Sunday, September 21, 2014

Launch of World Unreached People Day (UPG) and Northwest Christian Research Center because Holy Spirit said GO!

Last night I spent several hours in prayer and finished with a strong gut instinct that it is time to GO, to do what God has called us to do! I kept waiting till my painful syndrome would improve, but the Holy Spirit clearly said,"You will be waiting until I return",this physical challenge teaches and reminds me that he said to Paul, a great missionary with chronic illness "my grace is sufficient for you as my power is best demonstrated in your weakness"!

So here goes, here's what Jodi and I, and a team that Jesus is assembling will attempt:

 The Northwest Christian Research Center is a Center for Professional Excellence in World Missions. We seek to serve bright, young career missionaries who are called to go to Unreached People Groups (UPG's), providing resources, cross-mentoring (learning from each other) and encouragement in every possible form.

 Our simple mission is to:

  Inform - By serving the Body of Christ in raising a clear and focused awareness of the unmet needs of Unreached People.

 INFLUENCE - Individuals, Families, Small Groups and Churches all together building a cradle-to-grave path of commitment to the least-reached in our world.

CHALLENGE -Christian people to a lifelong passion and commitment of influence, expertise and giving for those in unreached groups who need to hear Jesus.

 Our team is also committed to several projects and events to accomplish our mission:

 World UPG Day - On the Sunday closest to 9-21 (today is Nicole's b-day)!!) each year we will challenge churches and believers to emphasize the mission of Jesus to pray, give and go, specifically to those people groups who have not yet heard the Good News.

 A Million Give A Million - We will work every day leading up to World UPG Day to recruit 1 million believers who will commit simply to pray for a specific group each day, give at least $1 a day (the family budget of many unreached people) for this day and more if God leads, to reach a crowdsourcing budget of at least $1 million per year, to help send committed and trained career missionaries to UPG's, and be open to God to take part in finishing the task. PRAY-GIVE-GO!

@CHURCHTWEET-One of the first attempts at providing an online 'church' gathering on a social media platform. CHURCHTWEET will be a missions-focused church, with all of it's offerings used to send young missionaries to UPG's.

 Research Resources - Each week a blog post will highlight important events that effect finishing the task, each day several links will be published using social media, a 'Missionary Drudge Report' (same format as Drudge but currently the 'Missionary Fudge Report'!) will be available to team members with 100 current links to news and other information.

 Finally, our team is prepared to do deep research, such as Cultural Analysis in the Context of Current Events and History to help prepare the young missionaries that we serve.

I hope you can see that we have one focus: Love Jesus so that we can love and serve young missionaries who commit to a specific Unreached People Group, with financial, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual resources to not only help send them, but walking alongside to help them survive many terms.

Here we GO!

Monday, September 15, 2014

What (specifically) do we hope to do?

I have been working on this question for a long time! Because we talked and brainstormed and wrote stuff down. I went to our universities to talk to missionary majors and look together at how we might help them. Then I became overwhelmed at the challenge. Things have changed in missions.

But if we just do our best, and trust the Holy Spirit, we can see the 'lightbulb' pop on, when we are able to pass along something real and important to our young friends. What do I wish they would have told me before I went? Who treated me with such respect that it galvanized my call, just when my call was barely making it! I still remember those things so clearly.

Once a missionary focuses on a specific people, area, and country, by calling or assignment, they want to soak up all they can about those places. Meet the people here at home who have come from where they are going to minister. We went to Vietnamese Christian conferences, and worshipped in our broken Vietnamese.

Those who are scholars dig into what has been written, what has happened if previous movements had sent missionaries into the area of their call. Who were the heroes and who were defeated and why.

So we want to encourage and empower young candidates for the unreached field, along with all who are interested in general. Pastors to homemakers but they want to know how to do more and pray better.

Specifically (to start):

1. Sending 1 to 3 links daily, which lead folks to important and useful news, resource, and background.

2. Send a weekly 500 word blog post highlighting where we are and what we are doing.

3. Maintain a 'Missionary Drudge Report', basically using very similar format and structure, black and white, with three columns of headlines which link to current stories. Filled with great and interesting links to deeply found (not everyday news, but stuff specifically for people interested in 'finishing the task'.)

Next week I'll share a bit more details on how we hope to support our dear friend and colleague as he trains teams aimed at large unreached groups (500,000 +) in Asia.

I'm excited. Jesus is coming soon!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to My Calling

16 months ago I resigned the pastorate at my home church. After preaching nearly every week, every Sunday (at least, often 3-5 times in a single week!) since 1988, I needed some time to rest. 25 years of talking where scheduled, to those who came to listen. I have spoken the gospel at nearly 500 unique venues, in 37 states, and 28 different countries.

It all started as my little family moved to Kitsap County to escape California, where sex and drugs and rock'n'roll were truly what our lives had been about, until we met Jesus. Took us a while to find a church. But once we felt God direct us, we stay until he directs us differently. 30 years now, 15 years an associate and lead pastor, plus the ten years that our fellowship sent us as missionaries.

That last pulpit I had responsibility for, and privilege to serve, was in the only Protestant church I was ever a member at, since I became a Christian in 1980, Hillcrest. After preaching in several different places each week as a missionary I was called to the same pulpit for ten years. That felt very biblical to us. I was a pastor again! Yet, somehow in the middle of all that, which I still don't understand, things got more difficult than I ever expected.

I had three strokes in nine years, the first under the stress of living in Vietnam, growing the underground church that I still love. The third while leading a staff meeting at Hillcrest. Then brain surgery to try and fix the 'leak' in my brain. A fourth, and most debilitating stroke occurred in the process of the surgery. Somehow that stroke got 'missed' in the hospital, and for nine months things got worse instead of better, till a caring doctor helped me understand what happened.

I have been struck, with the most horrible pain, over the entire right side of my body. When this nerve issue was discovered after the Civil War it was considered the most hideous that doctors had seen, with a huge rate of suicide. A small 2"x 2" lesion, in just the wrong spot on my brain, torments me night and day. It is impossible to adequately describe.

But here goes:

The pain? Imagine you got sunburned real red on the entire right side of your body. Draw a line down the center from the top of your head to your right foot and toes. Then someone mistakenly rubs you with Ben -Gay instead of sunburn treatment so it sinks in, over that entire area. Then that evil person rubs the bottom of your feet with sandpaper, nails, glass, he let's ants fill up and bite really hard, easier as you go up the leg, but still bad.

Sometimes it feels as if someone with big scratchy finger-claws has grabbed a hold of my chest on the right side and has a firm grip. Can't breathe or sleep.  I also have an area on my right ribs that feel like (again depending on weather or  stress or  fatigue) somebody punched or kicked me right there, BAM. And, a bad headache most of the time along with the burning, yeehaw!

I had a broken collarbone twice playing football. I was a linebacker! Each time it ached and I had to wear a strap that pulled my shoulders back, for 10 terrible weeks. I wanted to play football. I was impatient, that's why it broke twice! I am still impatient, so try to imagine whatever broken bone you have had, that deep aching pain, for three years without stopping! Being kicked, with a jackboot, every morning, from now, until Jesus sets me free. With painful burns, fresh, over 50% of your body. How would you respond?

I have responded by resting, trying to control the pain, and resolving my anger with God, myself, and the world in general. I have gone back to the basics: Do I still believe in God? Why? Has He called me? Why? Can I still preach? Maybe a few times a month.....we'll see. Until then, I can write. We do have an internet thingy...

Now my wife and partner Jodi are missionaries again. What we desire to do, more than anything is to encourage young missionaries. We meet with them, encourage them, and we hope to raise funds for them. Hillcrest is our base, and we will go from here to wherever he sends us. I will be sending one little note a week, via this blog. If you or your church would like to hear my theory about why and how God allows pain, we'll come and talk. Or, if we can preach on 'completing the task', our mission, we will.

We cannot let the pains of this world stop us!