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Sowing Gospel Seeds

Why do many Christians struggle to share their faith with others?

I believe one answer to that is that they feel unqualified. They believe that they have to have a perfect presentation or be well-trained before they are able to do so. I especially believe that we who are in the Reformed camp have made sharing Christ more complicated than it need be.

Think for a moment of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. She clearly was not well-versed in Scripture. Her education would have been minimal. Her lifestyle up to this time was grossly an immoral one. Yet she was used to lead a whole village out to Christ (John 4:30) and many believed in him (John 4:39, 41).

Her “method”? She gave a simple testimony of Jesus’ prophetic insights and wondered aloud if he was the Christ.

Similarly, I would like to encourage you to think of sharing the gospel as simply sowing seeds. Of course, Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven in this way, as of a sower going out and sowing seeds in many places (Matthew 13:1-9). We are told the seed represents the word of the kingdom (Mt. 13:18-19). As a seed is a small object, we need to remember that […]

The Gospel in a handshake

I’ve just finished “Mission at Nuremburg” by Tim Townsend. It is the fascinating story of Henry Gerecke, chaplain at the Nuremberg War Crimes tribunal. A one word quote from a newspaper review on the front simply says “Gripping”, and it was.

Among Gerecke’s ‘parishioners’ were:

Hermann Goering—Commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, and a man who had given some of the most genocidal orders of the war.
Rudolf Hess—known as the third most powerful man in Germany, behind Hitler and Goering
Fritz Sauckel—Head of Labour and Supply in Nazi Germany. He was described as “the greatest and cruellest slave driver since Pharaoh”. He worked millions of slave labourers to death without mercy.
Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel—Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed forces. His unquestioning obedience to Hitler led to his being responsible for more deaths than anyone could count.
Wilhelm Frick—Minister of the Interior. An innocuous sounding title, but that meant he was responsible for all that happened within the borders of Germany, including the rounding up of the Jewish people for extermination. His title covered up a reign of terror.
Joachim von Ribbentrop—Hitler’s Foreign Minister.

How would you do in ministering to such men?

As chaplain Gerecke knew it was his duty to share the hope of forgiveness […]

Harvest Eyes

I grew up surrounded by the cornfields of Minnesota and now I live encompassed by the ones in Kansas. Truth be told, they’re my favorite landscape. I know some people prefer the mountains of Colorado or the seacoast beaches. I’ve even met some people whose preference lies in cityscapes—I still can’t figure that out. As for me, I love the rolling green hills blanketed by a sea of golden tassels trembling on stalks of corn. And as summer slowly yields to autumn the silks, shucks, and stalks begin to turn varying degrees of brown as the dry out. To the unknowing eye it may seem the corn is simply dying. But to those who have harvest eyes it’s a good indication that the corn is ripe for the picking.

It’s remarkable to me that this is the way the greatest evangelist who ever lived saw people. I’m not writing about Wesley or Whitefield, Moody or Graham, but of Jesus. Everywhere Jesus went he saw a field that was ripe for the harvest. It didn’t matter where he was. Jesus evangelized in the high-population urban centers of government, commerce, education, and religion. He also spent time in those tiny out-of-the-way villages—a great […]

What Do You Need to Know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam?

What do you need to know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam? Maybe more than you think. The swelling numbers of visiting students and immigrants from India, China, and the Middle East are compelling Westerners to learn more about these ancient religions. Understanding these worldviews enables Christians to more meaningfully engage and minister to people migrating amongst us in North America. If you have not interacted substantially with adherents to these religions, you probably soon will. If you are a Christian, Jesus calls you to be ready.

To get a reasonably brief overview of these three religions, listen to Dr. Timothy Tennent’s lectures – Essentials of Hinduism, Essentials of Buddhism, and Essentials of Islam – at biblicaltraining.org. Dr. Tennent is president of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and has served as a Methodist missionary in India for many decades.

Each series is comprised of four to seven lectures. They are summaries of full-length seminary classes. Eastern religions present learning challenges to Westerners who must become acclimated to a whole new vocabulary, history, and culture. While there is a sense in which it would be best to study under tutors from the East, I find it helpful to have an instructor who understands the […]

ECHOing Across Generations

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas Edison said. But not by John Hanson. John is a ruling elder at Southside Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis and has worked as an educator. For over two decades, he has hauled teams of young people from our presbytery each summer to North Fort Myers, Florida to serve at ECHO.

ECHO stands for Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization. It is a Christian organization with a vision to “Honor God through sustainable hunger solutions.” From the farm in Florida, it equips people, most often missionaries, with “agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor.” They serve workers in more than 165 countries and are being used to change the lives of millions of people.

In 1989, Rich Johnston, another elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, took the first team of young people from our presbytery to serve at ECHO. He and others had known ECHO’s director, Dr. Martin Price, and his wife Bonnie from their years in Indianapolis, at Geneva College, and at Purdue University. The Prices had begun their work at ECHO in 1981, and the work was still […]

Talking to non-footballers about football

When was the last time you heard a talk about how to do evangelism? Pretty recently, I would guess. And have you noticed how many books there are on the subject of how to share the gospel? But answer this question, posed by Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “Where in the Bible do we read of Christians being given instruction on how to evangelise?” The answer is: nowhere. Lloyd-Jones went on to ask a further question: “Did the early Christians evangelise?” To this the answer is a resounding “Yes!” They went everywhere spreading the gospel (Ac 8.4). Last question: “Why is it that the early Christians didn’t seem to need help in evangelism, but Christians today obviously do?”

Do you know any keen football fans? How do you know they’re fans? Because they talk about football. After a great game they will rehearse in dizzying detail large sections of the game, analysing the tactics, exulting in the goals scored and lamenting the chances fluffed. And it’s not just football. Isn’t it striking how animated people get when they talk about the virtues of their favourite actor or singer, or the latest X-box game? They ardently profess their devotion openly and unashamedly. They defend them […]

Browse Worthy: Elizabeth Elliot

With sadness yet gratitude we note that Elizabeth Elliot left this world earlier this week and, in the words she made famous, passed through the gates of splendor.  Her Christ-centered love story with missionary Jim Elliot, her incredible bravery and ministry as a young mother to the Aucan tribes that murdered him and four others missionaries, her ongoing God-glorifying teaching ministry, and especially her piercing and prolific writing have been greatly used by the Lord. I add my voice to the many who acknowledge that they  have been deeply shaped by her books.

Below are several moving tributes to Elizabeth followed by a video where, in her own words, she recounts her story. Read and watch, but do not stop there.  Summer is a great time to read her “trilogy” that uses in part the diaries of Jim Elliot to tell their story: Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, and The Savage My Kinsman.  What a story of Christ’s redeeming power God wrote through their lives!

Elisabeth Elliot, Tenacious Missionary to Ecuador, Dies at 88

Missionary Pioneer Elisabeth Elliot Passes Through Gates of Splendor

Elizabeth Elliot Website

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What a Week!

Last week was full in more ways than one as I taught a four-day, intensive church planting course at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary to seventeen students.  Thankfully, two friends experienced in church planting helped me teach throughout the week as we emphasized together the evangelism, discipleship, and particularly the working of God’s Spirit necessary to see new works develop.  Their presence added to the joy of the time.  All of the students were special, and the possibilities and realities for their involvement in church plants are so exciting.

Yet it was made all the more special and exciting seeing those present who want to do cross cultural and across the ocean church planting!  We had present men and women from a large Asian nation who want to plant churches in North America to immigrant populations.  Also, two families participated who are planning to move to India next summer as a team to begin a work there.  These movements in our little denomination and seminary are unprecedented, and my heart is still pumping hard just remembering their hunger, intensity, and determination for what lies ahead.

At the end of class, the folks from India sang Psalm 67 in a beautiful Hindi arrangement one of them […]

Keep Your Line in the Water

Recently in several contexts I have had discussions with others about evangelism. In particular, the question that has been raised is, “Why do Presbyterian churches seem to have fewer records of adult conversions than Baptist churches?” The actual numbers would substantiate this claim, I believe, but certainly the general perception is that this is indeed the case. Why is this so?

In this debate, you commonly hear Baptists point out such things as the practice of infant baptism or the coldness produced by predestination dulls Presbyterian resolve in evangelism; likewise, Presbyterians would counter that the use of church growth techniques or the looseness in Arminian theology found in a great number of Baptist churches inflate the true numbers.  Though each of these matters have some truth to them more or less, yet this is not the full story.  For, on the one hand, not all Presbyterians fall into hyper-Calvinism and, on the other hand, many Baptists are Reformed and still seem to see more fruit in evangelism.  So may there be another reason?

I would suggest that on a more practical level it has to do with the culture of certain branches of the church.  In the kingdom of God, can we not acknowledge that different […]

Stories of Hope

Since the fall of last year, our congregation has been planning for three evangelistic services that we called Stories of Hope.  We gave this event this title for three basic reasons: 1) the messages came from the three parables that Jesus told in Luke 15; 2) we had a testimony shared by a member of the church that tied into the theme of the evening; and 3) we believe every person’s life is a God-given story in which the hope of the gospel is to be offered.

These meetings took place over the past three Sunday evenings and just concluded last night.  To give God glory for what we have seen Him do in our midst and to offer encouragement to others, I thought I would share the following.

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To prepare the congregation for this time, our pastors organized what they called “Mission Briefings” over the eight or nine months leading up to Stories of Hope.  They took time once a month in an evening service to encourage the church in such areas as praying specifically for friends, practicing hospitality, and asking kingdom-oriented questions. This training, along with regular exhortations through emails, announcements, and especially sermon references, stirred the congregation to be intentional […]