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Posts tagged ‘Missions’

Missions: From Start to Finish

Caleb provides the biblical ideal for a “finisher.” Over a lifetime he has consistently served as a tribal leader for Judah.

At age 85, he is still alert and fit. What’s more, he is chomping at the bit to take on a fresh challenge. What a model to emulate!

 Interact with God’s Word:  Joshua 14:6-14

  1. What was Caleb’s role (Numbers 13:3-16) when he was selected for the Canaan scouting expedition?
  2. The scouting party majority was intimidated by the Anakites (Numbers 13:31-33). How did the outlook of Caleb and Joshua differ from their “grasshopper complex”?
  3. Why (v. 7) were Caleb’s words (Numbers 13:1, 30) a “good report”?
  4. How do we know (v. 12) that Caleb was not a naïve optimist?
  5. Why did God consider the majority report a rejection of Him (Numbers 14:11)?
  6. How does Caleb’s appeal to Joshua (v. 12) contrast with the usual assumption in our day about retirement pursuits?
  7. What (vv. 11-12) was Caleb’s assessment of his retirement-age capabilities? What was his ambition?
  8. What (vv. 13-14) was the outcome of Caleb’s venture?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to make you receptive to any assignment He may have for you, regardless of its location, duration, or your age.

Joshua 14:6-14

6 A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, 8 but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. 9 So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’

10 “Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. 11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. 12 So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”

13 So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as his portion of land. 14 Hebron still belongs to the descendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel.

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

Missions: From Start to Finish – A Nurseryman Finisher

Key Bible Verse: “Let’s go at once to take the land,” Caleb said. “We can certainly conquer it!” Numbers 13:30

Bonus Reading: Joshua 14:6-14

The Sahara Desert advancing across Mauritania is forcing this country’s once nomadic population to its two cities. The National Geographic called the result “the largest refugee camp in the world.” The government asked Impact Teams International for help. That’s how Bill Stoffregen, a Christian nurseryman from North Carolina, landed in Mauritania. Appalled at the intense heat and lack of water, Bill questioned if any cash crop would grow there—until he spied a row of green trees. “What are those?” he asked.

“Neem trees,” said his interpreter. Bill knew that neem is an ingredient in insecticides. A computer search divulged that neem products treat wounds and a variety of ailments. And because the tree’s roots grow three feet underground for every foot above, it might hold drifting sands in place.

Excited by Bill’s report, Mauritanian officials agreed to explore the tree’s commercial potential. The research, which Bill funded from his savings, revealed that $1 million invested in planting trees and building a processing plant would create many jobs. Commercial shipments have now begun. Bill has no doubt that God used him to launch this project.

—Anne Garris in Today’s Christian

My Response: To explore ways to invest my experience or resources in Christ’s kingdom, I’ll ____.

Thought to Apply: What we give up for Christ we gain. What we keep back for ourselves is our real loss. ;mdash;J. Hudson Taylor (English missionary to China)

Adapted from our sister publication Today’s Christian(9-10/04)

Prayer for the Week:  Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – The Business Plan

Key Bible Verse: “If you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life.”  – Mark 8:35

Bonus Reading: Mark 8:34-35

Rusty met the Lord as a college athlete and accepted His call to penetrate China’s bamboo curtain with the gospel. Convinced that the best entry was through business, Rusty learned sales working for a world-class retailer in Seattle. Next, he spent two years in Taiwan learning the Mandarin language and Chinese culture. He was hired by an international manufacturer and through hard work, Rusty quickly advanced in the company, becoming its lead representative in Beijing.

Today, 15 years on, Rusty is one of the most respected Christian businessmen in China. An article about Rusty in a Beijing newspaper noted his contributions to the Chinese people and characterized him as trustworthy. His business platform provided the basis for a reputation that opened the minds and hearts of many.

He’s witnessed to thousands of Chinese business people and led many to Christ. He’s supported the Chinese church and helped hundreds of mission workers and Chinese believers establish themselves in business and ministry.

—Mike Barnett in The Changing Face of World Missions

My Response: In what arena am I—or could I become—qualified to demonstrate what a follower of Jesus is like?

Thought to Apply: There comes to many of us the choice between a life of contraction and one of expansion; a life of small dimensions and one of widening horizons. ;mdash;John R. Mott (Student Volunteer movement leader)

Adapted from The Changing Face of World Missions (Baker, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – Brief Task, Lasting Results

Key Bible Verse: And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message.  – 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Bonus Reading: 1 Thess. 1:4-10a

Four university students from Canada partnered with four from Daystar University in Nairobi for six weeks in the summer of 1996. They were assigned to Olepolis, a Masai village in a Kenya area with almost no Christians. Some 80 percent of the population was alcoholic, with women brewing corn beer for their families.

Sarone, my Masai friend, arranged for the team to camp on his family’s farm. Together they built a bridge of rocks across the local river, which annually cut the village off from the outside world for up to four weeks. They also spent hours visiting families in the shade of trees outside their homes, “chewing the news.”

In response to their demonstration of the gospel and God’s love, the villagers requested that another Christian mazungu (white man) be sent to live with them and help them develop their land.

Seven years later, during meetings in Nairobi, I bumped into Sarone, with three elders from the new Masai church in Olepolis. They recalled the impact of seeing young Masai and Canadian Christians living and serving together. Over 300 members, they reported, were the fruit of the seeds the team had planted! Then they shared their plans for evangelizing surrounding villages.

—Randy Friesen in EMQ

My Response: Should I be content to plant seeds, trusting God for long-term fruit, or __?

Thought to Apply: It may be He has only sent me here as a stopgap. Part of a soldier’s duty is to fill gaps, you know. ;mdash;Amy Carmichael (British missionary to India)

Adapted from EMQ (Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 10/05)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – From Short to Long

Key Bible Verse: It is right for me to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. Romans 15:17

Bonus Reading: Romans 15:15b-21

Straight out of high school, Ken went to work for a water drilling company in the mountains of North Carolina. A believer, he not only loved his work, but he also fell in love with and married Carolyn, the boss’s daughter.

After two volunteer short-term assignments in West Africa, he and Carolyn started praying about a way to serve overseas. But with no formal training, God’s answer looked to them like a no.

Then a friend introduced Ken to a young man who wanted a well dug at his farm home. Ken remembers saying, “Franklin, if you ever need to find water where you’re working in Africa, let me know.”

Months later Franklin Graham took Ken up on his offer, asking him to go to Ethiopia to explore drilling wells there. Ken launched a major well-drilling program for the National Evangelical Church, showing the love of Christ to thousands with pure, clean, crystal-clear drinking water.

As international director of projects for Samaritan’s Purse, Ken Isaacs now oversees work in nearly 100 countries. How did he land there? “God raised me up,” he marvels, “literally from the mud, as a blue-collar well driller.”

—Melvin Cheatham in Make a Difference

My Response: I’ll pray about using my skills among the world’s poor.

Thought to Apply: In 1944 the Lord called me from aviation to Himself, and now He has sent me back to aviation for Himself.  – Nate Saint (missionary pilot martyred in Ecuador)

Adapted from Make a Difference (W Publishing, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – A Cyclist Starter

Key Bible Verse: The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:5

Ted Webb of Uxbridge, Ontario, traveled to Malawi three years ago on a mission trip, and discovered the importance of bicycles to impoverished Malawians. With his years of fixing, building, and selling bikes, the 21-year-old avid cyclist observed people walking downhill because their brakes had fallen apart, or uphill because the single gear made it impossible to ride!

Ted saw a great opportunity. “So many bikes collect dust in North American garages,” he says, “and they’re so desperately needed in Africa. Once refurbished, they’re of much better quality than those typically available there.”

Africycle was born in 2004 as Ted and his friends collected 180 used bicycles, restored them to top condition, and packed them in a container. Ted and three friends flew to Malawi to meet the shipment and distribute the donated bikes to pastors, orphans, and trades people.

They offered workshops on repairing and maintaining them. When an Africycle team returned in 2006, they found pastors traveling greater distances and reaching more people.

Africycle sent more bicycles to Malawi last year and set up a sale and repair shop. The small fee for the bikes pays locals to work in the shop and funds a school for orphans and disabled kids.

—Sandra Reimer in FaithToday

My Response: What interest of mine might God harness to advance His kingdom?

Adapted from FaithToday (1-2/07)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – An Accountant Finisher

Who Said It…Jim Reapsome

Jim Reapsome, at 77, has just completed a stint as interim pastor of Western Springs, IL Baptist Church.

That follows retiring from a journalism career: public relations director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, editor of The Sunday School Times and Evangelical Missions Quarterly, and managing editor of Christianity Today. And oh yes, he’s pastored a Pennsylvania congregation.

Jim also gardens, golfs, and roots for the Phillies.

What He Said…An Accountant Finisher

Howard and Marilyn Schmidt represent a host of Christians (called “finishers” in missions lingo) who’ve chosen missionary work as their second career. In 1966, Howard took a year of leave from his managerial job at U.S. Steel, and went to Nigeria with their three children. There he served as a field auditor for Charlotte, NC-based SIM International, traveling among SIM’s bases of operations reviewing their financial books.

This short-term experience was so successful that it proved to be a long-term turning point for this family. Howard stayed with U.S. Steel long enough to qualify for a minimum pension (about the same as SIM’s allowance for a missionary couple). By this time their children had finished their college educations, and the Schmidts were free to rejoin SIM in 1981, bringing their own support.

The Schmidts 21-year second career took them all over the world for SIM. He installed financial systems and trained missionaries in a number of countries.

Adapted from World Pulse (8/6/04)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish

Caleb provides the biblical ideal for a “finisher.” Over a lifetime he has consistently served as a tribal leader for Judah.

At age 85, he is still alert and fit. What’s more, he is chomping at the bit to take on a fresh challenge. What a model to emulate!

 Interact with God’s Word:  Joshua 14:6-14

  1. What was Caleb’s role (Numbers 13:3-16) when he was selected for the Canaan scouting expedition?
  2. The scouting party majority was intimidated by the Anakites (Numbers 13:31-33). How did the outlook of Caleb and Joshua differ from their “grasshopper complex”?
  3. Why (v. 7) were Caleb’s words (Numbers 13:1, 30) a “good report”?
  4. How do we know (v. 12) that Caleb was not a naïve optimist?
  5. Why did God consider the majority report a rejection of Him (Numbers 14:11)?
  6. How does Caleb’s appeal to Joshua (v. 12) contrast with the usual assumption in our day about retirement pursuits?
  7. What (vv. 11-12) was Caleb’s assessment of his retirement-age capabilities? What was his ambition?
  8. What (vv. 13-14) was the outcome of Caleb’s venture?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to make you receptive to any assignment He may have for you, regardless of its location, duration, or your age.

Joshua 14:6-14

6 A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, 8 but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. 9 So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’

10 “Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. 11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. 12 So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”

13 So Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave Hebron to him as his portion of land. 14 Hebron still belongs to the descendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel.

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

Missions: From Start to Finish – A Nurseryman Finisher

Key Bible Verse: “Let’s go at once to take the land,” Caleb said. “We can certainly conquer it!” Numbers 13:30

Bonus Reading: Joshua 14:6-14

The Sahara Desert advancing across Mauritania is forcing this country’s once nomadic population to its two cities. The National Geographic called the result “the largest refugee camp in the world.” The government asked Impact Teams International for help. That’s how Bill Stoffregen, a Christian nurseryman from North Carolina, landed in Mauritania. Appalled at the intense heat and lack of water, Bill questioned if any cash crop would grow there—until he spied a row of green trees. “What are those?” he asked.

“Neem trees,” said his interpreter. Bill knew that neem is an ingredient in insecticides. A computer search divulged that neem products treat wounds and a variety of ailments. And because the tree’s roots grow three feet underground for every foot above, it might hold drifting sands in place.

Excited by Bill’s report, Mauritanian officials agreed to explore the tree’s commercial potential. The research, which Bill funded from his savings, revealed that $1 million invested in planting trees and building a processing plant would create many jobs. Commercial shipments have now begun. Bill has no doubt that God used him to launch this project.

—Anne Garris in Today’s Christian

My Response: To explore ways to invest my experience or resources in Christ’s kingdom, I’ll ____.

Thought to Apply: What we give up for Christ we gain. What we keep back for ourselves is our real loss. ;mdash;J. Hudson Taylor (English missionary to China)

Adapted from our sister publication Today’s Christian(9-10/04)

Prayer for the Week:  Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – The Business Plan

Key Bible Verse: “If you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life.”  – Mark 8:35

Bonus Reading: Mark 8:34-35

Rusty met the Lord as a college athlete and accepted His call to penetrate China’s bamboo curtain with the gospel. Convinced that the best entry was through business, Rusty learned sales working for a world-class retailer in Seattle. Next, he spent two years in Taiwan learning the Mandarin language and Chinese culture. He was hired by an international manufacturer and through hard work, Rusty quickly advanced in the company, becoming its lead representative in Beijing.

Today, 15 years on, Rusty is one of the most respected Christian businessmen in China. An article about Rusty in a Beijing newspaper noted his contributions to the Chinese people and characterized him as trustworthy. His business platform provided the basis for a reputation that opened the minds and hearts of many.

He’s witnessed to thousands of Chinese business people and led many to Christ. He’s supported the Chinese church and helped hundreds of mission workers and Chinese believers establish themselves in business and ministry.

—Mike Barnett in The Changing Face of World Missions

My Response: In what arena am I—or could I become—qualified to demonstrate what a follower of Jesus is like?

Thought to Apply: There comes to many of us the choice between a life of contraction and one of expansion; a life of small dimensions and one of widening horizons. ;mdash;John R. Mott (Student Volunteer movement leader)

Adapted from The Changing Face of World Missions (Baker, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – Brief Task, Lasting Results

Key Bible Verse: And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message.  – 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Bonus Reading: 1 Thess. 1:4-10a

Four university students from Canada partnered with four from Daystar University in Nairobi for six weeks in the summer of 1996. They were assigned to Olepolis, a Masai village in a Kenya area with almost no Christians. Some 80 percent of the population was alcoholic, with women brewing corn beer for their families.

Sarone, my Masai friend, arranged for the team to camp on his family’s farm. Together they built a bridge of rocks across the local river, which annually cut the village off from the outside world for up to four weeks. They also spent hours visiting families in the shade of trees outside their homes, “chewing the news.”

In response to their demonstration of the gospel and God’s love, the villagers requested that another Christian mazungu (white man) be sent to live with them and help them develop their land.

Seven years later, during meetings in Nairobi, I bumped into Sarone, with three elders from the new Masai church in Olepolis. They recalled the impact of seeing young Masai and Canadian Christians living and serving together. Over 300 members, they reported, were the fruit of the seeds the team had planted! Then they shared their plans for evangelizing surrounding villages.

—Randy Friesen in EMQ

My Response: Should I be content to plant seeds, trusting God for long-term fruit, or __?

Thought to Apply: It may be He has only sent me here as a stopgap. Part of a soldier’s duty is to fill gaps, you know. ;mdash;Amy Carmichael (British missionary to India)

Adapted from EMQ (Evangelical Missions Quarterly, 10/05)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – From Short to Long

Key Bible Verse: It is right for me to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. Romans 15:17

Bonus Reading: Romans 15:15b-21

Straight out of high school, Ken went to work for a water drilling company in the mountains of North Carolina. A believer, he not only loved his work, but he also fell in love with and married Carolyn, the boss’s daughter.

After two volunteer short-term assignments in West Africa, he and Carolyn started praying about a way to serve overseas. But with no formal training, God’s answer looked to them like a no.

Then a friend introduced Ken to a young man who wanted a well dug at his farm home. Ken remembers saying, “Franklin, if you ever need to find water where you’re working in Africa, let me know.”

Months later Franklin Graham took Ken up on his offer, asking him to go to Ethiopia to explore drilling wells there. Ken launched a major well-drilling program for the National Evangelical Church, showing the love of Christ to thousands with pure, clean, crystal-clear drinking water.

As international director of projects for Samaritan’s Purse, Ken Isaacs now oversees work in nearly 100 countries. How did he land there? “God raised me up,” he marvels, “literally from the mud, as a blue-collar well driller.”

—Melvin Cheatham in Make a Difference

My Response: I’ll pray about using my skills among the world’s poor.

Thought to Apply: In 1944 the Lord called me from aviation to Himself, and now He has sent me back to aviation for Himself.  – Nate Saint (missionary pilot martyred in Ecuador)

Adapted from Make a Difference (W Publishing, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – A Cyclist Starter

Key Bible Verse: The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:5

Ted Webb of Uxbridge, Ontario, traveled to Malawi three years ago on a mission trip, and discovered the importance of bicycles to impoverished Malawians. With his years of fixing, building, and selling bikes, the 21-year-old avid cyclist observed people walking downhill because their brakes had fallen apart, or uphill because the single gear made it impossible to ride!

Ted saw a great opportunity. “So many bikes collect dust in North American garages,” he says, “and they’re so desperately needed in Africa. Once refurbished, they’re of much better quality than those typically available there.”

Africycle was born in 2004 as Ted and his friends collected 180 used bicycles, restored them to top condition, and packed them in a container. Ted and three friends flew to Malawi to meet the shipment and distribute the donated bikes to pastors, orphans, and trades people.

They offered workshops on repairing and maintaining them. When an Africycle team returned in 2006, they found pastors traveling greater distances and reaching more people.

Africycle sent more bicycles to Malawi last year and set up a sale and repair shop. The small fee for the bikes pays locals to work in the shop and funds a school for orphans and disabled kids.

—Sandra Reimer in FaithToday

My Response: What interest of mine might God harness to advance His kingdom?

Adapted from FaithToday (1-2/07)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.

 

Missions: From Start to Finish – An Accountant Finisher

Who Said It…Jim Reapsome

Jim Reapsome, at 77, has just completed a stint as interim pastor of Western Springs, IL Baptist Church.

That follows retiring from a journalism career: public relations director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, editor of The Sunday School Times and Evangelical Missions Quarterly, and managing editor of Christianity Today. And oh yes, he’s pastored a Pennsylvania congregation.

Jim also gardens, golfs, and roots for the Phillies.

What He Said…An Accountant Finisher

Howard and Marilyn Schmidt represent a host of Christians (called “finishers” in missions lingo) who’ve chosen missionary work as their second career. In 1966, Howard took a year of leave from his managerial job at U.S. Steel, and went to Nigeria with their three children. There he served as a field auditor for Charlotte, NC-based SIM International, traveling among SIM’s bases of operations reviewing their financial books.

This short-term experience was so successful that it proved to be a long-term turning point for this family. Howard stayed with U.S. Steel long enough to qualify for a minimum pension (about the same as SIM’s allowance for a missionary couple). By this time their children had finished their college educations, and the Schmidts were free to rejoin SIM in 1981, bringing their own support.

The Schmidts 21-year second career took them all over the world for SIM. He installed financial systems and trained missionaries in a number of countries.

Adapted from World Pulse (8/6/04)

Prayer for the Week: Prevent me, sovereign Lord, from placing age or place restrictions on my readiness to serve You.