Archive for the 'Last Letter' Category

Published by Mark Morris on 07 Dec 2013

A Life Laid Down (From World Magazine)

I have linked below the World Magazine article on Ronnie Smith’s death today in Benghazi.  I have also attached John Piper’s article on the topic.

LIBYAAn American teacher killed in Benghazi strived to ‘treasure Christ above all things’

Posted Dec. 6, 2013, 11:46 a.m.

Hours after assailants gunned down American teacher Ronnie Smith during his morning jog near the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday, grieving friends on opposite sides of the globe remembered Smith, 33, as a devoted teacher, family man, and Christian.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Smith’s murder, but Islamist militants had called for the kidnapping of U.S. citizens in Libya in October. Hospital officials said the teacher had been shot multiple times. Read More

John Piper writes the following poignant message about Ronnie.

When We Send a Person to His Death

by John Piper | December 6, 2013

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media.

One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya.

Read The Entire Article

Published by Mark Morris on 20 Oct 2013

Do We Believe The Gospel?

Akbar does.

It is Eid (Muslim holiday) around the world. Everyone makes lots of visits to neighbors. One of the attractions of Islam is the strong sense of community and brotherhood. The hospitality extended during Eid just adds to the sense of oneness.

On one of those Eid visits, the Imam (Muslim leader) and his family made a visit to Akbar’s home. While visiting, in Akbar’s home, the Imam noticed a Bible and a Christian movie, The Jesus Film. The Imam immediately declared the materials unclean and unsuitable to have in the home. He stirred up a big argument.

If you were in one of the most dangerous places on earth, surrounded by staunch Muslims and the Bible and all that it represents was declared unclean and unsuitable, what would you do?

With much thought and prayer Akbar declared, I believe in Jesus. I am a follow of Jesus the Messiah. He had never made that statement out loud. He had been seeking God and studying the Bible and learning about Christ. But when trapped and cornered, Akbar recognized the authenticity of God’s Word and acknowledged the gospel as his own belief.

The question – do we believe the gospel? Do you believe the gospel enough to stand and declare in the most hostile environment, “I Believe in Jesus?”

Pray for Akbar and his wife:

– Pray that she we trust Jesus and stand with Akbar as the Imam will now begin pressing Akbar’s wife’s family to force a divorce.

– Pray for Akbar’s parents and brothers to be supportive of Akbar.

– Pray for safety and a place to sleep as Akbar will likely be forced from his village.

– Pray for Akbar’s continued boldness.

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 Magilicuty on 15 Jul 2013

Eternal Value

Eternal Value

by John M

More than one country in South East Asia has been left broken by war, but my TCK (Third Culture Kid) friend James had a unique encounter in one of those challenging nations. Thousands of children have been displaced here and each one plods along daily, merely trying to survive.

As a teenager James traveled to this remote, war-torn, mountainous village to help with a sports camp for the children. Many of the children were war-orphans. James and his Christ-centered team leaders went to the village with the desire to serve and create a relationship with the villagers – hopefully offering hope and encouragement. Even in the beautiful rolling mountains, the reminder of war sat on the adjacent hill in the form of an army base.

James’ job was to lead the soccer camp for these war orphans. He wanted to be a blessing to a people who had so little in life. James wanted to demonstrate God’s love to the people of the village.

To his surprise, James realized that his ‘elementary class’ was actually made up of 18-23 year-olds, many of them older than him. His new friends spoke little or no English. In spite of the language barrier, James demonstrated love through his service to these orphans.

What really stood out to James was the happiness of the villagers. By our standards, the young men should have been miserable. These guys had few possessions and no financial security, but they seemed happy.

As James shared his story with me I was reminded that we get trapped in worldly possessions, titles, jobs, plans and concerns for financial security. Every now and then it’s nice to get a reminder that the trappings of this world are really not important. They are certainly not eternal. These orphans, who should have been bitter and hurt were actually happy simply to be playing soccer with James. Even with the daily reminders of war just across the valley in the military camp, these orphans seemed content.

The story of Jame’s new friends challenges us believers who have been given the greatest gift, eternal life through Jesus. Regardless of our eternal blessings we seek happiness in material things. Our joy should be found in pursuing Christ not stuff.

The happiness of the Orphans breaks my heart, because I know that without Jesus it is an empty happiness. Our responsibility, therefore as followers of Christ is to show God’s love and share Christ with those who don’t know him.

James’ volunteer trip had a big impact on him. He realized that loving and serving these villagers affected them. Along with the immediate impact of being there, James was moved to make a spiritual decision in his own life. James had never been baptized.

God used this trip to lead him follow Christ into believers baptism in a local fellowship.  James’ trip also magnified God’s pull to take God’s love to those who have not seen or received Him.

Has there been a time in your life in which you have been reminded of what brings true joy?

Southeast Asia

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:26

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2

Published by Mark Morris on 15 Sep 2011

Radical Dinner With David Platt Oct 5

If you are in the Atlanta area or you are attending Catalyst Labs, consider this opportunity. Last Letter and IMB South Asia are hosting a $10 Radical Dinner with David Platt in Duluth, GA on Oct 5. The dinner is not about the food. In fact, the dinner itself will be beans and rice, a sacrifice so that proceeds will benefit One Hope Center for rescued prostitutes. One Hope is a project of IMB South Asia and Last Letter. David will share his own experiences in South Asia.

Consider bringing a used smart phone to donate. The phone will be loaded with the Jesus Film and training materials to spread the message of Christ in South Asia.

As a special benefit Last Letter is offering  a discounted Last Letter rate (use the code LL) for Catalyst Labs and Catalyst! LL reduced rates for Catalyst are only $249 per person (regularly $319). Register for Catalyst Labs at a reduced rate of $129 by using rate code LL or by phone at 888.334.6569.

For the Hopeless

Mark Morris
mark@thelastletter.org
Last Letter with IMB S. Asia

Published by Mark Morris on 15 Aug 2011

Missionary Kid & Cancer – Eternal Friendship

This week I was learned about AsiaStories, which introduced me to some great stories, one of which was an article about  a missionary friend whose child died of leukemia.  Trevor’s short life in Japan pressed a deep reflection of Christ into the hearts of friends and his community.  Since my wife Cindy suffers from an “incurable” cancer in the same family as leukemia, the story hits close to home.  I read this article with tears and with reassurance that God is Good and Faithful.

Get your Kleenex and read about God’s grace and goodness through the life of Trevor, a child of missionaries to Japan.

Missionary kid relationship yields fruit

By Marsha Woods

Posted Aug 08, 2011

Makoto Sato looked at me fearfully as he took off his shoes and stepped up into my house. My six-year-old son Trevor had met this boy at Sunday school and invited him home to play. From the look on his face, Makoto probably believed that I ate small children.

Trevor hurried Makoto into my sons’ shared room, pushing his little brother Nathan out the door. Usually I was against secrets behind closed doors, especially if it excluded little brothers, but I didn’t want to frighten Makoto any further by exercising any authority.

So began a lifelong friendship between my son and Makoto in the country we served as missionaries, Japan. Once it was established that I didn’t plan to eat him, Makoto relaxed and was soon sleeping over at the house frequently.

After a fun-filled Saturday of war games, reading manga (cartoons), watching TV, and eating every snack they could find, Sunday would arrive. The four nakamas (best buds), Trevor, Makoto, Jun, and Katsuya, would meander their way several blocks to Sunday school, arriving mostly on time and only occasionally forgetting to show up at all.

read more

Published by Mark Morris on 21 Oct 2010

Sweet Aroma – Last Letter

The following article is from MReport, providing daily updates from CapeTown’s Lausanne Congress.  Tom Little wrote his last letter in the form of a devotional in a journal that was found splattered in his own blood. His last devotional he shared with his team on that fateful day was about presenting ourselves to Him and His work, spreading the sweet aroma of Jesus in the hard places.  So, how are you spreading Jesus’ sweet aroma?

CAPE TOWN.  From MReport

I heard an unbelievably moving testimony on Wednesday at the Lausanne Congress.
Libby Little, the speaker, had been widowed for less than three months. Her husband, Dr. Tom Little, was pulled out of his car and murdered in Afghanistan on August 5. She calmly stood before 4,000 participants and another 1,000 volunteers and guests at Cape Town 2010 and told us, “Go spread the aroma of Christ in hard places.”
Dr. Little was one of 10 human aid workers killed in the Nuristan Province. The optometrist was on his fifth trip to the area, leading a team of nine other human aid workers who were compelled by Christ’s love to serve the Afghanistan people. Little had asked for permission to enter the area on his first trip, but had gone on subsequent trips at the invitation of the local people.
The Littles had raised their family in Afghanistan. On his final journey, he was only able to place one-minute calls to his wife. His last message to her before crossing a river into the area was, “We’ll call you from the other side. I love you.”

A blood stained notebook was recovered from Dr. Little’s body and presented to Libby. It contained what she believes to be notes from a devotional that he presented to the team less than one week before his death. She feels certain that he spoke that day on spreading the aroma of Christ. One of the scriptures he referenced was 2 Corinthians 2:15, “For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
“If Tom were here today,” she told the gathering, “I think he would say that in these hard to reach places, grace has to be seen, has to be felt.”

Published by Mark Morris on 18 Aug 2010

What Are You Risking?

Check out the video to the right of this post or linked here. This little vignette gives the readers digest version of a trip I took into some “high risk” mountains and valleys in the heart of the Central Asia.

On a recent trip to that part of the world I met with a follower of Christ Jesus who came to faith from a Muslim background.  I asked him about the “risk” of living for Jesus in the midst of violent opposition. He described his own harrowing experience of being stripped naked before fifty or more people and subsequently tortured for his faith in front of a crowd of people.

As he described the experience he shared, “Risk?  There is no risk.  Our problem is not risk, it is fear.  We pile one layer of fear upon another and upon another. Fear upon fear upon fear upon fear.”

He explained, “We have nothing to fear and there is no risk because all that man can do is advance our journey to our Savior.”

Published by Mark Morris on 14 Apr 2010

21 Yr Old Student Missionary Lays Down Life Serving

21 Year Old Jeremiah Johnson

Hands On missionary dies in motorcycle accident

4/12/2010

By IMB Staff

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)—A 21-year-old student missionary with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) was killed April 12 in a motorcycle accident in Mozambique, located in southeastern Africa.

Jeremiah Johnson, a member of Royal Palms Baptist Church in Phoenix, Ariz., and driver of the motorcycle, was riding with an interpreter (name withheld for security reasons) when the accident happened. Reports from overseas personnel say Johnson was killed instantly in the accident and his passenger was injured. Details on the interpreter’s condition and how the crash happened were not available at press time.

“Our hearts are broken,” said Charles Lord, pastor of Royal Palms. “We’re very proud of Jeremiah. God had been working in his life … he was serving the Lord to reach people who were unreached with the Gospel.”

Johnson was working with the IMB’s Hands On initiative among an unreached people group. The program enables college students to work on the mission field for a semester. Johnson was a student at Glendale Community College in Glendale, Ariz.

Johnson is the son of Diana and David Johnson. David is director of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Arizona campus. Jeremiah also is survived by sisters, Rachel and Talitha; and brother, Merritt.

Lord described Johnson as courageous and willing to go wherever God was calling him to serve.

“We’re really going to miss him,” said the pastor.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Published by Mark Morris on 15 Jul 2009

Your Last Letter: have you written it?

Something new is coming in October.  We need your help – write your last letter in 400 words or less.

It’s actually an ancient tradition of soldiers and missionaries who as they board a ship, write their family and friends a letter that they think might be their final communication!  The resurrection of this ancient tradition is to inspire a new generation to think and pray through the reason for their life – and possibly the sacrifice of their life for a cause greater than themselves.

Last letter is a call for a revolutionary lifestyle inspired by individuals willing to offer every breath to fulfill the passionate call of Christ.

The vision is for a movement of believers taking up their crosses daily and following Jesus… into the slums of India, into HIV hospices of Africa, into the child labor underworld in the far East, into waterless villages, into garbage-dump cities, into lands ruled by extremist regimes, into the least reached villages, and into the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in our cities.  It is about bringing awareness and justice.

The pillars of this movement are found in four words:

Sacrifice…Action…Justice…Jesus.

Jesus’ personal sacrifice transformed judgment into mercy.
Jesus’ revolutionary action disrupted history and unlocked eternity.
Jesus’ death and rising brought the hope of justice for all.
In Jesus, God became flesh. He died for you and me.

The movement has the gall to ask the question –What are you willing to die for?

The Purpose is to fuel a revolution of Christians who are passionately offended by hopelessness and poverty. Where there is hunger, we will feed, where there is no water, we will dig, where there is disease, we will bring medication.  And why? Because Jesus asked all of us — every believer — to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick, in His name.  Through His example of sacrifice and death, we die to ourselves that He might live in and through us in this world.

The Narrative of Last Letter comes from an epoch long forgotten, when obedient Christians packed up their worldly belongings into a pine casket and sailed the oceans to a distant land.  Before it’s ultimate use, the constantly visible casket served as a daily seal of the missionaries’ commitment to take up Jesus’ cross among the poor and the lost.

Before their ships would sail, these Christian servants would scribble with tears and ink their last letters.  These letters were penned in Bibles and on weathered parchment in a desperate attempt to explain their divine compulsion to give up everything and everyone to serve the lost and the hurting. At her final farewell, surrounded by parents and siblings, a twenty-year-old single lady would hand her father her last letter, she would tearfully embrace, board the ship and sail off never to return.

Karen Watson was a young missionary, recently murdered in Iraq because of her bold service to the Lord.  At her funeral, Karen’s last letter was read by her pastor.
ancient_notebook_2560x1600Dear Pastor,
You should only be opening this letter in the event of my death.When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations. I wasn’t called to a place; I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory my reward, His glory my reward…

The missionary heart:
Cares more than some think is wise
Risks more than some think is safe
Dreams more than some think is practical
Expects more than some think is possible

I was called not to comfort or to success but to obedience…
There is no Joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him. I love you and my church family.
In His care,
Salaam, Karen

The Passion of Last Letter is to recapture the dedication of those who have sacrificed everything to bring justice in Jesus’ name.

The Last Letter Journey is a faith revolution.  It’s a call to action. Our intent is that we seek Jesus, and contemplate His love for the desperate, the lost and the least reached.

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” – Jesus

Send us your last letter today.