Friday, August 8, 2014

Does your heart break?

They warned us it would be hard. Coming back. Everyone says welcome home and wants to hear about my journey but there are some problems: 
1. I'm not home. This summer taught me more than ever that only heaven is my home... and until I am kneeling up there before my Jesus, surrounded by the nations worshiping Him in every tongue, my heart will be restless and my feet will keep wandering this wide earth to carry the gospel to those without hope. 
2. Words. Can't. Even. I try, genuinely try, to communicate all God did this summer and how He changed me, but words fall short. How can I put into the words the ache in my heart for the people we left and the burning in my soul for the nations to know Him and the jittery feeling of frustration as I observe the "Christian hipsters" of our generation complacently talking of world change while sitting over coffee doing nothing with this treasure of the gospel???

I don't mean to offend anyone but oh I just want the ones who call themselves followers of Christ to wake up to the need that is surrounding us!! I think I understand a tiny bit more of the heart of Jesus... Did you know that the entire Bible is full of scripture pointing to God's heart for the nations? From Genesis to Revelation 7:9 "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" (other references: Genesis 1:28, 9:1, 12:1-3, 26:4; Deuteronomy 4:4-6; Joshua 2:9-10; 1 Kings 4:34; Matthew 24:14, 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8, Romans 10:14-15... just to name a few)

Did you know that there are over 3.5 billion people who haven't heard the gospel??? The easy places have already been reached. The places that are left are the hard to reach (which is why they are still unreached) ...in the deep jungles and on the tops of mountains... the places without water and the places that flood... the places wrecked by the elements and considered "harsh" and unlivable"... the places filthy and disease-infested in the middle of cities and trash dumps where the people are "nobodies" and don't even speak the common language and they haven't heard because no one is taking the time to learn their language and love on them.... and oh if this isn't breaking your heart yet, do you remember where they are going? Those who have not heard the gospel and do not know what Jesus did for them on the cross are dying and going to hell because John 14:6 makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is the only way and their blood is crying up from the earth... "if only I had known the truth, if only someone had told me about Him, I knew there was something bigger than me that's why I worshiped idols because I thought maybe...." and Jesus is looking at His church and crying out... Do you not see? Can you not hear above the noise of your Christian music and comfortable culture the sound of people dying without ever knowing they can have a relationship with me??? 

-Amanda
2014 Rural Healthcare Team, Philippines 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

One week since Good-Bye!

It has been a week since I said goodbye to these precious people and the beautiful country I spent the summer serving. The Philippines and especially the village I lived in, Maguinda, will always have a very special place in my heart. Salamat sa Ginoo. Thanks be to God. Worthy is the Lamb.

-Maddison

Wide-eyed & Lovely

What a blessing it was to hold baby Trisha and play and rock her to sleep while my teammates shared with her mommy about Jesus' love. Trisha's mom was Muslim, but had never read a holy book, be it the Quran or Bible. 

As we began to read a book with her that was written for her and written in her own language, God began to change her heart. What joy to know this precious child will grow up knowing of her Father's love for her!

-Grace

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

2014 Quizzing Champs!


Winners of the 2014
debrief quizzing... way to go Filipino guys!

We never stand alone

8/4/2014
I have only been home for three days and I’ve had so much to reflect on lately. I had just returned from a two month long mission trip in the Philippines. Right now, I have been experiencing what some might call a “reverse-culture-shock.” After I had just become accustomed to living and loving a new culture that had seemed to feel like a second home, I soon found myself returning to what feels almost like another universe. Soon, I found that I had new eyes to see things about my own culture before I had seemed to be so oblivious to. 


When I was in the Philippines, I left my comfort zone to adjust to a culture whose social some in my own culture may consider strange or backwards. But the reality might be that my own culture is the one living backwards. 

In the Philippines I was living in a culture where everything is more event oriented rather than time oriented. You could walk up to any house and people would just invite you in or to come and eat with them if they were having dinner. When I would walk down the road with my new Filipino friends, they would often grab your arms or almost lean against me as we would walk and talk. People were always close to their friends, family, and even their neighbors. 

In Filipino culture, among your group, often times you will find that “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine.” One friend told me that in another “warm-culture” country he himself visited, that it was rude to call someone and say you were coming over—you were just supposed to come over. Now, I was in the province area of the Philippines so I couldn’t tell you much about the city there, which almost seems like a different culture, but what I did experience in the city was not real pleasant. There, I saw so many in need, but they were more than often ignored. The province had its problems too. Many families I met had a parent or parents who worked in the cities and would only see their children in the province a few times a year. 

When I was making my return home to the U.S. was when I really started to see the monster of isolation that plagues our culture and is steadily moving into other parts of our world. On my flight home, I sat near a traveling American woman who was shying away a small booklet she was reading entitled “How to Make Friends.” At home now I am missing all the everyday community I had grown accustomed to. 

I recently attended a new church plant in my town that is eager to see true gospel community in our area. The pastor, at the end of our gathering, talk about something they like to do called “community group.” Community group is where believers share life together, pray together, share meals together, and simply fellowship together as Christ’s family. Some people in our area may find this strange, but it’s nothing new to the church. Such gatherings are seen in the early church in Acts chapter 2. Such community in the church reflects who God is. 

God is not some lonely being but is triune and has community in himself with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To be the church in our culture who show the world who God is means being counter-cultural and being uncomfortable. It means not being isolated and putting the needs and interests of others above ourselves. This is not easy and we need grace for this. We need to be reminded that in the Gospel that God reconciled a people for himself to live in community with himself and one another. Sin and death still plague our world, but as Christians, we are messengers that hold is coming to an end and that the battle has already been won before it has even ended. 

Personally, I now know how a foreigner may feel coming from such a warm culture to one so isolated as ours. And that can open so many doors to show hospitality that they may miss or even to our own nationals who may have never experienced it. A community that does not simply have community to get something from someone else but community that gives selflessly for the needs and interests of others like Jesus Christ has done for undeserving people like me. The church has the privilege to be the light of Christ to the lost, lonely, dying and dark world around us—and we never stand alone.

-Caleb F.