Church Blog

David Platt’s Encouragement and Sermon

June 9 2015 at 1:52 pm 0 Comments

Last Sunday, guest speaker David Platt, President of the International Missions Board, shared a stirring message on the biblical call for Christians to share the gospel with unreached peoples around the globe. But before his sermon, Platt had a powerful word of encouragement for the members of our church. Here you can review both Platt's word of encouragement and his sermon as a whole.

Learn more about upcoming, short-term missions trips on the Serving Our World page. Also discover how you can get involved in serving our community by visiting our Local Missions page.

Encouragement to Covenant Life:


David Platt: "We Owe the Gospel to the Nations" (Romans 1:1-17)


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Nations Nearby | Part 10 | Respectfully Ready

May 18 2015 at 2:32 pm 1 Comments

Respectfully Ready
by Almasih Kahdost

It was my first time visiting the home of a friend and he was showing me around his suburban townhouse. It was a typical introductory run-through.

“Here’s the kitchen. Our garage is over there. These are our gods. Here’s our bedroom.”

“Ah. Very nice.”

Wait. What?!?

This was a casual, but intentional, introduction to his family’s Hindu deities.

Polite Company and Culture

From the time of my youth I was taught (implicitly and explicitly) that certain subjects were out of bounds unless you knew someone really, really well. Making conversation of politics, a person’s salary or (gasp!) religion was the social equivalent of eating with your hands at the table. (Something, as it turned out, we would do later in the evening!)

Understanding that religious discussion doesn’t bring the uneasiness in many other cultures that it brings for westerners enabled me to ask, “Which is your favorite god and why?”

Dialogue or Discourse?

Hearing that Ganesh (who blesses new beginnings) and Lakshmi (who brings wealth) were his favorites gave me insight into his values and desires. Asking questions lets people know we’re interested in a discussion rather than a diatribe. And discussion affords our friends respect as well as the opportunity to ask questions.

Paul modeled a similar approach in Athens where he found himself distressed by seeing so many idols in the city (Acts 17:16). “So he reasoned...in the marketplace day by day with whoever happened to be there” (v17). In fact, Paul is said to have conversed (NAS, ESV) or debated (NIV, NLT) with the Stoics and Epicureans (v18). It was a back-and-forth. Did Paul frequently engage in a unilateral fashion? Sure. But these verses indicate an occasion that was more of an exchange than a one-sided homily.

Primed but Gentle

So, if someone introduces you to their favorite deity, or tells you their present state is a reincarnated one, maybe it would be better to first draw them out before jumping down their throat with chapter and verse. Consider learning about their worldview so you can address it.

Back to Paul; the Spirit spoke through him telling us to always be ready  “...to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. ” (1 Peter 3:15). We mustn't shy away from telling folks Who we believe in and why. But how we do so is important too. The verse continues, “but do this with gentleness and respect”. 

“Almasih Kahdost” is a long-time friend of Covenant Life who desires to see the nations come to Christ. Though preferring to publish anonymously, Almasih Kadost welcomes your comments below.

See all the posts in this series.


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Nations Nearby | Part 9 | Meet Your Neighbors: Sikhs

May 4 2015 at 2:31 pm 0 Comments

by Almasih Kahdost

Sweat dripped down my back as I saw drapes sway in the breeze entering the gurdwara window. Given the ineffective nature of ceiling fans above, I was really hoping the breeze would make it my way, but no dice.

The occasional Sikh worshippers coming in and prostrating themselves didn’t seem to mind the excessive temperature. I wondered if perhaps they were reminded of the weather in the Punjab region of northern India and eastern Pakistan, home of Sikhism, one of the youngest of the world’s major religions.

ORIGINS

It was amidst this South Asian region, in 1469, a young boy was born who would become Sikhism’s founder, eventually being known as Guru Nanak. Influenced by and frustrated with both Hinduism and Islam, Nanak shaped Sikhism, removing idol worship, polytheism, the caste system, gender inequality and other tenets of his day’s prevailing religions.

Nanak would be the first of ten successive human gurus. (A guru is teacher who is full of knowledge). The eleventh guru, however is the Sikh holy book, called the Guru Granth Sahib. It contains the teachings and devotional hymns of the previous ten gurus, along with others.

BACK TO THE GURDWARA

Walking to the front of the gurdwara, I watched the granthi carefully uncover, open and fan the holy book, thereafter reading from it. His fanning brought some relief from the heat, but not as much as I was about to receive when he took us to a small room upstairs. Finally: AIR CONDITIONING! But it wasn’t intended for visitors so much as it was for the Guru Granth Sahib; the holy book, honored and respected (not worshiped) as a living being and accommodated with sleeping quarters, food and other comforts.

Afterwards, I was taken downstairs where I was offered as much (amazing!) Indian food as my tummy could hold. Someone was manning the kitchen practically around the clock in this ever-open Sikh place of worship.

Between the prostrated worshipers, the air conditioned Guru Granth Sahib and the fantastic South Asian food and hospitality, I felt as though I was northern India. But this was in the U.S.  In fact, you could probably have similar experiences at the corner of 124 and Warfield Road at the Washington Sikh Center. If you visit there for Sunday langar (a community meal) you may meet some very kind, generous people and even make a friend or two.

LIKEABLE BUT LOST

As kind as these folks are - as is true with so many in the world - they are equally lost. Sikhs agree one may potentially be united with God through meditation on his name, selfless service, living an honest lifestyle and sharing. There is a heavy emphasis on doing good.

Maybe you have Sikh friends or coworkers and don’t even realize it. Although some have adopted a more western look, many of the men are still identified by a bearded face and a turban covering their uncut hair. They may also wear a silver bracelet.

If so, Tuesday, April 14 was a Sikh new years festival, Vaisakhi. Ask them about it. How did it go? What is the spiritual significance of the holiday? Ask them about their beliefs. Be a learner. You could ask specifically about the “five vices” of Sikhism (lust, anger, greed, emotional attachment, pride) and, after confessing that you’ve committed these, gently ask if they have. If so, ask how they will know whether or not they will be good enough to be united to God. Ask, “If there was a way to be rid of your bad deeds, would you want to know?” Tell them that Jesus has the ability to give the credit of his good deeds to his followers and remove from them their bad deeds.

WE ARE THE WORLD

In this emerging multi-cultural county of ours, the customs and dress of our new neighbors are becoming decreasingly out of the ordinary. On one hand, there is something nice about that. These folks are humans just like us. However, as we pass by their places of worship, or see long beards and turbans, may those little cues of cultural differences be a reminder: God has brought the nations nearby so we can love them with the love of Christ.

“Almasih Kahdost” is a long-time friend of Covenant Life who desires to see the nations come to Christ. Though preferring to publish anonymously, Almasih Kadost welcomes your comments below.

See all the posts in this series.


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Nations Nearby | Part 8 | Pursuing Persians

March 17 2015 at 9:42 am 3 Comments

Pursuing Persians
by Almasih Kahdost

What he said caused my eyes to well up. It wasn’t anything dramatic per se, but still I found tears coming to my eyes and a smile landing on my face. What he said was precipitated by a question.

“How often do you go back to visit your home country?”

He stumbled a little, calculating how best to answer. He finally said something to the effect of, “It’s not really safe for me to return. You see, I’m a Christian and…”

That’s when the tears came.

I almost cried because my new friend is from Iran and I have been praying for his people for years now. But my tears weren’t because he can’t safely return to his country. Nor were they for the fact that his relationship with his mother took a dramatic turn for the worse because of his decision to follow Jesus. While those things were indeed sad, my tears were tears of joy.

FREED FROM A REPRESSIVE REGIME

It made me immensely happy to hear that this Persian brother had escaped the oppression of an evil regime and was coming to enjoy new freedoms he’d not previously experienced. Whereas before he had been the subject of repressive tyranny, now he was out from under the thumb of his captor, free.

His story is mine. While I’m not from Iran, he and I both responded to Jesus’ proclamation of freedom to the prisoners and were thereafter set free from oppression (Luke 4:18). Both he and I had been blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and were in fact following him (Ephesians 2:2). But now we’re both free.

CAN’T SHARE OVER THERE

Of course, not all Persians are like my friend. Many are still in captivity to sin, lost in darkness (like anyone else outside of Christ). But what sets Persians who’ve moved to the States apart from your typical been-here-for-generations American is that they have had little opportunity to hear the gospel. In fact, according to the self-styled Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, Iranian president Rouhani’s Advisor on Ethnic and Religious Minorities’ Affairs has said that “...no one has the right to promote his or her faith…it is not acceptable, for instance, for a Christian to invite a Muslim to Christianity.” (Incidentally, Iran has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world, albeit underground). While Advisor Younesi does say, “...everyone is free to practice his or her faith…” he seems to not grasp that inviting others to Christianity is part and parcel of practicing our faith.

WON’T SHARE OVER HERE

As believers, sharing our faith is non-negotiable and as Americans it is a privilege to be able to do it without fear of imprisonment (or worse). But many American believers won’t do it. Too busy or scared or something. Yet the Persian people at our office, in our neighborhoods, or who we bump into at Starbucks are now in an environment where they can freely listen and respond to the gospel. Could it be that God has dispersed Persians to countries where evangelism is legal “...so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him” (Acts 17:27)?

BUT I DON’T KNOW ANY PERSIANS

Of the 25,000-plus Iranian-born residents in the Baltimore/DC area, over 8,000 are in Montgomery County. Chances are you’ve met some, maybe even without realizing it. If you don’t know any, why not change that and learn about their culture? One way to do this would be to head to Black Hill Regional Park in Germantown on April 12 for Sizdah Be-dar. (A similar event will be held at Bull Run Park in Centerville on April 5). On these days thousands of Persians will enjoy spending time with friends, families and maybe even people they’ve just met. (Hint: that’s you!)

You can also meet some Persian folk around town AND get some really great food at the same time. Check out Caspian House of Kabob or Moby Dick, both in the Kentlands. Very warm, friendly staff and incredible food. Yekta in Rockville is wonderful as well. You can also stop by a couple of Persian stores (Caravan Deli or Potomac Gourmet) and meet folks there.

Persian’s ancient culture and history has much to offer and the high value placed on hospitality is something many many western Christians could learn from. That being said, we believers have something to offer non-believing Iranians; that is Christ Jesus, who lived, died and rose again to redeem those from every nation.

“Almasih Kahdost” is a long-time friend of Covenant Life who desires to see the nations come to Christ. Though preferring to publish anonymously, Almasih Kadost welcomes your comments below.

See all the posts in this series.


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Nations Nearby | Part 7 | One Way to Share God’s Plan with Muslims

February 17 2015 at 1:34 pm 1 Comments

One Way to Share God’s Plan with Muslims
by Almasih Kahdost

Sitting barefoot in a sportsplex in Maryland, wearing traditional Pakistani attire given to me, I was enveloped by the chant of Allahu akbar, droning continuously. I watched as Muslims of various sizes, shapes and ethnicities assembled themselves in neat rows preparing for prayer; men filling the front of the field, women, the back. Once all (save one) gave praise to Allah while performing the various salat prayer positions, an imam taught that one lesson learned during the fast of Ramadan is gratitude. By denying oneself food during the daylight hours, a person is more grateful for it come evening. Having been fasting for my Muslim friends during this month myself, I learned this lesson firsthand and was grateful Ramadaan had come to a close.

As my Muslim friend and I left the sportsplex, I referred back to the imam’s message, asking for what my friend was most grateful. After listening, I shared my own thoughts, saying I was most grateful for qurbani; that is, blood sacrifice. I related how a sacrifice was provided for Adam and Hawa (Eve) to cover their shame when they had sinned in the garden. I reminded my friend how when Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) son was in need of a sacrifice, it was divinely provided. I continued that Musa (Moses) was inspired to order atoning sacrifices for the sins of the people and that many years later, the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming masih (messiah) Who would Himself become qurbani in the place of His people, taking their shame. Then I related that the prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) pointed at Isa (Jesus) and calling him, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

“Why do you think Yahya called Isa a lamb,” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

I told my friend that prior to his death Isa had alerted his followers that He would lay down His life as a qurbani to set people free (Mark 10:45). Isa’s subjection to public shame was all a part of Allah’s loving plan to take away the sin and shame of His people. Just as He performed qurbani for Adam and Hawa to cover their shame, and just as He provided an animal for Ibrahim’s son, and just as He told Musa the way of qurbani for the forgiveness His people’s sin, now, in the death and resurrection of Isa, Allah was providing the ultimate qurbani - the ultimate sacrifice for sin. The shame and punishment that we deserved was laid upon Isa as a part of God’s loving plan to restore honor to His people.

My friend didn’t submit to Christ that day and is still a Muslim. We have had the family to our home and they have had us over as well. We have prayed in Isa’s name for the healing for their children. We’ve helped them with English and with transportation. I still make visits from time to time. We continue to pray regularly for this family.

These dear people represent one of many Muslim families in our area who can be reached with the love of Christ. Please consider how you can extend love and friendship to the people God has brought here. Amidst headlines filled by the likes of ISIS et al, it is too convenient to lump your neighbor in with them. If you begin to pray and ask God for inroads and share your life with your Muslim co-workers, neighbors and friends, you might be surprised at the laid opportunities before you.

“Almasih Kahdost” is a long-time friend of Covenant Life who desires to see the nations come to Christ. Though preferring to publish anonymously, Almasih Kadost welcomes your comments below.

See all the posts in this series.


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ESOL | Reaching the Nations In Montgomery County

February 4 2015 at 10:20 am 0 Comments

Covenant Life members are taking the gospel to the nations right here in Gaithersburg!

More than 22 members are diligently working in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) ministry. Classes are held on Monday nights in the fall and spring at South Lake Elementary School.

The program at South Lake currently hosts over 30 students from 17 different countries who speak seven different languages at home. Four class levels are offered, from Beginners 1 (no English language ability) to Advanced.

This is the third year that volunteers have been serving at South Lake. Most of the students in the ESOL classes are parents of elementary school students that attend South Lake and live in the townhouses and apartment buildings that surround the school. The ESOL teachers and assistants have had excellent support from the administration at South Lake, as many of children attending the school do not speak English at home, and our English language classes provide an important service to the community.

Each week volunteers present Scripture verses from the Two Ways to Live tract as part of the curriculum. God has given volunteers the opportunity to pray with students about their day-to-day struggles.

Advanced class teacher Geney Harvey and her husband Tim had the opportunity to pray with two students who were in need of a job, and God has answered these prayers.

Volunteers even organized Thanksgiving and Christmas parties to provide time outside the classroom to build relationships and give an opportunity for a clear and straightforward presentation of the gospel.

Several volunteers went the extra mile by serving a Chinese couple when they were visiting the U.S. for a year. To expand their skills and exposure to American culture, they took them to the grocery store, the county fair and on excursions to area landmarks. Thanks to their faithful investment in that relationship, the husband came to know the Lord.

Prayer Needs

- Please pray that the students needs would be met, and that they would understand that their ultimate need is Jesus. Many students have financial, work or family needs, and would benefit from our prayers.
- Please pray for enough volunteers for the spring semester of classes at South Lake Elementary.
- Please pray for additional volunteers to join the leadership team.

E-mail the ESOL Team to get involved, or contact LINK.


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