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Missions is Being Safe, but not Scared

Beginning last month, we had a huge growth in Covid cases, and deaths in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Most of this is because workers have been sent back to SVG from a nearby island that is currently locked down because of Covid cases.

As the cases continue to spread, I am encouraging individuals to be safe, but not scared

Being safe means doing everything possible to make sure that you’re healthy. That way if you do get Covid, your body is able to fight it off. I have personally taken the vaccine to help with this, and also use vitamins with a healthy diet, as well as an exercise routine (lots of walking).

I have close friends who don’t want to take the vaccine, and thats okay (it’s their choice). However, for them being safe means working very hard to make sure their immune system is strong.

We also encourage safety in Church services:

  1. Through sanitising our hands
  2. Wearing masks
  3. Social distancing
  4. And staying home if we don’t feel well

there is nothing wrong with being safe, but being scared is very wrong.

Being scared is constantly thinking about Covid, and allowing it to control our lives. There are currently no serious lockdowns or safety restrictions regarding church services (we may have some soon). Therefore, I’m actively pursuing ministry opportunities as the Covid grows. In fact we recently started back Sunday School (it was ended shortly before my medical furlough).

The point is there’s a big difference between being safe and scared

  1. Being scared keeps me at home because I “might” encounter someone who has Covid
  2. Being scared keeps me from visiting individuals through ministry.
  3. Being scared panics whenever someone is not wearing their mask properly 1
  4. Being scared is constantly worrying if someone else has Covid

Ministry cannot be done this way!

The recent lockdowns since 2020 have taught us that freedom is something that we can take for granted. We only realise that too late when Covid takes it away from us.

Every moment of freedom we have must be spent actively doing the work of God….

Because the day may come that freedom is taken away from us.

  1. I do wear masks, and make sure everyone in church wears them properly for one anothers safety, But at the same time allow others to make their own health choices for the most part

Missions is Doing Your Cultural Homework

One day after getting out of quarantine, I went to visit some friends at a local shop. After asking about my time in America, and commenting on how fat I got, we got caught up on recent news.

For around a half-hour many of the more controversial issues in the US were discussed.

  1. The Covid Delta Variant
  2. Vaccinations
  3. The need for quarantine before entering a country
  4. And Afghanistan

I won’t go into detail about my views on each 1. Instead I want to highlight the fact that people in foreign countries love to discuss current events in America. I’ve had MANY political discussions leading up the the recent presidential election in the streets of Barrouallie!

These conversations about what’s going in the United States shows me just how much what goes on in America affects other Countries….

And it also challenges me to do my cultural homework

In 2008 I was with a group of American missionaries in an Australian coffee shop. As we were talking an Aussie asked if we were American, then proceeded to tell us who to vote for, and why. That was one of my first experiences like that so it kind of surprised me. But as those conversations continued, I realised it was important to not only have a stance on controversial issues, but be able to defend them.

Sunday I finished the audible version of “Faultlines” by Voddie Baucham. I had read the kindle version of the book, but enjoyed the audible version better because it allowed me to listen to chapters more than once.

Throughout the book, you realise Baucham is someone who has done his homework. He understands Critical Race Theory 2 better than almost anyone who holds to the view! In a spirit of love and humility, Baucham takes apart the arguments for CRT, and shows just how damaging this view is.

This calm and technical discussion of the problem is very different than the way we (myself included) usually deal with controversial issues. We share “hot takes” that are taken as fact without any proof, then anyone who disagrees with us is mis-represented.

This is not standing for the truth friends…..

This is laziness!

It’s easy to send a tweet or Facebook post about a controversial issue, it’s hard to clearly explain and defend your viewpoint sitting across the table from someone who disagrees.

Yes we should stand for the truth, and call out sin. But have a foundation of Scripture, and clear understanding instead of personal opinion.

  1. Those who are interested in my views can contact me directly
  2. The cultural issue he challenges in the book

Missions is Being Angry for the Right Reasons

Ephesians 4:26 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

People in Barrouallie don’t see me angry a lot, because it takes a lot to make me angry. But they saw me angry Friday.

And thats okay….

Because it was something worth getting angry over.

Occasionally I bring some balls from America for children in the community to play with. It gives them something constructive to do, and helps build relationships.

Friday afternoon a little boy was happily playing with a ball when a teenager playing soccer nearby decided to take ball from him.

Seeing the little boy in tears because a teenager took his ball is something worth getting angry over

After we got the ball back, he went back to waiting for his soccer game. When he saw me approaching and calling his name, he immediately jumped up and ran a safe distance away.

There was not yelling or vulgar language

But I made very clear to him that taking a ball from a little boy didn’t make him a man. I went as far as to challenge him to take the ball out of my hand if he was man enough (he wasn’t).

Anger should not be a constant characteristic of our lives. But on ocassion, anger explained in calm terms and a controlled spirit is necessary to confront sin.

The reason this boy habitually took balls from little children is nobody did anything about it. A lady shouted at him to give the ball back, but never actually got up to make him do so. She then told me it was my fault because I shouldn’t have brought the balls anyways! Because nobody stood up and called it wrong, he just kept doing it.

The Lord reminded me Friday that I could have given the boy a break (he was a teenager after all!) but sometimes somebody needs to stand up and say “this is wrong.”

Missions is Taking Care of Yourself So You Can Care for Others

Since returning from the medical furlough, I’ve tried to make “self-care” a part of my daily ministry.

Self-care is basically what it sounds like, taking care of yourself! For me, it means making my own physical fitness a priority.

My self-care habits include things like

  1. One or two (usually two) brief naps a day
  2. Constantly wearing sunglasses to protect my eyes
  3. Eating healthy meals
  4. And setting aside time each day for relaxation

These and other habits are important because I’ve learned ministry cannot be done at 100% if I am not at 100%

The months leading up to my medical furlough was a painful reminder of this. The lack of proper eyesight affected my energy greatly since lots of my bodies strength went into helping me see. I had a desire to do the work, but lacked the energy to accomplish it.

It is possible to minister when you’re at about 75% or 80% physically, but it simply isn’t effective.

More than that….

Lack fo self-care damages ministry

I came back to the States beat up not only physically, but mentally, and emotionally because of my cataracts. Looking back, I can see this issue came because I didn’t take care of myself (my eyes particularly).

During my time home I re-committed myself not only to spiritual health, but personal health. Which means eating right, wearing my sunglasses, and making sure I get enough rest.

Because in order to help others, sometimes I need to take care of John first.

Missions is an Open Bible

Backpacks are a pretty common part of daily life in Barrouallie since you do lots of walking, and have to carry things with you.

Mine usually has the following items

  1. A book
  2. A notebook for journaling Scripture
  3. My Kindle
  4. And my carrying around bible

The carrying around Bible is a smaller one (the one above is my study bible) used in ministry during the day. Using a Bible on your phone is more convenient, but I’ve found a physical copy is much better when ministering to people. I like to turn the passage so it faces them directly, then they can read along with me.

My carrying around Bible has proved very useful in not only sharing the Gospel, but sharing devotional thoughts, and answering questions. Some people have begun asking me questions about Scripture as I pass by because they know that I carry a Bible in my bag.

The true reason why I carry a Bible however is because thats what God uses to transform lives….

And Satan hates it.

Monday I sat down in front of church with a man and we read through Psalms 91 together. A gentleman was sitting on some steps nearby, and asked me to speak louder so that he could hear. As we read and discussed, he nodded his head in agreement with what we were saying.

The same man stopped me the next day and after some small talk, started asking me questions about the Bible. It soon became clear that instead of agreeing with Scripture, he felt the Bible was a useless book.

During our conversation he told me

  1. The Bible had no facts in it
  2. The people in it never existed
  3. It was actually written by King James
  4. And the white man (his words) took the black mans story, then wrote the Bible so that they could control the blacks

Many times as we talked for about an hour he told me “I don’t want to talk about that (my open bible), I want to talk about facts.”

Now I have no animosity towards him, and the truth is, he wasn’t angry with me. But throughout the hour-long conversation, his goal was to get me to stop using the Bible.

And each time I refused….

Because if the Bible isn’t my foundation, then my own opinion is

Satan hates the Bible with a passion because it’s the Word of God. So he wants to draw us away from it. This isn’t normally done through false doctrine or complete rejection of Scripture, but using our own ideas and opinions instead of Scripture.

This is why ministry of every kind in my humble opinion must be done with an open Bible.

Though he didn’t say it this way, the man in our conversation was constantly telling me to “close the Bible” and give him “facts” (my opinion). But I reused because he wasn’t the one who wanted a closed Bible, it was Satan.

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