Church Blog

Nations Nearby | Part 11 | Prayer: A Fool’s Errand?

August 17 2015 at 10:47 am 1 Comments

Prayer: A Fool’s Errand?
by Almasih Kahdost

If you fly, the following words should sound familiar to you. “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” This is one of the few times in life where the right thing to do is to take care of yourself first.  You’re not going to be much help to your kids if you pass out while putting their masks on, right? Your physical well being will have a direct effect on the physical well being of those around you.

The same can be true for your spiritual well being. It really can make a difference in the spiritual well being of others.

When I ask people, “Have you ever prayed for someone and seen them come to Christ?” invariably the answer is affirmative and I hear stories that only God could author. There is a mysterious intersection of our prayers and God’s plan to draw people to Himself.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NASB), Paul says,

"Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you..."

Unless the Spirit inspired Paul to exhort the saints in Thessalonica to a fool’s errand, it seems their prayers actually mattered as it related to the spreading of God’s word.

Similarly, when Jesus looked at the multitudes with compassion he called his disciples to pray, asking that God would send laborers (Matthew 9:35-38). Would He tell His disciples to pray if those prayers ultimately didn’t matter? Of course not.

Our prayers for the harvest and for the spreading and reception of God’s word matter.


By the time you read this, our Muslim friends will have finished a month of prayer and (daytime) fasting called Ramadan. Millions of prayers will be recited by millions of Muslims worldwide. They have altered their lifestyle significantly in an attempt to, amongst other things, obey the command of Allah in Quran 2:185 and glorify him.

As followers of the One who prayed and fasted 40 days in the wilderness, can we pray that the word of the Lord will spread amongst Muslims as it has amongst us? Can we look at the multitudes of Muslims with compassion and pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers? Our spiritual lives - including our prayer lives - really matter and really can affect other people.

“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.

Share this on:

Dominican Republic Recap

July 13 2015 at 1:09 pm 0 Comments

Dear Church,
Because I've been on a Management Team retreat this week, I asked Kenneth Maresco to share a report on the Dominican Republic missions trip he led recently with our youth ministry. I hope it edifies and inspires you to consider participation on a mission trip in the coming year. —Mark

During the final week of June, I had the privilege of participating with 34 young men and women and several parents in the first of two short-term mission trips to the Dominican Republic. The team led Vacation Bible Schools, went door-to-door to share the gospel, and took part in other outreaches.


Let me share two reasons why do we do short term missions and how I believe this trip accomplished these goals.

1. To Fulfill the Great Commission

The mission of God to make disciples of all nations is the mission of his church in the world today. Jesus sends us out as the Father sent him, by his grace and for his glory. Demonstrating and sharing God's love with others is something we're made for. We are not permitted to keep the good news of the gospel to ourselves!
Can we serve God and others more effectively in Gaithersburg or Montgomery County? Quite possibly. But getting out of our comfort zone and working with fellow believers to reach the needy in their community often helps us see our lives at home through different eyes and better serve the people who live right next to us.

The first two days of our trip we worked with a church in San Francisco de Macorís, the country’s eighth largest city. The pastor of the church wanted to do an outreach in one of the poorest neighborhoods where many children are neglected and mistreated. Chris Maresco did an amazing job leading a Vacation Bible School with skits and music and sharing the gospel. We were told to expect 200 kids, but almost 350 showed up! Needless to say, our team members were stretched as we led the children in crafts and activities. A team of four sisters from the San Francisco church (the Amarante sisters) joined us all week in leading the outreaches.

Afterwards the team participated in door-to-door evangelism in a neighborhood where several of the church members live. Translators accompanied each group of teens. That evening as we met as a team, you could sense the joy as we spoke about the fact that we were actually sharing the gospel in another nation!

The latter part of the week we partnered with the Global Health Organization, a group of Christian medical professionals who led medical clinics with the church in Santo Domingo. We hosted VBSs for the children as they (and their parents) visited the medical clinics. Again we were told to expect around 250; this time over 450 kids attended the camp both days.

2. To Walk with God's People in Other Nations

Sometimes short-term mission teams are criticized for utilizing resources that could support long-term work and workers. Yet teams like ours work closely with local churches and mission partners in hopes of making a difference for the long term.

In Santo Domingo we partnered with Oasis Church along with the medical missions team they had invited. Our team was able to work alongside these global servants contributing to our shared mission. This kind of work gives us confidence that local churches in the community can harvest the seed we sow. It also enables our teenagers to gain a vision for what it is like to live and work outside of the United States. For many of our teens this was their first experience of life outside of the U.S.

On our final day our team visited a sugar batay (plantation) tended by migrant Hatian workers living in abject poverty. We brought clothing and food donated by members of Covenant Life Church, and we worked alongside the medical clinic. Our team hosted VBSs, and did personal evangelism in the lines (giving out Creole Bibles). It was humbling realizing that unless something changes, many of these Haitian workers would be deported by the Dominican government within the next 40 days.
In the weeks before the trip, we told our team members to prepare to be stretched. You would have been proud of how hard they worked and how effectively and generously they shared the love of Christ.  
Thank you for your prayers and support,
Kenneth Maresco

Share this on:

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)

Share this on:

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 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  “ 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.

Share this on:

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Share this on:

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.


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.


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 “ 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.


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 “ that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him” (Acts 17:27)?


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.

Share this on:

Page 1 of 8 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›