L’histoire des idees dans le Quartier Latin

This post resumes a series based on Rick’s trip to Europe last fall. You can read the first three posts in the series beginning here.

I’m sure most of us can point to a book that has had significant influence in our lives (beyond the Bible of course). For me, it was a book by Francis A. Schaeffer, “How Should We Then Live?”…released in 1976.

A university student that year and relatively new in my faith, I was enrolled in a course, “Ancient and Medieval Philosophy” that began to shake the foundation of what I believed.

I soon discovered that I was ill equipped to provide a defense of the historicity of Christianity…often being challenged to do so in class by the professor (after my feeble attempts to question him on the validity of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle…which seemed like a good idea at the time).

Schaeffer helped me think through how Christianity uniquely provides “real answers to the basic problems that all humanity faces…offering an explanation for all of life.”  He helped me to articulate a world view through a biblical lens.

I felt as though I was walking back in time through the pages of Schaeffer’s book on a recent visit to Paris.  We have global partners throughout Europe in France, Germany, the U.K., Belgium, Moldova, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Trying to reach post-Christian Europe with the gospel is as difficult as my attempts to go head-to-head with my philosophy professor.  According to Operation World, the percentage of evangelicals in Europe is about 2.5.  Slow going.

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While in Paris, I had a unique opportunity to see the city while looking through a historical, philosophical and religious lens. I joined a 5 hour walking tour of “The History of Ideas in the Latin Quarter”.

The Latin Quarter was at one time the true student and intellectual center of Paris…evoking images of Camus, Sartre, Beckett, the French resistance, the riots of 1968, let alone Abelard, Bacon, Magnus, Dante, Erasmus, Descartes, Locke, Pascal, Voltaire…even Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams.

My walking tour began at the Notre-Dame de Paris, (completed in A.D. 1345) in front of the Portal of the Last Judgment facade. It was here at Notre Dame in 1793 that the “Cult of Reason” emerged during the Enlightenment. Christianity was replaced by “reason, nature, happiness, progress, and liberty.”

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The tour concluded in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, at the tomb of Rene Descartes. Known as the “father of modern philosophy” (“cogito ergo sum”; “I think, therefore I am”), his radical doubt would eventually place an “insurmountable roadblock to biblical faith”. While perhaps unintentional, he planted the seeds for later dissent from the theistic view of the world.

So in this year of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Europe is far removed from upholding the biblical absolutes that ignited the movement back to Scripture. America has followed. I pray that the spirit, zeal and courage of reformers such as Farel, Luther, Zwingli and Calvin take hold in us once more.

Written by Rick Pierson, Executive Director of CompassGlobal

Not forgotten

With this post Rick concludes his reflections on his recent trip to Moldova. You can begin the series here.

One of the great joys I have in Moldova is afternoon visits of the elderly after a full morning of teaching students.  I make it a high priority every time I go.  Kishinev Bible Church has an elder care ministry that regularly visits over 90 individuals.  It began with visitation to the home bound of those connected to the church, but now has expanded beyond that through word of mouth.  So many living in the numerous high rise Soviet-era flats in Moldova are isolated, lonely…and forgotten.

For me, it’s like stepping back into history.  These are individuals who have lived through  World War II, Stalin and Soviet communism.  They talk about the hardness of life, enduring frozen work camps in Siberia, hiding in bomb shelters, seeing their homes destroyed or seized.  One 90 year old woman I visited on this trip had been a spy for the Russian army.  She injured her back on a final parachute training jump.  Her team of 12 were all killed by the Nazis soon afterward on a mission to which she had been assigned.

I visited another fascinating woman on my final day.  This 80 year old had a contagious wit about her that was only accentuated by her Russian dialogue (the head of the church’s visitation ministry was there to translate for me).  She was born in Moscow and had been a professor of literature.  I asked her about her favorite writer.  With great excitement she said, “Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin!”  She promptly and proudly displayed one of his volumes.

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Pushkin, born in Moscow in 1799, was a playwright, novelist and poet. He died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound received fighting a duel over the honor of his wife.

I asked her if she could recite one of his poems…she immediately stood up and treated me to an amazing performance of several that she loved most. There was something about hearing Pushkin in Russian that stirred my soul.

She then did an encore from the poetry of Andrei Dementyev…and one from Mikhail Lermontov for good measure!

She talked with me about her grandfather (pictured second from the left in the photo below) who served in the Russian army under Tsar Nicholas II. Fascinating stuff!

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As a result of the visitation ministry, she has recently begun attending the church. I hope that one day soon she will be reciting the Scriptures as passionately as she recited Pushkin.

As I left that day, she presented me with this small volume of poetry with a handwritten note on the inside cover (I’m going to have to expand my Russian vocabulary beyond the six words I know!). She said she hoped I wouldn’t forget her. I haven’t.

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These visits for me, bring into bold application James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows…”.

Written by Rick Pierson, Executive Director of CompassGlobal

New Creations: Part Three

Rick continues his reflections on his recent trip to Moldova. You can read part one here and part two here.

An assignment I required for my class was to write on one of the five main sacrifices in Leviticus.  One of my students chose the peace offering found in Leviticus 3 and 7.  The following is a portion of life application he discovered from his study.  He wrote:

“By His mercy and grace, through His death on the cross and the resurrection on the third day, He rescued me from God’s wrath and the slavery of sin, to make me an agent of righteousness.

All I am and all I have belongs to Him.  My talents and my abilities and all my resources were given to me so that I could be a living sacrifice to the pleasure of God.

There is nothing else to make me more happy than to know that I belong to God, and that I can serve Him and other people, motivated by love and compassion, and not by fear, guilt or duty.

Growing up in an orphanage taught me to be a selfish taker…being a part of God’s family taught me to be a cheerful giver.”

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Most of the students at the seminary were raised in dysfunctional homes.  Often one parent is an alcoholic and has abandoned the family.  Children are left to orphanages…and fend for themselves by the age of 16.  They have a difficult time accepting what it means to be part of a family and to call God, “Father”.

Yet here is a God, before whom angels continuously cry, “holy, holy, holy”, rescuing us from bondage to sin and tearing asunder the veil that separated us from Him…because of the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Jesus’ blood cleanses us…consecrates us…protects us from being “devoured”…granting us bold access into the holy presence of God.   Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

It was a privilege to stand before a class of new creations…teaching them about a holy God who by glorious nature cannot be approached other than the provision of a substitutionary Life…placing us into His family and transforming us from being selfish takers into cheerful givers.

Written by Rick Pierson, Executive Director of CompassGlobal

New Creations: Part Two

Rick continues his series of reflections from his recent trip to Moldova. You can read part one of the series here.

So how do you approach a “devouring fire” without getting devoured?  The Tabernacle made it possible for God to be with His people…and for them to be with Him.  Explicit instructions by God Himself were given in Exodus (He did not employ architects to compete for best design).  He then empowered and filled Bezalel and Oholiab (chapter 31) with the Holy Spirit to not only construct and fashion the tent of meeting, but to do it with the exact precision required.

Yet even with construction and adornments, it was not operational until the priests and everything in it was consecrated…by blood.  God can only be approached in the way determined by Him.

The invitation to His people to come boldly into His presence while avoiding disintegration on contact (the details of which are laid out in Leviticus) was actually a very loving thing to do.

I used a model (pictured below) as a way for my students to visualize the what, the why, and the how.  There was no end around with God…you couldn’t jump over the back fence and sneak in (Nadab and Abihu learned that lesson the hard way; Leviticus 10).

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The holiness of God is difficult to grasp…but sin makes it a blinding reality. If seraphim (“burning ones”) continually declare, “holy, holy, holy” before Him, where does that leave us?

Written by Rick Pierson, Executive Director of CompassGlobal

 

New Creations: Part One

I spent last week in Chisinau, Moldova teaching at Moldova Bible Seminary.  This is a class of second and third year undergrads preparing for ministry in the church or out on the mission field.  The class topic?  The Book of Leviticus…in 5 days!  Perhaps you can discern from the below photo that my students look reasonably excited…but this picture was taken on day 1…

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I actually did get through the 27 chapters…and threw in the last 17 chapters of Exodus for good measure.

Why Leviticus? Well, for one thing it’s my favorite book of the Bible (that’s a topic for another post). But it addresses a very sobering question: How do you live out your faith in the presence of a HOLY God? I prepared my outlines and class discussions with that question in mind.

So when you read in Exodus 24:15, 16, 17 that when Moses “went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain…the glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai…the appearance…was like a devouring fire…”

And then in Exodus 40:34, 35, “…and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle…Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it…”, you’re dealing with something, or I should say SOMEONE quite different that anything or anyone ever encountered.

Quite simply, Leviticus tells you how to approach the “devouring fire” without getting devoured. My initial thought, and perhaps yours is, then why go near it at all?

Written by Rick Pierson, Executive Director of CompassGlobal

Moldova

Over the next few posts Rick Pierson, Executive Director of CompassGmoldova-1758836_640lobal, will be sharing about a recent trip to Moldova. Despite having fertile soil, Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest nations. Many seek work in Europe leaving children to be raised by grandparents or in single parent homes. The country has a strong Orthodox history, but less than 4% of the population is Evangelical Christian. The nation also has deep political tensions as the country is divided between aligning with Europe or with Russia.

Please view this video and pray for Moldova. Be sure to check back, or subscribe to this blog so that you don’t miss seeing how, above all the challenges, God is doing a great work in Moldova!

 

Sent out with love

On Sunday January 29th, The Compass Church commissioned Matt and Laura Pheneger and their three children. The Phenegers have served with Ambassadors Football since 2000, both in Spain and more recently in the US.This month the family will be moving to Peru, where Matt will have oversight for the organization’s work country wide.  The vision of Ambassadors Football is, “Transformation of individuals and communities through indigenous football outreach.”

Commissioning is an opportunity for the church to pray for and affirm its commitment to missionaries it is sending out. Both Matt and Laura grew up at the Wheaton Campus, so it was  especially significant to commission them from there.

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Praise God for the Pheneger family and their obedience to serve where God has called them to go. Please pray for their transition to Peru and that God would use them for His Glory.

An example to us all

Dave Griffin, Associate Campus Pastor at the Wheaton Campus, along with his wife Conce, and 6 other individuals from The Compass Church, traveled to Nicaragua from January 4-11th. They helped lead a group of youth who live at Case Bernabe (an orphanage) on a missions trip to the city of Juigalpa, about a 4 hour drive away.

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The first few days the team worked with the youth to learn dramas and practice their testimonies. Dave encouraged them with lessons on living an authentic faith. In turn, the kids ended up having a chance to demonstrate to The Compass Church team the fine art of killing a poisonous snake!

The next three days were spent out in the community. The youth cleaned up public spaces, went door to door to invite people to church (many came who normally do not attend!), and put on evangelistic programs that included the dramas and testimonies they had practiced earlier

.nicusa2   Performing one of the dramas for the community

It wasn’t easy. There were travel delays, power outages, a broken down bus, some of the places where they served required a police escort for safety …and there was that poisonous snake thing too!  However the impact was powerful!

One of The Compass Church team members reports that, “The kids were continually moved by their own ability to share Jesus with people and all that God had already done through our [combined] team.” Dave shared at the Wheaton Campus on Sunday, that these youth, who have been rejected by their families and rejected by society, saw through this trip that THEY had something to offer. THEY could give. THEY could serve. THEY could be used by God to bring hope and healing to their country.

Please pray that God would continue to use this trip. May those who heard the Gospel from the youth’s presentations come to faith in Christ. May the youth continue to grow deeper in their relationship with God and continue to live out an authentic faith. May we at The Compass Church be encouraged by the example of these youth to serve and share with boldness.

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From Everywhere to Everywhere

Recently the CompassGlobal staff had the opportunity to spend time with Sam George. Sam serves as the Catalyst for Diaspora with Lausanne. His perspectives on the current diaspora movements in the world are not ones you will likely hear on the nightly news. As he places them in the context of global history and God’s providence one can’t help but get excited about the possible impact for the US church and for the world. Read Sam’s recent article in Christianity Today here . May you be encouraged by how the gospel is going from everywhere to everywhere!knowledge-1052011_1280

 

 

 

How you can be a part of God’s mission to reach the world

In part 1 of our series on New Years Resolutions for the Worldwide Church we discussed unreached people groups. You were challenged to contemplate how you could participate in God’s mission to save people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Did you consider prayer? Without getting a visa, taking a plane ride, or learning a new language you can participate in what God is doing in every corner of the world through prayer!

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Here are some excellent resources for you to use:

Joshua Project

This organization focuses specifically on UPG’s. Visit them here and subscribe to receive a daily email highlighting an unreached people group.

Prayercast

At Prayercast you can view prayer videos for every country in the world as well as some for major world religions or special topics.  You can subscribe to have a video emailed to you ever week!

Operation World

Visit here for a daily calendar that will guide you through praying through the world this year.

What is your favorite prayer resource? Which of the above resources will you use in 2017? Comment below to share!