God With Us

December 23, 2015 |

God with us

Come, Lord Jesus.  Come.

Our plea for God to come reflects our anxiety over the brokenness of the world. It’s an expression of our wanting desire for the culmination of redemptive history in the Messiah. Come, Lord Jesus, come to rescue us. Come to heal us. Restore sight to the blind. Declare the epoch of the Lord’s favor. Set the world aright through your Kingdom here on earth. We wait. Patiently we wait for him.

And then we celebrate the Light of the world who did indeed come…The night, though, was silent. There were no horses. No chariots. Only quietude in a manger. There were lowly shepherds in the distance who knew first. Wise men were on their long journey, following the star, but it would be weeks before the gold and incense and myrrh arrived. There were no gifts or trumpets sounding that night. No fireworks. The King had slipped into the world to be with us. Quietly and humbly. There was no bursting forth on the world’s stage.

At Christmas, we celebrate the arrival of our humble King.

Sent into the world to become man, to be with us, to pound the pavement with us, to suffer with us, incarnate.

To walk alongside us, as close as burrowing under skin.

God. With. Us…three words that should not be able to merge together into one coherent sentence. But they do in Christ. We look our King in the face. He is there. Present. Sent to be present, to know every suffering of humanity so that he could bear the suffering, one day. God is with us in Christ Jesus the Messiah who came to deliver us.

God is indeed with us in Christ Jesus born this day in Bethlehem. He is with us. As we go out into the world we carry the very presence of God with us.

 

Our greatest gift, really the only gift we can give to the world, is God with us in Jesus, so that others may see and know.

Leteveryheart

 

Redemptive Community

December 16, 2015 |

Redemptive

 

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

—2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (ESV)

We are “redemptive” because of our redeemed state in Christ, and because he has made us redeemers.

It is a privilege that God makes his appeal through us, for all creation to be redeemed unto the Creator. It is also a calling for the maturation of our faith. For God to rightly use us to make his appeal to mankind, we must be rooted in Him, abiding in him, joined to his redemptive purposes for the restoration of righteousness, for the healing of brokenness.

As a community of missionaries who actively participate in cross-cultural ministry, we have the opportunity every day to sin against our brothers. We have the opportunity every day to misunderstand, quickly judge, and write-off the opinions and actions of our colleagues. In some ways, it may be easier to forgive the sins of someone outside of our missionary community, as they are the people whom we serve. But to forgive the sins of our fellow missionaries who we assume align with our goals and our expectations is often a humbling and agonizing process.

As we bear the image of God and are ambassadors for Christ, we must emulate His love, authentically in community, such that we “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7, ESV). In the light of the gospel and God’s love for us, we must be agents of redemption: simple preaching will never be enough. We must live out the reconciled way, representing it to the world and building for it.

Being ambassadors for Christ is as much to do with who we are and how we live than what we do and the words we speak.

Year-End GIFTS DOUBLED

November 25, 2015 |

Visit www.southamericamission.org/givingtuesday2015 to give: On December 1, generous donors will help further SAM’s passions for the church “on mission” in the world by matching dollar-for-dollar every gift to SAM’s Vision Fund, up to $5,000.

Would you donate and help us meet our $10,000 goal for this day? All gifts made to SAM on or before Tuesday, December 1, using this URL link will qualify for the match.

#GivingTuesday has become a platform to launch some of our year-end giving campaigns to meet our ministry budgets for the year.


About #GivingTuesday: The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving now has a new name, a new purpose. #GivingTuesday has grown over the last four years into a day to actively resist the precedent for the season otherwise set by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

That’s right, a day to change the tone, to see the season through the light of a different necessity—what if we busted down doors to find the quickest path to generosity—to swim upstream against the current of our culture, which, finds its downstream momentum this time of year in retail sales benchmarks and in the acquisition of things (that are prone to moths and rust destroying).

How do you actively resist on #GivingTuesday? It’s not easy. It might even feel like your setting up an outpost in the culture wars, but trust that your outpost will be a beacon of hope in the battle, an eventual stronghold that will have its place in turning the tide.

In short, on #GivingTuesday, give it away. Give your money away, your time, give the gospel of grace. Be about sacrifice. Believe that it will matter. Believe that it will change you as much as it makes a difference to others. But you have to get ready now. You have to figure out how you’re going to navigate Friday and Monday in order to be poised for Tuesday. Join the movement. Give it away on #GivingTuesday.

Give It Away #GivingTuesday

November 23, 2015 |

December 1, 2015: the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving now has a new name, a new purpose. #GivingTuesday has grown over the last four years into a day to actively resist the precedent for the season otherwise set by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

That’s right, a day to change the tone, to see the season through the light of a different necessity—what if we busted down doors to find the quickest path to generosity—to swim upstream against the current of our culture, which, finds its downstream momentum this time of year in retail sales benchmarks and in the acquisition of things (that are prone to moths and rust destroying).

What if we busted down doors to find the quickest path to generosity?

How do you actively resist on #GivingTuesday? It’s not easy. It might even feel like your setting up an outpost in the culture wars, but trust that your outpost will be a beacon of hope in the battle, an eventual stronghold that will have its place in turning the tide.

So instead of feeding yourself, feed others. Respond to the ringing bells and red tin pots. Choose the 40-inch instead of the 52, and give the difference away. Reconcile the debits in your personal ledger to credits in the ledgers of non-profits who are healing brokenness, not artificially preserving some fleeting sense of wellness.

In short, on #GivingTuesday, give it away. Give your money away, your time, give the gospel of grace. Be about sacrifice. Believe that it will matter. Believe that it will change you as much as it makes a difference to others. But you have to get ready now. You have to figure out how you’re going to navigate Friday and Monday in order to be poised for Tuesday.

Join the movement. Give it away on #GivingTuesday.

Loving Community

November 19, 2015 |

Loving

We’ve been praying recently through the aspects of our Identity: whom we desire to be. We’re Abiding, then Loving:

“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:33-35 (ESV)

Christ speaks this to his disciples immediately after Judas leaves their presence at the Last Supper. These are the last moments that Christ has with his disciples all in one place, and he begins to speak to them with this message: love one another, so that others will know you that are mine.

Love is not only the command, it is also the branding of Christ—it is the means by which others know we are with Him and sent from Him.

Love is the source of our strength, the root of our hope, and the inspiration for our ministry.

We have the blessing to be ambassadors, but with that privilege comes a grave responsibility. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have no love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have no love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (ESV)

In praying through being a “loving community”, it is our question: what could life be like if the people we are sent to knew us only by our love? To what extent would the gospel advance further if we were known as the community of sent people who embody Christ’s love for others?

We have the wonderful opportunity to be beacons of hope and a people who lift others out of sorrow through the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. Our first priority in response to Christ’s command is to find all avenues by which to spread His love.

May God be glorified in all that we do so that others will know we are with Him because we have loved them as He has loved us.

Abiding Community

November 3, 2015 |

AbidingIn the weeks following our SAM Centennial conference and celebration, our executive director sent out a prayer calendar, encouraging us as a mission to gather in prayer on specific themes through the end of the year and into the new. The first set of prayer topics comes from SAM’s strategy map, where we have identified “who” we want to be: an abiding, loving, redemptive, suffering, and growing community. First, we focused in prayer on being an “Abiding Community”.

This trait comes from John 15:5 which, in context, reads:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” John 15:4-6, ESV

Though it might seem obvious that missionaries abide in Christ, and though it may even appear to be part of the job description, there is great necessity for overseas cross-cultural workers to intentionally evaluate and work to stimulate their own relationship with Christ.

In Panama, we had a recurring discussion on the topic of Biblical “rest”, and an extension of that discussion is the concept of being an abiding community:

Aside from Christ, we cannot rest.

The need for a mission organization to dwell in God’s presence is made abundantly clear when looking at the statistical data for missionary “burn out”, or emotional and physical suffering due to stress. The following information comes from a report completed by Heartstream Resources, an organization dedicated to serving cross-cultural workers and enabling their mental and emotional success:

“In Holmes and Rahe’s original study [on stress], they found that when people scored 200 points during a given year, the cumulative stress had an impact well beyond that year. They found that 50% of those scoring 200 points were hospitalized within the subsequent two years for heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and other severe illnesses. When the scores reached 300 points, 90% were hospitalized for these illnesses within the subsequent two years… The amount of stress experienced among cross-cultural workers averages around 600 points on the Holmes-Rahe modified scale, with levels peaking up to 900 and beyond for people in their first field term.” (Heartstream Resources)

Statistically speaking, it is only by the power and grace of God that missionaries can be sustained in cross-cultural work. Personally speaking, it is only by the power and grace of God that South America Mission has served the past 100 years, and continues to enable the advancement of the gospel in South America. Only a community of believers who abide in God’s power and love can effectively and healthily build for the Kingdom.

So, what did we pray for?

We prayed for passion, we prayed for perseverance, we prayed for hope, we prayed for peace: we prayed for God’s presence. To be an abiding community of believers, South America Mission must be filled with, and surrounded by, the presence of the living God. Only through Him can His kingdom come.

 

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