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Archive for December, 2010

Mission Impressions

Sometimes you experience things in life that changes what/who you are from that point forward. Things like marriage, child-birth, salvation, death, etc. These are moments in time where part of you is  chipped away to further reveal who God wants you to be.  God sovereignly orchestrates our lives, using our free will, to mold us into something usable for His glory. This process can be rewarding, joyful, frustrating, and thrilling all at the same time. God never said it would be easy!!

The same goes for the life of a church.  The bible teaches that Christ is the head of the church and we are the body. As the body we are always changing as we grow, and mature. Like in our personal lives God will shape His body with circumstances that alters the future for His purposes.

I just got back from a 8 day missions trip to China with Image Lead Pastor Chris Rhodenhizer, and my life as well as the missions future for Image Church will never be the  same. I wrote about our Mission Trip intentions here http://imagechurch.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/gospel-in-a-foreign-land/

While there we visited 3 cities on the Northeast Coast.

– City 1 –  There is a missionary providing rice, medicine, and school supplies via funds from Image Church and Manna Worldwide. This is a part of the country that is a very harsh climate, and the needs are great. Not many people would ever want to go there, but this missionary family has been there for 4 years loving on the local school children. They cannot openly proclaim the gospel b/c of the communist gov’t, but they can reflect Christ’s character. They abide by the Federal Gov’t rules, and taking the hard, long road to winning souls.  That’s what makes their work all the more amazing. They are MISSIONARIES, but yet they cannot openly talk about Jesus. Everyone there knows they are Christian missionaries, but they allow them access b/c they have a local business that helps the economy (gov’t dictates that all foreigners have a business to maintain a VISA), and they take care of the kids. The funds used from the company go right back into medicine, and food for these kids. Before their arrival 4 years ago kids would skip lunch at school (b/c there was no food) and they would become extremely ill from basic sickness b/c of no medicine. Now these kids are eating, and getting basic medical care you and I take for granted. ALL THAT so these missionaries can simply REFLECT Christ since they can’t openly talk about Him. In my earlier blog I talked about planting seeds you will never harvest, and this is not even that. This type of missions work is like pulling rocks out of the garden so someone else can lay the seed. This is non-glorious, hard, trailblazing, dangerous work that someone needs to do to warm hearts to Jesus. This couple raised all their kids on the mission field, and rarely see their kids or grandkids in the states now. I was touched by their sacrificial hearts so they can simply “pull rocks out of the garden”.

– City 2 – Here we met with a teacher and principal at a Korean-Chinese school where outcast kids attend. Manna also sends funds here to help with basic school needs for the kids. The kids that come here are “half breeds” and not given the type of education, nutrition, and medical care that “pure bred” kids are. This school is not supported by the Gov’t and looks for funding from outside. While here we had lunch with the principal and English teacher, and God used that meal to break down some barriers. The teachers did not profess to be Christians, and we were instructed to not even talk about religion. However the topic came up naturally, and prompted the principal to say the following” The communist regime here dictates that all teachers/school administrators NOT believe in God (as to not influence the students) however we can believe in our hearts”. WOW. It was a big step for them to trust us enough to even say that in public. We went on to talk about that a little more before quickly moving on. Afterwards the missionary from Manna we were with said that was a game-changing moment for him, and could open future doors for the gospel. Amazing.

– City 3 – We met another missionary couple that dedicated their lives to the mission field, and raised three kids on it. In their late forties now they have started an English school, and lead a number of house churches.  Like the couple in City 1 they have to get creative in order to present the gospel, and they sacrifice to do it.

In all three locations the sacrificial heart of the missionaries in addition to the desperation of the kids in need combined to change me in a way I was not prepared for. To see people working so hard in a foreign  land, and so immersed in a foreign culture all so they MIGHT could share Jesus one day was mind-blowing. Imagine doing a bunch of pre-work for YEARS just so you MIGHT be able to do your primary job someday full well knowing that someone else will most likely reap the fruits for your labor. That would be tough, but that’s what all these guys are doing. Christ sacrificed it all for us, and these guys are reflecting that in a humbling way that brings Him much glory.

The future of Image Church will be forever changed. We now have a missions plan with full clarity that involves three cities, with three unique missions, and three sets of people. We are going to focus hard on this little corner of the world, and put together a plan for future trips as a church as well as a way to funnel people into each ministry to help out. It will be a great avenue to get Image Church into the mission field.

I am excited, and my head is spinning at all the possibilities. Be sure and be at Image Church this Sunday to hear about our trip, see pictures, and listen as we cast vision for our missions future.

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