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Archive for the ‘Missions Matter’ Category

Can God Use My Mess?

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Change Life

Part eighteen of our Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu-

Heather Radu with BrayanI love reading biographies of great Christians. Learning about how others have stepped out in faith and how God used them is very encouraging. Or maybe I should say it’s encouraging most of the time. On one hand, seeing how others served Jesus is encouraging, but on the other hand sometimes I doubt I could do what they did. They almost seem perfect!

The truth is that no Christian has ever been perfect. Any follower of Jesus, past, present, or future, would tell you the same. Still, we sometimes get intimidated by the amazing lives other Christians have read. We might even think, “I can’t get out there and serve the poor for God. I’m too much of a mess.”

Let me encourage you: God specializes in using messes! Paul used to persecute the church right up until the moment Jesus called him. Peter denied he even knew Jesus after three years of serving alongside him. The disciples messed up and misunderstood Jesus over and over again. Read the gospels—it isn’t pretty!

In spite of all these things, God used these men to do an amazing work. They have influenced lives for 2000 years and all across the globe. If God can do that, he can certainly use you and me to minister in our own back yards.

When you have the opportunity to serve others, do not let your troubled life serve as an excuse. Do not say, “I’m just too sinful for God to use me.” Instead, if you follow God’s will by serving where he has called you to serve, your heart will start to change. You may just find that your love for your sins is shrinking while your desire to know God and serve him keeps growing.

Remember, God does not ask you to become perfect before you serve the poor. All he asks is that you love him, and you love them. When this is true, the light of God’s love will shine through and overwhelm your imperfections. They will still be there, but they will not dominate you. They will not control your actions. In fact, those imperfections will give you the opportunity to point the glory for your work back to God where it belongs, and that is what every Christian should aim for.

The Switch and the Samaritan

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Serving the Poor

Part seventeen of our Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu-

Founder Heather RaduGod loves you all the time. He does not quit for a day, hour, even a second. I think that is one of the most beautiful things about being a Christian. God’s love never changes. When I show love to people, the quality of that love sometimes depends on my mood. Sometimes, unfortunately, my mood is not the greatest. I think this is true of most of us, isn’t it?

Sometimes when we serve the poor in our communities, the love we have for people has a sort of “on/off” switch. When you go to the community center, or the food pantry, or wherever you serve, you are “on.” You talk with people, you help fill their physical needs, and you share the love of Jesus with them. You might even develop a sort of friendship with the people you meet there.

The sort of ministry described above takes a lot of energy. When you are exhausted after a long day, the temptation to flip your switch to the “off” position is very tempting. You might walk down the street and see a man laying on the sidewalk and think, “I’ve done my part today. Please, God, send someone to help this man.” Then you walk on by.

Does that scenario sound familiar? It should because it is very much like the parable of the Good Samaritan! In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus tells us about the man who had been robbed, and how the respectable people passed by because they were too busy “serving God.” They did not have time to get their hands dirty. But truly, getting their hands dirty was exactly what God wanted them to do.

At this point you might be thinking, “thanks for the guilt trip.” But making people feel guilty is not the point. What I really want to do is to remind myself and everyone who reads this that serving the poor, and loving people in general, is not a job we do. It is not a task we perform. Serving those in need should be a natural outgrowth of our love for God. When we love God, his love will fill us up and give us the strength to serve others without reverting to an “on/off” mentality.

I encourage you to seek The Lord every day and ask him for strength to love like that Samaritan.

Flourishing for Everyone

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Signs of poverty -l iving in a shack like this.

Part sixteen of our Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu-

A road through a poor neighborhood in GuatemalaOver 2500 years ago, the Jewish nation was conquered and many people were carried off to Babylon. Can you imagine how it might feel to be torn away from your home like that? You might feel bitter, or angry. You would feel like you were in a place you did not belong, and you would probably want to go home.

If I had been taken from my home, I would want God to set me free, and maybe to destroy the city of those who had taken me away! The surprising thing is that God did not want the Jews acting this way. He did not want them to be bitter toward the people and cities of Babylon. Instead, God told the prophet Jeremiah to tell people to work for the health of the city.

I think a part of living as a Christian is working for the health of our cities. Like the Jews in Babylon, we are strangers in this world. We represent Jesus well when we bring goodness to the places we live.

It would be easy at this point to start thinking about working with the local movers and shakers, and how much good we could do through influencing them, but it is important for us to remember the poor. If we make our city beautiful and line the pockets of those who are already wealthy, what good have we done? On the other hand, if we elevate the poor, we have helped those who genuinely need it.

So if we are determined to help our cities, how can we make sure the poor aren’t left behind? For one thing, it is important to make sure the poor haven’t just been run out of town or forced out of sight. That is a surface level change that ignores the dignity of those in need. Instead, ask for God to give you insight on how to develop relationships with the people you minister.

Another way to make sure the poor are not left behind is to be intentional in including them in your planning. They understand what they need better than we do because they are living in these communities full time. If you ask for their help you are acknowledging that they are genuinely valuable and made in God’s image. In that way you will help your city, and everyone in it, flourish.

Gospel Words and Deeds

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Efrain and Specail MOther.

Part fifteen of our Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu-

Founder Heather RaduI would love to live in a world that has been totally transformed by the Gospel of Jesus. I suspect you would, too. Imagine how much love, peace, and mercy would fill people’s lives! No one would steal, kill, or betray—it would be incredibly beautiful. Sadly, we do not live in that world right now. We live in a world that has been shattered by sin.

Part of our calling as Christians is to recognize that the world is shattered, but to also remember that God sent Jesus to repair it. One of the most important ways to do that is just go out and tell people about what Jesus has accomplished (and continues to do). But I want you to know that there are other ways to bring healing to the people we meet.

I think sometimes we forget that we demonstrate the Gospel just by bringing relief to those who are suffering. I cannot help but think of what Jesus said in Matthew 25. When we provide for the needs of the “least of these” it is as though we are doing it for him. We are living out the truth that his life teaches us. That is an essential part of the truth of Christianity.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying we don’t need to proclaim the Gospel with words! That is absolutely vital because God has chosen preaching as the major way to declare his message. But what I am saying is that there are times when our words will not penetrate people’s hearts.

When people are suffering they often can’t hear your words. In fact, they may actively resist what you say. But if they can see your actions, then you have their attention. Once they are sure you care and that you are trustworthy, your words will have a much greater impact. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen or heard about hard-hearted people who were softened by someone who patiently lived the Gospel out before they spoke up.

I look forward to living in a world that has been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus. Until that reality comes to pass we can, through God’s strength, live in a way that shows what that transformation looks like. Then those who are in need will understand that Jesus is what they’ve been looking for all along.

Following the Way of Jesus

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Following the Way of Jesus

Part fourteen of our Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu-

Founder Heather RaduDid you know we have not always been called “Christians?” If you read the book of Acts, Luke tells us that Christians were also called followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2, ch. 19). If you think on those verse for a while, you might come to realize something surprising: being a Christian is not just about believing the truth about Jesus (although that is absolutely vital). It is also about following his example.

When Jesus graciously saves us, we are not called to relax and live a comfortable life. He didn’t, after all! Instead, we represent him and share his message. One of the things that Jesus did while he was here on earth was identify with the poor. In Matthew 8:20, he told his followers that he had no place to lay his head. Can you imagine? The God of the universe was homeless!

What does this have to do with us? Am I saying that we all need to be homeless and give everything away to the poor? No, of course not. Again, the book of Acts shows us that some people in the church had more money than others. The problem arises, though, when we who might be a little more well off begin valuing comfort over service. This is a huge danger for me, and for many Christians in the U.S.

Christians have to return to Jesus again and again. We need to be reminded that being a Christian should lead us into serving others, not because we’re better than them, but because we are just like them. When Jesus came to earth he became a human being he did not say, “I’m going to separate my people into the ‘upper class’ and the ‘lower class.'” This means that the playing field is even. No one is better than anyone else.

Since all this is true, we need to ask ourselves if we are truly imitating our Lord as we go about our daily lives. And the majority of the time, we will have to say ‘no!’ But even those moments can serve as a reminder that Jesus came down and put on a body just like ours so he could identify with us. As Christians (or followers of the Way, as Luke put it), we should always be ready to imitate our Lord.

A Taste for Being Wronged

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

A Taste for Being Wronged

Part thirteen of our new Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu-

Founder Heather RaduLoving junk food is easy, isn’t it? In America any supermarket or gas station is sure to have an unbelievable selection of junk, usually wrapped up in a brightly colored package. When we were children those treats were nearly irresistible, weren’t they? Crunchy chips and sticky, sweet candy bars were like treasures.

In comparison to junk food healthy food can seem pretty unappealing, at least at first. If you are a junk food junkie, you have to train your body (and your taste buds) to prefer the good stuff. Once you do, though, you will feel healthier, and you will be able to appreciate a wider variety of flavors. In other words, you will be better off in the long run.

Living out the gospel also requires us to make some choices that leave a bad taste in our mouths. For instance, did you realize that following the gospel requires us to cultivate a willingness to be wronged? Think about what Jesus taught us in Matthew 5:39-42.

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Jesus does not tell us to strike back or defend our rights. Instead, he said to give, and to be even more generous than the one who is doing wrong to us expects. That is not popular advice!

When you are ministering to the poor, you will be taken advantage of. You will be wronged. Greedy people will come along to take what they should not have, but when that happens you should be encouraged. That means you are doing something right. Continue to serve those people (but make sure those who are truly in need are being served as well). It could be that your generosity—your willingness to be wronged—will finally show them where they are going wrong. After all, that is exactly what Jesus did for us!

Look Out for Lazarus

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Serving the poor of the ghettos in Guatemala City

Part twelve of our new Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu –

Founder Heather RaduI love music. I suspect you do too, since it’s a pretty common love. Whether you love buying new songs and albums or you would rather just listen to what’s on the radio, you probably enjoy a good song. The beautiful melodies, fun rhythms, and meaningful words make music a worthwhile passed time.

One of the exciting things about living in this time is that many of us can listen to our favorite music whenever we want. For some of us, though, those devices we carry around—the ones that give us constant access to our music—become a problem. And it’s not just music-related. The problem can arise from any sort of entertainment or hobby.

Have you ever seen someone walking down the street staring at a phone, earbuds firmly stuffed into their ears? I know I have. They look a little distracted, don’t they? While I have no problem with music or games or social media, I’m afraid they are keeping us from connecting to those who need us.

The poor, I believe, are treated like their invisible at the best of times, so it is important for us to keep the gift of technology from making them even more invisible. I am reminded of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, when Lazarus ate from the crumbs of the rich man’s table. The rich man could have shared anything with Lazarus, but he was too busy to notice the beggar who needed him.

The same can be true of us. Sometimes we cut ourselves off from people so completely from others that we wouldn’t know their needs were written in bright letters. It becomes worse if we are so preoccupied with the things we want to hear, read, or watch that we cut ourselves off from others.

Here is my encouragement to you. Don’t be like the rich man. Don’t ignore the Lazarus in your life. Instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by entertainment, look around. Talk with the people you see. If you meet them and get to know them, you will not only find out what needs they might have, but might also gain a friend in the process. And when you do that, you can truly show that person the love of Christ.

Serving Others and Counting the Cost

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

A women holds her baby in one of the ghettos of Guatemala

Part eleven of our new Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu-

Founder Heather RaduServing the poor is a blessing. There is nothing quite like getting involved in someone’s life and making a difference. I know I have always loved seeing the light in a child’s eyes the first time he or she realizes that they have come to a loving environment at Dorie’s Promise. For all the blessings that come with service, though, we need to acknowledge that there is a price as well.

When Jesus spoke to others about becoming his disciple, he encouraged them to “consider the cost.” It’s important for us to do that with our service opportunities as well. For instance, if you get involved with underprivileged kids, how often will you see them? Once a month? Once a week? And what will you have to give up in order to keep those appointments?

Our schedules in the United States feel very tightly packed. There are things pulling at us from all directions. But in truth, how many of the things that we do are essential? How much time do you spend on FaceBook and Twitter, for instance? How much TV do you watch? If we trim the fat from our lives, we will be healthier and we will have a greater freedom to serve other people.

I want to encourage you to take a long, hard look at your schedule. There will be many non-negotiables, like worship, family time, and work, but there are also areas in which time can be saved. Do not be afraid to get rid of things that feel very important to you. If God is truly calling you to serve, you need to take every opportunity you can to do it. If you do, you will wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

You might also find that working in order to buy more and more gets in the way of service. Sometimes it feels like all our culture wants is for us to turn into buying machines. In a situation like that, how can we focus on serving others? Look around your house right now. I’m sure most of us have possessions hidden away that we wonder why you ever bought. So if we can count the cost and change our time and money priorities, we can be free to serve others in a fuller, richer way. How can you count the cost today?

Making the Most of Your Time

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Serving children in the ghetto of Guatemala

Part ten of our new Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu –

Founder Heather RaduHow much time do you have?

That’s a pretty open-ended question isn’t it? “How much time do I have for what?” you might ask. Maybe I mean, “how much time until your next appointment?” or “how much free time do you have?” In the latter question’s case, I would guess your answer is “not much.” We are busy people, aren’t we?

We have work and family commitments, and we’re involved at your churches. Then we have to get our children where they need to go, and there are things to do around the house. And our friends end up getting a piece of our time too, don’t they? So if I ask you, “how much time do you have?” you would be tempted to answer “none.”

But it’s not true. The answer to “how much time do you have?” is “all of it.” God has given every moment of your life to you as a gift. That doesn’t mean that you should use your time in whatever way you want, but I think it can help us remember that we don’t have to let our clocks get out of control.

Sadly, serving is one of the first things people stop doing when their free time disappears. It’s hard to make time to feed the poor in our towns if we don’t have time to sit down and eat without going through a drive through. But we have to remember that the need doesn’t go away because our time did.

Please do not think I want you to add something to your already busy schedule! In Ephesians 5:16 Paul calls us to “redeem the time” (as the King James Version translates it), and that includes cutting back on the schedule. If we want to make time for the sorts of things that God is calling us to do, we have to trim some unnecessary things from our lives.

It is not easy, I know. Some “unnecessary things” are very enjoyable, and giving them up is hard. But if we really want to serve God in our communities, as he calls us to do, we need to make those hard choices. We need to find the time to serve those who are suffering all around us. Pray that God will show how you can trim your schedule so he can use you to demonstrate his love to those around you.

God’s Big Mission

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Children at Guatemalan Orphanage

Part nine of our new Missions Matter Series, come back each week to find out more about serving those around your home and community as well as around the world. God has given us the power to be His witnesses! Start today…

By Heather Radu –

Founder Heather RaduI think one of the most important realizations I’ve ever had is this: The only reason we have a mission is because God has a mission. Have you thought about that before? God is on a mission. It’s not just about saving souls either—though that is one of the most important parts. God’s mission is all about fixing what is broken in this world.

Back in Genesis God created a perfect world with perfect people who worshiped him perfectly. But, as we all know, sin came in and ruined that perfection. Once sin came in and wounded our hearts, all sorts of evil became possible. We see the impact of sin to this day. It hurts, damages, and destroys the good things God made.

God’s mission is to make all of that right again. He wants people to have that beautiful, loving relationship that we once had, and he sent Jesus to make it happen. Jesus succeeded, but you know what? God has given us the blessing of being able to play a part in that big mission.

This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about helping those who are in need. Many of these people have no idea how to help themselves out of poverty. Many have been abused and taken advantage of. Jesus came to set people free, and to help them worship the Father. When you and I step in and help the poor, we are demonstrating what Jesus is like to the people we meet. We can be a part of that mission.

So if you ever ask yourself, “why am I helping these people? What benefit is there for any of us?” You can answer, “because I am joining with God on his mission. The way that I help the poor is a picture of the gospel, and it opens the hearts and eats of people everywhere.” If you had never thought about God having a mission before, please think about that right now. Think about how your work in your own community actually contributes to God healing the damage that sin has done in this world.