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Bright Lights — How Foreign Missions Has Affected My Mission At Home

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By: Dustin Walker

After traveling to South Asia recently for the fourth time, I’ve come to accept and expect some things:

  1. Airplane meals are just glorified microwaveable meals… and I eat them regardless.
  2. Long flights make my feet swell.
  3. Seeing the gospel at work in another culture always affects my perspective at home.

Don’t worry I’m not going to spend time unpacking the first two things. They pretty much speak for themselves.

How have these things affected my perspective here at home? In the past, our short-term trips to South Asia, Peru, and Portland have shaped and influenced my understanding of cross-cultural ministry, social justice, and especially the area of discipleship.

For example, our journey toward starting D Groups started out of reflections from our initial trips to South Asia and understanding what 2 Timothy 2:2 means for our context.

[BTW, if you’d like to better understand the context of this latest trip and our partnership in South Asia in general then I’d encourage you to read this month’s mission newsletter. Sign up today so you can receive a monthly update and stay prayerfully engaged with what is happening in our mission partnerships.]

So what have I learned from this last trip that might apply to us here in Murfreesboro? I think it is best summarized this quote from missionary CT Studd: “The light that shines farthest shines brightest nearest home.”

And here’s what that should mean to you and me. As we see how the gospel is working through our church to reach the nations we should desire an even greater gospel work here in our own community.

Perhaps we should follow our July Fighter Verse (1 Cor. 11:1) and follow the example of our brothers and sisters in South Asia as they obediently take the gospel to hard places around them. Men and women have committed themselves to share about Jesus and inviting them to respond by following him. And people have!! God is so faithful to his word. He will build his church (Matthew 16:18)!

Here are ways that we can imitate our brothers and sisters in South Asia and become a brighter light here at home.

Pray and Prepare

City Church will you begin to pray and prepare to see where God has placed you to share the gospel? Your family, neighborhood, work environment, and a network of relationships are your field. Will you begin to pray that God would go before you as you commit to sharing the good news about Jesus to the people in your path?

Share the Gospel

The next step involves actually sharing the gospel, not just thinking about, praying about, or hoping to share the gospel. What I’m talking about is actually inviting people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ with your words. You can share your story as well as Christ’s story. We even have a resource for you to learn more about how to do that. But these are ways not just to share facts but to invite people to follow Jesus.

Disciple

Discipleship involves a lot of things. Once people have responded to the gospel and followed Christ, we must help them to grow in their faith. This comes from reading scripture and prayer. It involves confession and repentance while remembering the gospel. It also consists of walking through suffering. Following Jesus means learning and imitating Christ in every area of our lives. And we do this together with the help of one another.

Gather Together and Form Healthy Churches

Healthy evangelism and discipleship also attach themselves to God’s people, the church. And as Christians, the church becomes our spiritual family. The church, though made up of imperfect sinners redeemed by God’s grace, is God’s “Plan A” for declaring his glory to the world (Eph. 3:10). And we must commit ourselves not just to a person (to Jesus) but also to a people (the church) to healthily grow in faith.

Send Out Men and Women to Continue This Gospel Task

Until Christ returns, we must seek to finish the task of repeating this process over and over in the joy and power of God’s Spirit. What a privilege! What an opportunity! Perhaps you go to another neighbor, classmate, city, or even country. But the task is not complete until Jesus returns.

I can tell you that we are seeing the light of the gospel shining far through our City Church mission partnerships. Here’s my question to you: Will you be a person from City Church to make the gospel shine brightly here in Murfreesboro?

   
           
   
Posted by Dustin Walker with
in Race

Potholes On The Road To Racial Reconciliation

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By: Elisha Lawrence

Acts 14:22 — It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.


Paul told this to the believers in the towns where he just planted churches. These are the towns that Paul and Barnabas were run out of by jealous and angry Jews. In one of those towns, Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city but somehow lived through it.


Who wants to sign up to be a Christian?


Paul and Barnabas kept on going to place after place even though they met with opposition everywhere they went. The only reason they would do this is that Jesus is worth it.

Following the Lord will mean opposition. You might not get stoned by anyone and dragged out of a city, but hardships and misunderstandings are inevitable.

When I think about what’s happening in our world and the Church, I wonder what this means for us.

Where would we meet opposition?

Where is it that we’ll run into hatred and jealousy?


It’s interesting to note who was the source of the hostility toward the Christians. It was the Jews.

Jews were persecuting Jews. Jews were driving out and trying to kill other Jews. It didn’t start with the pagan Romans, although that would come later. It started with their own religious countrymen.


Now I’m not sure where opposition for City Church will come from. Indeed, the culture around us seems to be growing more intolerant of Christianity. There is a general disdain for the exclusivist truth claims of Christians and some want to silence Christian rhetoric altogether.


That’s a real danger.

But a conversation I had a few weeks ago alerted me to a possible source of suffering that I would not have anticipated.


I was sitting with a group of college students in Nashville at Watson Grove Baptist Church with their wonderful Senior Pastor John Faison. Pastor Faison welcomed us in for a few hours to discuss the roots of racism in America, particularly in Nashville. Pastor Faison is an intelligent, informed, and bold man. I feel privileged to have met him and learned from him. He's a Black pastor in a predominantly African American church. And he said something I hadn’t anticipated hearing. I’ll paraphrase here:


“If you are going to truly stand for justice, you may lose friends. You may get ostracized, but work with the Spirit regardless of where it leads.”


Pastor Faison wasn’t just speaking from historical study, he was speaking from personal experience. And he was echoing the words that Paul said to those young Christians in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch.


Acts 14:22 — It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

The kingdom that God wants to bring on earth is often opposed. What's surprising, however, is that is that it is often opposed from within.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The greatest tragedy in life is not the deeds of evil men; the greatest tragedy is the silence of good ones!”


He is celebrated now as a Civil Rights hero, but in his day, he was greatly opposed by many Christians. We’d do well to expect a similar reception at points if we’re honestly going to move towards the type of diversity that the gospel encourages us to.


What my brother Pastor Faison was saying is that real diversity requires sacrifices that most people are not willing to make.


We may read that Christ came to die for people of “every tribe, tongue, and nation.” But are we willing to attend a school where our children might be the minority?


We may say amen to the “breaking down of the dividing wall of hostility” between different races, but are we willing to live in a neighborhood where we are a minority?


We may say we want diversity, but are we willing to listen to minorities to hear their experiences of injustice without lashing out in defensiveness or labeling it as political speech?


These are not easy questions for us. They aren’t easy questions for me. Yet they are necessary questions we need to be asking.

I am a white male. I don’t know the experience of a black male or a Hispanic female. Racism and racialization are massive issues in our country. I wouldn’t have said that just three years ago. At that point, all I noticed was the segregation on Sunday mornings. I thought having a diverse church service would solve the problem.


But the more I talk with minority brothers and sisters in Christ, the more I read about the history of our nation, the more I am painfully aware how short-sighted and ill-informed I was before the last three years.


City Church, I exhort you to learn, read, and be humble enough to admit where you have been wrong. To get where I believe God wants us to go with diversity and racial justice is going to take endurance, trust, and love for one another. It’s not going to be easy. We may even lose some friendships or be characterized as troublemakers.

Remember this:
Acts 14:22 — It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.


Reading Suggestions
Divided by Faith: Christian Smith, Michael Emerson
The Color of Law: Richard Rothstein
Removing the Stain of Racism from the SBC: Kevin Jones

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