Adults

He Has a Plan for the New Year

Are you ready to face this New Year? If you’re like me, then you feel just a little behind and find yourself screaming, “Ahh! I can’t believe it is 2018 already!”

The good news for you and for me is that God is still God and He has a plan. I wonder what our great God has in store for us this year. What exciting opportunities will He bless us with? What difficult days will He walk through with us? What surprises, challenges, rewards, or even blessings undeserved might come our way?

If you are like me, then you have seen enough good and bad in the world to know that they both exist. God’s goodness is so good. But the bad in the world is so . . . bad. As we look ahead into this year, we may wonder which way the balance will tip. Wherever you are today, whatever you are experiencing, God is with you. And He has a plan. The gospel holds true today and offers hope for tomorrow. His light always wins over the darkness. Love triumphs over evil!

Connecting New Orleans with Jesus

Mardi Gras, great food, and the Saints equal New Orleans. It is one big city made up of unique and very diverse neighborhoods. It’s a city where only 11.6% of the population is evangelical Christian, said Ryan Rice, lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers.

Rice, a church planter, spent his childhood in the Algiers neighborhood and in January 2009, returned to the neighborhood with his wife, Seane’. Here they are raising their 4 children: Ryan Jr., Brayden, Reagan, and Bailey. Reaching the residents and meeting their needs has required a “tailored approach.” The vision has been to find ways to proclaim a message of hope, healing, and restoration through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It began with family-centered outreaches such as movie nights, meeting at coffee shops, Easter events, and family nights at the park. Over time, trust has been built, allowing the Rices to work through the layers of beliefs that people have regarding what it means to know Jesus.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Ryan and Seane’ Rice

Ryan and Seane’ Rice continue to minister and see God doing great things through Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans. Their church is ethnically diverse and they reach out to help many on the fringes of society.

Oak Park Baptist Church, a sister church that had served the community for more than 60 years, fell on some difficult times with declining membership and problems reaching out to the community. The leaders of Connect Church and Oak Park began to talk about the possibility of merging the 2 churches. As the leaders of both congregations talked, they felt the Holy Spirit leading them to come together to better serve their community.

Become a Church Plant Supporter

Planting a new church can be stressful, rewarding, lonely, exhilarating, and exhausting all at once. This is why the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is constantly looking for supporting churches to partner with church planters by praying for them, participating in their work, and providing for their needs. You can help!

Talk to your missions group about supporting a church plant. Here is what your group can do:

The Missional Family

There were moments during the 36 hours of car rides, airplane rides, layovers, metro rides, bus rides, taxi rides (with no car seat), and stroller rides that I thought we might have been a little crazy to have flown our toddler around the world.

I was exhausted. She was exhausted. My husband was exhausted. But we had the best time serving overseas with an unreached people group together as a family. Since becoming a mom, I’m not always the adventurous type. Having lived overseas before, I am also not a romantic-missions type. I know what can happen when you travel to a third-world country. But I kept hearing the familiar verse of 2 Corinthians 12:9 over and over again: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

How the Bible Tells Us to Live

The world tells me to think of myself. The Bible tells me to deny myself.

The world tells me to get angry when someone wrongs me. The Bible tells me to turn the other cheek.

The world tells me it’s OK to do this or that because everyone else does it, too. The Bible tells me to avoid the things that would bring me down and tarnish my witness to the world.

So many conflicting views are thrown our way every day, but it is our job to know what the Bible says so we can weed out the ways of the world and focus on what our walk with Jesus is meant to be. The truth of the gospel is that Jesus Christ came to earth to live a perfect life, die on the Cross, and take our place to save us from what we deserve for our imperfect lives. And while we all know that we aren’t perfect, we know that through Christ, we have forgiveness, redemption, and the freedom to live the way Jesus wants us to live.

The world we live in encourages us to be self-centered and look out for ourselves above all others. But everything about the gospel is the exact opposite of this mind-set. Let’s think on how deeply the gospel differs from what the world tells us.

10 Ways to Use Your College Break to Reach Others for Christ

Your car is packed, the fridge is empty, and you’re longing to turn in that last paper so you can finally head home for Christmas. But don’t leave your passion for missions behind with your books. As you prepare to make the trek home for some much-needed rest and home-cooked meals, consider these opportunities that await you in between semesters:

The Gospel at Christmas

Understanding the gospel at Christmas is a beautiful thing. A Savior is born . . . to 
be in His Father’s house; to preach, teach, heal, free, and feed the masses; to make disciples; to die for our sins and be resurrected to give us life; to ascend to heaven; to ask the Father to send His Spirit; to prepare a place for us; and to come again.

The gospel, in its purest form, is the “good news” that Christ died for our sins, came back to life, and offers eternal life to all who receive Him as Lord and Savior. The Light of the world all humanity had waited for could now be seen with human eyes and touched with human hands.

When we truly understand the gospel, we can respond with faith, turn to Jesus and away from all that would distract us from this life of love. We are changed forever. Nothing is ever the same. We see ourselves differently. We are different—from the inside out, everything is changed. We are alive! And we have an overflow of love that never runs dry. We can love everyone around us in Jesus’ name. We can invite them into the love of the gospel, to experience the reality of heaven, even now, at Christmas.

“Planting” in the Front Yard

“In all that I do—preaching, teaching, training [church] planters, etc.—I am constantly working to help people understand the gospel,” Noah Oldham said.

As the North American Mission Board’s Send City coordinator in Saint Louis, Missouri, Oldham coordinates planting churches in the greater metropolitan region. This involves working with church planters as well as the church partners who join with them. He is also lead pastor of August Gate Church. This multilocation church plant is a sending church for other church plants.

“But one of the most profound individual situations that happened didn’t happen in either of those contexts.” It happened in his front yard.

Little Sweet Treats: Use Cookies to Open Hearts to the Gospel

Decorations, trees, gifts, and food define Christmas for many, leaving little room for Jesus. Rather they think of Santa Claus and overspending. This year, share the Savior with homemade witnessing tools—cookies—and create a connecting point for future relationship building.

Plan a group cookie party to make, decorate, and share cookies and then use them to open hearts to the gospel. Search recipe websites for decorated cookie recipes, try one of the recipes below, or dig out your grandmother’s favorite cookie recipe. Choose large batch recipes simple for a group to make, or bake a few batches ahead of time and decorate later as a group. Cookies that stay fresh, transport easily, and won’t crumble make for a better presentation.

Prepare an invitation listing December church events as well as Bible study and worship times. Attach a catchy poem like this on one side to use as an icebreaker:

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