I am not Ashamed

By Scott Armstrong

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.” There it is, in black and white in verse 8 of the first chapter of 2 Timothy.  No getting away from it; testifying about what Jesus is doing in our lives is the expectation.  It’s what Christian’s do.  So, why is doing it so hard?

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I’ve been a missionary in various countries for the last sixteen years, and I’ve realized over that period of time that I, too, fell into the category of being “afraid” to share with non-believers what Jesus was doing in my life.  As a missionary, it’s part of my job description to be ready at all times to share Jesus Christ with whoever I might meet.  But amazingly enough that was part of my job description before I became a missionary, as well.  It is something that I should have been doing on a daily basis since the day that I became a Christian.

Maybe you’re thinking that you’re not experienced enough. What would you say anyway? Well, is God working in your life? Have you seen his healing hand, or his hand of protection, or his hand of mercy? Those are stories that you can share – nobody can say that they didn’t happen.  They might not believe that GOD was the reason that they resolved, but it shouldn’t stop you from sharing them.  Every time that you share about the greatness of God, a seed has been planted.

So, are you ready to start sharing what God is doing in your life with your friends? Don’t be ashamed to testify about how awesome our God is.  In fact, once you start doing it, you’ll find that it becomes easier.  Just like anything else, practice makes perfect.

*This reflection is part of a series of devotionals written for youth by Scott and Emily Armstrong.  

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All Hands on Deck

Knowing what mission is and being on mission are two very different things. To be on mission requires initiative, but above all you need a ready and willing heart to work in response to the love of God.

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From June 23 to 30, eleven young Nazarenes dedicated their week to support the construction of the Center of Missionary Formation on the campus of the Nazarene Seminary located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We were accompanied by members of Bethany First Church of the Nazarene in Bethany, Oklahoma, USA, and were led by the coordinators of Work and Witness in the country, AJ and Chelsea Fry. The coordinator of Global Missions in the Dominican Republic, Wendy Rivera, also assisted in the trip.

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In addition to the building projects, we held Vacation Bible Schools in two Nazarene churches located near the seminary. There we had the opportunity to minister to more than 150 children.  Our goal was to serve the Lord, and we understood that by doing so we would need to work with all our hearts to serve others.

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We experienced moments of intense construction work, and other times of great joy while we shared with the children of the churches.  We also enjoyed the time as a team that we were able to spend in communion with God and with each other.  We are grateful for what God did in our lives, as well as what He will continue to do. This was an unforgettable experience and a great blessing! However, I hope that it is not only an experience, but a motivation to, wherever we are, continue working for the Lord.  We willingly declare: all hands on deck!

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

 –Yerys Amador, Work and Witness volunteer in the Dominican Republic.

Operation Rescue

 “And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

With this verse in mind, from June 20th to the 23rd, the Church of the Nazarene in the Eastern District of the Dominican Republic held its second Maximum Mission in three low-income communities in the town of Bayaguana. With a willing heart to serve, about 50 participants from four districts of the country met to carry out this missionary work.

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“Operation Rescue” was the title of this great activity, which sought to fulfill what Jesus said in Matthew 20:28: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The participants mobilized to SERVE and share with many people who needed to hear a message of hope.

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More than 60 families were blessed with the Word of God and baskets of food. The group also shared workshops on self-esteem, a Vacation Bible School was held, houses were repaired, a film was shown, a revival service was celebrated, and many other activities impacted the people of Bayaguana.  Four people decided to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives and to start their walk with Him.

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We believe that this is the time for the Church to be mobilized and get out of its comfort zone. The needs are abundant, and many souls wander without direction and without God. Men and women are needed who are ready and willing to say: Here am I, send me!

— Elba Isabel Duson, Global Missions Coordinator, Eastern District, Dominican Republic.

Walking a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes

“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” (John 4:5-9)

By Scott Armstrong

Have you ever noticed how good Jesus is at putting himself into other people’s shoes?  In this passage, we see him doing it again.  Jesus is a Jew that is on his way to Galilee, and he decides to travel THROUGH Samaria, instead of going around it, like most other Jews of that time. Jews did everything possible to stay away from Samaria and Samaritans, and the Samaritans felt the same way about the Jews.  Jesus is no common Jew.  Jesus walked into Samaria and sat down in a very common meeting place for women. It’s as if he is inviting a conversation from somebody that was coming to draw water from the well.  And that’s exactly what happened.

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The minute that Jesus stepped foot inside of Samaria’s borders, he became the outcast.  By no small coincidence, Jesus finds the Samaritan woman – an outcast in her own town.

I think this is a lesson that we all need to learn as early in life as possible.  Why is it that popularity is SO important to us when we are in Junior and Senior High? Why do we exclude people, just because they dress differently or talk differently or don’t run in the same social circles we do? Why can’t we try to put ourselves in other people’s situations?

How could you ever effectively minister to somebody that is excluded? In this scripture, we see that Jesus became the outcast in order to minister to the outcast – and it changed her life.  Could Jesus be calling you to find somebody that needs a friend? I think he’s at least calling us all to see the world as He does, and start including the excluded.  Maybe that means looking outside of your normal “clique” and involving some new faces. Maybe that means integrating your youth group, and making sure that Senior Highers know Junior Highers and vice versa.  Whatever the step is, start taking it now.  Change the world – one person at a time.

*This reflection is part of a series of devotionals written for youth by Scott and Emily Armstrong. 

Maximum Mission – Honduras, 2019

From June 28 to 30, 2019, representatives from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the United States and Honduras worked in the La Ceiba community in Honduras, 98 participants gathering together to serve others through the Maximum Mission program. The weekend included visitation to a nursing home and an orphanage, creative evangelism, children’s vacation bible school, food delivery to families in need, house cleaning, crafting classes, beauty clinics (cutting hair, doing nails, etc.), among other activities.

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The participants were able to experience cross-cultural ministry through sharing with their Nazarene brothers and sisters from different countries, and they also had the opportunity to impact other people with God’s love and the gospel.

During this time many people reconciled with God and others accepted Christ in their hearts. Glory to God because He keeps using his Church to change the world!

Click below to watch a video showing some of the activities that made up this Maximum Mission:

–Luz Jimenez and Karen Pop, North Central Field Global Missions

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:4-9)

By Emily Armstrong

God is calling Jeremiah to be a prophet, and he calls him pretty clearly.  Even after knowing EXACTLY what God wants him to do, Jeremiah still says, “I do not know how to speak”– he starts offering excuses as to why he can’t do what God has called him to do.  God seems to take it in stride and tells him not to worry; he would be with Jeremiah and even goes as far as putting the words in his mouth!  I don’t know about you, but it seems like Jeremiah doesn’t have many excuses left!

Do you ever feel that way?  That you sincerely ask God what he wants you to do with your day, your week, your life, and the answer that he gives you seems impossible?  When we ask God something, are we really ready to hear what he has to say to us?

When my son was little, he would like to give me 2 options to choose between, like “Mom, do you want this yellow block or this blue block?” After I had chosen what color I wanted, he would look at me and tell me if I chose the right one.  It never was my choice at all, and he really didn’t want to know what I wanted.  He knew all along that he was going to give me the yellow block, whether I chose it or not.

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I think we often approach God that way.  “OK, God, I have a decision to make – do you want me to talk to the new girl in class or should I just leave it up to someone else?” All along we are hoping that God tells us to just leave it up to someone else, and when he says, “Yeah, I want you to talk to the new girl,” we tell him we aren’t prepared to do that…could he ask us about that tomorrow?

Oftentimes God makes it very clear what He wants us to do and he wants us to be obedient to him.  We might have a very good excuse as to why we CAN’T do it, but God can usually remedy that. Just like Jeremiah learned, God will provide a way for us to do his will.

*This reflection is part of a series of devotionals written for youth by Scott and Emily Armstrong.  

Lord, Teach us to Pray

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples. He said to them, When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:1-4)

By Emily Armstrong

I think that we can all agree that Jesus was a pretty excellent teacher.  After all, he always had hundreds or thousands of people following him, hanging on his every word.  He told lots of good stories and lived out exactly what he taught.  This teacher was also a prayer warrior, and I think it was wise of the disciples to ask the best teacher ever to teach them how to pray (v. 1). Can you imagine getting lessons in prayer from Jesus?!?  Prayer is simply an act of talking to God, and Jesus couldn’t get enough of it.

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Why is it so hard for us to pray?  I think it’s because we still think there is only one way to do it – locking yourself in your dark closet and pouring your heart out to God for at least an hour every day.  At this point in my life, I don’t even have an hour to sit down and eat lunch, let alone lock myself in a dark closet.  I’ve found that having short times of prayer with God throughout the day has helped me remain consistent in my prayer life.  Almost every day I have one main time of prayer, when I journal my thoughts, dreams, hopes, requests.  This is my really focused time of prayer, and I’ve found that sitting down with my journal and pen really helps me block out the other distractions around me.  BUT, I don’t just leave my prayer life once the journal is closed.  All throughout the day, if I think about something that I need to pray about, I’ll stop and pray a 30 second prayer.  Keeping prayer as a constant staple at all hours has helped me to keep focused on God throughout the day.

If you need to establish a better prayer life, the best thing to do is start small.  Give God a few minutes every day and pretty soon you’ll start to realize that you can’t get enough of it – just like Jesus.

*This reflection is part of a series of devotionals written for youth by Scott and Emily Armstrong.