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A Bible or Bottled Water?

The last few weeks have been an onslaught of natural disasters with Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the earthquake in Mexico City. Our hearts break for those living in the effected areas, but what should be our response? Do we send in teams with the Gospel, offering truth and hope, but neglecting the real needs of the people left in devastation? Or do we focus our efforts only on donating money and assisting with cleanup, never offering the hope of Christ that can bring true healing and peace to the deep scars of trauma and loss?  What do the people in Texas, Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean need more, the Bible or bottled water?

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As a junior in college I had a crisis of faith as I began my nursing school clinical rotations.  My theology at the time was that Christ came to die for my sins so I could go to heaven. And, being up close for the first time in my life to raw human pain and suffering, that was no longer holding up as sufficient. I began to question the goodness and love of God.

While painful, that season of life was transformational. During a summer retreat with my campus fellowship we studied the servant songs of Isaiah, a collection of prophecies about Christ. In Isaiah 61:1-3 we read, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,….to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  (If this passage sounds familiar, it is the one Jesus reads in Luke 4 at the beginning of his ministry, following with the words, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)).

In the months that followed that retreat God showed me that His plan was not just to save me so I could go to heaven, but to redeem all the brokenness that entered the world through sin. He not only knew the pain, injustice and suffering that was going on, He had, through Christ, already presented the solution. In his book, Kingdom Come, author Allen Wakabayashi  writes, “When Jesus came to bring the kingdom, everything that God had made was in the scope of what he came to change. The Old Testament looked forward to the coming of the kingdom as a creation-wide intervention where God would come make right all that had gone wrong. Sicknesses would be healed, sins would be forgiven, enmity would be eradicated and the created order would be put at peace”.

Wakabayashi uses the analogy of Aslan in the book The Lion, The Witch and The crocus-1960865_1920Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. In that story it is always winter, but never Christmas. However, when Aslan returns, the snow begins to melt and springtime breaks through. We see the same in the life of Christ. Wherever He went, the winter of the evil in this world was melted, and a glorious taste of the springtime of His kingdom was given.

 

So, a Bible or bottled water? Or, perhaps both….

A recent article by Lausanne shows the power of a holistic response. The committed, sacrificial, and long term response by Japanese Christians to the areas of Japan effected by the 2011 tsunami have had profound impact on individual lives, on communities, and even changed the very word for Christian in the language. These Christians weren’t serving physical needs as a method to convert people. Instead they were genuinely bringing the springtime of the kingdom to the communities around them.

As you consider your response to the suffering caused by the natural disasters this week, or the suffering in the lives of your neighbors, co-workers and friends, I encourage you to reflect on the Lausanne article and on the words of Isaiah 61: 1-3.  Consider how you might bear witness in word and deed to the healing and redeeming love of Christ, and spread the springtime of His Kingdom everywhere you go.

 

 

Hurricane Harvey: Ways to Help

The last few days our news feeds have been filled with images, statistics, and stories of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Here are some ways that you can get involved with caring for those affected.

Prayer: Please pray….

  • That the flooding would end and receed quickly.cyclone-62959_1920.jpg
  • That those trapped or needing rescuing would be reached in time.
  • For God to provide the physical needs of food, clothing, shelter, and health care for those in the affected areas now and in the months to come.
  • For God to provide healing for the emotional traumas associated with living through a storm, and with losing loved ones, homes, and livelihoods.
  • For the local churches and the Christian community country wide to reach out with generous giving, practical helps, listening ears, and the hope of the Gospel.

Giving:  In response to past natural disasters (Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy,  and Matthew, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti), The Compass Church has partnered with ReachGlobal’s Crisis Response Team. We will be partnering with them again for Hurricane Harvey relief. Please visit their site here for information on how to give.

 

Serving: We are considering sending a team to assist with the disaster relief when the time is appropriate. If you are interested in receiving information about this team  as it develops please email jkindelin@thecompass.net. You can also visit the ReachGlobal site for more information on teams they are arranging directly.

Dens and Nests

Visas. Sometimes they are stamps in your passport given on arrival. Sometimes they take weeks and months of applications, fees, and the anxiety of mailing your passport off to an embassy praying it will return.  Regardless, in most cases if you want to enter another country, especially if you want to live there, a visa is required.

For our Global Partners, obtaining or renewing visas is a part of the rhythm of their lives. When it is time to apply for a new one, its always on the prayer request list. Nothing is certain when it comes to visas.

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Recently, some of our Global Partners were denied a visa renewal. They have one month to pack up and leave a country that has been home for 16 years. They will leave behind their ministry, church, friends, and their daughter, son-in-law and  grandchildren. There will be tears and grieving, but they have faith and trust that God is in control and He has ordered the next season of their life.

Two more of our Global Partner families have been facing visa challenges.  Both have been waiting and praying and trusting for months.

In John 9:57-58 we read, “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ ”

While visas can be a source of burden and stress–they are also a constant reminder to cross cultural workers, that following Jesus can mean uncertainty and that we need to be willing to go wherever and whenever He moves us. Most of us don’t have to worry about visas, but are we open to God moving us?

Please pray today that God will keep open doors to people and places that need His healing and grace. Pray that our Global Partners would trust Him when doors close that they don’t understand and they have to pack up, move, and start over again.

Let’s pray too that God would speak clearly to our hearts, and that we too would have the  courage to move where He calls… whether it is across the street to meet a neighbor, or maybe even across the world.

 

 

 

Brussels– 2017

This summer The Compass Church sent a team to serve alongside our partners in Brussels Belgium. Renee, one of the team leaders, writes her reflections on the trip in today’s post. You can read more about the work of some of our partners in Brussles here.

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Summer mission trips don’t always go as planned. Our team prepared to spend two weeks in Brussels this summer, working with Serve the Church, a part of ReachGlobal. Dan and I have been a part of this mission trip for several years and we were looking forward to returning and introducing our team to a city and people we have grown to know and love. We had warned them that there would be a lot of walking and in Brussels you need to be prepared for a change in weather, so bring rain gear. The first full day of flier distribution, the project of inviting area residents to English, music, and cooking classes at a local ministry, dawned absolutely beautiful. We, along with two other teams from California and Iowa, took to the streets to stuff mailboxes. By the afternoon, the skies had darkened and it poured! And yes, those who forgot umbrellas and rain gear got soaked. But over 18,000 invitations went out and people were already calling that evening for more information. Even with inclement weather–a change from what we had planned, God used us to help meet a need for this ministry.

Brussel's MarkWe planned to be involved with various projects around the city the following week: some projects required muscles (heavy bags of construction debris carried through the house, out the window, into the dumpster), some worked with kids (VBS in the park on rainy afternoons under a tent), some were cancelled or changed due to weather (rain again), some involved demolition and construction (think sledge hammers and power tools), some finished quickly and others were added (painting and landscaping). Each team member had a place to work where they could use their gifts and talents, but all projects required flexibility and a willingness to serve. Having been on the trip before, I had my idea of where I wanted to participate. Reconnecting with “C” and helping with her home for refugees was important to me.  What I didn’t plan on was having pneumonia. That really limited my involvement—especially since work at “C’s” house was demolishing the lower level to remodel it into her personal apartment. My role quickly changed and I helped with preparing and serving food for the team. My plans changed, but God still had a role for me—in fact, as my health required more rest, I was able to spend more time in prayer for all the teams and all the projects.

One of the highlights of the trip for our team was participating in worship with various congregations. Even though services were conducted in French, and Flemish with some translation into English, we were all worshiping the same God and were united by our faith in Christ. We didn’t always understand everything that was being said or sung, but we knew these people loved God and served Him faithfully.

In a culture with fewer than one percent identifying as a Bible believing Christian, it was a joy and privilege to come alongside Belgian believers to encourage them, to work with them, to help with projects that enable them to continue to minister to those who so desperately need the Lord. Maybe things didn’t always go as we planned, but it definitely went as God planned—and all for His Glory.

 

So, how was your trip….?

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Do you know someone taking a short term missions trip with The Compass Church or another organization this summer? They will probably return home brimming with stories, experiences, and lessons learned. Chances are they want to share all about their trip, and you want to hear. However it  is often hard for people returning from short term trips to sum everything  up and answer the first question most of us ask…”How was your trip?”

TEAM posted a great article on this topic with some easy alternative questions. Not only will these questions help you get a glimpse at all God did during your friend’s trip, but you will bless your friend as you help them sort through and process their experiences!

If you don’t have time to read the article here is a free download from TEAM with 15 great questions to get you started! Oh…and a good cup of tea or coffee is also recommended!

 

Haiti 2017

In July, The Compass Church sent a team to serve along side ReachGlobal in Haiti. Darcy Ruscitti, Executive Director of Central Ministries, was the team leader and shares here some reflections on the trip. 

It is hard even two weeks later to put words to how impactful a trip it was.   We started off as a group of mostly acquaintances, and ended the trip as strongly bonded family.  You always hope for strong relational connections as a team – but this group exceeded expectations.  Our group was fun-loving, flexible, and hard working – all needed for ministry work in Haiti.

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Each of our days was a very different adventure.  We did everything from painting rooms at the local clinic for a new incoming doctor to filling water jugs for locals and walking them to their homes.  Some homes were tarps, some were the shelter of trees, some wood, and others were even made of cinder blocks.

Two days we traveled to the area called Jan Jan.  We drove for almost an hour, which was as far as we could go by truck, and then we walked with our supplies the remaining mile.  One day we ran a VBS type camp with almost 200 kids!  They just kept coming!  It was great to teach them about the shield of faith and do related activities.  The next day we came back to work on a church building construction site in Jan Jan.  The kids came back out in groves singing the songs and looking for more interactions.  While  some of our team did that, I joined working on the construction and learned how to do re-bar!  As I started I am sure they were quite skeptical of what I could contribute, but after some time with an amazing teacher (one of our interpreters named Joe), they weren’t even checking my work anymore and by the end were including me in the process just like one of them!  It was a blessing to me to get to do some actual labor type work and be praying for the people that will be attending that church.

Haiti 2Near the Jan Jan area there was a vast, mostly dried up river bed.  While there was some running water in it, (the team took numerous trips back and forth to bring water up to the construction site for cement making) you couldn’t help but imagine what that river area would look like filled.  What changes would it mean for the people for their living conditions, their food, their livelihood?  You can’t help but carry this analogy over to the people and their need for the love of Jesus.  So much of Haiti is a vast area of spiritual dryness, people in need of Jesus.  There are small streams of strong Christian communities – we pray those continue to grow and spread for Haiti.

We had the complete joy of wrapping up our week by attending a beautiful church service.  It didn’t even matter that we couldn’t understand the parts that were in Creole – we knew we were getting to experience a special moment within a body of fellow believers.  The singing and joy for the Lord was clearly present even though many had walked quite a distance to even get to church.  We had a big rain Saturday night and it was quite muddy Sunday morning.  It would have been easy to skip church that morning – but they weren’t going to be stopped!  The singing was powerful and so was the message!

Thank you for your prayers and support – we couldn’t have had such an amazing trip without you being a part of it!

Headed out!

The Compass Church is headed out this summer. Over the next few weeks we will have teams of youth and adults serving across the country and around the world in Utah, Pennsylvania, Haiti, Belgium, and Moldova. Please be praying for these teams!

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Pray for:

1. Safe travels.

2 That individuals would hear and respond to the Gospel.

3. That God would enable the teams to see the people they are serving through His eyes. That they would love and serve sacrificially.

3. Flexibility when things don’t go “to plan” and for trust in God’s sovereignty.  “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

4. Unity within in the team, that their love for each other may be a witness to Christ. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

5. That the service given would be a blessing to our partnering agencies. That these partners would be refreshed and strengthened in their daily work.

Stay tuned for updates from our summer teams!

Every Tribe, Tongue, and Nation

At the beginning of this year, we reflected on some New Year’s Resolutions for the Worldwide Church. One of those was, “a Bible in every person’s heart language.” The Compass Church is contributing to this goal by partnering with people like Jeanne. She is a Bible Translator and has served for 47 years among a tribal people group in Mexico. This past fall, after decades of work,  the New Testament was presented to the people in three of their dialects.

We enjoyed a visit from Jeanne last month. It was inspiring to hear about her work and the ways God is using His Word. We wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to be encouraged by Jeanne’s story, so please check out the video below!

Haiti: Building a Home and Sharing about Jesus

John Flores attends The Compass Church has been on 3 short term mission trips to Haiti. This past April he was part of a small team from The Compass Church that worked alongside the STEP Seminary school in Port au Prince  to build a house for a needy family. He shares about the experience in today’s post.

With Haiti being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere the abundant need for aid keeps me going back. This year the main focus of my team’s trip was to build a house for a family that had lost their home as a result of the earthquake in 2010. Since then, the family was living in a make shift house of tarps and tin with no water or electricity. Their home was located on the side of a mountain with narrow paths to walk and no roads. When it rained, the water would wash away anything that was left on the ground which usually meant that the family didn’t sleep if it rained at night.

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The STEP Seminary school is located next to where this family lives and building homes is a part of STEP’s community outreach. The program is completely funded by donations so they only build homes when money is raised – it cost about $6,000 for a house. Our team went down to assist in the building process. There were translators on site while we were working and the fellowship during that time was incredibly powerful and impactful to me.

Throughout the day, many curious children and adults would come to the work site to be a part of the experience. Have you ever seen the show “Extreme Makeover”? Our missionary host described the feeling of the local people as getting a live episode of that show. It was an exciting time for their community and most recipients of a new home have endured many many hardships. When a new home is built for a family, it’s common that other relatives will come to stay with them because it is a much better living situation than what either family had before. Just imagine living with 8 people in a 150 square foot house.

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John working on the house

When Americans come into their community the Haitian people are more receptive to hearing the Gospel. So a few seminary students came to the work site with us every day to take advantage of the opportunity to evangelize to the eager onlookers. One seminary student told me that he’s tried going in the community by himself but the people thought he was the police or part of the government and they wouldn’t talk to him.

We brought snacks, balls, bubbles, and other things to play with the local kids. The best place to play, on that part of the mountain, was on top of a concrete roof of the house that was below us. One day a seminary student offered to translate my teams’ testimonies to the people that were gathered around the construction site. He directed all the kids to sit on a dirt mound and the parents filled in around them. Sharing my story with the group that day was one of the most memorable moments of my Christian walk.

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Playing on the roof

Each day I spent in the community I felt like I got to experience a tiny bit of the pain and suffering the Haitians experience each day of their lives – hardships that would mentally cripple most people. This made me so much more excited to share with them about Jesus. Three people accepted Christ while we were there. I pray that one day all of them will experience God’s love, redemption, and peace.

Seeing God’s work in Haiti has increased my faith immensely. I plan on going back to the mountainside community and bringing the guys from my small group to build another home in the spring of 2018.

A Powerhouse of Missionary Sending

For the last few weeks we have looked at ways that the Gospel is being proclaimed in word and deed throughout the Latin America/Caribbean region. Did you know that the Gospel is also going out from this region to the rest of the world in big ways?  For example, according to this article from Christianity Today, Brazil sent out 34,000 missionaries in 2010. This makes it the second highest country for missionary sending in the world!

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Praise God for our brothers and sisters in Brazil that are sending and going in order to take the Hope of the Gospel to the world. Let us pray today that God would bless their lives and work!

For more on how the Gospel is going from everywhere to everywhere check out this post.