Tag: Mission Theology

Quiet Time #1: Importance of Quiet Time

What is quiet time and what does it have to do with cross-cultural mission?

Read More
Quiet Time #2: Should We Follow A Structure?

When we have our quiet times, should we have a plan or leave it to spontaneity? Ross investigates what scripture can teach us on this topic.

 

Read More
Quiet time #3

Ross shares his three elements of a quiet time, bible reading, prayer and worship.

Read More
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.

Read More
Preparing for Cross Cultural Missions


1. How is your walk with the Lord? how are you doing with the Lord?

Often I think of a dear friend of mine who, many years ago, was involved with me in work into China. He was doing quite well and then he said to me one day, “I want to go home.” And I said, “No, no, no. Dig into the Lord. Spend time with the Lord. Get a hold of the Lord see what the Lord is saying to you.” and essentially a few days day he said, “No I want to go home.”

So the first thing is, and that's before you go, it's not after you go:
How's your relationship with the Lord Jesus?
Do you know him personally, but more than that are you walking with him day by day?

Our habit is when we get up in the morning (and I’m speaking to you from the Far East, it doesn't look like it because I got a sweater on but it's a brief really cold time. Actually, the locals here they keep saying to me, “Oh is so cold they got coats on.” I say, “It’s cold. It’s not so cold.” because I'm a Brit and have some idea what really cold is (actually from Scotland). So number one, you walk with the Lord. How are you doing with the Lord?

2. Do you have a clear sense of call or vision?

Do you know that the Lord has spoken to you? (Now Brad is going to deal with this in another talk in this group so I'm not going to go into that at length.) But are you sure that the Lord has called you? Can you stand on that call?

3. Do you belong to a Missions Based Church - a church it actually believes in mission?
Don't tell anyone that I say this, but a lot of churches actually don't believe in cross cultural work. They don't believe in sending people away from their local area. They may be doing an absolutely fantastic job locally, and there's so much we can learn for them. But they don't teach us and inspire us with a vision to reach people of other cultures, other nations. Do you go to a mission based prayer meeting? Now I'm not saying for a minute, “leave your church.” For what I am saying is, “Find that prayer meeting. Find that mission group that you can pray with, that you can share with.”

4. Have you ever read or studied books about missionaries or the history of missions?

See you may say, “God has called me. I'm going to change Ethiopia -- Or I don’t know, any country you care to mention -- I'm going to change them.” Have you read a few read books about Hudson Taylor, and (William) Carey, and (David) Livingstone, and other men and women of God whose adventures and struggles and the rest of it, are there for us to learn about? Have you read those books? Please do. One of my classics was David Brainerd who was, if you like, a “cross-cultural missionary “to the indigenous people of the United States many years ago. Carey again as I say, Hudson Taylor - these men and women of God, we can learn so much from them.

5. Do you have a Friendship circle that’s conducive to mission?

I think of a group that my parents used to meet every year - just socially at Christmas time - and you’re going abroad what are you, going to do? Well that’s alright. Many people will look at you that way. Many people forty-eight years afterwards, he asked some people quite close to me, “What does he do?” They wouldn't have any idea, I don’t think. but I'm asking, “Do you have group of friends who have that same passion as you? That will be iron sharpening iron?” If you don't, if you’re a student in your student world, if you're a church member and your church world, find others who have that same calling.

6. Next, have you ever talked to a missionary on the field?

Have you ever contacted with a missionary on the field? I know there are some closed countries where that might be difficult, but have you ever done that? It's a good thing to do. Get a hold of a missionary team. They may be too busy to talk to you, but finally…

7. Then go on short-term mission trip.

Go on a short-term cross-cultural trip, that'll take you. I, as a Cambridge student, God had called me to serve as a cross-cultural worker. This is in the 1960s and I went with operation mobilization to Eastern Europe, and I finished in Russia actually at a time when Russia was really pretty tight. That mission trip did as much to confirm my calling, as the actual call itself did. Which I’ll talk about another time. Is that something that you've ever considered doing? Because it will change your life, one way or the other.

No. 1 Do you have a worldview that goes beyond your culture?

How do you do in a supermarket when you meet someone with a completely different culture and background? How do you do in the office, train, school or wherever, if you meet someone who is totally different. Do you say, why are you not the same as me, or can you embrace, are you culturally open and adaptable. If you go cross cultural, it's their culture not yours. You are not there to change them culturally as a cross culture worker. You maybe there to work with the orphans, preach, teach, work with poor but you are working with their culture and you are not there to change their culture by imposing yours.

Kingdom culture, the culture of Jesus, yes, but not your culture. Where their culture is not hostile to scripture, can you manage, can you handle that, it is really difficult. If I was doing more than 7-8 minutes quick learn I would tell you a lot but will do as well. So come to us and see us in FieldPartner, come and see us in our website. We will flash it up at the beginning and end.

No.2 Friendship with foreign students if you are a student.

Being with people of different culture. Not just meeting with them but befriending them. can you sit down with them, can you accept what they do, can you respect them. Are you always saying, well, why are these people behaving that way, because they are not the same as you or as me. So do you have those friends, do you have people you have coffee or tea with?

No. 3 Studying about the country of other people you gonna work with

Have you ever done that? You say God has called me to work in Mongolia, well, do you know anything about Mongolia, do you know what it is like, do you know what they believe, eat, their strength and weaknesses? Am not telling you to read a whole story of Mongolian restraint, but have studied them?

No. 4 Current Christian activities

Am I in any way witnessing, serving, discipling. Am not asking if you read the bible, I hope you do because you really need to. That ought to be my first talk. But are you someone who is really drawing people to Jesus Christ. We often say, getting on an aeroplane does not change you and that’s a fact. What is going to change you is what you are doing now.

No. 5 Your vision and calling

No. 5 This is really good, really tricky. I will say it in Chinese (Chinese) “ first you have your vision, your calling on your life then you have your opposite number, your beloved”. What do I mean, if you are in beginning several relationships, fellow with a girl or girl to fellow, you will feel God has called me to cross cultural work, and that person you are getting fond of say (Chinese words) which is a very rude expression for” take a hike”. If they say that, you need to face out to what is going on, because probably it will cost your calling if you go on into marriage and so on. The reverse is true. My wife who has a call to mission in her own life, Brian and Jane, there is an advantage when they are there with you step by step. So, have you considered that if the fellow or girl you are keen on. Are they walking the same way.

No. 6 Your gifts and temperaments.

What do you like in terms of gifts and temperaments, because one of the things is that you get stretched, someday once put it to me that, you are stretched so wide you could read a newspaper. What is your gift and temperament like, are you adaptable, are you able to face what is going to come that is the period you really struggle with culture, activities with this or that and you can say, I can handle that. How are you doing now in your church situation? Are you the one always colliding with people, then I suggest a period of discipleship in your local church might be the best.

No. 7. Finally, relationship and team works.

Same idea, how do you do team work. How do you do in working with other people. How do you do about serving the Lord together in a worship group, evangelistic team, in putting the chairs together. Are you the one always saying no, do it my way? Please if you not do a team a work, it is sad to say but many of cross cultural workers fail not because of other people they are working with . we know, certain nations that if you put nation A and nation B together you gonna have fireworks. How do you make them work in a team. Particularly, realizing that the people you are working with maybe a completely different culture, not the people you are trying to reach but people on the cultural team when you go and work there.

- Team at FieldPartner

If you found this post helpful, do check out our Crossing Cultures online course.

P.S. You can download this article as an infographic. Check it out:

23 Keys to Being a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary (PDF)

23 Keys to Being a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary (PNG Image)

Read More
Brad’s 23 keys To Being A healthy Cross Cultural Missionary

How to be a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary?

Here are some keys I've picked up over the years of being a cross cultural missionary. I have seen many folk come and go on the mission field, and so I wanted to share these keys to help you start and finish well.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. We will only recommend resources that we have personally read through and have found useful in our journey in mission work.

Spiritual Keys

Trust God

Why grumble when you can trust God? Is He not more than able to do above and beyond all that we ask or even think?

Resist temptation.

Whenever you are tempted, cry out to God for the strength to resist. After a while the devil will get fed up and leave you alone until another time. Don’t forget, you are most vulnerable to temptation after a major success, so be on your guard!

Study the Scriptures.

Missionaries need to pay careful attention to both their exegetical work and their hermeneutical efforts. Studying the Scriptures is primary work that needs to be done, and ought not to be cut short by pressing needs. Set apart time to study and meditate the Bible on a regular basis! If you need a book to help you, I strongly recommend Gordon Fee: How to Read the Bible for all its Worth

Read missionary books.

There are some books that ought to be on every missionary bookshelf: Roland Allen’s: St. Paul’s Methods or Ours is a classic. Foundational to community development is Brian Fikkert’s book: When Helping Hurts. For building faith, read missionary biographies. When I met Richard Wurmbrand, the advice he gave me was: “Write down all of the illustrations you can – keep a diary of your experiences in God. They will all come in handy one day.”

Keep notes about the major things God does in and through your life.

We all tend to forget details over the years, and looking back at God’s faithfulness to you personally is major encouragement – one of the ways to encourage yourself in the Lord!

Have a file of illustrations

that God has shown you during your walk in life – small observations that leave an impression. You will find them helpful, not only as good sermon illustrations; they are powerful motivators for you personally! Remember, the parables are stories from daily life that Jesus uses in a powerful way!

Don’t forget the fundamentals,

like preaching and meditating on the cross, the blood of Jesus, the value of communion, baptism, vows, loving and trusting God in all things. Preach and teach such things, and do not be concerned about repeating yourself, let the Holy Spirit do His work by confirming your words.

Don’t forget to pray in tongues.

It is a valuable resource that Father has given us in order for us to be built up in our faith. Pray often in the Spirit!

Make sure you balance your time as a cross cultural missionary!

Balance your personal life, home and family life along with your ministry work. Allow time for the unexpected on your calendar! Don’t forget to plan in time to do your planning – away from the stress of your daily routine. Maintain a casual hobby and do some sort of sports, read a book at least once a month, and take an annual vacation. When you work, work with diligence and to the best of your ability.

Frame your goals,

Ask three questions:

  1. What would your work look like if your dream or vision became a reality?
  2. What is the vision statement that you need to phrase?
  3. How do we get there?

Pace yourself.

Burn out is the modern term for weariness in the Scriptures. One of the main causes of burnout is doing things God has not required you to do – in your own strength. Stop doing those things, and get renewed before you begin to work again. Sabbaticals are more than just a good idea, they are valuable to keeping our spiritual health.

Learn to ask for help.

The problem with asking for help in our ministry is our reluctance to actually frame the asking question. James says, ‘you have not because you ask not’. It is how we ask which makes the difference. One thing I have learned is that when you ask, ask someone in particular if they would like to invest in the Kingdom work you are involved in, and then wait for them to answer. However they answer, be grateful for their consideration.

Focus on character.

Mark Rutland writes (in Character Matters): Character is a composite of virtues and values. When we raise the banner of the Kingdom of God, we need to raise our character for all to see!

Beware of a haughty attitude.

In some cultures, they exalt those of white skin and in others despise them. But often they are tolerated for their perceived riches and ability to bring wealth. It is a deadly trap to lose sight of your servant heart and purpose. Remember, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Go for grace every time!

Learn to debrief.

One of the things that the Moravian missionaries did was to write their autobiography when they came home at the end of their time of service. It was a requirement for all missionaries before they died to write their memoirs. I think it is a very helpful way to debrief after a lifetime of cross cultural ministry, and it becomes inspiration to others who will follow in your footsteps. Keep that in mind and make notes from which you write your own memoirs.

Inform people about what you do,

do not frame your work in generalities. Let folks be a part of your life by giving them specific illustrations. Tell the story and let people become involved in the growing excitement you have for what God is doing in and through you!

Learn how to correct others.

In correction don’t forget there are always two things that need to happen: Forgiveness and Restoration. Just because forgiveness occurs in an instant through the blood of Jesus, character formation does take longer. Make sure that the pattern of sin is broken and has been replaced with a habit of righteousness.

Do not neglect leadership training.

Training local leaders has got to be a priority along with preaching the gospel. Both are desperately needed in this world. Examine from time to time what you do and how you are doing it. Keep yourself abreast of leadership training materials. Implement what you have learned quickly and be open for feedback from those you are teaching.

Equip and empower your people

by giving them real authority and real decision making abilities. When they mess up, help them put it right. Remember, mercy triumphs over judgment!

Be practical.

There are a lot of practical things associated with being a missionary. Hygiene is one of those things. Pay attention to your own personal hygiene. Keep yourself clean. Keep your house and vehicle clean. Take care of your possessions, and the possessions of others. If you break something that belongs to someone else, pay for it. If you borrow a car, at least pay for the gas you use. Build trust by being thoughtful and considerate.

Be a good guest.

When visiting friends for a longer period of time, be sure to make yourself useful by doing things that you can see need to be done. Offer to help, and don’t be afraid to get dirty! Leaders who can and do serve in practical ways are greatly admired. When you leave a home you have been staying in, let them want you to come back because you were an easy guest to have.

Teach about finances.

There is more to understanding and teaching in ‘Kingdom Finances’ than just ‘giving’. Though generosity is foundational to the nature of God, He is also the One who gives us the will and strength to work. Teach that along with the Scriptures that speak of saving, living debt free and providing for your family, building wealth in a godly way with a vision to invest in the Kingdom of God.

Remember to whom you are accountable.

cross cultural missionaries should continue being accountable to people from their own community

Do you provide adequate accountability to those in your country of service as well as to those who sent you there? I am accountable first to God, then my wife, and then my family. I am accountable to my home church, my supporters, the fellowship of ministers I belong to, my missions’ director, my local board of directors, my local organization, and the organizations that Globe Mission belongs to as the work we do affects them and the nation. The level of accountability I have varies dependent on the type of relationship I have with each entity. But we are not independent; we are interdependent, by choice.

Conclusion

Bear these 23 keys in mind when you are out in the mission field. They can make a difference to your success and the experience that you will receive.

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 to help you on your way at www.fieldpartner.org

-Brad

If you found this post helpful, do check out our Leadership In Mission online course.

P.S. You can download this article as an infographic. Check it out:

23 Keys to Being a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary (PDF)

23 Keys to Being a Healthy Cross Cultural Missionary (PNG Image)

Read More
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.

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.”

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.

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."

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.

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

Read More
Podcast: Cross Cultural Mission Experiences That We Can Learn From Abraham

Abraham, the father of our faith and of cross cultural mission!


Hi, this is Ross Paterson, I'd like to take a brief opportunity to share with you from a very important passage regarding cross cultural mission work. Many writers, many of those who share our heart for mission, turn to this passage. It's kind of the Old Testament equivalent of Acts 1:8. So, let me start with that passage.

God’s Word to Abraham in Genesis 12

Genesis 12."God had told Abraham, or Abram, 'Leave your own country behind you and your own people and go to the land I will guide you to. If you do, I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, and you will be a blessing to many others. I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you; and the entire world will be blessed because of you." Or in the more recent translation, "And all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

If you have heard this passage, you will know the reference here to what is called top line-bottom line, which I think is very relevant to our generation and to where we stand today. The top line, of course, "I will make you famous, I will make you become the father of a great nation, I will bless you, you will be a blessing to many others; I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you."

And that's the top line, it is the sense of God's hand upon us, God's blessing upon us, of God's goodness and favour upon us. But there's the bottom line, too. "And the entire world will be blessed because of you." In other words, with God's blessing comes a definition of the purpose of that blessing, and the definition of the purpose of that blessing is a very simple one; that others, indeed, in Abraham's case, the whole world. should be blessed because of you.

Equipping of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8

Now, just a minute or two ago, I made the observation that this is really the Old Testament equivalent of Acts 1:8, that you'll be familiar with. “You'll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”, that great promise of the empowering, of the equipping of the Holy Spirit. But that is the top line; the bottom line, of course in Acts 1:8, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, to the ends of the earth.” There is a very, very important balance there. Now, looking at this recently, four basic points struck me:

Firstly, there is a bottom line to this top line. There is a sense that God is calling Abraham, not just to be particularly blessed out of all the people upon the face of the earth. But also, at the same time that God is calling Abraham to take responsibility with that blessing, as one writer said,

"It is a timeless reminder of God's plan to bring man beyond judgment into His purpose. With the call of Abraham, that purpose began to unfold as God's programme for men's restoration; not just Abraham's, but for all men's restoration, and it became expressed through a very specific individual.”

God blesses us so that we can be a blessing unto others

And so, my first point is, and it's obvious from what I have been saying so far, that God's intention, when He bestows blessing upon us, is not just that we would be blessed, but that we would, in the equipment of that blessing, go out and become a blessing to others; specifically, in Acts 1:8 terms, that we would not stop until we are witnesses for Him to the ends of the earth, to the far corners of the earth. And every man, and woman, and child in our generation should have the opportunity to hear of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus.

Now, in a limited recording here, without going into that in too much detail, I believe that's a very, very, very crucial word for our generation. That we would come to the point of seeing that God has called us not just to go from conference, to meeting, to book, to this and the other, to be blessed. Legitimately, in my view, that is; but at the same time, it would be our heart's desire to use that blessing to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others. Then we wouldn't just seek more and more for ourselves - though I don't have a problem with that in one sense - but that the equipping should be for a very specific purpose, that men and women might hear of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God works through relationships

Secondly, very importantly, God's work flourishes in our lives through relationship. God told Abraham, verse 7, "God spoke to Abraham, then immediately after this, then the Lord appeared to Abraham and said: "I'm going to give this land to you and your descendants."

Very, very important also, that as one writer said, "These Abraham narratives begin to show what relationship with God can look like in the meanwhile, before the Lord Jesus, what for human beings in the fallen world, it can be to be God's friend. We see Abraham gradually beginning to understand who God is and what it means to trust Him.”

Knowing God And Being Hungry For God

Though when we receive the Lord Jesus we come into a personal knowledge of him, that's the fantastic truth of real Christianity, yet at the same time it is also true that God calls us to grow in that knowledge. There is, at the heart of Christianity, this divine dichotomy, if you like. We know Him, and yet we need to know Him more and more. We do know Him, and yet, we don't know Him enough.

One of the little tests that I personally would have as a focus, is the question “Am I Hungry”? Are you hungry to know more of God? I've been a Christian for over 50 years, I've been in full-time Christian service for over 40 years. It's 40 years since I went out as a missionary to Asia. But I have to say, I am hungry to know the Lord better. Praise the Lord, He speaks, He comes to us.

God speaking to Abraham in understanding and openness

Even in another passage, that actually I was reading in my quiet time this morning, in Genesis 18, just a few chapters later. It says, "The Lord appeared again to Abraham when he was living in the oak grove of Mamre." This is the way it happened. One hot summer afternoon, as he was sitting in the opening of his tent, he suddenly noticed three men coming towards him. He sprang up and ran to meet them, and welcomed them.

And it says later in the passage, verse 10, "Then the Lord said: 'Next year I will give you, and Sarah, your wife, a son.’" God has something important to say to Abraham, this is the occasion when Sarah laughs, and the Lord said: "Why did Sarah laugh?" And Sarah said: "I didn't laugh", then he said: "Yes, you did." I looked at the Scriptures this morning, where it said that it is not a fierce rebuke from the Lord, it's a simple: “let's walk in truth, but I also understand why you laugh, because at 90 years of age, you did not think you could have a child.” Very understanding, but very open and honest too.

And my point here is that God comes, the Lord comes to Abraham, the Lord visits Abraham in person. And as I just read, it says that as he was sitting under the tree, and they came towards him, I take it to be a pre-incarnation or a visit of Jesus plus two angels, Abraham leaps up and greets them. Now, I can talk as well as you like about Eastern hospitality and all this kind of thing, and that's true. But there is a parable there too. Am I keen to meet with the Lord? Morning by morning or whatever, do I do that, am I keen to meet with Him?

Being blessed is not the same as having experiences with God

You see, if I run these two points together, my first point and my second, could it be that many are getting blessed and having all kinds of experiences, but they are not, in that sense, meeting with the Lord? That is, they are not hearing what God is saying concerning His purpose, His destiny, His intention for their life. How many come into powerful experiences of the Holy Spirit, but are not listening to hear the Father say: "This is for the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and indeed, to the ends of the earth"?

Mission Work Requires Leaving Things Behind

Thirdly, and logically from here, in Genesis 12, it meant ‘going’. "Leave your country behind you and your own people." As another translation says, for Genesis 12:1, "Go out from your land and from your kindred and from your father's house to the land I will show you." There was no fluffing around in this. Almost every translation, New King James, Revised King James is clear on this point, "Go out of your country and from your kindred and from your father's house into a land that I will show you." At the heart of real spirituality, at the heart of real Christianity, is the ‘going’.

And I wonder again, whether many do not go because we are afraid to leave the comfort of our Father's house, if you'd like. One writer said, "They knew very well," this is Abraham, and those with him, "That responding to God's call meant that they would never see their country or their family again."

This was not Boeing 747. This was not a 2-week mission trip. If they went, they might never - and I do not think they did - ever see that land again. They knew very well that responding to God's call meant that they would never see their country or their family again. They responded anyway, even though they realized that the only point of stability in the new land would be their relationship with the Lord, the Lord that they were just beginning to know.

Would that be enough? That is a powerful point, is it not? Is it a fact that so few are really willing to go on mission, because whatever we say, and do, and read, and attend, and whatever; the reality is that the only point of stability in the new land would be their relationship with God, with the God that they were just beginning to know?

Why we run a cross cultural mission school

That is one of the reasons why we run a school of cross cultural mission. Actually, we run one both inside China, for those wanting to serve the Lord in China, and we run another one in Asia for Chinese-speaking people wanting to go into China to serve. Yes, we want to teach cross-cultural stuff, and history of missions. But more than that, we actually want to find out how well do people know the Lord.

Things to consider in cross cultural missions

And I would encourage you to consider these things. To consider maybe if you have been on a mission trip with us or with others, to consider the school of missions. Because it would be my sense that many actually can conceal our lack of knowledge of the Lord, our lack of that real dependence as the only point of stability our lives while in ordinary church life. That is not a criticism of church, it is just that we are in our own culture. There is something about being thrust into a new culture that is testing.

So, there is my challenge. Why not find out how well you know the Lord and take the opportunity to know the Lord better by venturing out? When I went to Soviet Russia, in about 1963, smuggling Bibles and Billy Graham books into communist Russia, at a very powerful point in their history, you quickly found out how well you knew the Lord, and you quickly grew in the amazing truth that He is with us.

God uses ordinary people - even if they mess up!

The fourth thing, and very important. God comes to Abraham, and He says, "Leave your country, I'm going to make you a great nation, I'm going to bless you, etc. etc." Yet the incredible reality is that Abraham is an ordinary guy.

Abraham’s mistake

The second half of Genesis 12, it says: "There was a terrible famine in the land, so Abraham went on to Egypt to live. As he was approaching the borders of Egypt, he asked Sarai - later Sarah, his wife - to tell everyone that she was his sister. 'You're very beautiful', he told her, 'And when the Egyptians see that, they will say 'This is his wife, let's kill him, and then we can have her.' If you say you're my sister, then the Egyptians will treat me well, because of you and spare my life.'"

What a coward! I mean, I hope we would not actually do that, if we are married. But here is this man of power for the hour, this man of destiny to the nations. The first thing he does after hearing God is lies his head off and acts like a coward. And you probably know what happened. The Lord sent a terrible plague against the Pharaoh’s house, so Pharaoh drove Abram out. He said: "What is this you've done to me? Why didn't you tell me she was your wife? Why were you willing to let me marry her, saying she was your sister? Here, take her, and be gone!" And the Pharaoh sent him out of the country under armed escort, Abraham and his wife, and all his possessions.

What a hugely embarrassing thing. I mean, here is Abraham getting dismissed from the country because he is a liar and a cheat. And one writer said: "They went to Egypt to find food, and also found trouble. Maybe God's knowledge that trouble really was to follow him, caused Him to ensure their return under armed guard and shame to the land of His promised Presence. It is encouraging to realize that unwise decisions do not automatically mean the end of a previously accepted calling."

God uses ordinary people

Ordinary people. It is so fantastic that! Let me read those sentences again. "It is encouraging to realize that unwise decisions do not automatically mean the end of a previously accepted calling." We make mistakes, we do stupid things, we sin, but God can restore and bring us again into His purposes, even under an armed Egyptian guard dismissing us from the country. Be encouraged, God uses ordinary people, fallible people. Peter - what more examples do we need? - and be encouraged also.

If at some point you have blown it, there is a way back through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Go back into God's calling on your life. I say that strongly. Return to God's calling on your life, because actually, that's where He destined you to be. And that's the only place of real prosperity and blessing for you.

Conclusion

Bless you then, I am just sharing with you a few thoughts from Genesis 12. There is a bottom line to it. There is a top line of blessing, there is a bottom line of God's heart for the nations. Get involved in that on a mission trip, praying, supporting those who go, or going on the school of missions or something long-term. May God help you, and bless you, and keep you. And like Abraham, keep us all, one way or the other, in His purposes.

“Lord, we commit ourselves to You. Have Your way in our lives, we pray. In Jesus' Name, amen.”

Thank you for reading and listening to Cross Cultural Mission Tips From Abraham's Experiences. 

Please leave a comment below if you have enjoyed this podcast and let us know what content you would like to see,

View More Podcasts

 

Read More
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!

Read More

Search

  • Ross' Posts

  • Christine's Posts

  • Stay Up to Date

    FieldPartner International | Online Courses for Cross Cultural Missionaries
    linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram