Adult Team Blog

Identity Crisis

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6–7).

During the summer of 2014, I walked the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a campus ministry. As a very recent college graduate, I was worried about the next phase of a new post-graduate life. What was I doing in the middle of Thailand? Where would I be after this summer?

One of the challenges I faced was asking complete strangers if they knew the name of Jesus. I saw the statistics. I knew Thailand was considered unreached. But surely someone on the street would recognize His name!

Not one soul I asked knew about Jesus. Surprised by the anger welling inside me, I escaped to a coffee shop to pray. Why did I know Him, but they did not?

Upon my return to the United States, I delayed my entrance to graduate school. I felt confused and guilty. I felt selfish for pursuing a goal that didn’t immediately put me back on the missions field.

Hungry Versus Hunger

“I’m hungry,” remarks my grown son. He opens the refrigerator door, studies the contents, and then declares, “There’s nothing in here to eat!” and walks away. Vegetables, milk, eggs, and a casserole sit on the shelves.

Contrast this scenario with refugees living with no food in war torn Syria or elsewhere. This is the reality of the hunger crisis plaguing our world on a daily basis. What can you and I do? 

Start by praying. Pray for those in this situation. Pray for creative ways to make your church aware of Global Hunger Relief and Global Hunger Sunday on October 9, 2016. In the past our church sold tickets for a secret meal. Imagine the surprise of the attendees when they received only a bowl of rice.

Sacrificial Giving

Earlier this year my pastor challenged church members to sacrifice something so they could give to ministries that help the needy. The point was to give something of value, not something left over or unneeded.

One family sold a valuable collectible. Another family canceled their cable and donated whatever they would have spent on their cable bill. Our children sold their favorite doll and toys and gave the proceeds.

Ultimately, several hundred dollars was raised to clothe and feed people both locally and globally. Can you imagine the impact such sacrificial giving would have if every Southern Baptist gave deeply to care for the hungry and poor?

The Global Hunger Relief Fund ministers to the needy in North America and around the world by offering help to those suffering from disasters, as well as those who struggle with chronic hunger. October 9 is Global Hunger Sunday. Ask God how He would have you help end hunger for the most vulnerable around the world.

Mission: Involvement

Get involved.

This was my mission going into my freshman year. I can remember everyone telling me the college experience is what you make it, so I was determined to give it everything I had by getting involved in anything I could. I just knew that “involvement” was the key to having a successful college career.

So when the very first week of college arrived, I hit the ground running with my mission. I registered for a full load of classes, signed up for student government, pledged a sorority, joined a small group, volunteered, and planned on attending multiple campus ministry services throughout the week. My schedule was packed, and I was pumped for the amazing college life I was about to experience through all of my involvement. Mission accomplished.

Or so I thought.

Although my schedule left very little time to be alone, I felt incredibly lonely. The positions I held were draining and I wasn’t passionate about any of them. Despite the multiple Bible studies and worship services throughout the week, I felt spiritually parched and useless to God. Somehow, my mission failed.

Who Am I?

Daughter, sister, wife, mom, friend?

Student, teacher, medical professional, sales representative?

Missionary, church staff, volunteer, leader, advocate?

We constantly need to ask ourselves, Is who I am defined by my group of friends or family? Is it defined by my status, job, or leadership position?

The Christian answer is simple: be defined by who we are in Christ. Our identity is in Him—saved, adopted, and loved forever. But is it that simple? What gets in our way?

Temptation, as in the Garden of Eden and with Jesus in the wilderness, comes at us with words that attempt to repaint reality and cast doubt on the truth we know.

In the Garden of Eden, God made man in His own image and His likeness. It was good, and everything was whole. There was freedom, choice, meaningful work, togetherness, and the absence of shame.

Finding Refreshment in Prayer

In Luke 5:15–17, we see Jesus’ source of strength sandwiched between His ministry: “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” (Bold added.)

Jesus was busy about ministry. He was healing and teaching large crowds all the time. So how did He refuel? Where did His strength come from? He regularly stepped away from the demands on Him to pray, to talk with and listen to His Father.

When we are busy with our lives—work, family, friends, church, ministry—and we find ourselves exhausted from all we have to do, let’s follow Jesus’ example. Find regular time for Bible reading and prayer, spending time with God, and allowing Him to refresh you.

Whatever It Takes to Spread the Gospel

Some of you live in big cities, with the nations surrounding you on every street corner. But some of you are like me—you live in small towns and smaller cities, with neighbors who, for the most part, look, act, and think as you do. So how do we put the principles found in 1 Corinthians 9:19–23 into practice in our daily lives, doing whatever it takes to spread the gospel to all people?

I have learned to be the first to bend—the first to be flexible, the first to apologize, the first to compromise. No, that doesn’t mean I compromise on the gospel. Jesus was, is, and will always be the only way to God. His death, burial, and resurrection are the foundations of our faith, and the Word of God is true. Those things don’t change.

But when it comes to welcoming the drug addict and her rowdy children into our worship service, I need to put aside my reservations. When it comes to welcoming people of other races into our church, I need to put aside my prejudices. When it comes to helping the down and out, I need to put aside my judgments.

Reaching Others “by All Means”

We live in a world defined by boundaries. We talk of setting boundaries with people, with our jobs, and even with our churches. We want “space” and “me time.”

Quite simply, we think of ourselves a lot.

WMU’s emphasis theme for 2016–2018 encourages us to do something else—to think of reaching others with the gospel “by all means.”

In 1 Corinthians 9:22b, Paul tells us how he is willing to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means [he] might save some.” Rather than talking about the ways that he is excluding people, Paul encourages us by his example to include others, regardless of socioeconomic divisions.

Why is Paul willing to do this? “ I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (v. 23).

myMISSION, myCALLING

Exactly three years ago, I was on my first myMISSION trip. We went to Atlanta, and our whole weekend was dedicated to reaching refugees and victims of human trafficking. We’re still getting to know each other, but you can just know that this is my heartbeat.

We went around rough areas of Atlanta, handing out roses to prostitutes—women who needed to know that they were loved and valued. This is something to which I’ve dedicated my life.

Isaiah 61:1b reads, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah’s description of his calling rings so true for me. I was so excited to be in this group, fulfilling this calling, but I knew I needed to be keenly aware of the vastly different needs of the women I would meet. This reminds me of Paul’s calling in 1 Corinthians 9:22b: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Paul knew that he was called to preach the gospel to all people, but that took different shapes as God brought him to different places.

All We Need

Immediately after Jesus fed the five thousand, He dismissed the crowd, gathered His disciples, and found a solitary place to pray. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus prayed alone—and often. As the Son of God, He communed faithfully and intimately with His Father. He left His devoted disciples and the masses of broken people for prayer.

If Jesus, Who is God, humbled Himself and prayed, I should probably do the same.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a “works” kind of girl. I like being busy. I could write a book (a very long book) about the amount of times I’ve neglected rest and prayer in order to spend more time working, serving, or trying to meet others’ needs.

You see, I like to believe that God needs me. I tend to enter a cycle that starts with me saying something like, “I’m too important for a break!”

Then after a week or two, I burn out. I stop caring about all my jobs and roles. What I really want—and so desperately need—is someone else to carry the load. Deep down I know it’s Him, our good Father, Who can replenish my soul . . . but I’m too afraid to talk to Him. What if He’ll be angry with me? I failed again.

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