Archive | June, 2012

International Christian Concern

25 Jun

Over 200 million Christians around the world today are suffering for their faith.  Having lost jobs and families, endured brutal attacks and unfair convictions, these believers are showing us what it truly means to live for Christ in the midst of adversity.  Yet these believers are not alone.

As members of the body of Christ, we can make a difference in the lives of the persecuted.  And International Christian Concern is dedicated to providing the tools that will help us do just that!  Through their website, you can play a role in caring for orphaned children of martyred parents, help support the wives and families of imprisoned pastors, donate to the ministries of underground pastors,  or help to rebuild communities devastated by persecution.  Sign up for the newsletter and commit to pray for your brothers and sisters or check out the resources link for ways that you can play a part in raising awareness of their plight.  If you’re feeling really committed, you can even volunteer to play a more active role!  So get involved and make a difference in the body of Christ!

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Refugee Highway Partnership

18 Jun

This morning, 44 million people around the world woke up someplace other than their home.  Forcibly displaced, war and persecution have left them with no other choice but to leave their families, homes, and jobs.  All live in fear of returning.

Of these 44 million, over 15 million are refugees – those who have not merely been relocated within their own country, but have been forced, instead, to seek shelter in another land.  Often without sufficient food, water, shelter, or medical care, they live day to day with the scars left by the traumatic events that they have witnessed.  Nearly 80% of these refugees come from developing countries, 47% are under the age of 18, and 100% need our help.

The Refugee Highway Partnership was formed in 2001 in Izmir, Turkey as over 200 members of 16 different evangelical ministries met to consult about refugee ministry.  Today, you too can play a part in their mission.  Take a moment to visit their website where you can download a map of the routes traveled by refugees, view video presentations, and link to a Virtual Refugee Camp where you can learn more about the trials that face Forcibly Displaced People around the world each and every day.

Are you ready to get involved?  Download a Refugee Advocacy Packet that will help you as you begin to share the need with others.   Subscribe to the prayer chain, committing yourself to pray for refugees and for the workers around the world who are laboring to help them.  Or sign up to host a World Refugee Sunday event in your home church.  There are plenty of other ways to be involved, so take the time to explore the sites of the RHP’s Partner Organizations as well.  Then commit to making a difference!

Compassion International

11 Jun

How poor is poor?  Well, according to world poverty statistics, if you make an annual income of more than $11,456 a year, you are among the blessed 16% who comprise the world’s richest people.  If you make more than $3,706, you’re in the top 25%.  Over 1.4 billion people around the globe are living on less than $1.25 a day – well below the poverty line.  This lack of income affects everything from educational opportunities  (if you can read this post, be grateful that you aren’t part of the nearly 900 million people worldwide who cannot) to healthcare.

While most of us can’t do anything of substance for most of these people, we can make a real difference in individual lives.  By sponsoring a child through Compassion International, you can provide Biblical training, healthcare, education, and opportunities for advancement to one child living in the clutches of poverty.  For that one child, your involvement makes a lasting imprint, bringing hope to a seemingly hopeless situation.

Don’t have the ability to give?  There are plenty of other opportunities Get Involved.   Join with others around the world as a Prayer Partner (check out the 52 Ways to Pray for Children link), host a Compassion Sunday at your church, or add a Compassion Widget to your Facebook page or website.  However you choose to participate, be assured that your contribution will make a world of difference!

The Two Minute Relationship: Testing the Waters, Diving In

1 Jun

Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken the time to examine a few of the vital social skills which influence our ability to share the Gospel in an effective and timely manner.  We’ve looked at the question, “What’s in a Name?” and considered the importance of taking the time to “Ask, Listen, and Observe”.  We’ve discussed the value of taking the time to “Relate” to the feelings and experiences of others, even though we don’t always handle our circumstances the same way that they do and considered the importance of living “The Life of a Servant”.  This week, we’re going to conclude our exploration of the “Two Minute Relationship” with some discussion on how to test the waters and take the final plunge into a Gospel presentation.  Don’t worry, the waters are friendlier than they may first appear!

You’ve already built the foundation for your relational connection and you know that you and your new “friend” have something in common.  And, if you’ve been carefully listening to their responses and observing their reactions, you’ve probably seen a few subtle cues as to their religious or political leanings (these may not be as “separate” as you’d initially believe).  If they’ve said something specific about their views, all you need to do is pursue their comments with a few more questions.  Approach others with the attitude of a learner and you’ll go far.

In our modern times, we no longer have to travel to the Middle East to meet a Muslim, India to befriend an Hindu, China to encounter a Buddhist, or South America or Africa to meet an Animist;  Many of them are living right next door! They sit beside us in study hall or ring out our purchases at the grocery store.  So once they’ve opened the door, take the time to ask your neighbors, classmates, co-workers, about their culture and beliefs.  Ask to share a meal from their native country.  Learn to say something in their language (yes, “hello” counts!).  Allow them to explain how and why they view the world the way they do.  More frequently than not, you’ll discover that they’re willing to share… and reciprocate by enquiring about your perspective.  You might call this phase of the conversation the “invitation” – it’s the moment when you know you have a clear opening to present the Gospel message.  So dive right in!

Sometimes, however, the “open door” isn’t as clear.  In these cases, you may be able to give it a gentle nudge and see where the conversation goes.  As you talk, take note of religious symbols, tattoos, bumper stickers, and t-shirt slogans.  These give us a glimpse into the lives of others and can serve as quick conversation starters.  Test the waters with an observation and then proceed to a question.  For example, “That’s a really interesting tattoo.  Does it mean something special to you?”  Then listen carefully to the response.

And don’t hesitate to ask the same questions about apparently Christian symbols either! A cross may be viewed as a fashion accessory just as easily as it is a symbol of Redeeming Love.  Whether the person is trying to be elegant or “cool”, their reason for wearing or using a symbol may not be the same as ours and can lead to some excellent opportunities for sharing the Gospel.

I once asked this question of a receptionist who was wearing a very dainty silver cross whether the emblem held any special meaning for her.  She very quickly replied, “Not really… I just like to wear it.  I like the one you’re wearing.”  The result was that her response to my simple question opened up a fantastic opportunity to share with her about the life, hope, and victory found in the One Who died upon the cross! (Commenting on Christian symbols can also have a very positive and encouraging flip side.  Sometimes the person you ask knows exactly what their symbol means.  It gives you a great opportunity to connect with and lift up another Believer, so don’t be shy!)

Don’t be afraid to clearly display your faith either.  Your reactions to people and events can have a profound effect on folks who have seen a lot of counterfeit Christians.  You might even end up on the receiving end of the enquiry!  I once had an exciting opportunity to share with a couple of teenagers in a jewelry store thanks to a belt buckle I wear.  It bears the initials IXOYE, an abbreviation for the Greek words meaning “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”  The clerk saw it and thinking it “really cool”, asked me what it said!

As you learn more about those around you, you will begin to see ways to share Christ that you never even imagined!  Be curious and let the Spirit move!  Even if one specific encounter doesn’t lead to a discussion, it may serve as a springboard – God’s preparation for another encounter later on.

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