Daniel Smitley, Senior Cross-Cultural Major
I'm sitting in a very small apartment living room, jam-packed with about 25 people for a Sunday evening service in the city of Manila, Philippines. I've never been to this church before, and I am enjoying being able to meet and worship with them. Then the missionary hands me his phone with these words written, “Can you preach?" In less than five minutes, with basically no time to prepare, I was up preaching. I wish I could say this experience was the exception to the rule, but I learned to always be prepared for anything. In fact, when people usually think of missions or internships, these kinds of experiences are the reason they go. The purpose is to minister to others and to gain the experience of teaching, preaching, and jumping into any ministry you can. While I enjoyed many of these kinds of experiences, the greatest blessing I received was not the ministry I was able to have, but the ministry that I saw and personally experienced from those on the field.
While interning in the Philippines this summer, I was able to experience an up-close look into the life of a missionary. I was privileged to learn from and be mentored by a man deeply devoted to his ministry. But to me, what might have been the most influential part of his ministry was his personal life. His walk with the Lord and love for His Word was evident and personally convicting. It was also clear that his “ministry” was not separate from other areas of his life. A major part of his ministry is teaching Bible classes at a Bible college. He himself practiced what he taught in the classroom. The truths he was teaching were clearly being played out in various areas of his life. It’s so easy to act one way while you’re ministering in church or at a Bible club but live differently at home or around family. The missionary I was with exemplified what it looks like to live the same way both in ministry and in family/personal life. Sure, I went as an intern seeking to be able to minister and be a blessing, but I believe it was me who received the greater blessing!
During my internship I was also able to spend some time with local pastors, both in the Philippines and in Singapore. During my time with them I was able to preach in their churches, sing special music, work around the church buildings, and lead Bible studies. But by far the most memorable experience I had with them was observing their ministry and not my own. With one particular pastor in the Philippines, his love for people was obvious. Ministry was not just on Sunday for this man—it was every day! One evening, he traveled out to another city to meet with two separate groups and lead Bible studies, and he even made another stop just to pray with a church member whose relative had cancer. This made for a very late night, but if there was an opportunity for the Gospel and ministry, he took it. He was always looking for a chance to share the Good News, even while in the local hospital waiting room or on a dirt road on the side of a mountain buying fruits. Another big influence was a pastor in Singapore. The church he was pastoring was a joy to worship with. It was neat being able to see how this body of believers applied the biblical role of the church into their specific context and culture. But his ministry wasn’t just limited to a couple days of the week either. I was thrilled to be able to see other aspects of his ministry, whether that was visiting with church members who had recently lost a loved one or taking a day off to bring the teens to a Bible seminar. Being able to talk about ministry and gain wisdom from a faithful man of God was great in shaping my own philosophy of ministry! Too often I see ministry as an event, such as singing in the choir or leading a Bible club. But what these men displayed was that ministry is people, and that should be happening all the time, not just at church. Again, I got the better end of this deal—the encouragement I received far outweighed anything I could have given!
Lastly, I had the awesome opportunity to live in the dorms of a Bible college for most of the summer. This meant I was able get to know and build good relationships with many of the students. As I grew to know them more, their testimonies and desire for ministry were inspiring and rebuking to my own life. As college students, it’s easy to focus on training now, ministry later. Maybe you’ve caught yourself saying, “I’ll start ministering after I graduate!” This is folly, and I was shown this by many of the students who were not waiting to minister. A number of the guys would travel for hours each weekend in order to preach in various churches. Other students would travel eight hours every other week in order to help with the music at their home church. But the weekend is to rest and get recharged! No, not for many of them. They had a chance to minister, and they took it. It was an encouragement to see many who were really on fire for the Lord’s work. This is something I hope I brought home with me!
Traveling and doing missions overseas is an awesome opportunity. The need for the Gospel is great, and many still need to hear it! The ministry possibilities in these places are almost endless as well. There will always be a Bible study to lead, a sermon to preach, or a kid’s club to help with. When we go on such a trip, we should most definitely jump into ministry and service. But the next time you get the opportunity to go minister overseas, don’t get so caught up in what you’re doing and miss the blessing and wisdom around you. Take a step back and learn from those who are there, and you may be surprised at the wisdom and help you will receive. But don’t take my word for it, go experience it for yourself!
Moses Kim, Assistant Coordinator of Outreach & Evangelism
I will now call to mind my past foulness, and the carnal corruptions of my soul, not because I love them, but that I may love Thee, O my God. For love of Thy love do I it, recalling, in the very bitterness of my remembrance, my most vicious ways, that Thou mayest grow sweet to me,—Thou sweetness without deception! -Augustine, Confessions (20)
I confess to you my sins—my lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and boastful pride of life (1 Jn. 2:15-16)—not because my salvation depends on it, but to enjoy a sweeter relationship with You. Why would I try to nullify Your grace by putting myself under the law (Gal. 2:21)? By my daily confession I seek to exalt my Savior all the more and to rely on the same grace to live for You.
Even though You have sought me as a Good Shepherd (Lk. 5:4-7), my love for the world often surpasses my love for You. O Lord, You have searched me and known me and have shown me the wickedness of my heart (Ps. 139:1). I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me (Ps. 51:3). They are sin because they are against the Perfect and Righteous God (Ps. 51:4). I attempt to add to Your unchanging truth through my deeds and out of my pride I seek to counsel the Sovereign Lord (Pr. 30:6). As Your sheep I hear Your voice (Jn. 10:27), but so often I turn around to seek after my own interests, not those of Christ Jesus (Php. 2:21).
Almighty God, who could stand before You if You were to mark all the iniquities (Ps. 130:3)? What would I do if I were judged by my own righteousness? It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31) who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28)!
But Father, I see Your promises in the Bible and I do believe them. I hear the sweetest sound that saved a wretch like me. I am saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), so I will only boast in Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14). You have removed the heart of stone from my flesh (Ezek. 36:26) and opened my eyes so that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law (Ps. 119:18). I know that Your wrath will not come upon me (Eph. 5:6), for I am Your child (Jn. 1:12) and Your slave bought with price (1 Cor. 6:20). Why would I seek to continue in my sin and re-submit myself to the yoke of sin from which Christ has freed me (Rom. 6:1-2; 1 Jn. 2:1)?
Gracious God, You said that You are opposed to the proud, but give grace to the humble. So I humble myself in Your presence—my laughter turns into mourning and my joy to gloom before my sins (Jas. 4:6-10). I am hungry for the Bread of Life (Jn. 6:35) and thirsty for the Fountain of Living Water (Jn. 4:14). I come to You, O Christ, to eat and drink without money and without cost, for I desire to spend all You have given me to delight myself in You (Isa. 55:1-2).
Search me and know my heart, O God; try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (Ps. 139:23-24). As You search my heart, do not give me over to my lustful and depraved mind (Jer. 17:10; Rom. 1:24, 28), but make me more like my Savior as I behold His glory (2 Cor. 3:18). Keep deception and lies far from me—not only from outward lies of the world, but also from my own deceitful heart (Pr. 30:8; Jer. 17:9).
I come to You to find rest for my soul, for I am weary and heavy-laden (Matt. 11:28-30). I come to You because I know that I have peace with You through my Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1-2). I come to You to behold the beauty of my Lord and to meditate on who You are (Ps. 27:4). I desire to walk with the Spirit as I live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25), so that I may live a life pleasing to You (Eph. 5:10). I am not capable of doing anything apart from You (Jn. 15:5). But I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal. 2:20).
God, I love You, because You have first loved me (1 Jn. 4:19); and I want to love You more. Help me to love You with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind (Lk. 10:27).
In Christ’s Precious Name I pray—amen.
Mrs. Sherry Miller, Adjunct Professor at BJU
Not long ago I was reading about the demon possessed man in Mark 5. The description I read reminded me of many of the women I work with. They are not demon possessed in quite the same way, yet they struggle with demons nonetheless. As the man in Mark 5 lived among the tombs—the physically dead, most of the women I work with have lived almost exclusively among the spiritually dead. As the Gadarene was often bound with shackles and chains, the women I work with live with shackles and chains of a different sort. They desperately want to be free, but they are helpless to free themselves. I work with women in addiction.
For the past ten years as I have listened to their dreadful stories, I have come to realize that if I had grown up like many of them, I would have made the same bad decisions. While my home showed me Jesus and functional living, their homes were full of such spiritual darkness and dysfunction that it set them on a trajectory of destructive choices. Some of the women I work with have been trafficked, others have prostituted themselves, many are felons, and some are currently incarcerated. Their drug use is a desperate attempt to get relief from the emotional pain in which they live. But the drug-induced relief is a temporary fix that leads them ever deeper into their abyss. They need Jesus. Only Jesus can give them the long-lasting relief they crave.
It took the power of the glorious gospel to set the man in Mark five free from his demons. And it takes the gospel to set these women free from their demons as well. Over the past ten years as I have shared the message of hope and deliverance with the women I meet, I have seen countless lives radically transformed. As their lives are transformed, they become law abiding citizens, they find jobs to support themselves, and many of them have had their families restored. Their new life in Christ is what they have longed for their whole lives—yet never knew it could exist.
One day as I was teaching in a substance abuse rehab, one of the ladies in the class said, “Sherry, the first 3 to 4 weeks you taught this class I thought you were high.” I was flabbergasted! Me—high? She then explained that in the drug culture in which she grew up, most people are discouraged, depressed and defeated. The only time they feel happy is when they are on a drug-induced happy. But she was finally starting to understand that Christians have a Jesus-enabled happy—not a drug-induced one. She said to me, “Sherry, I had no idea a world like this existed!” Tragically, there are millions more in our world who, like Amy, have no idea a world like ours exists.
Amy has been clean, sober and passionately walking the Christ-life for two years now. She told me recently that she wakes up every day absolutely euphoric because of the freedom she feels in Christ. She is no longer enslaved to frantically finding the next fix just to survive the darkness in which she once lived. Through the power of the glorious gospel, she has been delivered from the darkness of her past and now lives in the glorious light of God’s kingdom. That is indeed something to be euphoric about!
Another friend, Jane, is a ten-time felon. She spent nearly twenty years in addiction and promiscuous living. But God had great plans for Jane. He providentially orchestrated her “sentence” in a Christian substance abuse rehab. There she heard the life transforming message of the gospel and became a daughter of the High King! Jane has been clean, sober, and passionately walking the Christ-life for three years now. She has been granted custody of her three children and is now happily married. Her husband, also a transformed addict, is serving Jesus in full-time Christian ministry.
Jane recently wrote in a Facebook post, “It's a beautiful morning! As I sit on my porch this morning drinking my coffee, I am THANKFUL! I remember BELIEVING that my life would forever be hopeless and that I would be a lost cause or dead by now. What a dreadful place that was! Today I am hopeful for the future, ALIVE and FREE. My life is not perfect...but it is! I have Jesus! And He loves me! He knows the wickedness in my heart and HE LOVES ME UNCONDITIONALLY! No matter what happens in my life nothing is as bad as not knowing Jesus. Without Him, and His love and sacrifice for me, I would not be able to smile today. I never want to forget that pit I was in, or my life before Jesus rescued me. It keeps me grounded and thankful.”
Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” When I initially meet my friends, they are beaten down, defeated and destitute of hope. They so badly need the good news of Jesus and His power to transform lives. Those who repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Savior become totally different people—they become new creatures in Christ. As they begin to grow spiritually, everything about them changes. They are often stunned to find a life they knew nothing about. A life of transformation and freedom. A life of boldness because God has taken them out of the miry clay and set their feet on a rock.
A wise theologian once said, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Pro 13:20). There are so many in our world who desperately need a child of the High King to come alongside them, to share the glorious message of the gospel with them—to walk life with them.
It is amazing that God chooses to work through His people to break the chains of darkness and transfer the lost and hurting into His marvelous light!
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.