Out of the 64 different tribes in South Sudan, we have minister to 16. One, the Dinka, have an expression to acknowledge the hearer understands completely,
The word is : Ah CHA PING! - ( it is said with great enthusiasm). Recently, Larry Hunt, the youth minister of Cornerstone Church in Chatham Virginia posted a group on facebook entitled : AHA!
(a reference to express satisfaction, of Gods truth or surprise.)
Reading Larry's post made me think... Did I have a "Aha! moment" in God's word? Have I received a new perspective ?
Ah Cha Ping! I had!
Yesterday, my family met with Moberly Church of Christ, in Moberly Missouri. The group of Christian's gather in one of the instruction halls of Central Christian College of the Bible where my son and daughter attend. The church observes the same practices as the early church in the New Testament (Acts 2:42). One of the patterns of the New Testament church was the weekly participation of The Lords Supper. Usually a church family is led to reflect on the history of the observation by the reading 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul shared the particulars of the last supper and the command of Jesus to " do this in remembrance of " Him when we gather.
As we waited for the bread and cup to be passed, one of the men read a passage out of Matthew 27. Jesus was before Pilate as Pilate asked the crowd " What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ? - they crowd answered " Crucify him!" ... .
I continued reading in silence.....
And Pilate said, “Why, what evil has He done?” .....But they kept shouting all the more, saying, Crucify Him!” When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!”....
Ah Cha Ping! I said in my heart!
What was it that hit me so hard?
The prior week I was on campus to speak in Chapel, and share instruction in a few classes ( Hermeneutics and Through the Bible). In the classes I had shared Mercy Partners approach to sharing the Good News of Jesus by reminding the South Sudanese of their spiritual heritage found in the Bible. We can understand God's promise when we view ourselves through the lens of history. For the Sudanese the land is historically Kush, .. which makes them Kushite. I go on to teach the history of God's agreement with the Children of Abraham and roll out the promise of God's grace in the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ ending with discussion of covenants closing with Acts 2:38ff . The Jews were cut in the heart and asked " What must we do to be saved?" and Peter answered Repent and be Baptized, everyone of you, for the forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. ....... then he goes on to say.... this promise is for you... for your children ...... and for those that are "far off! " I share the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham to bless all nations, in particular "far off ".... to a Jew... would be Africa! -
Now contrast “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” in Matthew 27, with " this promise is for you and for your children" in Acts 2 ... Get it? Ah Cha Ping!
Peter, the very same disciple that denied Jesus three times, the same Peter that Jesus said" I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." The very disciple that experienced the full impact of grace is NOW dumping out heaps of understanding about grace with the same language that was used for contempt .
In other words.. emotional Pete's plea is :
You who Crucified Christ, who asked for His blood to be on you and your children, will certainly have the His BLOOD on YOU ! - But not the way you think, the same blood that condemns you of the JUDGEMENT OF MURDER , now liberates you by the GRACE OF HIS SACRIFICE ! "
Peter shoves God's compassion down the throats of the believers on the occasion when the promise of the forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit takes place ... at Baptism. -
and all the people say... "Ah Cha Ping! " as we come to a deeper understanding of His marvelous mercy.
Have questions about "When are we Saved?" click to visit the Mercy Partners Bookstore for the single sheet lesson for individuals or groups.
How Are We Doing with Missions?
November 15th, 2014 Christian Standard published an article entitled “How Are We Doing with Missions?” The publication asked five missions leaders in the Christian churches to answer several key questions about missions progress, obstacles, and opportunities.
Although not in the forum of mission leaders that were surveyed, Below you will find the questioned posed by Christian Standard and responses from Tom Kilian , the founder/ director of Mercy Partners, North Carolina that operates in South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda.
What are the most hopeful signs regarding international, cross-cultural evangelism you see in our movement today?
Tom Kilian : The fact that the United States is in a post Christian era has stretched our concept of missions. While cultures are rapidly homogenizing we are becoming aware that all Christians shoulder the responsibility to make disciples.This awareness brings hope of interdependent efforts to spread the gospel.
What problems, practices, or attitudes are the biggest barriers to missions breakthroughs?
Tom Kilian : Sustainability is great in concept, however, few missionaries and ministers can duplicate their life among the people they instruct. Paul’s occupational model of tent making provided an opportunity to assimilate with the people he had empowered while truly sustaining his life. Attitudes on engaging in empowering nationals needs an overhaul to the equality that we see in 2 Corinthians 8.
Do you still subscribe to an emphasis on concentrating missions work in the “10/40 Window.” Why or why not? Why has this idea become controversial?
Tom Kilian : No. never had emphasized the 10/40 window. Most of our work has been in an area designated as “Greater Middle East” by the State Department, yet, we had not educated anyone on that fact. Perhaps designations become controversial when they are used as a litmus test to fund missions.
How has the emphasis on “unreached people groups” advanced the cause of the gospel or confused our agenda for missions?
Tom Kilian : My response may seem blunt but I believe we have confused the agenda when we use a GPS to plant seeds. Our agenda should be the agenda given us to make disciples, not groups or calculate the harvest. The “unreached” we should reach are before us, wherever God leads. By making disciples, God will establish His kingdom.
Where are the greatest opportunities for evangelism and/or church planting in the world today? How are missionaries in our movement seizing these opportunities? What opportunities are we missing?
Tom Kilian : Suffering and persecution brings Kingdom growth. Emerging countries in turmoil that need social structure pose great opportunity for evangelism. The gospel brings unity and people in strife identify their need for unity.
We have seized the opportunity to present common language learning among 16 different displaced tribes that meet on Gods word as a foundation for communicating to one another.
Other opportunities are present among near cultures that have been evangelized ( and colonized ) for decades. Post-colonized countries need the simplistic and authentic teaching of New Testament Christianity to dispel confusion. Uganda abounds with opportunity.
How is missions support from Western Christians changing, and how has this affected missionaries’ work?
Tom Kilian : Western Christians are requiring more accountability for support. Large organizations with less personal contact may soon be waining as new church plants in the west perceive themselves as a better incubator for foreign engagement. Servants on the field will need to adapt to strategic partnerships and master communication in exchange for the dignity that was once a given.
What one question about missions would you like to ask the North American church?
Tom Kilian : • How does the North American church view their relationship with missionaries?
•Do you see missions as an extension of your ministry to engage globally or as a expense that is paid out to fulfill the great commission?
•Do you seek equal “ bang for buck” effect on domestic spending as you do world missions?
for the original article and responses : http://christianstandard.com/2014/11/how-are-we-doing-with-missions/
for information on Tom Kilian : http://www.mercy-partners.org
to respond to Tom with comments are questions : firstname.lastname@example.org
This past week we attended the services of St Francis United Methodist Church in Cary NC. Pastor Leonard Fairley presented a most excellent message about the morning of the resurrection like none other I had heard. One of the songs we sang was penned by Charles Wesley in 1739 “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.
There are 6 stanzas, Stanzas 1-3 illuminate what God had accomplished during the resurrection and 5 & 6 speak of our praise because of the victory.
The fourth stanza is different because it speaks of our identity with Christ.
Soar we now where Christ has led,
Following our exalted Head,
Made like him like him we rise,
Ours the cross the grave the skies”
It got me thinking, what was on the mind of Charles to write, “Made like him like him we rise,”
When was it that we were Made like Christ?
Perhaps Wesley had Romans 6:4,5 in mind:
“Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in death like this, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
In particular, I like the word “certainly” since it affirmatively states our position with Christ in heaven, however the word “if” seems pretty dicey since it is conditional.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome, he stressed that “We may live a new life if we have been united with him in death.”
So the BIG question remains, when have we been united with Jesus in death? ( Admittedly, I left the first part of verse 4 for the dessert of this scripture portion! )
6:4 reads We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Many of our partners are astounded when we present our work and show footage of baptisms, -
" You do it like they did back in the Bible" - many respond.
- Well yes, Simply, there are many counterfeit religions that offer alternatives to identify with the death of Christ, none of which have basis of biblical authority. It is clear our identity with Christ is realized when we are clothed with Him at Baptism, through faith ( Galatians 3: 27). Baptism is to be immersed in water, much water, lowered in, just like death. It is that day, that we are made anew, and we can ascribe a " date of manufacture" as being lifted with Christ!
Picture : Cross of flowers composed of flowers picked from local gardens brought by worshipers.
Yesterday I had traveled to the city without printing my free fish sandwich coupon. You know the kind of offer that you get in your email that you always want to use but forget to print it. Yea, that one. I was not going to let this fish get away. I entered Officemax, asked for their email address and sent it for them to print. The clerk pointed across the building " The lady over there will print it for you sir" My print lady was engaged in a deep discussion with a contractor who was selecting his new billing invoice like a bride choosing stationary. I had waited for what seemed to be an eternity, thinking that God was painfully kneading patience into my life, when entered Dr. Jim Bridges. Jim had taught at the local community college in 1994 when I crossed enrolled to finish out my diploma requirements. Although I never sat in his class, we had had discussions when he held seminars entitled " the Holy Bible or a Bible full of Holes?". A year back our paths crossed at a local church where we sang hymns together and he eloquently read poems about our Creator and eternity, and now, at the end of my "eternal Officemax" wait, we met again and spoke of life. He handed me one of his latest writings entitled "The People Perish" - Although it is a humors reflection on William Lutz's book entitled "Doublespeak" - it also raised some serious questions about our true intent and it evoke a sense of divine purpose to share a few words about vision, planning and aiming at a target.
Lately I have been thinking that as we live life, we cut open and create that riverbed into which the stream of our descendants will enter and flow. We are setting a pattern for others, so it is good that we have a plan. Goals are good, and godly. They help us to achieve what normally would be washed over by the day to day tide of living.
Just like physical goals, it would be a shame to overlook spiritual goals. These can be things you wish to do on a daily basis to further your spiritual growth or things you hope to do in a certain time frame. IE : Meeting with God for prayer, praying for others, a particular study focused on an area of life that you were always curious about but always shy away from.
or perhaps you would like to study the free downloadable Personal Spiritual Life that Dr Robert Reese and I have created. The more specific your goals, the better. Making specific goals creates a mental space that allows us to avoid distraction.
Give your task a end date so that you strive to accomplish your goal within the allotted time just like you would physical goals of stacking the woodpile up, completing the room re-arrangement, cleaning off the desk or learning a new skill.
Life long missionary to Ghana, West Africa, Jeff Hostetter, recently shared -
" Goals make us accountable and signify that we really want to change. The path to perdition is paved with good intentions!"
I believe if we desire to see Gods strong hand, we will begin to envision our lives being the answer to the worlds problems and start to cast a vision like a pole vaulter who throws his heart over the bar so his body follows. Our whole being will follow our heart so we must develop a love for the things that God loves and nurture our desire so he will reward the direction of our ambition. Many times while we are waiting on answers, God is waiting on us to have vision so there is something to bless!
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. - John 14:12
When sending out year-end reports I had enveloped a report to my "home" congregation and wrote "Timothy Report" in bold black letters to report our accountability. I also had a secret hope that they would response accordingly and would provide monthly support.
about my home church ...
I entered the door of my home church in 1991 in the middle of a life crisis. The girl I was engaged to... the one who said " I love you" ... threw the ring across the room and ended the engagement. One evening I was going to end it all when I remembered the simple truth in the childhood song "Jesus Loves Me" ... was it true? I needed to know as I cried out the name JESUS.. my sorrow turned to Joy!... It was about time I learned about the power of that name... but where? I chose the church that had "Christian" as part of their name because that was the name I wanted to wear. I found the church devoted to rightly dividing the word of God, a loving congregation that had a book, chapter and verse indexed for just about everything. It was because of their solid teaching I was convicted to give my life fully to Christ and ministry. I was baptized by a young preacher who had poured his time and energy into each message. Having many questions, the church family worked in concert to make sure I was off to Bible college. One couple had purchased my sailboat, others donated, and still others assembled "care"packages to make sure I had all the college necessities. - I am so glad they did!
Because my home church is located in a transient community, few of the original remain. Two years back I had invited myself into one of their services to share what I thought, would be an informative and riveting update on our work in the Sudan. I had imagined that their encouragement from such a report would cause the elders to meet with the ambition to "get on board" with the great work our Lord was doing through the Mission. - oh, how misplaced were my expectations. My family and I left that afternoon thinking that my "home" church missed the point when, in actuality, I had missed the point. In reality, None of the church knew us, nor did they"sent" us. Truth be told, I am no more their "Timothy" as " Timothy" himself was to the church at Lystra.
About the term Timothy -
To understand what a "Timothy" is, you need to understand who Timothy was.......
Timothy was raised and taught the Good News by his mother and grandmother and had a greek dad ( probably a pagan). Paired up with Paul, Timothy was gifted and well-qualified as Paul's representative. Paul describes him as "brother...minister...fellow-worker." In sending young Timothy, Paul had strengthen and encourage church members. Timothy was God's fellow-worker. Timothy's task was for the purpose of encouraging and supporting the Christian's so that when the heat was turned up, they would not backslide.
Paul even calls Timothy his "Own son in the faith". The relationship between Paul and Timothy was so close that even a stomach ailment that Timothy had suffered was known about by Paul. Paul gave him counsel. They wrote back and forth and Paul acted like a father to a son as he told Timothy "I command you to stay there in Ephesus" ( 1 Tim 1 ).
In "Churchdom" it is understood that a "Timothy" is a disciple of a particular congregation, however, it was not a congregation that sent Timothy. It is also understood that a "Timothy" lays a foundation for Church work, Ironically, Timothy is a perfect example of a missionary to a reached culture. He went to Corinth, which already had a body of believers that was self-sustaining and reaching out, and he helped them grow. Furthermore, Galatians 6:6 does not instructed a report to a sending Church but to a sending individual.
"Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches."
Understand that I am not advocating disbanding fellowship between the local church and missionaries that spring from their fellowship, however, I encourage missionaries like myself to get a grip on who you are by understanding 1) Churches do not have a mandate to send "Timothy's" 2) We should not expect our home congregations to support the work we are called to. ( although it would be nice) 3) We do have an example to report to our personal "Paul's" and keep them informed of the Lords blessing of all the good things that are happening in the kingdom. ( that would be true for all ministers!).
As individual Christians, We all have a mandate to send others and to support Kingdom work. Like Paul, we will reap the benefit in our older years. In 1Thessalonians 3 Timothy reported to Paul concerning the Churches Paul planted. He told about their love and steadfastness despite tremendous opposition. Timothy's report was not for the benefit of a sending church, but for the benefit of Paul. Paul identified with the suffering and faith of his beloved brothers and sisters and wrote them immediately. in Verse 8 Paul wrote what any sold out Christian could identify with. "For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord."
Want to really LIVE? - Be a Paul - Invest in a Timothy today!
"the martyrs were never vague about their intention."
I was recently reminded about security rules in which mission organizations provide their trainees when they go out into the mission field. Not knowing the inside operations, I can only share an outside observation and personal insight on what has worked for Mercy Partners.
While providing vague and general locations of operation and purpose may seem reasonable from an institutional perspective, I can't help but feel that there is a spiritual compromise to our outward witness.
I know of one missionary that has been on the mission field and trains converts not to speak of their conversion for fear that they may be killed. Such teaching flies in the face of Christ teaching in 1 John 3 where he said "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." We meet other well seasoned workers at mission conventions that openly tout their success with potential supporters and talk about their "secret churches" yet deny other Christians and Missionaries access to fellowship "in country" due to " Security" - ( perhaps security of their unaccountability) .
Early on, Mercy Partners has placed transparency over security. We share our efforts, area of work, disappointments, struggles as well as our victories. Mission organizations, fellow missionaries, churches, and governments know our intention.
From the time we enter the country we share our ambition of Loving people into a relationship with Christ. This has had a powerful effect - can it cost a life? well I suppose so, but the martyrs were never vague about their intention. consider the following account published in Horizons:
"From relentless pressure sprang leaders, many of whom I was now surrounded by. Some seemingly bullet proof others sensitive and crushed. I had been living on the SPLA compound (Sudanese People’s Liberation Army) for seven days at the invitation of a governmental advisor who I met the week before in the neighboring country of Uganda Where I share Christ openly. My only Sudanese contact was an interpreter who fearfully abandoned the mission. It was obvious that Our Lord had provided special protection for me and I was there to provide hope to the SPLA as the clamor of war increased. One of the officers on the compound had turned to alcohol to dull the effects of war. He commanded “ Pray to the one who OWN’s YOU on behalf of our country I obeyed his command and prayed in the name of Jesus Christ. The seventh morning, the drunk officer I had prayed with the night before arrived at the compound gate still intoxicated, demanding entry to meet with me. Leaving his transport, he walked majestically to where I was seated, placed a young man before me and commanded "Meet your fellow angel!" - " You angels, You do your business, ..Me... I'm am a devil, I will do my business over here!" he sat from a distance and dug in for another swig of whiskey."
Would a divine appointment be sacrificed for security if our officer friend had not known my intention?
Over and over, preachers, professors and mission organizations publicly urge us to take a stand for Christ! - He gave His Life that we may Live for Him! - Yet, privately hung up on longevity, insurance, security and health while sacrificing the witnessing hope of a God that believed in us so much that he willfully and publicly gave his son.
Recently Ted TV had hosted Architect Michael Pawlyn who presented a lecture on "Using natures genius in Architecture" Michael explains If we could learn to make things and do things the way nature does, we could achieve factor 10, factor 100, maybe even factor 1,000 savings in resource and energy use. Michael has used the patterns found in giant amazon water lilies to inspire roof design, constructed buildings from abalone shells and super light weight bridges from observing plant cells. He states that there is a whole world of beauty and efficiency waiting to be explored. One of the ideas that Michael had gleamed from observing nature is the idea of linear and closed loop systems. Linear systems use up resources and produce waste, whereas, a closed loop system feeds off itself. He is currently using waste from a restaurant to feed fish at a fish farm which supplies the restaurant with fish! In distilling the information that Michael provides, Mercy Partners has been challenged to introduce closed system approach to our projects in the Sudan. Closed systems could be as simple as utilizing the waste water off village hand pumps to irrigate " kitchen gardens" that supplies food. Or it could mean utilizing common waste such as ashes to compose human waste. If waste from one organism becomes a nutrient for another, we can take the idea of eco-renewal and apply it the mission, the church and the community that we serve to take steps towards self sufficIency.
ROMANS 1:19 - "Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made".
__Unbeknown Donor Thanked! - You know those fake car keys you get in the mail? I received one last week while I was out the door to the city, so I stopped by the dealership and spun the "wheel of Fortune" I scored a $10 Walmart gift Card! - Went to Walmart and brought these new kicks on sale for $10! I would like ot thank Biggs Dealership for kick starting my Darfur PT - ( less then 60 days to go!)
_ I am not a linguistic major and I have not been to translators school. I do not claim to know Dinka and I really wonder who really can except a Dinka that is born and raised in Sudan. For instance there are various Dinka words for the same thing depending on what area you had been raised. I have been in the midst of two Dinka's attempting to converse, only to become frustrated and grasp at the common language of Arabic so they could understand one another. A general greeting like, " Good Day, morning or evening " would be expressed differently depending on where the Dinka was born and raised as well as his exposure to other tribes in Sudan or neighboring countries. What also affects the response is when and how the greeting takes place. I have traced 38 distinct variations of "Hello" or "Welcome" .
So In light of this understanding, and firm in the knowledge that in Christ we can do anything required for His work, I will share the account of what the Dinka children have taught me, or perhaps what I have taught them. While living among their villages, I take the opportunity to draw in the dirt and express stories. At times my english language is recognized by some of those that may have more contact with the outside world through the work of NGO's (Non Governmental Organizations ) When all else fails " Charades" tends to bridge the communication gap, or by simple facial expressions.
The Dinka children taught me basic parts of the anatomy by pointing to the palm of their hand and repeating the word " chin, chin" I would do the same and say "hand, hand" this would go on for some time, " Womb, Womb," " Nose, Nose" we all would be in hysterics because some of the words sounded familiar to our own language but identified different things. Phases grew from the raw dialogue and soon common greetings were established. The Dinka children of Northern Bahr El Ghazal taught me the greeting that means " How are you?" The way they expressed it was " Ninya Paul?" and the proper response would be Anna Paul! which means " I am fine". - ( now I realize that some linguistics major will say that I have that all wrong, all I can say is, That is what it sounded like to me, and that is how we were able to communicate). So this exchange went on for days, then the children told me I was saying it wrong. Since I felt I had been saying it the same way for several days, I had asked what exactly was I saying wrong. They explained that it was something to do with MY teaching that made my response wrong. I was perplexed and for a while It did not seem to make sense until I asked " Ninya Paul?" and they responded while laughing with a big smile and said " Anna Paul in Christ Jesus!" - It then occurred to me, that they realized that no one is truly " fine" unless they are in Christ Jesus!
There are many that need to hear about being in Christ Jesus. I never thought that a small donation would make a difference in someones life, but when I tracked a $5.00 donation I found that we were able to buy 2 large boxes of crayons, and split them into 27 separate packs of 4 crayons. Because of the $5.00 donation 27 children learned about Daniels courage in the face of death. - It gave them courage and helped them to trust in God during war. Then there was the time that we cared for 84 sick for $300 us dollars of medicine - That was YOUR 4 dollar contribution that provide health relief for someone with an infection in the name of Christ!
- Tom Kilian, Director of Mercy Partners http://www.mercy-partners.org
Founder and Director of Mercy-Partners