“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed from those loaves!” Mark 6:41, 44
This is a story that we fail to grasp because many of us have heard it so many times. It’s old news. That’s unfortunate because this is great news for us even today!
I have a friend named C.V. in India who became a believer while being cloistered in a monk’s monastery. He was given a tract on rare bus ride outside of the compound. It changed his life forever. He was radically transformed by a 2 cent booklet that someone had purchased and passed out hoping God would use it somehow. The small investment in that tract would raise up one of the most prolific ministers in the nation of India.
After a couple more years in the monastery, CV knew he couldn’t stay. His faith compelled him to be salt and light…to tell the world that Jesus is the answer…to make a difference by interacting with the world rather than becoming holier through separation from it. He only had $4 in his pocket, but decided to take those $4.00 and print up his story in a small tract to hand out to others.
Over time, God took that $4.00 investment and has developed a nationwide ministry in India that is affecting tens of thousands of lives! His ministry has given away over 50,000 wheelchairs to handicapped people, trains pastors all over the country, brings aid and relief work to people in crisis, has raised up orphanages and schools for children that would never go without them, produces Christian magazines and books to encourage believers in India (and these materials are rare there), and is reaching into tribes of people who have never heard about Jesus! He has even opened up a doorway for Edinbrook to help reach the unreached Reang people of India.
God takes the little you have and does a miracle with it. He takes our simple gifts and multiplies their impact.
Be faithful and give what you can. God will take care of the rest…and you will be blessed.
The cultural dances are very important to the Indian Christians. It shows others in their society that they are still being Indian even thought they have changed their belief system from Hindu or Muslim. Many claim that the Christians in India have turned their backs on their heritage, which is vitally important in that culture. A dance, like the one that follows, helps to ease the tension between the religions. Besides that…it is beautiful and enchanting.
watch The Pink Ladies
There’s no place like home! I’m not going to write much today…I’ve already been awake for 29 hours and know I won’t be able to put a logical thought together. It’s down right crazy when, after traveling for 20 hours, you arrive home only 5 hours later on the same day. In fact, I landed in MSP four hours before I left Tokyo! No wonder my body is confused!
For now, just let me say thanks for all of your support and for walking this journey with me on my blog. I’m excited to see many of you in the days ahead. I will be giving the Sunday message and then presenting 25 minutes of India on Sunday evening. Between now and then, I have two focuses: My family and what happens on Sunday.
Check in tomorrow. I plan to post a beautiful assortment of pics and videos. I think you’ll get a taste of India.
Well–I’m coming home tomorrow. As I reflect upon this trip, there was one piece that was very difficult…the hardest part.
- It wasn’t the bed bugs and their blistering stings.
- It wasn’t the smells, unsanitary conditions, or dirty toilets.
- It wasn’t the food, of which we had no idea of its origin…nor did we want to.
- It wasn’t the cultural challenge of communicating to those “in a different world”.
- It wasn’t the fact that I needed to warm an old rusty bucket of water with an electric coil and then take the bucket bath.
- It wasn’t that I missed my Caribous…especially since Mike brought his French press and Starbucks!
The hardest part was being separated from my family.
There is something about being on the other side of the world for 21 days, especially in very remote locations. There is no telephone to spontaneously call home, little chance of keeping posted on what’s happening in the lives of those I love the most. When you’re “one flesh” with your spouse, there’s something very painful about being separated. I felt this a lot!
I missed my sons — and somehow even my daughter, Bethany and her man Paul–who I don’t even see that often. But I really missed my Susan. She is God’s gift to me. She has always been ready to “go the extra mile” if I sense God’s call on my life. For five years, she was a part-time single mom as I traveled around the world for Billy Graham. And she did it again in this past month. I know it wasn’t easy for her, but she never complains. Really–I’m a VERY blessed man. As Proverbs 31:29 states,“Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.”
I’m comin home, Babe! I can’t wait to see you.
I’ve arrived in Bangkok.
As I think of India, so many things come to mind. God is moving in great ways in Northeast India. I have been privileged to see it and participate with it. I have also been profoundly challenged. My faith, though very real, tends to be more casual than God deserves. I’m trying to get my head around all the things that I have seen. I’m processing…
Let me share a few quick thoughts that are on the surface for me right now:
- I am SO thankful that Jesus saved me.
- I am privileged to participate in the work that God wants done in our world.
- I am responsible for all of the knowledge, resources, responsibility, and opportunities that God has entrusted to me.
- I have been commissioned by God to make a difference in my world for His glory.
- Urgency and passion are required for this Great Work God has given to me.
A reminder: We’ve all been called by God to do His work. It is rooted in our love for God and lived out by loving people.
I want to be faithful. When I some day stand before God, I want to know I have given my all.
I just arrived in Kolkata, India (written Calcutta in America). This, of course, is the venue of Mother Theresa’s famous work to the destitute and sick. Just in my half-hour ride to my hotel from the airport, I have been shocked by the poverty I have seen. And I do not get shocked easily. I’ve seen lots of things in so many different places in the world, but I have never seen anything like this. Entire road-side villages of homes made of boxes, scrap wood, bamboo, plastic, canvas…whatever people can find are placed among garbage dumps with refuse as high as the homes. Little walkways between all the stuff makes way for dirty, thin, dying, and hopeless people to make their way from place to place. It is stunning.
I am reminded of two things right now:
- I am so blessed by God
- Jesus loves every one of these people.
I don’t understand all of the dynamics of why this is, if it’s fair, what happens to God’s heart to be among the “least of these” yet always overlooked. So much is going on in my head and heart, I cannot sort it all out right now. I just know that what God has done for me must profoundly affect the way I live my life. It’s not about me. There’s an urgency to the Great Cause entrusted to us. However you can get your heart around this…God bless you.
It takes all of us to accomplish God’s work in God’s time in God’s way through God’s power. So let’s give it everything we’ve got. Maybe we can’t affect the destitute of Kolkata, but we impact the life those in our neighborhoods and places of work.
God–help us to be faithful. Today.
I’m leaving Itanigar (the Brick City) this morning and travelling for 12 hours or so back to Gawhatti. It will be a long but relaxing day. Of course, it is always interesting. There are so many things I’ve experienced here that I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the world (including bed bugs that last four nights! Ouch…their bites hurt like crazy and blister for two days.)I’m sure there are a few more new things for me today too.
Our time with Nyishis was amazing. I am very thankful.
We will be on our way back to Bangkok for the next couple days. Keep checking the blog…I’ll post when I can.
As I stood before a crowd of sixty Nyishi leaders today, I was deeply moved by the hunger they have to get better at ministry while dealing with the difficult challenges they constantly face. At first, these people faced intense opposition from the outside — both government and other religions persecuted the Nyishis severely. They now face opposition from inside the Christian community as radical and unbiblical figures create chaos within churches, leading some astray. They come claiming their ministry of miracles, waxing eloquent with self-made prophecies, teaching unbiblical statements about receiving Holy Spirit power. The church of Christ is confused and sometimes unpopular. Leaders of the Baptist Churches sometimes feel pressured to be more spectacular or tantalizing than they have been in the past.
For those creating the opposition, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 when he said, “You will say, did we not do great miracles in your name?” And Jesus will respond, “I never knew you. Depart from you who practice lawlessness.”
In our leadership training today, we pointed people back to the word, taught practical biblical principles of leadership, and found the Nyishis extremely grateful and significantly challenged. What a privilege it was to share truths that have great potential to impact and help grow the Kingdom of God in Arunachal Prudesh.
Jesus was our model today. I want to continue to have Him be my model for all of my leadership efforts. Even at Edinbrook, as we go through necessary change in the weeks and months ahead, it will never be for change sake. Instead, Jesus told us to “make disciples.” We are never doing that good enough. We must always be seeking God’s will and plan for better and more effective ways to accomplish this great and urgent task. Some of the changes I will propose will not be greeted with wild cheering nor happy countenance. BUT–change must happen. God’s commission is too great to be satisfied with methods that are not accomplishing what we have been told to do.
I promise to follow Jesus. Join me in the risk-taking, life-giving, challenging, difficult, and fulfilling journey of following Jesus…wherever it is that He may lead.
Today was a very big day. We had coffee at 6am (we always do…Mike brought along Starbucks and his French press!), breakfast at 7AM, went to our training conference at 8 and were there until 2PM (Mike and I taught on the Holy Spirit today). We were at the hotel for two hours and then each went to separate churches for the evening. I spoke on some fresh insights into the Prodigal son…especially looking at the older brother. People were very grateful. I just returned from that…it is 9PM. We do the same schedule all day tomorrow. I’ll be tired by Sunday.
I spent time with a pastor tonight (I was at his church) who was adopted by the BGC years ago — they sent him to a theological school up here. He has been an evangelist for 11 years until very recently. He has baptized 10,750 new believers and started 42 churches! And then he wanted me to preach in his church… Very humbling.
I’m reminded of the sovereignty of God while on this trip. In the most remote locations, with the most primitive of settings, God is working in mighty ways to bring so many into the family of God. We can naturally think that wherever we are is the center of the world, in a way. This is simply not true. God is doing such incredible things in so many places all at the same time…even here in Arunuchal Pradesh!
It humbles me to think that God notices me, cares for me, and uses me.