Adults on Mission

Missionary Spotlight Update: Josh and Tiffany Lenon

Josh and Tiffany Lenon have included relationship-building principles in planting Red Door Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Now they are extending their efforts to Cincinnati’s second Red Door Church.

City church plants, especially those with a millennial base, typically rely on electronic media to reach their communities. And Red Door Church has an especially effective online presence.

However, such sites are also used to communicate with a much wider community. The Lenons are grateful when others outside their city visit IAmRedDoor.org for updates, especially when the news those visitors read fuels prayers for the ministry. Some may be motivated to not only pray but also support this effort with gifts—financial or service-oriented.

Love a Friend to Christ

Chaney was fresh out of college, living in a city hundreds of miles from home with no friends. That is with no friends yet.

On her first day at her new job, she met Melinda and a friendship was born. What Chaney didn’t know is that friendship is Melinda’s way of doing missions.

An invitation to lunch led to a Saturday night movie, and then, “Would you like to go to church with me tomorrow morning?” Melinda asked. How could Chaney say no? A few months later, Chaney accepted Christ and joined a new believers’ class.

Melinda practices friendship missions as a natural way of sharing her faith and seeing the harvest of simply offering friendship.

Here are a few questions or concerns you might have about friendship missions:

Is it kind of sneaky to make a friend with the idea of bringing him or her to Jesus?

No. After all, the best thing you can do for any friend is to introduce him or her to Jesus, so what is underhanded about that?

I’m not a very outgoing person, so I wouldn’t be good at this.

Just be a friend and invite someone to church. Then be prepared to discuss what happened.

“Church” Is a Verb

“My passion is the university student,” said Chris Julian, a university student worker. He and his wife, Melody, have devoted their lives to students. They started working with students in their hometown of Memphis and then moved to South Carolina and Alabama before settling in Brazil about 20 years ago.

Now in Sao Leopoldo, they work with students and started a house church called Zoe, which means “abundant life” in Greek.

“We teach that ‘church’ is a verb and not something we do once a week,” Chris Julian said.

Although Zoe meets once a week like any other church, the gathering celebrates “where we’ve seen God moving the week prior.” They share food, testimonies, prayer, and Bible studies and then seek ways to engage the community.

“We’ve worked in slums, given out free hugs and hot chocolate at metro stops, and held block parties in our home,” Chris Julian said. This comes easily for Melody Julian who has the gift of hospitality and loves to cook.

A Church Grows in Brooklyn

Born and raised in Westchester, New York, James T. Roberson III was a typical high school student and athlete.

“Though I grew up in church, my relationship with God was defined more by praying for wins in football and passing classes in school,” Roberson said honestly.

After graduating from high school (which he calls a miracle), he was off to Valley Forge Military College. He later graduated from James Madison University (JMU). It was during his college years that he became involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, which intensified his relationship with God.

“[In college], I was introduced to a consistent lifestyle of living for God,” Roberson said. And that is where he met his wife, Natarsha. The couple have served a wide spectrum of people through campus ministry at 3 universities in Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Texas and 4 church plants in Maryland, North Carolina, and Georgia.

In 2013, the Robersons, along with their 2 young daughters, moved to Brooklyn, New York, to start The Bridge Church.

Call to Refocus

“How are you?’ the teacher asked.

“Ready to go home.” I had been at work for an hour and felt defeated already.

Tension filled our office. We complained about work conditions and each other. Most communication from upper management was about unsatisfactory productivity or additions to our workload. I was unsure why God wasn’t intervening although I prayed for help daily.

One morning while praising God for His sovereignty, I released my worries and fears to Him. I decided to trust God and do my work as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). I focused on praising God, setting healthy boundaries, and asking God to help me meet agency requirements.

I told a coworker of my desire to pray with others in the office with similar frustrations, sharing how I found peace after changing my focus. She told me about a self-care group sponsored by a previous employer and encouraged me to “do it.”

WMU Wins Souls for Christ

I’ve worked with WMU for several years. I attended several leadership conferences, and I was a workshop leader representing Sisters Who Care. During one conference, Ms. Chocolate spoke about the needs of children in her community. She encouraged us to spread the gospel in our neighborhoods stating, “How will they know unless we tell them?”

I’ve recalled those words often. I’ve interviewed missionaries who are thankful for readers’ prayers for them, their families, and for the salvation of the people groups they serve. Missionaries sacrifice the comforts of home to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those who’ve never heard nor thought of having a relationship with God who created them. “How will they know?”

Changing Focus to Receive God’s Strength

My husband was rushed to the hospital December 4, 2015. He was vomiting “old blood.” Each time the doctor cleared Darrell’s stomach then fed him through his peg tube, Darrell aspirated. The surgeon couldn’t replace the peg with a J-tube due to gastric problems, aspiration, and chronic vomiting. Nourishment to sustain life was impossible.

I watched my husband transition to eternity with the Lord. I worried about Darrell, his fears, and how I would live without him. With each worry, I asked God to strengthen and help me live in the present, to be thankful for the current moment we had together.

I never questioned God when Darrell slipped away December 29, 2015. Some days the pain is more difficult than others; however, I choose to seek God’s love and comfort. I’ve learned resilience and purpose in God’s promise: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2–3 NIV).


By Audrey Hector

UNEXPECTED CALL TO MISSIONS

“You’re a dutiful wife,” one nursing home resident said, noting that I visited Darrell daily. Her comment increased my awareness of the other residents. I started encouraging and loving each resident, winking at some, and promising to take care of the nurses if any of them were mistreated. Their smiles and repeated stories comforted me, giving me the strength to be there for my husband.

One resident was in a coma, unable to respond to his family when they visited. I thought about the joy I felt when my husband recognized and talked with me. He returned my kisses and gazed into my eyes. I began to pray for the resident and his family.

I went to the nursing home after my husband’s death in December but was overwhelmed with grief because Darrell wasn’t there. However, with God’s help, I will start visiting the residents whose love sustained me as I reached out to love them.

I thank God for the opportunity to share Christ’s love with the residents. Not only did my marriage demonstrate to the world the relationship between Christ and the church, but God turned our tragedy into a nursing home mission experience.


By Audrey Hector

Form an Unlikely Missions Partnership

The crowded restaurant held tables of church volunteers, local college sorority sisters, high school service club members, and families. This unlikely mishmash of people was there for a fund-raiser for The Hub, a homeless ministry in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Hub’s leadership team has intentionally worked to welcome volunteers and supporters from a variety of groups, along with its primary target of churches, resulting in a sense of community between Christians and non-Christians who serve northwest Louisiana’s homeless.

Missions projects with other organizations are fun but come with challenges. The worldviews and actions are different. The language can get a little salty at times, the politics can get a little heated, but there is a huge advantage in the fact that we can be witnesses to the other volunteers as we serve.

The Value of Building Relationships

“We have a front row seat to see people experience forgiveness and freedom. We’ve seen marriages restored, relationships mended, and people discovering their purpose in Jesus. There is absolute joy in this!” Sterling Edwards said of being a church planter.

He and wife Jenna have been church planters in New York for 10 years. When the Edwards first moved from Houston, Texas, to Long Island, they connected with the first people they met: post office employees, a restaurant owner, and a man at the golf course. These people became the first attendees of their church, Crossroads Church of Long Island in North Babylon. As time passed, people introduced them to other people and their circle of friends widened. And their church’s membership grew. The church currently meets in 4 locations each weekend.

The Edwards still make developing relationships a priority, because growing churches is not about watching a structure go up—it’s about the day-to-day development of relationships with people.

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