Category Archives: World Missions
The Impact of the Church
Recently I got to sit down with Minister of Missions from ten different Louisiana churches, ranging in size from 75 to 1,800 attenders. The purpose of the meeting was to communicate with them a bit about church planting in our state, but I was really curious about what it would be like to get these missions leaders together and talking about their missions engagements around the world. I was not disappointed! Just these 10 churches reported:
- 15 new churches currently sponsored
- 26 overseas missions engagements in at least 12 different countries
- 4 national missions engagements
- 9 state missions engagements
- 9 local missions engagements
- 4 unreached people groups adopted
- 5 multi-site campus developments
And remember, this is just 10 churches!!! It speaks to me about the impact that Christ followers working through their churches can have on our world. We recently reported that Louisiana church based compassion ministries had given out 635 tons of food to people in need so far in 2016. And we can only track probably less than 1/3 of the churches doing this type of ministry in our state. If we could see the full impact of the tens of thousands of churches on our world, we would see THE THING that’s holding back darkness, famine, devastation from this earth. And we would see heaven being populated from every tribe and tongue. Take away the church and this world is a dark, dark place.
Thanking God today for His work through His people in our world.
A few highlights:
- First Baptist West Monroe has send out nine missionaries from their church over the past 10 years.
- Cedar Crest Baptist Church in West Monroe sponsors a national pastors conference for pastors in Bulgaria! They also paid to translate, print, & distribute Experiencing God in Bulgarian.
- First Baptist Hornbeck hosts a Youth Camp in the summers for Jr. High & High School students from all over their area.
- Istrouma Baptist in Baton Rouge hosts an English as a Second Language ministry (ESL) that includes people from six nations.
The Peace Child 50 Years Later
Loved this UNFORGETTABLE story when I first came across it as a baby Christian some 20 years ago. I have told it over and over again along with other Don Richardson stories from Peace Child & Eternity In Their Hearts. And now to see the Gospel’s lasting affect on those villages made up of head hunters & on the son of Don Richardson. Beautiful…
“Come. Anyone who wants. Deny yourself, Take up your Cross, Follow Me, No matter the cost. Be My heart, My hands, My voice” ~Great song by Selah & my fav moment of the SBC Annual Meeting a few weeks ago.
Reflecting on World AIDS Day
This afternoon I passed a road-side Fruit Stand in my community and remembered the booming road side business I saw in Zimbabwe, Africa a few years ago: coffins/caskets. Praying today for a country where the life expectancy is 42 and 25% of the population is made up of orphans, due in large part to the World AIDS crisis. Glad to see the numbers going the other way, but remembering names and faces of friends, brother and sisters that are VERY close to this crisis. A few personal pics:
See my pasts post about work and partners in Zimbabwe.
A Radical Yes
Great Testimony from a recent Missions Venture from the Northshore to Romania.
what really struck me on this trip is the grip that religion has on the country. (By “religion,” I mean a set of rules that people try to follow to please God – in other words, legalism.) As I stood on a street corner waiting to catch a bus, everywhere I turned I saw churches and steeples and monuments and crucifixes and other external signs, but not much freedom or joy.
Having such a keen mind, I said to myself – this is going to take a miracle. Doesn’t it always? For example:
Donna, a 20-year-old hotel receptionist, couldn’t fathom how she could have a personal relationship with God, much less how the creator of the universe could live within her. Having been raised by a Catholic mother and a Romanian Orthodox father, she knew and agreed (intellectually) with the basics:
– yes, I am a sinner
– yes, I am separated from God because of my sin
– yes, I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God
– yes, I believe that he died on the cross to pay for my sins
– yes, I believe that he was buried and rose again
But when it came to actually vocalizing that she wanted to put her faith in Christ as her Savior and Lord – that she thereby wanted to receive the free gift of eternal life – she balked. “You can’t just say yes,” she said, “it must be a radical yes!” Amen. It takes a “radical yes!”
As we continued our discussion, Donna came to understand that the only way to have eternal life is to receive it and that the only way to receive eternal life is to receive it by faith in Jesus Christ. When this realization hit her, she said, “yes, I want to receive this free gift.” I asked her, is that a “radical yes?” She exclaimed, “YES, A RADICAL YES!”
What a great reminder from a young Romanian girl who saw the light. We are born of the Spirit as a result of God’s divine influence on our hearts, which causes us – by grace through faith – to utter in our own way a “radical yes.” And the way we are born is the way we should walk, continually responding to God with a “radical yes.”
Thomas Keiffer lives in Mandeville and serves as a Church Planter with E3 Partners. Contact him about future missions trips or speaking engagements at email@example.com.
I’m a Published Photographer!
Check out the cover of Voice of Martyrs Spanish Edition. I snapped that picture on a 2008 trip to a remote village in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico. VOM’s Spanish Publisher found it on my blog (with this post) and requested to use it. I was honored for them to do so because I’m a fan of the work of Voice of Martyrs and I’m burdened by the tremendous needs in Chiapas. The current issue will be on the persecution of Evangelical Christians in Chiapas. Sign up to receive their free newsletter here.
Hope Church of Waldheim has been on two trips to the region, providing medical care and cultivating the ground for church planting among the Tzotzil Indians in the Highlands of Chiapas. Bridge Church, the new church we are a part of in West St. Tammany Parish, recently sent a team back to the Lacandon Jungle to continue the work. We hope to return in 2009. Keep in touch for info about future trips.
Check out our partners at http://gled.net/.
Chiapas, Mexico – VOM Restricted Nation
This week we have a small team from our church traveling to remote villages in Chiapas, Mexico, bringing physical and spiritual care and supporting the church planting movement taking place among the Tzotzil Indians in Mexico’s southern most state. While I was unable to go on this trip, I had an interesting opportunity to contribute to the mission of spreading the Gospel in Chiapas this week. Voice of Martyrs, Spanish Edition, asked to use one of my pictures from a previous trip on the cover of an upcoming issue. The picture (to the left) was taken at a village called Nuevo Sabanilla in the Lacandon Jungle, where a team from Hope Church of Waldheim, Oak View Baptist Church in Irving, TX, and Willow Bend Church in Plano, TX, traveled with a few Mexican doctors last June. It was an incredible experience that included a five hour ride on a dirt road (that’s a long dirt road even for someone from LaSalle Parish), breath taking scenery, waking up inside a passing cloud bank, being the first Americans to travel to the area, and knowing that because of our trip lives were saved physically and spiritually. This week our team is back in the jungle village of Nuevo Sabanilla to continue the work and help solidify the planting of a healthy church in the region.
I hope you’ll join me in praying for Chiapas. To be on the cover of Voice of Martyrs means that it is not a safe place for evangelical Christians. See this story about their status as a restricted nation. And pray for our team that will be making the trek out of the jungle starting tomorrow. Can’t wait to hear the stories of God’s work and to start planning the next trip!
For info about our partnering organization in Chiapas visit gled.net. For more of the story and pics click here.
Coming Face to Face with Self
Luke 9:23 (ESV) “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Here’s Following Jesus 101: Deny yourself, consider yourself as good as dead, and now you’re ready to get in line behind the One reconciling and restoring the world. It’s a call to come face to face with your own selfishness and put it to death.
The disciples didn’t get it. Just 23 verses later they are arguing about which one of them was the greatest disciple (Luke 9:46). They needed to come face to face with their selfishness.
When you are obedient to the call of God to love, to serve, to give and go, you often come face to face with self and see it for what it is. If your life revolves around pleasing self, you will avoid the call of Jesus and ignore the needs of others.
- I came face to face with my own selfishness as I stood in an orphanage in Zimbabwe looking at 150 orphans, many of them HIV positive, as the director of the home told me they had enough food for one more meal.
- I came face to face with my own selfishness as I stood under a tent in a remote village in Chiapas, Mexico, as a lady received life saving medication that cost less than an American dining experience.
- I came face to face with my own selfishness as I stood in an emergency room with a young man and his family as he lay dying from wounds received in an auto accident.
- I came face to face with my own selfishness when I met a couple in my area who both have had strokes and live in substandard housing.
This Saturday, August 29th, our church will follow the reconciling and restoring One into that neighborhood to put aside self and love, serve, give, and go.
If we don’t deal with self, we may never see the needs around us and be blessed to respond to His call and follow His steps. I couldn’t afford either of those mission trips. I didn’t have time to stop by that hospital. I’ve got plenty of other places that me and my family could be on Saturday, August 29. That is according to self. But what’s going to really matter? That I get all I want to please myself or that I make a difference in the lives of others?
Jesus calls us to a new outlook on life. And it gets better! He gives us a new outlook. He gives us the ability to see beyond ourselves, to hear his voice, to respond to needs as He would.
Father, give us the grace and courage to lay aside self and follow Jesus.
I thank God for friendly reminders. When it seems the mission I’m on as a church planter in North America is too difficult, too elusive, too costly, too lonely, etc., etc., God reminds me that the opposite is true.
Last night I met with a church planter who is starting churches in a country of 72 Million people and 3,000 Christians. He lives in danger as an underground Gospel worker. In four years he’s had three conversions. I’m praying for him and his family everyday.
Thank You Father for reminding me…
- that I’m not alone in my passion to do what sometimes seems impossible.
- that there are heroes willing to do what others won’t even imagine.
- that your call is to obedience not capitalistic results.
Eighteen students completed our 2008 Block Release Ministry Training for rural Pastors and Church Planters in Zimbabwe this weekend. The students met quarterly. Many of them walking and biking 10+ miles to attend. Eight new churches were planted from the group and the goal is set at ten new churches for 2009. Please join me in praying that these students will turn the world upside down from Zimbabwe. I’m grateful for kingdom partnerships that, forged by our Father, exceed our greatest expectations. Thanks to our partners in Zimbabwe for their hard work and determination to reach their country in the face of hardship. Thanks to Hope Church of Waldheim for generosity and willingness to be used thousands of miles away.
On the far right is Pastor Peter Mabasa and his wife Beauty. On the far left is Pastor Abiott Gwede.