Thursday, April 26, 2012
During the Unity Conference here in Kigali, Dr. Fuder spoke three times on the importance of unity within the body. During one of the sessions he spoke about the importance of selflessness in pursuing unity. He stated that selfishness can thwart and diminish efforts towards unity. He went on to tell a story about a missionary (several years ago) in the Congo. She had been serving there for a number of years, and was having a hard time adjusting to the culture and navigating the culture. Her pastor, who was Congolese, encouraged her to come on a weekend retreat with he and his wife and to only bring her Bible. He encouraged her to get alone over the course of this weekend, to truly seek the Lord, and to see how He would speak to her about "breaking through" in this area of struggle she was having. After a day or two the missionary woman came to her pastor discouraged and said, "I still don't have any answers." The pastor graciously looked at her and said, "Helen you must cross out the 'I'...there is too much Helen in your ministry and not enough Jesus. Cross out the I."
Doc shared that he has never forgotten that story. It has marked his life and ministry. He and his wife Nell try to pray that prayer each morning - "Lord help us to cross out the I today. Give us the grace and the strength to live selflessly in our service to You and of others." It is an expression of Luke 9:23, "And He said to them all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
During our time here in Kigali I have observed our host, Pastor Dennis, serve selflessly. He has selflessly served our team. He has selflessly served the Pastors Family Fellowship (a network of pastors). I watched him selflessly serve the group of widows who are genocide survivors. I really believe that he is "pastoring the city." He has a Kingdom mindset that is so attractive. He loves his local flock (the church he pastors), and he serves them. However, he also ministers throughout the city in order to build up "the Church." I have seen in him what Doc was talking about. By God's grace He is crossing out the I.
I don't think I will ever forget that simple phrase, "cross out the I." As we have served together as a team this week I have been reminded of it. Our team has been amazing. I have been humbled by my brothers and sisters selflessness and humility. I have been convicted of the selfishness in my heart. It's my desire to serve selflessly, but at the same time I love to be recognized for it. I have also felt pride and self righteousness well up in my heart when I think I "know better" than one of my teammates. I have even learned how to cloak my pride in humble sounding words and posturing. These examples have made me realize afresh that there's too much Dave in me and not enough Jesus (cross out the I).
This all pushes me to Jesus, the One who "though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself bye becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8)." I am grateful for the cross.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Praises (We praise God for…)
1) Josie passed her state of California physical therapy exam! (Please pray for wisdom now as we potentially explore other/additional employment options.)
2) We (“the Clarks”) received all of the support we needed for our Rwanda trip!
3) The “Foundations In Christ” class I have been teaching is going well! I thoroughly enjoy teaching every Sunday and the interaction we have in the Bible!
4) We (the other pastors and I) have begun a training program with a missions organization (the Crescent Project) that is helping equip us to reach out to our Muslim neighbors here in Richmond.
5) Our parents, that is on the Clark side, are coming to visit this Easter weekend!
Prayer Requests (Please pray with us…)
1) That Josie and I would encourage each other in Christ and trust Him with our whole lives!
2) For deeper relationships with our neighbors!
3) For relationships to be developed with youth – more specifically I am praying about partnering/volunteering with another organization in the city so that I can coach this summer.
4) a – We own a condo in Branson, Missouri (where Josie lived before we got married). Please keep praying with us that we would find a renter soon! We have had some solid leads, but nothing has panned out thus far.
b – We also own a condo in Chicago. It is now listed for sale! My renter/brother, CW, will be moving out soon. Please pray for its sale!
5) We depart for Rwanda on Sunday April 15th. Please pray for safety as we travel. In addition, please pray for our preparation. Josie is working on a conference workshop, and I am working on messages for the conference. Pray with us for an impactful trip!
We appreciate you guys! Please let us know how we can be praying for you! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
We (the other pastors and I) have begun a 6 week training program through a ministry called the "Crescent Project." The Crescent Project's mission statement is to "inspire, equip and serve the Church to reach Muslims with the Gospel of Christ for the Glory of God. It is our vision to see a day when fear is replaced with love and millions of Christians are actively sharing the truth of Christ with millions of Muslims for the glory of God. We do this through prayer, training, local outreach, and short-term trips."
As we began this training I was reminded of a message shared by a missionary in Chicago that connected God's sovereignty in bringing "the nations" to the US with the incredible opportunity we have as the church here to have "beautiful feet" in our own cities and neighborhoods. This message became vivid to me once again last week. Let me explain...
On Wednesday mornings we go to Richmond HS to prayer walk there before the school day starts. We have made it a routine to drop in on a Christian teacher there to pray with him and seek to be an encouragement to him. Last Wednesday we shared with him about this new training that we are undergoing at the church (Crescent Project). He shared that there are new students at the high school who are from Muslim families and who recently moved here from a country in the middle east. I did some research on that particular nation in my "Operation World" book. It is 99% Muslim and is closed (and even hostile) to the Gospel! The amazing thing is that God, in His Sovereignty, moved families from a "closed" country in the middle east to Richmond, CA! It is not illegal for us to share our faith here. It is not illegal for us to offer Bibles to our neighbors here. So God has given us an incredible opportunity to reach out to our new neighbors!
Do you see the connection between Acts 17 and Romans 10?
Acts 17:26 "And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him..."
Romans 10:14 "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"
The great thing is that this doesn't just apply to those whom God has brought here from around the world. God has sovereignly placed us all in unique families, work environments, neighborhoods, and cities. He has given us all opportunities to have beautiful feet. The question is a simple, yet challenging one: do we love our neighbors? More specifically, do we love them enough to share Christ with them?