Taking the Word to the World

What’s Up with my Life

It’s been some time since I have posted anything on my blog. I’m trying to get back into the hang of things again so you should be hearing more from me. Tyler Bryant, a great friend, assisted me for years with the design of the blog. However, his heavy schedule will not permit him to continue. Thanks, Tyler, for all your help. I appreciate it much!

My days are joyfully filled with recruiting and mentoring the next generation of short-term missionaries for the United Pentecostal Church International. If I could live my life over again I would spend it as a missionary. Since that isn’t possible I’m going to spend the rest of my life mentoring others that can go. This involves being actively involved in the short-term missionary programs we have in Global Missions. There is still a big portion of the world to reach and we need to mobilize thousands of people to do it.

I’m thinking the scope and emphasis on my blog will be just that: missions mentoring.

Thanks for taking the journey with me.

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Guest Post by Eric Morley

Many young adults make one of the following statements:

  • I want to be involved in Global Missions but I don’t know how
  • I feel drawn to overseas missions service, but I have no idea what to do

First, let’s get some background on how we normally get “direction” in life. 

Global Positioning System

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In 1974 the U.S. Department of Defense developed and deployed what is today known as the Global Positioning System.  This system consists of approximately 30 satellites that circle the globe and can provide precise location data to users of GPS enabled devices on the ground or in the air.  During the 1970s and 1980s, the Air Force reportedly wanted to end the program, but after its success in the first Gulf War it enjoyed new popularity.  The U.S. Government opened the GPS signal up for civilian use and today it has become a mainstay of our economy and is used in everything from agricultural production, civilian aviation, car and truck navigation, the service industry, tablet computers, and cell phones. 

According to the Department of Defense, GPS is a space-based positioning, navigating, and timing.  Everyone who has used GPS to find their way knows it isn’t always a perfect process, but it removes a lot of the uncertainty and mystery of getting from point A to point B. 

That is great, but what does this have to do with missions?

Just like the GPS can provide precise data to someone on the earth enabling them to pinpoint location, heading, and direction, God’s word provides its own GPS to guide you as you seek to involve yourself in the work of missions. 

Involvement in Missions – The Missions GPS

  • G
    • Give to Missions – God trusts people with stewardship of funds and other resources in order to enable the carrying out of missions work both here and overseas.  As soon as you have an income, make it a regular practice to give a monthly offering.
      • I Corinthians 9:14.  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
      • Philippians 4:16-19.  For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.  But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
        • The promise of God supplying all your needs occurs because they provided for Paul’s needs
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    • Pray for Missions.  It is always in order to pray for the wellbeing and effectiveness of our missionaries and their families.  They need God’s protection, provision and assistance.  However, the Bible also gives us some specific things that we can pray for to advance the work of missions. 
      • Colossians 4:2-3.  Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
      • Luke 10:2. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
        • Laborers are needed from North America to help build up a church in the nation
        • Laborers are also needed from that nation to build an indigenous church which can then reach the people of that nation. 
    • Serve in Missions.  If you wait for the perfect time you will likely never get involved in serving in missions.  Talk to your leaders, mentors and pastors about getting more involved.  For a missions experience join a church/district/Youth Division sponsored YOM/AYC type of trip.  Go on Next Steps which is a two-month program involving 3-weeks of hands on training followed by 5-weeks of working directly with a missionary on an overseas field.  Serve as an AIMer and watch your small contribution have a major impact overseas.  But do something and see if God wants you to engage in missions service as part of your life’s efforts.   
      • Mark 16:15. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
      • Matthew 28:19.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
      • Romans 10:14-15. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
      • While we need teachers and preacher, there is also a great need for encouragers, administrators, educators, music leaders, medical personnel and other assistants. Think of the examples of Barnabas and Oneisiums who were a great blessing to Paul. 

Your path to involvement doesn’t have to be confusing.  Use GPS to guide your involvement and don’t wait.

Conclusion

Start putting the GPS to use in your own life. 

I will never forget her face.  En route to the Manila airport, from a billboard high in the smog-bloated sky, a Filipina squinted down at me.  Deep lines etched her dry, sun-weathered face.  She stood in front of the lush Banaue Rice Terraces that Philippine Islanders call the Eighth Wonder of the World.  The billboard’s caption read something like, “The average age of the Filipino farmer is 57.  In 10 years, who will farm the land?”

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Reading the inflight magazine aboard the plane, my eyes fell upon yet another picture of the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Mountains.  This caption read, “While rice and vegetables are still planted there [like they have been for 2,000 years], the growing disinterest among young Ifugaos means the terrace steppes are facing increasing neglect, leading to its gradual erosion” (Hemispheres).  In my heart the question stirred,  “In 10 years, who will farm the land?”

Do today’s apostolic youths mirror the attitude of young Ifugaos?  In our forties, when we began our overseas service, my husband and I were the youngest appointed missionaries in the Pacific Region.  Fast-forward fifteen years.  The Lee Sherrys, Richard Carvers, Chester Terrys, Bennie Blunts, John Cogans, Rodger Whites and David Brotts have retired from their work in the fields of Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.  Who will fill the voids left by at least seven retired missionary units?

The Pacific Region-appointed career missionaries currently on the field are on average in their mid-50s as well.  Indeed, “In 10 years, who will farm the land?” Following their first deputations, the Jonathan Parkers will replace the John Cogans in the South Philippines, and Brandon Borders will take up the torch for New Zealand that his paternal grandfather, veteran missionary Floyd Borders, carried two generations ago.  Two couples in their late-twenties willingly declared like the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Others are stepping forward going on AIM and making application for missionary appointment. The future is bright.

What, then, of a “disinterested young” generation?  The ideal scenario portrays an older farmer teaching a younger farmer, an aged missionary training a new missionary, side by side, asking and answering questions, explaining how-to, when, where and why.  Jesus said in Luke 10:2, “…The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”  In 10 years, who will farm the land?

During the conflict in Ireland, the Irish Republican Army would plant sleeper cells in the west of Scotland.  These people were part of the I.R.A., but were instructed to live in Scotland, hold jobs and integrate into the community.  They were to appear as normal citizens.

However, when the big moment would come for those in these sleeper cells, they would receive the instruction to become part of a terrorist act . . . usually in England.  They would be sent to the front lines of conflict to plant bombs and cause terrific havoc.

Perhaps you feel that you’ve been called to missions but God hasn’t opened the door for you.  Perhaps your life circumstances or finance or your family responsibilities just don’t seem to come together to work for you.  Your consecration is deep and your desire is strong but you just haven’t received the go-ahead to enter the front lines of missionary service.

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Let me encourage you not to despair.  Apply the scriptural principle that says, “occupy until I come”.   Keep busy and dedicated in the work of the Lord where you are.  Don’t ever be caught up in the desire to win the world and forget your neighbour.  Bloom where you are planted.  If you remain faithful and keep your heart in the work of God, your time will come and you will find yourself in the frontlines of missions work.

Psalms 25.21 says, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.”  Often these times of waiting are times of testing your burden and testing your call.  If you can be dissuaded or talked out of your desire, you may not be truly called.  That does not mean you don’t have a burden, nor does it mean you can’t be used in missions.

Some give, some pray and some go.  Without the pray-ers and the givers, no one would be able to go.  All aspects are vital and all are extremely effective.

Timing was all important during the I.R.A. operations.  Without proper timing, they could never have been as effective as they were in striking fear in the hearts of their enemy.  So, it is spiritually.  The right person at the right time doing the right thing in the right place will definitely strike fear in the enemy of our souls.  To be even slightly off in timing could have been disastrous for the I.R.A. and so it is in frontline spiritual battle.

Please don’t misinterpret this article   In no way am I condoning or admiring the actions of terrorists.  I just felt quickened in my spirit to encourage those who may struggle waiting for their visions of missions involvement to come to pass.

God knows your heart and your desire.  While you wait in your “missions sleeper cell”, be assured that you will be placed strategically in the right place at the right time.  Until then, keep yourself focused on ministry right where you are.  Allow the Lord to develop and prepare you as you wait on Him.

“It’s not the will to win that matters . . . everyone has that.  It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

AIM – France

Friends tell me I have the dubious distinction of possessing more than one green thumb. I love to cultivate things and am intrigued with the process of growth. Allow me to use two examples from the garden to describe the process by which we came to be in France as AIMers.

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Growth beneath the surface – White Roots

I have a huge calla lily growing in a pot and recently the largest leaves yellowed and died. Out of concern that my 10.00€ purchase was lost, I lifted the root ball only to see scores of fresh, white, healthy roots. Growth was happening below the surface although that growth wasn’t immediately visible on the surface.

Similarly, we’d been sensitive to missions for a long time. Indeed, that’s how my wife and I met in the mid-1990s. By 2006 I was on staff at the church where we’d come into Pentecost and I got to interact with visiting missionaries regularly. In 2008 I met John & Anne Nowacki, veteran missionaries to France, who invited me to teach in their Bible School for three weeks the following summer. With my pastor’s blessing, I accepted their invitation and went to France in 2009, returning again in 2010 and 2012. 

Life was good. I had a stable position in the city I’d grown up in and I got to go to France for a couple of weeks on a somewhat regular basis. Who wouldn’t like that?

In 2012, our church went through a rough pastoral transition and, being part of the leadership team, I was exposed to various facets of the dilemma. Like my calla lily, the largest leaves were dying and I was tempted to run for it would’ve been easier than staying. Little did I know, however, that white roots were growing beneath the surface. I decided to stay, convinced that, to do otherwise, aside from a clear call of God, would be to run straight out of His will. 

Within weeks of that decision, and while teaching in France, God made his call to clear. We were to come back and be more involved in the work.

I’m convinced that God needed to see my resolve in one situation before he would release the call to another. Over the following two years between His call (late 2012) and our arrival (January 2015), those roots continued to grow as our family applied for and was accepted to the AIM program. We would be furlough replacements for Paul & Darla Brochu.

Allow me to go a bit deeper into those two years of preparation by drawing on a second gardening metaphor: Layering.

Life Transplanted – New Roots

The process of propagating plants via cuttings or layering amazes me. You take a more or less mature portion of a plant or tree, remove bark down to the cambium layer and surround the exposed area with an appropriate rooting medium. That wound will develop scar tissue from which, thanks to photosynthesis, roots will develop. You then transplant the cutting or cut the layer from the mother plant and in either case, you have a new autonomous plant, able to survive on its own. That image gives us a good illustration of those two years of preparation.

Stripping away the bark

Here are five areas where the process of stripping something away caused us to produce new roots and to grow.

Stability: For seventeen years we lived in the same neighborhood, shopped at the same two grocery stores and never changed phone numbers. Stability brought the comfort of predictability, but as that was stripped away, we grew more rooted in our dependence on Him.

House & Home: Long before we sold our home, in order to limit storage requirements while away, we stripped away seventeen years’ worth of accumulation (involving a two-ton bin), and a new root grew. God provided a furnished house and home in France through the kindness of an unsaved landlord and our missionaries. 

School: We’d always homeschooled, but we moved to the Abeka Academy curriculum in 2013. DVD based and boasting great social proof, starting early meant it would be familiar territory when everything else for our kids had changed. French school would’ve helped them linguistically but we stripped that possibility away and saw another root form: an even closer bond between them as siblings.

Friends: In 2014 we travelled frequently, raising support both within and outside of the Atlantic District. Exciting at first, we did eventually hear: “Can we just be home with friends for a Sunday?” Social media aside, that support group has been largely stripped away, but a white root; their faith is rooted in the Lord and not simply their peer group.

Ready-made church: We came from a large vibrant church where it was easy to arrive and simply ‘consume’. That has been stripped away and in this home-missions setting, the kids are our music team, Liz leads worship, helps with Sunday School and does finances. I pastor and drive people to church as well as look after the grounds. Setting down those roots has undeniably caused us to grow, as individuals and as a ministry family.

Our family is like a layered plant. We were accustomed to being a side sprout in a much larger plant but some things have been stripped away, we grew new roots and were transplanted to the nation of France. While that process may sounds easy and inspiring, even glamorous, remember that roots only grow from scar tissue. The process did involve stretching and stretching is not always easy, but we focus on the resulting growth.

The extent to which my calla lily will continue to grow and multiply remains to be seen, but isn’t that the process of growth?  Constant evolution. Constant change. And if it is truly growth then that change or evolution is toward something bigger and better. Seeing personal development in our lives and in the lives of our children, as a result of our AIM experience, and seeing ushering lives into the Kingdom of God, certainly constitute “bigger and better”.   

Though still intimidated by the unknown from time to time, we are in the hands of a trustworthy God who, like a skilled gardener, is growing us and growing the work in France. We are privileged to be part of the work here and covet your prayers.

As a teen, I wanted little to do with God. Responding to a call on my life? That would never happen. I had plans. I had goals. I thought I knew the direction of my future. God was writing my story even though I hadn’t relinquished control of the pen.

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Missionaries always fascinated me, but taking on their burden was never a priority. That concept was nonexistent. When I released control to God in 2006, He began cultivating a burden deep within me. I vividly remember standing in the arena during NAYC 2011, listening to a presentation about Apostolic Youth Corps. As I heard testimony after testimony, I caught a glimpse of God’s plan for my future. In that moment, I knew an AYC trip was on my horizon.

You can say I officially started walking this missions path in 2012. Having never been outside of the United States, I decided to jump in with both feet and head to Africa–the place that stole my heart. I will never forget the sight of Mt. Kilimanjaro as we flew into Tanzania. Catching a glimpse of a fellow AYCer making a return trip, I couldn’t understand the silent tears flowing down her cheeks. She saw a country in desperate need of the gospel.  It only took ten days to grip my heart. As we taxied off the runway headed back “home,” I was the one with tears streaming down my face, the thought of leaving too much to bear. Home had taken on a new meaning in those ten days.

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As deeply as the African people touched me, God led me to the Dominican in 2013. There I learned some of the toughest lessons of my life. Through unimaginable tragedy, God taught me strength. He instilled courage like I had never known. For the first time, I truly understood what it meant to have peace that passes all understanding.

Over the next year, I continued seeking God’s will. Even though my heart was firmly planted in foreign soil, I continued making myself available in my local church. After much prayer and counsel, Next Steps felt like the perfect opportunity to further my missions journey. I questioned how I would fare being gone from my family for an extended period of time. The two month Next Step trip seemed to be the perfect proving ground.

On May 31, 2015, I stepped onto a plane and deeper into the will of God. Headed for Guam, our team of young adults eagerly anticipated what God had in store. Those two months profoundly affected my soul and my future.

The first three weeks of training felt like a Bible school crash-course. The information was priceless. Every session was jam-packed with tidbits of knowledge and wisdom we stored in our brains and notes for future reference. I gleaned invaluable understanding about missions, and about ministry as a whole. And what a privilege to sit with real-life heroes of the faith, being taught and discipled while on the mission field!

Opportunities arose each day to minister alongside the local churches. Putting our learning into action allowed God to birth a deeper desire in me to see souls born into His kingdom. He renewed the burden in my heart and confirmed His will in my life.

Through all three short-term trips, I’ve come to realize how amazing this call of missions is. He has entrusted me with this burden and daily equips me with the necessary tools. When we sacrifice our comfort, allowing God to take us outside our self-imposed security, He shows us things we would never see on our own. In that place of vulnerability, God equips us with the necessary tools to carry the burden He has placed within us.

In August 2016, I will once again plant my feet on foreign soil for a six month AIM term in Ghana, West Africa. Because I have given God complete control over the navigation of this journey, He continues to lead me to places beyond my wildest dreams.

The Anchor Still Holds

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Anchored to God’s Word:

“Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps 119:89).

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Ps 119:9).

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps 119:11).

Anchored in Consistent Spiritual Disciplines:

  • Prayer
  • Fasting
  • Bible Reading
  • Church attendance

Anchored in Godly People:

  • Parents
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Ministers

Timothy was anchored in his godly heritage. “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (2 Tim 1:5).

Anchored to the Altar:

One of my favorite Scriptures, prayed and acted upon daily is: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

It’s my daily prayer. At times I drag myself on to that altar. Sometimes I fall off. What do I do? Pull myself back on to the altar again. God is concerned about my availability and willingness to be a living sacrifice. Paul felt it was so important that He begged us to offer our lives daily.

Here’s my advice and practice about altar calls. Be a first-responder. Every time! It a life-altering experience.

John Trent, author of Heart Shift, and a professional counselor, tells of a plane trip where he sat beside a NASA petroleum engineer. He took advantage of the opportunity to ask the missile scientist, “How many degrees can a space rocket be off before it becomes a huge problem? Could it be two degrees off?”

The man pulled out his calculator and started punching in numbers. “To be two degrees off from when you blast off, and taking into consideration the time and distance traveled, you’ll miss not only your point of orbital entry, but you’ll miss the moon by 11,121 miles.”

Trent goes on to say, “Just be two degrees off from the right heart attitude, add in enough time and distance, and an entire church can end up miles from God’s heart.”

Just a two degree shift in doctrine and convictions can cause change for the worse, pulling the church away from God.

Just a two degree shift in doctrine and convictions can cause change for the worse, pulling the church away from God.

And a two degree shift toward correct doctrine and appropriate convictions can bring a church closer to God. “Even small shifts in a positive direction could move a person from ruin to renewal.”