Ross and Christine Paterson's Blog

Reflections from Our Journey

Category: Ross Paterson

A Hidden Miracle.

So many events take place that speak of the grace and power of the Lord in answer to prayer, yet at the same time we may not hear about them if they take place in “closed countries”. When we do hear, we are encouraged and challenged to pray for the Lord’s work in other nations, knowing that He is faithful to hear our prayer on behalf of the suffering church.

The Story of Yazdan

In 2016 Yazdan, a young man living in a ‘closed’ Muslim country, became a believer in Jesus. Yazdan had met a believer on a work related task, and while working at the believer’s house, he saw Christian literature and a Bible on the desk, became interested in Christianity. After talking with the believer Yazdan gave his life to the Lord.
At that time, Yazdan was 15 years old. Yazdan soon became a successful evangelist and a church planter. He turned his little shop into an underground church gathering place. The same week as he gave his life to Jesus he invited his customers to his shop and testified about Jesus. 60 students turned to Jesus. During the next 5 years, he planted 13 churches and led hundreds of Muslims to Christ.

His Persecution

Because of his activities, Yazdan's parents got very upset as they were radical Muslims. They went to a religious police station and betrayed their son. Yazdan was put in prison after his own father had handed him over to police officers for his faith and spiritual activities. Because his father was a religious leader in the city and had a great reputation, Yazdan’s case was even worse.

During his stay in a temporary jail, he was visited by the mullah of his city. This leader urged Yazdan to renounce his Christian faith, telling him to confess before a camera that Christians gave him money to spread Christian literature; otherwise he would be hung publicly. Yazdan refused to renounce his faith, telling the mullah that even if they killed him by hanging 1000 times and then they raised him 1000 times from the dead, he would announce publicly 1000 times that he was in love with Jesus and that Jesus is his Lord and Saviour. As a result of this, the mullah became angry and said he would kill Yazdan with his own hands.

After this, the prosecutor accused Yazdan of crimes that he had not committed: international terrorism, drug dealing and rape. Thus they changed his offences from religious ones to terrorism and drugs; they did this so that his arrest would not come before the Human Rights Commission and no one would know about Yazdan’s case.

There was a big possibility that he would be executed in 2016. The court did actually sentence him to death but then commuted it to over 20 years in prison. The court offered his parents the chance to mediate on Yazdan’s behalf and to pledge their house as security but his father refused.

God's Grace

Folk who knew about his situation prayed that God would change his father’s heart. Finally, his father made the decision to be a guarantor for his son and Yazdan was released and expelled from his country. He is now safe and secure in another country, but for the time being, he is unable to talk publicly for security reasons – his parents are still in that country and they are in danger.

In answer to prayer the Lord reached out and rescued this faithful young middle eastern believer. Whether for one or for many, our heavenly Father’s promise remains true as we pray for believers and those not yet saved in other nations, as we enlarge our hearts for “the ends of the earth”.

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The Antioch Factor

5 talks of The Antioch Factor

In these 5 talks Ross shares his life’s message. He shares concerning what the Bible says about cross cultural mission being the heart of God’s plan for the church, especially focusing on the book of Acts and the early church. God has used this teaching in the US, Africa, India and Asia - where churches have adopted this teaching in Bible schools and essential training of believers.

The Antioch Factor #1
The first talk is a basic introduction. Ross starts with Acts 1:8 to show that Jesus divided the world into 4 different territories, and every church should involve in each of these 4 regions. But often we ignore the difficult one, “the ends of the earth”, even though Jesus told us to reach peoples who are different from us. This is a unique opportunity to think this matter through before the Lord.

The Antioch Factor #2
Ross in this second talk in the series looks at more verses from the New Testament, to show that cross cultural mission is a key part of the Bible's teaching from Genesis to Revelation. He then begins to look at the church in Jerusalem. He comes up with a very surprising conclusion which may shock you! Listen on to find out what that conclusion is!

The Antioch Factor #3
God gave the Jerusalem church 3 great chances in Acts chapters 8-11 to understand His global agenda, but they did not. Ross asks the question “am I communicating to you the strength of resistance to the Gospel going to the ends of the earth?” Ross then shows how God birthed the church in Antioch to move with that global agenda.

The Antioch Factor #4
Ross stresses eight key elements that make up the Antioch church. He states that Antioch churches do not grow up by accident or naturally, rather like weeds in the garden. We have to be intentional in making sure these elements are in play in our churches.

The Antioch Factor #5
Ross continues to stress that Antioch churches do not happen by accident. He gives more elements that need to be in play for us to become an Antioch church today, sending folk out and supporting folk to reach the nations.

Antioch Factor Infographic (PDF)

Antioch Factor Infographic (PNG)

This course is for you if...

You are not yet involved in cross-cultural mission and are not even sure if it is "for you":

  • You have no idea what the expression “cross-cultural mission" means.
  • You want a Biblical basis for cross-cultural mission.
  • You feel that God just wants you involved in a local church and nothing else.
  • You want to understand how God sees church and views the world. What are His priorities?

If you are already in the mission field and…

  • Are needing your vision and call refreshed.
  • Want to help your friends back home to “get the vision” and to stand with you.

 If you are from a sending church and...

  • Want to know why those ‘pesky’ people keep talking about God’s work overseas?
  • Have to help those the church is sending, but are not sure how to do that or even why to do that!

If you think this course is for you, click here to check it out.

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Quiet Time 1: Importance of Quiet Time with God | Christian Resources | Cross Cultural Mission Tips

Summarized Transcript

Hi this is Ross Paterson here, and I want to give you a short 10 minute sharing on the Quiet Time.

This will be a series; this is the first talk that I'm going to do.

Always we are thrilled if you contact us that ask@fieldpartner.org or if you're getting this from another link (Facebook or whatever) that you visit our website www.fieldpartner.org

Now, I am going to address three questions, let me describe the questions and then kind of jump into the middle one.

  1. What is a Quiet Time?
  2. What does that have to do with Cross Cultural Mission?
  3. What is the Problem?

Quick aside: What does that have to do with Cross Cultural Mission?

Well, can I dive into the second one very briefly first?

Imagine, you're going to meet your boss. It's a really important interview, and for some reason you're going to meet outside. If you have a car, the car really needs to be looking good. So, you polish and shine the car and get in the car, turn the key and you realize that you forgot to put in petrol (gas) and didn't fuel the car. It's not going to move. You would then miss the interview with your boss because you were so busy with something less important, that you forgot the most important thing - that a car runs on fuel.

That's exactly why the Quiet Time - the time of the Lord - has everything to do with cross cultural mission and is important for Christian Missionaries. A really good brother who was working with us in China ministry said to me, "Ross, I need to go home."

I said "Why?"

He said, "Well the pressure’s too great, I can't really hack it."

I said, "Well you need to spend time with the Lord. Set time aside with the Lord meet with the Lord. Quiet Time in other words, and get fuelled up."

And he said, "I do not know how to do that." And he went home. A promising service for the church in China finished, because he didn't know how to fuel himself with the Lord.

Another guy, a wonderful brother, who came to me, working in an Asian country, said "I don't think I can hack this, I need to go home."

What is a Quiet Time?

What is the Quiet Time? Matthew 14:22-27 "Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side. While he sent the multitudes away. And when he sent the multitudes away he went on the mountain by himself to pray. Now when evening came he was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea tossed by the winds, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were troubled, saying it is a ghost and they cried out in fear. But immediately, Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I, do not be afraid.’”

Now Jesus and the disciples were all at the supernatural meeting that took place before the boat trip. Jesus sent the multitudes away when his job was done. He didn't bask in the praise of people but sent the disciples away and went on the mountain by himself to pray.

Jesus spent time with the Father and had his Quiet Time. The disciples didn't, they jumped in the boat, "Hey, we're fishermen we know how this works."

Guess what? Jesus heard from the Father that he was needed to rescue the disciples. Jesus was empowered to walk on the water. Jesus knew what the Father was doing, because he said elsewhere, "I never do anything, except the Father tells me".

One writer (Word For Today) said, "Jesus dismissed the crowd of disciples and fans, in order to spend time with his Father in prayer. As a result, when he returned to the crowd, he was empowered to work miracles."

And then he gives an interesting illustration. “Think about it, before an airliner takes off, the attendant tells you, that if the plane gets into trouble, you should secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others with theirs. After all, unless you're getting enough oxygen how can you help them? So I trust it's clear now, what this has to do with cross cultural mission.”

What does that have to do with Cross Cultural Mission?

Of course it has to do with absolutely everything that we do. Any kind of service in a local church whatever. But it's critical for cross cultural mission, because when we work cross culturally, the sociologists and psychiatrists will tell you that we function under greater pressure than those who live in their own culture.

[bctt tweet="When we work cross culturally, the sociologists and psychiatrists will tell you that we function under greater pressure than those who live in their own culture." username="FieldpartnerInt"]

When you're out of your culture, so many things are a mystery and a pressure: Greater loneliness, greater pressure, greater attacks sometimes and so on.

Selwyn Hughes emphasizing this point said this, "The Quiet Time is where the soul grows receptive. Where prayer becomes a place of healing, an oasis of peace, where the touch of his presence becomes as real and as dramatic as the touch of the woman on the hem of Jesus’ garment. Where peace flows into our turbulence, where love resolves our resentments, where joy heals our griefs and where we enter into the present process of being known.”

[bctt tweet="The Quiet Time is where the soul grows receptive. Where prayer becomes a place of healing, an oasis of peace, where the touch of his presence becomes as real and as dramatic as the touch of the woman on the hem of Jesus’ garment. " username="FieldpartnerInt"]

The Quiet Time shuts us in with God. The door closes upon us and then infinite resources flood into our soul. The door opens and we move out with an increased awareness of God, ready to face a world that knows so little about him. There is as we've said, great benefit in stillness but when we meet with God in the stillness.  Ah, what then?”

The Problem of Legalism

Why do we need to talk about this? What is the problem? Well Selwyn Hughes outlines two problems. One is legalism. First, there is a reaction to the legalism of past days. Selwyn Hughes said that at one time most disciples were told that the life of discipleship turned on whether or not they’ve established a daily Quiet Time. And you must never waver from it.

“In my youth someone who said, I heard one Bible teacher saying ‘If you don't begin every day by reading a chapter of the Bible and spending at least 30 minutes in prayer, you have no right to go into the day expecting God to bless it.’"

Selwyn Hughes commented, “I don't believe that's true,” and I don't either. That is legalism.

There are many reasons why it might be impossible to begin every day with a Quiet Time. God wants to meet with us and bless us whatever our morning routine. God wants to bless us even when we're too busy occasionally to have a Quiet Time. God isn't a legalist.

[bctt tweet="God wants to meet with us and bless us whatever our morning routine. God wants to bless us even when we're too busy occasionally to have a Quiet Time. God isn't a legalist." username="FieldpartnerInt"]

But there's an opposite which I'm calling an "overly casual approach". Selwyn Hughes says "However in turning from the legalism of the past," (This is addressing, to be honest, many younger listeners, but not exclusively.)

The other extreme: Being overly casual

"However in turning from the legalism of the past, many have replaced it with a more casual approach to personal devotions. If they don't feel like it. they don't find a time to be with God. And that," Selwyn Hughes said, "I suggest is as risky as the legalism from which they've turned away." It's dangerous to say, "Hey if I feel the Holy Spirit is moving me, I'll spend time with God."

The problem is when you most need to spend time with God, you may not hear the Holy Spirit. So those are the two extremes.

I'm going to close this talk with a quote from John Wesley, “It is for your life. There is no other way, else you will be a trifler all your days."

[bctt tweet="John Wesley, 'It is for your life. There is no other way, else you will be a trifler all your days.'" username="FieldpartnerInt"]

Now John Wesley, in his day along with John Whitfield changed England. John Wesley set up, at that time, the Methodist Church, which was one of the purest and most successful and anointed in soul-winning churches the world. John Wesley also did cross-cultural work, going to America and so on. And here he's saying, whether you like it or not whether you feel like it or not, read and read the Bible and pray daily.

That's an interesting comment addressing this issue of legalism, an overly "随便" approach (casual as the Chinese would say).

So put the fuel in your car, or you'll miss the appointment. Spend time with the Lord, be refreshed in your loneliness, in the attacks against you, in discouragement in failure, spend time with the Lord.

[bctt tweet="Spend time with the Lord, be refreshed in your loneliness, in the attacks against you, in discouragement in failure, spend time with the Lord." username="FieldpartnerInt"]

I'm going to carry on digging into this. This is just the first one, an introduction.

“Lord help me make it a habit of a lifetime to spend time each day with you. Remind me to make this approach a priority Father. Amen.”

Thank you, and we'll be back another day with part 2.

If you enjoyed reading this Quiet Time resource for Christian Missionaries, then check out our courses on courses.fieldpartner.org

Part 2: Should we follow a fixed structure?

God Bless You.

Ross Paterson

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Why Did J.O Fraser Leave England To Do Cross-Cultural Mission In Remotest China?

In my first blog about J.O. Fraser, I expressed my surprise that a missionary so amazingly used by the Lord should at the same time be so hidden from the lists of outstanding cross-cultural missionaries. Of course we acknowledge that his success in cross-cultural mission was the Lord’s not his, but yet there had to be his courage, his persistence and his vision towards the Lisu people.

A Simple Question

In this second blog I want to ask a simple question – what motivated J.O Fraser to leave the security of a good engineering career and a potentially stellar musical career in the UK and go and serve God by doing cross-cultural missions in the remotest parts of China, indeed amongst a people group where a church had never been planted, and which was, to say the least, primitive.

Fraser’s Possible Excuses

On the surface Fraser had every reason not to go. In 1906, he was studying engineering at Imperial College London, and he had been a Christian for less than two years. There was every excuse for him to plead that he was too young in the Lord to seriously consider the call to foreign mission. Moreover, it seems that in those early years he had very little connection with the challenge of cross-cultural mission, or of the work of the China Inland Mission in China.

He had a bright future ahead of him

But there were other more challenging reasons. He had excelled in both mathematics and in engineering in his studies. There was a bright engineering career ahead of him, and he could justify a conventional approach that said he would serve locally in the English church, excel in his professional life, and simply witness to those around him.

His family had a successful professional life

But there were even stronger reasons for ignoring the challenge of mission. He came from a broken home. It seems his mother came from an upper-middle-class family, dressed carefully and well, and offered a model of English comfort. At the same time she was a spiritual woman. His father was a mixture of Scottish and Canadian, and was in his own right a successful veterinary surgeon.

According to Eileen Crossman, his father rose to be president of the Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons, the top of his profession. Fraser's father was also “an able public speaker, nominated for Parliament several times”, though he never went forward to an election. His father was “a staunch Methodist and in later years turned more and more to the Bible.” According to Crossman he later wrote to his daughter with the words “every word of it (the Bible) is true, you know”.

And so it seems from both parents, to a greater or lesser extent, there was a model of classic British Christianity of the time and that generation, whether ecclesiastical or evangelical. That of a successful professional life or a good domestic life, in which Christianity played an important part. It would have been easy for Fraser to settle into that, as indeed many, many folk do today – whether in Britain or elsewhere.

Other Possible Paths To Follow

And if he needed an alternate track, one of his siblings offered that. That brother became a leader of left-wing politics at Cambridge University and later joined the Communist Party. So if Fraser wanted to be different, the options were not lacking!

And then there was his music. He had given considerable time to practising and studying music, and at the age of 22 was soon to give his first London piano recital.

The Divine Invasion

And then God stepped in. Crossman records that “a fellow student had given a booklet to him two days before, while they had been experimenting with steam pressure. A conversation had developed between them, and the leaflet was produced." The words in the leaflet were challenging and life changing, and bear repetition to us today:

"If our Master returned today to find millions of people unevangelised, and looked, as of course He would look, to us for an explanation, I cannot imagine what explanation we should have to give. Of one thing I am certain – that most of the excuses we are accustomed to make with such good conscience now, we shall be wholly ashamed of then."

The challenge of the leaflet was as simple as it was obvious. That multitudes remained unreached with the eternal salvation that lies in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet there were the excuses given above (demands of career, opportunities offered by musical talent, political views, a broken home, the British – or other national – models of Christianity, and many other excuses that we offer, “excuses we are accustomed to make with such good conscience”).

Believers then and we today can easily excuse our way out of the challenge they bring. But the words of the booklet challenged Fraser, and anyone else then or now who chooses to take those words seriously, that those excuses one day in the Presence of Christ will seem threadbare to say the least!

The Divine Change

And so Fraser wrestled with the challenge he had been given out of the blue. Crossman says that the conclusion of that wrestling was “for James an experience like John Wesley's at Aldgate Street: his heart was ‘strangely warmed’ and, for the first time, he understood the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ."

The critical importance, which Crossman also explains, is that “he lost interest in the things that had absorbed him before and began to streamline his life like an athlete for the Olympics.” “There is no record of his feeling he had renounced anything: he had quite simply found earlier love eclipsed by a new passion.” And that is a critical point. That it was not a grudging duty to serve a demanding God, but a finding of his call and the purpose of his life that liberated him into a new level of joy and relationship with His Master.

I share that view! As I write this I am 74 years of age, and have been 50 years in full-time Christian service, most of which has been spent in cross-cultural mission. With Fraser, I can only express joy that the Lord showed me that this was His path for me. I would, looking back, have it no other way than this great privilege I have been given by Him.

A Final Challenge to Us Today and a Christian Missionary Quote

Let me close this blog with the words that changed Fraser's life and direction, and in fact changed the lives of multitudes of Lisu people. And ask that you reflect and consider them carefully.

"If our Master returned today to find millions of people unevangelised, and looked, as of course He would look, to us for an explanation, I cannot imagine what explanation we should have to give. Of one thing I am certain – that most of the excuses we are accustomed to make with such good conscience now, we shall be wholly ashamed of then."

Come back to me at ask@fieldpartner.org and let me know which you think really matters to you; or do you think I’ve missed anything? Let’s help each other succeed! There is plenty more material about cross-cultural mission to help you on your way at www.fieldpartner.org

-Ross

Source of quotations and material: Mountain Rain by Eileen Crossman (J.O. Fraser’s daughter). OMF books. Read it for yourself!

Want to learn more tips about cross-cultural mission? Check out our podcasts here!

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J.O.Fraser; Hidden Missionary Hero, Forgotten Lessons

Who is J O Fraser?

James Outram Fraser (J O Fraser) is one of my spiritual heroes and missionary mentors. We never met in the flesh, but the impact of his life on me is huge. And yet despite his immense success he is not as famous as other ‘top’ missionaries. In his book “The Second Act”, Stuart M. Simpson writes: “The story of James Outram Fraser (1886-1938) is not as familiar as other famous British missionaries such as William Carey (the so-called ‘Father of Modern Missions’), J. Hudson Taylor (founder of the China Inland Mission, now called OMF International), or David Livingstone (the great missionary explorer to Africa). Every year Urbana is one of the largest student missions conferences in the world. In their blog entitled, ‘21 Missionaries You Should Know’, you will not find James Fraser mentioned.” Simpson adds: “The mission movement I have been with for over twenty years, Youth With A Mission (YWAM), has published a range of books in a series entitled ‘Christian Heroes: Then And Now’. This includes many missionaries, but Fraser, once again, is not included. However, he is one of the most successful missionaries in modern times!”

I also agree he should be ranked up there with those other heroes. Not because I want in any way to idolise a man. But because there are such special and relevant lessons we can, and indeed must, learn from his life and ministry. Logically, if we do not know who he was and how and why God used him, it will be hard to learn anything at all from his life!

What was his impact?

The results of James Outram Fraser’s ministry in China amongst the Lisu minority people speak for themselves. “Going to China with CIM (the China Inland Mission), he was stationed in the then remote province of Yunnan to work with the local Chinese. The first 7 years of his ministry there were marked by work amongst the Lisu, with strong prayer for them – and there were very little if any results to show for his labours and his intercessions. But by 1918, sparked by family evangelism carried on by the people themselves, 600 believers had been baptised.” (Wikipedia).

According to OMF International estimates, as of 2008, there were over a million Lisu Christians in China’s Yunan province and in Burma. Yet when Fraser began his ministry amongst the Lisu there were no believers and no Christian churches. Today, “Christianity is thriving in the Salween River valley, where the Lisu live nearly 70 years after the death of Fraser. Of the 18,000 Lisu who lived in Fugong in 1950, 3,400 professed faith in Christ. As of 2007, there are estimated to be 80–90 percent of the 70,000 making the same profession. In Yunnan it is estimated that there are 100,000–200,000 total Lisu Christians in the Lisu Church. More than 75,000 Lisu Bibles have been legally printed in China following the explosive growth.” (Wikipedia)

Why is his work important?

In this day and age where the spread of the Gospel is met sometimes by hostility or indifference, surely it is worth studying this man’s life. He started in a totally spiritually barren field of work. But the result of his labours under God is that the Lisu people group, one of China’s perhaps 400 or more people groups, have the highest percentage of believers of any such group.

I first encountered Fraser after I had already served 10 years on the mission field, having worked in Taiwan from 1969 to 1979. I returned at that stage to England with my wife and then one child and was invited to work with OMF to help launch their “resurrected” China programme, as China began once more to open up to the outside world in the 1980s. As part of my UK-based duties I offered OMF books for sale at the churches I visited. I quickly found myself promoting Fraser’s “The Prayer Of Faith” as much as any other book! Through that book I had the privilege of making Fraser’s acquaintance, at least in a literary way. Like many, up to that point Fraser had been hidden to me, and I don’t believe I’d ever heard reference to his name before working with OMF.

What I discovered is that the lessons we can learn from Fraser’s life are integral and vital to our own success as cross-cultural missionaries and indeed as believers in whatever call God has on our lives. Whether it be the lessons from his life about the missionary  experience. Or whether it be his walk with the Lord, his emphasis on prayer, his engagement cross culturally with the people with whom he worked, or a number of other factors – all these things are so critical to our instruction today not just as cross-cultural workers but as those who send cross-cultural workers from our churches or missionary sending agencies.

And so in the days to come I would like to share some of the lessons from his life. I hope to be challenged and encouraged afresh myself; and I hope Fraser’s amazing life will do the same for you!

 

Ross Paterson

Taipei August 22, 2017

Recommended Reading (Links to Amazon)

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Sharing from Ross: Thought for the day

Thought for the day: How important is the Bible to me?

Acts 11:26 says: “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Selwyn Hughes connects the first and second half of this verse in an interesting way. He writes:

“This text in Acts 11:26 tells us that, seeing the great need of these new disciples at Antioch, ‘Barnabas and Saul taught great numbers of people’ in Antioch. Now, as then, new Christians need teaching in the great truths of the Gospel and in practical Christ-like living. It is not enough for large numbers to come to Christ; they need to be taught. Now, as then, new converts need to be ‘detoxified’ from their pagan ways of thinking and behaving. Converts learnt to demonstrate over time how they were learning to live and behave like Jesus. The Early Church brought about this spiritual detoxification by ‘catechesis’ – a process of discipling new converts that could take up to two years. Only when they had been fully instructed were they baptised and admitted to the Lord’s Table. This was not legalism but reflected the Church’s determination to ensure, as far as possible, that newcomers were converts in fact and not just word. It was not enough to profess faith in Christ; converts had to show over a period of time that they were learning to live and behave like Jesus. Decisions were not enough; making disciples was what mattered. So Barnabas and Saul taught the believers in Antioch for a whole year. What a wonderful experience that must have been, to be taught personally by these great men. These were not just Bible studies for the curious. The teaching of Barnabas and Saul was intended to shape the hearers’ lives.

Eventually, when those inside the Church had grown to live like Jesus, to act and react in Christ-like ways, then those outside the Church, perhaps rather mockingly, or possibly affectionately, started to call them ‘the Christianos’ – the Christ people!”

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