Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Mission Adventure: Taste and See that the Lord is Good

The Taste and See Challenge is a new project offered by the prayer ministry at Global Outreach. It's a six-week challenge that partners missionaries with small groups for intense prayer. The premise is that more frequent updates will lead to more frequent, more intense prayer, and more exciting answers to prayer. 

God will move more often if we pray more often.

The missionaries were asked to commit to weekly prayer and praise updates. The small groups were asked to pray in depth and daily.

I also asked the missionaries to copy me on their emails to their partners and the Taste and See Coordinator, Tracy Park, so I could know what God does in this new kind of prayer partnership.

Taste and See started Sunday, 2/26/17. Only two days have passed. I wouldn't dream of giving an update in such a short period but three major miracles seem like a beautiful beginning. 

We have to testify to our God's goodness.

One missionary family's small group couldn't wait to get started. When they heard of the needs, they started praying Thursday night. One of the issues for which they were praying was a broken generator. If you've spent time in the field, you know that a broken generator means no electricity.

The missionaries had been told that they would need to carry the generator to the repairman and it would likely cost more than $1700. It was money they didn't have. 

Their small group prayed. I know this small group. These women don't fool around. When they say they will pray, they mean it.

By Saturday, the missionary reported that their generator was fixed. Their car mechanic had stopped by, offered to take a look, and fixed it on the spot for $120. 

If I was without a generator, I would view that as a miraculous answer to prayer. We all did.

One missionary couple asked us to pray for their friend who is visiting them in the field. She had never met Jesus, so their Taste and See small group prayed diligently for her to accept Christ. And she did! 

From lost to found in no time.

As one who was lost and found, transformed by the grace of God, I know for certain what kind of miracle is required for the redemption of a lost soul. 

It's huge. Only God can do it, and He did.

I had the blessing of introducing a small group of college-aged students to the project and their missionary family. I talked to them about the miracle of grace that happens when a soul is saved by surrendering to Jesus. 

Later that morning, during worship time, one of those students gave her heart to Christ. 

I was only in the room for about five minutes. I didn't introduce that young girl to Jesus, but I wish I had. Her Sunday School teachers, her family, and her pastor were involved in the preparation phase. The power of God moved in her heart and drew her to Himself. 

These are just the things I know about. 

Six missionary families. Six small groups. One Great and Awesome God. 

When we humble ourselves, turn from our sin, and pray, God responds. 

That's what I'm hoping for my trip to the Middle East. I'm leaving in a few hours. I'll arrive on the field Wednesday night. I hope you'll serve as my own small group prayer coverage. One giant small group praying for God to move in mighty ways.

Here's the list for the next few days:

1) My health. I had an unexpectedly high blood pressure at a doctor's visit for an unrelated issue on Friday. It's down with new medication, but I need it to stay under control. Also, I'm severely intolerant of wheat, so I need to be able to find food that is wheat-free with no contamination. That's often quite a challenge. 

2) My heart. Pray I'll have an humble, gentle heart that's full of love for our great God and for His people. I'll be in a culture that's new to me, in a country that's new to me, with a language I don't know. There's plenty of room to get my eyes off God and on myself, but that's counterproductive. Pray my eyes stay fixed on Christ.

3) My prayers. I'll be doing prayer ministry. First, prayer walking, then manning a prayer room during a world mission retreat. I need to hear the needs clearly and what God whispers clearly so that I can pray effectively.

4) My mission. It's not about me. I'll be gathering stories from the remnant and documenting them. Encouraging them. Praying for them. This is an outward focused trip, so I need to be outward focused, too. There is more to do than can possibly be done. But God... Pray that I will work diligently, efficiently, and tirelessly to do all that God has planned. Prayer ministry is hard work. Three weeks is a long time. 

5) Travel. Please pray for smooth connections. Smooth trip through customs. Easy visa process. 

6) Taste and See Challenge. It's my favorite project ever, but God has orchestrated it so that my hands are off it completely. It's not Leanna's project. It's God's. Tracy Park will have the joy of coordinating, so pray for her as she makes connections, reminds missionaries about updates, and prays her way through. There will be roadblocks. 

It's evident to us all that the small groups praying for the needs of the missionaries are a vital part of the answers we've received so far. 

In that same way, when you partner as my small group prayer coverage for this mission trip, you become a vital part of the answers we receive, of the work I do. 

As I've said before, I'm not praying for a little blessing. I'm praying that God will rekindle a fire of faith in the church that spreads throughout the world. 

Worldwide revival. It starts with us. Let's let the revival begin. 

"O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" Psalm 34:8 nasb

Thanks in advance for your prayers. It's the most important part of this mission. I can't wait to see what God does with this beautiful, enormous partnership. 
Much love, 
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: The High Maintenance Missionary and the Bundle of Pride

This ministry is so much more than a blog. Speaking. Teaching. Hands-on outreach. Connecting with and encouraging missionaries around the world. It's only possible because of the generosity of your support. 

Together, we're making progress, but help is still needed. (I don't get a salary until this ministry is funded) If God has called you to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your check or money order to:
Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The High Maintenance Missionary and the Bundle of Pride

Last wednesday started like most days. Up at 5. Coffee. Quiet time. 

I started my blog right on schedule, and shared my heart and my life. It took 2 1/2 hours to write that blog. 

By the time I'd shared and scheduled and grabbed another cup of coffee, I realized I needed more quiet time before I continued my day.

I opened the James study and went straight to the prayer pause I'd skipped. Dagger to the heart. PRIDE. Yes, I know I wrote about letting go of pride and embracing humility several days ago. Apparently, it's taking a while to sink in. 

I saw with blazing clarity that I haven't shared the financial needs of ministry because of pride. 

Pride about admitting I have a need. 

Pride that people might think ill of me for having a need. 

Pride that I'd rather write a touching story than think about money.

Pride that I don't want to be seen as "always writing about money."

Pride that people think I'm a rich doctor and I'm not.

I've been a bundle of pride.

There was a little bit of not knowing how to pursue financial partnerships like the experts say, but mostly it was pride.

I cried and repented and was forgiven. 

I finally realized that God didn't call me to minister in a "typical" way, and it's not likely He's called me to pursue funding in a typical way either. "Just state your needs," that still small voice seemed to say. 

So here they are: ____. That blank's been there for days. 

I intended to review my budget and have the numbers for you. I've meant to do it every day, but ministry has gotten in the way of pulling out the budget. Again. 

I spoke on Thursday. Had appointments and a surprise medical problem that took up Friday and Saturday, speaking, church, and meetings on Sunday.

Since I don't have the exact numbers for you, I can tell you that, by including my monthly retirement money, I'm about half-way funded, maybe a little more. I'd like to get a small salary. Not a living expenses salary, but just a bit. That's because even an oxen is given provision for his work. 

I can't meet the expenses of ministry without help. 

Between travel, digital expenses, web fees, printing, postage, etc, it costs $1000 a month or so. Some months less. Some months more. 

I've been at Global six months, and I'm not completely funded. That's not bad for someone who spent part of her time raising thousands for someone else's project, but it means I still don't get a salary. 

I've always believed in making my own way and providing for myself, but I'm trying to embrace the words of Jesus:

"the laborer is worthy of his wages..." Luke 10:7

Now, back to Wednesday... Lest you think I worried about money all day long, I was already raising prayer support for a very sick volunteer coordinator by 9:38. 

It doesn't take long to get straightened out when God uses the two-edged sword of His Word to do it.

Between writing and repenting, I hadn't taken time to eat breakfast or get dressed, so I stopped for a shower and breakfast then headed back downstairs to work on taxes. That may not sound like ministry work to you, but the refund I anticipate will help fund my ministry. (Of course, we're also supposed to obey the law...)

It took most of the day, but, at 3:00, I pronounced the tax-information-gathering complete. 

This sounds crazy, I know, but I couldn't decide what to do. I had to pick up my neighbor, Sam, for church supper and Bible study in less than two hours, so there wasn't time to go to the office. 

It had been so long since I actually had 90 minutes with nothing pressing (well nothing pressing that I had what I needed to complete) that I struggled for a few minutes. 

I made a cup of tea and sat in the sun for a while on the patio with the dogs in my lap, and worried the entire time that I wasn't being productive. 

I've decided it's a kind of pride that drives me to work all the time and never stop. I want to get the harvest in. I want to make up for lost time. 

I also fear those who support me will think I'm being lazy or not accomplishing enough, and I'm not the only one. It's a common fear for missionaries.

I've struggled to define the "results" of this ministry. I don't have orphans or meals or widows to count. No sermons or classes to tally. The idea of counting prayers and defining my success by the answers seems strange and vaguely distasteful. Okay. Abhorrent. It sounds wrong to me. 

I don't mind counting how many times I obeyed God, but I don't want to count the answers to my prayers, because answers aren't about me or because of me. 

In the most miraculous way that only God can do, He sent me a consultant who has tons of fun and "Leanna-ish" ideas. One of his suggestions was to remember the things people say about my ministry efforts and share them. 

I spoke to a group one day last week and here's a little sampling:

"God was in this from start to finish."
"I realized today that there is still something I can do. Pray. And it matters."
"Thank you for showing me how I can still make a difference."
"What an amazing ministry! I love what you're doing and want to be a part."
"While you were speaking, God called me to be a coordinator. Can you teach me to send an email so I can help you?"

When I led the prayer retreat a few weeks ago, a young woman commented before we left. "I had never heard the voice of God before, but I have now!"

Yesterday, though, I spoke to a college Sunday school class. It felt like a total flop, and I was very discouraged. As I walked to my own class, I prayed, "You'll have to do something with that, Lord, because I believe I failed you."

In worship service, one of the young men happened to be sitting two seats over from my neighbor (Sam) who rides to church with me. I slid in between them. During the greeting time, we had a chance to talk. 

He said, "Man, you really shocked me today." 

He didn't know miracles still happened on the other side of the world. I said, "They still happen here. Let me tell you about the loaves and fishes miracle I saw the other day..." 

He was so stunned that he didn't know what to say at first, then nodded. "I want to be a part of that. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna pray."

I told him, "When you pray for my missionaries, pray the biggest things you can think of." He promised he would. 

The most exciting thing happened during invitation time. One of the young girls from the class went to the altar with many tears and rose up transformed by grace. 

She made a profession of faith in Christ. 

When I greeted her, she pointed to her chest and said, "This. This is what you talked about." I smiled and hugged her again and agreed. "Yes, when God saves us, it's the biggest miracle of all. It's your first miracle, but it won't be the last. Pray big, dear." Tears were streaming down her face as she nodded. 

I didn't do anything special or deliver a particularly powerful message when I spoke. It was God who changed hearts and drew those young people to Him. I don't know how to tally that, but it sure was sweet to see it.

When you partner with this ministry, that's the kind of fruit in which you'll share. Lives transformed by the grace of God. Visions expanded. Hands called to work. Feet called to go. 

It's exciting work, but it's hard, and I can't do it alone. I need you. Volunteer. Give. Pray. Help make connections. Write a letter to your church missions committee and suggest they help support this ministry with a few dollars every month. Recruit people who might want to help in some way. Recommend me as a speaker or presenter. Come along when I present to pray while I speak. 

There are many ways to help, and not all of them involve dollars and cents, but those are needed, too.

Remember this today: You're never too old, nor too poor, to make a difference in the kingdom of God. Whether you can give or go or not, you can pray. Dollars and cents are necessary, but prayer is the most important work of all. Your prayers can help change the world for Christ. 

"If you're gonna pray for my missionaries, pray the biggest prayers you can pray. If you're gonna pray for me, do that too. Pray BIG." ~ Leanna
I'll be traveling for the next two days, so the blog schedule will be disrupted. I'll be posting updates on my adventures, so be sure to check back. You can also sign up to receive the blog by email on the website and never miss a blog post again.
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*I'm "high maintenance" because I need so much prayer coverage for the needs of all the people with whom and among whom I minister. 

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: The Healing Party

This ministry is so much more than a blog. Speaking. Teaching. Hands-on outreach. Connecting with and encouraging missionaries around the world. It's only possible because of the generosity of your support. 

Together, we're making progress, but help is still needed. (I don't get a salary until this ministry is funded) If God has called you to help, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 or you can mail your check or money order to:
Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.