Tuesday 8 April 2014

Love feasts update

I just had the privilege of meeting with Tom Bloomer through a Google Hangout. He met with a group of missionaries and gave an insight into the background to Love Feasts. His message referred back to the history of the Love Feasts and gave the team the feedback that, although Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has different expressions of this, there is no need to make a 'copy' of what happened 40 years ago in one operating location. Rather, see what the elements are of good fellowship - being honest, asking tough questions, forgiving and seeking forgiveness - can be present in our meetings.

Tom emphasised the importance of eating together as a primary focus for some deeper interaction. Referencing studies of teenagers who regularly eat the evening meal together are less likely to engage in illicit behaviour - drugs, alcohol, anti-social behaviour etc - and they would be mentally and physically more healthy.

Studies have shown that teenagers who regularly eat dinner with their families are less likely to engage in illicit behavior involving drugs and alcohol and more likely to get better grades and be mentally and physically healthy.

A study done by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse revealed that teens who eat fewer than three family dinners per week compared to those who eat five to seven a week are twice as likely to use alcohol and tobacco and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.
(ref: Psychology Today Blog)

I think I can learn a lot from this Elder in our mission, whose passion is to serve Jesus, whatever it takes, and has a legacy of doing just that. Hearing the simplicity of what we need to do - invite people into our homes and share food with them, I'm inspired to apply that to our own ministry.

It was something that we felt strongly when we came to Muizenberg. We felt God say: open your home and make people in your midst feel welcome. Having people to dinner has always been a blessings, and somehow, there's always enough food. May God increase our capacity to welcome people into our house and be willing to share and be vulnerable in the community - to continuously humble ourselves and raise Him up.

Tom ended the Hangout with a challenge to try and have a meal together with our teams once a week; to step away from fast food; to take our time over eating and fellowship with one another.

Monday 7 April 2014

Doing the impossible for God

I did a survey recently among Youth With A Mission staff that work out of operating locations in South Central Africa. The overwhelming majority, when asked what the most effective and needed communication would be from my team is, answered 'face-to-face'. This is a region vast and wide where travelling between locations can take 2-3 days, across land boarders where visa restrictions, language and currency regulations become a battle in themselves! Added to that, working for a ministry where we fund ourselves, I barely have enough in the account to pay the rent, let alone travelling to have face-to-face meetings with everybody.

Added to that, the quality of the internet across this region is terrible, so Skype/Facetime is out of reach of most.

Added to that is the fact that my wife is expecting our second child and we have a very busy family life and ministry at home to contend with.

So I'm seeking wisdom on how to bring face-to-face valuable communication without continuously travelling!

Please keep me in your prayers.

Keeping it simple

Sometimes we like to over-complicate the gospel. Other times we like to make a formula: to do it right as a Christian, you need to do: x, y and z. But I'm learning that the Bible doesn't teach that. It teaches something much more straightforward, but much more profound! I'm currently working my way through the Old Testament as a project for work, learning about the sphere of communications. The Old Testament is a wonderful foreshadow to the gospel. In fact, without reading the Old Testament, the New makes very little sense. What are we being saved from? What is sin that we are all condemned for? Why is sinning bad? All of this is answered in the wonderful words of the Old Testament writers.

Just this morning, I read:  “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy." Deuteronomy 30:15-16

That command hasn't changed. You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. Luke 10:27

The bit I think most of us find hard is the working out our salvation, as Paul describes it in Philippeans 2:12. It's the obeying, despite everything we see around us; the following whatever the cost.

I've come home today to rest in his presence and spend some time thinking on these things and seeing if I can take steps towards raw obedience. I think I've over-complicated my life!