Our common enemy is audacious. The “ruler of this world,” as Jesus calls him in John 14:30, seemingly has no fear when it comes to attacking the children of God. Jesus gave us a warning in John 10:10 that he is also a thief and is literally hell-bent on stealing from us, killing us and destroying us. If you were expecting a Happy New Year in this letter, just remind yourself that the enemy relentlessly wants to destroy you, and everyone else on our planet. He wants to keep us eternally separated from God, and he never takes a break.
Our team that just came back from the Philippines saw many salvations and miracles. During one of their ministry days, they literally preached through the bars of prison to the inmates; the captives. In another instance, they preached and ministered at a funeral (the death was unexpected) of a faithful saint; by the end, people gave their hearts to the Lord, and they realized that the one they came to pay their respects to was no longer held captive by a deteriorating body – instead, they were now existing in their glorified body, worshipping Jesus in His very presence.
I recently returned from the beautiful country of Thailand, or as it is affectionately known: “The Land of Smiles.” I’ve learned in life, however, that what you see on the surface is rarely a good indicator of what lies beneath. Thailand may be deemed a land of smiles, but come with us one time – join GI on one of our mission trips there where we reach out to people on the streets. The streets that are the epicenter for one of the most demonically sexualized places on the planet. Places where the exploitation of women and children is beyond belief. Human trafficking operates virtually without restraint. She-males are prevalent (mixed genders). The village areas are saturated with Buddhism. Idols and temples are visible and accessible without end. Homes, businesses, corporate buildings and farm fields are littered with false gods (idols), and it is impossible to travel very far without seeing large areas dedicated to Buddhism with temple structures.
Have you ever been forgotten? Perhaps an adult forgot to bring you somewhere when you were little. Maybe you heard about a party that already happened and realized people forgot to invite you. Being forgotten is a terrible feeling – it’s like the other person doesn’t value you enough to invite you, or remember to pick you up. Jesus made it a habit to seek out the forgotten — let’s read Mark 5:1-5:
Twenty years ago, God called me to launch a missions organization. I left working at a large church to start something from nothing. Generation one. Nothing must become something. While this seemed like, and was, a daunting task, there were a few biblical principles that gave me confidence and faith. First, God has a habit of making something out of nothing. Second, God can do anything. I could say the collegiate-level word, He’s omnipotent – but honestly, when it comes to our real lives, we often take everything we have heard in our lifetime regarding God, and boil it down to very simple concepts and statements that we can hold on to. He is powerful. He is our healer. He is good. In my case, I knew enough about God after years of being in church and saturated in a Gospel environment, that I believed, and continue to believe, that God can do anything.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not to stop with us; it is to spread with us. We are Plan A, there is no Plan B.
If we know Jesus, we are obligated to tell the world; and not just the world in our own backyard. THE world.
In Romans 1:14-15, Paul writes: I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome.
So there it is – in black and white – right from the Word of God. We are obligated to evangelize in our own city and country, and also go out into all the world to cultures and places that are foreign to us. This is not an easy task, which is why many people do not want to engage in missions.
Right now, there are people fighting for their lives. For some, it is all around them—the poverty, the hunger, the sickness, the war, the political oppression, the demonic influences. There are people who will go to bed tonight and not know if they will wake up—maybe tonight is the night that their body gives out in the slums, or they will be a target of the militant forces around them, or they will be taken and trafficked, or they will hurt themselves or others because a leader of a false religion told them to. If all of these circumstances sound foreign to you, take a moment and thank God. Then follow that with a prayer request: God, how can I be used to see the Kingdom of Heaven expand on the Earth?
If it were not for Jesus and His love, I wonder if we would be driven to reach the lost out of mere sympathy. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”
The story of Jonah is the story of our lives as Christians: we are torn between our call, and our comfort. Jesus told us that our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak (Garden of Gethsemane, Matt. 26:41). Our comfort isn’t just liking the things we like, it also means avoiding the things we don’t like – anything that puts us in an uncomfortable position. Like sharing the Gospel, or leaving our zip code to travel for an actual mission trip.
I have found in life, that both good things and bad things can be hidden. Diamonds are expensive because their original geological form is found buried inside the Earth, then the process to transform them into priceless jewelry is also hidden to most of the world; while the information is available, most of us cannot describe every step of diamond production; nor does any singular person have the skill set to carry out each stage on their own. Now let’s look at something bad: trafficking. The stages of abduction, imprisonment, transporting, torture and sale of human beings is foreign to most people, except those in law enforcement and proactive ministries and organizations injecting themselves into the system so that it will stop. Evil primarily occurs in the dark – physically and metaphorically. Again, no singular person can facilitate an entire trafficking ring. Both with diamonds (good) and trafficking (bad), many people are required to achieve success.