Saturday, October 29, 2016

January Monthly Partner Update

Tomorrow we head back to Kenya!  We are full of emotions; ready to get back to our home but also struggling to say goodbye to family and friends.
We give God the glory as He has shown his awesome grace and faithfulness to our family.

Please keep us in prayer:

Family
  • Readjusting to home life in Nairobi.
  • We have been given the funds for a vehicle.
  • Abby in Bible School  in Michigan - studies, work, finances. 
  • Nathan living on his own in Indianapolis.
  • Sam adjusting back to his school in Kenya mid-year. He starts school at West Nairobi School on the 11th.

We will keep posting updates once we arrive and settle in.

Happy New Year! 

November Monthly Partner Update

Please keep us in prayer:

Family 
  • Moving back to Kenya fully on January 2, 2017 - travel, airfare, re-adjusting, only 3 of us.
  • Prayer has been answered! Thankful! We just got notice that our visa/work permit was renewed for another 2 years.
  • Abby in Bible School - studies, work, finances. 
  • Nathan at Starbucks, future direction and moving out on his own. 
  • Sam adjusting back to his school in Kenya mid-year.

On the Ground in Kenya
  • Hatua Community Centre - Pauline as she manages ongoing ministry; that she would be encouraged and see God's healing, protective, providing hand.
  • Pastor David and family -  that they would be encouraged and see God's healing/protective hand.  We/they are experiencing strong spiritual opposition, manifested in physical ways inexplicable medical conditions. God has healed.  Pray for spiritual protection over his family.
  • 24 Bible school students beginning the final term for the year.  Pray for next years applicants, that we would have a good number of committed students.2 new churches have just begun.  Planted by 2 of our Bible school students - Florence Oduor and David Simidi.  Please pray for their spiritual protection, endurance and encouragement.
  • Children’s Bible clubs in November.
  • For clarity of the Gospel to be freely understood with each of our steps.  We are continuously up against blinding spiritual evils, false teaching, witchcraft,  animism and prosperity faith.  Pray that we would hold strong to putting on "the armor of God" (Ephesians 6).   
  • Nairobi Chapel and our partnership. 
  • Our house/housing in Ngando – maintenance and repairs – Our landlord John. 
  • Peaceful elections next year.
  • Future growth of the vision in Nairobi, rural Kenya and Tanzania– that we would be available and walk in the Spirit: CTC Bible schools, community centers, medical facility, dress project.
  • Praise for recent, big bead-work jewelry sales and contacts.


Needs

  • We are at 70% of our monthly support
  • A 4WD vehicle to help us access muddy roads and rural areas and for better safety on the roads.  $25,000. We are at 20%.  We currently do not have a vehicle.
  • Bible club funds for November

Thursday, September 29, 2016

October 2016 Monthly Partner Update

Please keep us in prayer:

Personal

  • Brad had a very encouraging and productive visit to Kenya in September.  We are feeling the attacks from the enemy but there is plenty to rejoice about.  We will not allow Satan to steal our joy.  God has opened doors for us and continues to encourage us to move ahead. 
  • Moving back to Kenya fully in January 2017 - travel, airfare, re-adjusting, only 3 of us.
  • Pray for a smooth process in the renewal of our residency/work permit in Kenya - Expires Nov 2016.  Our paperwork is submitted and is being processed.
  • Abby in Bible School - studies, work, finances.

On the Ground in Kenya

  • Hatua Community Centre - Pauline as she manages ongoing ministry; that she would be encouraged and see God's healing, protective, providing hand
  • Pastor David and family -  that they would be encouraged and see God's healing/protective hand.  We/they are experiencing strong spiritual opposition, manifested in physical ways inexplicable medical conditions. God has healed.  Pray for spiritual protection over his family.
  • 24 Bible school students beginning the final term for the year.  Pray for next years applicants, that we would have a good number of committed students.
  • 2 new churches have just begun.  Planted by 2 of our Bible school students - Florence Oduor and David Simidi.  Please pray for their spiritual protection, endurance and encouragement.
  • For clarity of the Gospel to be freely understood with each of our steps.  We are continuously  up against blinding spiritual evils, false teaching, animism and prosperity faith.  Pray that we would hold strong to putting on "the armor of God" (Ephesians 6).  This continues to be true.

Needs

  • We are at 70% of our monthly support needed.  (Give) - Field Coordinator Ministry - Preferenced for the Matlacks.
  • A 4WD vehicle to help us access muddy roads and rural areas and for better safety on the roads.  $25,000. We are at 20%.

Upcoming Travel in the US

  • Camie will be in Orlando, FL October 11-18th focusing on Girls With Vision bead work.
  • Philly area, PA-  October 20-23
  • D.C., Northern VA - October 23-26

HATUA COMMUNITY CENTRE

HATUA is the Kiswahili word  for "step".  It is the name of the community centre in Ngando, Nairobi, Kenya.  This word helps one to define the vision and describes what the focus is all about - helping someone take the next right step. 


The focus is to seek transformation for our community through working with the local church(es).  At Hatua we seek to develop a framework to reach people where they are at in their discipleship or transformation journey - presence, relief, rehabilitation or development.  The work and relationships go through the local church, local pastors, helping them reach their community for the sake of the Gospel.  We position for discipleship through the discipleship/development cycle.  This work needs many hands and has many faces looking for the next right step. 



Here are a few practical examples:
  •  a young single mother trying to make ends meet finding a community with counseling and vocational training
  • an HIV positive widow who is abandoned and without a family finds a caring community that will commit to walk with her
  • a man or woman addicted to drugs or alcohol escaping reality and prostituting themselves to support their habit finds new purpose and recovery
  • an innocent child hearing of hope through a Bible story
  • a pastor who never had a chance to finish their education, gets a chance to formally study and understand the Bible and now fights against false teaching, witchcraft and prosperity faith
  • a community seeing God's healing through a visit by a good doctor
  • the local church, walking, taking the next right step with people



Monday, September 5, 2016

September 2016 Monthly Partner Update

Please keep us in prayer:

Personal

  • Brad is traveling back to Kenya September 12-23 -  travel, meetings, renewing visa paperwork, ongoing ministry at Hatua Center, finalizing practical details for our full return.  There is a lot to try to accomplish in this time.  Pray for physical and spiritual protection.  Would you please commit to praying daily for us during this trip?  Please let us know!
  • Moving back to Kenya fully in January 2017 - travel, airfare, re-adjusting, only 3 of us.
  • Pray for a smooth process in the renewal of our residency/work permit in Kenya - Expires Nov 2016.

On the Ground in Kenya

  • Hatua Community Centre - Pauline as she manages ongoing ministry; that she would be encouraged and see God's healing/protective hand
  • Pastor David and family -  that they would be encouraged and see God's healing/protective hand.  We/they are experiencing strong spiritual opposition, manifested in physical ways inexplicable medical conditions.
  • 24 Bible school students beginning the final term for the year.  Pray for next years applicants, that we would have a good number of committed students.
  • For clarity of the Gospel to be freely understood with each of our steps.  We are continuously  up against blinding spiritual evils, false teaching, animism and prosperity faith.  Pray that we would hold strong to putting on "the armor of God" (Ephesians 6),

Needs

  • We are at 70% of our monthly support needed.  (Give) - Field Coordinator Ministry - Preferenced for the Matlacks.
  • A 4WD vehicle to help us access muddy roads and rural areas and for better safety on the roads.  $25,000. We are at 20%.

Upcoming Travel in the US

  • Philly area, PA-  October 20-23
  • D.C., Northern VA - October 23-26

Sunday, July 31, 2016

August 2016 Monthly Partner Update

Please keep us in prayer:

Personal

  •  We are so very grateful for the 6 weeks we had in Florida to catch up with friends and family.  Thank you all for taking good care of us and making us feel back home.  We are blessed and thanking the LORD for so many good friends!
  • We are back in Indy this month until we go back to Kenya December/January.
  • Abby heads to New Tribes Bible school in Jackson, Michigan at the end of August.
  • Sam starts school August 10th.
  • Nathan got a promotion at work.  Begins studying online this Fall.
  • Renewal of our residency/work permit in Kenya - Expires Nov 2016.

On the Ground in Kenya

  • Hatua Community Centre - Pauline as she manages ongoing ministry. Her daughter Florence had surgery and is healed.
  • 24 Bible school students as they ends this second term.
  • Children's Bible Clubs happen this month through the local churches.  Pray for extra funds to support this ministry.
  • For clarity of the Gospel to be freely understood.  We are always up against blinding spiritual evils, false teaching, animism and prosperity faith.
  •  Brad is hoping to return in September.

Needs

  • We are at 70% of our monthly support needed.
  • A 4WD vehicle to help us access muddy roads and rural areas and for better safety on the roads.  $25,000. We are at 20%.

Friday, June 3, 2016

June 2016 Monthly Partner Update

Please keep us in prayer:

 
 

Personal

  • We will be heading to Orlando, FL  June & July -  Brad, Camie, Sam.  *
  • Abby graduates HS on June 5th.
  • Nathan and Abby will remain in the US: work, school, encouragement in a new season.  Abby - NTM Bible school in Jackson, Michigan.   Nathan - Studying online, pursuing music.
  • Renewal of our residency/work permit in Kenya. Expires Nov 2016.
  • We are thankful for the family time we've had during this year.

On the Ground in Kenya

  • Hatua Community Centre - Pauline as she manages ongoing ministry. Pray for healing for her daughter Florence.
  • For clarity of the Gospel to be freely understood.  We are always up against blinding spiritual evils, false teaching, animism and prosperity faith.

Needs

  • We are at 70% of our monthly support needed.
  • A 4WD vehicle to help us access muddy roads and rural areas and for better safety on the roads.  $25,000. We are at 20%.

* We will be in Orlando, FL for 6 weeks (June 19th - July 31).  We hope to fill our calendar.  Please let us know when we can spend time with you.
Brad    (317) 993-0212
Camie (317) 993-0214


Monday, May 2, 2016

May 2016 Monthly Partner Update

A lot is similar to last month - just keep praying!






 

 

Psalm 37 The Message

1-2 Don’t bother your head with braggarts
    or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings
    and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.
3-4 Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
    settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
    get in on the best.

5-6 Open up before God, keep nothing back;
    he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day
    and stamp you with approval at high noon.

Quiet down before God,
    be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
    who elbow their way to the top.

8-9 Bridle your anger, trash your wrath,
    cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.
Before long the crooks will be bankrupt;
    God-investors will soon own the store.

10-11 Before you know it, the wicked will have had it;
    you’ll stare at his once famous place and—nothing!
Down-to-earth people will move in and take over,
    relishing a huge bonanza.

12-13 Bad guys have it in for the good guys,
    obsessed with doing them in.
But God isn’t losing any sleep; to him
    they’re a joke with no punch line.

14-15 Bullies brandish their swords,
    pull back on their bows with a flourish.
They’re out to beat up on the harmless,
    or mug that nice man out walking his dog.
A banana peel lands them flat on their faces—
    slapstick figures in a moral circus.

16-17 Less is more and more is less.
    One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,
For the wicked are moral weaklings
    but the righteous are God-strong.

18-19 God keeps track of the decent folk;
    what they do won’t soon be forgotten.
In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high;
    when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.

20 God-despisers have had it;
    God’s enemies are finished—
Stripped bare like vineyards at harvest time,
    vanished like smoke in thin air.

21-22 Wicked borrows and never returns;
    Righteous gives and gives.
Generous gets it all in the end;
    Stingy is cut off at the pass.

23-24 Stalwart walks in step with God;
    his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;
    God has a grip on his hand.

25-26 I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—
    not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
    or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he’s out giving and lending,
    his children making him proud.

27-28 Turn your back on evil,
    work for the good and don’t quit.
God loves this kind of thing,
    never turns away from his friends.

28-29 Live this way and you’ve got it made,
    but bad eggs will be tossed out.
The good get planted on good land
    and put down healthy roots.

30-31 Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone,
rolls virtue around on his tongue.
His heart pumps God’s Word like blood through his veins;
    his feet are as sure as a cat’s.

32-33 Wicked sets a watch for Righteous,
he’s out for the kill.
God, alert, is also on watch—
    Wicked won’t hurt a hair of his head.

34 Wait passionately for God,
don’t leave the path.
He’ll give you your place in the sun
    while you watch the wicked lose it.

35-36 I saw Wicked bloated like a toad,
croaking pretentious nonsense.
The next time I looked there was nothing—
    a punctured bladder, vapid and limp.

37-38 Keep your eye on the healthy soul,
scrutinize the straight life;
There’s a future
    in strenuous wholeness.
But the willful will soon be discarded;
    insolent souls are on a dead-end street.

39-40 The spacious, free life is from God,
it’s also protected and safe.
God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—
    when we run to him, he saves us.

  

Personal

  • Nathan & Abby remaining in the US: work, school, encouragement in a new season.  Abby - NTM Bible school in Jackson, Michigan.   Nathan - Studying online, pursuing music.
  • 3 of us are returning to Kenya in July – Orlando, FL in June and July -  Brad, Camie, Sam. Transitioning back, Sam starting 8th grade.
  • Renewal of our residency/work permit in Kenya. Expires Nov 2016.

On the Ground in Kenya

  • Hatua Community Centre - Pauline as she manages ongoing ministry.  Wisdom as she addresses relief and benevolence concerns.
  • CTC Bible school -Students are starting a new term studying the Old Testament.  Pray for the ongoing application of their knowledge learned.
  • Kids Bible Clubs April 21-23 went very well! 
  • For clarity of the Gospel to be freely understood.  We are always up against blinding spiritual evils, false teaching, animism and prosperity faith.

Ministry Funds Needed by end of June

  • Increasing our personal monthly support. We need to additionally raise $1,500 per month.
  • A 4WD vehicle to help us access muddy roads and rural areas and for better safety on the roads.  $25,000.  More info on this to come soon.
  • Airfare for returning to Kenya, about $3,500.

LET US KNOW YOU ARE PRAYING FOR US!

Bible Clubs April 2016



To each one of you who so generously donated to help make the April Ngando Bible Clubs happen, we want to thank you.


Nearly 400 children heard and felt God’s love in huge ways for a period of 3 days - and we are overwhelmed with gratitude.

The Bible clubs are run by 3 local churches, with all of their own volunteers who cook, teach, lead and run security… We are so privileged to get to come along side them and help to plan, and watch GOD at work. The pastors themselves have told us that this is one of the biggest ways that they as a church get to stand out in the community - "when we care for people’s kids, the community sits up and takes notice…"

During these days, children sang, heard and acted out stories, made some fun wearable crafts, had a great meal each day (which they probably wouldn’t have gotten that day otherwise), received a deworm treatment, and on the last day, enjoyed a huge sports day outside when they all came together as one church. The t-shirts were a huge highlight and we saw kids wearing them over and over throughout the community (even after the Bible clubs).

It is due to your generous help that all of these things took place - I wanted you to see photos and get a glimpse of some of the faces that you impacted.

Thank you!!!

 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Monthly Partner Update - April 2017

April 2016 Monthly Partner Update


LET US KNOW YOU ARE PRAYING FOR US!
 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6 

  

 

 

Personal

  • Nathan & Abby remaining in the US: work, school, encouragement in a new season.  Abby - NTM Bible school in Jackson, Michigan.   Nathan - Studying online, pursuing music.
  • 3 of us are returning to Kenya in July – Orlando, FL in June and July -  Brad, Camie, Sam. Transitioning back, Sam starting 8th grade.
  • Pray that we will trust, have peace and straight paths as we prepare to go back without 2 of our kids - tough to think about being apart from them.
  • Renewal of our residency/work permit in Kenya. Expires Nov 2016.

On the Ground in Kenya

  • Hatua Community Centre - Pauline as she manages ongoing ministry.  Wisdom as she addresses relief and benevolence concerns.
  • CTC Bible school -Students are on break this month.  Pray for the ongoing application of their knowledge learned.
  • Kids Bible Clubs April 21-23.  Brad & Camie will be traveling back for this visit April 14-25th.
  • For clarity of the Gospel to be freely understood.  We are always up against blinding spiritual evils, false teaching, animism and prosperity faith.

Ministry Funds Needed

  • Increasing our personal monthly support. We need to additionally raise $1,500 per month.
  • A 4WD vehicle to help us access muddy roads and rural areas and for better safety on the roads.  $25,000
  • Airfare for returning to Kenya, about $3,500.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Programs / Partnerships (8 of 8)


An error that the church can fall into is that when it comes to alleviating poverty or addressing a social issue, we automatically want to start a program. We believe that the church must be the agent to fulfill the need.  This problem solving mentality and the need to fix what is broken is mostly driven by a western mentality and worldview – remember “Alafu?” It is compounded by the fact that westerners happily fund programs and the global south happily accepts and becomes a dependent on the merry-go-round of relief and development.  It is merely a reflection and the fallout of post-colonialism.


Partnering internationally and funding programs can be attained through mutual accountability, transparency and trust. The problem is that cross-culturally we even define words like "accountability" and "transparency" differently.


Creating or funding programs doesn’t easily translate to global partnerships or effective ministry.




It is well believed that the global relief and development sector is compromised with corruption and greed.  Unfortunately, church and para-church ministries have not had a much better track record when it comes to ethics and fiscal responsibility.  We are not posting blame only on the receiver and the helped in these transactions.  Well-intentioned givers continue to make enormous blunders that in the end create more harm than good. 

While it may be unlikely to ever see the laic sector clean up it’s reputation, for the sake of the Gospel, the church must lead in ethics and hold one another to a higher expectation.  We need to recognize that the church of the global south might be better positioned with a broader worldview to lead the west in their charitable giving.  We need to be committed to shed the prevalent colonial mentality and work on level terms and conditions.  Again, we need to define words like "level" and "transparency."  The west needs to ask the right questions and the global south needs be willing to bring up the difficult conversations – for the sake of the Gospel, we need to minimize “beating around the bush” and not be so afraid of hurting someone's feelings. 



We might all be sitting at a table speaking French but while holding our own world views, we are still speaking different languages. 


While the world is becoming smaller and global church partnerships are becoming the norm, we should also look at the other side of the coin.  Rather than just giving to the church of the global south, the western church should also challenge others on how to shape a culture of giving within it’s own indigenous church.  While the western church has not “cornered the market” on giving and could still be more generous, generally, there is an even poorer culture of giving in the church of the global south.  I am not comparing dollar for dollar but comparing a generous heart of giving; the kind of giving that scripture calls us to.   The African church, for example, has become accustomed to depending on others for their needs.   They have been given so much assistance that they have forgotten how to be generous, depend on God in giving of their own funds for the sake of the gospel.  It is almost as if God, the Holy Spirit is left out of the equation. 

The underlying message is that “God has not given us enough and therefore we should go elsewhere to get more funds in order for us to do ministry.”   


When African church-goers won’t give because the west will give (a classic, crippling, welfare, poor mentality in development circles) God becomes diminished and the church is left with a poor, unhealthy relationship with God. 

Part of the issue also stems back to the fact that global church tends to emulate and model themselves after the western church with big buildings, bigger productions, and bigger programs. The global south will likely never keep up with the western church on programs such as these.  But, do they even need the programs and buildings to spread the Gospel?  The question should be, “do these programs even translate cross-culturally?  Is this part of the fallout of colonial missionary mentality on what is required to do church?  How much of this is the global south waiting for someone to tell them what and how to do it when they likely already have the means to get it done? How often does the colonial minded church quench the global/universal work Holy Spirit?  The western church has begun to realize that bigger buildings and programs do not necessarily translate to more lives changed.  When will the church trust in God’s economy and follow his universal kingdom mentality?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Asset-Based Mapping - Development (7 of 8)


A practical aspect of the "Pastoral Circle."  

As we do development work, the theology of the church tells us that we primarily need to focus on the assets and strengths of the community not just their needs.  What we need to remember is that God is already at work in the lives of the people of the community.  Again we should be prayerfully asking, “Where is God already at work?” and go there.

Secularism says resources are always limited. God is never limited.  Development is more about discovering and exploring God’s world than merely trying to help people survive.  It’s about creating new resources, not redistributing scarce ones. 

 “Where is God already at work?” ... go there.

When we focus on the needs we are communicating that the people have a problem and they do not have the capacity to fix it.  If not approached with care, this approach can quickly create dependence mentality, give us a savior complex and all the more compound the marred identity of the poor.  We are not trying to “fix” anyone, we just focus on transformation with hope. 

We should be finding organizations that are already working in the community and see if a partnership is viable.  Most government leaders have desires of transformation for their communities.  We can help them move from mostly a political agenda to a godly perspective.  The strategy begins by talking to people and asking them what their hope is for the community.  Mapping helps the community understand themselves and leverage the good things that are already present.

We are not trying to “fix” anyone, we just focus on transformation with hope.


Mapping out our communities and ministries on the same map can help the church see where God is at work and how we can bring our networks together. It can assist in helping identify and network through the locations of outreach ministries, social engagements, residences and benevolence cases with pastor’s residences and church locations, seeking discipleship opportunities.  We can partner with government resources, NGO’s and any program that might assist in leveraging a community asset or provide access to addressing a need. It will help the church find the right partners and programs to assist the needy seeking relief and rehabilitation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thank You For the Work You Do!

Often, people thank me for the work I do as a missionary.  I get it, living and working in Kenya can be very difficult and a hard life for most to imagine.  But, I never really know how to respond well, other than to smile and say, "thank you."  I almost feel like I should thank them back for what they do.  I always want to take the conversation deeper and remind them that in God's eyes, they/we are all called to fulfill a unique, special purpose.  Whatever that looks like for them, it is very important to God.

Does our over-inflated views of each other's work come out because we are not yet fully living out our God-given purpose or do we forget to stay on course?  Of course God has seasons for us and might not have just one single purpose or career for us.  I have had jobs and times where I was not feeling any purpose in my work.  It took close friends and mentors to get me out of those valleys.  I still sometimes wish for a 9 to 5 with a steady paycheck; but that fades quickly when I again treasure what I get to do.  For now, it has to do with serving in Kenya, which I humbly feel privileged to do.  I live recognizing that tomorrow  all that could change and God could lead me elsewhere.

This video below, "Forming Fully Christian Workers," is what got me thinking about this.  Are you searching for more meaning in your career?  Is your church and pastor supporting and encouraging you in our vocation?  How can you refocus your current job for the sake of the Gospel - to be Kingdom focused?  For some it might be time to change careers and do what God has called you to do.  It doesn't mean that you should be a full-time missionary and that God will send you to Africa, but maybe it does.

Check out this great resource and pass it on to your pastor: madetoflourish.org   Maybe we should all thank and support one another more often for the work and careers we perform.

Pastor Tim Keller gives good thoughts here regarding this topic.  A true disciple understands their Christian vocation and purpose.   It ties together with my last few posts regarding the "Pastoral Circle" and providing access to the marginalized in our own communities.

By the way, thank you for believing in the work we do in Kenya.  Your "thank yous" are encouraging and meaningful.  The awkwardness is my own issue to get over.  Let's do this together!

To our partners, thank you for the work you do.  If you are not sure about the purpose it gives to you,  know that your careers are in part what allows you to give and support missionaries and ministries like ours.  In my world, that is being very Kingdom focused and giving for the sake of the Gospel.   


Monday, March 21, 2016

Does Every Ministry In Church Have the Same Goal? (6 of 8)

I had an opportunity to be on staff with a fairly affluent, influential church for three years where I served for a period both in the social justice department (helping the poor) and also the missions and outreach team (church planting).

Over time it became evident that although the social justice and missions departments had not worked closely together, with time, the two departments would either duplicate each other’s work or would become inter-dependent.  Through conversations and clarifying the vision it was proposed that they could join together and focus on a common goal, be inter-dependent. After all, everyone was on the same team and ultimately shared the same goal.  We even found that each of the department’s transformational development strategy and models were similar in their process and context.

- positioning the church for discipleship... more churches planted

 
Although it was not practically implemented, I saw potential where the missions department would work more hand-in-hand with social justice in reaching poor communities.  Even to the point that through social engagements, the church could go into a particular community to lay a foundation for ministry that could lead to a church.  The newly planted church could be a natural overflow of what God was already doing in that community.  In the missions and outreach department, church planters could be trained to be champions of justice causes and community transformation, all in the context of planting and pastoring a church.

It was a clear, focused strategy, that could be taught and multiplied, which could allow for growth and development and with time lead to effective community social engagements - positioning the church for discipleship eventually leading to spiritual transformation and more churches planted.

In this context, possibilities and opportunities for community engagements are endless and can look different in every area.  For some, it might be focused on vocational training; while others might serve a medical need.  The idea is to partner with local leaders, map a community and focus on the assets or strengths of the community (asset mapping), in order to together bring transformation. 

The ministry targets for church planting and helping the poor could be focused in the same communities; Targeting the slums or urban communities in the city, beginning with the church’s networks and current ministry engagements, pastor’s networks, church plant training and social development engagements, they all would work together for the sake of the Gospel.

A "justice" department in the church should not be viewed as the only department that does social justice but it ought to be seen as the department that helps “the church” (including all ministry departments) facilitate social justice in all sectors, community outreach, seeking transformation through discipleship - loving your neighbor.

 - Disciples naturally want to be the church

 

With these departments working together, church planters, pastors and community workers all are more able to contextualize and be intentional in the transformation of their own communities.  The church has a great chance to stay relative and be indispensable to their community. The church and the social engagements have a symbiotic relationship.  The social engagement can help birth and grow a church by making disciples.  Disciples naturally want to be the church.  The social engagement will help the church stay relative within the community. The church will help the social engagement stay focused on the commission – “go and make disciples.”

The church has always struggled to find the balance in fulfilling the biblical mandate to “go and make disciples”, evangelism, church planting…  and the obedience in reflecting God’s heart for the poor and needy in the world, such as tackling social justice issues.  Too often we separate the two “co-missions” and even find that we struggle to accomplish them individually.  We get frustrated and at times quit because we don’t see the results and even the whole process can feel awkward.  Evangelism can become a forced event, something we check off of the list when we feel we’ve done enough that month.  The reality is that the church generally struggles, or has given up completely to evangelize.

On the other hand, the church’s social justice and philanthropic efforts feel right and good in the moment but also can then essentially take the gospel, kingdom mentality out them and eventually the church will question why we do them at all.  Actually many churches get very far down the road and don’t even recognize they have gone the wrong direction.  Most likely they are a church struggling to grow, struggling in giving and struggling see the positive effects of their ministry.
  
-...the church... can quench the voice of the Holy Spirit

The trend that actually occurs is that churches have re-defined social benevolent causes alone to be the mission of the church.  They have replaced the “go and make” disciples with the caring for “the least of these” and don’t recognize that they might be somewhat off mission.  I would not hesitate to define this as the church falling into another of the devil’s schemes.  The immediate gratification that someone, the church, gets from doing good, can quench the voice of the Holy Spirit to the point that the church acts alone in trying, unsuccessfully, to accomplish the mission, all the while thinking it is still on mission.  The mission is not ruined.  Thankfully the Holy Spirit is fully in control and continues to bring in the Kingdom of God.  It just won’t necessarily happen with all of those he invited in to participate in the mission.

These writings are an effort to piece together the God given passions for the poor, benevolent programs and philanthropic ideas with the generally understood ideas of missions, evangelism and church planting.  The key is to “position for discipleship”  - to put ourselves, as the church, in a place where we naturally, undeniably will lead in such a way that others will want to follow us, follow Jesus.

Every ministry should ultimately be focused on making Jesus known.  When we look at his life in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John),  we find him performing miracles to show that he was the promised Messiah.  The miracles were not just stand alone incidents for the sake of healing or justice.  He got everyone's attention, consistently spoke of the kingdom and prepared his followers, particularly the disciples, to carry on the mission after he was gone.  The disciples did not really understand their mission until after Jesus' resurrection and during those last 40 days.  But in those 40 days before he ascended into heaven,  Jesus clarified the mission, ordained the church to carry it out and promised to send the Holy Spirit as the Helper.  In the book of Acts (Acts of the Apostles) the early church apostles adapted well to the needs of the church.  They eventually got it!  The acts were all done in an effort to make Jesus known, to make more disciples of Jesus.  They worked together, every delegated department.

The mission has not changed. Today we are to carry it on.  Let's not lose focus and change it.   Make Jesus known this Easter.