobilizing: Inspire, mentor, and facilitate others in joining you in the work of the global church. Help others move from unaware to aware, interested, concerned and involved.
  • Welcoming: Reaching the nations right where you are. Did you know that approximately one out of four Loudoun County residents is foreign born? God has brought many of the nations of the world to the front door of our church.

We all have role to play in the global church, just as we do in the local church. We don’t all have the same role, but we should all have the same goal: To see God glorified among every people group in the world.

In our Multiply Group our children join us for a short lesson at the beginning of our meetings. We recently discussed how the church is like Mr. Potato Head, and the members are the arms and feet and eyes and ears. We discussed how the church needs all its parts to function properly if it is to accomplish its mission.

Pray that God would show you your part to play in the global church today.