Archive for the 'W.O.R.L.D. Christian Living' Category

Published by Mark Morris on 16 Sep 2014

David Platt – Last Sunday at Brook Hills

By a divinely orchestrated “accident,” I found myself at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham this past Sunday morning.

At the beginning of the service, I was delighted to witness our new 36-year-old IMB president baptize his son Caleb. When Platt came to Brook Hills 8 years ago, it was just David and Heather. Now there are six Platts, two of whom were adopted – including Caleb, from Kazakstan. The emotional baptism was followed by David Platt’s last sermon as pastor of the church. The mutual affection between pastor and parish was palatable. The service concluded with the Brook Hills faith family commissioning David as President of Southern Baptists’ International Mission Board.

Back to the sermon – Platt began his message openly pondering – What do I preach today – on this last day as your pastor? Appropriately God led him to 1 Corinthians 15.
David began reading from the first verse.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you.

Platt explained that in this chapter, Paul addressed three reasons to hold fast to the gospel with radical faith. It was not surprising that Platt’s final message and his passion for the author of that message would not vary at all from the messages that have resounded from Platt over the past eight years.

Platt explained: Casual, comfortable Christianity is not Christianity at all. This gospel changes the way we live.

And as he has done so often, Platt reminded the audience of the daunting global reality that stands in stark contrast from the gospel of light:

  • a billion people in desperate spiritual need.
  • 20,000 children will die of hunger-related disease –  today!
  • 4-5 billion people who “right now are on a road to an everlasting hell.”
  • a couple of those billion “have never, ever heard the gospel.”

Platt’s voice raised and quivered as he challenged the audience: We Don’t Have Time To Play Games!

We have a mission that warrants radical urgency and my prayer (Brook Hills) is that you won’t forget that.

Don’t shrink back. Hold fast to this gospel with radical faith.

Some may say that David Platt is too young. Others might complain that he has never lived on an international mission field. How could he lead the International Mission Board?

So why is the most significant global force of missionaries finding such excitement at David’s appointment to the IMB? What is it about David that rivets thousands of young Christians, let alone young Southern Baptists?

A few of David’s characteristics were apparent on Sunday.

  • He is real and approachable. Few refer to David as Dr. David Platt, Brother Platt, Pastor Platt. Most just call him, “David” or simply “Platt.”
  • David’s every thought and fiber overflow with the gospel message that demands radical faith. You know where David is heading with his messages. Expect to hear the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
  • David’s is neither a mindless nor a passionless message. In this Sunday’s message, like many of his books and sermons, Platt addressed a deeply theological and controversial issue – the reality of hell, the imminence of death, the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection and the consequences of choices made in this life.

Platt unfolded his theological argument asserting that the resurrection is real—

But if Jesus did not rise from the dead . . .

Then our faith is futile and we stand guilty of sin.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead .  .  .

Then our message is false and our mission is destructive.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead .  .  .

Then those who have died in Christ have been dammed before God.

And If Jesus did not rise from the dead .  .  .

Then radical, sacrificial, risk-taking faith is to be pitied in this world.

Obviously that is not where Platt’s message ended. His exegesis of the entire chapter led to his final, emotional charge to his beloved Brook Hills family.

I call you, Church at Brook Hills, to lead this church in such a way that it only makes sense that Christ has risen from the dead. Eight years ago, in His grace, God led me to Brook Hills. But in these last days, the King has made it clear that I have another battle to fight.

Regardless, let us hold fast to this gospel.

Platt concluded his message reading 1 Cor 15:58

. . . be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

In response, the entire congregation joined together in a mass commissioning prayer for the Platt family.

Jim Shaddix, Pastor for Teaching and Training, challenged the Platts as follows.

“Time is short and the task is tall but God has equipped you. You have often quoted C.T. Studd who said, ‘I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.’

David, now is your chance to go run a rescue shop and bring Southern Baptists with you.”

As is their weekly practice, David Platt, now the president of the IMB, concluded the service by leading the congregation in the recitation of the Great Commission. This was certainly a fitting end to one era and an appropriate beginning for the next.

David’s messages in this series are available at

Published by Mark Morris on 01 Oct 2013

Pray for Iran

A historic phone call between the leaders of two nations set in motion a flurry of speculation, fears and concerns. So as followers of Christ, what do we do?

We pray, as suggested in the following prayer guide for Iran from

Today’s Prayer

PERSIANS OF IRAN – (PURR-zhuns) Iranians love Jesus, because Islam considers Him to be a good man and a prophet. Since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, there has been an increasing dissatisfaction and a longing for “something more.” People are hungry for the Gospel, and many are coming to faith in Christ. Please pray that God’s kingdom will continue to be established in Iran. Ask God to use this nation to spread the Good News, rather than the beliefs of Shia Islam, to its neighboring nations that follow Sunni Islam. read more

Published by Magilicuty on 25 Jul 2013

Something Worth Dying For

Growing up I was surrounded by many godly influences and some great examples of taking up the cross daily. One of the biggest influences in my life has been, and continues to be my father, who chose to leave what was familiar to him and go to share Jesus with those who had not heard. I watched him live a lifestyle that honors and glorifies God. It’s not surprising that my Dad would challenge me to do the same.

My dad has given me two challenges; first to seek joy, and secondly to find something worth dying for and then live for that. Dad helped me to realize that as a child of God I have access to the greatest gift in the world. Why would I ever settle for less by pursuing empty fulfillment in shallow places?

I don’t know of anything that’s worth dying for that isn’t about bringing glory to God. If I am able to fulfill this challenge, then in the end, if I die young or live to be a hundred, people will see that I lived a life worth living.

Our friend Samuel is a great example of living with joy and being willing to die for Christ’s purposes. As a young man Sam became a follower of Jesus in the midst of a nation that opposes Christianity. Because of his decision to follow Christ, Samuel’s friends reported him in to the authorities and had him arrested.

While Samuel was in prison he experienced extreme persecution including physical and sexual abuse because of his faith in Jesus. Samuels imprisonment was a horrible situation, but because of the way that he handled it and used it to glorify God, it became an encouragement and further challenge as I was able to see the example set by Sam of having found something worth dying for and living for it in great hardship. Through severe persecution Samuel grew stronger in his faith in Jesus when he could have easily denied Christ in order to get a quick release from prison.

After several months Samuel was released and was whisked out of the country to safety. While in exile he spent a lot of time in prayer, trying to work through what he should do. In the end Samuel decided that he should go back to his home country to share the good news of Jesus with his people. Samuel knew full well that he could be killed or imprisoned once again. Our friend decided that taking the Gospel back home was worth even his life. So he made a choice to go back for the honor and glory of God.

Samuel found something worth dying for and decided to live his life for that. Will you commit your life to something worth dying for?

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV)

Published by Mark Morris on 06 Feb 2011

NY Times Article @ 2 Prisoners of Faith in Afghanistan

The link at the end of this post takes you to a NY Times article about the imprisonment of two Afghan followers of Jesus. Both remain imprisoned solely for Faith in Jesus Christ.

In Feb 5, 2011’s NY Times, RAY RIVERA published a straightforward article about the predicament of Afghanistan’s dependence upon the West for it’s own freedom from the oppression of the Taliban, while remaining ambiguous on religious freedom for Afghan citizens.  Currently at least two Afghan Christians remain in prison with no ability to receive representation. These two men are followers of Jesus Christ, despite the fact that their government oppresses and imprisons those who adopt faith in Jesus as God and Savior of all who repent of their own sins and believe in Him, confessing Jesus as Savior and Lord. Afghans view Jesus as a prophet, but not as the one True God, in whom eternal forgiveness can be found.

The dilemma for the two Afghan prisoners of faith, Sayed Mussa and Shoaib Mosawi is that they waste away in Afghan prisons, refusing to denounce their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, in spite of what seems to be a guaranteed death sentence for leaving Islam. Apparently these two men would be freed if they denounced their faith.  Afghanistan has signed the International Human Rights Agreement guaranteeing religious freedom, yet their civil law seems to conflict with their equally potent Sharia (religious) law. Sharia, according to some experts demands death for these two “apostates” or anyone who leaves Islam for a faith other than the one handed down to them from their parents. So, in fact, religious freedom is being put to the test in Afghanistan.  These two men did NOT ask for this situation. They didn’t appeal to the government for the right to be Christians. Both were simply practicing their faith when the government stepped in.

Mussa recently wrote a letter in which he declared his willingness to die for his faith. So what do we as Christians do? Particularly, those of us who live in a land that provides us the opportunity to change our faith as many times as we wish? I will not attempt to play God for you by offering an answer to that question for you. I’ll speak for myself.

I must pray for these two men and others like them, as if they were my own brothers, my own children, or my earthly father. These are OUR family of faith. As God hurts for them, I must hurt for them.

I must reflect on my own faith?  Do I really believe? Do I actually follow Jesus to the point that He asks? Am I truly obedient in my freedom?  I have no government inflicted prison walls closing in on my faith. So am I exercising the freedom gifted to me by God?  So how far should I travel, to what extent must I restrict my own leisure in order to extend God’s gift to others who don’t know faith in Christ? Lord help me to walk by faith, truly living as a follower of Jesus, truly sharing my faith with others. Help me to extend water to the thirsty, and freedom to the imprisoned. Lord help me to live obediently for you, by you, and with you. Lord forgive me for failing to do so.

Is there anything else that I can do for Mussa and Mosawi? That’s a difficult question and I’m looking for guidance on the appropriate answer. Too much attention may complicate matters for these two men. Yet doing nothing seems insensitive and uncaring, even inhumane.  I await the advice of those wiser than me who are closer to the situation.

I did chose to publish this post, because a circulation (NY Times) much broader than mine, has gone public about the information. I prayerfully pass it on to the readers of

Read the Article in NY Times

Published by Mark Morris on 19 Sep 2010

Brigada Today – Great Resource

Are you interested in a hodge-podge of helpful resources for Missions?  Over the years I’ve picked up numerous helpful tools through Doug Lucas’ periodic newsletter. You can check it out on line as well at the link below.  There is a summary at the top, enabling you to skip to whatever section appeals to you.   Each section tends to provide you the links to get more information from that particular ministry or opportunity.  Definitely a worthy newsletter if you want to stay up-to-date in missions tools and resources.  See the latest Brigada Today below.

2010/07/11 — Brigada Today
Compiled by Doug Lucas, Team Expansion, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Brigada Today editions are dated sequentially; we will catch up.
(It might seem odd, but it’s our organizational culture. 🙂 )
(See your subscription information at the end under “Closing Stuff.”)
Click to to read this issue & more on the web.

In this issue…
1) Anti-Trafficking Education
2) Open Letter To Mission Leaders And Staff
3) Sending New Missionaries
4) Plan Now for Child Safety Network in Asia, November 2010
5) Operation World Spanish (2005) is still available!
6) Special ministry Bible printing
7) Get an Updated King James Version
8) We Give Thanks
9) Helping Missionaries Grow: Readings in Mental Health and Missions
10) Broaden your Member Care Knowledge at Member Caravan
1) 100 Best Books for Books for Humanitarians
12) Community Health Evangelism training
13) Fan the Embers into full Flame at Brigada
14) The BackPage: How Will We Internationalize
15) Closing Stuff
1) Anti-Trafficking Education —
Hands that Heal is a workshop to train caregivers of trafficking survivors
October 28-30. The workshop, presented by World Hope International and the
Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST), is based on a
comprehensive, Christian curriculum to train global caregivers who are
frontline providers of aftercare for women, children and men who have been
trafficked. Hands that Heal is a tool to inform and inspire churches and
organizations to engage in the battle against the injustice of human
trafficking and to help equip them to provide transformational care to
survivors. Cost for the seminar is $145. To register, please send your name,
email address, and a check for $145 made out to Central Wesleyan Church to:
Attn: Linda, Central Wesleyan Church, 446 W 40th St., Holland, MI 49423. For
more information write to or check out

(Thanks to Hands that Heal for going beyond the call of duty by helping

To comment or inquire on this item, just browse to…

2) Open Letter To Mission Leaders And Staff —
Internet Evangelism Day and the Guide Network have produced an open letter
in advance of Lausanne, encouraging missions to consider the growing
opportunities to integrate web and mobile phone outreach into their
ministries. It’s on the web at…

Comment or inquire about this item at…
3) Sending New Missionaries —
Here’s a download of 11 practical resources to involve the whole church in
getting new appointees ready and resourced for effective field service. It
provides creative ideas, worksheets, and educational resources to help
churches collaborate with missions agencies to walk with new workers through
the crucial period of time between appointment and departure for field
ministry. There is also an auxiliary package of resources to help churches
set up a simple mentoring program for prospective missionaries. The
materials can be customized by an individual church or by a mission agency
for all of their churches. Order at:

Comment or inquire about this item at…
4) Plan Now for Child Safety Network in Asia, November 2010 —
In November, the Child Safety & Protection Network (CS&PN) Seminar will be
held in Asia with family friends.. For more information on CS&PN please

You can register for the Network Seminar either as a stand-alone one day
preconference for missions organizations representatives or as one of your
days of attendance at ICEC.

To register for the CS&PN preconference and/or the entire ICEC conference

For more information regarding the 1 day preconference and/or the entire
ICEC conference click

Comment or inquire about this item at…
5) Operation World Spanish (2005) is still available! —
This translation is from the latest version, revised in 2005. (A team has
just begun on translating the new 2010 edition, but it will probably not be
out until late 2011.) You can get copies of this 2005 edition for the actual
cost of printing/shipping to you. But you must order a full case of 20. The
price is $4 per book or $80 per case, including shipping in the continental

Comment or inquire about this item at…
6) Special ministry Bible printing —
Bible Foundation has developed a special printing project for ministries
wanting quality Bibles for low cost. The Updated King James Version (UKJV)
has the archaic words updated. The type font is 10 point on bright white,
acid free Bible paper. To get the low price of $2.00 each plus pay for
shipping, ministries must purchase full pallet loads at a time in the USA.
Find details at or email

Comment or inquire about this item at…

7) Get an Updated King James Version —
The Updated King James Version (UKJV) is the Old King James Bible with the
archaic words updated. It was placed in the public domain and can be seen
and downloaded at

Lots to learn there. It is also available via …

in the phenomenally free Bible software program, The SWORD Project.

Comment or inquire about this item at…
8) We Give Thanks —
We’re grateful to Hands that Heal for contributing $100 to Brigada this past
week. Learn more about their work at…

May God bless their gift and the giver as well.

Comment or inquire about this item at…
9) Helping Missionaries Grow: Readings in Mental Health and Missions —
First published in 1988, this book consolidated and made available many of
the key articles on supporting mission workers. It is now available on the
Member Caravan web site in written (pdf) and audio (mp3) formats. Its four
parts include Preparation, Families, Adjustment, and Special Issues. See the
item at…

Comment or inquire about this item at…
10) Broaden your Member Care Knowledge at Member Caravan —
I was surprised at the depth of the selection at the Member Caravan site.
You can read as well as listen to articles and chapters like, Crucial
Factors in Building Good Teams, Teaching Power Encounter, Characteristics of
a Healthy Mission System, Missionary Family Restoration, Decreasing Fatigue
and Illness in Field Work, Missionary Relationships, Proactive Care of
Missionary Personnel, and Culture Sensitive Counseling. Also available at
Member Caravan: Missionary Care (1992, 25 articles) and links to
translations of Doing Member Care Well (2002, 50 articles). Find it all at

Comment or inquire about this item at…
11) 100 Best Books for Books for Humanitarians —
Online Classes has put together a list of excellent books to help understand
humanitarian endeavors. Each book has a short description and a link for
ordering it.

(Note that this URL will probably wrap. If you can’t get it to work by
copying and reassembling it in your browser, just go to the online version
of this edition of Brigada today, where we’ll make sure the link is active.)

Here are some of the categories used to organize the books along with a
sample book.

Fiction and Memoirs-When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (Vietnam)
Inspiration and Education-The Devil Came on Horseback (Darfur)
Understanding Humanitarianism-Careers for Good Samaritans
Social Entrepreneurship-How to Change the World
Fundraising-Storytelling for Grantseekers
Member Care-(Nothing listed yet!)

Comment or inquire about this item at…
12) Community Health Evangelism training —
Ever hear of CHE? “TOT?” ATMlive? Ever hear of TOT? Now you can know of
certainty! 🙂 Take TOT1 in Colorado Springs, Oct. 11-16. Limited seating is
available. For details, browse to…

Pass this on to a friend you think might be interested.

Comment or inquire about this item at…
13) Fan the Embers into full Flame at Brigada —
Just click on one of the “Donor” links at the top of this page. Both are
safe, the one with PayPal and the other with Neither requires
you to open an account with anyone … and neither ever spams you. We can
even set up a regular once-a-month automatic withdraw from your checking
account or major credit card. Set it up once and rest easily, knowing that
you’re regularly helping get Brigada on the way to the nations. Or, if you
prefer, just send an old-fashioned check payable to Team Expansion to: Team
Expansion (Brigada), 11327 Jefferson Trace Blvd., Louisville, KY 40291.
(Team Expansion is a 501(c)3 incorporation so for USA citizens, your checks
made out to Team Expansion are tax-deductible.) A gift of any size would
help, whether monthly or one-time. If you know someone else who might like
to help, just hit reply and tell us about him/her/them. Thank you for your
help in fueling the fire of Brigada!

Comment or inquire about this item at…
14) The BackPage: How Will We Internationalize —
Seems like more and more, we’re hearing from multiple churches, agencies,
teachers, and individual missionaries about the need to involve locals
(nationals) in each of our ministries. I have more questions than answers on
these topics. Can you help flesh out some responses, even if they’re just
one line at a time? Just use the “Comment” feature after this item to give
your opinion please.

a) How will churches and agencies in the USA (or in another homelands, for
that matter) design/acquire the infrastructure to effectively select the
workers that God is seeking?

b) What will be the most effective model for training this new wave of
workers, home or foreign?

c) How will we finally effectively deal with the salary disparity between
[typically] American Whites, and locals.

d) What level of accountability will we desire/expect/require? Must the
local person fill out a form, turn in receipts, or just write an email?

e) What are the most potentially dangerous rough edges you can imagine in
these “blended” teams? Where can they break down?

Please answer these and other questions in the comments that follow. Let’s
get to the bottom of this:

15) Closing Stuff —
Subscription Information — Important! Please don’t just hit “reply”.
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Comment or inquire about this item at…
2010/07/11 — Brigada Today

Published by Mark Morris on 09 Jul 2010

I recently heard about an online community/tool that a friend has developed.
It’s called

They’ve just recently created a free gospel presentation iPhone Application.

My316 is a step-by-step audio visual presentation of the gospel, using a verse that nearly every Christian has memorized. That’s right, John 3:16.  You can quote it in your sleep.

How often to you quote it and actually think about what your saying?  When we quote it, we’re usually like kids sprinting to the cookie jar.  We say it as fast as we can to see who can say it the fastest. is dedicated to helping you share the Good News using social media or just over a cup of coffee.  This new app takes it to the mobile device level.

Check out My316.

Published by Cindy Morris on 13 May 2010

My 4-Day Canadian Dream Came True

My 4-Day Canadian Dream Came True:

A Short Story

By Cindy Morris

Each day counts, especially when you are living with a chronic, terminal illness.  My dream to go spend a few days with our very dear friends (“Gary” and “Dot”) on their new mission assignment came true.  The four days fell perfectly in the off period between chemo treatments, and God gave me just enough strength, health and warm sunshine for the journey. Mark and I have been friends with Gary and Dot for 20 years now; they came to join our team serving a refugee community in Central Asia, in 1991.  The undeniable love of Christ, shared freely between us and in relation to needy Afghans, still rings so true in their lives and home.

Driving last Saturday from Michigan, past Lake Huron and on into Canada, brought us to the doorstep of the townhouse of our old friends. As usual Gary and Dot had prayerfully and carefully chosen their neighborhood, a strategic spot where immigrants from around the world locate, to live in the West but in a truly multicultural setting.  Just across the main street, immediately adjacent to this complex, stands a dilapidated high-rise, home to newly arrived refugees–Afghan and the like. We were out on that street soon after arrival in need of a pharmacy; on that one walk Dot introduced me to two sets of Afghan lady friends also making their way to and from the shops nearby.  The next “step up” for these refugees is across the way where our friends live.  Each three-story dwelling there, one right next to the other, seemed to spill over with single moms, boyfriends and kids; dogs, bikes and trash, needs and hurts. Dot steps next door each morning at 7:30 a.m. to pray for and brush through 9-year-old Emily’s hair, since her mother’s cancer treatment has left her right arm limp. No telling what this little ministry will mean in this girl’s life.

After Dot served us a delicious, spicy Asian meal that Saturday night, we sat with them and with a continual flow of green tea, reminiscing and hearing about their new community—the House of Prayer ministry, an effective Afghan radio outreach and what to expect for worship in their home the next day.

Late Sunday morning found a roomful of people seated on “toshak” floor pillows and a couch or two.  We sang together as teenager “Jim” led us on his guitar while his dad kept rhythm on a beloved Afghan drum.  Gary had told the house church ahead of time to feel free to share an “offering,” a praise of God’s work in our lives the week prior.  The Hispanic family, Bev (a lifelong Canadian) and Faida (an Afghan convert from Islam) shared openly; Dot sat next to the latter quietly translating for her. Each testimony stemmed from words of the Bible that had spoken into their situations and brought clarity.  Gary’s interactive lesson from the book of Luke stretched our understanding of the Kingdom of God and transposed easily into this neighborhood:  Love your enemies. Do good to them. Lend to those in need without expecting back.

After prayer, Gary asked one of the children to present this week’s “GeTKO” (Getting To Know Others) question:  a random and fun way to sweeten the fellowship. That Sunday: “Where is your favorite place to sit and why?”  Young and old responded with thought and laughter.  Both tea prior, and a homemade soup afterwards were served. Everyone pitched in to help clean up.  This house church really looks/behaves like the one described in the book of Acts.

Late afternoon on Sunday we made our way across town to the home of a wonderful Afghan family. I could not hold back the tears upon hearing the way Jesus entered the life of the mom, who as a very young girl was sent away from Kabul to Russia alone, in order to escape war, famine and obtain an education.  Hers is only one story, but what a gift from God for me to finally again sip Afghan “chai” around such a testimony. Her vision of Jesus robed in white calling her to faith somehow resonates with me on a deeper level, now that cancer has brought me close to death and closer to Jesus.

The final full day in Canada started with my early elliptical workout in the basement, followed by a heart-to-heart mentoring session between Dot and her co-worker Cathy. I was kindly asked to sit in. Transparent sharing and praying, especially in regard to “controlling” our husbands, touched a place we all needed to evaluate.  Such is authentic discipleship. To be potentially great wives, moms and great ministers demands frequent discussion and tons of prayer; that, too, I have learned.

One exceptional event occurred on Monday afternoon. While the men went off to prayer walk, we girls walked in the other direction to the community center for the weekly ladies’ ethnic meeting. This time the topic was “belly dancing” (see photo); the guest speaker shared how the origin of the dance was actually not erotic but rather a beautiful expression of color, clanging, and swaying to Egyptian song. I was surprised to see most of the dozen women from Korea, Pakistan, Iraq, North Africa and North America, without hesitation, dress up and try some moves to the music.  The endless smiles and spontaneous laughter from the group made it clear to me that this center is meeting not only practical but also deep emotional needs of women who live far from home. Now I can pray with insight for Dot and the other Christians involved, as they seek to be “salt and light” at the center on Monday afternoons.

Before Jim got home from school, the four of us adults took a nice drive north to visit the Mennonite community. The horse-drawn carriages, maple syrup museum and quilt shop are sealed in my memory as good reminders of simple living and the joy of hard work, as well as of the peace and quiet that takes over when electricity does not!  🙂

That night we treated our hosts to a yummy Middle Eastern meal nearby. That’s when Gary asked his own GeTKO question:  “So, if you could become something other than what you are today, what would it be?” Our answers included: a physical trainer, a singer, a journalist, a dancer, a doctor or an intelligence agent. Can you tell that we have hit mid-life crisis?

By the time sunny Tuesday morning came, Gary and Dot and Mark and I decided to walk again, this time toward the corner at the light for lunch at “Timmy’s”  (short for Tim Horton’s–the well known Canadian doughnut and coffee shop). Keenly aware that we had only a few hours left together, the deeper issues arose. How sweet to be “family” and freely share honestly of those most personal concerns.  And on top of that, we four have so much fun!

The time flew.  We returned home arm in arm, closed our bags, hugged and headed to the airport, out of breath and deeply satisfied.

Published by Mark Morris on 30 Mar 2010

Global Medical Alliance- Discount Before April 1

Today I interviewed Josie Gabdon, an IMB medical strategist in Asia.  She shared with me about an important Global Medical Alliance meeting scheduled for July 8-11 at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, GA.  It is important to note that April 1 is the deadline for the discounted rate.

This is a medical gathering of international allied health professionals who minister in international communities around the world.  Most are connected to the International Mission Board.  Many of these health professional provide entry opportunities for the Gospel in places that church planters cannot enter.  Josie shared that indigenous communities around the world view health care providers as people who care about them.  Too often church planters are viewed as people who come only to convert them from Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam.  Whether they are veterinarians or pharmacists or therapists, medical professionals gain easy entry into countries, cities, and villages whose doors are otherwise closed.

Josie explained that water and hygiene are two of the biggest problems around the world.  Both of these problems can be addressed through preventive measures that churches and missionaries can be involved in. By addressing water and hygiene needs, we can communicate Christ clearly as we provide care.

Jesus said, Go, Heal the Sick and Tell the people that the kingdom of God is at hand.  That is precisely what we do as health professionals overseas.  We are instruments of physical healing and we are able to announce spiritual healing in that the Kingdom has already come through Jesus.  When a person’s physical needs go unmet, they struggle to hear the message of Christ’s spiritual healing.

So Josie, what is unique about this Global Medical Alliance meeting?

Perhaps the timing is what is particularly unique.  In the past there has been a perception that the International Mission Board does not do health work.  Word spread that we only do church planting.   At the same time there has been a shift toward targeted and highly strategic partnerships that get us as health workers more directly to church planting.

I think one of the turning points for us is the book Preach and Heal by Charles Fielding.  Dr. Fielding is a medical doctor/ church planter who has articulated a revolution in the IMB’s medical strategy, particularly in some highly restricted parts of the world.  Dr. Rankin was deeply moved by Dr. Fielding’s book and as a result, the president of the IMB is encouraging a renewed emphasis on a Preach and Heal type of strategy around the world.  This is a new day in medical missions for the International Mission Board.

Josie, why is this meeting so important?

This is important because medical personnel from around the world will come together to share strategies, training and opportunities for global ministry.  There will be workers from urban and rural settings, mud clinics and urban hospitals, community developers and veterinarians.  All will be gathered to share ways that local churches and individuals can get involved around the world.

At the IMB there is a new emphasis on the eternal impact of medical missions. On traditional medical mission trips, doctors have focused on how many people were treated and how many teeth were pulled, even how many times we shared some form of the gospel through a translator.  Too ofter we have been left with the question, “What did we really accomplish?”  What we will be sharing during this meeting is lessons we have learned about how to take our concern for health and caring for the whole person and sharing Christ more effectively as healers contributing to church planting.  By working strategically we are seeing churches started as people hear the Gospel and having their physical needs addressed.

Who should come to the meeting.

Any health professionals. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, public health workers, even pastors and mission pastors who have medical personnel in their churches. In addition medical/dental students, pharmacists, veterinarians, lab technicians, and more. Anyone who would like to be used of God internationally.

What will happen at the meeting?

There will be round table group discussions for people with particular expertise. Much of the time will include large group gatherings with speakers, training sessions, panel discussions, and cross-pollination from different fields of expertise. There will be specific training related to the ABC’s of Health Strategy.  Regardless of where God may be leading you to work, this meeting is for you.
Sign up today or tomorrow in order to save significantly.

Published by Mark Morris on 27 Feb 2010

Scott Brewer’s Reflections on GCR Report

I want to introduce Scott Brewer.  He is Pastor of Meadowbrook Church in Redmond, WA and is also President of the Northwest Baptist Convention representing SBC work in the North West.  Scott attended the GCR Task Force Report and gives these reflections.  I’m particularly interested to hear the response of this church planter/pastor/ convention leader from a “pioneer” state. Such a pioneer perspective will not be heard as loudly or as often as that of a pastor or leader from a Southern State.  It’s worth listening.

Reflections on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report
Scott Brewer, February 26, 2009

Because of my role during this year with the Northwest Baptist Convention I was invited to attend the February 22, 2010 meeting of the SBC Executive Committee. During the evening plenary session the GCRTF gave their report. My reflections are in essence my process of thinking “out loud”. I haven’t drawn any conclusions yet. The report was described as “preliminary” and therefore may see some change. A final report is to be released to the entire convention May 3, 2010. A vote on the recommendations is expected at the annual meeting of the SBC June 15-16, 2010.

The report was given in 6 “Components” and I’ll respond to each.

Component 1
I understood this to be a call to Southern Baptists to being a more focused missional people. As such we would agree that the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be presented to every person in the world and that we must be about the work of making disciples. In this component I heard the call to a new day of including the next generation of leaders, building trust and unity across the convention and elevating the importance of the local church over the convention.

No one can disagree with Component 1. I did not hear anything that would indicate how we would address this. As with subsequent components, the questions “how will we address this” and “who will be accountable for addressing this” was not clear.

Component 2

I heard this component to be a call to reinvent the North American Mission Board. At the heart of it I heard the call for “empowering” NAMB in the works of starting churches and strengthening churches (in evangelism and discipleship) by decentralizing NAMB out of Atlanta and deploying personnel around the country. This decentralization would happen by creating 7 regions.

This component includes an empowering of NAMB financially by doing away with “cooperative agreements” with state conventions. As I understand it, with respect to the NWBC, we would no longer receive CP dollars from NAMB for church planting and church strengthening (which is a large portion of the NWBC budget). Rather NAMB would use those funds for implementing their strategies in each of the newly formed 7 regions. Obviously this raises questions about the future of state conventions that exist outside of the South. I’m not sure how a large southern state convention would be impacted by this but our convention would be radically impacted.

One stated goal was to see a redistribution of CP funds that make up the NAMB budget so that areas of America that are outside of the South would receive more funding for church planting and strengthening. The funding suggestion though is in the context for greater empowerment of NAMB’s involvement in these regions with the stated goals of seeing better efficiency and accountability of the funds.

A final piece to this component was to see NAMB develop THE “Leadership Center of America” for training and developing church planters and church leaders. This overlaps with the assignment of Lifeway and therefore will involve some clarification of who will do what.

Component 3
This component suggests that the International Mission Board must be released to accomplish the mission of reaching un-reached people groups “without regard to any geographical limitations”. I heard this to be a call for IMB to not only be intentional about penetrating every people group outside of America (even so-called closed countries) but also those same non-American people groups within the USA.  This component seeks to leverage that IMB expertise upon US soil. I think this has been something needed for some time. How this will be coordinated with a more empowered NAMB remains to be seen.

Component 4
The recommendation for this component is to move the responsibility for stewardship emphasis and promotion away from the SBC Executive Committee and to the state conventions.  The EC has held this responsibility since 1997 when Lifeway said that they could not effectively carry out this assignment. In short, I simply see this recommendation as a way to add some justification to the later recommendation for moving 1% of the CP money that the EC receives to IMB.  How state conventions that are outside the south and that will already face significant financial “hits” from these recommendations can add the stewardship assignment remains to be seen.

Stewardship emphasis and promotion is very significant since the average Southern Baptist contributes only 2.56% of their income. The mission of the church is seriously hampered by this poor stewardship.

Component 5
In short this component seemed to me to be a redefining of how Southern Baptist giving is considered and categorized. While affirming the importance of the Cooperative Program, the recommendation is to identify a larger category of missions giving called “Great Commission Giving”. Therefore, a church’s giving through the Cooperative Program as well as other designated giving for state conventions and local associations would all be considered Great Commission Giving. I think this also includes a local church’s mission projects and trips.

The implications are not clear to me but here’s what occurs to me. For years there have been churches that have chosen to redirect their giving around the CP and directly give to IMB or NAMB or seminaries, etc. because of the dissatisfaction with either what their state convention was doing or with the amount of CP dollars their state convention kept before passing it on to the national level.  A result of that practice was that those churches looked like poor contributors to missions because their CP numbers were low. It seems to me that being able to count a church’s CP contributions and designated contributions as the new benchmark of Great Commission Giving better legitimizes those churches with low CP numbers.

I think one of the desires of the GCRTF was to address the shortfall of national dollars available for the work of missions and IMB especially. There has been an unsuccessful call for several years now for state conventions to keep fewer CP dollars and pass on a greater portion. This seems to me to be a way to get around that. I could be way off base here.

Component 6
The GCRTF recommends that the CP breakdown of funds increases the IMB share by 1% so that it is now 51% and decreases the Executive Committee share by 1% so that it is now 2.4%.  I agree that IMB should receive more of the CP pie. I could agree to 55% but from which area to take those funds I don’t know.

Closing Thoughts:
1. It seems to me that the call for being a more focused missional, unified people is right but must contain some idea about how to get there. Trust is a “relational thing” and relationships demand time and proximity with each other. This also demands humility and a willingness to give up power. Only a Spirit stirred repentance and recommitment to Christ’s mission can do this.

2. Something radical does need to happen with NAMB. Decentralizing and regionalizing makes some sense. What impact will this have on advancing the reorganization and new direction of the NWBC? There has already been so much change for our staff I’m concerned about morale and the capacity to focus on today and implement newly developed strategic plans.

3. How will all of the GCRTF recommendations play with the average pastor and church? I consider myself to be aware of and involved in convention life in an above average way and at the end of the day we only have so much time for convention matters.

4. What’s the answer to the “so what?” question? If all of the GCRTF recommendations move forward, what difference ultimately will that mean to 40,000+ SBC churches? It will impact church plants because they have limited autonomy and have to be responsive to convention initiatives or practices in order to receive their funding.   Established churches do not.

Published by Cindy Morris on 17 Nov 2009

Links In The Chain

A study shows that Muslims typically encounter Christian influence (a person, a Bible truth, an answered prayer, a dream, a need met) 36 or more times before choosing Christ.  Which of those encounters might you and I make?  How can we be effective “links in the chain?”

Ministry to Muslims is not new.  Recognizing the sacrificial service of generations of Christian witnesses and the great grace of God, we approach humbly.  It is always and altogether His work before it is ours.[i]

1. Nourish your own walk with God (Jeremiah 15:16).  Am I currently a student of God’s Word? Feed on a paragraph of Truth daily; the book of John offers a good starting point.
2. Do I take time to commune with my loving Father often in prayer?  Pause and Pray (Ephesians 3:14-21). Does my prayer life include worship, confession, asking God for my needs and others’? Do I pray regularly for lost people near and far,[ii] that they might find freedom from sin and new life in Jesus?
3. Am I living for things that count for eternity? Self-evaluate  (Psalm 139:23-24).  Surrender and realign your will with His (Philippians 2:1-13). “Trust God and do the next thing.”[iii]
4. Nurture your particular, God-given skills/gifts (II Tim 1:6,7).
5. Ask God to cause your life to intersect with Muslims.  Place yourself in the path of Muslims—in class, at the gym, at work, etc.  Ask the Lord for wisdom and ways to befriend and help Muslims; woman to woman, man to man.  Pray for increased compassion and courage (II Corinthians 2:14-17).
6. Learn from seasoned, humble “veterans” of Muslim evangelism and ministry (II Timothy 2:1-3).  Regularly read about Islam.
7. Be intentional about relating to your Muslim friend.  Make that call.  Write that card.  Go to that location.  Bring a few others along. Take advantage of their holidays and yours.[iv]
8. Make regular visits:

Practical Tips:
Dress modestly. Take shoes off at the door.  Bring family photos (No beach pictures!) and small gifts of food, etc.  Don’t be in a rush.  Expect to sip tea and stay an hour. Formality is key; learn greetings and appropriate gestures.  Women concentrate on women and men with men.  Find common interests, issues.  Ask questions that lend themselves to cultural and spiritual conversations; be a listening learner. Don’t be afraid of silence. Seek to understand current needs.  Find simple ways to help and be helped.  Eat the food. Have fun! Relax.

Witness: Over time, share the content of the gospel.  Be patient and sensitive to the nudging of the Spirit. Pray for spiritual hunger, along with opportunities to share Truth. Tell Bible stories.[v] Paint word pictures.[vi] Revere holy books; don’t leave the Bible or Koran on the floor.  Counter the reputation that Western Christians are immoral; become known for godliness.  Be real and give credit to God for His work in you.   Testify of answered prayer.  Don’t be shy to ask to pray out loud for the food or for spoken needs; Muslims live out faith in public.  Prayer is a teaching tool.  Pray “in Jesus, the Messiah’s name.” Ask to show Christian films together and discuss. Wait for the day when your friend(s) places allegiance in Jesus. Remember that when a Muslim chooses Christ, he/she will lose family ties.  Be family to your new sister(s)/brother(s).  You will never be the same.

[i] Adeney, Miriam. Daughters of Islam. Intervarsity:  2002, pages 9-11.
[ii] and
[iii] Chambers, Oswald.  My Utmost for His Highest.
[iv] Crawford, Trudie. Lifting the Veil. Apples of Gold:  1997, pages 25-30.
[v] Crawford, Trudie. Lifting the Veil. Apples of Gold:  1997, pages 1-25.
[vi] Adeney, Miriam. Daughters of Islam. Intervarsity:  2002, pages 150-170.

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