Life Lesson – God Finishes What He Starts

Life Lesson – God Finishes What He Starts

 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 1:6

When I was 15 years old, God brought me under conviction and I accepted Christ as my Savior. The next year, at the age of 16, God called me to serve Him with my life on a youth missions trip. I went back to high school and decided to study and serve Him. When I finished high school, I headed for college to prepare for the ministry of missions. I arrived, and after hearing of the requirements, homework, classes, etc, I thought I would never be able to graduate – it would take a miracle for me to pass the courses! The years passed quickly, and soon the God that called me, allowed me to finish!

I never thought I would be able to get married because I was not the best-looking nor the most talented person … but once again, the God that called me allowed me to get married!

We began deputation and it was a challenge ….. but once again, the God that called us allowed us to finish and get to the field!

We studied the Spanish language and I became frustrated and thought I would never fully understand …. but once again, the God that called me allowed me to learn a new language!

We arrived in Argentina, began the church, and …. Every step of the way, from the first to the last, I have learned a great “Life’s Lesson” – what my God starts, my God finishes.

My life’s verse is Philip. 1:6 – “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Explanation is not needed, but I must say that the moment that God started that “good work” in my life, He began to work and gave me the promise that He will “perform it” until that great day He comes back for us. What a promise!

The ministry has been exciting, although it has its high times and low times. But there is one thing that I can say without a doubt and that is my God is with me every step of the way! He has been performing, He has been working in me and through me – never would it be because of something I did or can do, but rather because He started and He promised to finish!

I have found out that whatever the ministry, wherever the mission field, and whoever the person may be, we all have moments of discouragement and questioning. I become frustrated at times, want more than the Lord has given me, and make more mistakes in the ministry than 5 missionaries in their lifetime could – but there is one thing I know and that is that it was God Who started the work in me and has promised to finish it.

I wish sometimes I could help my brethren at moments when the devil attacks and brings discouragement as He so often does in my own life – and that one thing that I would scream from the mountaintop is, “The God that began a good work is the God that will finish it.” Life is not about me, it’s about God and what God can do through me! The devil plays with the mind, but we must always remember the great promise of our Lord – God will finish what God starts!

How to Pray for Your Missionary

How to Pray for Your Missionary

The following list was prepared by Will Cosby, a veteran missionary of 40 years:

  • Pray for him to understand the people he is working with, and for him to know why they do the things they do.
  • Pray for him to have great patience in dealing with delay.
  • Pray that God will give him wisdom in making daily decisions.  Even a small mistake will magnify in days to come.
  • Pray that God will garrison his mind against evil thoughts.
  • Pray for him to have Holy Spirit power and a good influence on others.
  • Pray that others will de-magnify his imperfections.
  • Pray for his spiritual health to be good and his physical health to keep pace with it.
  • Pray for him to receive much benefit from his Bible study; first for himself, and then for others.
  • Pray that God will help him to be flexible without compromise, and steadfast without being rigid.
  • Pray for him to be able to deliver his sermons with great satisfaction to God, the people, and himself.
  • Pray that God will keep him from believing false information and to be able to discern it as such.
  • Pray that he will know how to arrange his daily schedule with proper spiritual priorities.
  • Pray for him to give the proper attention to his wife and family and not to neglect them for the work.
  • Pray for him to be ever conscious of souls in need and to be aware of opportunities to win them.
  • Pray for him to have an ever-increasing and widening vision of his work.
  • Pray for him to love his people as a shepherd does his sheep and to know their individual needs and be able to administrate his work for the benefit of the whole body.
  • Pray that he will have great faith in God to achieve the impossible.
  • Pray for him not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think and that God will shrink his ego.
  • Pray for him to have great boldness to preach the Word without fear or favor of man.
  • Pray for him to have good convictions and not to compromise.
  • Pray for him that most of all, he will love God supremely with all his heart, mind, and soul.
Missionary Racism

Missionary Racism

Court cases, marches, protests, books, movies, and much more reveal how racist the world and society in which we live can really be. But sadly there is another kind of racism that exists, one we do not hear much about: missionary racism. This article is not intended to slam anyone and definitely not to make anyone think less of missions, rather its purpose is to help the missionary and missionary sender avoid racism.

Here are a few attitudes that show “racism” in the area of missions:

Not eating what the people eat

Not allowing the people on the mission field into your home

Not sharing a drink with the people

Not trusting the people with your children

Thinking there is nothing good in the country in which the missionary serves

Thinking a national could never be trusted to be a leader in the church

Talking about missionary’s home country as superior to the country in which he serves

Venting about the cultural differences on social media such as Facebook, blogs, etc.

Yes, another country may have a “weird” culture compared to what one knows. They may eat “weird” things or do business in a “weird” way, but remember that just because something is different, it is not necessarily wrong. When missionary racism is present or even slightly detected by the people the missionary works with, doors of opportunities will begin to close. Remember that if the people do not trust or confide in the missionary, they will most likely not listen to him and they for sure will not help him. Many missionaries limit their work because of their attitude towards the people. Here are a few ways to help avoid missionary racism and grow trust in the people with whom the missionary works.

  1. Love them.

Love is an ACTION. You can say you love them, but until you step in and get your hands dirty with them, they will not believe it.

  1. Pray for them.

Talking to God about them and on their behalf will change your attitude towards them.

  1. Enrich them spiritually.

Teach them the Bible. Teach them to love their spouse and children. Teach them to think, to work, to be a good Christian, and to have a walk with God.

  1. Realize that you may never be the “great missionary,” but you can help them be a great people for God.

Your whole life is about giving, helping and loving. Spend and be spent. Yes, you will be used, and others may hurt you. But if it helps them, then it is good. Don’t do anything to get or receive “thank you’s” because they may not give them. Do it because you love the Lord and you love the people. This is who you are and what you do!

Ideas for Church Plants

Ideas for Church Plants

Show and tell your people what all ministerial positions look like — be specific about what an usher, musicians, teacher, etc., should do and how they should act.

Put a tract rack/stand on the street in front of the church where people can pick up information for free.

Place church signs everywhere possible — on building, upright stands on the sidewalk, banners over the street, etc.

Put a speaker outside with native speaker inviting others to come in, maybe some good music or announcements.

Pray God to work. Sounds cliche, but James 4:2 tells us that we have not because we ask not. Do you really believe God can work? Do you want God to do a big work? If you do believe it, then it’s time to ask God, which will result in living expectantly.

Preach and talk about what you want and expect. Would people know you believe and want to see servants of Christ raised up? Remember that nothing is dynamic unless it’s specific, meaning it cannot impact and change people unless you are specific in your preaching and teaching.

Preach messages that are simple and clear.

Get everyone a job, an opportunity to be plugged in. Don’t let hardly anyone in the pulpit, but get a paper and write down all ministries that people can be involved in (i.e.: give out bulletins, ushers, welcome committee, evangelism, line up chairs, sound system, kids ministries, play instrument, serve coffee/tea to all, etc.).

Make an order of the service

Carry tracts with you everywhere you go and encourage others to do the same.

Find out what it would cost to get on the radio, get in the newspaper or put ads on the buses, taxis, street posts, street banners over roads, etc. Get the word out that there is a church that preaches the gospel and wants to help people in your area.

Have a giant sign on your church building, whether someone paints or you purchase it. Using an electrical, lit-up sign if possible so that people can see it at night.

Make sure you have a webpage for the church.

Use Facebook or other popular apps is (like WeChat, WhatsApp, etc.) to promote your church and activities. People use Facebook in other countries more than in the US.

Have Bibles available in church for visitors or for those who don’t have one.

Give out Bibles for free to people who come to three consecutive services (or whatever number of services you think works best).

Pay someone to drive with a big speaker of recording that talks about your church. Although not everywhere, many countries have people that sale fruit or other products by driving around with a big speaker… so use the same idea.

Talk about what a church is and work to organize it.

Have people at the church doors to receive any guests, to give out something, to answer any questions and to point them inside.

Have a personal business card and give it out wherever you go. People will begin to know you as the pastor or Bible teacher.

Send everyone home with something from the church — bulletin, preaching notes, calendar or something. Remember that if they hang up something or carry around something with the church’s name on it, it’s good and free publicity.

Give out gifts to every visitor — pen, mug, tract, candy, magnet or something with the church’s name on it.

Have challenges in church where people can get a gift. For example:

  • Bring a visitor and get a free T-shirt
  • Come so many services and get a Bible
  • Memorize a Bible verse and get a free coffee mug.
  • Pass out so many tracts during the week and get free pen with church’s name on it.
  • Take notes in church 5x and get a free notebook with church’s name on it.
  • Read Bible through and get a sweatshirt or light jacket.

Have a small bookstore (maybe only a small table in the corner) with a few nicer Bibles and books that you know will help people.

Decorate the church with Bible verses on walls, in halls and anywhere possible. Remember, it’s God’s Word that changes lives and we want to get it into their hearts, memories and lives.

Use offering envelopes and put them in a rack or little case hung on the wall. Even if you prefer not to use envelopes, the idea of people seeing others pick them up to give makes a big statement and is a reference when you talk about giving. It also helps divide up where the giving goes (tithe, construction, missions, etc.) and lets people know both the need, the importance and organization of giving.

Put up a map of your city with a verse under it and a saying of how it’s your responsibility to tell the area about Jesus.

Preparing for Furlough

Preparing for Furlough

Furlough is an important time in a missionary’s life. It can be viewed as an annoying hiccup in ministry and therefore ignored, but furlough can be a great thing for the missionary, their family, and their ministry. Allow me to give a few of the “preparations” needed to make furlough a good time instead of a dreaded time.

1. Vehicle.

If you don’t have one Stateside, you can rent one through a missionary service such as Righteous Rides or Baptist Missionary Transportation Ministry (BMTM). You can buy one and have family keep it while you’re gone so that you can use it on your next furlough or you can purchase a cheap one that you can turn around and sell when you leave.

2. Housing. 

You can go online to search and rent one before you ever arrive back to the US. Your home church may have a mission’s house or another church in the area may have a mission’s house that you could use.

Cautions to consider:

  1. It’s good to see family, but it is best to live in a place where you can be around people that will help, teach, challenge and prepare you for the next level of ministry.
  2. It’s best not to stay at family or friend’s houses unless you have your own entrance, kitchen, and bathroom. You need your privacy. Sharing a kitchen or bathroom is ok for few days or a week, but afterward, it is very likely to cause problems.

3. Raise Support.

It is best to call 3–4 months before you leave the field to begin filling your calendar. If you do not need to raise support, don’t worry about visiting new churches, but if you need more support, it is best to book meetings and get your calendar full. If you wait to call until you arrive back Stateside, you will likely not get any meetings booked right away. Most pastors book a minimum of 3–4 months out.

If you are raising money for land, buildings, or a project, it may be better to visit already-supporting churches. If you are trying to raise your support, it is best to book new churches.

4. Growth While on Furlough.

Marriage – go to a marriage retreat and read a minimum of one marriage book.

Ministry – read books, go see other missionaries and people who can help you. Set up times to meet one on one with your mentor and experienced people who can help you.

Family – plan some getaway times and fun things for everyone to do together.

5. Your Children. 

If possible, you can put your children in a school. If you are going to homeschool, get the curriculum needed and everything prepared for their education while on furlough.

Allow your kids to get involved in the children’s program or youth program at the church you will be based from. Maybe look for some sports programs or activities that your kids can be involved in as to enjoy their time in the US and take advantage of things that they will not be able to do or learn on the field.

6. Start Preparing Ministry (leaders and church)

Six months before your departure, you should map out your exit by writing down how many Sundays and midweek services you have before you leave. Make a plan so that the national leadership is 100% taken over everything before you ever leave the field.

Furlough is a very good and needed thing for your ministry. Missionaries typically do not like it for fear of the ministry falling apart, but this is a very needed test and lesson for the ministry on the field. Preparing the people and churches for your departure will help the transition (your leaving) go smoothly. Plan times that you will be late to church so that they will learn to start without you being present. Plan to be gone for entire services. Plan to be present but not do anything. Meet with the pastor(s) and help him have a schedule of what he will be preaching. Give the leaders tools for studying, preaching, teaching and leading ministries. By preparing the people and ministries, your departure can go smoothly instead of abruptly.

7. Health. 

Schedule any doctor or dental appointments needed for you or for your children. Whether just check-ups or concerns, go ahead and try to set up appointments before you leave the field.

8. Preaching and Teaching.

Prepare several messages you can use while on furlough. Since you are a veteran, it is very likely that you will be asked to preach more than one message at the same church so make sure you have several messages ready.

9. Personal or Promotional Material. 

Prepare and order prayer cards and a display so that they will be shipped and waiting for you when you arrive back Stateside. If you are not a graphic designer, you can pay one of the many who are good in this area.

You may want to record good video footage to make or have made a presentation you can send to and update all your supporting churches.

10. Plan a minimum of one good family vacation.

As you travel around to churches, look for opportunities to take the family to visit national and historic sites, but also plan to set aside some time for a fun family vacation that the kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

Furlough is an important time in a missionary’s life. It can be viewed as an annoying hiccup in ministry and therefore ignored, but furlough can be a great thing for the missionary, their family, and their ministry. Allow me to give a few of the “preparations” needed to make furlough a good time instead of a dreaded time.