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The Song Of The Birds

“The flight of the birds invites an entire nation to rise in the heights to meet its Creator through a new song.

The song of the birds awakens our souls; a song that invites us to unite in a melody of adoration and gratitude to the only God who opens the heavens to offer us a new day.

The song that has been inspired by the true God, the song that is not distracted by dark melodies.

The sun is appearing, reflecting only a glimpse of the glory of a great God, while the birds are preparing for a long day because a great fishing is coming. And they with their song have already prepared the perfect atmosphere for the fishermen, who launch their nets with expertise. They are very confident that the Captain has patiently prepared his boat to receive the most varied and gigantic fish.

This friendly harmony between birds, fishermen and the Captain of the boat produces an exquisite confidence.

A security that you will only find when you get on the boat of the One who extends his helping hand. When you look at Him and you recognize that the captain will take you to the right place and to a safe harbor.

It does not matter how strong the coming storm is, if the rudder will always be in the powerful hands of the Captain. And if you fall in very deep waters His net will be ready to rescue you.

During this great day, the birds continue to soar the heights, strengthening those who in the fishing boat are waiting for the movement of the waters. Sometimes the birds point out the place to find fish, other times they are fishing themselves.

At the end of the day, the Captain continues to guide and the fishermen are very grateful to see their nets full.

This is the moment where birds look for trees to rest on; leafy trees which serve as shelter and food. Trees with firm roots and strong branches where they can find rest.

The birds find only a few trees but the Captain shows them in the distance a fertile land with the promise that this fertile land will give them strong trees.

This promise makes the birds take flight and its song fills the atmosphere. The catch of fish is increasing and while it is increasing, thousands of birds appear to join in the song. More fishermen are ready to join into the great catch. The Captain smiles, and looking towards the fertile land, he finds that enough trees have already grown to give shade to the thousands of  birds that have joined us in this journey.”

I wrote this while observing the city I have been living in for placement.

One of the things that touched my heart in my first week in this city was the call to prayer.
The sound of this call transmits hopelessness, it sounds like a lament that oppresses the entire city.

I realized that at the end of the song the birds around began to sing very loudly and I felt like God in His perfect design surrounded this city with waters birds, fish, dogs, cats and all these represent His beautiful creation.
That same creation conveys hope and does not remain silent.

I felt that God in His mercy is building together with all His creation a new song directed towards Him who is the only one worthy of adoration.

When I survey the sea, boats, and fishermen surrounding the city, I imagine Jesus in a boat as captain preparing every detail of a wonderful fishing of souls.

The song of the birds brought to my mind the army of worshipers that God is raising in this nation to manifest His Presence.
The fishermen make me think of every worker willing and ready to spread the good news of salvation. The few trees reminded me of the need for many teachers and pastors who can take care of the worshipers and of course the new souls added by God.
While observing the city, I thought about the privilege of being able to participate in this journey, believing that the perfect government of God is approaching this nation.

Thinking about all this, I believe that though my trip has been long, I have arrived at the place where God has called me to join His eternal purposes in this specific time and hour.
The center of God’s will will always be the best place to be.

And this poetic writing was what flowed from my mind.

 

Ligia Ossa, MAPS Student

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His Fierce Pursuit

I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of this 90 day placement. To say that I was shocked when I learned that I would be joining the team back in November is an understatement, and I still go through moments where I am, once again, hit with the revelation of “holy crap, I’m in the Middle East.”

My journey leading up to this moment has been pretty crazy in my opinion, and I truly believe that my Christian walk has been sped up more than I think I deserve. It has taken quite awhile for me to make sense of how I could be serving the Lord in an unreached nation right now, when I was denying His very existence only a year and a half ago. But it’s important to remember that God truly does work in mysterious (yet, always good) ways, and in time frames that are hard for us to understand sometimes.

His ways are not our own and if He did work in the ways my mind sometimes does, I can promise you I would still be at home mulling over lies about my lack of qualifications as a Christian, and wallowing in guilt and shame over the years I spent rebelling and denying Him.

It took me awhile before I began to understand why He would send me within such a short amount of time, why He was so willing to use me already, and why He was speaking so clearly to me that this placement is just the beginning of a life of missions. I was believing all kinds of lies, no matter how dumb they sounded, and it wasn’t until I actually made it to the Middle East that I was really able to begin replacing those lies with truths.

It is crazy how much power a lie can have over you if you don’t break agreement with it. For example, if I did not break agreement with the lies that:

  • 1) I am not qualified to go on placement because I haven’t been a Christian long enough (I know that sounds pathetic, but trust me, it can truly tear a person apart)
  • 2) I have so much catching up to do in terms of reading the Bible and knowing more about God, I couldn’t possibly be of any help to the placement team
  • 3) I have sinned too much in the past to be of any use to God

Along with so many others (some I’m still discovering), I would not have been able to persevere and do what it took for me to get here.

Now that I’m on placement, the Lord has been giving me deep revelation of His love for me. It sounds so simple, because it is, but if you miss the simplicity of how steadfast and whole-hearted His love is, you miss the opportunity of knowing what it means to have freedom in Him, discovering your identity as a child of God, living life without self-condemnation, and seeing that everything that ever was and is to come is because of His love for us.

As soon as I was able to even slightly grasp the vastness of God’s love for me, I started to see past the lies that have been hindering me from stepping into my identity and destiny.

It’s so amazing to sit back and reflect on what God has brought me through since the day I gave my life over to Him in 2016, and see that He has been leading me to truth and revelation of His love the whole time. That, although He is using me to serve the church in the Middle East, He is also using this trip to serve my own beliefs about myself and Him. With every new revelation comes a truth replacing a lie that has unknowingly been keeping me from stepping further into my identity as a daughter.

I am so moved by just how much God loves His children, and how I am still barely scratching the surface of what is the breadth, the length, the height, and the depth of His love. I am loved with a love that is so crazy, He allowed me to completely turn away from Him, deny Him, turn others away from Him, and then run back to Him at my lowest point. Not only did He accept me, but He was waiting patiently for me and welcomed me with open arms, ready for me to step into what He’s always had planned for my life.

Throughout my participation in MAPS, the saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called” has become so real to me. He has made me qualified through my willingness to say “yes” and surrender my heart to Him over and over again. It’s so interesting to me how God can use an assignment He’s placed on your life to not only grow His Kingdom, but make you more whole in the process. My heart is filled with joy at the fact that He is in constant pursuit of my heart and wholeness throughout my walk with Him.

I could cry every day for the rest of my life at the revelation that God loves to use even the most “broken, unfit” people for the good of His Kingdom. How wonderful it is to know that your qualifications in the eyes of the Lord are not based on the years you’ve been a Christian, but on your own willingness to say “yes” and be molded by Him along the way. That there’s no timeline you have to follow with X amount of years as a Christian under your belt or having gone through inner-healing to such-and-such extent or knowing a certain amount about the Bible or being fully developed in at least one spiritual gift. While these are important things, it legit does not matter to Him where you are at with all of it. He loves to teach and bring you through these things along the way, and is in constant pursuit of your heart and wholeness in the midst.

I am seeing so vividly now that it really only takes a surrendered heart and a weak “yes” for God to take your hand and bring you into His will for the generation you’re a part of. He will use you no matter the experience you have as a Christian, and is delighted in what you have to offer every moment. There is never a time where He is disappointed in your lack or weakness. The longer I’m here, the more I see that there’s a lot of strength to be found in having weakness. You find yourself leaning on the Lord more than ever in order to get through and overcome situations, and you come out on the other side of it with so much more wisdom and revelation than you had going in. I love how God works!

Reflecting on where the Lord has led me in such a short amount of time is so crazy, and I don’t think I will ever be able to not get emotional at the reality of how far God’s love and grace stretches no matter how far gone you think you are. The amount of inner-healing the Lord has been walking me through is astounding. If I had not said “yes” to going on this trip, it would have taken me years to gain the revelation I have gained in less than a month of being here.

At the end of it all, it’s not about how much I deserve anything. It’s about the fact that Jesus’ name deserves to be proclaimed and lifted up in the nations, and my saying “yes” is all it takes for Him to use me for the good of His Kingdom. He desires my heart as well as the heart of the nations, and will pursue both in the process of using me.

 

Amber Barnett, MAPS Student

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Antioch Series: When Worship, Prayer, And Missions Collide // Sojourners

#3- Sojourners on the Earth

 

“Those that were scattered”… Arguably the most influential church in history was started by a small band of refugees who, in the midst their most painful season, took a simple step of faith and obedience that changed history.

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch… But there were some of them…who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” – Acts 11:19-21

Luke, the writer of Acts, gives us no insight into how the decision was made for these displaced believers to reach out across the “dividing wall of hostility” to share the gospel with people who were ethnically, culturally, politically and socially different than them but I am sure that the journey of their displacement from the Jewish “hub” of Jerusalem and their pilgrimage throughout the Greco-Roman world had much bearing on their eventual conclusion to preach the gospel to “the Hellenists also” and thus change history.

What was it that God was doing with this company of people that prepared them to pioneer the apostolic missions base of the New Testament? I believe that was God using their displacement according to His purposes and for His glory. I would go as far to say that it was necessary for them to go through their scattering in order to dislodge some fatal value systems they inherited from the Jerusalem church that would have prevented them from ever becoming the sending center they were destined to be together.

What was God aiming to dislodge and ultimately expel out of the hearts and minds of these Jewish believers by driving them from house and home, out of the bubble of “Jerusalem Christianity” as refugees into cities and towns to which they did not belong? I believe the Lord was warring against two subtle and lurking enemies of the gospel that were settling into the culture back in Jerusalem.

What was this monster hiding in the shadows right under Peter and James’ nose?

Well it is Pride but it has two ugly heads and they are named Nationalism and Ethnocentrism (Racism). They were and still remain the biggest enemy of the gospel and of missions.

These enemies of the embryonic missions movement had to be dealt with in order to see the fullness of what the church in Antioch was intended to be.  In this blog we will tackle the first and in the next blog we will take on the latter.

 

nationalism – exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups; loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness

 

NATIONALISM IS AN ENEMY OF THE GOSPEL

When you believed in the Lord Jesus and were baptized into the faith, you were re-born into an entirely new reality called “the kingdom”. Jesus says in the gospel of John, chapter 3, that you were “born from above” into a kingdom and a city that is from heaven.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [anōthen // from above] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” … That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:3, 6

Jesus Christ, the God-man, was born of a woman but inherited a divine nature through the virgin birth from heaven outside of the curse Adam’s fall. He would live the life of complete agreement and total obedience to the Father that the first Adam failed to do. Then, he would allow men fueled by demonic rage to execute Him as a criminal in order pay the price of our broken covenant by death on a cross. In this, he removed the requirements of the curse from us by fulfilling the law on our behalf and it’s legal demands. By dying sinless, he could both pay our debt and take into himself the entire created order under the curse of Adam including you and I. He, the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, would take us into Himself on the cross, not only dying for us, but dying with us and as us. When He came out of the grave, He did not come out by himself but instead brought with Him an entirely new order and creation that was re-born. What you formerly were and what you formerly belonged to has died in Christ on a tree. Paul tells us in Colossians 2 that we have died to the stoicheion of the cosmos. (Col 2:20) This is literally means that you no longer are governed by or belong to the fundamental principles and elements that govern this universe.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

You have died in Jesus and God has raised you with a new nature, not inherited from the first Adam but received from the perfect Son, the Second Adam, your older brother, Jesus Christ. You are altogether new and unique from what you once were. He has justified you as righteous, holy, and blameless because your life now is Christ’s and by nature you are joined with the Godhead.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself… – 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

You are not from here. You were born from beyond the cosmos. The New Jerusalem has birth right citizenship. Therefore, nationalism at it’s core is anti-gospel because it is a lie that deceives the believer into thinking that where they live is where they are from and the culture they are surrounded by is the culture they belong to and must fight for.

The New Testament writers confronted this stronghold head-on. This was no side issue to the Apostles.

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting…But my kingdom is not from the world.” – John 18:36

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. – 1 John 5:4

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. – 1 Peter 2:9-11

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. – Philippians 3:20-21

But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. – Galatians 4:26

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, – Hebrews 12:22

…but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. – Galatians 4:26

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… – Ephesians 2:19

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. – 2 Corinthians 5:20


This is the reality of the “sent-ness” of every believer. You do not belong to your nation, culture or social sphere, instead you have been sent as an ambassador of the New Jerusalem to those realms to live out your days as representative of the city that is to come.

Most of us live our lives with far too little awareness of the heavenly realities around us. Most of us go through day after day and seldom feel the impact of the magnitude of what we are caught up in by belonging to Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the ruler of the universe. We woke up this morning and stumbled out of bed into the cosmic significance because of the finished work of the cross. We give little thought to it and consequently our lives often lack the flavor of eternity and the aroma of something ultimate.

When we lose touch with our heavenly citizenship we default back to our Nationalistic existence that finds it’s identity and feels it’s passions and claims it’s ownership over our political parties, economic status, social spheres, and cultural biases. When this happens, we lose that heavenly aroma on our lives and we can no longer be “peacemakers” standing between two opposing parties and bringing them together at the foot of the cross of Jesus. We forfeit the ministry of reconciliation when we become entrenched in the rhetoric of one nation opposed to another, one political party opposed to another, one race opposed to another, ect… We lose our ability to evangelize what we have antagonized, marginalized or tried to run out town with a court order or zoning law.

Nationalism confuses “the kingdom” with “my nation and it’s government”. When this happens, the church abdicates its role and authority and looks instead to the government or a political party as the manifestation of  “the kingdom”. We look to presidents, kings, senators and legislators to write laws that create the “Christian utopia” we expect to enjoy by coercing, pressuring or smothering anyone opposition to our “way of life”. When we confuse the advancement of political ideas with the advancement of the gospel, the believer then promotes that government and that nation as the primary catalyst for the advancement of the kingdom in the earth. So the nation, as we want or suppose it to be, must advance at all costs, especially at the cost of other nations. This is at its core anti-gospel and the enemy of the great commission.

When these lines begin to blur in the mind of the believer, then the enemy of the state becomes the enemy of the church. This will inevitably produce a prejudice and animosity towards any nation or people that is perceived to be a threat to “my nation” and “my way of life”. The litmus test of Nationalism in the church and in the heart of the believer is in whom we declare to be our enemy. This dangerous mixture of nationalism and so-called “Christianity” that identifies its enemy in opposing ethnic or political entities has born devastating and evil fruit throughout history. If we look in the rear view mirror, we will see Crusades, Inquisitions, and Genocides. One does not have to dig to deep to find the origins of thought that massacred 6 million Jews during the holocaust to be nurtured and endorsed by the church of that nation all in the name of God and country.

This violent spirit will, in turn, will cause the church to sell her birthright to disciple all nations (Matt 28:18) through the preaching of the gospel for the bowl of soup of political rhetoric and cultural biases that have little or no priority in the gospel. In short, nationalism makes the main thing, the tertiary thing (the gospel) and the peripheral things become of “supreme importance”.  

Whether we, as believers in America, can admit it or not, the money does not lie. How much money, time and passion the church in America spends on frontier missions and the advancement of the gospel among all peoples vs the money, time and passion we spend on partisan politics, culture wars, or maintaining our social-economic statuses does not even compare. As we say, “the proof is in the puddin’.”

All of the men and women commended for their faith lived and died in the light of the New Jerusalem and understood that they lived on the earth as “sojourners”. They lived in light of their position and reward in the New Jerusalem. This is Christianity 101. This enabled them to hold loosely to material possessions and national identities and emboldened them in radical acts of courage and love with martyrdom spirit.

By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God… These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. – Hebrews 11:9-10, 13-16 

Only the cross frees us from Nationalism. Only in the denying of oneself, picking up the cross, and following Jesus can those thick cords of nationalism begin to break off of our hearts and minds. Through their suffering and pain, these scattered, sojourning believers in Antioch had experienced a revelation of the power of that cross. Clinging to national and ethnic identities had to be dislodged by the shaking of displacement and persecution. God, in His sovereign kindness, would allow them to be scattered from the comforts and securities of home, familiar, and roots so that they would be able to experience the reality of “seeking a homeland” and being “sojourners on the earth”. They had to experience the reality of having no homeland for themselves to discover that in fact they belonged to the “city to come”.

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. – Hebrews 13:14

Antioch could have never been a “plant” of the Jerusalem church. If it was, it would have carried this ethnocentric and nationalistic culture with it. Those two realities would have choked out the destiny of the missions movement that in the prophetic womb of this company of believers. The mandate to the nations of the earth would have always taken a back seat to needs at home. The gospel would have been primarily to unto building their own nation. Their interpretive grid for the blessings of God would have caused them to spend it on themselves with no second thought about the unreached nations of the earth.

Instead, God took them on a journey of understanding the cross, doing a work in them through years of displacement that would culminate in arriving in Antioch and preaching to the Greeks also. And when the Holy Spirit would say to them a few years later,Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”(Acts 13:2-3), there would be no competing value, prejudice or indifference that would have to first be untangled before they could joyfully send their best to the ends of the earth.

 

R.A. Martinez

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Two Worlds Falling

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I consider if a privilege to write this tonight in a foreign land under Islamic skies. Just a short while ago, a blast sounded across our city from the top of every stone minaret proclaiming the catechismal and idolatrous call “Allahu Akbar, Ashhadu an la ilaha illla Allah, Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah!”

“Allah is Great

I bear witness that there is no god except the one Allah

I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”

Meanwhile, across the ocean, life in America goes on as usual. Tomorrow morning believers will wake up and get their families ready for church. Hip worship teams will scale dimly lit stages equipped with multi-million dollar production, lights, cameras and sound equipment to lead thousands of onlookers into 15 minutes of worship. After magnificent announcement and offering videos the pastor will take the stage and deliver an inspirational 40 minute sermon complete with humorous experiences, some biblical lessons and finally a touching call to accept Jesus to a room of bowed heads and closed eyes.

Others will fill out $150 ticket conferences this weekend to soak in extended times of worship, be equipped for the hundredth time to lay hands on the sick, prophesy, hear God’s voice and make their way to the front of the line to be blessed by the keynote itinerant man or woman of God who is carrying the word of the Lord for the month- hoping for the day they too will be the one on stage moving in the anointing before the crowds.

Regardless of Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or reformed, charismatic or fundamentalist, the cycle continues and life goes on and on, week by week. Regardless of denominational orientation, all find themselves in the cycle of American Christendom, far from the songs of the minarets. Far from the sound of the unreached world.

I’ll be honest this blog is difficult for me to write. I would much rather spend my time writing to encourage the Church of America in her walk with her Lord, to be thrust deeper into the love of God in Christ and to walk in the fullness of the newness of resurrection life through the finished work. I recognize that the lowest place on the prophetic totem pole is the cynical individual who’s prophetic ministry consists primarily in calling out the flaws and shortcomings of people and ministries, lacking heavenly authority and the tender heart of their Head Jesus Christ the Word. I realize more than ever before how much Jesus looks across the American church with deep love, exhilaration and joy, desiring their very best and highest good at every moment.

Having said that, I am troubled once again tonight by the polarization of these two worlds: The world of the Western Church and the world I am currently living in: the lost world of Islam. I am pained by this dichotomy. More than ever before we need these two worlds to collide in a gospel explosion that results in people movements to Christ. We need the western church to arise and answer the challenge of Islam like never before- for the sake of lost billions of souls.

Yet there is a clear separation of worlds with no foreseeable shift before us without a sovereign awakening by the Holy Spirit. We are entirely too disconnected from the grand crescendoing drama of Matthew 24:14 in America. We have created our own world- our own kingdom of heaven- to live in and from and have insulated ourselves by and large from the missional crisis across the oceans. It doesn’t take a prophet to see the current state clearly: We are our own existence.We have our own church culture detached from that in which we live. We fill our own bookstores, record our own music, study in our own universities, film our own movies, listen to our own radio stations, have our own politicians and run our own coffee shops. We have encased ourselves in a prism of largely middle-class suburban cultural Christianity. The collective result of this emerging subculture is a calcification and solidification of unseen cultural barrier between the church and the surrounding world making Her more and more missionally irrelevant. Moves of the Holy Spirit are understood only in the context of ministering to the saints, not in impacting the lost, so that His saving and healing activity is limited only within the bounds of this cultural kingdom. Often our lens of the outside world is interpreted through the warped perspective of what we see in the media resulting in our burrowing down in silent judgment towards others who are different- particularly Muslims. Couple this with long held bad theology concerning holiness (that holiness is an escape from the world, an abstention of interaction with it lest we be made unclean) and eschatology (that the kingdom of God isn’t primarily a future reality in the millennium but rather one we establish now pseudo-spiritually through material means) and we have ourselves a Christian kingdom of heaven on earth. A kingdom of heaven that is outwardly prosperous yet one that has all but abandoned her mission to the earth.

Consider Luther’s words,

‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?

If we were to be objectively honest with ourselves we have to see a real difference in the present culture of the church in America and the life of the Incarnate God in His earthly ministry. Jesus’ life shows us what it means to be truly missional. The Incarnation is the blueprint of all missions in the earth. Jesus was eternally before His Father in love and bliss and yet stepped out of His Father’s house and entered fully into our experience to rescue us. He fully became all things to all men to heal and save us to the uttermost. He took on the form of a servant to bring us back home to the Father’s house. Do we see a difference here?

We have built our own kingdom of heaven with the unsaid expectation that outsiders must enter on our terms. We have established the very nature of our evangelical approach on this premise! The primary evangelical and kerygmatic epicenter in our churches is from the pastor on Sunday mornings when he asks if anyone wants to accept Jesus. Statistically, most people who will hear the gospel from the American church have to hear it from a pulpit. They have to cross multiple unseen subcultural barriers- making their way through our Christianized universe- to even hear the gospel because we have allocated it to the role of the man on stage on Sunday mornings. The world must come inside our walls to hear the good news- to taste and see the Lord is good. Yet God in the Incarnation in opposite fashion left heaven to bring us home to the Father.

Consider Him who made friends with the sinner and tax collectors, who interacted with and loved the prostitute and leper and poor. There is a difference here. It is Jesus who said, “Blessed are the poor” (Luke 6:20), yet we preach blessing equals wealth. It is Jesus who loved not His life even unto death. Do we embody this example in our life? The essence of missions is simply the Church’s participation in the mission of the Son but do we even know His example that we may begin our participation? Consider Him who died surrounded by His enemies- who sent us out as “sheep among wolves” (Luke 10:3) to mimic His example by carrying our own crosses in self denial for the reconciliation of those wolves around us. Do we look and live like the crucified God? Do we love our lives and hold them close or do we freely give them away for the salvation of the world in self emptying love? Do we intentionally live among the wolves or do we built affluent pens around us and our fellow sheep? I am of the opinion that if Jesus had employed the same methods of cultural engagement and evangelism that we do the world would have been lost- there would have been no cross!

I am not surprised that we are not engaging with the Islamic world on a large scale right now- but I am deeply hopeful tonight. I believe our Lord is changing the understanding and expression of Christianity in this generation- This is a prayer of mine. He is showing us the power of crucified love and is sending us in the same manner. “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you… receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21,22). Yet I am convinced that for Islam to melt off of the hearts of billions, the kingdom of the American church must give way to the outflowing Kingdom of Heaven. The gospel of self actualization must give way to the Gospel of God and of His coming Kingdom. I see millions leaving the West in self emptying love and going to the East as salt and light, lambs among wolves carrying crosses and songs of hope. I see the world of the west fade into something far more glorious and peculiar- one in which the prophetic picture of the Incarnation is repeated time and time again by millions of martyrs in the living and the dying. When the world of the American Church is emptied in self sacrifice by the power of the Cross the opaque Islamic world will be reborn under the power of the Resurrection.

There is a day when the minarets will never again play the songs of Allah. The song of the Lamb will take it’s place for all days. The day is quickly coming- the Lion is coming. I call the American Church in tenderness and sincerity to abandon their lives, take up their crosses and follow the Lamb into the heart of the Muslim world! Let us prepare the way of the Lord- let us make straight His paths! The Lion is coming!

Travis Owens, MAPS Field Staff