This past Sunday a group of us met for what we called a "missions round table." The point of the meeting was to talk with others at SGC who are especially interested in the cause of foreign missions. We all agreed that the gathering was encouraging and exciting. God is accomplishing his purposes throughout the world, and it is a joy to hear about some of that. (Don't miss the end of this post where I explain who was there and what they contributed.)
THE BIBLE AND THE NATIONS
We began with a brief look at the Bible's promises regarding the nations. God promised to Abraham, "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:1-3), and in Jesus, the son of Abraham, that promise is fulfilled. Jesus commanded his church to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations," a task so massive that only the presence of Christ with us could get us out of the door. The Christ that has "all authority in heaven and earth" is also the Christ that promises to be with us everywhere we go and forever: "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:18-20). We know that this Great Commission will be completed and the promise to Abraham fulfilled because we get a snapshot of that in Revelation. All nations shall indeed be represented and testify that "salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lord" (Rev. 7:9-10).
OUR CHURCH AND THE GREAT COMMISSION
After this we reviewed some of our missions strategy, though this is not a formalized plan. Our first priority is to work through our partnership with the Sovereign Grace Churches. One of our Seven Shared Values in Sovereign Grace is to be a part of taking the gospel to all nations. Together we can do what individually we cannot.
As we are able we also look for opportunities to be personally involved with international church planting, evangelism, and mercy ministry. Throughout our history that has involved Rancho 3M in Mexico, Agua Viva in Guatemala, Love-n-Care in India, and Frontiers International in India.
We seek opportunities to be involved in local church planting, evangelism, and good works as well. This happens through relational evangelism, living lives of good works for our neighbors, planting Redeeming Grace Church in Durham in 2011, and working with ministries like With Love from Jesus in Garner, Hand of Hope in Raleigh and Fuquay-Varina, Habitat for Humanity in Apex, Western Wake Crisis Center in Apex, and Dorcas Ministries in Cary.
At times these efforts are led by the elders and at times they are member-driven. We see it as a healthy sign that we have such a combination of gospel work done for the glory of God.
AN INSPIRING GROUP OF CHURCH MEMBERS
The highlight came next. We went around the room and different people shared their history with and heart for foreign missions.
Aaron Kruse talked about his numerous trips overseas, taking the Perspectives course last winter, and his desire to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to explore the possibility of teaching theology to pastors in Third World countries.
John McLeod shared about his trips to Russia, hosting international students from NCSU, and his work partnering with a church in North Dakota for the purpose of service and evangelism.
Josiah Ruhl shared about Anna's year in Argentina that profoundly shaped her, their six-week mission trip to South America, his two trips to Agua Viva, and the soccer ministry he did with his church in Roanoke, VA working with Hindus from Bhutan. He sees his new role as a middle-school teacher in Moncure (and their growing family) as a new mission field.
Matt Noel shared about his long-term interest in Hispanic and African-American cultures, his time living in Mexico, his heart for Hispanic children being raised in America, and his desire to help lead a sports camp outreach in Apex out of SGC in 2016 (details forthcoming).
Dawn Ruhl talked about their adoptions from Uganda, her work on the Board of Directors of Y.E.S. Uganda (Youth Encouragement Services), a ministry dedicated to the practical and spiritual needs of children in Uganda, and her family's interest in one day pursuing foster care.
Joy Sasser spoke of the interest in missions she inherited from her parents, her time with YWAM in Amsterdam and Europe, attending Gordon-Conwell Seminary for a time to pursue graduate studies in missions, and her desire to make teaching about the nations and missions a part of her homeschool curriculum.
Lui Bright spoke of her perseverance and dedication for many years to keep her knowledge of the Japanese language and culture sharp, her commitment to developing relationships with other Japanese in the Triangle, her monthly work translating Japanese sermons into English for a Japanese Baptist church in Raleigh, and her plan to work as a translator this November when the Billy Graham Association runs a crusade in Japan. We will be praying for her throughout the fall, and we'll let you know as this ministry of hers progresses.
Henri Kadima spoke through the translation of his wife Chimelle about his early days as a Christian in the Congo and his labors evangelizing the youth of many cities and villages, the 1500 or so French-speaking Africans in the Triangle he hopes to see converted, the Bible study they are having Sunday nights at SGC, and the music ministry of his wife and her sister. We hope to have them sing for us in August.
Ken Auer talked about the love for missions he picked up from his wife's family, his work spent training leaders in other countries, his desire to support indigenous church planting overseas, his trips to Nepal, Kenya, and Zambia training leaders, and his increasing burden for Africa. Though he would not say this, Ken has invested in the cause of foreign missions at great personal cost.
Benjamin Tangeman talked about his life growing up with missionary parents on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. They worked for Transworld Radio, where he has worked his entire adult life. He feels a personal burden for discipleship and sees his work with TWR as equipping the church to disciple those in closed nations. Benjamin follows in a long line of family members who have dedicated their lives to see the gospel advance to all the nations.
I spoke about my involvement with YWAM, my time at the Urbana Missions Conference, trips to Russia, Japan and Mexico, my early years as a Christian wondering if my calling was on some foreign field, my excitement to see church members pursue the global cause of missions, and my hope to see this area of our church life develop over the years. I didn't mention Anne's thirteen months teaching English in Japan for the sake of the gospel, though I should have.
As you can imagine this was an inspiring and humbling time. The character and zeal of these church members and leaders was impressive and hopefully provides some glimpse into the future of evangelistic works here at SGC—whether in our nation or far beyond it. Please continue to pray for this. There is a world of need and our resources of people, time, and finances are limited. We need God's wisdom to know how to be involved.
Continue also to pray words like these, and let us work to become an answer to our own prayers:
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you! (Ps. 67:3-5)