Tag Archive: missions


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Lions’ Park Okotoks after the Sheep River peaked.

Southern Alberta is under water! 100 000 Calgarians displaced, High River is completely evacuated, and Canmore is being washed off the mountain! At work we are participating in a one year program with Alberta Health Services called In Roads which looks at addiction. This week we looked at resiliency which seems timely as Alberta has become, as in all disasters, a case study of this. The way people pull together is amazing and fascinating to watch. Two people who can’t stand each other now stand side by side to protect and save others. In this dark and broken world there are glimpses of light.

Prayer

In times like this people tend to post prayers for the disaster to stop or that prayer is a useless waste of time. Prayer is more than a petition for what we want, and it is more than something meaningless. Yes, we must pray for the miracle that the brokenness will cease, for the darkness to end, and that people will remain safe. Know that God can do those things and on the day of his return it will be once and for all, but also following Christ’s example we are to pray for strength and courage to get through. Pray that despite the horror of the situation the Father’s will may shine through.

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Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
 Matthew 6:9-10
 
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St. Peter’s Anglican Church Okotoks

Reality Check

The more we try to control our environment the more we fight to keep it under control. The Tower of Babel comes to mind and the reality that no matter what we build we are not the creator of all things. We are mere caretakers of this world and are not able to set the rules. We build walls yet are unable to stop the forces at work in our world. We are utterly dependent on God. I am reminded of the dependency on His provision that I felt living overseas. No matter where is the world we are, what we have, or how strong we are our efforts are not enough. The Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in High River yet the flow of the river can not be stopped or controlled.

Next Steps

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:15-19 ESV

For those not affected by the flood we must rise to lend a hand. In this time of human suffering we must unite together and support our fellow man, despite race, culture, or creed. We must not forget that once the flood waters recede and return to their former paths that there is still work to be done. Lives have been changed on every level, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual. We must support one another because that is the way God has designed us, together with His strength and work we can triumph over the darkness. We must show love!

As the sun sets on this day my prayer is that tomorrow may bring a new found peace, a new found joy, and a new understanding. May our lives be transformed by the creator of the universe, the redeemer of man.

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The Sheep River at sunset

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.
Psalms 69:1-3, 14-16, 29-36 ESV
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Impact Taiwan

As our Outreach team at OAC changes and grows so does our e-newsletter. This is a post for a  campaign released today written by Michele and her YWAM experience last summer.

link to newsletter

To Taiwan and Back

This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan on a summer mission trip. I enrolled in a performing arts summer discipleship training school with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) in Lakeside, Montana. The school was made up of fourteen musicians and nine dancers from all over the world; we all had a passion for God and a passion for music and dance. During our time in Montana we had one month to take classes in our field of study, music or dance, and we attended lectures learning about God and how to apply what we learned in the mission field. I was in the dance school, our team prepared by learning six dances that we would teach and perform on our four-week outreach to Taiwan.

The YWAM group reaching out in Taiwan

The YWAM group reaching out in Taiwan

Taiwan is a developed island nation in Asia. It has a population of 23 million people, and only one percent of the population are Christian. The most popular religions are Buddhist, Taoism, and Confucianism. Religion is often a frightening subject as it is associated with a dark spiritual realm. While walking down a busy market street it was common to see garbage cans on fire and shopkeepers tossing fake paper currency into the blaze. We learned that this is a religious practice based on fear and superstition where living family members are passing this money to their ancestors; a tradition that it is up to the living to provide for the dead. In Taiwan we partnered with the local YWAM office in the capital, Taipei. They had planned for our teams to have outdoor concerts at public venues, teach dance workshops at high schools, volunteer at VBS’s, share testimonies at coffee shops, and perform all over the city.

God did amazing things on our trip. During our last week in Taiwan we travelled to a college campus to minster at a weekend camp. We got to teach dance classes, perform, lead worship, and build relationships. During our last worship session we decided to have an altar call. At that altar call nearly two dozen people came forward for prayer. I had got to pray with a young lady who gave her life to Christ. For me this was the best part of the trip.

I am so thankful that God used our team in such amazing ways this summer I continue to hope and pray for the people of Taiwan.

winter fieldFarming is a major analogy in the bible. Seeding, growing, and harvesting. The harvest is what farming is all about. In the Church harvesting is seen as people responding to the Gospel and believing in the work Christ has done for us. In farming the harvest is what brings the food to the table. The harvest for the Church is what brings people to the great feast in heaven.

Where is the harvest?

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37, 38). This idea of harvest has been miss placed and misinterpreted in the Church today. Where was Jesus when he harvested? Where were the disciples? The Bible tells us clearly where the field is that needs to be harvested. We have many promises that working the field will bring a plentiful harvest. “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense” (Proverbs 12:11).

Where should we be if we are looking to be a worker in the plentiful harvest?

In the church?

Not all, but a majority of Christians today do not look at the harvest. Is the harvest meant to be an altar call at the end of a church service or some event that you brought a friend to? Today we, pulling the log out of my own eye, tend to be dependent on these alter calls and crusades to reach out dumping the harvest on our pastors and those brave enough to say that evangelism is one of their gifts, but is this what Jesus was meaning?

Seeker sensitive churches come at the expense of discipleship and in an effort to make the Gospel understandable we lose theological understanding. Instead of being driven by our understanding of who God is we become driven to just increase our numbers or serve physical worldly needs.

These are good things, but we have become reliant on the “church” to do all the harvesting instead of the way God has chosen to use us all and send us out into the field. “The  Lord  had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). God calls us into the field, so where is the field?

The Field!

The synagogue is not typically the scene of the harvest. We are called to action, to serve those around us, and as we go to make disciples. Interestingly Matthew 9:37-38 is sandwiched between Jesus being out in public and him sending his disciples out into the area villages. When he is talking about the harvest he is not in a church but in the world. He is where the sick are and he is among them seeking them out (Romans 3.11) and being the great healer. You look at the story of Zacchaeus and see a similar thing. “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy…  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1, 2, 10). Christ was there to seek and to save. He does not sit on the sidelines waiting for people to seek him out for he knows that they cannot. And if we call ourselves Christ’s disciples then we must follow him into the field.

We must be willing and able to share the Gospel with the people we meet Monday to Saturday, with the people we spend 40 hours a week with, the parents who we see every practice, the kids we play with at recess. The key is to be open about what you believe. Acknowledge the tragedies of this life, big and small, it all starts with the brokenness we all share.

Where are you?

The church is a great place to grow and can serve as a place to harvest, however the bible clearly calls us to get out into the world around us. We must leave our homes and seek out the sick. “Then Jesus came to them and said,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18, 19). While we are going are we harvesting?

So Abram went, as the  Lord  had told him; and Lot went with him… Genesis 12:4

I recently posted about a booklet called Why be Missionary? and found this video by the author, Dr. Arnold Cook, interesting.

The Global Vault

Dr. Arnold Cook – What Burns in My Heart Today

“I find myself still concerned about what I was concerned about most of my leadership days…” Find out what those concerns are in watching this video.

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According to the 2001 Canadian census Canada has 22,851,825 Christians. Our population was 29,639,035 which means that Canada is 77% Christian. It also means that we have a ratio of more than 3 Christians to every non-Christian in our country. In the world today there are 2.27 Billion Christians and 2.84 Billion unreached people. The Joshua Project defines unreached as:

 

From this overall ethnic people group list, a subset of unreached / least-reached peopleshas been identified based on the criteria of less than 2% Evangelical and less than 5%Christian Adherent. This subset helps focus attention on the unfinished task of the Great Commission. We desire that this list be used by mission agencies, denominiations, churches and missionaries to accelerate the Gospel’s advance into each of the least-reached people groups. Joshua Project has also developed a Progress Scale indicating a spectrum of reachedness rather than a simple on / off indicator.
 

Global Statistics

Peoples-by-Country Individuals
All People Groups 16,655 6.87 billion
Unreached People Groups 7,056 2.84 billion
% Unreached Peoples 42.4 % 41.3 %
10/40 Window Total 8,687 4.53 billion
10/40 Window Unreached 5,995 2.75 billion
10/40 Window % Unreached 69.0 % 60.8 %
  Count
Affinity Blocs 17
People Clusters 253
Peoples Groups (without reference to Countries) 9,989
Unreached Peoples Groups (without reference to Countries) 4,373
Countries 237
Languages 6,517

As a person who feels strongly called to reach out to all people in the world (Matthew 28.19-20) with the message of who God is and what he has done for us I don’t think we can just stay home and say “I am not called to global missions”. I know and understand that we all have different gifts and abilities which allow us to reach different people, however it seems that we have huddled up in a corner and are failing at reaching out to all the people groups in the world. John 3.17-18 says “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” A lost soul is a lost soul and the Good Shepherd will leave the 99 to find the 1, “it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (Matthew 18.14). We must reach out to both the lost here and over there, that is what we are all called to as followers of Christ.

Are we following Christ’s footsteps and looking for the lost?

http://www.joshuaproject.net/

I recently read  a small booklet called Why Be Missionary? written by Dr. Arnold Cook, retired president of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, Canada. It was a great 20 page read and was a reminder of why missions is in the name of the denomination I am a part of. Here are a few excerpts:

Why Be Missionary?

At our origin in North America we were known as “The Christian and Missionary Alliance.” As autonomous churches were established around the world, each assumed its distinctive name. Many have not adopted the equivalent to “The Christian and Missionary Alliance,” and even in North America the name is frequently shortened to “the Alliance Church.”
Although we may lament the loss of these terms which depict our historical distinctives, our energies must be directed toward the core values of being “Christian” first and “missionary” second. I will first enunciate ten reasons for being missionary, then five ways “missions” dies and finally three ways God restores missions in our churches.

Missions is at the centre of our faith. Our God is a God that does not wait around for people to seek him, but He actively goes out to seek the lost (Luke 19.10). God wants to use his people in blessing all people,  “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12.3). Dr. Cook goes on to list 10 reasons for being Missionary. I believe that the below point speaks directly to our typical mentality today within the church. It examines the plank in our own eye (Matthew 7.1-6) and calls us out to exam what it means to pick up our crosses daily (Luke 9.23).

 7. Only Missions Saves the Church from Self-Destruction

Who is enemy number one of the Church? Islam? Buddhism? Secular humanism? Communism? It is true that historically these have been enemies from without. 
But our greatest enemy always has been within-“self.” The unconquered “self” destroys more Christians and churches than Communism ever did.

Click for a history of the C&MA

Much of the giving in a “non-missionary” church is self-motivated. We give to build our churches which serve our families. We give toward the pastor’s support, which is biblical, but he also is serving our family. Only giving to the cause of missions to reach the powerless and lost people of the world becomes “true giving.”

The destructive nature of “self” really grasps the idea of what Christ meant with “…‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12.31). If we, Christians in the Church, conquer “self” and give our time, money, and abilities to spreading the gift of grace we have been given what difference will we see in this world? The Gospel would reach every corner of the globe.Click here for a history of the C&MA

We would see the fulfillment of the great commission (Matthew 28) and the Glory of God will shine brighter than the sun (Revelations 21.23)!

Well, we finally said goodbye to a couple who have made quite an impression on me. It wasn’t so much a goodbye as just “until we meet again”. They are off to the other side of the world and are true examples of what it means to follow Jesus. This is not because they are moving overseas, but because they are willing to go where he sends them. They had a ministry, friends, family, and were in a pretty good position to live out a comfortable life. I find it encouraging and inspiring to see them step into something different and unknown and to step knowing that God will provide whatever they need for his will to be fulfilled through them.

For this reason I am excited to see how God is going to use them to continue encouraging us and inspiring the body through our partnership to reach into our community as well as around the globe (Learn more about our Seamless Link Covenant). OAC has maintained our relationship with them and send them with our blessing and affirmation. They will be witnesses to what the Holy Spirit is doing (Acts 1.8) and my prayer is that the distance will not separate us but keep us focused on what we all are called to as the body of believers. Through our Seamless Link we will have many opportunities to participate in their ministry as well as having them participate in our ministry here so that we bridge the gap that exists today between the North American church and the rest of the world.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24 NIV)

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Final Goodbyes on the way to the airport.

 

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3.17-18

We have a need within our current system, Alberta is the richest province in Canada yet we show no pity to those who have needs. 73 000 children live in poverty within my province. This brings it a lot closer to home than news broadcasts or NGO commercials about some 3rd world country. We must let our actions show love for those beside us.

 

 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1.27

 

Quick Facts off the Action to End Poverty in Alberta website

Alberta is one of three provinces without a poverty reduction strategy

Alberta could spend less on poverty if the government had a strategy. By less, we mean billions.
How much exactly, you wonder?
It costs between $7.1billion-$9.5 billion every year to perpetuate poverty in Alberta.
With a strategy in place, Alberta could lift 148,000 families and 73,000 children out of poverty.

An economic case for a poverty strategy

This report offers solutions and analyzes how effective our strategies have been thus far:

  • Are we basing our efforts on ideology or proven strategies?
  • Are we using a balanced combination of poverty alleviation and poverty prevention approaches?
  • Are we succumbing to the myth that poverty is primarily about individual choices rather than the systems we create in our societies?
  • What is our track record

Read the report to find out. Download full report (PDF, 3MB)?

via wikipedia.org

Maybe it is just me but over the last few years it seems like “today’s idols” has become a bit a trend topic. This discussion typically looks at the trends of culture and what pulls us away from God outside the church, but what about inside the church? What about the programs? Or even philosophies of ministry? Could something intended to bring us closer to God really be a distraction or even replace God?

Idolatry – noun, plural-tries
1. the worship of idols
2. excessive admiration

One area that I have been pondering about has taken on many forms and has been used in many different ways. It plays an important and vital role within the church however at times it has become an idol. We become obsessed with it and lose sight of God.

Could evangelism be given excessive admiration in the church today?

The Christian section at Chapters is filled with books that fall under the category Walter Kaiser Jr. calls “recovery & pop-psychology”.

There are several ways the evangelical church today typically measures the fruitfulness of a ministry. In regards to evangelism numbers tends to be the stick used. Numbers are quickly used to justify or cancel a certain ministry. Being “seeker sensitive”, preaching the health wealth & prosperity gospel , or making church into a rock concert have all proven themselves as great ways to have skyrocketing numbers. I have seen a church let a pastor go because the church was not showing a growth in numbers. Increasing numbers are seen as healthy and fruitful. Walter Kaiser Jr. warns us that “pastors have decided that using the Bible is a handicap for meeting the needs of the boomer and “X” generations; therefore they have gone to drawing their sermons from the plethora of recovery and pop-psychology books that fill our Christian bookstores. The market-forces demand that we give them what they want to hear if we wish them to return and pay for the mega-sanctuaries that we have built. Scripture, therefore, is lost in the shuffle for relevancy and “meeting needs.”(www.preaching.com). When preaching the Word of God doesn’t draw a crowd we look to be more relevant and culturally sensitive. Churches use evangelism as the driving force behind what they do. Is this what we are called to focus on as a church?

Paul was an evangelist. As one reads his letters you cannot help but see he had a heart to reach out into the darkness.  As he evangelized Paul also discipled those that believed. For the economy in Ephesus to change (Acts 19.21-41), the church must have been living lifestyles that were radically different from how they lived before converting to Christianity (Tim Keller – The Grand Demythologizer: The Gospel and Idolatry). Changed lifestyles are not something that happens at the time of conversion, but is part of the process of being sanctified as we work out our salvation (Philippians 2.12). We change as we are drawn closer to the Father and this in turn leads to people noticing that something is different. In Ephesus it resulted in a riot, but Christ warned that people would be offended. It also set the Christian community apart from the rest of the community and that would have given them opportunities to show who God is and why they no longer worship false gods. Healthy discipleship led to the changes, while evangelism opened doors.

You must also look at the question “are numbers count a true sign of success?” Numbers are mentioned in the Bible and how the early church grew, but we also see that true fruit is measured by less tangible things. Galatians 5.22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. These are the things that show true belief and true transformation. Numbers are not bad and we should seek to spread the Gospel which will increase numbers, however, numbers that do not show true fruit are no numbers at all. Numbers and programs that are aimed at attracting numbers with no method of discipleship is  idolatry as they give the desire for numbers “excessive admiration”. The great commission calls us to make disciples not merely converts. David Platt reminds us in Radical Together we must remember that “the blessing of God does not mean acceptance by the world” (pg. 53).

This means that we must ask the question what is discipleship?

Dig a little deeper into this conversation by checking out this 8 min video from The Gospel Coalition that looks at quantity verses quality.

Saw this post the other day, it is a pretty interesting video about the spread of God’s word. The first 10 minutes of the talk gives a brief religious history of China before Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. The rest of the video is about how Chinese characters have the stories of the Old Testament in them. I watched a BBC documentary a few years ago that also looked at how Christian artifacts can be found in China a few centuries after its rise in Rome. It is neat to see God’s work in places that until recently we had no idea he was even working. Our God is a God of all nations as stated in Genesis 12.3. Below is the post by Awake My Soul:

My God is the God of the Chinese people.

October 31st, 2011 § 2 Comments

WOW.I grew up believing that Christianity was a western faith. A faith that belonged to people such as Barack Obama or George W Bush. A faith that didn’t have anything to do with my Chinese background and roots. Tonight, God woke me up suddenly to speak to me about this after a passion to reach out to my Hainanese-speaking Grandma was re-ignited.How can we give excuses now? God has been trying to speak to us ever since we could write our first Chinese words. The Bible is literally in our Chinese words. Now I can stand proud that I am Chinese and tell people about Shang Di. The One and Most High God. Hallelujah!!
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