Serving God in Hard Places (Hard Places)

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This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, we concluded our annual MissionsFest. As we celebrate God’s faithfulness to us as a church for forty years, we heard from two of our long-term, international ministry partners on the theme of “Hard Places.”

This second weekend, Rev. Canon Francis Omondi from Kenya spoke to us about the nature of life in the kingdom, beginning from the Sinai Covenant and the Exodus through the exile to Jesus and toward Revelation.

You can watch Francis’s message below, as well as find out more of what is happening in the next week and a half with MissionsFest here.

A Prayer for Global Mission

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God of truth and love,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Hear our prayer for those who do not know You.

We ask that they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth
and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world.

Sustain, inspire and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel.

Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith;
sustain our faith when it is still fragile.
Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church;
raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world.

Make us witnesses to Your goodness;
full of love, strength and faith –
for Your glory
and the salvation of the entire world.

By Kendall Harmon

Seeking My Brothers (Hard Places)

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This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, we began our annual MissionsFest. As we celebrate God’s faithfulness to us as a church for forty years, we are hearing from two of our long-term, international ministry partners on the theme of “Hard Places.”

This first weekend, Rev. Yousef Hashweh from Amman, Jordan, spoke to us from the life of Jesus and the story of Joseph about seeking after others in a message entitled “Seeking My Brothers.” I originally posted this on Monday but am reposting it after some technical difficulties were resolved.

You can watch Yousef’s message below, as well as find out more of what is happening in the next week and a half with MissionsFest here.

The Christian faith is a missionary faith: David Bosch on mission and missions

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David Bosch (center) with Desmond Tutu (right) and Michael Cassidy (left)

Here is South African missiologist David Bosch on the nature of the church and mission from his milestone work Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission.

The Christian faith, I submit, is intrinsically missionary….This dimension of the Christian faith is not an optional extra: Christian is missionary by its very nature, or it denies its very raison d’être.

Christian mission gives expression to the dynamic relationship between God and the world, particularly as this was portrayed, first, in the story of the covenant people of Israel and then, supremely, in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus of Nazareth.

The entire Christian existence is to be characterized as missionary existence….The church begins to be missionary  not through its universal proclamation of the gospel, but through the universality of the gospel it proclaims.

Theologically speaking, “foreign missions” is not a separate entity. The missionary nature of the church does not just depend on the situation in which it finds itself at a given moment but is grounded in the gospel itself. The justification and foundation for foreign missions, as for home missions, ‘lies in the universality of salvation and the indivisibility of the reign of Christ.’ The difference between home and foreign missions is not one of principle but of scope.

We have to distinguish between mission (singular) and missions (plural). The first refers primarily to the missio Dei (God’s mission), that is, God’s self-revelation as the One who loves the world, God’s involvement in and with the world, the nature and activity of God, which embraces both the church and the world, and in which the church is privileged to participate. Missio Dei enunciates the good news that God is a God-for=-people. Missions (the missiones ecclesiae: the missionary ventures of the church), refer to particular forms, related to specific times, places or needs, of participation in the missio Dei.

The church-in-mission…is not identical with God’s reign yet not unrelated to it either; it is ‘a foretaste of its coming, the sacrament of its anticipation in history.’ Living in the creative tension of, at all the same time, being called out of the world and sent into the world, it is challenged to be God’s experimental garden on earth, a fragment of the reign of God, having ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’ (Rom 8:23) as a pledge of what is to come (2 Cor 1:22).

[Excerpts from David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991), pages 8-11.]

A Prayer of Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael with children

And shall I pray Thee change Thy will my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But no, Lord, no, that shall never be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.

I pray Thee hush the hurrying eager longing
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire.
See in my quiet places wishes thronging,
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.

And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure.
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry content my Well-beloved’s leisure,
At last, at last, even as a weaned child.

By Amy Carmichael, missionary to India.

Prayer as Power for Mission with God (Romans 15:23-33)

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I concluded our series “Power in Prayer: Learning to Pray with St. Paul.” After looking at Ephesians 3:14-21 on praying our way into God’s power and love and Colossians 1:9-14 on how prayer shapes our souls, this weekend I explored Romans 15:23-33 on how prayer connects with our mission in the world.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement. Each weekend I am also providing some resources for prayer related to the passage or theme of the week.

Resources for prayer

Each month we have a prayer guide for the church, the city, and the world. How could you more actively utilize these resources in praying for others?

Operation World is a helpful resource for intercessory prayer for the nations. Access it online or purchase a hard copy to pray over the world in a more informed manner.

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The Power of a Unified Mission

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November 11, 2011, was a historic night in the life of the Egyptian Church. As the Arab Spring unfolded, tensions were rising in Cairo, including the killing of many Coptic Christians in October. In the past, the Orthodox Copts, the Roman Catholics, and the Protestants had not supported one another. In fact, they had at many times stood against each other.

But this time was different. In response to this rising difficulty an invitation went out for Christians from all backgrounds – Coptic, Catholic, & Protestant – to gather for prayer. On that night, 71,000 people gathered to seek the face of God in prayer together. Held at the cave church on Cairo’s largest garbage city, the night began with confession, and continued with the gospel being proclaimed, healings happening through prayer, and one span of about 10 minutes where people merely called out the name of Jesus over and over again. Since that time, there has been an increase in conversions to Christ in Egypt at a number never before experienced in recent history.

Something happens when God’s people stand together in unity. There is power in a unified mission.

Jesus says…(read John 17:21, 23)

  • v 21 – “so that the world may believe you have sent me”
  • v 23 – “so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”

Jesus says that the result – the aftereffects – of unity in His people is effectiveness for the mission and purposes of God in the world. Get this: Jesus is talking to the Father about His desire for the church to reach the world – those far from God – and His key request is for unity in the believers.

The implication here is that if we live in disunity, then we will not be effective in joining God in His purposes in the world. Our mission will be short-circuited because of unity.

Jesus Himself was the one who said, “f a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).

There are a couple of implications here:

  1. We cannot stand the threats of the world without unity. Jesus said, “a house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25). If we want to endure in a culture against us then we must seek and pray for unity.
  2. If we care about the mission of God in the city and in the world, then we must both personally pray for and seek the unity of God’s people. The unity of the church and the mission of the church cannot be divorced from one another. If we think we can pursue the mission without pursuing unity, then we are deceived by the evil one.

The place where positive steps for mission – and the place where positive steps toward unity – occur best is in prayer, as Jesus models for us here in John 17.

Prayer is the pathway to unity, which strengthens the mission of the church.

[This is the fourth in a series of posts on unity through prayer from John 17, which began here.]