Soaked

A Reflection From Cathy Spangler

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Hab. 2:1).

The other night I had some great contemplation time.  I was digging around in Habakkuk 2:1-2 and asking the Holy Spirit, “What does it mean to ‘stand at my post,’ and what is my ‘post’? How does one ‘stand’ or ‘station’ herself?”

The questions kept coming as I read verse 2: “Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the vision and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.’”

What vision? Why write it down? What does it mean that “the vision awaits an appointed time,” and why will it surely come and “not delay” (v. 3)?

As I processed through that, I looked out my window and noticed it had rained again.  The ground was wet; the street had puddles.  Suddenly the Word of the Lord came to me and I wrote it down:

“Like the rains that soak the ground I will rain down.  Receive it like thirsty ground.  Splash in it like the birds do. clean-clear-close-up-1100946.jpg

For surely in times past I did rain and pour out My Spirit, but My people didn’t want to get wet.  They regarded My Presence as a bother; a burden; a threat!

As rain runs off the hard surfaces covering the ground, some are hardened and unreceptive, so the Holy Spirit will pass by.

Prepare yourself, confess, forgive, get rid of offense and hardness.  Open to Me!  Seek Me.  Not My gifts or miracles.  Seek the living water of My Presence.  Yes, splash around in it.  Be cleansed, refreshed and cast away “care”.  For from My throne flows a trickle that becomes a fast, flowing stream and then a deep and wide river.  The river brings healing to the multitudes and brings life to what was dead and lifeless.

Blessed are those who come…

To drink of Me

To enjoy Me

To be made clean and new and whole.

I invite you to receive the latter reign!”

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3 Common Misconceptions about Missionaries

*The following article was originally published by Ardeo Global:

https://www.ardeo.org/blog/2019/8/21/3-common-misconceptions-about-missionaries

We believe that to help you gain some clarity in your next steps as it comes to mission work, you should know what misconceptions exist about missionary living. The following are three things our culture tends to get wrong about what it’s like being a missionary.

1.) BEING A MISSIONARY IS A POSITION, NOT A CALLING.

There is a big difference between having a vocation and a calling. One’s vocation is centered on what you do. It’s the job description. It’s the ten thousand foot view of your purpose. But calling is the deep issue, calling is the gift that only you can bring into the world. One’s call is how one dresses their vocation.

For example, one’s vocation might be a teacher. Their calling might be completely different from their vocation, though! They may be drawn to teaching, but their God-given purpose is not just to teach; it’s to give children a safe space where they can grow into who they are meant to be. The calling goes far beyond the position we hold.

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In the same way, a person serving in missions on the foreign field may hold the title “missionary”, but their purpose is rooted and grounded in something far deeper. Maybe it’s giving local battered women their time so they know they are worthy of love. Maybe it’s praying healing over the sick on the streets, looking them in the eyes and communicating that they are known. Or maybe it’s helping others connect to God through worship. Whatever it is, the reality stands that you have something only you can give the world. Being a missionary isn’t necessarily living out your purpose. Digging down deeper into who you were created to be is how you live driven by purpose.

This doesn’t negate that God “calls” us to the mission field. But, it’s important to recognize that simply being a missionary doesn’t fulfill your call. Abba has something much deeper for you to discover. Are you excited to find out what it is?!

2.) YOU WON’T SEE MIRACLES EVERY DAY.

When people think of what life must be like for a missionary they think of the biggest, grandest, evangelical movement they could imagine. They envision missionaries constantly praying for people, constantly seeing people healed, and watching people accept Jesus as their Savior non-stop. They see tent revivals traveling city to city, demons being cast out left and right. They imagine the book of Acts spelled out in real-time.

Truth be told, being a missionary can feel rather disappointing at times. A lot of people go to the mission field with this high expectation they are going to see people run to Jesus in droves. However, the way it usually turns out is as a battle to simply get people to show up to the coffee dates you’ve set up with them to talk about the Bible.

Don’t get me wrong! Miracles do happen on the mission field. But, why is there a higher expectation to see miracles on the foreign mission field than in your own life where you’re at right now? Let’s just leave that question for you to ponder on your own.

Miracles do happen on the mission field, and they usually happen after a lot of praying and spending time with Abba. Usually after a dry season in their ministry, a missionary really learns the lesson of utter dependence on God. All of the work that we hope to see in people’s lives has been done by Him on the cross all those years ago. It’s up to Him to work his incredible mystery through us on the mission field. The only way we can see Him do what He longs to do is through intimacy with Him.

Which brings us to point 3.

3.) MISSIONARIES ARE, LIKE, REALLY SPECIAL AND HOLY.

This is probably one of the worst lies that we believe about any of the positions in ministry. You might be thinking, “I don’t think missionaries are any more holy than me.” But, it’d be worth the wager to say deep down inside there is something that fears the idea of being a missionary because you don’t feel like you measure up. Why wouldn’t you measure up if we’re all on the same plane before God.

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Col 3:11

The same spirit that is in you was in Nate Saint, Mother Teresa, and Paul! Good news, the pressure is off. You have no one to live up to. You have only to live into yourself. No other shoes to fill. Just wear your shoes!

Making the choice to do missions long-term is a big decision. Knowing that there is a deeper calling than simply being a missionary, miracles aren’t a daily occurrence, and that missionaries are not that special can help you see that you really can do this!

 

Update From Bahamas After Hurricane “Dorian”

As our readers will know, Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas this week. Early this morning I received the following report from one of our Nazarene pastors who also serves as a member of our Mesoamerica Regional Advisory Committee:

Hello Scott,

Greetings in Jesus. I live in Nassau, which did not get the brunt of the hurricane, some rain, winds and flooding with minor damage. This was nothing compared to what the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama experienced: heavy forced winds, rain, storm surges, major flooding and major damage to many homes. Many persons in Abaco and Grand Bahama lost everything, some even lost their lives.  Additionally, there are so many who still need to be rescued, and so many people are not accounted for. Please pray that God will alert the rescuers to the cries of those still needing to be rescued, since many of them have no way of contact at this point. The authorities have reported that some 70,000 persons have been affected by the hurricane and over 60% of the island of Abaco is destroyed.  Attached is a flyer we have created to assist with securing hurricane relief for the victims. We are mobilizing the best we can here in Nassau to secure these items, while we wait on the ‘go ahead’ from authorities to travel to the island to distribute relief.

We are trusting God to save and protect these hurricane victims, and we are doing our best here to assist them with the basic necessities. I will update you as I receive further reports.

We thank you for your prayers and anything that you can do to assist. God bless.

For His Glory,

Antoine St. Louis

I have included the flyer mentioned by Dr. St. Louis above, and please consider also donating through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries at the following link:

https://give.nazarene.org/donate/f/134047.

Our Regional Director, Dr. Luis Carlos Saenz, has notified us that a group from the region will be traveling to Bahamas tomorrow.  They will provide further information and updates as they are able.

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The Story of Christina Begins

Recently, we have been receiving reports from our missionaries who have been planting churches through the Genesis initiative. They have been serving for more than a year in each of their assigned places and they are starting to see a great harvest. Here, we want to share one of the team’s testimonies in Queretaro, Mexico, written by Jhoselyn Barrios.

Christina is a 22-year-old young woman who has four siblings. She and her siblings live with their parents in Los Olvera. They moved to this place last year; previously they had lived in another municipality called Cadereyta. As a family, they have a plant nursery, which is their source of economic income.

We met Christina at the Community’s Center of Human Development, where we are serving as volunteers teaching computer classes and basic literacy. Some time ago, we enrolled in a Zumba class with the purpose of better getting to know the women of the community. Maybe some people will read this and say: That’s crazy! Zumba classes? But the truth is that it is a good place to meet people, to laugh, to empathize with others and to initiate conversations.

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After two days of getting to know her, Christina got in touch with us. We let her know that we were having a special activity for Women’s Day and also a beauty workshop. That’s how Christina began to get involved in our activities.

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After getting to know her more, we were able to schedule a visit to her home. Praise the Lord: that day all her family accepted Christ in their hearts!

A few weeks ago, Christina celebrated her birthday, and everyone was invited to eat at her home. We brought a birthday cake and a present for her. We spent time with her family and we felt at home when we visited them. Now they are one of the families that are receiving discipleship in order to be baptized. God is doing a marvelous thing in Queretaro!

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Isn’t it exciting to see what God is doing in our cities?! Please pray for Christina and her family. Also, pray for our two teams of missionaries working in Panama City and Queretaro.

 

Beauty in Diversity

By Freya Galindo Guevara

There is a type of joke that starts more or less like this: “There was a Chinese guy, an American, a Mexican and a Spaniard…“  The point of these jokes is to exaggerate the differences between different nationalities and exploit the impressions and clichés associated with the people from those countries.

In truth, thanks to the phenomenon of globalization, we meet people from distant and different places of the world living even in our own cities and neighborhoods.  A person can guess that someone is a foreigner because of physical appearance or different clothing, or perhaps based on their language or accent.  It is easy to notice the obvious differences between one person and another, primarily because they are from a country different from our own.

In many cases the world emphasizes the differences between races, cultures and nationalities in order to divide, discriminate and ridicule. As always, God shows us that his Kingdom is not like that. He finds beauty in diversity.  Can you imagine if we were all the same? How boring!

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There will come a day when all the diverse groups that have ever existed on earth—all the nationalities, races, languages and people groups—will be together doing one thing.  “…standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9-10)

While we wait for that day, we must learn to appreciate the diversity that God has created, because that has been his plan since the beginning. We recognize that we are different, but that does not separate us. On the contrary, that unites us when we seek to worship the same God.

*Freya Galindo serves as a missionary with the Church of the Nazarene and is Global Missions Coordinator in the Central Field: Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The Most Convincing Evidence

We have all come in contact with someone who has rejected Christianity primarily because of the unconvincing actions or even blatant hypocrisy of Christians. Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” That sentiment pains me, and it should sicken any of us who wear the name of Christ and claim to worship him.

At the same time, if lack of spiritual fruit in believers can turn away people from the Church, the opposite is also true: a contagious, authentic faith can prove compelling and irresistible to nonbelievers.

Take the following story as an example:

“One Sunday evening a drunk woman came to our church and was converted.  The co-pastor of the church went to visit her husband the following day and saw he was a very intelligent mechanic, but opposed to religion and very skeptical.  He was disgusted by his wife’s conversion and said he had no doubt that she would soon return to her old life.  

Six months later, the same man came to see the minister of the gospel, and was greatly perplexed by his own spiritual situation. He said, ‘I have read every book about the evidence of Christianity, and I’ve been able to resist every argument.  But in the last six months I’ve had an open book in my home that was impossible to refute in the person of my wife. I’ve come to the conclusion I must be wrong, and there must be a holy and divine power in this religion if it could take a drunk woman and change her into a holy, singing, friendly, patient and pious person like my wife is now.’”

Glory to God! Truly, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

Jean David Larochelle wrote about this reality in his book The Natural Development of Faith:

“Truly the best books about Christianity have stories of the transformed lives of men and women in communion with Christ.  If we all gave our testimony of the work God has done in our lives, other people near us would also have many simple and some amazing stories of the power of God. More than that, if believers or those of us who profess to be disciples of Jesus would live integrated, transformed lives, it’s very possible there would be fewer doubters” (p. 56).

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It all brings us to the well-known question: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? In other words, would your colleagues, family members and neighbors say, without a doubt, you live like Jesus Christ?

 

At Arm’s Length: A Lenten Reflection

In this season of Lent, I have been reflecting on a haunting phrase: “at a distance.” Doesn’t seem too scary or even noteworthy, right? Why would I say it is haunting?

It was the night of Jesus’ betrayal, the night before he would be crucified. Feet have been washed, Passover has been served, and the soldiers have taken Jesus away from the garden. The disciples have fled – well, sort of. All three writers of the synoptic gospels make it a point to tell us that one of Jesus’ chosen three, the man whose preaching would convert 3,000 in a day and who would become the pillar of the early church, followed Jesus “at a distance” (Mt. 26:58; Mk. 14:54; Lk. 22:54).

We often lambaste Peter, especially when he denies his Lord and calls down curses on himself.  Thank goodness we are not like him, right?

On closer examination, during this season of Lent, we realize that our discipleship looks a lot like Maundy Thursday Peter.  Joan Chittister says, “We believe, yes, but often only remotely, only intellectually.  We follow Jesus, of course, but, if truth were known, more likely at arm’s length, at a nice, antiseptic distance.  Imperturbably.  Our commitment is not the kind of commitment that jeopardizes our jobs or our relationships or our social standings.”

Ouch.

If we are honest with ourselves, we love the part of following Jesus that deals with multitudes being fed and blind men receiving sight.  Even the creative sermons and lessons Jesus teaches inspire and challenge us.  But that self-denial part? Not as popular nowadays.

Could it be that we are profoundly terrified of suffering? Chittister maintains that “when we refuse to suffer, we refuse to grow…Suffering is a stepping-stone to maturity. It moves us beyond fantasy to facts.”

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I don’t know about you, but I would many times rather take the shortcut to spiritual maturity instead of slogging painfully through trials and hurts. But that shortcut does not exist. And Lent reminds us of that. In this season we realize, along with Chittister, that we are ascetics. Thus, “we must be prepared to give up some things if we intend to get things that are even more important.”

With Jesus being interrogated, whipped, and nailed to a cross, Peter was still not ready to follow him there. The sacrifice was too great. The suffering too heinous.  It was better to follow Jesus at a distance.

Perhaps in these days being haunted by that phrase is not a bad thing. Perhaps we, too, will examine ourselves and choose growth instead of ease, intimacy instead of distance.