China Update: The Making of a Team

This journey began over 5 months ago when 10 people were led by the Holy Spirit to go beyond the ordinary on an extraordinary adventure.  These people did not know each other but knew God was bringing them together.  This finally came to culmination on Friday, June 10, at 2:00 A.M at Castle Hills church.  We all met and departed to catch our first flight in Austin that would eventually get us to China.  These are the aspects of mission trips that no one talks about but are often the most important.  It is in these times of travel and transition that God who has physically assembled the team begins to emotionally and spiritually assemble the team as well.  The drive to Austin, the connecting flights, the 13 hour flight from Canada to China…yes lots of time to talk and begin to see why God assembled this team the way he did.  

Our first touch down in Guangzhou, China was amazing after months of praying for these people.  Getting off the plane and seeing thousands of Chinese people everywhere helps one understand what it means when Jesus looked upon the multitudes and was moved with compassion.  We stayed at a hotel at the airport before our last flight the following day.  Ten of us huddled around a table eating food we were unaccustomed to eating some of it delicious and some of it….interesting.   
The next day was one full of anticipation and excitement as we headed for the airport.  Our flight was delayed by two hours because of bad weather. However, believing in a sovereign God makes us evaluate things that seem like accidents and wonder how it fits into his amazing plan.  During that two hours of waiting, you could see the relationships on the team continuing to grow.  The unity of this travel experience has been critical for the work that God is going to do.  If we can’t be unified then how can we give a unified message of the love of Jesus.  We touched down at our final destination and were greeted by Chris and Rayna (Chris & Melissa’s daughter).  We traveled to a small village nestled in the middle of the mountains along the YuLong river to Kavanah House Ministries (which means intentional prayer).
Kavanah House Ministries is comprised of a house of prayer and retreat lodge for weary ministers of His heart in Asia. Kavanah has 10 guest rooms used for orphan ministries, university outreach to the local students in these mountains, conferences for local pastors, and training for tentmakers and missionaries all over Asia. Chris and Melissa, along with their two children, Rayna (3) and Jamin (2), have been serving as tentmakers in China for more than a decade and have just recently transitioned into full time missions to open Kavanah.There are endless ministry opportunities in this unique tourist attraction because of the breathtaking scenery and opportunity to experience the preserved charm of ancient China here that is next to impossible to find in most places in China today
Please pray that God will do something so amazing that it can only be explained as His work.  Please pray for tender hearts of those we are working with and that their hearts will be moved by God’s Spirit. Lastly, pray for boldness and wisdom to do the work He has set aside for us to do, in His name.  

It’s All About The Mission

Our senior adult pastor, David George, demonstrates spiritual maturity when it comes to fulfilling the mission that God gave the Church. In a recent article, David approaches the subject of change and being focused on the mission in a clear and precise way.  It was too good not to pass on…

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Change can be a scary thing for some if not most people.  It is easy to get comfortable in the routine we have, even if it is not the best for us. In the midst of a bad situation, we can still be fearful that changing that situation could make things worse!  Admittedly, some of the changes over the past years have not necessarily been for the better.  I can say that because they did not allow us to reach more people for Jesus.

One of the main reasons for the turnaround is that we have begun to place emphasis on accomplishing the mission that Jesus gave the world-wide Church: making disciples (Matt. 28:18-20).  Paul stated it in a different way in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 when he said that we are God’s ambassadors charged with the mission of reconciling people to God through their relationship with Jesus.  It all starts with evangelism, but it doesn’t stop there.  A disciple is a follower, a learner, one who seeks to emulate the One of whom he is a disciple.  That is a life-long process which the Bible calls “sanctification.”  It means that God is conforming us to look more like Jesus from the inside out (Rom. 8:29).  It’s the mission of the Church to help people come to Christ and then help them to grow as better followers of Jesus.  All that we are doing as a local church must be pointed toward accomplishing the mission of the Church.  If we fail in that, we fail as a church.  The degree to which we are successful in accomplishing the mission God gave us is the degree to which we will be successful as a church.

The mission we have been given has to take precedence over everything.  That means that we sometimes have to sacrifice our personal desires, our preferences, our comfort, even our safety, in an effort to move the mission forward.

Ask God to help you get a vision of the mission we are all called to as the world-wide Church and how that is to play out in the context of the local church.  It will change your life and move you along the path of your spiritual journey with Jesus.  It is, and must remain, all about the mission!

Diverse Unity

It’s special when our love of Christ saturates our lives so much that it materializes in a love for one another despite all of our differences.

Unity does not mean similarity. Diversity does not mean separation. While the two concepts can seem to be at odds with one another, Jesus desires for us to embrace and desire both unity and diversity. Like grace and truth, we are called to represent two qualities that can create tension but ultimately bring about more glory to God. Diversity does’t make unity easy, but it make it better.

Unity and Diversity in our World

The culture around us continuously speaks about diversity.  It’s no surprise that we value having different views and people represented. And it’s much easier to talk about diversity without actually living it out.

Our natural tendency is to gravitate toward our own personal comfort. Let’s face it, it’s just easier to be around people who have similar interests, attitudes, and experiences as we do. We actually feel safer around people who are similar to us. The problem with that is…As Christians we are called to God’s mission, not to our own comfort and safety.

Biblical Unity

As you study the early church, unity was one of its primary characteristics. The New Testament is clear about the body of Christ getting along with one another. We see many verses telling us to avoid conflict while selflessly and humbly serve one another.

As Christians, unity should be one of our defining characteristics and a big part of our witness to the outside world. Paul encourages us in Ephesians 4:3 to, “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.”

Biblical Diversity

Jesus calls his followers in The Great Commission, to make disciples of “all nations.” In the Revelation 7:9, John sees people “from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” The Bible offers us many more examples that illustrate a Christian worldview focused on diversity.

Building Unity Through Diversity

How can we be unified and diverse at the same time? In Romans 12:12–31, Paul is using the human body to illustrate the body of Christ.  Each member is completely different in personality and giftedness, and at the same time, we are all connected and belong to the same body.

It’s common to see different members of the body comparing themselves to other parts of the body.  An eye saying to a hand, “I don’t need you!” seems ridiculous, but we do the same thing to one another with our thoughts and actions within our churches. Even though we’re different, we belong to one body, and ultimately belong to Christ.

If this is taken seriously, it it will change the way we treat one another. We will do a better job of communicating, supporting, and taking care of one another. Think about the strong bond that is formed when we unify around God’s values and mission.

Application

Just like our sanctification, our personal growth takes time and effort. Have an honest discussion with your family or Lifegroup and pray that God works to shape your hearts.  Ask God to change your wrong attitudes and open doors of opportunity to bring him glory.

India Update 2

“Welcome to Hyderabad,” we read on a sign outside the airport. After a long day of travel, we arrived safely to Hyderabad, India around 9 pm. Our driver picked us up and navigated to our hotel through the crowded and bustling streets. A clearly marked 2 lane road, at times served as a 6 lane road. They technically drive on the left side of the road, but that is more of a suggestion. I know my family is thankful that I wasn’t driving.
  
As we walked through the largest temple in Hyderabad today, our hearts were pained as we saw countless people worshiping made-up gods.  I’ve prayer walked many temples, but this one stood out.  We stood near an alter where animals are sacrificed and their ashes are put on the forheads of the Hindu people to remove sin.  God break our hearts for the lost people in our world!

“Your presence here makes more impact than you will ever know.” This was the first sentence we heard from one of the church leaders. After a long journey, before anything was taught, these words were reaffirming that we were in the right place. We have been spending time with many pastors and church planting leaders in Hyderabad. Every day we have spent a significant amount of time learning about the spiritual climate since the new government took over about 18 months ago. The challenges the church in India faces is overwhelming, but the leaders remain encouraged and hopeful as they swim upstream in the fastest river I’ve ever seen. OM India has set realistic goals to reach 25 million Dalit people by 2025. They currently have over 4,000 churches, 107 schools, and 25+ training centers. They are also extremely involved in stopping human trafficking, rescuing temple prostitutes, and government influence to change anti-conversion laws. Can you imagine being punished for becoming a Christian? 

Each time we get together, we spend much time in prayer for both personal and ministry struggles. God continues to use the Indian people to teach me about the power of prayer. Often times, when we see this type of environment, our first thought is…”I’m blessed to be born in America.” God has blessed us beyond measure! But He hasn’t done so for use to live comfortable and happy lives in our subdivisions. He has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others. I’m proud to be apart of a church that loves ALL of God’s children and is committed to the Great Commission.

We will officially begin our pastors conference tomorrow. The pastors are traveling 10+ hours today by train to spend the next 4 days with us. God has already done God-sized things since we have arrived, but the conference will reap fruit for years to come. Please pray for the power of God to pour out on these pastors and church leaders. Even though our “In-country” team is small, we need YOU as a partner in prayer right now. Thank you in advance.

China 2015

 

Here is a short recap video of our China mission trip from July 2015.  It was amazing to see how God worked and continues to work in the hearts of His people through this journey.  Remember that missions isn’t a trip, but a lifestyle dedicated to serving a worthy God.

China Update 5

Our final full day in country the team was blessed with different worship services in Nanning. Three of us attended a home church while the other four went to a “Three Self Church”. A Three Self Church, incidentally, is a government ‘approved’ church that is actively monitored to ensure political correctness and compliance. At the heart, the government doesn’t want Christians to instigate dissention nor evangelism within its own borders.

  
So, our team had two very distinct worship experiences yet in their uniqueness they were each just as powerful as the other. At the house church I preached on the assurance of God’s timely promises as well as our obligation toward obedience. Pat also shared a about the price that has to be paid to be a disciple of Jesus. Interestingly, at the Three Self Church the message came from the passages of Psalm 96:1-9 and Luke 9:57-62, which speak of declaring God’s glory among the nations and that to be a follower of Christ one must be willing to leave everything behind. Throughout the three messages there were common threads tying them together and looking back it’s undeniable that we all needed to hear these words from the Lord.
Reflecting on our visit to China, we spent time talking over some much needed coffee. We shared with each other the lessons learned and how God used this trip to draw us closer to Him. We also admitted to each other where God is leading us and why foreign missions is so important. To be sure, Jesus’ command to ‘go and make disciples’ was not a command to a select few but rather it is an all inclusive command He gave to all of us. Our team has been blessed by this pas week and our prayer is that the Lord will call more workers to the field to take part in gardening souls for the kingdom.