We hung our sign in front of our soon-to-be church-plant this week. We knew this would make us vulnerable to questions and criticism around town. It also made us vulnerable to both the judgment and encouragement of others in our city and all around the world thanks to modern technology.
Those who have partnered with us back in America were thrilled to see the work moving forward and eager to encourage us in it. The simple photo my husband published on social media got quite a lot of love for someone who rarely uses any Facebook features.
One of the greatest ways we can live the Golden Rule in missional living is to affirm and encourage other light-bearers in their respective ministries. Missionaries on the foreign field. Moms in the trenches of toddlerhood or teenage years. Our pastors and their families. Your children’s Sunday School teacher and prayer-warrior Great Aunt.
Learn about their ministries and remember the names and faces of their mission field. Find ways to encourage them and get involved in their gospel work. You may be swamped in your own service, but it just takes a moment to share a word of encouragement or lend a helping hand.
Set aside differences and choose to see the potential of the mission and the heart of the kingdom worker who toils. Remember that mission work looks different to different people in each stage of life and set of circumstances. Everyone may not do ministry like we would do it, but we must trust they will follow as the Lord leads and be faithful to cheer them on as they do.
Consider the current issues, transitions, and decisions of the gospel worker. At these times, the criticism cuts the flesh like the sharpest of knives, but words of encouragement put the sharp knife to better work. The kind that crafts into tools fit for kingdom work and builds confidence in the Hands at work in their lives and ministry.
I want to be that kind of sharpening tool for those who work for the Lord. We need each other to get it done.
Who can you encourage in their gospel work today?
I want to hear about your people and your ideas.
“I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth “home.” Before you know it, I am calling luxuries “needs” and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached people drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about the triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mind-set that looks first to what man can do, not what God can do. It is a terrible sickness. And I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a wartime mind-set.”
― John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life
Remember the war
…and that someone cared to share the truth with you whether it was in a Sunday school classroom or in a backyard lawn chair. Consider how that courageous act changed your life and paved your way to the Savior. Think about how the love of Christ tapped you on the shoulder one day and invited Himself in. There are millions dying without the hope we have in Jesus and if everyone keeps the truth to themselves, how will their fates change?
Our prayers matter. Our spiritual growth matters. But doing unto others by proclaiming the name of Jesus in word and deed is the most honorable act of love. The reason we focus on the worldly pleasures and forget the war is because it’s so. stinking. hard. I know this. I am heartbroken over my propensity to stick my head in the sand of my comfortable world and ignore the needs all around me because it’s just easier that way.
But the best I can live the Golden Rule unto others is by introducing them to Jesus, encouraging and reminding them of the steadfast love that completely wrecked my life in the best way possible. I share with them the Word written for them and the Savior who sacrificed His life for theirs. I trust God to do the work but must be faithful to give Him the room.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee (Titus 2:11-15).
Keep encouraged and accountable with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Be quick to praise when the focus is right, and push together towards right perspectives when they’re not. Rejoice over the right things. Weep over the wrong. Remember what Christ died for, and pursue its treasure together.
Consider the power of a global witness, of a band of brothers and sisters insistent on the name of Jesus being lifted high. Our light may be small and our influence limited, but we trust in the power of Christ to make it shine into places we never dreamed it it would reach.
Ask what you can do in your local church to make the gospel known in your hometown. Link arms with fellow light-bearers around the world. Consider your place in God’s global work. Do good unto others, as you would have them do unto you, for the sake of the gospel. Make the message known that was once made known to you.
Do good works, let your light shine. Teach and train and enlist for the war (this includes you, moms!). Do all this not to be honored but that God may be glorified. That our witness will be fortified and our gospel reach globalized.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).
Living the Golden Rule to my family today by taking the day from #Write31Days and spending my Saturday with them. I believe you’ll be able to see the theme in my piece that was posted this week on Velvet Ashes. Specifically, it speaks to the necessity of relying on Christ’s power to do unto others when we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted.
That One Time All the Power Ran Out Everywhere
If any time earned the title for a crisis, it was this one.
The country’s petrol pumps had run dry. Power cuts increased to 16 hours a day. Gas for cooking was unavailable for purchase. Rice, milk, and even water were in short supply.
The electricity was off when we woke up and when we went to bed and would come some time in the night. The comforting glow of our bedside heater would wake me up, and I would fall asleep again with a smile. But it wouldn’t last long.
Since the first month we arrived and the earthquake rocked this nation and forced us out of our new home, I had been operating in survival mode. My husband urged me, “It will all be over soon. We have to keep pushing.”
And we did, for months, through thousands of aftershocks, through protests, and essential good shortages. Sleep deprivation fueled the turmoil in my heart about the issues at hand. Apparently, moving across the world and surviving major natural disasters is a little much for a 3 month new baby and 3 year old girl.
The walking bridge in the main intersection near our house has been torn down. Major construction to replace it has begun as well as efforts to improve the traffic flow that jams it up on the regular. A temporary wall has been built which blocks off most of the intersection and re-routes every traveler.
In short, it’s a HUGE inconvenience. My husband has had to leave much earlier and has come home late every day. I am not able to get a taxi to come get me or find space on a bus to take me down to the main chowk where I’d just end up sitting anyway.
I’ve been parked at home all week. I have felt stuck and stir-crazy. I usually only get out once or twice a week anyway, but being forced to stay home makes me want to rebel.
I’ve gotten to know my neighbors a little better since we are all home-bound. Today, I sat with a sweet older lady as I waited (and waited and waited) for my daughter to come home from school. She told me that she briefly lived in Ohio as well as Israel and Beirut (where she survived a bombing). She has come back home to see her grand babies grow up.
I remember that in high-school, I used to ask God every day to give me a mission field. I didn’t realize at the time what a brave and scary thing this was to do.
Now that I am on the mission field, I am not as faithful with this prayer but realize I need to be. Because the tree and little patch of grass where my kids play ring-around-the-rosie is a mission field. And the little concrete slab next to a little bench where the same four ladies sit every night is a mission field.
I live the Golden Rule by seeing the humans among the harvest and by noticing the need right outside my front door. My ministry may not always be formal. Sometimes it’s not fancy at all: just two people sitting on a bench chatting the loneliness away.
Sometimes God asks me to wait. Sometimes He parks me in the lane that’s not moving. Sometimes He asks me to follow him inch by painful inch performing small acts of service to Him. I have to trust that God will use me where I am in all the little ways I’m able.
Soon, I’ll be in America, away from this mission field for a short time. I better start praying now for that daily gift of ministry. I’m guessing most days my mission field will consist of two tiny people and the ministry opportunities they bring to me as it most often does now.
I posted this on my Facebook page last weekend after a particularly exhausting day in the Lord’s house with little ones: In my host country, we go to church on Saturdays. So Sunday is my day of rest and Saturday is the day I wrestle my son on the floor of our church while trying to listen to a sermon in my second language.
This weekend, I also get to attend a ladies meeting that falls after the second service/round two of wrestle mania. My husband graciously takes the kids out for lunch so I can really listen, and every month I am shocked at how much more I understand.
In my language inadequacies, I have spent a lot of time listening and observing. I’ve seen these wonderful women serve God in quiet and honorable ways. They have taught me so much about humility and living for God in a country that doesn’t acknowledge Him.
I sit in the circle, and look around at these women whose hands are calloused and feet still dirty from the morning’s work preceding a commute on foot to church. Many of them do hard labor, picking grass in a field by hand or farming fruits and vegetables to sell at market. They likely don’t even get the whole day off on Saturday, the one public holiday of the week. Yet, here they are, smiling and singing and loving on each other.
Some of them don’t carry a Bible because they started working before they gained a proper education or never had an opportunity to attend school at all. Still, they show up and follow along intently to the message brought by the foreign missionary.
She speaks her second language which is many of these ladies’ second language as well. Growing up in the village, they learned a different language than the one spoken here in the city and they continue to speak it in their homes and workplaces. I guess some of them probably feel a lot like I do sitting there and never completely understanding.
There’s so much wisdom in this room. So much humility. So much love for Jesus. Their spiritual growth may look different than those who have more time, more resources, and more opportunities. But I don’t doubt that they know Jesus. Because I see that they love and serve like Him.
I am encouraged and challenged by their faithfulness, by their sweet spirits maintained in unimaginable circumstances. They may look back at me and see a spoiled girl born in a church pew in America, but I hope they see my heart. A heart that loves their people and wants to see them turn from idolatry.
We will be moving on soon, starting our own church and leaving this group that has loved us during our transition into life in this country. Some of them hugged us tight while we waited out an earthquake in the doorframe of the church’s only bathroom. Many have held our children and kept speaking to them until they finally started to understand. And there are a few who have kept bringing them chocolate despite my feelings on the matter.
They have lived the Golden Rule to me and to my family, scared-to-death strangers sitting in their midst. In doing so, they’ve taught us how to love their people well (because not every act of kindness or generosity crosses cultures successfully). I have confidence moving forward reaching out in this city because of their acceptance and affirmation of our efforts to share the gospel here.
Their faithful witness is the wind beneath our wings as we take flight for Jesus, and I am obliged to honor it with our evangelistic efforts moving forward.
They’ve done the hard labor of planting seeds which we now get to water. Whether we, or the next truth bringer, will get the increase remains known only to the One who laid the foundation for the whole thing by His sacrificial death so many years ago.
We honor their work, by continuing to scatter, water, wait, and trust God to do what only He can do. I dream of the day I sit in the middle of a circle of sisters I’ve seen captivated by the love of Christ and teach them little by little the mysteries of the Word that God has made known to me over the years.
It is the greatest blessing to labor for the Lord in this country. The only thing I feel lacking are laborers to shoulder the work of what we believe God would want to do here. I am begging God to raise up more workers for a greater harvest.
I hope you’ll take some time this weekend to pray about your role in God’s work in your neighborhood, in your church, and around the world.
Are you planting seeds to be watered by gospel preachers?
Who inspires you as a faithful witness for Christ?