Thursday, September 19, 2013


  He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15) 

Africa: That huge continent with so many nations, religions, tribes, languages, and waste howling poverty. For centuries, missionaries have poured their lives into various nations and tribes. The need is seemingly endless. Nations have colonized, taken natural resources for themselves, have invested in infrastructures, and provided forced government and order. Nations have left, independence seeming the route all wanted. The free nations quickly lapsed into dictatorships and economic growth pretty much came to a halt. The French, Dutch, and English moved on and life continued in old tribal ways.
The north of Africa has been over run by Muslim regimes and the once fertile plains along the Mediterranean, once known as the bread basket of Africa, is now sand. The continent is religiously divided north and south. The north being Muslim and the sub Sahara to the south is predominantly Christian with large doses of Animism thrown in.
Years ago I read a book called, Missionary Methods, Ours or Paul’s by Roland Allen. His thesis was that for all the money we have invested in missionary outreach, we have not begun to touch the impact that Paul made in one life time. The missionary methods of establishing compounds and westernizing the converts failed miserably. The New Testament approach seems more to bring to Christ and establish local leaders. This allows indigenous leadership who know the language and the culture. Christ is able to minister through the local leader and reach his people. The learning curve is cut short by decades.
This is why one of my friends in France had established a house for foreign students coming to France for education. He knew that reaching and equipping foreign students would pay long term benefits for the kingdom of God. Why? Because these students were the ones who would be leading their countries. Case in point. We had one African student in Limoges, France who was a leader in the church there. When he finished his degree, he returned to his country with a high position in government and yet, a committed Christian, a man of influence.
When we invest in our mission trips, they are expensive, but we are working on a New Testament mandate. We are not trying to buy buildings and establish elaborate compounds. Our approach is to invest in indigenous leaders. This mission will be about equipping pastors and leaders. We supported establishing a training school for leaders and when we went back for their graduation and commissioning, there were at least ten churches started out of that one class. Some went places that were way too dangerous for foreigners to travel to.
This trip is a conference for training leaders. They are interested to know the key doctrines of the faith. They are interested in how to minister the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and want to know more about business for building a base of support and employing their members. The unemployment rate is somewhere around 70-80%.
The church needs to be powerful in the culture. There are more than 50,000 orphans roaming the streets of the capital. AIDS is killing their parents and infecting many of them as well. Occult groups are grabbing these kids and using them for horrible practices. Eight million people are crammed into the capital city, many of them refugees fleeing the civil war in the east. Women are used and abused. The church provides a refuge for them. The custom has men having multiple wives with children of all of them. The father is a distant being. Many times the wives have separate homes or apartments and do not see their husbands for days or more.
Our part is to help. We cannot change the tribalism or rescue the economy. We cannot change the nation in a visit, but we can help those who are nation changers. We can help leaders be better prepared to serve their people. We can bring hope and encouragement. We also can take away a lot. These people are mighty in prayer. They are amazing in worship. They face hardships daily and seek God’s provision and direction hourly. Most are walking a faith walk, not for prosperity American style, but survival. We are committed to help.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Hebrews 12:1...lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

 No one likes to play church. Either God shows up or we just go through the motions. Sometimes church is a zoom into the heavenlies and other times it is slogging through the Serengeti Desert. I wish I knew how to make every service a “zoom,” but I have never found the solution or the formula. As the Africans say, God is God!”
There are just so many things in life that defy organization, orderliness, and function the way we want it to. We read books, read the Bible, attend seminars and conferences in the hope of finding answers. We certainly learn more, do better, more efficient, more sensitive, but God is God and He will take our best formulas and dash them to the ground like throwing a fine crystal goblet on cement. Our plans and expectations are shattered.
We really want a God who is predictable. It would be nice to be able to know that if you do “A” then “B” would automatically happen. We read our books and the author gives us a fine algebraic formula that has A+B=C. Yes, we have it. If we just plug faith into A and add B will get C. Well, sometimes.
God’s people become agitated, discouraged, and flat out hostile sometimes when the formula does not work. We want a God who is predictable. The problem with predictability is that it leads to lifeless, faithless living. It allows for sterile, uninvolved, liturgical religion.
In daily relationships, no one wants to be taken for granted. Families are great schools of learning. Never does a formula work with rearing children. If you have more than one, you will find that the approach may require a totally different way to reach the second child and on and on as you have more. Each child has their own life and relationship with the parent. Rue the parent that thinks the same formula will work for all.
And then how about the wife? No woman wants to be taken for granted. And just when you think you have her figured out, you fail miserably and things that once worked, now will not. No wife wants to be a roboton that responds to the same input the same way each time. Flowers might be an endearment one time and the next, yeh, what did you do wrong? The same applies to husbands. No one wants to be figured out and manipulated.
Playing church is when you think that you have God figured out. Then He just shows you that you do not. The hymn, the song, that took the congregation into the heavenlies last week, may leave you dry and comfortless this week. The prayer that moved mountains last week, may this week lack the power to move an ant hill. The sermon that brought people to the altar last week, may in another venue or time, be lifeless and touch  no one.
While we are a spirit filled church, it does not mean that we have to have three prophecies to qualify. There can be times when there is quiet, no prophecies, no tongues, or any other demonstration. Church is the gathering of the saints to allow Jesus to be present however He chooses that particular time. We sometimes are awed that worship is so good that we do not preach. What if the word was so good that we did not sing? The Quakers of old would sit and wait till God did something. I am not necessarily advocating that approach, but there is something to be said for flowing with God.
I have been at this for a lot of years. I have been in more church services probably than anyone in the church. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have been exhilarated and bored. I have heard messages that have inspired me and others that have nauseated me. I have been anointed to the place that I thought God was going to take me home and have been in some meetings that were so dead that I thought the grim reaper was leading the service.
But I keep going back. I keep looking for the ZOOM. Because when the zoom hits, the bad and the ugly go away. I have learned you do not think that you have God figured out. You go with the flow as best you can, steward what you can, and be surprised when it really is a ZOOM.