Thursday, June 11, 2015

Branching Out (June 2015 Newsletter)

Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?  It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth;  but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”– Matthew 4:30-32

This morning I say down with a young Muslim man to study the story of Jesus birth, touching on the prophecies and stories of the Promised King we had read before. I meet with this young man three mornings a week, helping him learn English and studying the Bible. I pray with him each time, asking God to bless him and his family, to help him learn English and to help him come close to God.

Serving those who come from other cultures and other religions is a major part of my everyday life, and proclaiming the gospel to all of creation is an everyday calling and ambition. When God called me to Hamtramck five years ago I did not feel a specific burden to Muslims or Hindus, Arabs or Asians. I simply knew where God wanted me to go. Only now can I look back and see the blessing and privilege God has given me. Jesus has trained me here: to care for the lost, to serve the poor, to lay down my rights, my culture, my language, in order to become all things to all men and to be a light to all nations. I am still being trained every day.

As I returned home after the study, I found a list of emails from disciple-makers and church planters around the nation waiting for responses. Some wanted collaboration on projects. Some wanted to request training or partner in events. Most wanted me to share best practices and resources. Some of these church planters I had trained over the internet, some of them I had worked with, and some were trainers that I looked up to. I spent all afternoon taking phone calls, messaging over Facebook, replying on message boards and collaborating on online documents. I had to stop and thank the Lord for the favor he had poured out on my life. I am so grateful for a community of laborers who encourage each other and share a common vision and goal in the Great Commission. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of ministry and labors in many different states and even different nations as God expands His Kingdom all over the globe.

Jesus told multiple parables about the mustard seed. The most famous one compares the small seed to an amount of faith, but in Matthew 4 Jesus compares the Kingdom itself to a mustard seed. The Kingdom of God which resides within and among us (Luke 17:21) is like this small seed, which expands and multiplies exponentially until it is a tree, growing stronger and thicker, spreading its branches, and providing shade and support for birds. In the same way that the mustard seed begins in an almost microscopic way, so the Kingdom is not always visible or even noticeable. Often God chooses the small, the weak, the unimpressive. As God expands His rule and reign and His presence and glory in our lives we become larger and stronger: big enough to support others. We cover more ground and reach into new places.

As God expands His work in my life, I am most excited about what He is doing in the lives and ministries of the men and women I’ve trained, many in different states who I contact over video conference. I am grateful for all that God has done in Hamtramck and look forward to seeing Him continue to move as the branches of the Kingdom in my life spread into new places and new lives. The best is yet to come!

Read the rest of the June 2015 Newsletter
Read previous Newsletters