Adults

What’s Your Part?

This month, we are praying—I mean really praying—for our part in God’s great mission. I’m pressing in to see my part more clearly. What about you? What’s your part?

For most churches, the fall kicks off a new year. It is a good time to pray about new things—new opportunities, new relationships, new routines, new challenges. What is new for you? Could it be that God has something new in mind? I love Isaiah 43:19. God is a “doing-a-new-thing” kind of God. He is able to do more than we can imagine (Eph. 3:20–21). I suppose that’s why, in my life anyway, He usually shows 1 step at a time. It is always new, always fresh.

Divine Flavor in an Ordinary World

I looked over and saw her, sitting at the table, eyes glued to her computer screen and focused on what she was working on.

I felt that nudge inside to talk to her, but I was doing my best to talk myself out of it. “She looks busy,” I thought. “And how would I start a conversation?”

I sat in that coffee shop, knowing that I wanted to share the gospel with this girl and take an ordinary conversation and make it a divine one. Then I remembered what I had talked with a friend about a few days earlier. She had suggested interviewing people as a way to start conversations.

I grabbed my pen and notebook, wrote down a few questions, walked over to the table, and began talking to the girl, who introduced herself as Leela*.

The conversation felt so natural, and it brought me joy being able to get to know her story. As it turns out, Leela became a believer in college.

One conversation led to another and another, and now I’d consider Leela one of my best friends in South Asia.

Praying for the Masses: Do I see refugees with Jesus’ eyes?

She came across the border with only the clothes on her back and several small children. Her husband had remained behind to fight ISIS and protect what was left of their home. At least, she hoped he was still there protecting their home, because she had not heard from him in over a year. Now she sat across from me at our English as a second language class looking tired and confused. How could I explain the basics of our lesson without knowing her language? How would I ever reach her with the gospel?

Could this woman have been one of the thousands of refugees crossing into Europe? When I watched them on TV, my thoughts were not so wholesome or Christian. You know the saying “Can’t see the trees for the forest”? Sometimes we can’t see the refugees for the media. Our views and eyes lose focus when we look at things through the lens of this world and not through the eyes of the Spirit.

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Starting Over: Refugees Must Submit to a Thorough Vetting Process prior to Resettlement in the United States

In one country, a family lives in a city under siege. Gunshots and daily explosions rock the neighborhood. Children cannot play outside nor can adults go safely to work. Food and water are scarce. Escape is the only option. In another country, a young woman professes Christ and immediately becomes a target of the local police. It is illegal to profess any religion other than Islam. Her family shuns her, leaving her isolated and unprotected. If she stays, then she will surely be killed. She too must escape to survive.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that worldwide, some 21 million people, half of them children, are refugees—individuals driven from their homes to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. A very small number of these individuals (less than 1%) will receive the opportunity to start a new life in a third country after leaving their homeland.

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Refugees in Our Midst: Wars, Natural Disasters, Hunger, and Persecution Produce Refugees

More than 65 million displaced people, including 21 million refugees, fled their home countries in 2015, according to the Migration Policy Institute. In 2016, nearly 85,000 refugees resettled in the United States. They came from Syria, the Near East, South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other places worldwide. Consider the countries where our missionaries are serving. Many of those, such as Ukraine, are flooded with refugees, forcing missionaries to revisit strategies and form new avenues of ministry and evangelism. The sheer numbers are overwhelming. What are citizens of receiving countries supposed to do?

If we flashed back to biblical days, both Old and New Testaments, we would read of refugees from countries such as Egypt, Moab, Babylon, and others. Perhaps one of the greatest movements of refugees in history was Moses’ leading the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land. Whether the plights of refugees existed more than 2,000 years ago or today, the Bible has some very specific words for those who find refugees in their midst.

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By All Means Changes Lives

“El Salvador will never be the same,” said one of our church members when she saw who had decided to go. While I can’t say that is true of the country, it is certainly true for those of us preparing to go. As of this writing, a dozen men and women are preparing for our church’s first international missions trip. Six of the 7 women in the group are members of our Martha Robinson Baptist Women, and some have never been outside the United States. As we prepare to step out of our comfort zones to change lives in El Salvador, changes within our lives and the life of our church began months ago.

Personally, I began working with our Wednesday night children’s ministry, at first serving food but soon joining in teaching first- and second-graders. Others joined in as well. Several children have received Christ as Savior and their families are starting to attend on Sunday morning.

Celebrate, Evaluate, and Look Ahead

For many small churches, WMU and Women on Mission or Baptist Women are synonymous. Perhaps 1 or 2 groups of women of various ages meet monthly to learn about missions, pray for missionaries, and develop a missions project. The pattern rarely changes.

Instead of doing the same thing with your adult missions group, celebrate what worked, evaluate what didn’t, and enter the new church year ready to pray, learn, support, and develop a missions lifestyle.

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Building the Kingdom One Friendship at a Time

The phrase “hustle and bustle” used to apply to the hurriedness of the holiday season, but for many, it now applies to everyday life. As we add just one more thing to our to-do list, we often let time spent building relationships fall to the wayside. However, meeting new people and building relationships should be an intentional part of life for every believer.

Consider how you can change ordinary activities into ones that build the kingdom of God. Sporting events, especially those our children participate in, offer opportunities to share life with others. If you sit in the same seats, seeing the same people each game, why not engage in conversation? Listen intentionally, ask questions, and you will be amazed what you might learn.

Home-cooked goodies are a way to get to know your neighbors. A recent television commercial depicts a young family treating its neighbors to a weekend pancake breakfast. Who could you invite?

Seeking the Divine: A Mother’s Mission

“Nor, who created you?”

“God” (pronounced “Gah”).

“Who created Daddy?”

“God.”

“Who created Mommy?”

“God.”

“Who created your baby brother or sister?”

“God.”

“That’s right. God created everything.”

At 18 months old, my daughter understands patterns. And the patterns I place in her life need to connect her to something more than diaper changes, baths, bedtimes, and meals. Her personality is developing quickly, and she is soaking in more language than I can keep up with.

Through the mood swings, the temper tantrums, the cuddles, the early mornings, and the asserting of her will, it’s easy to lose track of the time and let the day get away from me without teaching her things that will last beyond her time in this world.

Yet, each day, I have been tasked with the choice: focus on my needs and wants or invest in her eternity and make a little disciple out of my toddler.

Natural Conversations

I love my electric pressure cooker. It allows me to have the “set it and forget it” aspect of a slow cooker, but the food gets cooked in 1/3 of the time. And, the truth is, it doesn’t take much for me to want to tell you about it. That’s because I use it all the time and I think the results are miraculous. I can tie it into almost any conversation and I’ve been convicted recently about not doing the same with my relationship with Christ.

Why on earth would a pressure cooker be easier for me to discuss with people than the God Who saved me? I could give many reasons, but the most honest answer is that I spend more time focused on the trivial day-to-day things than I do my relationship with Christ.

When it comes to connecting our relationship with Christ to everyday conversation, the most natural way to do that is to be in relationship with Christ. Study the Bible every day. Pray without ceasing. Don’t be afraid to share with others about the difference those habits make in your life. That last one is the hardest for me. I’m constantly afraid of being judged as ungenuine. I question my own motives and if I’m questioning, surely others are, too, right?

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