Sometimes we catch glimpses of grace and truth in the unfolding realities of the world around us. Other times grace and truth come to us through the ugly realities of our own actions. Either way, we have an opportunity to learn. This poem was written in Istanbul, Turkey in 2009.
I saw you today.
Walking past my office window,
dumpster to dumpster with drag foot strides.
I saw you - all of you.
You two mothers pushing your finds in converted baby buggies,
babies slung over bent backs,
one tugging at the slack edge of a scarlet head scarf.
Your three and four year olds –
boys in rags and broken sandals –
sometimes behind, sometimes squirting ahead,
but always walking wearily,
wary of the ways of the back of your hand.
Harsh hands and harsher words carry them down dumpster lined streets.
The four year old’s mother
hands an unpeeled orange to his open hand,
rescued from refuse, but fails to peel it.
He makes a marvelous mess of pulp and juice before she,
the giver, the guardian,
slaps it from his greedy fingers.
On they walk,
on into their gypsy life,
their wandering life,
their hungry life,
And they disappear.
a father came.
A father with another four year old
and another converted baby buggy
and another journey down an Istanbul street,
dumpster to dumpster, market to market,
meal to meal to find to find.
He stopped the buggy behind a black Mercedes,
said stay – to the buggy and the boy –
and crossed to a waiting meal in the market trash.
The boy stayed,
lips moving – presumably for himself though I could not hear,
fingers fondling the days find.
But then a man approached,
middle aged and well dressed,
talking kind words to the boy, beckoning –
And the boy went, without qualm
quickly on his heels and into the next door store.
But then the father returned,
smiling at the two bruised apples and a smashed orange in his hands
to find the buggy but not the boy.
I saw it then.
I saw how much love he harbored in his tired heart for his son.
I saw it in the fear that crept into his eyes.
I saw it in the terror of his movements
and in the two new bruises the apples received
as they hit the concrete at his broken sandals.
I saw it in his hands, cupped around shouting lips –
I saw it in the flood of relief that his smiling son
gave him when he bolted from the store,
cookies clutched in jubilant hands.
A broken heart was not broken more.
The middle aged man walked past the two,
a silent Samaritan not letting left know what right had done.
On he walked,
on into his Muslim life,
his secular life,
his blessed life.
And he disappeared.
I walk home along the sea,
praying for this nation,
praying for grace and discernment to be salt and light to this land.
I stop at the store,
mindlessly buying four kinds of noodles,
not knowing what we’ll make with them.
My groceries and I make our way to the tunnel where
I will cross the tracks and head for home.
On a concrete bench
Sit two tired teenage boys.
“Mister, we’re hungry. Do you have any food? Do you have any money?”
I stop, surprised.
“Would you like some noodles?”
I offer to blank stares and then add –
“You can cook them at home.”
Their look tells me they may not have a home.
“We’re hungry mister. Do you have any money?”
I turn and I walk
And I cross the tracks
And walk from them
But the five lira in my pocket doesn’t disappear.
And the words of Jesus don’t disappear.
“You will always have the poor among you.”
It seems now more a command than a fact.
A command I’ve missed through a sham of fact.
If the poor are not among us,
Could it be we disobey?
I surely did today.
I surely did today.
As we immerse ourselves in the story of the scriptures, we allow the Holy Spirit to use them to shape our view of the world, of ministry and of ourselves. Scripture hammer trainings allow a trainer to step out of the way and allow the Bible to do the heavy lifting of the training. They require little charism on the part of the trainer, are hard to argue with and place a tool in the hands of those we are training that is immediately reproducible.
The basic idea is to create a list of scriptures that all point toward the basic Biblical principle or lesson you are wanting your trainees to grasp. A scripture hammer study is best done in groups of 2-5 and then debriefed as a group. You can create your own for any topic you'd like to train on.
I've created a one page handout with six scripture hammer studies that I've learned from others and that I've been using to train. The focus of these particular studies are:
[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SIX STUDIES]
I've written previously about a few of these topic and you can check those out at the links below:
A good friend shared Job 39:13-18 with me a few weeks ago and I've been continuing to learn from the topic of that particular passage: the ostrich.
I've been able to share with the Lord has been teaching me in two different churches in the last month and so thought I'd share it here as well. May it encourage you to discover the unique ways that you have been gifted and the unique ways that God is wanting to work through you to expand His kingdom and declare His glory.
You can watch the sermon above.
While coronavirus has caused a lot of disruption in our world it has also created some great new opportunities. Crescent Project's annual national conference has needed to adjust and has moved online.
Introducing the Hope Conference. More accessible than ever and FREE, Hope Conference will happen Thursday September 10th from 9 am - 2 pm central time. The event will feature top notch speakers, opportunities to interact with mission mobilizers, missionaries, former Muslims and Crescent Project staff and all of this will happen online.
This will be a great opportunity to be encouraged and equipped to join the work that God is doing in the Muslim world.
Watch alone or gather some friends!
A short video sharing a framework for understanding suffering. This framework has helped me understand the role of suffering in the life of the disciple of Jesus. The sound quality isn't perfect, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. What would you add to this framework? How have you been developing a theology of suffering?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
World Christians are (in Corrie Ten Boom’s phrase) “tramps for the Lord” who have left their hiding places to roam the Gap with the Savior. They are heaven’s expatriates, camping where the kingdom is best served. They are earth’s dispossessed, who’ve journeyed forth to give a dying world not only the Gospel but their own souls as well. They are members of God’s global dispersion down through history and out through the nations, reaching the unreached and blessing the families of earth.
Do you want to be a "tramp for the Lord"?
Do you want to roam the Gap with the savior?
Do you want to journey fourth to give a dying world the good news of Jesus?
Start by reading David Bryant's article, To Be A World Christian.
Contact Us and we'll work to encourage and equip to you go into the harvest, locally, regionally and globally.
In the 18th chapter of the book of Luke, Jesus encounters the rich young ruler. If you’ve been a follower of Christ for long, it is probably a familiar story. If not, stop and read it here.
A devout man approaches Jesus wondering what he must do to be saved. Jesus walks through the commandments - have you obeyed these? The man replies confidently that he has kept the commands all of his life. And then Jesus does a curious thing. He asks the man to do one more thing: sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.
The story follows that, because the man was very wealthy he became very sad and presumably, walked away. Following Jesus is a tall order.
My friend Justin uses this story in trainings to highlight the reality that Jesus isn’t looking for lukewarm Christians. This isn’t the only time that Jesus’ words and teaching drive away potential followers. There’s that crazy scene in John 6 where “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” Jesus is looking for committed disciples. He will build his kingdom not with crowds but with dedicated disciples. While the world yearns for numbers, Jesus is looking for committed men and women.
Justin lays out what this commitment might look like using the great commission. He draws out five commitments from the passage and they provide a helpful rubric through which I can reflect on my own heart. I think they will be helpful for you as well.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Five Commitments To Be A Disciple of Jesus
It starts with our willingness and commitment. If you are a leader, a good question to ask first is, "Am I willing?" but the next question has to be, "Are the people I am investing in willing?" Are they committed disciples or merely lukewarm attendees. You can fill the pews with the latter but Jesus wants to transform your community, your city, your state and nation - he will turn the world upside down with unschooled, ordinary men and women if they will commit themselves to living the surrendered life and being with Jesus.
As we answer this question we can begin working toward the next question as well: Are they able?
It is no mistake that Jesus bookends his commission with authority and presence. I can do much in my own power but Jesus reminds me that unless I live the surrendered life which I can only do if I abide in Him and experience His presence, little of what I do will have any eternal impact.
Justin leads a great ministry called Primary. He would love to come alongside you and coach you and your fellowship into the committed life of disciple making. Contact Justin
One of the number one reasons former Muslims give for leaving Islam and coming to faith in Christ is that they met a true follower of Jesus. The challenge is that the vast majority of the 1.8 billion Muslims in our world today live in places where there are no followers of Jesus. In Turkey for example, a nation of over 80 million, fewer than 10,000 have left Islam to follow Christ and eighteen of the country’s 81 provinces have no known churches. Most Turks will not hear a clear presentation of the gospel this year - perhaps not in their lifetime. They won’t have a friend who is a follower of Jesus.
It is much the same for Hindus, Buddhists and the followers of the world's many other religions who live in what missiologists call the 10/40 window. 95% of the world's unreached people groups live in the 10/40 window.
Globalization is bringing the people of the world to countries where there are churches in every neighborhood and Christians all around them. Technology is opening up the world to communicate with one another in ways never before imagined. English is the new lingua franca and it is easier than ever to connect with a unreached peoples - and their families - and to be the first true follower of Jesus they have ever met.
Covid-19 is a terrible disease that is bringing and will continue to bring great loss to our world. But it is also bringing opportunity. Children across the globe have been sent home from school. They are isolated and oftentimes alone and are spending their time online. Your children are home. Muslim children are home. Hindu children are home. Buddhist children are home.
What would it take to help your child be the first real Christian one of these children has ever met?
What would it look like if you could help your child build a friendship with a child their same age and gender from another country?
There are dozens of online communities working to connect children with other children and adults with other adults through the age old practice of pen pals. Some help you connect through traditional mail. Many more are helping make connections through email.
I want to invite you to consider praying as a family about becoming pen pals with new friends in the Muslim world. Imagine if each member of your family were connecting with people in a Muslim majority country. Imagine how much you would learn about the world. Imagine the encouragement you could bring to an individual who is also living through this current world crisis. Imagine the conversations about Jesus that just may happen as you hear the story of your new friend’s life and they hear yours.
I want to first and foremost, encourage you to do this as a family. Your kids are going to make easy connections as they share about what they do for fun but depending on their age, they’ll probably need some coaching.
And you, mom and dad, are going to need your kids to keep you accountable to continue to reach out and connect through email or regular letters with new friends.
Be a family on mission together!
When I first helped my son with pen pals in Turkey and Indonesia he was twelve. We went onto the website Pen Pal World together and I helped him set up his profile. We prayed about what countries to look into and then searched together for boys age 12 that he could connect with. He reached out to two and they both responded. Soon they were exchanging emails. They were super simple. At one point the thread of emails was over 70 replies between the two of them. One would ask a single question - “Who’s your favorite soccer team? - and the other would respond “Real Madrid,” and then send off a single question of their own, “What’s your favorite movie?” It felt a little ridiculous but they were two twelve year old boys getting to know one another. This boy happened to live in Indonesia. I monitored and checked in with my son regularly, encouraging him and helping him know how to proceed.
Below are three sites through which you can find pen pals in the Muslim world. All three have their users create profiles which include the user’s gender, age and country. Be sure and help your children find friends who are the same age and gender - and that goes for you too! And then pray about what countries in which you would like to make connections.
It’s a great reason to explore and learn about countries within the 10/40 window.
A great resource to tune up your heart for these nations is Prayercast where you can learn about every country in the world. https://www.prayercast.com/
And a great resource to help you and your family learn more about Islam and how to share the love of Jesus with Muslims is the Bridges study. https://www.crescentproject.org/bridges
Interpals started in 1998 and has been helping people make new friends across the globe ever since! You can sign up for free. You’ll need to create a profile and then you can search the profiles of others to find someone to write to. You can start by messaging on the Interpals website. This will all happen on their on-site inbox, which means you won’t need to give out personal information at first. Take some time to get to know the person you are connecting with. You will want to switch over to email though so that your conversations can happen more naturally.
Like Interpals, PenPal World has also been active since 1998. Like Interpals, you will sign up, build a profile and search the profiles of others, then communicate within a PenPal World inbox. They also have some helpful safety features. They manually verify every single profile photo, and they enable minors to block all adults.
Global Penfriends was established in 1995, and is a safe platform that runs in a very similar way to Interpals and PenPal World. It is completely free, and you set up a profile, search for others, and have a secure inbox. Unique to Global Penfriends is their My Post service, which enables members to send snail mail to each other via the internet! You can use this service to send any written correspondence: letters, postcards, birthday cards, invitations, etc.
Parents, you will want to look at each and see which suits your needs best.
Please remember that these sites are secular sites open to anyone with an email address. They are for profit and so it is in their very best interest to make the sites as safe as possible. That said, it is up to you to stay safe and remain vigilant. You and your children have an opportunity to build real friendships and to be Christ’s ambassadors in a lost and broken world.
And you can do it together!
Learn more about unreached people groups and the 10/40 window in the short video below.
Sahara Challenge is an important training opportunity for anyone wanting to go deeper in their understanding of how to better minister to Muslims. It is Crescent Project's top tier training event and because of Covid-19 will this year be offered online for the first time ever, making it more accessible than ever before.
Included in the Online Event:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.
* Information taken from the Crescent Project website.
Laylat al-Qadr - the night of power - is the night during the month of Ramada that Muslims celebrate the receiving of the first of the Quranic revelations by Mohamed. For Muslims it is a sacred night, perhaps the most sacred night in the Islamic calendar and is a night spent on tasks such as prayer, reciting the Quran and spending as much time as possible at their local mosque.
It is believed that worship and prayer on this night is more valuable than one thousand other nights of worship and prayer. It is a night when the hearts and minds of Muslims all across the world are focused on one thing: trying to please God. And it is a night that we as followers of Christ can gather around our Lord's throne of grace, asking God to make Jesus known to Muslims all across the world.
This year, Laylat al-Qadr falls on Tuesday, May 19th.
Will you set aside time this year to take action? Will you do one thing to join God in His global purpose to see Muslims worshiping Him?
WILL YOU LEARN MORE?
Stop by the Prayercast page, watch the prayercast video and read more about the Night of Power.
WILL YOU PRAY?
Will you set aside time on Tuesday, May 19th to pray for your Muslim friends and Muslims in general.
Pray that on this night:
WILL YOU FAST?
Consider fasting on Tuesday May 19th as you pray. Skip meals from sun up until sun down. Fast for 24 hours or more. Maybe fast from media or your smartphone. Give something up as a way to focus your prayers during this day.
Will you do something this year to join God as he calls Muslims to himself?
The E2E Community