Just received some photos of the food distribution to families at Rasool Pura brick factory in Pakistan this Christmas by Faith Gospel Ministries courtesy of donations from City Temple church Cardiff and Elim International Missions Dept.
Recently Gary Smith and I sent some money to our friend Emmanuel Jonah, National Director of Ignite Liberia, to enable him and Ignite to at least try and be of help as the country suffers from the terrible outbreak of Ebola.
Here's the letter we received from Emmanuel as a result:
On behalf of the Country Director, the director of Programs, Centre managers and the hundreds of youth and young adults Ignite-Liberia is serving, I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Thank you so much for the gift sent to enable us purchase food items, medicines, and supplies for people down with the ebola virus. The fight is becoming worse due to the following:
- Migration of ebola patients in search of food, etc.
- Most families cannot afford to buy buckets for washing of hands. A bucket cost $10.00 for one.
- Quarantine centers (ELWA and JFK) are crowded and have no beds. Hence, patients down with the virus are in homes quarantining themselves. Communities have people who keep watch so that those with the virus will not come out of their homes. Thankfully, community dwellers are in their weak ways collecting rice, meds, and other items to keep them in. It is so difficult as people cannot afford to keep giving all through as they themselves need help. Ignite Liberia has been helpful and families affected are grateful to you, Nigel and Gary for the gift.
There is a need for more food, meds, buckets, Clorox, soap, etc. Nigel, I would appreciate you raising sponsors to help with the buying of buckets and rice to help communities through ignite Liberia. The death toll is alarming and whatever can be done to restrict the movements of people will be helpful. Rice and buckets are pressing needs. A lot of homes have no buckets, and some nearby villages have one bucket in the center of each village.
On a recent trip to Lahore I went to connect with and to work with pastor Rizwan Fazal of Faith Gospel Ministries International. He arranged for me to speak in 4 rural settings at evangelistic events organised by pastors in his network. One week later I got a summary email after extensive follow up from the pastors. They were able to report:
Over 200 lives given to Christ.
2 women healed of severe abdominal pain.
6 persons healed from back pain.
An elderly lady and a young girl healed from spinal/back deformity.
Several people instantly healed from fever.
Here's a recap of Third Day dressing room devotions over recent weeks:
Romans 12:10 NIV Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
What ways could we be more effective at honoring each other? building each other up? encouraging each other?
Ephesians 4:2 NIV Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Do I give the same amount of patience and grace as I get? What ways should I be more patient? What ways might people have to be patient with me?
Colossians 3:16 NIV Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
How do you measure up as a 'teacher' using Godly wisdom? Are you willing to admonish?
John 13:34-35 NIV “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
How well do we model 'love' to others? When the pressure comes can we still model love?
Read 1 Corinthians 13.4-7 and replace 'love' or 'it' with your own name. How well do you match up?
Ephesians 4:32 NIV Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
When we get hurt or offended, is our reaction retaliation, resolution, or forgiveness?
Galatians 5:13 NIV You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Is our attitude 'serve us' or 'service'?
What do we project? How could we change?
Lying in my bunk on the tour bus a couple of days ago, awake ridiculously early because I was still on UK time, I began to ask myself the questions: "Whatever possesses me to keep doing this? Why do I keep packing a bag, driving 3 hours to London Heathrow airport, jump on a United flight for 8 hours or more, and spend weeks at a time on the road with Third Day?" This wasn't a period of despondency or futility, but more of an opportunity to take stock, re-evaluate, to remind myself why I do what I do.
The answers simple, some might even say simplistic- I believe I am answering God's call to GO.
In some areas of life, I've been all too disobedient to God's word and God's command, but over the years I have at least been consistently obedient when I hear the whisper from The Lord 'Go!'.
I can remember as a young believer, being thrilled to travel all over South West London in my beaten up old Mini Traveller car, filled with friends from the church youth group, as I set out preaching at churches full of people 30 or 40 years older than myself. Most of the churches were small in number, had seen better days, but I was just so excited to actually 'go' somewhere in the name of Jesus. In fact at one of these services, after I'd preached a message on the need for Christians to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all nations, an enthusiastic woman asked me when I was setting off to serve as a missionary overseas! I'd never done any overseas ministry, and my naivety had made me realise it's better to practice what I preach than to just be good in theory!
The Biblical command to 'GO' is a strong and consistent one, the command to 'GO and TELL' just as strong. I've hardly ever turned down an opportunity to go and share Jesus with people, whether that's a youth group nearby, a church hours away, or in a country thousands of miles from home. Right now I'm trying to work out how I can get to then nation of Pakistan this year to respond to an invitation I have had from a young man leading a ministry there.
So back to being on the road with Third Day. Touring life offers a very obvious model of going and telling, there are easily definable measures of success- we visited 30 cities, we ministered to 100,000 people, we heard some great personal stories of God at work through songs, we sponsored 5,0000 children etc, etc. And there is something fulfilling and heartwarming at the end of a touring season to look back and thank The Lord for all he has accomplished through us.
Now hear me out, I'm not saying that a music touring model is the only way to respond to God's call to go, in fact it has several disadvantages- for example we basically 'hit' a city and then jump on the bus to the next one, whilst in the New Testament we see in Acts that Paul and his missionary colleagues spent much time in the places they went to. That's one reason why with the overseas mission links I have- India, Macedonia, Liberia- I keep going back and building relationships with the same ministry partners.
I hope you realise that if you really want to grow as a follower of Jesus, and to contribute to the Kingdom, the reward will be amazing but there will be a cost to pay. Has there been a cost to my obedience to the command 'Go'? You betcha there has been. It's cost me time with my wife and children, it's cost me time away from my church, it's cost me money for flights to mission fields, it's cost me investment of resources into people and places and ministries, its often cost me my health- jetlag, exhaustion, stomach problems, dietary concerns, are all a regular part of my life. Yet the reward has been overwhelming- to be a small part of the Lord's big plan of redemption for this world, to be part of a brotherhood of believers such as the Third Day family, to have gained friends from different countries and cultures, and to have the inner peace of mind that only comes from truly living in obedience.
Most of you will never be called to a lifestyle such as mine, although some of you will be called to the nations, but all of you have to work out for yourselves your response to God's call to 'GO!' The question isn't 'should I go?', the answer to that is non-negotiable. The questions really are 'where should I go?' and 'what is Jesus asking me to do when I get there?' You might simply be called to go into your local public school and be salt and light, or to step into your office with a new found confidence that Jesus is with you, or to engage in the lives of the broken, the sick, the marginalised in your town or city, or it might be to go on that mission trip your pastor has been talking about. In some of these instances, Jesus might not just be asking you to 'GO' but to 'STAY' too. If you make the focus of your life your readiness to respond to God's then yes there will be cost, but the reward of obedience will lead you into the abundant life Jesus promised.
Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all".
Mark 16.15 Message paraphrase.