Mission for Everyone

This morning I’ve been for a walk in the what some would call, “the freezing cold wastelands of North Wales”. Yet it has snowed, it is icy and I love it! There’s something about the clarity and deadness of sound that fresh snow brings. You can see for miles and the snow deadens the noise of the world so everything seems pristine and tranquil. I can really think and see clearly!

I’ve been off for a few weeks and as well as getting on with some things other than ministry, I’ve been thinking and praying about what the future holds. I don’t know about you but I need threads, ideas and facts upon which I can base my future actions and movements upon. God understands this too. Faith is often not blind faith, principally it is faith in the one who calls us. He is totally reliable. In my experience faith is often not unrelated from the present either. The God who beckons us forward is the same God who has been preparing us, shaping our circumstances and leading us to the point where we may make a leap of faith or two. We notice the leaps but we seldom notice the quiet movement that the Spirit has been making behind the scenes for years.

There are all kinds of exciting ideas that I have looking at the future of Dignity, most of them are significant upgrades and developments of existing work. Yes there are some new leaps of faith as well. The one concept that we have always been about is that mission is for “everyday people”, wherever you are. We know the poor can be used mightily by God, how about everyone else? Over the years I’ve become experienced in cross cultural, rural and community based mission. Maybe it’s time to use some of these very hard learned lessons in equipping others and reaching others.

I do believe that God is moving anew in his people. Some of the ideas we have worked with for years are gaining traction in wider circles. There’s a revolution coming that doesn’t base itself on superstars in the faith, but on the church, a people, a mission for everyone. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we have a calling to serve, to reach out, to be Jesus to everyone we come across and to seek out those we don’t come across. We need to up our game in the forgotten and rural areas of this world. We need to reach more people and equip more people to reach others also. Simple really 🙂

Dr RT Kendall recently at The Evangelist’s Conference got all prophetic. Of course it was very biblical, he is a renowned theologian. However the sense of now-ness of what God is saying really spoke to me. “God will work through the faceless”. That phrase resonated with me powerfully. You can listen to the whole talk here.

Heidi Baker again not so long ago spoke about similar themes at a conference here in the UK.

Here’s an example of a call to action about mission and what God is doing from the leader of Ivy Church, Anthony Delaney. Ivy are the church that send Jude and I out on the ministry we have. Again, we are all needed and it’s about redoubling and focusing our efforts on the lost, together.

Whatever you think of the prophetic elements there’s one element that speaks to me loud and strong, God will move through ALL of his people. The Spirit will empower us to do this. The future of the church is for everyone to fight together in unity. For those of us who get a little twitchy at the sound of prophetic words and anointing let me remind you of something very rooted in the word. Isn’t that the point of the Body of Christ? We are meant to move together with Christ as our head. At the moment we have limbs all over the place. Arms flail in different directions, parts of the body who don’t know what they should do, everyone thinks they are the head…. it won’t do and I do believe God is calling time on this. What God will do is not new in the sense that we have not seen it before, but it will be in out time, in our generation, because let’s face it, his world needs it.

Are you one of the faceless? A person that has never been a superstar? Never called to the spiritual heights? Well that doesn’t really matter because God has a role for you, in his mission, in his plan to reach this world. That’s the move of the Spirit that’s coming.

If you need a few threads upon which to base your future, there’s some for you.

Don’t we understand? It’s a mission for everyone.

So if all I have said is true I wonder, what will our response be? Answers on a postcard please……

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We have all the time in the world

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The date of October 16th 2012, would maybe not strike you as an auspicious occasion. It was my 37th birthday. My life is rapidly (well no more than it used to) engaging with what is known as the “late thirties”. Myself, I would still say mid thirties…..

Where does the time go? Older people tell me that time goes faster as you get older. Is this true? Is it like some kind of theory of relativity? The older you get the faster time goes? Opinions please…

What was significant about this year for me, is that I have been a Christian for 25 years. An entire quarter of a century, following and trying to know Jesus. For those reading this who are not Christians, I realise even that phrase will seem a little odd.

However perhaps it shouldn’t? Every person I know, all of us, are trying by various means to answer life’s great questions. Where are we going? Who are we, really? What will happen when we die, if anything? Whether we bury our heads in the sand, work ourselves into a lather, or embrace them, the questions remain, they never go away.

Over the last 25 years, I have blown hot and cold. Sometimes I have felt really close to God, other times, a very long way away. I’ve got many things wrong, there are many actions I have made that quite frankly I regret. I wish I was stronger. However, I’ve never known God to leave me, to forget about me and even when I am in the darkest hole, He has never ceased to inspire me. He has been constant. There have also been great triumphs in that quarter if a century, and I have changed from a rather shy and frightened 12 year old into what I am now, a missionary in Africa via college, university, software engineering and church leadership.

I must admit there is a growing hunger in myself to make the next 25 years (if indeed I have them) count for more than the last 25. The fact is none of us know do we? We don’t actually know how long we have. We have a need to make the most of everyday that is presented to us.

How do we do that? Is it by accomplishing great exploits; making lots of money or something other equally impressive? For many of us, working everyday, struggling with getting the bills paid, wandering if we are a good parent, these impressive showy, life affirming exploits are simply not within reach. How do follow an inspiring path when you are bleary eyed in the bus to work or all day in your office?

God has planted eternity in the hearts of all people. We have a yearning for something more, that this world cannot fill. The answer is something to do with our orientation to this truth? If we embrace something or someone eternal and seek to live our lives by these values,then our life becomes ‘full of meaning’ and direction wherever we are.

25 years ago I was introduced to this man Jesus, whom I was told at great cost to himself had shown and demonstrated Gods love for me. Embracing that love, giving your life to study, follow, understand and more importantly know it, is the most freeing, dynamic and courageous thing I have ever done.

25 years is a long time. However, in the context of living forever, I am only just beginning, not even a millisecond has passed. I literally have all the time in the world, to know God, His Love, His meaning and His power, forever!

The only pressing concern is that I have a short finite time to share this with people
like you reading this post, wandering where your life is headed. Maybe you too should give Jesus some time, he literally has all the time in the world to give you.

Values

Oscar was on sat on top of the climbing pole, some 13 metres above the ground. “I can’t do it!”, “I can’t do it!” he kept saying to himself. He was being asked to stand upright on a rickety 1ft platform atop a moving pole. Not an easy task.

The chant of, “Yes you can!”, “Yes you can!” went up from the other delegates gathered at the bottom of the pole. Some of them were holding his safety rope, his life depended upon them.

Oscar gingerly got up from his crouched position, his face straining with the effort. Slowly but surely he stood to his feet, his arms open wide in triumph. A smile from ear to ear was across his face. Finally he believed, “Yes he could!”.

I’m listening to Richard Thompson, the leader of Ndubaluba Outdoor Education Centre finish off our Impact Team Training Camp. Every 6 months we gather our impact team members together with prospective new members, to look at examining problems, have fun together, pray and understand the values that motivate us.

As well as traditional sessions, we use challenge and well yes sometimes overcoming fear to teach how Christianity and God can infuse our lives with the correct values to live and work by.

If there is one lesson that I can point to that I have learned is this. If you plant the Spirit of God and the right values in people, the work of community transformation, liberation and the gospel will grow and grow. It is the values that are important.

These values together with God are the engine that is driving our work here in Southern Africa.

3 and a half years after initially planting the work here in Africa, the reach is now, 3 countries, over 3000 community volunteers meeting in groups, the Gospel has been proclaimed in many places and over 110 groups meet week by week across Zambia and even into Angola and Tanzania.

Our impact teams own the work for themselves, it is their work. They visit groups, they help the poor, they proclaim the gospel.

They have internalised the values of Gods Kingdom and are actively pushing it forward. The results affect thousands of people, something that would not be possible any other way.

If you want to create something that will truly change the world, give your own power away so that others will internalise the mission before them. Give your own power away so that they can be free and in turn make others free.

Then what God will do through them will be like a new dawn rising.

Oscar now believes that he can do it, nothing can take away the achievement of overcoming what for him was a significant challenge. That lesson will encourage him, drive him and in turn drive others.

That’s why Dignity works the way it does. We believe that God working through people is the primary way that our world changes for the better. That’s why we invest money donated to us in training, encouraging, proclaiming the gospel and helping people see that there is great hope when they come together Rooted in Jesus to Love their Village.

My friends here will leave today and as they leave will be the hands and feet of Jesus everywhere they go.

They are not simply doing the work, they are the work and that’s a very important difference.