OneU, our evangelism ministry at University of Maryland-College Park, continues to be an effective means of preaching Christ and making disciples for the glory of God. There’s a ton of good, gospel work that God is doing on campus through the OneU staff (Jon Smith, Chavia Groveman, Angel Cabrera, Kelly Wilson and Paul Wilson) that I’m thanking God for regularly.
OneU has recently added a new staff member whose sole job is to be preaching Christ and continuing the mission to reach the lost and make disciples of all nations. His name is Daryl Boffman, and his goal is to begin serving on campus beginning this fall. He’s a good friend of mine, and has been a member of the church for about a year now. If you’re not currently supporting a OneU evangelist and/or would like to learn more about the ministry and how you can support it, download and read his newsletter (PDF, 590kb). He’d be happy to meet with you and talk about OneU and the work at UMD.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Recently I’ve been spending more time in our local coffee shop—the Starbucks near the Flower Hill Giant. As we’ve been digging into how we can be embracing God’s mission I’ve realized that this coffee shop is one of the few places that functions as a neighborhood gathering place for our community, including our church.
It’s been fun getting to know the staff there, drawing them out about their lives and creating opportunities to communicate the love of Christ to them. In case you frequent this Starbucks or any other place regularly the staff there are very aware of our church & how often our members frequent their establishment. We do keep the place full, don’t we?
Last week Drew Garfield asked thoughtful questions of Ana, the manager whom we’ve become friends with over the last few months. He asked her what her experience has been recently from our members. It was an insightful conversation, very warm & friendly. She’s grateful for our presence there but she did have a few suggestions for us that I’ve captured below. I think it’d be good to think about these categories related to any establishment you frequent. We all need to be reminded that we represent the Lord Jesus Christ wherever we go…even when ordering a latte.
—> Starbucks employees are people too…let’s treat them like it! Learn their names, greet them warmly, take an interest in their life & pray for them.
—> Put the cell phone down when ordering…this is really annoying & potentially disrespectful to anyone who is trying to serve you.
—> Clean up your own mess…your momma taught you better.
—> If you move any tables or chairs put them back before you leave. Try rearranging a friends living room without asking and see what they think…
Thanks for considering these things!
I recently had a job interview for a sales position with a roofing company in college park. The interview
was in a small cluttered office with a couple of guys, Rick and Dave, wearing jeans and sweatshirts. I sat
there awkwardly on a couch in a full suit.
During the interview itself I mentioned I am a Christian and work with integrity. Rick proceeded to tell me
that about his Muslim faith & background in that he seeks to work with similar values. I kept that little piece of information close at hand.
After the interview portion ended, lasting maybe 10 minuets, I proceeded to ask him if he was a practicing
Muslim and attended a mosque. He said he was practicing and that he prayed five times a day. That little
conversational match sparked an hour and a half long discussion about faith, God, and Christ, with topics
ranging from the end times, Mohammed, the New Testament, lust, and the message of the cross.
By the end of our time, Rick still held closely to what he thought, but I’m pretty sure Rick had never had a
conversation like that before, much less a job interview. I left hoping that Rick was able to see—through the Spirit—the authority of the claims of Christ through me. I prayed for him as I left the building.
About a month ago the pastors were spending some time praying for the lost. I was overcome by what I think was a holy jealousy—I was jealous of those of you who work with people who don’t know Christ. I used to and I loved getting to know them and become friends with them and talk about Christ, the Bible, the church, etc. Now, as a pastor, those opportunities don’t come as easily. So, thank God for the people you work with and help me with my jealousy ‘problem’ by getting to know them and sharing Christ with them!
- Braden -
I came across this quote from C.S. Lewis the other day that affected me and helped me to think about eternal realities more:
It is a serious thing…to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics…It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, exploit—immortal horror or everlasting splendors.
This part particularly stuck out to me: All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations.
Let’s pray and purpose today to help those around us to the destination of “everlasting splendors.”
- Jon -
Lisa Carr emailed Isaac the following story of how God has led her to advance the Gospel of Christ right where she works:
With the single ministry’s desire to pursue the mission God has given us, I’ve really felt God telling me that my mission field is local and with the people I work with. There are 3 people specifically that he’s drawn me towards:
One girl I worked with at my previous job. Over the course of working with her we had discussed spiritual things. After having left the job, I can see God drawing her out and she’s been searching for the truth of who He is. I’ve been able to witness to her, she’s come to church a few times, she’s come to my women’s discipleship group—which was really exciting—and she’s now actively looking to find a church to learn more about Him. I can really see God working in her heart. Pray that she would trust in Christ and that she would be able to come to the Introducing God series.
Another is a girl that I currently work with who is Muslim. She’s very open to discussing faith on a philosophical and historical level. Over Christmas she came to the service and was moved by the production. She said she was touched by the portrayal of Mary holding Jesus after he died. It brought up the opportunity to talk about Jesus and who he was. She was really excited to get one of the books for guests to read more and I also gave her The Case for Christ, which she is currently reading. Her family is strong in their beliefs and you can see the pull in her heart to please her family. Please pray that she will be open to the truth of Jesus.
The third girl is someone that I’ve just started working with. She’s told other people at work that she is an atheist. With our similar interests and schedules, I’ve been working closely with her lately. I know that God is putting me in her path to plant seeds. So far we’ve been getting to know each other but I know God’s got opportunities waiting for me to share Jesus with her. Pray that I’ll recogni ze them and jump in with both feet.
That’s what my barber told me last week when I was getting my haircut. He is a professing Buddhist from Vietnam, father of 3, and has been cutting hair for years.
“So Mark (not his real name) do you have any spiritual belief?”
“I’m a Buddhist.”
He stopped cutting my hair and looked at me in the mirror. I could see that he seemed excited to tell me about his faith. I was glad since he was standing over me with a pair of scissors in his hand.
“You know, I don’t know much about Buddhism. Can you tell me more about what you believe?”
“We just try and be good, you know. Good deeds.”
His English is fine, but broken at times.
“That’s great Mark, doing good is important. What good things do you try and do?”
“Take care of my family, don’t do anything really bad, I wish I could give out free haircuts, but I can’t, you know?”
His facial expression began to reveal an internal struggle.
“If you ever want to do a good deed like that, call me up. I’ll take a free haircut anytime. That’s great you do those things Mark. How do you determine what is good and what is bad?”
“You just don’t do anything really bad…”
He went back to cutting my hair.
“What’s really bad? Stuff like murder, rape. Would you say those things are bad?” I asked.
“What do you believe happens to people who are bad?”
“They go to hell,” he said.
He stopped cutting my hair and seemed more interested in the conversation.
“So you believe in a hell. Do you believe in heaven?”
“Yes,” he said
“What happens in hell when you get there?”
“Well, everyone goes there. When you get there, they beat you because of all the bad deeds you have done in your life.”
He started cutting my hair again.
“Whoa. REALLY?!? EVERYONE goes to hell, Mark? What do you mean?”
“Yes, everyone. Everyone goes to pay for the bad stuff they did in their life.”
“Who goes to heaven then, Mark?”
“After you spend time in hell and pay for your bad deeds you go to heaven.”
“Okay. Who decides when you can go to heaven?” I asked.
“How does he decide who goes and when they go?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you afraid of going to hell, Mark?”
“Yes, I’m very scared.”
“If you could go right to heaven would you want to do that?”
He stopped cutting my hair again.
“Has anyone ever told you about the gospel and what Christians believe?” I asked.
“Can I tell you?”
He went back to cutting my hair and seemed less interested in the conversation.
I proceeded to tell him “we’re all bad and do bad things. None of us can get to heaven by our good works, because our bad works deserve to be punished. We all deserve to go to hell. We need someone to save us and live the life we can’t live. This is why Jesus came. He came to live our life and die our death because of our sin. And now, he calls us to place our faith in him as God. When we do this, God accepts us and declares us—the guilty party—not guilty because Jesus took our punishment on the cross. You see, heaven isn’t going to be filled with good people, but bad people who have been saved by Jesus and his work for us—not our work for him.”
“I see,” he said.
Mark finished cutting my hair. I paid him (and gave him a good tip), and told him how much I enjoyed hearing about Buddhism.
I am praying that God would save Mark. In the meantime, I am reading up on Buddhism so that I can continue the conversation with him next month.
Please pray for Mark and for me “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel…” (Eph 6:19)
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he…
He what? What did he do? He was provoked by their idols so he went on an idol-destroying rampage rebuking all the pagans…He bought some land far away because he was disgusted with their idol-worship…He kept his mouth shut and prayed, minding his own business…
Nope. Here’s the rest of the verse:
17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there…18…he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
Paul was provoked over the idol worship and proclaimed Christ. Later in verse 30 Paul told the Athenians that God commands everyone to repent. We don’t know exactly how he was provoked. Did he have righteous indignation because of the wicked? Was he grieved for these people created in God’s image who were completely lost in worship of false Gods? Perhaps both.
What we do know is his response: In light of the sins of the people around him, he reasoned with people and proclaimed repentance and faith in Jesus Christ—his death and his resurrection.
Let’s be like Paul when we encounter false worship today. Let’s reason with people and proclaim Christ.
God called a pagan moon-worshipper and told him that he was not only going to bless him but the entire earth through him. And this guy didn’t even know or serve God. Abram heard the call of God and responded. God delivered on his promise. And today we are all blessed through Abraham’s offspring: Jesus Christ.
At our first Big Meeting in our series on mission, Isaac led the charge and directed our gaze to our God who seeks to bless undeserving sinners like Abram and like us.
God’s mission is to redeem the people of the earth through His redeemed people. We are His redeemed people. We are called to His mission.
In light of this call, each one of us needs to soberly assess where we spend our time and energy and money to see if we are in fact carrying out His mission.
God’s purposes will never be thwarted (Abram made mind-blowing mistakes that seemed to put our redemption in jeopardy), but he has decided to use his redeemed people to carry out these purposes. As weak and fallible as we are.
We don’t want to be content with our current knowledge of and zeal for His mission—we want more. We want the mission of God to be infused into the DNA of our lives. We want this to become a part of what it means to be a mature follower of Christ—a holiness that leads us to meet the needs of others. Real physical needs: Food. Clothing. Mentoring. Housing. And even greater needs: that all people be reconciled to their Creator through belief in the death of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the promise of blessing through Abraham. Scripture makes it clear that Christ is the offspring that Abraham was promised (Gal 3:16) and that we are children of Abraham through our common faith in the promise of God (Gal 3:6-9, Rom 4:13-25).
How should we live in light of this God and His mission?
• We should worship our God who initiated the mission by calling an undeserving sinner named Abram and promising blessing to him.
• We should have confidence for the mission: it was His idea, and His will that brought it about.
• We should have sustaining strength for the mission: God never tires, and He never gets bored of this mission and goes off to start a new one. Let’s draw our strength each day from the God of mission.
• Find a place to serve and proclaim. We don’t need a plan of study for six months. We just need to find a need and meet it and begin proclaiming the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just like Abram…we must go.