Unlocking the Riches

You can’t look at the Kingdom of God by the standards of the world. The world’s currency is financial, but what is the currency of the Kingdom of God?

In Ephesians Chapter 4, Paul explains why God gives gifts to his people: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13)

In this verse it’s clear that Christ is the standard, and that the act of building up the body of Christ “to grow up in every way into him”(verse 15) is the work of the Kingdom.

So, what if we looked at Christ-likeness as a currency? What if we viewed wealth not based on economic prosperity, but spiritual wealth – Biblical knowledge, godly character, the fruit of the Spirit, and most importantly, faith?

If we viewed the world this way, we’d see many poor people as rich, and many rich people as poor. I think we’d also see the value of the local churches that exist in countries that are typically seen as mission fields. If we could see these riches, and would invest them, much like the world invests its currency, then missionaries wouldn’t so often try to “go it alone” and operate independently of local churches.

Why? Because they would recognize that their investments would go much further if they pooled their spiritual resources with those of the local believers.
Christ’s example of making disciples involved spending an incredible amount of time with his disciples over a three year period, teaching them by word and deed, and in every way possible, to be like him. In the same way he invested in them, they in turn invested in others to pass on this incredible Christ-likeness they had inherited from their Master.

Christ has invested in individuals and congregations around MENA for hundreds of years, leaving incredible riches distributed in pockets of mature believers all over the region. These people know the scriptures, have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and are living out their faith in their own cultural context. But how to we unlock these riches to be invested in those who don’t yet know Christ throughout MENA?

Please join us in prayer that God would move in these preexisting Christian communities in MENA, to mobilize a whole new generation of His witnesses to MENA and the ends of the earth!

Graffiti

Report: Day of Prayer and Fasting

Ordained Prayer – An Opportunity to Pray in God’s Will
We thank God for what he did through the day of prayer and fasting on Thursday, November 7th.
We believe that this was his idea, and here’s why:

A couple weeks ago, an American pastor contacted me and asked me to join them for a night of prayer. He told me that his church had felt specifically called to pray for Beirut.

Last week, I was meeting via Skype with the Beirut center team, and the center director said “when are you going to call for a day of prayer and fasting for us?” I said “well, pick a day,” and he said “how about Thursday, November 7th?”

I looked at my calendar and was amazed that it was the same day the church had invited me to pray with them for Beirut. We rejoiced together and concluded that God must have orchestrated this.

So I emailed about 1,500 people, many of whom prayed and fasted along with our staff and partners around the world.

I believe that when God leads us to pray specifically, this is an indication that he wants us to turn our eyes toward the place where he’s about to do something special.

He wants to bless us by letting us experience his great works. His call to prayer is the “before” picture he shows us, so that we can be amazed by the “after” results.

The “before” is an opportunity for faith, and the “after” is an opportunity to glorify him and tell everyone what he’s done!

Are you ready to see what he’s about to do?

MENA – The Need for Discipleship

MENA - The Need for Discipleship

Islam poses one of the greatest challenges to the Church of Jesus Christ in this generation. Yet, more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 30 years than in the previous 14 centuries combined. God is working wondrous miracles among Muslims, drawing hundreds of thousands to saving faith in Christ. But the need is vast, and the global Church has remained largely unengaged with disciple-making among unreached Muslims.

Furthermore, when Muslims come to Christ, Christians often don’t know what to do with them, and fail to properly disciple them. Unfortunately, there has been a “revolving door” phenomenon among converts from Islam. According to the parable of the four soils, many are like the rocky soil or the thorny soil – though they accept the Word with joy, they either have no roots to sustain them, or become choked by the cares of this world. Prayerful, intentional, culturally appropriate, and solidly biblical discipleship is the only solution to this problem.

Discipleship of Christians from Muslim Backgrounds (CMBs) is the most critical factor for the future growth of the Church among Muslims. What witness will this generation of converts have among Muslims, and what legacy will they leave? Will they be shining examples of Christ-like character? Will they be knowledgeable of the Bible, love their enemies, and be honest in business? How will they treat their spouses and children? Will they be well-equipped to share the Gospel, disciple others, and pastor churches with grace, wisdom, and godliness? The answers to these questions depend on whether the global Church succeeds in discipling them.

Help with the Fish

Luke 5:7 – “So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”
Praise God that we are in this very situation! For years we have dreamed of, and prayed for such a fruitful time, and it’s amazing to see this actually happen.

We are now calling local churches to help us disciple the numerous new believers, because our staff cannot keep up with the demand. This is such a wonderful problem, and as a side-effect, it’s making partnership with other churches much easier. Because so many people are coming to Christ in our area, we are able to bless local churches by providing ample opportunities for them to adopt and disciple these numerous new believers.

Join us in prayer that this spirit of partnership would continue to grow, so that the Church in MENA might rise up to the challenge of discipling this next generation of converts, before they become more numerous than the believers from Christian backgrounds – it looks like this could happen in our generation!

New Roles for Western Workers

Today in the MENA region, there are believers in just about every area – at least in small numbers. Whereas in the past missionaries were truly pioneers in areas devoid of Christian witness, they now can work beside national believers.

But will they?

If you didn’t know already, you might be surprised to learn that many foreign workers are actually trained not to work with the national Church. This is largely because, in the Middle East, partnerships between missionaries and nationals have been notoriously problematic.

To over-generalize, Westerners criticize the nationals for not being open to reaching people from other religions and for being hard-headed and competitive, and nationals criticize the Westerners of being culturally naïve, overzealous, and uncompromising on their strategies and philosophies.

On top of that, in the last 30 years, increasing numbers of Western workers have been indoctrinated in extreme forms of contextualization, like the Insider Movement, and regard the church as westernized and irrelevant – unsuitable to reach the unchurched masses.

I pray that there would be transformation on both sides – that Western workers would begin to see the incredible potential in the Christians of MENA, and learn to become influential mobilizers and vision-casters among them. I also pray that the Arab churches would take up the Great Commission as their own, and learn to work with Western workers, and help them understand the culture and how to work in the region more effectively.

I dream of mixed teams of nationals and Western workers, pooling their resources and expertise, and unlocking each other’s potential to glorify the name of Christ in MENA. This would be a beautiful fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer In John 17:

“that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Monastery

Why does God allow such devastation?

“Why does God allow such devastation?”

“I’ve fasted. I’ve prayed. Why do we still suffer like this?”

“My city has been ruined. My family still lives there. Bombs fall daily. I can’t sleep; I worry. Where is this God of love?”

These questions come from the mouths, and the hearts, of many young people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by the war and conflict in this region in the past ten years.

But I cannot answer. I cannot tell any of my friends why these things have happened – are happening.

I can only tell them Who.

I cannot tell my friend why bombs dropped on her home. But I can tell her Who, of the One who also lost home and country.

I can tell her of the One who also lived as a refugee, whose family fled under the cover of night; who lived under unjust occupation. The One rejected by his family and friends for the sake of truth; Who was tortured unjustly, falsely accused, and sentenced to death despite His innocence.

I cannot tell my friends why. I can only tell them Who. The One who knows.

Sheep Stealing

Release the Church