Monday, August 18, 2008

Missions thoughts from Robin (part 4)

One of my concerns before we moved to Germany was that maybe this wasn’t God’s will after all. Maybe all this trouble was a big mistake. Deep inside you really know, but there will be questions here and there. Brother Hagin always said that it’s possible to have faith in your heart and doubts in your head. But I think it’s better to go ahead and follow what you think is God’s will and fail, than to never try.

Some people think that it is really too big of a step to take a family overseas to live. (that is why so few ever take the chance) But that’s why it is so rewarding to do what we do. We took a leap of faith and now are able to watch God work in ways that we never would have known. I think in many ways that it is really more of a leap of faith to NOT follow the will of God. With Him, you know that it will all work out.

Just continue doing what you were doing in your city… but do it in another country.


PS. is a godsend!

Missions thoughts from Robin (part 3)

No matter where you are on the earth, in God’s will is the safest place to be. With the political uncertainties that are going on right now in the country you're headed to, it’s important to know that God is in control. We came over here two weeks after 9/11 and things were very uncertain. But, when we got here we knew that this was the right place.

Missions thoughts from Robin (part 2)

Remember the call of God. Write down what He is telling you to do. When the times get tough -- and they will -- you can look at what God said and it will keep you there. There are some extremely lonely times on the mission field. Times where you are in the middle of many people and feel completely alone.

I remember a time when I was at a hardware store and couldn’t figure out how to ask for a concrete screw so I could hang a picture on the wall. I just started crying in the middle of the aisle. Then, I had a good laugh. Many times were frustrating just trying to decipher the bills and the kids' homework. But they all add up to a wonderful and challenging experience that I wish everyone could have.

Missions thoughts from Robin (part 1)

Some friends of ours are leaving in a few weeks for the mission field.  Robin wrote this for them and I thought it was good advice for anyone interested in being a missionary.

I am so glad that you are obeying God and taking this challenge. We are praying for you and your children! I was thinking about what I wished other people would have told me before I left for the mission field and what advice I did receive that has helped over the years.

The first part of the journey is all so quick and exciting that even the frustrating parts are fun. It’s amazing to watch the children learn and adapt to their new environment. Learn from them. They are watching you to see if this new place is okay. As I read about others’ experiences on the field, I am so convinced that the difference between a bad and good experience for the children is the attitude of the parents.

I think one of my biggest challenges is to keep positive about the cultural differences that bug me. Patsy Cameneti once told me that if we continually talk about all the things that we don’t like about the mission field it frustrates the grace of God on our lives.

I am so proud to be an American. There are so many freedoms that you will give up to serve in another country. Many Europeans that I have met long to live in America. Even if they don’t really understand the politics …they understand that America equates with freedom. Because of that, many will be excited to get to know you. They want to know more about you and God will use this as an opportunity to lead them to Him. On the other hand, some people will not like you just because you are an outsider. Their long time prejudices will come out in strange and hurtful ways. This is an even greater chance to show the love of God. Your neighbors will be watching you. (When we meet people in our village, they usually tell us all about our family.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Those we leave behind

I was reading a blog from some of our dear friends that are moving to Russia to become missionaries for a season. It brought back some memories I had completely forgotten.

I can still remember the “OH MY GOD!!!” feelings as we were preparing to leave. It seems as if there’s not enough time to do what needs to be done. And then there’s all the people that don’t want you to go, etc. Our friend wrote about her concern for those they are leaving behind.

In actuality, the very best thing you can do for those you leave behind is to model what a sold-out life looks like. It’s one thing to tell people that Jesus is our Lord… it’s an entirely different thing to actually live it out in our daily lives.

I finally made peace with the feeling of leaving people behind by understanding that our lives are constantly in motion. And we move in and out of the lives of others, as they do in ours. Some relationships are with people that are simply passing through, while others are permanent… and they leave a permanent mark on us.

As we obey what God calls us to do, we position those we leave behind to understand God’s greatness and His grace. I say “position them” because it’s entirely up to them how they choose to react to change. If they react correctly, their hunger to find God’s plan for their lives will grow. And then the Plan of God moves forward... All because we've decided to trust God enough to obey Him.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Spiritual authority

I was reading 2 Cor. 12 today and came across something that's really been challenging to me as a leader. I saw it for the first time a number of years ago, but every time I see it again, it becomes even more clear.

Notice in 2 Cor. 12:21 Paul says,

I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

In context, Paul is talking about a discipline problem in the church that he established at Corinth. But what is he talking about when he says that God will humble him? Let's look down in the next chapter...

This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority--the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. - 2 Cor. 13:10

He is talking about the use of spiritual authority. He is saying that exercising spiritual authority is a humbling thing.

We've gotten it all wrong! We seem to think that the exercise of authority is a show of power. We thrown our weight around to show everyone who's boss. We establish the chain of command. And we see this in churches as well as in the world around us. Churches that fall into this mindset end up becoming what we call toxic churches because they end up hurting anyone involved in them.

Paul understood the exercise of authority to be a humbling experience. It wasn't something he wanted to do, but HAD to do. He was writing this letter so he wouldn't have to use his authority.

What I'm trying to say is that the biblical exercise of spiritual authority is not an display of power, but instead an act of humility. It's something we do for the good of the people we're serving; not for our good. The world system, which is concerned with power, prestige and position hasn't figured this out yet!

We need to relearn what Jesus said

The greatest among you will be your servant. - Matt. 23:11

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Finding your place

I met a man today that handles the finances for most of the Wycliff missionary projects in Europe and western Asia. And he says it's amazing how perfectly suited he is for this job.

He started out a number of years ago as a church planter in Japan. When his organization needed some help in the financial and organizational dept, he volunteered. He had left a successful job in the banking industry to plant churches. As he helped in this area, he realized how perfectly suited he was for this.

It's definitely not as important in man's eyes, but it is vital for the success of Wycliff Bible Translators... and he's making a difference behind the scenes. As he puts it, "It's not glamorous, nor does it look really good in a newsletter, but it's exactly what God created me to do." How refreshing to hear someone who has found and is fulfilling God's will for their lives!

It's sort of the same for us... we came over to reach every teen in Europe. We planted youth ministries, did evangelistic outreaches, mission trips, camps, seminars, conferences, street ministry, etc... all with and for teens.

And although we had success, we began to notice that we felt the most in our element when we were training leaders. As we began to do more and more training, we saw the huge need for someone to come alongside European leaders and coach/mentor them. And we began to recognize the shift in the grace on our lives... away from the actual youth ministry and more into leadership development. It's not as sensational as doing all the street ministry, but it's just as important... and it's exactly what we were put on this earth to do. what Jesus did when He walked the earth. He spent most of His time training His disciples so they could change the world!