I absolutely love my role and position at the mission organization I serve with. I don’t mean position as in my job title, but position in the sense of opportunity to impact thousands of lives around the world with the Word of God and the love of God in action. It is exciting to see how far even so little can go and what difference it makes. I am so grateful for those who are partners together to make it all possible! (Check out our new 2016 Annual Report to see impact!)
However, there is also a persistent and nagging anguish, despair, desire, burden, passion and cry within me to do more. Not to do more in the sense of being driven to prove anything, but more because there are so many open doors, opportunities and people in need that we could help…yet the reality is that ministry costs money, and it requires more partners. Even Jesus’ ministry/travel was mostly funded by a group of wealthy women (Luke 8:1-3). ServeNow is also not a household name as we have only been in existence for 3 ½ years!
But there is such a sense of urgency within me as I look at the world and specifically at some of the countries where we currently serve. First of all, every day there seems to be either a shooting, bombing, earthquake, flooding or some sort of tragedy. Secondly, I think of the opportunities we have to advance the Gospel around the world; this is truly a historic window in time, a crucial moment.
Nepal is one example; we weren’t sure if our ministry was going to be shut down, and if our staff might be arrested for the sake of the Gospel. Yet, it’s incredible to think that just 60 years ago there was only 1 church and 29 known believers in the entire country. Now, there is at least 1 church in all the 75 districts, and there are over 1 million believers! The Church in Nepal is growing rapidly, and this is truly a historic time. I am so excited to be part of this movement and of all the special projects that are currently taking place. One of these projects will result in 20% of all the Nepalese children being reached with the Gospel! At same time, it is heartbreaking to realize that we are not able to do more, and that so many people are still in desperate need even 1 ½ year after the devastating earthquake.
Ukraine is another example; the conflict between Eastern Ukraine and Russia has resulted in over 2 million refugees and internally displaced people. It has torn apart families; there are countless widows and fatherless children. Sadly, the world seems to almost have “forgotten” the crisis in Ukraine in the midst of other crises in the world, such as the Middle East. Yet I have such a burning desire to see ServeNow help serve more refugees and those affected by the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. In fact, we are putting together a plan to provide stuffed animals (lion, elephant, dogs, lambs) that come with a solar powered audio Bible in its belly! What a gift this could be for hundreds of children! Imagine the comfort it would bring, the hope it would provide and the impact it would have! This is something every church could get involved with!
In January, I will take a team (still room for a few more people!) from the U.S. to Ukraine with the goal to give hundreds of refugee families, orphans, disabled children and elderly people Christmas presents. For many, this will be the first time ever. Possibly, we could even use the “Bible stuffed animals” as part of that effort. What an opportunity!
Speaking of refugees that does bring to mind all the refugees from the Middle East, an ongoing crises which has dominated the news and captured hearts. While so much of this has become political, and while many westerners only express fear and anxiety over safety concerns, thousands upon thousands of refugees suffer. What is most needed is not fear, but a heart of compassion to reach out and serve. As I write this, we have some of our Scripture materials translated in Arabic; these materials are being read by refugees in Europe and in the Middle East. So many are actually turning to the Lord! We cannot isolate ourselves from this refugee “problem”, this is an opportunity for the Church to shine the light and show the love of Jesus!
At the same time, I am concerned that we are too hesitant and fearful, just like Ananias in Acts chapter 9 when the Lord told him to go and lay his hands on a man named Saul who was a well-known and feared religious jihadist prior to encountering Jesus in a supernatural way. Or, like Esther, who was initially afraid to use her influence to try to save her own people; she only thought about the risk of speaking up and taking action rather than the risk of not speaking up or taking action! Or like Peter, in Acts chapter 10, who was told to go and share the Gospel with Cornelius, a Gentile Roman soldier.
Sadly, many people lump all Muslims into the “potential terrorist” category. They stereotype, keep a fearful distance, not realizing that many of them are just like Cornelius…they are devout, God-fearing, they give generously and pray regularly. Even so, they still need someone who will share the Good News of the Gospel with them, simply because being “good” and “religious” isn’t good enough. The greatest, universal need of all people is the forgiveness of sins that is found in Jesus Christ who is the Savior of the world for those who will believe! Peter initially hesitated in going to the home of a “Gentile”, but this was exactly where God was calling him to go! Ananias, Esther and Peter initially hesitated and were even fearful, but eventually they did obey and go. They saw the salvation of the Lord and the blessing that comes for those who will trust and obey!
In regard to Muslims, I believe with all my heart that God is actually answering the prayers that so many have prayed for years; that the Gospel will penetrate countries that have always been hard to reach, while, at the same time, new life is being breathed into European churches through Muslim immigrants who are coming to the Lord. Who could have ever thought that this would be the way the Lord would answer those prayers…and at the same time! Yet, the church has not fully awakened to this reality and to this window of opportunity, which is right in front of us! I also believe with all my heart that when the time comes for many to return to their countries, those who have come to the Lord and who have been discipled, will become the evangelists and missionaries to their own people, in their own countries! Everything the enemy intends for harm, God intends for good, and he works all things together for good. But, will we rise to the occasion and join God where he is working? Will we be bold and courageous, realizing that we are here for such a time as this? Will we step out in faith, rather than shrink back in fear?
And then there is India; did you know that India has the 8th largest Christian population in the world? However, it also has the most unreached people groups in the world! In fact, 88% of the population is still unreached! Consequently, we are drawing up big plans for our work in India for the sake of the Gospel. But it will not happen without partners who catch the vision and who want to be part of an unfolding prophecy, rather than just reading about or hearing about those who God is using for his Kingdom purposes!
I could go on with dreams and visions we have for countries in Africa, South America, countries like Burma and more. We have endless possibilities and opportunities to impact millions of people with the Word of God and the love of God. My passionate prayer and plea is for the Lord to connect us with more people and partners, to turn possibilities and opportunities into a reality! Maybe you are one of those people who God is calling. I plead with you to respond. Now is truly the time! Let us not procrastinate, but ServeNow!
I encourage you to reach out to me; let’s talk together, let’s dream together, let’s do something that truly makes an impact in people’s lives and demonstrates the reality of the goodness and grace of God that this world so desperately needs. Connect me with your pastor or mission committee of your church. Arrange to host a “home meeting” where I could come and share what God is doing around the world and suggest ways that people can be involved with. There is more we could do together than you might think…but it just takes a little thought, a lot of prayer and small faith that is acted on and activated!
In most cases, I believe our vision is too limited and our passion too small. God’s heart and vision is for all the world…why then do we limit ours? Jesus came as Savior of all the world…why then do we limit who we will share with, who we go to or who we serve? Jesus said that we would be his witnesses, not just in our neighborhoods; but in all the world! Start where you are…but heaven forbid we stop there!
Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus and serve those most in need. Let’s be the vessels through which God’s hope is both shared and provided, in word and deed. If the Holy Spirit, who is referred to by Jesus in John 14 as the helper, comforter and advocate, truly resides in you and me, then let that be the reality people experience when they encounter us! God has chosen to use you and me; he put us here on this earth, at this time in human history for such a time as this!