At Mustard Seed Christian Church, Sunday was a big day. With 89 people in the building that safely holds about 60, it was time to do something. The leaderaship team met today with hearts to dream about what could be and how to get into a space to grow. In a metro area with a population of 17 million people with less than 1% Christian something must to be done for all those who are facing a Christless eternity. Jay Greer, the lead pastor, laid out a plan. Step one: find a new larger temporary subway accessible location by February 28th. This would save the ministry a full month’s rent. The team dreamt of space that would allow the church to expand to over 1000 people but would be flexible enough to not feel like an empty cavern before it gets full. Sounds impossible? Not for a God who majors in the impossible.
With a lead on a facility closer to a major subway hub and pleanty of space to grow, Seth and Jay have found a great spot. There are options with this rental space that can be adapted for a growing congregation. Tomorrow a sound test will be done to make sure that the music would not disturb other renters. Please pray that the sound will not travel from one floor to the next. It is great to see God answer the prayers of a church who is on mission to reach lost people and grow disciples in the 10/40 window.
My first evening in Japan, Seth and I ate at McDonald’s. It tasted pretty good after many meals of rice and vegetables. I experienced a train ride and subway ride as I connected with Seth. One I arrived at their small three story house, Megan and Asher greeted me. It was fun.
This morning we traveled to the church building where Mustard Seed Christian Church meet. We arrived with the team preparing the building for worship and fellowship. The staff swept, set up chairs, completed video, and cleaned off scuff marks off the wall. The space is small but appears to be maximized. A Japanese chef is preparing a healthy meal for those who will be staying afterwards.
The spirit of the place is that “we are on a mission with God.” The team is on this adventure together.
With patience the lead pastor, Jay Greer, enlists the help of his son, Rowen, with various tasks.it was a gentle demonstration that we are in this as a family. The band practices under the leadership of Matt with his wife managing the artwork, sound, and pro-presenter.
Andy from the sister church started 5 years ago preached the message. He called those who are exploring Jesus to take the risk of following Jesus. We will never be able to enjoy the rewards of following Jesus without taking a risk.
Seth is an amazing young man who loves Jesus and so desperately wants the Japanese to come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and to see them grow up into Him. He gave his day to significant spiritual conversations. Megan also invested in connections with various people while keeping her eye and attention on 2 years old Asher and baby Pheobe.
88 people showed up today for the worship service. The building could hold only about 60 comfortably. Mustard Seed is looking for a new place to worship and do ministry. Please pray for God to supply a larger and affordable an accessible space.
From 2015-02-16 Grateful for the Day
Some days are just hard to sum up. Today is such a day. It began easliy enough with breakfast with a couple of my coworkers. We laughed and shared our cold meal that we have gotten use to as if it has simply become our normal routine.
We went to Lisu Christan Church (as it says on the sign) where Tom Moen began teaching hitting it out of the park with teachings on integrity and passing the baton of leadership to the next generation. After lunch, I taught a lesson on preparing a preaching calendar. I was going along with my North American assumptions on preaching, laying out a year of preaching, and showing how I did it for 2014. I then asked if there were any comments or questions. Timothy, one of the wise experienced pastors, asked how many times do you preach in a week? I said, “I preach the same sermon twice.” Then he asked, “How does this work if you have to prepare 5 sermons each week?” That just blew me away. His people gather to worship God and learn from His Word Thursday night, Saturday night, Sunday Morning, Sunday at noon, and Sunday evening. I asked, “Are these the same people?” He said, “Yes.” Amazing!
After the classes were completed and things were rapping up, I was invited into a conversation about coming back to teach Community Health Evangelism and a Leadership Conferences up to twice a year. Is this just a good idea or a God idea? I don’t know but I am searching for God’s will.
Before dinner an elderly pastor of 88 years old, the man who preaches 5 different sermons a week, and the new young college president shared their passion for reaching southeast Asia for Christ. Earlier today day, Simon shared with me about what it would take to start more churches.
We finished off the day with dinner in a small Myanmar diner and topped it off with some ice cream.
Grateful for the day!
One of the first converts from animism to Christianity among the Lisu
Today I preached in a thatch building to a room full of children, women, and men. The enthusiasm of worship was inspiring even though i did not know a word sung, yet I am sure Jesus was honored. The church was started by a man many years ago who was brought to Christ through the Morris family. The Pastor is 88 years old who appears frail until he prayed for his congregation.
He reminded his congregation that those of them over 50 years old that they are Christians because God sent foreigners to us.So, he always welcomes foreigners to come and share with them. And we were welcomed!
Christian fellowship crosses boundaries of age and culture. Children sang songs including Lisu hymns from memory. It was simply beautiful.
After lunch, we opened a medical clinic and served over 90 patients in about 3 and a half hours.
Thankful for the day!
Joel, 1st Generation Christ Follower from Putao
The man was aged through the years and the miles yet had joy. Life had not been easy for this first generation Christian. He had seen his tribe relocated out of China to the Hidden Valley. His life has past the autumn and had moved into the early days of winter. But, the Light of Jesus shined through his glossed over eyes from cataracts and his smile missing all but a few teeth. Joel wore the life of a man who had ran the race and only had a few miles left to the finish-line but he was finishing well.
Today, I taught lessons not from experience of miles traveled with Christ but like that I feel like a novice. I spoke of humility of where one thinks of herself with sober judgment (Romans 12:3) and consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3). I spoke of embracing the vision that God gives us for our lives to make disciples of all nations and fulfill our part where we are (Matthew 28:18-20). Finally, I shared about facing opposition within the church family (which I have had some experience) and facing oppression from outside the church family (which I have almost none). I seemed more like a consultant with 15 lessons and an airplane ticket to escape the reality of those who are running their race with endurance in the middle of trying days.
WhenI looked at this man and the elderly women of the Lisu tribe who embraced Christ and faced the struggles and cost of following our Lord, I knew I was sitting in the presence of champions who ran the race that was set before them because they fixed they eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-4). Soon they will receive the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls (1 Peter 1:9). May I learn to run with such grace and endurance.
2015-02-11 Yangon Pastors’ conference ended with a sense of “please return”. The pastors seemed to be very encouraged by Tom Moen and my teaching. Yesterday, Tom focused his attention I
On being men and women of integrity. Who are you when nobody is looking.
My sessions I taught about dealing with opposition. For most of Moses’ ministry his opposition came from grumbling people, untrusting friends, and rebellious leaders. My second session was about leading from the tent of meeting. The tent of meeting was where God and Moses spoke to one another face to face as friends. I finished up with a challenge from Philippians 3:4-14. We have no reason to put any confidence in the flesh. Our past achievements, failures, and recognitions are rubbish. Only one thing matters: to know Christ and the power of his resurrection sand fellowship ping in his suffering so that we might attain to the resurrection from the dead.
President Akin invited me to return to Myanmar to teach at the Emmaus Bible Institute. Yokin requested that I come to see what God is doing around the border areas of Myanmar, Thailand, Loas, and Cambodia, If I understood him right he serves with two churches of over 1000 people. In attendance. Maybe he should come to New Lenox to show me how it is done. Josiah and Simon also encouraged us to return next year.
Today, we are going to Mytinah. This is much ore remote area. I understand that there are 500 churches that are linked to the work of the Morse family. It is estimated that 1,000,0000 people from Southeast Asia are in heaven because this family decided to work WITH Jesus to bring people into Christ’s Kingdom.
One of the great things about traveling to places where we have supported missionaries is actually meeting them on the field. Yothin Yotkiri is one our missions that we support. He has been working in Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. He works with seven villages and preaches to a circuit of churches.
Yothin Yotkiri, myself, Yo, and Jamie
His daughter, Yo, runs an orphanage of 23 children between the ages of 7 and 18. She does this by herself. She is looking forward to getting married in April to Jamie who will join her in her mission.
God is at work around the world and where you are at. Just see where he is working and join Him in buildng his Kingdom.
Today, Tom Moen and I began the 2015 Pastors’ Conference in Yangon, Myanmar. There were 42 in attendance and a lot of enthusiasm it was great to see the leaders of the churches in Myanmar again. We were so encouraged to see them again. It was a great day in the Lord!
Every Christian has a past, and every sinner has a future!
Preaching in Yangon, Myanmar February 8, 2015
Hearing the Christians in Myanmar sing praises to our God gives you a glimpse of heavenly worship before the throne of God where tribes from every nation will lift up the name of Jesus. We sang in English as they sang in Burmese, “Holy, holy, holy is the the Lord God almighty!”
The worship was lead by Jay, a young man from the Lisu tribe. He lead with enthusiasm as another young man played the keyboard. We worshipped God together.
Later during the clinic Jay told me his story. He was raised in an spiritualist home. His family were animists where they worship demonic spirits. The gospel was shared with Jay and he became new creature in Christ. He went to Emmaus Bible Institute to learn English. While at EBI a music professor encouraged him to take piano lessons and learn music. In two short years he became an accomplished singer and pianist. After he graduated, he returned to his village where his family saw this “new creation in Christ.” They were so impressed by who God was making him to be and the life change that Jay demonstrated that his father, mother, brothers, and sisters have all accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Lives that God changes, change lives!
When you and I allow Jesus to change us from the inside out, we begin shine like stars in the universe and those that we love come to know the Christ that we love. Will you this day ask God to bring about the change that He desires for you so that God will use your changed life to change lives?