Mission WeekDecember 8, 2023 Evangelism
These past few days have been very rewarding. I’m in southern California for Home Missions Board meetings and I’ve told several people that this has been the most enjoyable Home Missions meeting I’ve ever attended (and I’ve been on the Board for 16 years).
So, why was it so special? The greatest blessing was to hear from 5 church planting pastor’s serving here in Southern California and Arizona. They were very different in personalities and gifts but each are doing a wonderful job reaching their communities for Christ.
- Joel Ellis, pastor of Reformation Bible Church in Apache Junction, AZ, is leading Bible several Bible studies in the community each week.
- David Shexnayder, pastor of a new church plant in Scottsdale, spoke of how their small groups are intentionally inviting people to eat, read Scripture and pray with them. David pointed out that people in Arizona are isolated from community. It is something very tangible the church can offer in the name of Christ. He told an unconverted single mother from the East Coast who, after spending two months with the people of the church, decided to move to Arizona just to be a part of this new community. She and her daughter are now members and she claims the congregation as her new family.
- Mark Jenkins, from Resurrection OPC in Anaheim Hills, told of their outreach ministry to a nearby home for homeless and special needs adults. He leads a Bible study there each week and folks from there are beginning to attend Resurrection. He spoke, with tears, about how the members of the church are loving and caring for these “least of the least” – and the profound impact this is having on his own children, as they see the love of Christ being manifested through the church in this simple, profound way. His teenage children are very impressed and proud of their little church!
These stories got me to thinking about how we can be more intentional about reaching out to our community. What impressed me was how simple and natural these outreach efforts are: invite people into your home for a meal with your small group; open the Bible with someone and read it with them; notice a nearby need and begin ministering there.
I was particularly inspired by David Shexnayder’s presentation. It’s true that people who grew up in West Michigan have a lot more community in their extended families, HS friends, etc. But that’s if you grew up here. There are MANY people new to West Michigan who do not have friends or family. They are hungry for community – and there is nothing in the world that can match the true love and fellowship found in the body of Christ. Let’s prayerfully look for ways to share that with them!
Would you be willing to pray for the Lord to show you how you could get involved in the gospel mission? The Lord loves to answer such prayers!
On Wednesday Steve VanderWey and I had the chance to slip over the border and visit Paige in Tijuana. We heard a terrific 4-hour presentation by George Walker, a former missionary in Papua New Guinea. He was teaching a class of 40 young men and women, (all of whom are planning to go to unreached people groups), how to interpret a culture. This is critical for faithful and effective gospel ministry in a foreign land – and increasingly necessary for our own context. As our culture becomes increasingly post-Christian, it is becoming progressively “foreign” to us, and we need to work to understand it if we want to reach them with the gospel of Christ.
Let me close with one great story from George Walker. They were teaching a group of 30 tribes people about the Bible, beginning in Genesis. (George emphasized how important it is to start in Genesis so that people can grasp the nature of God, the glory of God’s creation, and the tragedy of the Fall – and all the devastating, present results of it.) Tribal groups all have their own understanding of what the Deity must be like and why people suffer and die. When George told them the truth from the Word, and how the Devil has filled the world with his lies, the people were astonished. In fact, one man in the front jumped up and yelled out, “We’ve been deceived!!” The Light was dispelling the darkness. May God give us the joy of leading people out of the deceptive lies of the Devil into the beautiful light and life of Jesus Christ.
Best thing I’ve read recently: Kevin DeYoung had a brilliant, very helpful article on Doug Wilson. This is such a helpful insight into our cultural moment.