Written by the SBC of Virginia Mission Team, Stewardship Development Association, and SBC of Virginia Pastors. SBC of Virginia churches support missions and ministry causes across Virginia, North America, and around the world through the Cooperative Program. We also support state, national, and international missions through the Vision Virginia State Missions Offering and the Cooperative Program. Devotional content contributed by the Stewardship Development Association and SBC of Virginia pastors.
SECURITY NOTICE ON INTERNATIONAL MISSIONARIES:
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More than half of the nearly 5,000 international missionaries we support around the world serve in areas so dangerous they cannot be identified in public media. This is why many of our missionaries are either not identified or use pseudonyms.
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TABLE of CONTENTS 4
International Mission Board ~ Carver Gladding
Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission ~ Mike & Stephanie Goeke
International Mission Board ~ Eileen Swarr
North American Mission Board ~ D.J. Jenkins
North American Mission Board ~ Mark & Tami Lashey
North American Mission Board ~ Patrick & Archalena Coats
International Mission Board ~ Brian & Becky Harrell
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary ~ Omar Segovia
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary ~ Daniel Choi
International Mission Board ~ James Keath
North American Mission Board ~ Sarah Reese Hunt
International Mission Board ~ Dylan & Jessica Vilmek
North American Mission Board ~ Lucas Aube
International Mission Board ~ Ted Holmes
SBC of Virginia ~ Steven & Tiffany Lee
International Mission Board ~ Rose Shephard
International Mission Board ~ Chad & Sarah Hardy
International Mission Board ~ Tim & Joy Mitchell
International Mission Board ~ Carl Neumann
International Mission Board ~ Anthony Conner
North American Mission Board ~ Barry & Amy Rager
International Mission Board ~ Laura Reece
International Mission Board ~ Jay Shafto
North American Mission Board ~ Daniel Yang
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary ~ Brandon Kiesling
International Mission Board ~ Eliza Korn
SBC of Virginia ~ Zack & Autumn Randles
International Mission Board ~ Layla Murphy
North American Mission Board ~ Travis & Staci Kerns
North American Mission Board ~ Dominic & Solange ChaussĂŠ
North American Mission Board ~ Lorna Bius
North American Mission Board ~ Michael Johnson
International Mission Board ~ Joshua Murphree
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary ~ Timothy
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary ~ Seminary Students
North American Mission Board ~ Muche & Diamone Ukegbu
North American Mission Board ~ Derek & Lindsay Allen
International Mission Board ~ Jeff Cruse
North American Mission Board ~ Martin Vargas
International Mission Board ~ Norm Starr
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary ~ Charles
International Mission Board ~ Deaf Christians
International Mission Board ~ Billy & Sarah Fontenot
International Mission Board ~ Christian Worker
SBC of Virginia ~ Jamie Limato
North American Mission Board ~ Jeff & Sara Phillips
SBC of Virginia ~ John & Denise Wyble
International Mission Board ~ Mitch & Nellie Englehart
International Mission Board ~ Bob & Joy Benton
International Mission Board ~ Bethany & David Anderson
North American Mission Board ~ Jonathan Land
International Mission Board ~ Billy & Vanessa Gorin
STEWARDS of MONEY WRITTEN BY
Stewardship Development Association
oney is a forgotten topic in many churches today, yet the Bible speaks about it more often than even heaven or hell. Understanding and applying biblical money management principles are important for us, as stewards over all God has created. Teaching and preaching on the subject are desperately needed! After Jesus instructed the disciples how to pray (Matt. 6:9–13), He warned about laying up treasure on earth because it is frail—moth and rust can corrupt it or a thief can steal it. Instead, Jesus instructed us to invest God’s earthly riches in Kingdom enterprises where they are eternally safe (Matt. 6:20–21). As Jesus continued to teach, five times He warned against worrying about clothes, food, and one’s body. The cure for anxiety over possessions is the Father’s firm assurance that He will care for us as we focus on His Kingdom. Biblical stewardship helps us maintain Kingdom focus. You may wonder if the Bible tells us how much to give—actually, God is interested in all that we have. He cares about how we earn it, spend it, save it, and give it. The tithe (10%) is a starting point for our giving, a good baseline as we learn to give joyfully from the grace we have received. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus says the Pharisees should have already mastered the tithe so they could focus on justice, mercy, and faithfulness. So too, if you start with the tithe, let God show you how to invest generously and joyfully based on His grace.
NORTH AFRICA MIDDLE EAST Have you ever had a dream? Was it a dream that God gave you? That’s the same question that Christian worker Carver Gladding* used to open his Bible storying workshop. It was a crash course in learning how to weave stories from the Bible into everyday life. During the workshop, one man timidly raised his voice and professed that he had dreamed of the very workshop he was now attending. Carver used his Bible storying skills to relate that man’s experience with a God-given dream to the Bible story of Joseph. And it’s because of the Cooperative Program that we’re able to equip men like Carver to point people to Christ. We need to pray that Carver continues to speak truth that will impact the hearts of those around him. *Name changed to protect identity.
REAL CHANGE WRITTEN BY
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you,” MATTHEW 28:18-19
arl Marx is buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery. Etched into the stone of the marker, there are these familiar words of Marx, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.’’ Marx definitely changed the world politically and economically. At one point of the twentieth century, about 24 nations were ruled by the communist doctrine Marx propagated. Most would agree the world needs changing. Bombings, shootings, abortions, wars, human trafficking and a host of other ills are endless reminders of just how much the world needs changing. Those who faithfully follow Jesus are the world changers this ailing planet needs. Jesus told us that we have no alternative but to change the world.
MARK & TAMI LASHEY DELAWARE Mark Lashey had zero desire to live in Delaware. There was no sweet tea and, certainly, no biscuits. Children didn’t say sir and ma’am. The truth is that the Northeast seemed cold. But God gave Mark a burden for the people of his new community. He and his wife started a Bible study in their home called LifeHouse. Soon, it consisted of more than 100 people. And in a short time, that small Bible study was a full-fledged church with an average attendance of 650. Mark and his wife were able to impact their community because they were faithful to God’s calling and had the support of the Cooperative Program. Let’s join in praying for the Lasheys as they continue their mission.
ADVANCE the KINGDOM of CHRIST WRITTEN BY
“For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that is increasing to your account.” PHILIPPIANS 4:16-17
he apostle Paul was very grateful for the partnership he had with the Philippians in the Gospel. He had been instrumental in the planting of their church, and now he felt their support in tangible ways. Not only did they pray for and give to support Paul’s further church planting efforts, they had sent Epaphroditus to minister alongside him (Phil. 2:25-26). Even as Paul commends them for the tangible ways they had helped him, he pointed them to the reality that actions that advance Christ’s kingdom will receive an eternal reward. He says he is seeking the “fruit that is increasing to your account.” He certainly wasn’t referring to their ability to receive an apostle Paul bobble-head from the Pauline gift shop back in Antioch! He is echoing the words of Jesus who urged disciples to “store up for yourselves treasure in Heaven” by doing things that advance His Kingdom. The old adage is true, “you can’t take it with you, but you can send it ahead.”
DANIEL CHOI GOLDEN GATE BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY Daniel Choi, a student at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, has a unique story. He’s a second-generation Korean who grew up in Sydney, Australia. When Daniel was about to start college, his family moved to South Korea when his father accepted a pastorate. His experiences growing up in Sydney have forever shaped his life because so few ministers understand the needs of second-generation Koreans. This is why Daniel chose to go into ministry — because God placed on his heart a desire to reach second-generation Koreans. It looks like many second-generation Koreans have given up on church. But God brought Daniel to Southern California where there is a large number of Korean churches. It’s because of your support through the Cooperative Program that people like Daniel are able to pursue God’s calling for their life. Let’s pray for Daniel as he continues to impact those around him for Christ.
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time…” 1 TIMOTHY 2:5-6
ogging has always been my release and my time alone with God. I had the awesome opportunity to jog across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge while we were spending time in San Francisco. As I was jogging up the bridge, I looked to my left and noticed a brand new “double decker” bridge being constructed. About halfway across the water, the bridge ended and led to nowhere. But my bridge continued and eventually would have led me to safety. So many people are traveling on the bridge to “nowhere” that will eventually lead to destruction. For a short time, it appears to be the right road but one day, the bridge will end. Jesus is the Mediator between God and men, finishing the bridge and carrying souls to safety. Those who have the truth should make it their life pursuit to “get souls on the right bridge.” Lucas Aube, NAMB Missionary
LUCAS AUBE LENNOXVILLE, QUEBEC We think of Canada as a lot like the United States and it is. But it’s also much less Christian, especially in the French-speaking province of Québec. Many people in Québec have a Catholic background, but as time goes by they have less and less understanding or respect for the Christian faith. That’s why our missionary there, Lucas Aube, gets a lot of negative responses when he tries to
share the Gospel. But he keeps on sharing. Sometimes people in Québec will listen to your personal story of how you were saved. So Lucas and his team train Baptists how to tell their story of how they came to faith in Christ. Our church is one of the sponsors of this difficult ministry Lucas is doing in Québec, because he is one of many missionaries across Canada supported through the Cooperative Program. We are one of his partners. So today let’s pray that God will continue to break down barriers to His message and His love there in Québec. And let’s pray for Him to bless Lucas and keep him strong.
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 CORINTHIANS 5:18-20
Are you an AMBASSADOR for CHRIST?
section of Massachusetts Avenue in Washington D.C. is referred to as “Embassy Row.” This nickname comes from the fact that there are many embassies of foreign nations located there. These embassies enjoy special designations. Diplomats of foreign nations have offices housed inside that serve as direct outposts of the nation represented. These diplomats are considered ambassadors, or representatives of the nations represented. In many ways, these outposts are considered to be part of the nations represented rather than the United States. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 explains that followers of Jesus have been given a ministry and message from the Kingdom of God. We serve as “ambassadors for Christ.” As Christians proclaim the good news of Jesus, God is making an appeal to the world through the very words of His people. Everywhere a Christian goes, he serves as an outpost for the Kingdom of God. Christians should see themselves as representing the Kingdom of God in the kingdom of this world. Everywhere you go, you have a mission and a message. The Kingdom has come in Jesus, and we are His diplomats.
CHAD & SARAH HARDY NORTH AFRICA MIDDLE EAST What if a simple smile or kind phrase could change someone’s life? IMB medical missionaries Chad and Sarah would tell you it’s possible because they’ve witnessed it first hand. Chad and Sarah were treating a woman named Anya* for tuberculosis when she emphatically stated that foreigners were so much nicer than Arabs. Sarah used this opportunity to carefully explain to Anya that they weren’t nice because of their nationality but because Jesus lived within them. Anya decided to start reading the Bible on her own after that. And when she couldn’t sleep one night, Anya wrote a poem. In that moment, she gave her life to Christ. To this day, Anya is the only believer in her family. But she is still living for God. It’s by giving through the Cooperative Program that our church is able to help support missionaries like Chad and Sarah. Let’s pray for them as they continue to give medical care and share the Gospel. Let’s also pray that God will use them to bring even more people — just like Anya — to salvation. *Name changed to protect identity.
“Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you...” 1 SAMUEL 12:23
sually, I think of sin that I should not do. This verse (1 Samuel 12:23) reminds me that sin can also be what I neglect to do. Why is neglecting to pray for others a sin? Parents who do not feed their children are sinning, right? Refusing to offer kindness to one’s spouse is a sin, right? Withholding a gift toward someone in need is a sin, right? And yet...the greatest action, the most loving gesture and the biggest contribution we can make is to pray on behalf of those around us. We are to pray for family members, those in need, our enemies and our leaders. To not pray is a sin. It denies those around us our greatest possible gift. To not pray, means I do not care. To not pray, is to say, “I don’t need you, God.” I’ve got some people on my heart. I’ve got no answers for their difficult situations. But I know somebody I can talk to. It would be a sin not to pray.
Barry Rager, NAMB Missionary
BARRY & AMY
When most people think of missionaries, their mind probably goes to those serving overseas. But sometimes, those missionaries, like Barry Rager, are in our own backyard. Following God’s call, Barry moved to Indianapolis to start a church in a neighborhood that desperately needed Christ. The area that Barry now calls home is thought to be 95 percent non-Christian, with only one Southern Baptist church for every 19,965 people.
Every day, Barry and his family face the crime-filled streets of their neighborhood… all for the sake of bringing the Gospel to the lost. And although they frequently hear gunshots ring out, it doesn’t change the fact that their neighbors are receptive to hearing about Jesus. So they press on speaking God’s word as often as possible. Our support through the Cooperative Program allows us to be a part of Barry’s ministry in Indianapolis. So let’s pray together that God will continue to guide Barry in his work for the Lord so that even more people can come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
STEWARDS of LIFE WRITTEN BY
he creation narrative is more than a record of the first events on earth. Here, we discover that God existed before everything and created all that exists and that everything was created intentionally and purposefully. The peak of creation is recorded in Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over…all the earth.’” Men and women bear the image of God and have the task of ruling over the earth. Being made in God’s image means that man is relational, rational, and responsible. Being relational, he can enjoy a personal relationship with his creator. Being rational, he can receive and follow God’s instructions for managing creation. Thus, he will be held responsible for the unique task of stewardship over creation to manage all God’s resources by His principles for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom. Tragically, sin entered into God’s creation, and man began to think of himself as owner, rather than manager. Our original task remains: We are to bear God’s image and steward His resources. Consider how you would answer these questions in light of this truth: • • •
Do you have a personal relationship with your Creator? Have you embraced your role as a steward? Are you investing your life for the advancement of the Kingdom?
MIKE & STEPHANIE
ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES COMMISSION Ever since childhood, pastor Mike Goeke felt like a slave to shame. His struggle with homosexuality placed him in inescapable bondage. And he faced ridicule and condemnation from his peers at Christian schools as he kept his battle secret. Confident that marriage was the key that would set him free, Mike married Stephanie. He soon discovered that marriage was not the solution he had longed for. After spiraling into depression, Mike left Stephanie. But Mike’s father never gave up on him and gave him a book that introduced
him to “a Jesus who was in the trenches” with him. Mike surrendered to a life of holiness and finally found the freedom he longed for through Jesus. By the grace of God, Mike and Stephanie reconciled their marriage and now have three children. Today, Mike is pastor of First Baptist Church in San Francisco. Because of our giving through the Cooperative Program, Mike is making an impact on the lives of many through the ERLC as he specifically helps married couples where one person struggles with samesex attraction. He desires to help churches understand the gay community better by showing God’s vision. He proclaims that the power of the Word sheds light and changes lives as his identity remains in Christ alone.
of ABILITY WRITTEN BY
hen Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he addressed numerous problems related to spiritual pride. It had produced divisiveness in the church as well as irresponsible stewardship of all God graced them with. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul compared Apollos to himself as an example of how unique and different gifts are needed to build the church. Paul planted the seed of the Gospel in Corinth, and then Apollos watered that seed, but God actually caused the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). Paul broadened the discussion to include every Christian when he spoke of Christians as God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9). He then cautioned us all to be careful how we build on the foundation that is Christ. There are two kinds of building materials to choose from: lasting (gold, silver, and precious stones) and fleeting (wood, hay and straw). Only gold, silver, and precious stones will survive the testing by fire that each work will go through, which reveals the quality of each man’s efforts (1 Corinthians 3:13–15). God has gifted every believer with special abilities to help build His kingdom. These abilities, empowered by the Spirit, enable you to fulfill God’s purpose for your life. When we place everything we have at God’s disposal, He will work through us to accomplish lasting kingdom activity.
PATRICK & ARCHALENA COATS HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA
Patrick Coats moved his family to Homestead, Florida with the intention of slowly starting his first church plant. The original plan was to first start a small Bible study. In December 2009, he located a movie theater that allowed him to rent space for the Bible study. When the launch date of New Years Eve arrived… they were so excited when 40 people showed up. What started as a small Bible study just a few years ago is now Kingdom Covenant Baptist Church. God took Patrick’s dream and multiplied it to reach the lost. This church plant is a perfect example of how God uses the Cooperative Program to further His Kingdom. And our church is a part of it by our support through the Cooperative Program. Let’s join in praying that God will continue to use our support to help plant churches, and that God will continue to expand Patrick’s ministry.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” JOHN 3:16
ou can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. In the Bible, especially the New Testament, there is a strong connection between loving and giving. Giving is proof of our love. Jesus showed us His love by giving Himself for us (Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16). We see this most clearly in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” In Ephesians 5:25, husbands are commanded to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” So, if we’re to truly love, we must sincerely give. We love by giving our time, our resources, our prayers, our hearts — ourselves for others. We love by giving freely, not grudgingly. We’re to give generously, not stingily. We should love to give because “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). It’s been said that we’re never more like Jesus than when we give. So, let’s be like Jesus by giving like Jesus — supremely and sacrificially. What do you need to give in order to show your love?
JAMES KEATH NORTH AFRICA MIDDLE EAST Here in the United States, we usually feel safe. But today we want to pray for James Keath,* one of our missionaries who serves in the North Africa and Middle East region. No, that’s not his real name. We don’t use his real name because it would put his life in danger. Missionaries like James are heroes. Even though many live with violence and bloodshed happening around them, they continue to share the Gospel. And even in Iraq and Syria where we read almost daily of the worst kind of horrors, we know God has not forgotten the people there. Our church’s Cooperative Program giving supports the missionaries who serve across this region and dollar for dollar, we will do more for peace this way than any other way. Today we pray that God will keep James and our other missionaries safe, as they offer life in places where death is all too common. *Name changed to protect identity.
he foundational conviction for understanding how God finances His work is the simple affirmation, “God owns and controls everything.”
GOD OWNS & CONTROLS EVERYTHING WRITTEN BY
God’s ownership is established by creation. From Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”—through Revelation 4:11—“Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things…” A creator retains ownership of their work even when it used by others. For example, an author copyrights the contents of a book. If you use it as your own, you are guilty of plagiarism. The cosmos is like this. God created it. We use it. But he holds the copyright! God’s ownership is re-affirmed, for believers, by redemption. Through Jesus, “we have redemption” (Ephesians 1:7) meaning “you are not your own, for you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a). God also controls everything. In 1 Chronicles 29:11, David prays, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on the earth belongs to You. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all.” Since God owns and controls everything, why do Christians and Christian ministries have financial needs? We will answer that next week!
TED HOLMES POLAND
Today we’re praying for our missionary Ted Holmes, who serves in Poland, in Eastern Europe. He is working with teenagers there. Like most Europeans, teens in Poland want to learn English. So Ted goes to what are called Pinglish (for Polish and English) Camps that teach English but also include Bible study and worship.
In one recent camp, 70 teenagers attended. By the end of the week, many were asking spiritual questions and learning about Jesus Christ. Seventeen of the teens committed to follow Him. Now Ted is helping those kids and others to grow in their faith and become more mature disciples. Of course our church supports Ted through our Cooperative Program giving. He is “our” missionary. Can we pray for him now?
Why GOD ALLOWS NEED WRITTEN BY
od owns and controls everything. Yet, churches and ministries always seem short of funds. So, if God owns and controls everything, why do Christian organizations have financial needs? The answer is God allows need. There is no other logical conclusion. God allows need to accomplish His purposes. His ultimate purpose for individuals is conforming them to the character of Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). His overarching purpose for Christian ministries is expanding His kingdom (Matthew 6:10). Only God has the wisdom to coordinate the entire universe to accomplish these purposes in billions of believers and millions of ministries simultaneously. In short, God is at work in ways we cannot understand to accomplish His purposes. Controlling the flow of financial resources is one of His strategies. Here are a few examples of how God allows need to accomplish His purposes. We often only understand these in hindsight!
God allows need to keep you on His timetable. God will delay a building project or mission trip by withholding funding. Then, at the right time, resources will materialize for successful completion of the project.
God allows need to correct financial irresponsibility. God expects His resources to be used wisely. Failure to tithe (Malachi 3:9-11), for example, limits God’s supply. Foolish spending, like by the prodigal son (Luke 15:14-19), creates need God will not meet until repentance produces changed behavior.
God allows need to build your character. God wants you to learn qualities such as contentment (Philippians 4:11-13) that can only be learned during lean times.
God allows need to teach you to trust Him. Self-sufficiency is an ever-present temptation. God will not share His glory. Remember, “God will supply all your needs” (Philippians 4:19). He wants you to remember He is your source!
TIM & JOY
MITCHELL PERU Today we want to pray for our missionaries Tim and Joy Mitchell.
There are about 100,000 of these immigrants from Japan; only about 100 of them are followers of Christ.
Now listen up so you won’t get confused. The Mitchells serve in Peru, which is a country in South America.
The Nikkei people love baseball, one of Japan’s most popular sports. So Joy and Tim hold baseball clinics that help the people learn to play baseball better.
But the people they are sharing the Gospel with are not the natives of Peru. They are working among the Nikkei people who have come from Japan to live in Peru, South America.
We’re supporting Tim and Joy there in Peru through our Cooperative Program giving. So today let’s pray that God will continue to grow their ministry so that more Nikkei people will hear the Gospel and find salvation.
GOD's PROVISION is ADEQUATE WRITTEN BY
ecause ministries have financial needs, it might be assumed God’s supply is limited. Not so! God has ample resources for everything He intends every church and ministry to accomplish.
When God allows need in His work, He has already made provision for it to be met. Consider the story of building the tabernacle. The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. God told Abraham about this coming tragedy generations before it happened, “Your offspring will be strangers in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years” (Genesis 15:13). But God also promised, “I will judge the nation they serve, and afterwards they will go out with many possessions” (Genesis 15:14). And that is what happened! Imagine—an enslaved people being enriched, voluntarily, by their former masters! God foresaw the enslavement, prepared riches for his people, made them wait 400 years for deliverance and then enriched them—for a special purpose. God’s purpose for His abundant supply was not personal gain for the Israelites. It was to provide, through them, the resources to build the tabernacle. When it came time to receive the offering for the tabernacle, the Israelites understood the purpose of God’s provision. They gave until the people “were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work” (Exodus 36:6b-7). The Israelites understood the purpose for God’s abundant provision. Do you?
LAURA REECE MALI What would you do if you couldn’t go home for more than a month? That’s what happened to Laura Reece* when heavy rains descended, making it impossible for her to travel to her village. So she used her time in town to visit different churches and meet with other believers. During this time, Laura’s eyes were opened to the spiritual warfare that was going on in the community. Her friends shared that nonbelievers had buried things in the churchyards to put spells on the area, make evil things happen and fight against Jesus coming to their towns. We need to pray for Laura and other believers who are fighting against things we cannot even imagine. It’s because of our giving through the Cooperative Program that missionaries like Laura are able to bring light to the darkness.
*Name changed to protect identity.
GOD USES TITHES &
OFFERINGS WRITTEN BY
od owns and controls everything. He sometimes allows need. His provision for every Christian ministry is sufficient. How then, is the provision made evident? Through tithes and offerings.
To build the tabernacle, God said, “Take up an offering for the Lord among you” (Exodus 35:5). Later, in the church, meeting human needs and sending missionaries followed the same pattern (Acts 11:29-30; 2 Corinthians 8:19-21). Are fundraisers — such as bake sales or car washes — God’s method of providing for His work? No. While make-work projects may have a place — such as teaching teenagers the value of hard work — they are not a primary means of funding kingdom advance. God’s method for financing His work is abundantly providing for His people so they will give generously to support kingdom endeavors. The problem with the lack of provision in Christian ministries is not God’s failure to supply adequate resources. The issue is our selfishness, hoarding His supply, inflating our standard of living at the expense of God’s work. North American Christians only give two to three percent of their income to ministries every year. If we only gave a tithe, just 10 percent, we would have about four times as much money to spend in churches, ministries, mission boards, and schools! God finances His work through your tithes and offerings. Are you the channel of financial blessing God intends you to be?
SWARR EAST ASIA God uses everyday things to bring awareness to the Gospel — even a train ride and a rainbow. While Eileen,* a Christian worker in East Asia, was on a 12-hour train ride, she struck up a conversation with the woman seated next to her. The woman wanted to practice English, and Eileen was happy to talk with her. During their conversation, they noticed a rainbow peeking through the clouds. So Eileen *Name changed to protect identity.
asked the woman if she knew the history of the rainbow. And this allowed her the opportunity to share the story of Noah and God’s promise. Eileen’s new friend had never heard the Bible story until that moment. The woman lived close by and they remain friends to this day. God can use anything and anyone to share the His Word. And although we’re not physically with Eileen, our church had a part in the impact made on this woman’s life through our support through the Cooperative Program. Let’s pray that Eileen will continue to build relationships with those in East Asia for the purpose of leading people to salvation through Christ.
magine if Jesus had simply told us to make converts. What if we lived in a world where there wasn’t a need for long-term missionaries, church planting or strategic missional planning?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” MATTHEW 28:19
In this type of world, we wouldn’t need those with a heart for particular people groups. We could simply round up the best evangelists and hold crusades. It would not matter if those converted found community within a local church. Our calling would be fulfilled and our mission accomplished. The reality is that Jesus commanded us to make disciples. And discipleship looks a lot different. Working together, the Apostles were able to take the good news to the known world. They were able to establish local churches to maintain the spread of the Gospel. They developed a shared life with the believers and made a lasting impact within the region. A cooperative effort is the means through which the Body of Christ makes this possible. Working together, sharing our resources and establishing long-term presence within the nations is our contribution to the continuation of this commission. To make converts: We go. We share. To make disciples: We go. We share. We establish relationships. I ask you: Which approach looks more like the heart of Jesus? Which commission resonates with yours?
BRIAN & BECKY
MOZAMBIQUE Nearly a year after receiving Christ, Adel* made one of the most difficult choices of her life — to abandon her past as a witchdoctor and tear down the hut where she practiced. Three days later, Brian and Becky Harrell, who are missionaries we support through the Cooperative Program, received a call in the middle of the night reporting spiritual attacks *Name changed to protect identity.
in the village. They prayed for Adel’s family and for the people of the village as demonic attacks continued. Finally, one man renounced his witchcraft, destroyed amulets in his home and accepted Christ. The darkness is strong, but the light of Christ is stronger. This is another great evidence that our giving through the Cooperative Program is helping to change lives. Let’s pray today that the Harrell’s will boldly speak the word of Christ so that even more will be saved.
Is your MISSIONS ENGAGEMENT COSTLY? WRITTEN BY
hen King David had become great, his heart became proud and he commanded Joab to count the people of Israel. As a result, God’s wrath fell upon the people. In contrition, David went to build an altar so that the plague would be averted, but the place where the altar was to be built was owned by a man named Ornan. When Ornan offered the land for free, David refused, saying:
“…No, but I will buy them at full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 1 CHRONICLES 21:24
The plague was stopped. A thousand years later, a woman of much humbler status also had her sins forgiven. In response, she poured costly perfume on Jesus’ feet. There is a striking similarity between these two sacrifices. David refused to offer something to the Lord that cost him nothing. The woman would not pour cheap perfume on the feet of her Savior. These two sacrifices are recorded for our instruction. There should be something of costliness in all our service to Christ.
HUNT PORTLAND, OREGON
Sarah Reese Hunt knew she wanted to be in ministry. But she also realized that she didn’t want a traditional ministry role. That’s when, as a Liberty University student, God began to open doors that would lead her to the North American Mission Board’s Generation Send, or GenSend. GenSend is a hands-on, 10-week, missions internship designed to immerse young adults into an urban ministry context. Along with her GenSend team, she landed in
Portland—a city with a strong liberal socio-political bent. Sarah often runs up against religious pluralism, which espouses multiple pathways to know God. Consequently, she doesn’t find hostility toward the Gospel. Mostly, it’s apathy. After her summer ministry, she returned to school and immediately changed her major to Women’s Ministries because she now felt the calling to bring the Gospel to Millenials. Sarah’s life-changing experience with GenSend was made possible because of our church’s support through the Cooperative Program. Pray with me that God will continue to guide Sarah’s ministry and thousands of others through GenSend.
of the TEMPLE WRITTEN BY
aul instructed the believers in Rome to offer their bodies as living and holy sacrifices, acceptable to God, which was their reasonable act of worship (Romans 12:1). Likewise, we, too, are privileged to offer ourselves to God as ongoing and continuous gifts for His use. Every day the steward should say, “Lord, here I am, use me! I am a living sacrifice.” The word “acceptable,” which is used to describe the offering God desires, paints a perfect picture for our understanding. It means that when we offer God our bodies, He has already declared them acceptable and pleasing to Him. Don’t you love that? The offering of our very lives is the beginning of stewardship and the way we overcome the pressure to conform to the world (Romans 12:2). As the Spirit transforms our minds, we can “prove” — know and accomplish — the will of God. • • •
Have you given God your body as a living sacrifice? What evidence exists that you are continually His? Are you transformed by the renewing of your mind or are you being conformed to the world?
STEVEN & TIFFANY
Kathryn is one of thousands who come to Washington, DC for an internship. While there, she stopped by a Starbucks...but not just for a coffee—for church. Kathryn wanted what they spoke of at Redeemer City Church and accepted Christ as her Savior! In a few weeks, the church plant outgrew Starbucks and moved to a local
hotel, where Kathryn was baptized in the swimming pool as her church friends cheered her on. Today, we need to pray for Steven Lee and his family as they plant Redeemer City Church to reach many more people just like Kathryn. The Lee’s, who are from the DC area, are eager for partners to pray, send short-term mission teams, give financial support—or move here and join the team!
GO THEREFORE. “…because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.” PHILIPPIANS 1:5
s you follow the journeys of Paul through the book of Acts, you will find that he is rarely alone. It is clear to see that Paul valued partnerships in the Gospel. He valued partnerships with individuals as well as churches. It was these partnerships that encouraged and empowered Paul to continue all of the missionary work that we now know him for. Partnerships for Paul included everything from assistants to those who would have equal status to his own. For example, Paul calls Timothy “a servant of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:1) and “co-worker” (1 Thess. 3:2; Rom. 16:21). Paul tells the Corinthians that Titus is “my brother” (2 Cor. 2:13) and “my partner and co-worker for you” (2 Cor. 8:23). To emphasize the point that others status is equal to his own, he gives the title “partner” to Philemon (Phlm. 17). He then asks Philemon to receive Onesimus, a former servant, as a brother and a partner. There is quite a distinction between someone who helps you accomplish your task and someone who co-labors with you to accomplish a greater task (2 Cor. 1:24; 3 John 1:8). We have all been commissioned to a greater task than we can do alone. Who do you partner with in the Gospel? Globally? Regionally? Locally? Individually? Let us “go therefore,” but also let us “go together.”
CARL NEUMANN GERMANY Carl Neumann leads a house church of only 10 people, but those people are making a difference in their city by starting new Bible study groups among the lost. Carl is excited about Thilo,* who started a soccer team for disabled kids — the only such opportunity in the city for kids with disabilities. The team practices have attracted about 20 children, who are now interested in playing soccer. “One of Thilo’s goals is, of course, to get to know the parents and introduce them to Jesus and the Gospel, hopefully leading to the start of another new Bible study,” Carl said. We are already part of Carl’s ministry in Germany because our church gives through the Cooperative Program. Now let’s pray for him and his work and ask God to use Carl’s ministry to bring even more people to Christ. *Name changed to protect identity.
hroughout the Bible, God has desired for His people to be different. The Bible uses imagery like taking off the old garments and putting on new garments and an old creation becoming new. But in Psalm 149 we get a vivid picture of what salvation does: it beautifies. There is not a better description of salvation then that it makes people beautiful.
“For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.” PSALM 149:4
I do not know of anything more beautiful than someone bound by sin, set free. That addict who now is addicted only to Jesus. That one driven by pride and ambition to get more and more, now humbly just wants to give what he has to kingdom work. I want to remind us all, that when we give to missions we are making this world a more beautiful place. When we support the Cooperative Program, give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and State Missions Offering, we provide more opportunities for God to beautify many with salvation. With the world spending billions to beautify the outward body, should not the church give more to beautify the soul with salvation? If we desire this world to be a more beautiful place, we need to give sacrificially to missions. And one other benefit will occur, your feet will look better.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” ISAIAH 52:7
JAY SHAFTO SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA While living in Africa, IMB missionary Jay Shafto met a pastor who, according to Jay, “was not doing what he was supposed to be doing.” Jay spent a lot of time with the pastor, training and discipling him. Over time, the pastor grew in his faith and has now started more than 10 churches and trained about 1,000 people, baptizing hundreds of them. “With the right leadership and person, God is ready to do amazing things,” Jay said. It’s because of our support through the Cooperative Program that the training and discipleship of nationals who are doing amazing things for God is possible. Today, let’s pray that God will call more people to the ministry and that others will be saved.
he Gospel of Luke records two encounters of Jesus with wealthy men. The encounters reveal that each one met Jesus personally, and both had the challenge of making an important decision involving their possessions.
Be A WISE GIVER! WRITTEN BY
The first, a man known as “the rich young ruler,” respectfully asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). Jesus said, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth (Luke 18:22-23). Then there was Zacchaeus, a wealthy, chief tax collector (Luke 19:2). Jesus invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ home for dinner. Zacchaeus’ response was, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham (Luke 19:8-9). What a difference in their decisions. One man could not give up his allegiance to material things. The second willingly decided that he should follow Jesus and become a generous giver. Which of the two men is more appealing today? Which one was wise in his decision? Which response made a difference for good? Make a wise decision and listen to Jesus. Become a generous giver!
LOS ANGELES, CA
In the middle of the third largest city on the continent — and in the heart of Los Angeles — is the cultural mecca of North America. And this is where God asked D.J. Jenkins to plant a church. Places like L.A. have an especially high cost of living, which makes it difficult for church planters to live in the area. But in a community that is
largely unreached… and with only one Southern Baptist church for every 18,794 people, church planters are desperately needed. Our church’s support through the Cooperative Program helps make it possible for church planters like D.J. to allow God to use him. Let’s pray together that God will call more people to plant churches in this area, and that he will continue to bless D.J.’s ministry to bring more people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
TORN IN TWO “Then behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” MATTHEW 27:51
n that solemn afternoon, it seemed all was lost. The God-man who claimed to be the Messiah was finished once and for all. The expectations of a powerful Messiah who would end all oppressive government and restore the nation of Israel were finished. With a spear jabbed in His side, it was final. Jesus was dead. But then there was a rumbling that grew in intensity. The ground began to shake, and the rocks on the cliffs started to roll down the mountains. Then it happened. In the temple, the curtain that separated the most holy place split from top to bottom. What did it mean? Could this God-man, who was said to be the Messiah, be responsible for this? Up until this time, the curtain served as a barrier between men, women and God. There was only one man at a time allowed behind the curtain, the high priest, chosen to be the mediator and offer sacrifice to atone for everyone else. Now the curtain was torn in two—there was no barrier, and the sacrifice was offered once for all. Jesus became our permanent mediator—our high priest—and now we can go directly to God the Father through Him. What could possibly be the explanation for these events? The centurion guarding the body of Jesus came to realize there was only one answer: “Truly, this was the Son of God!”
OMAR SEGOVIA KANSAS, MO Born in Chile, raised in Canada and living in the U.S., Omar Segovia has developed a heart for proclaiming the Gospel to the nations. Heâ€™s known since an early age that reaching the lost through missions, discipleship and evangelism is built into his DNA.
as a Southern Baptist missionary. He met his wife, Janna, while on the mission field. They now have five children.
The 2012 Master of Divinity graduate from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri has been sharing his faith since age 9. He knew God called him to be a missionary at the age of 10. And multiple college mission trips further fueled his missionary drive. Then, Omar served two years overseas
Our church helped train Omar, because through the Cooperative Program we support Midwestern Seminary. And we support his ministry now, because Omar is one of the thousands of North American missionaries we support through the Cooperative Program.
Omar says because of his seminary training and missions experience, he feels well-prepared for his current ministry as a Southern Baptist missionary planting churches in Missouri. He helps identify and train other missionaries who will plant churches.
Omar and his team are now working to double the number of churchplanting missionaries in his area. Let us pray that they succeed!
NEW PEOPLE, NEW PURPOSE WRITTEN BY
ho I am now is vastly different from who I was before meeting Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul uses the word, “new,” in describing this transformation. Not remodeled, not upgraded, not version 2.0, but “new!”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17
In Jesus’ death, our old lives have passed away. And in His resurrection, we are raised to new life. That’s powerful. That’s good news. But that’s not all. As new creations, God equips and empowers us for something incredible. He entrusts us with the ministry of reconciliation. Those of us He saved from sin and death and Satan’s grip, He now unleashes to redeem and restore the world back to Himself. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 CORINTHIANS 5:20
Jason Lamb We are His ambassadors as church planters, janitors, civil servants, executives, teachers, pastors, students, and parents. We are new people with a new purpose: ambassadors for Christ!
Who has God placed in your life for the purpose of reconciling them back to God? What does your ministry of reconciliation look like?
DYLAN & JESSICA
VILMEK SOUTH ASIA
Here’s a question for you. How would you teach the Bible to someone who cannot read? It would be hard, don’t you think?
Also, they don’t just random stories—they start with stories about creation and the fall of man and gradually move to stories about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
This is the challenge that two of our missionaries in South Asia deal with every day. We’ll call them Dylan and Jessica.*
Often hundreds of people gather to hear these amazing stories they have never heard before!
Many people in South Asia can read poorly or, more often, not at all. So Dylan and Jessica tell them stories from the Bible. Of course they have to tell the stories in the local language that the people will understand. They have to translate carefully. *Name changed to protect identity.
Every time Dylan and Jessica go into a village to tell stories from the Bible, our church is behind them. Our Cooperative Program giving makes it possible for them to be there and to serve. Let’s join together today for these two partners in missions. And let’s pray that hundreds and thousands of people—all precious in God’s sight—will hear the Bible’s message that only Jesus Christ can save them.
hen I consider the preciousness of the Gospel and the frailty of my words, I am often tempted to believe that I should not speak. I should stop preaching, stop praying, stop sharing and stop proclaiming. My greatest efforts simply muddy the waters and therefore my gift should be to allow someone smarter, more articulate and more polished to speak for Jesus, or even of Jesus. But God, in His wisdom and kindness, has chosen to speak through the inarticulate. He has chosen to use jars of clay to carry the good news that brings great joy. And Iâ€™m so glad He does. What a joy to proclaim, to share, to pray and to preach! What a joy to know that the Gospel is not contingent on my ability to craft a cunning sentence. We do not need to speak with the tongues of men or of angels. We only need to know that God, in Christ, has spoken for us and to us. As with Saul, He has spoken our name twice, given us a new identity, and given us a message to share. WRITTEN BY
ROSE SHEPHARD SOUTH AFRICA One hundred and fifty believers gathered in a small Baptist church in South Africa. In the midst of racially-motivated attacks that were tearing their city apart, they stood together to ask God to bring peace. An elder called out the ethnic groups by name: white South African, Zulu, Xhosa, and a dozen more. Everyone stood — black and white, young and old, joining hands across the aisles and singing together, “We are one in the spirit.” “It was beautiful,” said IMB worker Rose Shephard.* “We saw beautiful unity within the body of Christ today.” In a way our church was part of that meeting, because our church’s giving through the Cooperative Program enables Rose to be there in South Africa. Now let’s join together in prayer for Rose’s ministry and ask that God will continue to bring unity to South Africa. *Name changed to protect identity.
REWARDS of TITHING “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” 2 CORINTHIANS 9:10
12-year-old boy sailed from England in 1795, bound for the new world. It is said that the captain of the ship told him, “Give God all that belongs to Him, and you will succeed.”
In Baltimore, he began learning the soap and candle-making business. At age 21, he began as an apprentice in New York. In 1806, he began his own company and determined to give God 10 percent.
As his business grew, he continued to give a tithe and more – sometimes 30-40 percent of his income. When he died at the age of 74, he was immensely wealthy and left a legacy of godly stewardship. In fact, many of us use the products of Colgate-Palmolive, begun by William Colgate. People are surprised when they first learn that many of America’s business magnates — Samuel Heinz, Milton Hershey, J. C. Penney, James Kraft, F. W. Woolworth, William Wrigley — were not only Christians, but also tithers. God needs millions of faithful Christians who are quiet stewards of their resources — giving the tithe and more to underwrite the Gospel of Christ. The Christian who loves God with a tithe receives the reward of God in multiplied blessings.
ANTHONY CONNER MEXICO One morning, Southern Baptist missionary Anthony Conner grabbed a shovel to help Manolo — a man who belongs to the people group that Anthony and his family were trying to reach for Christ. Anthony took that opportunity to share the Gospel with Manolo. After about an hour, Anthony asked him, “Manolo, isn’t it time to give your life to Jesus?” Manolo said yes! And together, in the middle of the alfalfa patch, they knelt down and Manolo prayed to receive Christ. Today, Manolo is the pastor and church planter in the village where Anthony and his wife, Melissa, work. God uses every interaction — even one in an alfalfa patch — for the sake of His Kingdom. Because one man had the courage to share the good news of God’s grace, an entire community has been impacted. And you were a big part of that because of our church’s giving through the Cooperative Program. Let’s pray that God will continue to foster the Conner’s ministry with boldness for the sake of Christ.
n a secular culture that enjoys offending Christians, most Christians have asked in frustration, “Is nothing sacred?” But perhaps a better question for Christians to ask is, “Is anything truly secular?”
STEWARDSHIP Is anything in the Christian life secular? WRITTEN BY
One way to look at possessions, money, time, opportunity, and talent is that nothing the Christian has is out of bounds for God’s use. Certainly every talent and possession is a potential tool for God’s use. But any activity of the day, even seemingly the most mundane, can be used of God to communicate His Word, demonstrate His love or teach His principles. Paul wrote to the Colossian church: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the time.” Clearly, Christians are to make no exceptions to the Lordship of Christ over life. The check we write to the church is sacred, but so is every other dollar we have and spend. Routine actions in daily life may not seem at the heart of the work of the kingdom of God. But we can’t afford to disregard the potential of any contact made, any word spoken, any dollar spent, as a tool in the hands of the Lord. The choice isn’t really between the sacred and secular for the Christian. The choice is whether to submit every moment and every thing to the mastery of Christ.
YANG TORONTO As one of North America’s most culturally diverse cities, Toronto is a natural platform for influence. That’s one of many reasons it’s one of 32 cities designated by the North American Mission Board as “Send City.” But first, there’s the matter of planting more churches there — a mission that Daniel Yang has taken to heart.
appreciative of how Canadian and Southern Baptists do missions through the Cooperative Program.
As a church planter and missionary, Daniel is all too familiar with the challenges that come with planting a church and reaching the lost. And it is because of these experiences that he’s so
Our support of the Cooperative Program helps missionaries just like Daniel reach the lost in North America. Let’s join together in praying for Daniel’s work in North America, and that God will continue to use him to bring light to a dark city.
The Cooperative Program allows Daniel to have a level of stability in terms of raising his family. But it’s much more than that. He also likes the vision of the Cooperative Program because it allows all of us to be take part in something bigger.
illy Graham has said, “Christians must never forget the little word, “go.” It is two-thirds of the word “God,” one third of the word “gospel” and half the word “good.” It is a little word with a big meaning.” Jesus stood on the mountainside and told His followers, “Go.” “Go, and make disciples of all the nations.” I am sure His small group of followers looked at each other asking, “Is He talking to us?” “What did He say?” What Jesus was asking appeared to be impossible. He was talking to, at most, 500 people. The “world” had not been discovered yet. There were no ships, planes, television or internet. They had no money, their leader was leaving, and they had been rejected by society. What is impossible with men is possible with God. With this commission comes God’s commitment to help His church carry it out. He makes us a promise. “And surely I am with you always.” God is not asking you to do this for Him, He is asking you to do this with Him. “God with you, all things are possible.” WRITTEN BY
KIESLING SOUTHWESTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY Brandon Kiesling has a past: He spent time in jail for drug-related crimes. But later he was transformed by the grace of God when he accepted Christ as his Savior. Following his salvation experience, Brandon followed God’s call to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, which is one of six Southern Baptist seminaries across the country our church supports through the Cooperative Program. Because of the Cooperative Program, these seminaries can charge students much less to attend.
Brandon completed his Master of Divinity degree in 2013 and has continued working on a Doctor of Philosophy degree. While at Southwestern, Brandon has developed a passion for evangelism. He shares the Gospel personally where he lives in Fort Worth. He also leads other students to share. This is one of the school’s outreach programs called “Going the Second Mile.” Our church is having a part in Brandon’s Christian ministry now, but we’ll also have a small part in his lifetime of ministry, as he continues to use his training in decades ahead. Today, let’s thank God for the claim He has on Brandon’s life, and for the promise of this young man’s service ahead. Let’s pray that many will come to Christ through his ministry.
JUNE 26 Imagine two different preachers and two different outcomes.
“...it is required of stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 CORINTHIANS 4:2
A curious crowd surrounds the first preacher, anxious to hear his message. He preaches boldly. In the end, 3,000 people take up the faith. They love Christ even more now. Soon, they are soaked in the waters of baptism. An angry mob surrounds the second preacher, upset about his message. He, too, preaches boldly. In the end, the crowd takes up rocks and bludgeons him to death. The people hate Christ even more now as the man lay on the ground, soaked in a pool of his own blood. The first preacher is Peter (Acts 2). The second preacher is Stephen (Acts 7). Peter preaches one sermon and plants a mega church. Stephen preaches one sermon and dies. Here’s the question: which of these two men were successful? The answer: Both of them! What Jesus wants more than your fruitfulness is your faithfulness. Be faithful in the big, the small, the public, the private, the important and the mundane. Good and faithful servants are what God is looking for today. Will you be found among them?
TRAVIS & STACI KERNS HERRIMAN, UTAH Today we want to pray for one of our North American missionaries who serves in one of the most foreign places in our nation. Travis Kerns serves in Utah, where about 70 percent of the population is Mormon. That means they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite their talk about Jesus, the Mormons’ message about their prophet is false. When the Mormon missionaries come to our door here in our state, we need to remember that, even as we love them despite their message. Travis lives just 35 miles from downtown Salt Lake City. He has served here 18 years to share the Gospel with people who sincerely, but wrongly, think they already have the truth. Our church’s Cooperative Program giving has enabled Travis to serve in Utah all those years and provided the resources he has needed. Today, can we pray for Travis? Like all missionaries, he is taking God’s eternal truth to a place where it is in short supply!
efore Israel entered into the new land God gave them, God described the significance of their new life - included were teachings about tithing. Often tithing is interpreted as something we are to do for God, but actually, tithing can help you and please Him too. (Deut. 14:22-23 and 26)
TITHING CAN HELP YOU! WRITTEN BY
THE OLD TESTAMENT TEACHES THAT TITHING WILL HELP YOU Focus on your relationship with God Does God keep a financial ledger on your giving? No, but He knows your heart and obedience. Tithing was and is a tangible way of acknowledging Him and His ownership. Tithing should be a spiritual dialogue where you are saying that God is preeminent in your life. Develop a stronger relationship with God Note how and why the Israelites were to tithe. “Bring this into the Presence of God, your God, at the place he designates for worship…in this way you will learn to live in deep reverence before God, your God, as long as you live." (v.23) Learning the discipline of obedient tithing will enhance and strengthen your commitment to God. Enjoy your relationship with God When the Israelites tithed, they were to have a good time. For today’s believer, it may mean spiritual contentment, enriched fellowship with other believers, and the ability to help minister to people of all ages through your church. Tithe! It will help you!
PERU Have you ever noticed God often uses something you love as a ministry? Thatâ€™s what our missionary Joshua Murphree has learned. Joshua has always loved backpacking and camping. Now he is serving in Peru, way down on the west side of South America. He is sharing the Gospel with the Northern Conchucos Quechua, people who often live in high mountains who can only be reached by hiking across long, high miles. Many of the people cannot read, so Joshua tells
them stories from the Bible. Our Cooperative Program giving helps him live and serve in Peru. Many of us would find it difficult or impossible to do what Joshua does, but we are thankful that God has equipped him not just to serve there, but to even enjoy it. Today letâ€™s pray that God will keep him safe as he helps many come to faith in Christ.
JULY 10 Will we take the charge and the great weight of responsibility of prayer to heart? Will we… “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” COLOSSIANS 4:2-4
Not only continue praying, but will we start praying steadfastly, with real intention, intensity and praise? May we never fall asleep at our post, but continually praise God that His mission cannot fail.
Pray that God will open doors that we cannot see? It is His Word, His mission and His power that we need. May we lay aside our plans and strategies to be replaced by the supernatural work of the Sovereign, opening doors for the Word.
And may our hope be that the mystery made clear by the Spirit of God will open blind eyes, awaken dead hearts and enlighten darkened minds. May Jesus be clearly proclaimed and clearly seen. WRITTEN BY
Late 19th and 20th Century missionary and professor Samuel Zwemer said, “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” Oh, that we would take heart on our knees that the future of missions is just as secure, because of our Father who answers prayers. And may we pray those prayers.
DEREK & LINDSAY
ALLEN MIAMI, FL
God changes hearts in a flash. In one instant a person’s reality is altered and everything moves in a new direction. When that instant occurred for Derek Allen, he moved his family to Miami, leaving behind everything they knew of life before to follow God’s calling and plant a church. Derek and his wife launched Christ Centered Church on Feb. 9 with 170 in attendance and two
baptisms already on the books. Meeting on the north campus of Florida International University, the church is already impacting its community and beyond. Even in its infancy, Christ Centered Church has already hosted more than seven mission teams. Our church helped launch this new church because we support thousands of North American missionaries like Derek and Lindsay through our church’s Cooperative Program giving. Today let’s pray for our missionaries there in Miami as they reach people for Christ!
think it is safe to say that Psalm 51 is a favorite for pastors to quote and preach. In it, you find renewal and redemption, but one verse is often overlooked because of its cryptic delivery. David writes in Psalm 51:8, “let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice.” Anyone who has broken or crushed a bone knows that rejoicing is pretty low on the list of emotions.
This verse has a rich history. The picture is of an Israelite soldier fighting the Philistines and that soldier, in the course of battle has broken his arm. There is no time to set the bone properly during the fight, and thus, the soldier’s broken bone has grown back together in the wrong fashion. In order to be ready for the next campaign, the soldier’s bone must be broken again. David says to God, your correction is like breaking a warped bone and resetting it. It hurts, but I rejoice! Change is painful, but I welcome it! Would you allow God to break your spiritual bones to make you better? Resetting areas of your life that have developed hazardously can be extremely difficult, but in the end you emerge a greater spiritual warrior!
CHARLES SOUTHEASTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY Each January, students from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, look forward to a special time where they get to share stories and testimonies from their time on the international mission field. This year, Charles* shared about his unique experience in a remote village in Africa with the International Mission Board. He spent much of his time camping in a village that has been historically resistant to the Gospel, because it is a predominantly Muslim area. But, because of the prayers and work of others before him, Charles was able to lead young men to faith in Christ. Now he is helping disciple them as they *Name changed to protect identity.
actively share the Gospel with others in the village. Three short years ago, sitting in classes and reading missionary stories of the church being birthed in new places, he thought, “I am going to be faithful, but I don’t think I will ever be a part of anything this incredible.” As he told his story, Charles’s face beamed as he recounted, “I was able to be a part of seeing new Christians baptized. I never thought I would be a part of a story like this!” Our church’s Cooperative Program giving helps support Southeastern and its great faculty and staff who both tell and show students like Charles how to minister. We also support the missionaries of our International Mission Board as they work with nearly 1,000 people groups around the world. Today let us thank the Lord for letting us be part of this Kingdom work— spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth!
“Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” 2 CORINTHIANS 9:10
Stewardship Development Association
KINGDOM GROWTH through GROWTH in GIVING
certain bank advertises “AutoTithe.” Your paycheck is direct deposited, and the bank transfers 10 percent to the church’s account. The advertisement says, “no cost to you.” The cost may be higher than you imagine. While AutoTithe may keep you from forgetting your offerings, it may also keep you from measuring how you give against how God has given to you. Growth in discipleship includes growth in giving. Early in John Wesley’s life, he made about 30 pounds, but determined he could live on 28. So he gave away two pounds — in addition to tithes. As his income increased, he continued to live on 28 pounds and gave away everything else.
Many people do the reverse. They determine what they can afford to give, and they consume the rest, no matter how much more they make. We wrongly assume that we are always divinely entitled to substantially raise our own standard of living as God prospers us. What we should assume is that God’s plan is to stimulate kingdom growth through our increased giving, as well as witness and work. Which do you think is God’s priority: for your kingdom to grow or for His? When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” let us think “Thy kingdom grow,” and then give accordingly.
LIMATO NORFOLK, VA Jessie was a senior at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA, when she first heard about Catalyst Church. It wasnâ€™t the oncampus Bible study that caught her attention or the deep-fried Oreos that Catalyst offered at the football games. It was her sister, a student at neighboring Old Dominion University, who had gotten plugged in at Aletheia in Norfolk, VA, years earlier and had heard about Catalyst Church from her pastor, Jamie Limato. Some two years later, Jessie joined a group of volunteers to provide childcare for a night of worship at Missio
Dei, a soon-to-be-launched church plant targeting Norfolk State University. Aletheia Norfolk at ODU connected a student to Catalyst Church at CNU in Newport News who, in turn, became a regular volunteer for the preview services of Missio Dei at NSU. Students just like Jessie are being won, baptized, discipled, and sent out. Jessie is now a community group leader at Catalyst Church and is currently helping disciple others who are wrestling with who Jesus is and whether He should impact their lives. Letâ€™s pray today that God will bless the work of collegiate church planters like Jamie Limato and raise up many more planters to spread the Gospel on college campuses throughout North America.
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 CORINTHIANS 9:6
ecently, my family and I were hiking trails just outside of Mammoth Lakes, California, enjoying the magnificent scenery. As we were hiking back, we noticed a pair of expensive Oakley sunglasses on a log. I remembered the phrase, “Finders keepers, losers weepers” and told my son it was okay to take them with him. Immediately, we felt the conviction that regardless of where we found them, they were not ours and the owner may perhaps return to claim his lost sunglasses. Reluctantly, we left them knowing that someone else would “receive the blessing.” Later on in our trip, we rented kayaks to take out on beautiful Lake Tahoe and for some unknown reason, the owner felt led to give us $40 off on the kayak rental. I am reminded, “Whatever we sow, that is what we reap.” It’s a simple law of the land given to us by God. As we give our resources to kingdom purposes, we must be reminded that God is faithful to return to us that which we have sown.
BOB & JOY BENTON CENTRAL ASIA Bob and Joy Benton* are asking that we pray for Rose,* a believer who is undergoing persecution from her family because of her decision to follow Christ. Rose and her daughter Angel*, who was the Benton’s child care worker, are the only Christians in the family. When Rose’s family found out that she intended to be baptized, they beat her, destroyed her Bibles and kept her from leaving the house by herself. The Bentons can only have limited contact with her now, but they were able to give her a Bible on a computer flash drive. The Bentons have made a difference in Rose’s life. They were able to be there to make that difference because our church supports them through the Cooperative Program. Today, let’s pray that Bob and Joy will introduce many to Jesus Christ, despite the barriers and the dangers. *Name changed to protect identity.
VISION for ETERNITY “Where there is no vision the people perish.” PROVERBS 29:18
ision begins with the end in mind. Every runner who gets set to run a race knows where the finish line is before the race begins. Vision is the ability to see the finish line and focus on crossing that end line. Runners may train for months—even years. And they will do whatever it takes to finish the race. In the same way, God wants each one of us to be involved in running the race for His Kingdom. He wants you to be on mission with Him that will be part of fulfilling a vision for eternity. He wants each one of us to grow in our love for Him and our love for one another so that we may finish the race together. God has created the church to be just like the runners in that race. While the Apostle Paul encourages each one to run the race as if we were going to win (1 Corinthians 9:24), God doesn’t want our individuality to supersede that which we need to do together. God’s vision for your life and for the life of the church brings hope for eternity. Without a finish line, without the end in mind, people will spiritually die. Run the race in such a way that people will see your vision for eternity, so they might hear the good news of Jesus Christ to help them cross the finish line!
ELIZA KORN CENTRAL ASIA
During a recent New Year’s celebration, Eliza Korn* and her team were assigned a kind and gentle helper named Mehmet.* He did his best to explain certain traditions and activities and escorted them to a local restaurant for lunch. Traditionally, the eldest at the table offers a hastily mumbled “prayer” at the end of the meal. Instead, Mehmet asked Eliza to pray. She
*Name changed to protect identity.
thanked the Lord for their time together and asked that Mehmet would come to believe in Him. Mehmet said that no one had ever prayed for him before. That one, simple prayer had an impact on Mehmet. And it was made possible because our church supports Eliza through our Cooperative Program giving. Let’s join together to pray for Eliza’s ministry among Central Asians. And that Mehmet, and others, would come to know Christ.
GOD'S OWNERSHIP; My Accountability
“For all the earth is mine.” EXODUS 19:5
Stewardship Development Association
f stewardship were summed up in two principles, they might be God’s ownership and our accountability. It’s all His, He lends it to us, and we are responsible for all we do or don’t do with it. Saying, “Everything belongs to God,” is easy. Actually living by that principle is difficult.
In “Roughing It,” author Mark Twain told about a Nevada lawyer named Buncombe who took the case of a Mr. Hyde. In a mudslide, the entire ranch of a Mr. Morgan—complete with cabin, barns, fences, and cattle—had come down off a mountain and landed on top of the Hyde’s ranch. Hyde wanted to dig out, but Morgan wanted his ranch to stay there. The judge ruled that Hyde “has been deprived of his ranch by the visitation of God!" Buncombe threw fits in disbelief until he realized he was the victim of an elaborate hoax perpetrated by everyone. Twain told the story to those who imagine that they really own their land. God owns it. Occasionally, He repossesses it. And, yes, transfers it to another tenant. There is but one owner of everything in the universe, and it is God, as Creator of the universe.
DOMINIC & SOLANGE CHAUSSÉ MAGOG, QUEBEC There are 53,000 people living within the city of Magog, and another 20,000 tourists. It’s Quebec’s premiere destination for the province’s vacationers, but it’s also a highly secularized area. Church planter Dominic Chaussé didn’t go to the city to be on permanent holiday. Instead, he went to start a church and reach the lost. Most in the city have little interest in church or God. But that doesn’t stop Dominic from finding ways to minister to those around him. Even before the church, Axe21, officially launched, Dominic and his family tried to find ways to live their lives to positively represent Christ. Our church’s Cooperative Program giving helps support Dominic and his wife, our missionaries, as they make a difference for Christ there in Québec, Canada. The new church already has 18 baptized members and attendance is about 85. Today let’s pray for this young missionary family and their children as they live and serve in the far north.
THREE NEW BROOMS “God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 CORINTHIANS 9:7
man noticed three new brooms in the church hallway. He was enraged. He found the janitor and demanded to know who purchased the brooms. The janitor informed him that he knew nothing about it. The man stormed off to the office. “Who ordered those three brooms?” he bellowed at the surprised lady behind the desk. Learning that she was uninformed also, he charged into the education minister’s office demanding an answer. The education minister explained that he was unaware of new brooms. Worked up more than ever, he interrupted the pastor, calling for an explanation of the brooms. The pastor was as clueless as the others, and the man left the church in a white-hot heat. Later the treasurer stopped by, and the pastor told him about the episode and asked if he had any idea why the man was so exercised. “Well Pastor,” replied the treasurer “if all the money you gave to the church last year was tied up in three new brooms you would be hot too!” God’s word is clear when it comes to giving. When you give, do so cheerfully. Giving with an attitude of resentment may cause you to miss out on the blessings God has for your service.
TIMOTHY THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY Timothy* is a third-generation missionary and alumnus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Several years after graduating from Southern, Timothy was appointed by the International Mission Board to a spiritually dry region of Africa where he was used to spark a genuine revival. By mobilizing new converts to share the Gospel, Timothy has established a discipleship model for the tens of thousands of Christians who have come to faith and started churches through his ministry. “The sanctifying empowerment of the Holy Spirit in every believer is an unstoppable force. It’s more powerful than anything else,” Timothy said. “We can expect that when we ask people to do something directly from the Word of God, that God himself will empower them to accomplish everything he has set out for them to do.” Our church helped Timothy train for missionary service at Southern, because our Cooperative Program giving supports the school, keeping student costs low. And our church has enabled Timothy, his wife and their four children, ages six to 17, to serve in Africa for almost 10 years. We thank God for what He has accomplished through his servant, Timothy. And we thank God that we have had a part in that success, through the Cooperative Program. *Name changed to protect identity.
God brings PEOPLE TOGETHER for His PURPOSE WRITTEN BY
“Then I saw Heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…The armies that were in Heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure linen.” REVELATION 19:11,14
ere, we are told that one day Jesus will return triumphantly to earth on a white horse, with the saints of heaven riding after him on white horses. Revelation 5:9-10 lets us know that every people group on earth will be represented among those saints on the white horses. For the Wa people of Asia, God actually used a white horse to bring them to Jesus originally! A prophet named Pu Chan proclaimed that a man was coming who could reconnect them with the True God. One day, he saddled a white pony and told some men to follow it. The pony led them for more than 200 miles and stopped at a well in a missionary compound. Missionary William Young was actually inside the well digging it out! When he emerged, a connection was made that led to tens of thousands of Wa trusting Jesus! The next time you see a white horse, think both of Jesus’ second coming and how God providentially brings together people that need Jesus with those ready to share the Gospel!
JEFF CRUSE SOUTHEAST ASIA After teaching English classes in Southeast Asia, Jeff and Kim Cruse often invite students to their home. They build relationships with them and share the Gospel. One day, when one of their students was asked where he went to church, he answered “JKH.” Those three letters stood for Jeff and Kim’s house. During one Bible study, the Cruses read Acts 2 and asked the students if this group meeting in their home resembled the early church. “Wow, we are a church!” said the students. Today, a second church has been planted and the students are actively involved in missions. And it’s all because one couple followed God’s call. Just like the Cruses, we can impact those in Southeast Asia by our support through the Cooperative Program. Join us in praying that the Cruses continue to plant churches among students using tools like English classes.
“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” JOHN 17:18
How are you IMPACTING THOSE AROUND YOU?
f the church has been sent into the world in similar fashion that the Father sent the Son, then we should try to understand how and why Christ was sent. One of the best passages of Scripture to help us with this is John 1:14, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In this one verse, we understand that Jesus came in humility, to walk with sinners, and to display grace and truth. Jesus humbled himself by becoming “flesh,” taking the form of a servant, born in the likeness of men, and was obedient to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Jesus “dwelt among us.” He walked, talked, served and ate with sinners (Mark 2:13-17). Jesus was the full display of the glory of God through “grace and truth.” He proclaimed good news to the spiritually bankrupt and liberty to the captives and oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). As followers of Christ, we have been sent in humility. In what ways are you serving the needs of your community? We have been sent to walk with sinners. Are you intentionally reaching out to love the unlovable in your community? We have been sent to display grace and truth. Are you ministering to those around you by speaking truth but also through displaying grace and mercy? Take some time today to pray for the “outcasts” in your community and then spend some time “out with” them.
EAST ASIA The deaf in East Asia face a difficult road in their search for Christ. Barriers crop up daily, causing problems for missionaries who are trying to share the Gospel with millions of deaf in this part of the world. Some deaf believe Christianity has hundreds of difficult rules, making it a boring and confusing way of life.
Many families also put a great deal of pressure on deaf adults to conform to the traditional religious practices to gain financial support. Accepting Christ means losing family, home and financial support. The road is difficult â€” both for the deaf and the missionaries in East Asia. Our church can help, though, as we give through the Cooperative Program. Letâ€™s join together to pray for the missionaries in East Asia.
7 STEPS to be a FAITHFUL & WISE MANAGER
Use these seven steps to become a faithful and wise manager of what God entrusts to you. “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge…?” LUKE 12:42
Make a commitment to faithfully and wisely manage what God entrusts to you. When you are committed to honor Christ in your financial decisions, you can be faithful and wise. Align your expenses with your income. Be honest and realistic about your financial situation. It will involve some trial and error, but even that will teach you. Nip major impulse buying and decisions. Focus on what you want. You will likely always be in need. Focus on what you need and may be able to get things you want. Always be grateful for what you have and can do.
The Bible counsels, “Be rich in good deeds… be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18). Give a tithe, or more, through your church. Don’t ask, "Can I afford to tithe?" Instead say, “I love the Lord, want to obey His Word, and will tithe” (Leviticus 27:30). Expect God to help you. God is eager for you to be faithful and wise, and He will help you. Rejoice in the privilege of managing what He entrusts to you. God is the ultimate owner of all things, but He commits the management or care of His world to us.
JEFF & SARA
PHILLIPS VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA Today we want to pray for Jeff Phillips, our missionary who serves with his wife, Sara, in Vancouver, the largest city on the Pacific coast of Canada. Jeff says he never imagined the impact he would have on Vancouver. He had served as a youth minister for more than 10 years, but never as lead pastor or church planter. Yet God used Jeff to start The Crossings Church. We must understand that, because our church helps support Jeff and Sarah there in Vancouver through the Cooperative Program, both grownups and children are hearing the Gospel. Letâ€™s pray today that God will continue to bless Jeffâ€™s ministry and that many more will come to know Christ.
Is your HEART IN IT? WRITTEN BY
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” MATTHEW 6:19-21
any of us determine where we invest our time and energy by whether or not our heart is in it. It is a subjective measure that expresses our desire to feel good about what we are doing. The desire for our hearts to be in our actions is actually a good thing. Where we often go wrong though, is thinking that our hearts will be invested in something we aren’t yet taking part of. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus warns us about what we invest our treasures of this life in. Our treasure is usually defined by what we pursue with our time, energy and money. Jesus admonishes us to spend our treasure in pursuing that which is eternal, namely, that which builds our love of the Gospel and then gets the Gospel into the lives of others. He ends this admonishment by saying that where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be. Notice though that the treasure goes first, and then the heart follows. Where is your treasure? Move it to wherever your heart should be.
BETHANY & DAVID ANDERSON SOUTHEAST ASIA David and Bethany Anderson* are two of our missionaries serving in Southeast Asia. That’s not their real names, because they serve in a dangerous area. But it’s not nearly as dangerous as it used to be. In fact, people who live around the Andersons used to be headhunters. For a boy to be considered a man, he was required to kill someone and take the head! Those customs stopped after missionaries came in the 1950s to teach the people God’s better ways of living. David and Bethany are still working with this tribe, whose numbers now include many Christians. But these days they are teaching the believers how to be missionaries to other tribal people. Today let us pray for this missionary couple; we support them through our church’s Cooperative Program giving. And let’s give thanks that the Gospel has the power to literally move people from death to life! *Name changed to protect identity.
“We are God’s coworkers…” 1 CORINTHIANS 3:9
od loves inequality and inefficiency. How else can one understand the events of Acts 10? God answers the prayers of the Gentile Cornelius by telling him to seek out Peter. At the same time, God sends a vision to Peter to prepare him to respond appropriately to Cornelius. Why doesn’t God just tell Cornelius the entire Gospel directly? Cornelius was so ready to respond to God’s leading that surely he would have responded to any revelation of the facts of the Gospel. By involving the hesitant and awkward Jewish Peter in the presentation of the Gospel to this Gentile Cornelius, God not only saves Cornelius and his entire household, but He simultaneously enlarges Peter’s view of Himself and enhances his understanding of the Gospel. Today, why does God give more of certain spiritual gifts or blessings in one region and less in another? Perhaps it is His way of propelling us toward teamwork. Even more likely, it is His way of revealing even more of Himself to us.
ZACK & AUTUMN
RANDLES WASHINGTON, DC If you know anything about Washington, DC, you know it’s a very expensive place to live. Church planter Zack Randles and his wife, Autumn, prayed long and hard when trying to find an apartment. And through a tremendous answer to those prayers, they found a place that was $1,200/month less than the average price… and right near where they wanted to plant Waterfront Church!
When Waterfront Church launched in the shadow of the US Capitol building, 84 local residents along with a mission team from Texas filled the third floor of the Courtyard Marriott Navy Yard, which allowed them to use its building. “The most exciting part of [launch Sunday] happened that night at our first church fellowship,” says Zack. “Of the 84 DC residents who attended Sunday morning, more than 50 came back to the Sunday Night Supper Club.” Let’s keep praying for the Randles and Waterfront Church as they reach the people of DC for Christ.
“We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 CORINTHIANS 5:20
harles Spurgeon once said, “If God has called you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.” God has called some of us to be missionaries, but He has called all of us to be messengers. “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). This is the greatest calling in the world — to speak the truth of the Gospel, to tell the story of God’s redemptive plan for the entire world. It’s a privilege to tell others that God has invaded our world to be involved in our lives and has invited us to be Kingdom messengers. It’s not a burden to share the Gospel; it’s a blessing. It’s not pressure; it’s a privilege to speak on behalf of God. So, when you’re serving others and sharing the Gospel, remember that you’re on a mission with God. You’re simply representing Him — not because you have to, but because you want to. And that is the greatest calling you will ever know. Lorna Bius, NAMB Missionary
BIUS COLORADO It’s hard for someone to hear the Gospel when his stomach is growling with hunger. Meeting human needs has always been a part of sharing the Gospel. That’s the idea behind the ministry called LoveLoud that our missionary Lorna Bius has in Colorado. She shows missionaries and churches
how to meet hunger and other needs of local people as part of their outreach ministry. Our church’s Cooperative Program helps support Lorna’s missionary ministry in Colorado. So we pray for her today. Lorna says Baptists know we must love our neighbors, but for some folks we have to love a bit louder before they hear us.
“Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.” ACTS 17:29
tanding in the midst of Machu Picchu, I was reminded of these words. Apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are left to our own devices and our own imagination. How easy it would be to worship the creation rather than the Creator. To have our focus upon the elements we experience every day, or to see the mountains as our provision and protection.
The Gospel reminds us that when God wanted to make Himself fully known that He did so in flesh and blood. Jesus dwelling among us provided the full revelation of the Father and revealed what man looked like in unbroken fellowship with the Creator. Jesus stripped away the unnecessary restrictions of man-made religion. He moved humanity away from the need of burnt offerings, blood sacrifices and food offerings. Giving Himself, He drew us near to the heart of the Father and bids us to enter into full, unbroken relationship. So much of the world continues to be stuck in the former mindset. So many men, women and children continue to be subjected to the cruelty of religion. So many continue to be fixated upon divine beings formed by the art and imagination of man. The only response from us should be the revelation of the Father in human form. This is the calling of the Body of Christ. The Father’s flesh-and-blood response to the finished work of Christ. This calling may place us among various nations or in our backyard. However, the mandate is still the same: “You are the light of the world.”
STUDENTS NEW ORLEANS BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY Since 1917, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has equipped leaders to answer God’s call to ministry. The seminary’s goal is to pass a strong commitment to evangelism onto the graduates and eventually the churches and ministries they serve.
is the Cooperative Program, The genius of the Southern Baptist Convention is that we have learned that we can do things together that none of us could do individually.”
Nowhere is the commitment to evangelism more evident than in the ministry of the 194 students in the Caskey scholarship program. The students, who serve as bi-vocational ministers or in smaller membership churches, commit to weekly, intentional, Gospel witnessing. Last school year, these 194 students shared the Gospel more than 3,000 times and saw more than 400 people come to faith in Christ.
In fact, because NOBTS believes so strongly in it, a Cooperative Program course is now required for every graduate student at NOBTS. And our church is a vital part of their task of training the next generation of ministers, missionaries and leaders through our support of the Cooperative Program. Let’s continue to pray for them as they strive to educate and inspire for future Kingdom work.
Without generous CP giving, the seminary’s training task and evangelism efforts like this would be impossible. NOBTS president Chuck Kelley says, “The lifeblood of Southern Baptists at every level and in every ministry
Is your MISSIONS ENGAGEMENT ENDURING? WRITTEN BY
hat is God like? God is faithful. In praise to God, Psalm 136 repeats this refrain: “for his steadfast love endures forever.” That means God enduringly fulfills His promises to His people. Shouldn’t our service in the cause of missions reflect the character of the God we serve? Churches must plan to be engaged in the missionary task for the long haul. Our commitment to missions cannot simply be a passing commitment made at a missions conference, which falters shortly after the excitement of the conference ends. If our missions engagement is to reflect God’s character, it cannot be ‘fair weather’ engagement. Setbacks will occur. People we love and support will struggle. Some will stumble. Satan will assault God’s work, and Satan will assault those who sacrificially promote God’s work. But we know that our God is faithful —“His steadfast love endures forever.” The God who rescued us from sin, Satan and death so that we might serve Him will see us through as we endure in our commitment to the Great Commission.
VARGAS FLORIDA Pastor Martin Vargas believes in this message with his whole heart: “God knows; He changes lives; there is growth in the truth; and we are fulfilling the Great Commission.” And out of a calling from God, he founded Real Church, or Iglesia Real. This church in South Florida shares the Gospel in Spanish, English and Portuguese. It also serves as a hub for new church plants.
Martin didn’t know how they would afford the church building, but he knew God would provide. And sure enough, the funding for the building came from many different areas and through unsuspected individuals — because God can use anyone to advance His Kingdom. And through our church’s support of the Cooperative Program, God uses us to help fund church planters like Martin. Let’s join together today to pray for Martin’s ministry in South Florida and that more churches will be planted.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” PSALM 27:1
hy could David say that? No doubt David had seen God work on his behalf time and time again. But when you continue to read Psalm 27 you see how this relationship David had with God really began.
“When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” - PSALM 27:8
When God revealed himself to David, something stirred in David’s heart and when it did, David responded. Is it not the primary work of every Southern Baptist church to reveal God to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ? Every church we have needs to use every means possible to do the work. One of the greatest tools available to us is media. The SBC and most every state convention have excellent media resources. And what these resources do is put faces on missions. It could be the face of one of our missionaries thanking the church for the money given to missions that allows them to stay on the field. Many times, though, it is the face of the lost that we see: Eyes with no twinkle, faces without expression, because they have no hope. They are like sheep without a shepherd wandering aimlessly toward eternity. But it does not have to stay that way. These media resources are intended to stir the hearts of God’s people, so God’s people in turn will supply the funds to present the true God to the world. Then hearts will be stirred and like David, the world can say, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.
BILLY & SARAH FONTENOT EAST ASIA Billy and Sarah Fontenot* draw attention in the East Asian city where they live and minister. It’s not hard to draw a second glance when an American family with four children walk by. In their East Asian town, the Fontenots truly stand out. And every day gives them another chance to shine the light of Christ. The Fontenots have made friends who have never seen a Christian family living according to the Bible’s truths. People noticed the differences—and asked questions. That gave Billy and Sarah opportunities to tell them about Jesus Christ. Those people are coming to Christ because our church’s Cooperative Program giving helps Billy and Sarah and their children live and serve there in East Asia. Today, let’s pray that God will bless them as they continue to impact the lives of others. *Name changed to protect identity.
hen the apostle Paul left Titus on the island of Crete, he gave him the task of reaching the lost and raising up leaders. He would later write to Titus of this task with the clarifying statement, “as I directed you.” I would propose that the Lord Jesus Christ looks at each one of us as His children and calls us to go through life, “as I directed you.” Whether we eat or drink or teach or coach or draw up building plans or work for the government or volunteer in the community, we are to do so, “as I directed you.” We are ambassadors under authority. We are representatives, who will give an account to the One we represent. Jesus has not left your comings or goings up to fate, but has strategically and intentionally placed you where you are. Let us be an intentionally sent people. Let us live with a driving passion and purpose to be about our Father’s business. Let us, in every moment, live as he has directed us.
JOHN & DENISE
WYBLE CENTRAL VIRGINIA Ever wonder why the word deaf is sometimes capitalized? Are Deaf and deaf the same?
Deaf church planters are being empowered as *indigenous planters to reach the culturally Deaf community.
“There is a difference between Deaf and deaf,” says catalytic church planter John Wyble. “The Deaf community sees the deaf as people who have lost some or most of their hearing but still communicate from a hearing perspective.” The Deaf community, however, is a people group with its own language and culture. The culturally Deaf are a mission field and a mission force.
According to the Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf (SBCD), there are a total of 50 Deaf churches tasked with reaching the 3 million culturally Deaf in North America. This is a monumental task and can only be accomplished by calling, training, and empowering Deaf planters. John Wyble, a “leader at large” with the SBCD, is planting two churches in central Virginia. Let’s pray for men like John Wyble and other Deaf church planters. And let’s pray for new sponsor and host churches that will allow new deaf churches to have meeting locations.
“There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” REVELATION 8:1
his is dramatic. Heaven fell silent for about half an hour. The final judgment is about to begin and silence replaces the joyful noise of heaven. Up to this point, there has been a lot of noise in heaven, centered on the noise of praise for the Lamb of God. But now, silence prevails. One present day writer has described silence as a resource as valuable as water. If we are honest, silence makes us uncomfortable — even making us feel awkward. Yet, silence is a powerful thing. The amazing thing is that in silence God often speaks the loudest. There is silence in heaven for about 30 minutes. Why? One reason, when the inhabitants of Heaven see what is on the scroll of history and what is going to happen on this earth, they are stunned. The judgment of God is about to fall on the earth, and it drives all of Heaven to silence. Quiet yourself today. And in the silence, let God break your heart for our lost world. Jonathan Land, NAMB Missionary
JONATHAN & SHELBY
SIOUX FALLS, SD Jonathan Land is one of our North American missionaries starting a church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And we want to pray for him and his family today. Sioux Falls is a city with about 250,000 people. We think of the Dakotas as cowboy country, but actually the big industry in town is finances. Most people work in offices. Jonathan and his wife moved into a modest house—one like the ads call “a fixer upper.” But it was good enough to invite people to a Bible study. Our church’s Cooperative Program giving helped train Jonathan and helped move him and his family to South Dakota. They started Connection Church
on Easter Sunday in 2014 and within three months more than 50 people were attending. Fifty may sound small, but for Southern Baptists in the Dakotas, that’s a record. We thank the Lord that this new church is growing and sharing the Gospel so that people there will come to faith in Christ. Let’s pray that people from all over Sioux Falls will come to Connection Church!
“God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us...” PSALM 67:1
YOU ARE BLESSED. Just look around you. Chances are you have a bed, clothes and food—items many people in our world only dream of having. Even more, most of us also have a house, a car (or two) and other comforts. There is no denying the fact that you are blessed. But have you ever stopped to ask why? Why has God given you your money and your stuff? What are you supposed to do with it all? The answer lies in Psalm 67. In verse 1, the Psalmist asks God to be generous to His people for a particular purpose. He shares that purpose in verse 7, “God blesses us, so that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.” God’s people are supposed to use their belongings and money to spread God’s name and fame across the street and across the globe. You are blessed. But remember, you are blessed to be a blessing. Find a way today to be generous towards someone of another nation or language so that they might glorify God along with you.
LAYLA MURPHY SOUTHEAST ASIA Our missionary we want to pray for today is Layla Murphy. That’s not her real name, because she serves in Southeast Asia where missionaries are not welcome. She is our missionary because we support her through our church’s Cooperative Program giving. A while back Layla started a class to teach the Gospel to people from an unreached people group—people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. She prayed that 20 people would come the first day. Fifty came!
She started teaching four times a week. More and more people came as word got out about the life-changing truths the missionary taught. The one class grew to eight. She encouraged those who completed the class to start teaching others. One local man started teaching a group on his own—and came to ask Layla what to do. The people kept meeting after the class was completed. She explained that he had accidentally started a new church! Today let’s rejoice that Layla’s faithful ministry has multiplied. And let’s join together in praying for her ministry as she brings the Gospel to those who have never heard it before!
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.” MARK 1:14-15
ow after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.” — Mark 1:14-15
Simple. Straightforward. The Good News of the Living God proclaimed into a bad news world. Sometimes we make the whole thing a little too complicated, shading in areas that are meant to be black and white with various shades of gray, or even worse, with Technicolor displays that often take the focus off of the Good News we are meant to proclaim. Jesus said it this way. “The time is fulfilled.” The Promise has been fulfilled in Jesus. No more waiting for deliverance, salvation, hope or security. It is found in Christ alone. May our message be that He is the Good News. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” Michael Horton says, ““We’re not building a kingdom, but receiving one.” May our activism, strategies, programs, allegiances and proficiencies always submit to the King and His Kingdom. “Repent and believe the Gospel.” May our mission not just be one of going, but of proclaiming this Good News of the Kingdom. He has come. He has made payment for sin. He has risen. He is coming again. And may the power of this Gospel of the Kingdom bring many into His Kingdom. Don’t make it so complicated today. May the message be simple, spirit-filled and reproducible. And may His Kingdom come!
JOHNSON MOXEE, WASHINGTON Michael Johnson learned a million little things in the U.S. Army. But maybe the most important lessons he learned as a soldier had nothing to do with combat. He learned how to be a leader and how to look at everyday life as a mission field. And those lessons continue to serve him well as a church planter in Moxee, Washington, near Yakima. God used Michael’s time in the Army to re-awaken his desire for teaching the Bible. And so, The River Church was planted. Though the church has yet to officially launch, the church’s core group has been meeting together
at a local community center on Sundays. They’ve reached out together through a community block party. Michael has seen firsthand how the Cooperative Program can aid new churches. And our church is able to help church planters just like Michael by our support through the Cooperative Program. We also need to pray that Michael’s ministry will be blessed and continue to grow.
ave you ever prayed a prayer asking God for wisdom and direction? It usually sounds like this: “what do you want me to do?” Sometimes this question has a low level of stress, but other times it can keep you up at night due to the ramifications entangled with the decision. In John 15, the disciples understand this well. In the next few hours, Jesus will be arrested, and they will have to listen carefully for directions. Jesus gives them great wisdom in John 15:7. Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you.” I want to point out that the power in this verse is that it is not a blessing verse, but rather a verse on finding God’s purpose and direction for your life. Just like a boat, abiding between the shorelines, Jesus calls direction-seeking disciples to remain between two very important shores. First, we are to abide in Him. This means that we are to trust the voice of the Spirit. If the Spirit says go, we go! If the Spirit says no, we refrain. Second, we are called to abide by His Word. There is nothing God would ever ask you to do through His Spirit that would contradict His Holy Scriptures. So what if we run across situations where both the Spirit and the Word of God agree with multiple options? Well, Jesus says, “ask whatever you wish.” Plainly, He tells us we get to pick! Trust the Spirit. Trust God’s Word. And trust who God has made you to be. WRITTEN BY
MUCHE & DIAMONE
UKEGBU MIAMI, FLORIDA Muche Ukegbu is one of our North American missionaries who has seen God accomplish very difficult things. Muche and his wife, Diamone, started a new church with a team of 22 believers. That new church, which they call â€œThe Brook,â€? is located in a part of North Miami, Florida, where it is very
difficult to share the Gospel and start churches. Today we rejoice with them that they have succeeded, because our church partners with them through our Cooperative Program giving. Let us pray for our faithful missionary couple serving there in North Miami. God has called us to reach all of North America for Him, and that means we must reach the hard places like North Miami.
A Faithful STEWARD Honors GOD “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us, with all things to enjoy.” 1 TIMOTHY 6:17
healthy understanding of wealth comes from a good understanding of God. God is without doubt the Creator and Sustainer of the world. He is the Owner of everything. One cannot possibly be a good steward apart from the foundational truth that God owns it all.
Paul encouraged Timothy to remind every recipient of God’s blessings to remember that God is the Giver, and we are but stewards or managers of what He provides. When one acknowledges God’s resources and experiences His goodness, a wise steward will emerge. In his book titled, A Leader Led, Guy King told of a legend about a country in search of a king. Two people were selected to choose between two infant twins. When the two evaluators arrived, they found the two infants asleep. They looked at the infants and observed quite a contrast in their sleeping positions. One was asleep with his fists tightly clenched together, while the other had his hands wide open. The infant with his hands wide open was the selected child to serve as king. According to the legend, the selected designee to serve as king in time developed quite a name for himself due to his great generosity. He became known as “the King with the Open Hand.” We have a God with an open hand. As we understand the generous nature of our God and experience His generosity, we should look for opportunities to open our hand and share what He has provided to us as stewards. Are you honoring God as His steward today?
NORM STARR SOUTHEAST ASIA Today, we want to pray for one of our Southern Baptist missionaries we’ll call Norm Starr.* We won’t use his real name because this man serves in a Muslim area of Southeast Asia. Back in 2001 Norm gave out food and supplies to families who were refugees fleeing to escape a bad situation in the area. Our church was supporting him in that ministry through our Cooperative Program giving. In 2013 Norm went back to that same area. One man who remembered Norm’s help was the leader of a local Muslim mosque. The man invited Norm into the mosque. Norm went, of course, and did what Southern Baptist missionaries always do—shared the Gospel. Today, we pray for Norm and we can be confident the Lord knows exactly who we’re talking about. We are still supporting him through the Cooperative Program. Let’s pray that God will keep Norm safe as he gets to know people well enough to tell them about Jesus Christ. We know that this is the only way people there or anywhere will have true peace. *Name changed to protect identity.
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us, with all things to enjoy.” 1 TIMOTHY 6:17
A Faithful Steward Offers HOPE with POSSESSIONS
any Christians today are putting their hope in accumulating things that won’t last. While the world seems to think that money equals power, security, and position, our Holy God reminds us that all possessions will be left behind when we die and only what’s done for Christ really matters. Tragically, Christians and non-Christians alike have come to believe the world’s illusion that true happiness comes from accumulating things. Let us take our blinders off and see: • The money we seek to accumulate in a lifetime can be lost in a shift of the stock market or the dishonesty of others. • The house we purchased a decade ago needs constant upkeep and repair and will depreciate in value in a depressed economy. • The car we purchased a few years ago now shows signs of deterioration with rust and body damage. When we find ways to give, we can discover joy in the process. Joy comes to the person who is willing to take specific actions to give. • How willing are you to give your time and energy to meet the needs of someone? • How willing are you to give your money to meet the needs of people through the ministry of your church? • How willing are you to give a listening ear to those that need you to listen? • How willing are you to give without expecting a return?
WORKER NORTH AFRICA A Christian worker in North Africa reports that 1,000 Bibles were recently distributed to the pastors of many rural Orthodox churches around Ethiopia. Most of these isolated churches had never even had one Bible. Now these men can study, teach and preach from the Bible instead of other traditional Orthodox books. Without these Bibles, many would not have the opportunity to hear first hand about the Good News of Godâ€™s grace. And our church has been a part of this ministry by our giving through the Cooperative Program. Please pray that God will give these pastors, students and others who can read a great hunger to know God through His Son, Jesus, and His truths.
A Faithful Steward Develops A HABIT of GIVING WRITTEN BY
o you have any unusual habits? Have you ever observed the way that people eat corn on the cob? It seems there are only two ways to eat corn on the cob. Some people eat around the cob and others eat across it. Whichever way you eat, it seems the right way and the other way look strange. The taste doesn’t change by the way it is eaten. The Apostle Paul wrote Timothy to encourage him to challenge believers to develop the habit of giving (1 Tim. 6:18). Tremendous joy comes to the believer who works hard so there will be sufficient resources to meet the needs of others. Paul says the believer can find the greatest satisfaction by giving. It is described as a cheerful giver or a “hilarious giver.” As faithful stewards, what’s involved in developing the habit of giving? • • • •
Earn what you can by working hard. - Ephesians 4:28 Faithfully return the tithe to the Lord. - Malachi 3:10 Find ways to help others in need and discover lasting satisfaction. - 2 Corinthians 9:7 Discover ways to invest in reaching parts of the world you might never see by giving to missions. - Matthew 28:19
MITCH & NELLIE
ENGLEHART SOUTH ASIA We’re going to pray for two of our missionaries who serve in a country in South Asia that is so dangerous we cannot use their real names, even here. We’ll call them Mitch and Nellie.* Mitch and Nellie have served there nine years and all this time they have been training and discipling church leaders to go out and start new churches. Just in the last five years, they have seen more than 1,200 new churches started and seen thousands of new believers baptized. Now, did you get that? This one missionary couple has helped plant more than 1,200 new churches! Is God blessing their work or what?
*Name changed to protect identity.
Our church has had a small part in every one of those churches and every one of those baptisms! That’s because our church’s Cooperative Program giving helps Mitch and Nellie serve there in South Asia. Our giving is helping change lives for eternity! Often in a baptism service there, many new believers will be baptized. Here’s now they do it. A national pastor will baptize the first new believer. Then that new believer, still wet from being baptized himself, will baptize the next new believer. And that new believer will baptize the next one and so on. That really teaches that every Christian is supposed to help bring more people to Christ, doesn’t it? Join me today in praying that Mitch and Nellie can continue their wonderful ministry and that the Lord will keep blessing what they do.
A Faithful Steward Follows A STRATEGY to INVEST in the HEAVENLY
f someone offered you some investment strategy in something that would last forever, would you be interested? The Lord offered insight to a good investment when He said, “But store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). The Apostle Paul takes the insight offered by Jesus and applies it to an opportunity for a person to use material possessions to properly “store up treasure in heaven.” How can one do this? It can occur when one invests wealth in ways that will directly contribute to others becoming Christians. How willing are you to be a responsible Christian steward with what you have? The Christian who discovers ways to be an outlet to meeting the needs of others is actually establishing his house on a rock. Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). When one makes such an investment in meeting the needs of others, the practice allows God to let that person experience life as He desired it to be.
BILLY & VANESSA
SOUTH ASIA South Asia is one of those parts of the world that really seems like the end of the earth Acts 1:8 talks about. The region includes countries like Pakistan, India and Nepal.
They spend their time working with new believers, discipling them in the Christian faith and also how to share the Gospel and start new churches. It’s a 10-lesson course. A while back they went to visit two people who had been through the course several months before.
But that is where we have sent two of our missionaries we’ll call Billy and Vanessa* to share the Gospel. They had to work hard to learn the language spoken where they are and to handle the other many parts of living in a land very different from the United States.
In those several months, the two new believers had started five new churches and had seen 50 people baptized.
Our church is partners in their work, because our Cooperative Program giving helps support them in that dangerous place.
Friends, that’s how the Lord intends for it to happen here too! Let’s pray today that God will continue to bless Billy and Vanessa and the people they are giving their lives to reach, teach and disciple to grow the Kingdom!
*Name changed to protect identity.
Our missionaries cannot do all the work of preaching and teaching. They have to train others like this who will share the Gospel, who will train others to share the Gospel and so on.
2015 OFFERING DATES
DR. BRIAN AUTRY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
4956 DOMINION BLVD. GLEN ALLEN, VA 23060 sbcv.org
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