They Have a Face, We Just Haven’t Seen It Yet
Angela and I are getting closer and closer to being able to leave for the field. The training that we attended in Belgium this past July seemed to get us more excited to move to Bogotá. We are looking forward to the day we are able to purchase our plane tickets for Colombia.
As we are getting closer to this reality, we are praying that God will prepare us for the ministry opportunities in Bogotá. Many of you know that our desire is to minister to university students and young adults. Bogotá is a city of approximately 11 million people and in reality probably less than 5% consider themselves Evangelical Christians. In the huge city of many that are lost and hurting there is over 100 universities. The need for the Gospel is huge. It is our prayer that God would use us to reach some. We do not know exactly what this ministry will look like, there will be a lot of details that will be figured out when we arrive and are able to start ministry.
One thing that we are sure of, is that God has ordained our steps. He has ordained our process of raising support and He has ordained the process of beginning the ministry in Bogotá. He has also ordained the people that we will come across, the very people that we will minister to and share the Gospel of Grace. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
A lot of times it can be easy for to think of those who we will minister to as “Faceless.” People whom we do not know, yet. But as we get closer to the reality of being in Bogotá, I have come to the realization that these people are not faceless. They are faces that God will put in our path, faces belonging to people that are in need of Grace and Mercy, and the Love of Christ. They are not faceless.
They very much have a face, we just haven’t seen it yet.
You may be wondering what we are doing while we are here in Brussels, Belgium for the month. We are currently attending our LAST required training with MTW. It is called CCMI. So what is CCMI?
CCMI stands for Cross Cultural Ministry Internship. During this month-long training there are two specific methods in which we are learning: in a classroom setting and in ministry with local partners.
In our classroom setting here are a few topics we are covering:
– Cross-Cultural Skills
– Language Acquisition Skills
– Interpersonal Dynamics
– Spiritual Formation and Self-Care
– Family Issues
and more . . .
In ministry settings Ross and I are working with 2 different ministries:
The Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Brussels Branch
-We get the honor of worshiping with our brothers and sisters in faith from Ghana. We attend a weekly bible study and attend Sunday worship.
-We have the honor to getting to know some of the families that make up this congregation over meals and fellowship time.
-We have the humble opportunity to observe their culture and ask them questions about their life here in Belgium and their Ghanan heritage and culture.
Serve the City, Brussels
-We get to serve along-side a local branch with events and activities they have planned around the city.
-About them: Serve the City is a global movement of volunteers showing kindness in practical ways to people in need including the homeless, asylum seekers, elderly, disabled, children in need, and victims of abuse.
In a nut shell, we are learning practical tools that will help us begin life and ministry in Colombia and we are building relationships with other missionaries and national partners that will last a lifetime. Our time here so far has been very encouraging and we cannot wait to use these acquired or refreshed skills in Bogota.
We have completed our first week at our final training here in Brussels, Belgium and we are expectant for the rest of the month. This final training is called CCMI (Cross-Cultural Ministry Internship) where we will learn in both a classroom setting and from working with some local ministries here in Belgium. There are a total of 9 families attending this training plus MTW staff and interns who are helping with the all the children.
Ross and I are staying in a hotel about 20 minutes away from the center where our training is held. One of the things we have noticed about Belgium is that they know how to use the space they have. We are in a huge city yet right behind our hotel is a wheat field. It is absolutely beautiful as the sun glistens off of the stalks. This field is such a reminder of the words Christ spoke.
The laborers are few. Even in the day of Christ this was true and is still true today. THEREFORE pray earnestly to send the laborers out!
As our time here has just begun, we desire to be in Colombia even more to use the things we are learning here every day. We are ready to labor for the sake of Christ in Colombia but are still waiting to be sent out. Please continue to pray for us as we experience the gospel daily and that we would be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as we can during this intensive month of hands on training.
We are so grateful for those of you who stand strongly behind us in prayer. Please pray earnestly that Ross and I, and others like us will be sent out!
The rest of the world is buzzing over the World Cup. The World Cup is a football (soccer) tournament that happens every four years between the world’s top 32 countries. It captivates the attention of the world for an entire month. Keeping people on the edge of their seats to see who is going to win the next match, waiting to see who is going to the final. Will it be their country’s team or the team of their neighboring country? There is one thing about football (soccer) in that separates the rest of the world from the United States. Football is life! It is life in the since that it is the only sport that the majority of the world really cares about. When people go on their lunch break, they play football. When they want to hang out with their friends, they play football. Fathers don’t play catch with their sons, they teach their sons how to pass properly or how to take a penalty kick. Football is life!
This type of culture creates amazing and unique ministry opportunities!
Part of ministering to communities whether here in the states or internationally is identifying and understanding their passions. Once you have done that, figure out how you can reach out and minister to the community through those passions. In more suburban areas here in the States, it may be through a softball league or through watching college (American) football together. In more urban areas it may be through art shows. Ministry opportunities are abundant no matter what cultural environment you are in, be it in Rudy, AR or New York City, in Zaventem, Belgium or Bogotá, Colombia.
Ministering through the World Cup is an amazing opportunity. It is an opportunity to meet people at a very personal and passionate time. An opportunity to share those passions, scream at the refs for bad calls, celebrate when your team wins, or come up with reasons why they lost. It is an opportunity to cultivate relationships with people that you might not have otherwise.
A term that is used a lot in Christianity today, perhaps too much, is “doing life.” Part of “doing life” with others is more than having a weekly small group with people from your church. It is reaching out to the people who do not go to church. People who may not even want to step foot in a church, for whatever reason, they have a misconception of what it means to follow Christ. “Doing life” is not something that should stay between church goers, it should be the relationship that is between the Body of Christ and the lost and hurting who do not know Him. The World Cup creates the very opportunity to open the doors to this relationship.
Many foreign missionaries use the Cup to reach out to their community, to minister to those in need. They invite everyone to come and watch the match while they broadcast it on a big screen with a projector. They let the community know of their desire to watch the matches as a community of neighbors. They express their desire to “do life” with everyone, not just the church. But it doesn’t stop after the matches are over. They use times like these to grow those realtionships and share the love of Christ. They use the World Cup to love others and “do life” with them.
What is your World Cup?
What are the passions in your community that God can use through you to reach out to your neighbors? What is your World Cup? How can you express your desire to “do life” with others? What is your softball? What is your art show? What is your World Cup?
It is my prayer that we would be a people that seeks after ways to reach out to the lost and hurting in the community that God has placed us. May we be a people that lives out Luke 10:27 by “Loving God and Loving Others.” It is my prayer that we would truly “love our neighbor.”
What is your World Cup?