Author: The Compass Church

Providence in Brussels

CompassGlobal’s Executive Director Rick Pierson’s current series of posts reflects on his trip to Belgium just this last September. This past week we received a visit from Olivier Jonkers, one of our supported Global Partners in Belgium. Olivier and his wife Karin are Belgian nationals, and serve with Reach Global planting churches in Brussels. Evangelism and church planting is a challenging task in Belgium, where according to Operation World, the population is only 1.2 % Evangelical/Pentecostal.

Late in 2013 their small congregation received abrupt notice that they could no longer use the facilities that they had been renting for meetings. However, this forced move helped them to determine that the city of Nivelles, just outside of Brussels, was an even better location. It is not only central for their members, but it is a city with no Christ-centered church.

Providence?

The beautiful city of Nivelles

The beautiful city of Nivelles

Over the next 8 months, many doors were opening for the congregation to rent a building in Nivelles. It was an exciting season of seeing God move. Yet at the very last minute, everything fell through. Though deeply discouraging, the roadblocks drove the congregation to prayer and cling to the faithfulness of God. They were being reminded that their focus was to be on people needing God, not bricks. In spite of the challenges, their congregation became even more unified with the resolve to reach people for Jesus Christ. Their home groups continued to grow, baptisms multiplied, and care for the poor became real.

In later weeks, they learned that the building they had hoped to rent, used to be called Le Phare (The Lighthouse) in the 1920’s. Le Phare is the name of their church! Recently they have felt called to pursue not just renting the building again, but purchasing it! And despite the challenges of the last year that may cause them to shrink back from such an endeavor, they are stepping out in faith once again. In the mean time, they have rented a small store front only a few buildings down the street. Named “Le Puits” (The Well) , the church has made it a place for outreach to the community.

Welcome to Le Puits!

Welcome to Le Puits!

I wish everyone could have participated in our meeting with Olivier. It was faith building to hear and see God’s hand at work both in the good times and in times of trials. It was inspiring to observe the sacrificial faith of the congregation of Le Phare and the Jonkers family. Please pray for the Jonkers, for Le Phare church, for the city of Nivelles, and for Belgium!

Christ is Coming… Are you Ready?

Mark Twain’s collection of essays on “Christian Science” prompted a lot of discussion in my family. Up to that point, we had never thought to think about whether what we believed was true or not.

Samuel Clemens, an agnostic at best, probably never anticipated that his treatise would be “borrowed” from the Peoria, Illinois public library some 100 years later by a family who just assumed that it would be a good read about the religion they followed.

Instead, his wit, humor and hostility toward Mary Baker Eddy opened a doorway to us that we had never explored before.

Providence?

Soon after the Twain discussions, a large outdoor advertising board was built along the highway near our home. We passed by it everyday. It contained a simple message: “Christ is Coming…Are You Ready?” Behind the print were ominous clouds…but no other words…there was no church or organization listed.

I remember asking my dad what it meant. He didn’t know. The “Christ is Coming” part of the message didn’t sound so bad…it was the “Are You Ready?” part that was a bit unnerving. Ready for what?

Twain and the billboard eventually led me to read the Bible for the first time apart from the “Science and Health”. I read though the gospel accounts over the course of a few days. Lights turned on.

Providence?

Jesus Christ revealed Himself to me through His Word…I’ve never looked back. Funny thing…after my family and myself placed our trust in Jesus as our Savior…a storm blew that sign completely over…it never was repaired.

Maybe it was there just for us?

Christian Science

The first article in this blog series was originally posted only in part. The full version is now available.

Standing in the Nave at the Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude in Nivelles, Belgium (see previous post), looking at the isolated figure of “God on the cross”, thinking of my deserved place directly alongside…brought me back to my journey toward Him.

I was raised as a Christian Scientist. I was actually proud of it…not so much for what I was taught or what I thought I believed…but more so for the mystery and prestige of it.

None of my friends had heard of Christian Science..they thought being a “scientist” was cool as I explained it to them. After all, how could it not be for one to believe that there is no sin, sickness, disease or death?

But it took me far away from God…even though we talked about God all the time.

fullsizerender-1

While I won’t get into the details of what Christian Science believes, I was brought up to read the Bible (King James Version) and “The Science and Heath with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy”. The books pictured above are the set that I have had since I was very young.

I was taught never to read the Bible by itself without reading the Science and Health. After all…contained in it was the “key” to the Scriptures. It unlocks the truth of the Bible…

…but actually…it kept me from seeing truth.

fullsizerender-3

Anything that was read in the Bible did not take on literal meaning. The extensive “glossary” reveals what names and words in the Bible “actually” mean. So was Jesus God in flesh? No…He is the “highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and destroying error and bringing to light man’s immortality.”

That’s what I thought about Jesus

fullsizerender-2

Thankfully, He didn’t have a misunderstanding of me! And while I was hardly aware of it at the time, the providence of God was at work. He was pulling me toward Him…clearing away the rough places…making them a plain…so I could walk toward Him.

Of all things, He dropped a book by Mark Twain into my life. My mother had “borrowed” it from the Peoria Public Library (she didn’t have a library card). But it was that book that paved the initial pathway…that caused me and my family to question Christian Science for the very first time. Twain’s wit and first hand personal knowledge of Mary Baker Eddy, prompted us to search for the truth.

Funny how God works. As much as we sometimes lament over the darkness of the world…as much as I thought about the challenge to plant churches in Europe…

…God is at work…even in some of the most unconventional ways.

Providence… criminals… miracles… and me

Our current message series is exploring the topic of the providence of God out of the Book of Ruth. It got me thinking about how God orchestrates millions of details and circumstances together each and every day to achieve His plans and purposes…which is nothing short of miraculous.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more my mind has drifted toward the miracle that happened in my own life in 1973. That was the year I placed my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I know that the word “miraculous” is normally not used when referring to someone becoming a Christ follower…but why not? Life transformation is a miracle.

In my next several posts, I want to share with you my story…it has to do with providence, criminals, miracles and me.

This past September, while visiting one of our church planting partners in Europe, I snapped the below photo in the Nave at the Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude in Nivelles, Walloon Brabant, Belgium just outside of Brussels. This 11th century church stands in the heart of this quaint community of 28,000. It’s hard to miss the intended central focal point as you enter the room. It…He…definitely gets your attention.

fullsizerender

I stood there awhile taking in the solitude and solemnity of the place. The biblical accounts of Christ’s death on the cross began running through my mind.

Luke’s gospel account tells us, “And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.” (Luke 23:33)

Criminals were crucified with Him?

Sometimes we forget about these two men. Understandably so…given the centrality of the cross of Christ to our faith. We don’t often see them included next to Jesus in paintings or in sculpted images. But they’re not insignificant.

The gospel accounts do not provide a lot of information about them…but Luke records a brief, fascinating exchange between the two of them:

“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?
And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.
And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'” (Luke 23:39-43)

I think about how fortunate these criminals were. They actually were pretty “lucky”. Do you think being crucified next to the Savior, the hope of the world was accidental…merely happenstance…or was God about to do something amazing in one of their lives?

My vote is for the amazing. This momentary, albeit dramatic, experience had massive eternal implications. One day either side of this particular day…opportunity lost.

Providence.

One saw it, the other didn’t. One responded in humble submission. The other in vile contempt. So then there’s me…you. Condemned criminals convicted justly before a righteous judge of high crimes. Sentenced to death.

I was stirred anew over my journey to the cross during my time in Europe.

“Cristo de la Habana”

fullsizerender-2

Standing on the hilltop of the San Carlos de la Cabana fortress in Cuba (the place where Che Guevara was appointed supreme prosecutor), I recently took a picture of “Jesus of Havana”. On Christmas Eve 1958, the statue was placed here overlooking the bay to the city. Just 15 days later, Fidel Castro marched into Havana with a proclamation of victory for the Cuban Revolution.

fullsizerender-1

Update From Moldova

IMG_4065

Hey guys!

I wanted to send a hello from the beautiful country of Moldova. It has been a blur since we landed but it has been great to connect with the team here at KBC ministries as well as the people of Chisinau.

The first day we were here we had a chance to head into the country side and see an Eastern Orthodox monastery that is in the side of a hill. This country is very green with rolling hills which is a nice contrast to our flat part of the world.

IMG_4125

We then jumped into helping out the needs of reaching the community. We packed 60 giant bags of food for the elderly ministry our first day and have spent each morning delivering them to individuals that KBC has connected with near the church. Most of them have been veterans who fought in WW2. Their stories are incredible! One lady we met named Nina was an aimer for the anti aircraft guns the Russians used during the war. Someone loaded the gun, she aimed it and another pulled the trigger as they shot at Nazi planes. She survived the war by being crushed by dirt that completely covered her when a bomb exploded right next to her. We asked if she felt God had protected her and she said that must have been the only way she lived. We then said through Jesus Christ we are protected by God and can live forever and she raised her hands to the sky and said “I believe!” It was a powerful moment. There are way more stories like that. We have handed out half the bags so far and each bag has a given us a story.

IMG_4113

We then have played sports in the afternoon with the local kids. It has been very popular and we have seen between 50-100 kids come everyday. There are kids everywhere here! And they want to talk and listen and practice English and meet Americans. Our days have flown by.

All of that has happened with only a few hiccups. We had two suitcases lost when we got here, the next day 6 people got stuck in the elevator of a Russian era apartment complex for 45 minutes and then the day after that a TM break their wrist playing basketball. The great thing is it was all successfully taken care of and fun is continuing to be had.

Keep praying for us. We are halfway through the trip and excited to see what God has in store for the rest of our time. See you all soon!

Brett Lilly

IMG_4127

Update from Vietnam

Attachment-1

Yesterday we worked alongside with Ruth for a day camp for 28 kids. Their church consistent of Vietnamese and Filipino families. It was a nice break to minster to the kids in English. It was exciting to see how the Tuesday day training for children’s ministry was implemented by theirs pastors wives. In the evening we participated in an English Club with 15 other Vietnamese young professionals. We were humbled by their gratitude and enthusiasm for English. It was a blessing to share friendship idioms and conclude with sharing about our heavenly best friend, Jesus.

Please continue to lift their church up as they look for a local permanent facility that meets the church’s needs.

IMG_20160729_153827554[2]

Update from Vietnam

Today’s post was written by our team in Vietnam

IMG_2319[2]

We’ve had a great end to our first church camp and training. On Tuesday we had a successful training day where 7 Vietnamese church were represented. We concentrated the morning on teaching leaders how to engage children though Bible stories and the afternoon empowering the participants to build up there ministries by modeling what they learned that morning.

On Wednesday and Thursday we traveled an hour by taxi out to the countryside of Vietnam to partner with Son and Rachel’s church for a two day children’s camp. 75 children attended, with 30 children new to their ministry. Please continue to pray for Son and Rachel’s church as they continue to expand their children’s ministry. Also continue to pray for the addition to their building to accommodate their goal of 100 church attendees.

We’re excited to partner with Tung’s church tomorrow for another kids camp, as well and English club tomorrow night.

IMG_2315[5]

Utah Final Day

Today’s post was written by students on the Utah Missions Trip

Kids Camp Final Day

Hey all, Sorry we didn’t have a post for yesterday. We were out street evangelizing at Temple Square and didn’t get back until late at night. What an amazing experience that was. Almost every one of our team had the opportunity to have a great conversation with someone. It was stretching and challenging but definitely worth it. Everyone walked away having grown in their own relationship with Jesus. Make sure you ask one of our team members about their time there. They all have their own unique story to tell about the experience!

Today was our last day in Utah. We finished up our kids camp with a bang today. After four days, the kids were excited as ever. They were running around screaming and having a blast as well as learning valuable life lessons. Once the camp finished, everyone was sad and wished the camp to continue. Once we got back from the camp we went to the much anticipated In and Out Burger. After our adventure at the wonderful burger house of the west we headed out to the mountains to take a round trip of about three miles through the scenic route, we took plenty of photos of our beautiful faces and the even more beautiful mountains. We caught some pictures of the beautiful west sunset as we made our way back down the mountain. When we finally finished it was definitely worth it, as we finished up our last night in Utah we said goodbye to close friends including Ritch and Laura. We got the chance to pray over the city as well as Ritch and Laura and to bless the work that they do every day. Tears were shed as we bid goodbye, we loaded up and went back to the church to pack and eat Krispy Kreme Donuts. Overall, the trip has been a great blessing to us as well as the city and an unforgettable experience. Thanks for praying for us and reading about our time in Utah. This is the 2016 Utah Team signing off.

Cya y’all soon Naperville!

Vince E, Mary M, Holly W

View

Utah Day 5

Today’s post was written by students on the Utah Missions Trip

Story Time

Today was moist. Unlike a normal mission trip day, slip n slide kick ball and a swimming pool were involved. The past two days have been very high energy, but today there was more energy. While the kids radiated energy from the start, today they were overflowing. For games we played slip n slide kick ball at kids’ camp. The kids were thrilled. We were running around splashing water on one another. Almost everyone was soaked! The water games fit naturally with our Bible story of the day: Jonah.

Tony- Working with three to four year olds is like herding tiny cattle. Its been really cool to see God work through them in even the littlest ways. Three out of the four kids assigned to me started camp out crying and clinging to their moms, it hasn’t taken long for them to bust out and really go crazy. After kids camp an intense game of slip n slide kick ball broke out. Then later we went to a pool because we were supposed to meet a team from Colorado but kick ball took priority. Today was yet another eventful day and I look forward to see what else God in store.

Rachel K.- I had the pleasure of working with 5-7 year olds this week. It has been very exhausting but such a blessing. I have gotten to know so many of the kids, not just in my group but all the 5-7 year olds at camp. Today after we finished snacks early there were three boys hanging on me. They tried to take me to “jail” for being on the opponent team. I kept trying to escape, but they were strong! There were girls who wanted piggy back rides where I had to run around. I was exhausted before we even had games! Seeing their smiles and how happy I had made them was defiantly worth the heavy breathing. Games were amazing today. We played slip n slide kick ball, which I have always wanted to do since I heard about it. There was water being thrown around. Buckets of water being tossed on children’s heads. One girl kept getting me wet and made Vince dump a bucket of water on my head. At the end of the day everyone was smiling even though we were completely soaked. It was defiantly an amazing day at camp!

We can’t wait for the final two days of kids camp and what God has in store for us. All the kids are amazing and it will be hard to leave them on Saturday. This trip truly has been a blessing and although we don’t want to leave we can’t wait to tell you all our stories!

-Rachel K and Tony C

(P.S. Mom, I haven’t fallen on an escalator…yet.)

Jonah Selfie