Monday, September 26, 2016

Outreach Lessons Part 3: Perfect Love

During Outreach Phase of DTS we went to 3 places.  In each place God taught me a new lesson.  When I look back however I see how all 3 lessons relate in someway. 

This is the third lesson I learned, during the third part of outreach in Nepal.  The first was on the importance of abiding in Jesus so I can produce fruit that is good (John 15:1-17).  The second lesson was about how I abide, through devotion.  This third one will talk about the fruit that should come from abiding in Christ, which for me is PERFECT LOVE! 

As we were flying to Nepal and I was praying to God about an specific thing He had for me in Nepal I got the word “EVERYONE.”  I asked God what that meant and He spoke to my heart, “I want you to love EVERYONE on this trip, regardless of how they treat you or what they are like.” “I want you to love every person I put before you, no matter who they are.”  I’d like to say I did love everyone like He asked.  While sometimes I did, unfortunately sometimes I messed up.  Still, I learned something from every situation and this is what I will share in this blog.


Love is pretty important.  The world love is mentioned over 538 times in the bible.  In 1 Corinthians 13 it says that, “love is the greatest.”  The first fruit mentioned in the Fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22).  Jesus taught us to “love” our enemies.  The greatest commandment is about “loving” God and the second is about “loving” others. 

In 1 John 4:7-21, it talks about how “love comes from God.” “God is love.” “God shows us love through His Son.” “That we need to love others because God loved us.” In verse 12 it shows that all people can see God on this earth when they witness true acts of humble, authentic, love. 

So how can I access this “perfect love?”  Well, the way I understand it is by abiding in Christ.  When I do this I gain access through the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ (vs 13-17). 

As I taught this lesson I used the example of me giving my iPhone to someone as a gift.  Not many Nepali people have smartphones, especially in the rural villages so this analogy worked great.  I asked the student to turn it on but she didn’t know how.  Then I asked her if she would like to learn how to use it?  She said yes and I asked her ways she could learn. Examples given by the students were to contact the creator of the phone, go to the store and ask a representative to help, ask me or another person or friend who already had experience using one, or read the instruction manual.  Then I said “The more you use your smart phone the better you will get at knowing how to handle it.”

Learning how to use perfect love is the same as learning how to use a new smartphone for the first time.  We don’t know how to love perfectly until we ask the Creator of perfect love, God, to show us.  We can also go to church and learn from pastors and elders.  We can ask our veteran Christian friends to help us understand and pray for us.  Lastly we can learn by reading the bible.  The more we love others, even our enemies, the easier it will get to truly love others with humble, authentic love.


·      *When I only point out the flaws in people it only makes their flaws greater in my eyes and sets people up for failure.
·      *When I only point out the flaws by being critical of others, it prevents love from happening because fear, anger, and hate fill the heart of the one being criticized. 
·      *Perfect love is loving someone regardless of their flaws and patiently helping them get on track.
·      *Perfect love gently rebukes the flaws and boldly proclaims the strengths.
·      *Perfect love is gracious remembering all life has value.  It treats all life that with value, even if the wrongdoer doesn’t repent.  It remembers I too am a sinner in need of saving grace. 
·      *Perfect love restores. 
·      *Perfect love pleases God and gives me confidence. 
·      *Perfect love is not prideful.
·      *Asking for help doesn’t make a person weak.  It actually makes them better because it humbles them and gives them the chance to be blessed and learn from others.  By doing this that person asking for help grows in wisdom and humility.  They can learn to do things the right way; the first time.


            Things in this world are constantly going to let me down or break my heart.  Some of those things will be things that break God’s heart like injustice, abuse, or lostness.  Other things will be things that try and distract me from God, like a break-up, a broken friendship, consequences from bad choices I make, or abandonment and rejection from friends and family.  I can’t fix my heart.  I can try to super glue the pieces back together but it will never be whole again.  When I abide in Christ, and trust Him, then He will give me a new heart with the capacity to love and trust again. 

            Love is perfected the more I show genuine love to others.  Love is perfected the deeper I abide in Christ and the more I am devoted to Christ because love abides in God.  When I tap into God’s love by spending time with Him, the love I give is made perfect because God is perfect.  God created love and He should always be the example I look to when giving love.  He should always be the refuel station I go to when my love tank is running dry. 

*********To read about the DTS outreach in Nepal click here.

DTS Major Outreach Part 3: Nepal Chapter

This blog is the third and final part of DTS outreach blog series.  We spent 1 month in the country of Nepal at the end of our outreach. Nepal is a primarily Hindu country.  I don’t really know much about the Hindu religion but after my time in Nepal I want to do more research.  Some of the things I experienced were a little overwhelming at times for me and I’ve experienced a lot in this world.  

Christians in Nepal are currently facing persecution because the Hindu monks want to make Hindu the national religion of Nepal.  They blame the Christians for the earthquakes that took place there in 2015.  Shortly after a law was passed preventing Christians from witnessing outside of the church.  Regardless of the laws, the Christians there are strong in their faith and Christianity is growing in Nepal.  But persecution can't stop people from knowing God, and neither can ridiculous laws.  God is moving and doing great things in Nepal right now.  Since the earthquakes last year Christianity has doubled from 1% to 2%. 

            Another example of this is with physical and mental healing.  Many Nepalese people come to know the Lord because He is their Healer.  A large percent of testimonies we heard were of someone who had a sickness that couldn't be healed with medicine or a visit to the witch doctor.  These sick people heard about a Christian God that can heal people and so they went to church hoping He would help them too.  Since they came to the church it gave pastors and elders at the church the opportunity to share the gospel with them. Upon hearing this message they would accept the gift of eternal life and be healed almost immediately.

These testimonies and eyewitness accounts of healing have also influenced others in the family or village to be saved!  No one is doing Evangelism 101, handing out tracts, screaming in the streets "repent for the kingdom of heaven is near," or any of those other fancy evangelism strategies people teach at church.  People are just living their lives and sharing their story.  As they share people are coming to know the Lord!!


             All of our work in Nepal consisted of visiting Christians and encouraging them to continue in their faith, even in the midst of persecution.  Because of all the persecution going on right now, any Christians who are caught witnessing to people outside of the church can be arrested for “breaking the law.”  Since we are a team from another land however, many people in the villages found out we were there and wanted to see us.  This opened up the door for nonbelievers to come to church and hear the gospel.

       The church in Nepal meets on Saturdays.  Some of the churches have multiple services because there is not enough room to hold everyone.  Many Christians in Nepal walk to church.  The journey can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours.  Sometimes they will come several times during the week for morning prayer as well as Saturday church service. 

 We visited many believers’ houses, different churches throughout Nepal, and even participated in weekly house church meetings, sharing our testimonies and the message.   Every visit was very unique and a special time of encouraging our brothers and sisters.

There were so many wonderful testimonies we heard I honestly don’t know which ones I can pick to share!  Each testimony was so moving and so powerful.  Each testimony has touched the lives of many, leading those who hear it to the Lord.  Below I will share about the day in Nepal I will never forget.  If you want to know more stories let’s find sometime to meet or skype. 


            Fathers play such an important role in the life of a family.  It is usually easier for an entire family to become Christian when the father is a Christian.  Sometimes that salvation comes immediately and sometimes it can take years. 

We met one father who used to be a heavy drinker and very angry man.  One day his family needed money so they went to church to ask for help.  The pastor gave him a bible and some money.  He told the man to read the bible and that he wouldn’t help him anymore unless he read it.  The many agreed, went home, and read the bible.  After reading for several hours from the book of John he became a Christian and told his family they all needed to believe as well, so they did.  God changed His life.  This mans testimony has caused 18 other families in the village to become Christian in the 14 years since He has become a Christian. 

One of the most memorable days I have of Nepal is the day we got to meet with and encourage 4 fathers one morning before their 1½ hour walk to work.  They are the only Christians in their family and they feel very discouraged at times.  It was a pleasure meeting them because they are fathers who God has brought salvation to and they are faithful! After hearing their testimonies and pleas for God to help them, I believe God will also bring salvation to their families. 

On the way to visit these fathers however, we passed a funeral of another father who didn’t know Jesus.  The men were carrying the covered body down the road to be burned at the Hindu sacrifice site while the women were up on the hill watching.  I saw the son being comforted as he mourned walking behind the body.  You could hear the women wailing from the top of the hill several hundred meters away.  The sound of their wailing was pretty disturbing and my heart broke as I though about the hopelessness of this death and how, it is literally the end for this man. 

This situation moved me to tears.  As we continued to walk, and I continued to hear the wailing, I thought to myself, “Did anyone tell him about Jesus?  How many chances did he get? What kept him from having a personal relationship with Jesus if he did hear?” 

The difference in encounters that day was not ironic.  There are many who have never heard, many who have heard yet rejected, and many who have heard and received.  Every life matters to God and it was not His plan for us to be separated from Him nor the ones we love so dearly.  Those who die without a personal relationship with Jesus have a hopeless ending to their life. 

The agony of this family that lost their father was so excruciating I could barely continue what I was doing.  The darkness I felt us walking through as we passed the funeral procession was extremely uncomfortable and sad.  I imagined God was looking down feeling the agony of that family who lost their father and hoping that their lives would have a different outcome.

Reflecting on that day I am so thankful for the hope that my family and I have received knowing that when we die it isn’t the end for us.  Knowing that when I loose a family member I will see them again in a place where there is no crying and no death. 

Unlike the father who died, leaving his family in agony, those 4 fathers we met that day have hope they can offer to their families.  Who knows the impact they will have on Nepal by being faithful to God even though their families reject God and His love for them.  Even though their families criticize them for their faith in God.  By continuing to love and provide for their families regardless of how the families treat them, they are showing how much God cares.



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Outreach Lessons Part 2: Devotion

  During Outreach Phase of DTS we went to 3 places.  In each place God taught me a new lesson.  When I look back however I see how all 3 lessons relate in some way. 

God allowed me to use these lessons as messages to the people we ministered to on outreach.  I think it is important for believers to allow the testimony of their life to be shared with others.  As we grow closer to God in our personal experiences we can encourage others to do the same by sharing our experience with them.  As I read through the book of Acts on outreach I believe this is an important part in the Christian life.   

So now I want to share these same lessons with you.  This is the second lesson, during the second part of outreach, in Pattaya, Thailand. The first lesson was on the importance of abiding in Jesus so I can produce fruit that is good (John 15:1-17).  The second lesson was how we abide through DEVOTION. 

Jesus had a habit of spending time with God.  The bible tells us that he “went off alone often.”  (You can read about this is Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:13-23, and John 6:15).  Jesus was super busy healing people, comforting people, feeding people, preaching and discipling.  Even when he tried to be alone with God people looked for him and found him (Matt 14:13).  He would take care of them and then go off to be alone after he finished the work (Matt 14:22-23)

If spending time with God was so important to Jesus it should be just as important to me.  If Jesus made time to spend with God in his busy schedule, so should I.  Jesus didn’t make excuses-HE MADE TIME. 

Jesus was devoted to his relationship with God, not just the work of God.  How often I have neglected my relationship with God because I was too busy doing His work.  I have learned during DTS that while God does care about the work that needs to be done on earth He cares so much more about my relationship with Him.  That is His biggest concern. 

As we see with in the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10, Jesus praised Mary for her desire to sit as his feet when Martha complained she wasn’t helping prepare the meal.  Was Martha’s choice to serve him insignificant?  Absolutely not, it was important!  But God desires for us to sit at His feet and grow in our understanding and relationship with Him before we go out serving Him and the people He puts in our life.

So devotion means spending time alone with God.  During that time I can pray, read the bible, worship Him through music or journaling, thanking Him, and most importantly, listen to what He has to say.  Give Him time to speak with me as I sit quietly waiting on His still, small voice.  Often I spend more time complaining and asking God for things but not enough time listening.   

I learned that abiding in Jesus means being devoted to God. As we are devoted to Him and abide in Jesus’ love, he nourishes us.  Through that nourishment we get from the vine, we are able to produce “good fruit” when serving Him and doing the work He has called us to.

To read more about the outreach in Pattaya, click here

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

DTS Major Outreach Part 2: Pattaya Chapter

This blog is the second part of DTS outreach blog series.  We spent 2 weeks in Pattaya, Thailand.  Pattaya is well known for it’s prostitution and partying as it has the nickname “Sin City.”  It has the fastest growing retired foreign community in Thailand.  Before the Vietnam War it was just a small fishing town.  But soldiers were brought there for rest and relaxation during the war and through that exposure it became a popular place for soldiers to visit and “have a good time.”  Now it is one of Asia’s largest beach resorts and the second most visited Thai city. 

While in Pattaya we were able to work with Pattaya Slum Ministries, visit and assist with worship at Tamar Center, and join a ministry who goes to the pier in Pattaya to hand out bibles to tourist.  Below are stories from those ministries. 


     Working with Pattaya Slum Ministries gave us an opportunity to visit areas in this extremely touristy city of Thailand that rarely get seen by foreigners.  We visited a Cambodian migrant slum and several other Thai slums, working with the children doing a VBS of sorts.  We had the opportunity to share a story from the bible, sing songs, do crafts, and play games with the kids in the slum.  One Saturday we got host a sports camp with the kids.  Another Saturday we got to go with them to the beach.  During that beach time we witnessed 4 of the boys get baptized!!! It was an incredible experience working alongside this ministry for several reasons which I will save for another blog to keep this one from being so long. 

This story is one I shared on Facebook from the Cambodian migrant slum we visited with a team from Tamar Center that was doing health checks for the residents. 

Yesterday I met a girl, I will call her JP. She is 13 years old and lives in a Cambodian migrant worker slum in Thailand. The look of sadness on her face with the mix of hope in her eyes for genuine attention caught my eye, so I went over to talk to her!
I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up. She said it wasn't possible. So I asked her, "what if it is possible? Nothing and no one can stop you!" She looked at me and said, "I want to be a professional boxer."
I've heard this before from other girls but this time I decided to ask why! She said, "So I can protect myself from the people who try to hurt me!"
My heart broke! Why is no one protecting these precious children!!? Why are they allowed to be abused constantly!!!? Why do they grow up with their greatest desire being to feel safe!!?  These are the questions I think about often in Thailand. These are the concerns that bother me.

   How can people call on God who have never heard of God?  How can people know about God if no one goes to tell them?  These are the questions I asked the morning before we did this next ministry as I read Romans 9 several times trying to understand it. 

The harvest is plenty with few workers that is certain.  But God’s plans for man knowing their Creator cannot be thwarted, even when man refuses to go.  Of the 3 billion unreached people in the world 95% live in the 10/40 window.  With so many unreached why is it that only 2 out of ever 10 missionaries going to these places?  Why is it that only $1 out of every $100 USD is spent on the work in these places?  The reasons for people not going are many but one big issue is the danger that comes from sharing the gospel in the countries of this part of the world that are closed.
China is one of those closed countries but Christianity continues to grow with 11% of people in the nation having received the gospel message.  We joined a ministry in Pattaya that hands out bibles to Chinese tourist.  For the security of this ministry I will not share the name.  Christianity is illegal in China.  Even though most of the bibles are made in China the government requires that they are all exported and keeps strong tabs on these publishing companies.  By giving Chinese tourist bibles they are taking them home to China and smuggling them in for us.
Chinese people LOVE visiting Thailand.  Many go to this location just to take a picture with the giant PATTAYA CITY sign in the background. I couldn’t believe how many Chinese people I saw in the 8 hours we spent there.  It didn’t feel like I was in Thailand that’s for sure!!!  The first night we handed out 444 free, Gideon, Chinese bibles to the Chinese tourist.  The second night we handed out 722 of the bibles. Here are thoughts from my reflection of the outreach.
"Many of the bibles we handed out were excitedly received, especially when they realized it was Jesus' story! They were craving for a copy of God's word and on a vacation in Thailand they got it, and in their own language!!!  As we did this I thought about how awesome a ministry this is! Bibles and Christianity are not allowed in China but this is a great way to get them in the country! And the ministry does this regularly throughout the week, handing out an average of 1,000 bibles!
I wondered how many unreached and unengaged people we impacted and will continue to impact from just that one night as the bibles return with these tourist back to their homes!? How many have been impacted from the months and years they have been doing this!? The Bible is a living and active sword! May the gospel work that's happening in China continue to grow and be a world impact!!"