Christmas is approaching. It’s a season when Christians all over the world love to share about their faith. Unfortunately, that also means that it’s a time when persecution increases.
I live in what is labelled a ‘closed’ or ‘creative access’ country. Basically that means the church here faces persecution, and while it’s definitely not as bad as it once was, it’s been a constant theme for me for the past 20 years. People are chased by the police, forced to hide or disguise themselves. People are beaten, their homes and fields are burnt, their families reject them, and they are thrown out of their villages. These are real, painful things. I know what it means to be scared, and I certainly don’t want to minimize it. Thinking back on some of my own experiences still makes me shudder. BUT, it’s not the whole story. Those snapshots are true. But I think too often we don’t tell the whole story, so we end up painting a picture of persecution that leaves God out.
Here are a few more snapshots of persecution.
This week’s blog is from “Flourish”, a new resource that Reconciled World launched over the summer. “Flourish” is a blog that aims to encourage, challenge, resource and support you in your work and personal life. We believe that thriving and fruitful leaders are the product of wholistically healthy lifestyles. We would love for you to read along with us or share this resource with others who may find it helpful. You can subscribe to Flourish, and read past blogs here.
Feeling Tired and Worn Out? Identifying and avoiding burnout
What is your greatest challenge in ministry?
I am sure you could find many ways to answer this question, but one common answer is: exhaustion.
There’s a funny saying we pass around at our office: “People build bridges.” When we face an obstacle that seems too big, a challenge too overwhelming, “people build bridges” reminds us that people are capable of extraordinary things . . .
But we always meant it as a metaphor.
Then this summer, I met some folks who really do build bridges—and no, they’re not engineers, not construction crews, and they don’t have dump-trucks and cranes. Rather, they’re rural farmers, everyday people facing tremendous obstacles, from persecuted churches in impoverished villages.
And their work has made a tremendous impact.
We often think about the relationship between the Apostle Paul and the New Testament churches as a one-way street. Paul’s impact on the churches is obvious, as his letters instruct them about God’s truths. But we don’t think the other way round, about how the churches impacted Paul’s life and ministry.
Recently, I had an opportunity to study Philippians. As I studied the core message and the context of this letter, I realized how much Paul’s success in ministry was dependent on the churches that he wrote to. I can see that these churches impacted his ministry greatly. That’s why, in all his letters, he commended them for such great support. In Philippians, he called that a partnership in the gospel. What does a true partnership look like? There are two elements— material support and prayer—and they go both ways.
When we think about community transformation in developing countries, what comes to mind is often NGOs, CBOs, INGOs and government work. This belief is strongly rooted in the Christian community as well. In countries like Nepal, India and Bangladesh, where Christianity is considered a minority group, we don’t have much significant influence with our community. We are heavily influenced by the idea that spiritual ministry only reaches as far as the four corners of the church building.
When we introduce TCT to church pastors and leaders, they often think we (RW) are bringing some kind of community transformation program. As they go through our training, they are surprised that we will not provide any money for doing community projects (what we call Acts of Love).
We teach churches and individuals to use what God has given them to serve others.
It’s super easy to read that sentence and move on. Honestly, I’ve read it–I’ve written it–about a hundred times. Can we just take a moment with it, though?
Reconciled World works with people so poor that they forage in the jungle for food several months a year. People whose children are dying from preventable causes. People who went to school until, maybe, third grade. We work with people with autism, who have always been treated like they have nothing to contribute. With people scraping by in the slums of New Delhi–AIDS patients, drug addicts, rag pickers…
We teach them to use what God has given them to serve others.
This blog was originally posted on January 8, 2015.
Every year I seem to make the same new years resolution. It always has something to do with drawing closer to God. Basically doing better at John 15:4, “remaining” in him. This year is no different.
John 15:4: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
What does it mean to remain in God?
We love this blog, so we decide to repost it! If you’re looking for a great book to read this summer, this blog might inspire you to pick up the book Anything by Jennie Allen.
Everywhere we work, Reconciled World seeks to nurture truth and confront lies. We firmly believe that the lies of this world separate us from God, create poverty, feed injustice, and hold people in bondage. So we seek to identify those lies and then expose them to the light of truth. The result, by the power of God, is transformation.
The trouble is, our own lies are the hardest ones to identify. They are woven into our culture, our family, our life experiences… They feel like truth. Other people’s lies seem so obvious to us, while our own are slippery and shadowed.
“That is one ugly looking idol.” It was a place in the local market I rarely went. Mostly because I never had anything I needed to buy in that section of the market but also because I was kind of weirded out by what was hanging from the walls of the various booths. Llama fetuses, teeth and jaw bones of deceased animals, bizarre religious masks and wood carved idols with grotesque faces, horns and octopus like arms. But with a missions team visiting from the states, this area of the market was an intriguing place to walk and get a local flair for the highly “spiritual” culture of the indigenous peoples. While just walking in the place gave me the creeps I always found it fascinating that people felt so compelled to worship lifeless objects.
Psalms 115:2-8 gives a great picture into this reality:
A few weeks ago, I heard a sermon on Saul’s conversion to Paul in Acts 9:1-18; 22:4-16. While I was amazed by God’s power to transform a person like Saul and that no one is too far from God’s reach, I was struck by another person and his contribution in this story. What he did is something that I often overlook. But he played a rather significant role in God’s plan and indirectly impacted so many people.
You can probably guess who I am referring to as there are only two main people in this passage, Saul/Paul and Ananias. For sure, every Christian is inspired by Paul’s life and I am no exception. We are named and name our children after Paul but, sorry Paul, it’s not you this time. Now you know who I am talking about. Bravo! It’s Ananias. We don’t have much detail about Ananias’ life besides that he was a disciple in Damascus, a devout man according to the Law and well spoken of by all the Jews there (Acts 22:12). But one thing we know is that he was the first person to pray for Paul to receive Jesus.