12,000 Feet Up And Nothing To Offer But Jesus

“Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the habitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands.”
‭‭- Isaiah‬ ‭42:10-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Do I believe that every nation and every people will sing to Jesus, this Bright, fiery-eyed Man whom I love? Do I believe that this Gospel that was first preached to the Jews is indeed the saving grace for all of the nations of the earth? Do I believe that what Jesus is doing in America is just a small part of His global plan for the Church? Am I willing to give up all I have known here for the sake of the world?

I don’t know the slightest bit about the nation of Nepal and the people groups that live here, but here I am 10,000 miles away from my home, climbing 12,000 foot mountains, on a journey asking Jesus to show me the place in His heart for people that I have yet to see or know.

This is what I was thinking as I hiked in my sandals on a rocky, dusty trail that weaves its way through the majestic and terrifying Himalayas. I was on my way to a remote village of Tibetans with nothing to offer but Jesus. I stumbled upon a carpentry shop where two men were carefully shaping pieces of wood with their rudimentary tools to fit together into a cabinet. Despite me not speaking a lick of his dialect, the shop owner motioned for us to follow him into his candle lit home, where he sat down to brew us tea.

We had an audio bible on an SD card, but his Nokia phone that looked like it was from the early 2000s could not read it. Yet we continued to talk. As he showed us photographs of his family and explained with the little English he knew that his wife had passed away years ago, our hearts grew in love toward one another. A flame flickered in the corner of the room and illuminated a statue of Buddha with an offering in front of it. As I thought of the pain and suffering this man has gone through, my heart hurt because he did not have Jesus to walk him through it. Yet I also had an immense sense of joy because I knew today he would be introduced to Jesus, my beautiful friend and companion who had led me here today.

My friend opened the door and sat down with our translator. As we shared more about our families and he, his, joy filled the room. After at least three rounds of tea, this man shared how he needed healing in his stomach and his knee. We took the opportunity to share the Gospel with him and pray with him. As we opened our eyes, he was smiling and said confidently, “I know your Jesus will heal me.” My eyes welled up with tears as I considered this simple, profound statement. He sipped some more tea and then declared “I will follow Jesus”.

My world exploded. How humble is Jesus that He was allowed me to participate in the declaring the Gospel to this man? Beyond that, He lets me see with my own eyes he and others coming to know Him. As I processed this experience, I could not help but reflect on how big of a heart and plan Jesus has for the earth. He was serious when He said that every people will hear of Him

I walked away from that moment with a new resolve. I don’t want to abdicate my chance to be part of Isaiah 42. I want to look around the throne room John saw in Revelation 4 and 5 when I make it up there someday and know that my life had a part to play in that glorious chorus ascending to Jesus. If that means hiking into remote places of the world or spending year immersed in a culture that is not my own just to get the opportunity to make Jesus’ name great, let it be so. There is nothing more glorious than a life laid down for the greatness of His name.

Luke Jeffery, VP of Finance and Operations


Communities of Glory

“The glory which You have given me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You have sent Me, and loved, even as You have loved Me.” John 17:22-23

Community, or recently I have heard it described as Common Unity is the pulse of the Church. It is what every human heart yearns for, to be placed in a family where they are understood and appreciated. That we all may be one, just as the trinity is one operating as individuals but with the same heart and mind. Obviously, this is something that I want for the Church both the small expression that I attend and the bride of Christ represented throughout the world.

Where I have seen this best manifested are in groups that seem to be anything but similar, mismatched in background, race and nationality. I feel like the Lord does this so that we can take no credit with our cool meetings and exciting language. It is simply the love of Christ that is compelling us to be gathered together. I have experienced that unity first comes from being united with Christ, when we are abiding in Him we are connected to the glory that Christ has given us. Because of this, it doesn’t matter whatever outward expression is going on around us. For, as long as we are connected with Him we are able to connect with others with love and understanding.

Being perfected in unity does seem like a pipedream, in a world full of blog posts and shouting matches the idea of the whole bride of Christ being fully one feels a little far off. However, we have been given an invitation to this reality. Where the Lord invites us, there is always grace and a way to walk it out. We can be a reflection of the trinity of perfect love and communion.

We do this so that the world may know that Jesus was sent for them. This glory that we hold and this love that we can show is the community that the world needs to see so that they may know Him. May we be that community that is able to overlook an offense, that is able to love even when we have been wronged. We must ask ourselves, can a group of broken people carry such a heavy weight of glory that an outpouring of love may be shown to those on the outside looking in? I’d like to think so, because I have seen little glimpses here and there, some of these glimpses have been in little rooms in the middle of the desert and some have been more close to home in classrooms and sanctuaries. I see the kingdom coming through communities of glory.

Leah Grace Mix, MAPS Leader


The Beginning of the Global Missions Mandate

Hermes, Abram and the First Mention of the Global Missions Mandate

Among serious students of the biblical text there are certain rules and standards put into place to ensure the reader is reading the text in a responsible manner. Some modern readers actually tend to read the biblical text and interpret it more like my eight-year-old interprets my fatherly instruction:

Eight-year old: “Daddy, may I have ice cream?”

Father: “No, son. You already had three scoops after lunch.”

Eight-year-old: “Great! So may I have Mama’s Haagen Daz?”

Scholars call the method of interpretation of a text hermeneutics, a fancy word that derives from the name of the Greek god Hermes. According to Greek mythology, Hermes was the deity that was the chief messenger to the rest of the gods; he would delight in the ambiguity of language and further delight when his interpretations would dialectically contain both truth and falsehood based upon the messages’ interpretation. Hermes would have delighted in my son’s interpretation of my response to his request for ice cream!

When it comes to biblical interpretation, one tool in our hermeneutics tool-belt is “the law of first mentions.” This is fairly self-explanatory. The first time a word, such as “light,” is mentioned in the bible it is usually pretty important and can serve as a key for understanding the word in the rest of the bible. This principle may also extend to key concepts and phrases.

So what is the first clear mention of the global missions movement in the bible? Consider the calling of Abram, a famous passage in its own right for the sovereign election of Israel and the “seed” from whom the serpent-crushing fulfillment of the promise given to Adam and Eve would find its family-roots:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The Lord’s command to “go” to Abram and the ensuing promise of blessing is not only God’s strategy for blessing the children of Abram and making his own name great but blessing “all the families of the earth.”

The devastating simplicity of Abram’s call connected with the global missions mandate is startling: if Abram does not go, the earth will not be blessed. The “going” necessitates a leap of faith that requires risk and uncertainty. The “going” always involves a “leaving” of one’s “father’s family.” This always manifests in loss. Loss of comfort. Loss of cultural identity. Loss of financial security. Loss of language. Loss of geographic familiarity. Loss of gastronomic persuasion.

The first mention of the global missions mandate involves faith. The first mention of the global missions mandate involves loss. And the first mention of the global missions mandate involves the intrinsic connection with reaching those in the nations. Abram is not going for his own family alone or his own name. He is going because his going is connected with the salvation of the “unreached” peoples of the earth. Otherwise the loss would not be worth it.

Hermes would not be happy. The interpretation is clear and not equivocal and ambiguous: the global missions mandate involves faith, loss, and the salvation of the nations.

Mark Kazmier
MAPS Academic Dean


The Pruning of Time

Training can come in a variety of forms. Some believe that it is merely found in books, others in experience. I believe that true “training” can only come through a careful mix and balance of the two. But most of all, training comes through time. Time is the great test of all things- is the test of sustainability. Time is the test of fruitfulness; time is typically the greatest question or complaint when it comes to our program.

I grew up as the youngest of four kids, meaning that I always tried to race ahead and to excel as fast and as best as I could and my parents would always correct me saying,”Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And I’m sure, if you were anything like me, you have probably heard something to a similar effect as well.

When I left for college, I imagined that shortly after I would find myself in a solid career path and onto the next thing.

However, God clearly had other plans. While pursuing my degree in Global Studies and Biblical Studies, I ended up going through a crisis of faith – during which, I cried out to God to show me His love. He answered, and as I learned to rest and lay in His love, He began to whisper to me the plans and the destiny that He had created for me.

Like many young people, I thought that that meant that next week I would begin to walk in these “great and wonderful things”.

And like many young people, I was mistaken.

I had no concept of the test of time. I didn’t understand that a Great Pruning was coming my way, a pruning that would take a lifetime, a pruning that I am still in the midst of.

James writes in James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” God calls us to joy in the midst of our trials, even the trial of time.

He has made a way for us to gaze upon His beauty, a way for us to be fully captivated and in love with Him as we wade through the oftentimes daily monotony of life and time. We must fix our eyes and wade through the challenges of our current situations hopeful and secure that God is the Keeper of His promises to us.

I believe that most of our problems or frustration with time boils down to a lack of faith in the goodness and the glory of Christ. We doubt that He is able to keep his word and we rely on human wisdom as to how He may not be able to fulfill His word in our time schedule. However, if we read this passage from James we can see that God actually has our Best in His Mind. He desires us to be Perfect and Complete, lacking in nothing. This type of wording directly insinuates that we are, in fact, Lacking.

This means that He has the best for us in His mind, which may only be fulfilled through the arduous training and the test of time. We must not despise this test, but rather we should press onto the fullness of God’s joy which is ready and available to all.

That we would be ones to cling to the Philippians 1:6, “…that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Faith Kinzer, MAPS Leader


If we ask, He will respond


This trip to Iraq has been an incredible journey where the Lord has spoken to me and used me in mighty ways of power! Coming to Iraq was exciting but also discouraging. I was excited because I had big expectations for God to show up mightily here in the lives of many, including my own. At the same time, I was discouraged because there were friends back at home that could not make the journey with us. Yet, we press on regardless of the circumstance knowing there are lives to be impacted and we get to embrace the Lord’s plan that’s in front of us. So far on this trip the Lord has been giving many dreams speaking to me about this trip and my own personal life. God has also been displaying his healing power through me as I’m amazed with what He has been done and the people who got healed.


During the preparation process for the trip, our team asked the Lord to give usd dreams and to speak to us regarding the trip. Several weeks pass by and I might have 1 or 2 small dreams but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I kept asking God for dreams but didn’t receive much but kept pressing in for more. Once we arrived in Northern Iraq I instantly start having dreams. I was having dreams every night and it wasn’t uncommon for me to have two or three in the same night. One night I even had about 7 back to back dreams. Even now I am getting dreams often but not as often as that first month! The Lord is still continually speaking to me through the night, he loves to show me things in my sleep. These dreams have been pertaining to me and my team about our mission here, but also the Lord has been speaking to me very powerfully about my own personal life. One dream seemed so realistic, I actually I spoke to the Youth pastor and I told him I had to leave and wake up because I knew this was a dream! He even spoke back to me and hugged me as I walked out and left!


God has been incredibly using me as a vessel to display his amazing work of healing. So far I have prayed for and seen two broken hands, one sprained wrist and other various aches and pains healed! My favorite testimony of healing was a man who broke his hand in three places. My team and I went into a muslim man’s tent in the refugee camp with his family, we introduced ourselves and told him that we are Christians. I noticed he had a wrap around his hand and I asked him what was wrong. The man told me that he got into a misunderstanding with someone else and he was beaten up, his hand was left broken in three places. I asked if I could pray for it, even though he was Muslim he was very open to it, and he said yes. As I started praying, healing instantly started to take place. The stiffness started to loosen up and as I as I was praying the second time it gradually got better. The third time he took off his goth cloth and started to bend his hand and put pressure on it. I stopped and asked him if there was any pain but he said there was no pain! His hand got healed and all the heat, swelling and color from it went away!
God is so amazing as He has continuously shown up in powerful healings and dreams. He loves to speak to His friends about his plans and purposes for His people. The more we listen and steward what He gives the more He will speak and show us. The more we continuously pray for people the more He will answer in healing. I told the story of the muslim man to one of our translators with back pain. She was so amazed at the testimony and because of the story built up her faith, we prayed for her and she got healed instantly! God is just so incredible, He wants to use us and show us His power in each of our lives. After this trip I can definitely say I will never be the same again as God has stunned me with His mighty works of healings and dreams. I pray right now that that God would give you a dream. I believe as you are reading this with any pain, ache or sickness, that you would be HEALED RIGHT NOW! IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST!


Zach Bolt, MAPS Student


Community that builds you up

One of the things that has shaped this trip for me is the family dynamics among the church and the workers here on the ground. From the very beginning, this place started to feel like home. A big part of that is the acceptance and love which are pullers building these communities tougher. This is something the soul searches for; Our hearts long for a place our spirit can find rest and we are safe to grow and change into the likeness of Christ. I am so thankful to have the honor of seeing the way this community walks out their lives together. The ways the Lord has imparted wisdom through these men and women has marked my walk with Him forever.

Often times in ministry, we can get caught up in the day to day meetings, administration, and mundane routines to the point where we are just simply going through the motions. It is all to easy to forget our own need to commune with like minded believers and the man Christ Jesus Himself. In these moments, we must direct our gaze to the Father from whom every family derives its name and connect with the family the Lord has set us in. Burn out is one of the most preventable epidemics in the church today. The remedy is found in the fiery eyes of Jesus and the people who He has set in our paths.

God in his wisdom places us in community for the building up and edification of the body.  Iron sharpens iron; people sharpen people. Jesus is the kind leader who takes us on a journey through relationships to teach us about Himself and how to bear His image rightly. This changes how we relate to one another as sons and how we approach Him as the Father. He uses others to prune so that we can grow without the distractions that so easily get in the way. He clears the way so we may draw near, freed from the shame that once held us fully embraced in the presence of our Beloved Bridegroom.

My experience here has been a whirlwind of shifted paradigms, growth, and  hearing God’s still small voice through the word and believers around me.

In short, I’ve seen the need as believers to be planted in a community that is built on the foundation of love, soaked in incense, running after holiness, doing life together, challenging one another and always pointing one another other to Christ.

-Esther Peyton, Placement Team

The Lord’s Faithfulness Never Ceases


From the moment of our arrival we have seen time and time again demonstrations of the Lord’s faithfulness. I will never forget the first week that we were here, going to church Sunday evening and seeing so many familiar faces. One of those faces came up to me after the service and re-introduced herself, we had met a few months before at a prayer event that they have here every year and there I had prayed for her. She had been married for many years, but had never been able to have children, she then pointed down to her stomach to reveal a baby bump, she was three months pregnant, that was the exact amount of months since I had seen her last and had prayed for her to have children. There are many more testimonies that can accompany that one from this trip alone. The Lord is moving in this region and is revealing His faithfulness to those that call upon His name.


The very fact that the local church has only been around for 10 years and has grown dramatically during those years is amazing. In one generation this region has gone from having no evangelical church expression to now having multiple churches in the same area is a sign and a wonder in and of itself.
Every person here has a story that is filled with tales that can be made into movies and written into books. From having to flee their native country in the middle of the night, literally dodging bullets while running away, to having their own families give them death threats because of their choice to follow Christ. But through it all the Lord has been ever present keeping and preserving a people who are willing to sacrifice everything for His sake. And as they keep making the daily choice of saying yes, no matter what the circumstance there is a hope and confidence that the Lord’s faithfulness indeed never ceases.


-Leah Grace, MAPS Leader


Embracing the Cost

The realization hit like a ton of bricks. I was sitting in a field with a young Muslim girl who I had recently befriended when the Muslim call to prayer went off. She started asking me questions about my faith, and asked if I was Muslim. I told her I was not muslim and tried to explain that I prayed to Isa (Jesus). She then started to say something I didn’t understand. She tried again, and I still was lost as to what she was saying. Finally in a moment of frustration with her broken English, and my lack of Arabic altogether, she grabbed my phone and typed something into google translate. I looked at the English translation, “You call for me.” I stared in bewilderment, silently praying that the Holy Spirit would intervene and grant understanding in communication. What was she trying to ask me that google thinks is you call for me? She once again grabbed my phone and wrote a different sentence in Arabic, but the English translation still made no sense and just said something about call. Finally it dawned on me! “Pray!” I exclaimed and her whole face broke into an excited smile. “You want me to pray for you!” She eagerly nodded and scooted closer to me. So I prayed for her, painfully aware of the fact that she couldn’t understand most of my English. Soon after we parted ways for the time being, but the encounter continued to stir on my heart.


The issue was not that she was a hardened Muslim who was not open to the gospel. It was not that she was unreachable. The issue was I couldn’t even share the gospel in her own language. The only reason I could share anything is because she took the time to try to learn my language. But my heart is burdened because this is not the example I see from Christ. He freely gave up the comforts of His throne in heaven to come down to earth, to take on flesh and learn to live as a man like us. So can I not do the same for her? Can I not give up the comforts of America and my own language to learn her language? Can I not give up what parts of my own culture would make for an unnecessary stumbling block for her to receive the gospel? And learn to embrace her language, culture and way of thought (with the exception of what is sinful) that I might come to her as Christ Himself came to all humanity? I want to be able to share the gospel with my friend in her own language. I want to remove every hindrance possible for her to experience the love that God has for her and come to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ.


The thing is, I have always struggled to learn languages. I have tried several languages in the past, and never could seem to learn. Learning any language feels like an insurmountable time commitment and difficulty for me, let alone one so formidable as Arabic is. I love the comforts of expressing my thoughts, ideas and feelings in a language I have full mastery of. Learning Arabic means embracing the struggle of learning to communicate in a way that’s not initially comfortable for myself.


Yet here I find an invitation to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Here I find an invitation to lay down personal comforts and, in such a small way compared to Christ, pick up my cross and follow Him.


I’ve prayed for a download of Arabic. I have prayed the the Lord would supernaturally allow me to speak fluent Arabic. But as of yet, though I continue to pray  believing, He hasn’t. But I’m reminded of David in the Bible when he said, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24. So if this is a sacrifice I can make for my Lord, then let it cost me something.


-Hannah Davis, MAPS Student


Let Incense Arise


Some of my favorite and most precious times on this trip so far have been in the Prayer Room. Every prayer meeting the presence of the Lord fills the room, and God begins to move. There’s just something about a room full of local believers, and refugees, coming together as one worshipping the Lord in a nation where so many terrible things are happening. Seeing the way believers give it their all in worship has changed my perspective on what it means to worship the Lord. They are each filled with so much hunger and the love they have for God is so radiant in their worship. It’s always so crazy to me to think about how in the midst of all the terrible and horrifying things that these ones have been through that they can worship with everything they have. Yet when I wake up on the wrong side of bed one morning or am just having a bad day and I go to the prayer room all I can think about is wanting to be in my room with my phone watching a show on netflix. It’s hard to push through and worship the Lord with my all in those moments, while they seem to take those things as fuel for their worship!

I feel like believers here have a perspective on worship that I need to learn from. This is what I have learned about the way they worship: worship is surrendering everything we have at His feet, declaring that God is far greater than the brokenness of this nation, far greater than anything we have been through or seen and far greater than the brokenness in our lives. Worship is declaring that He is everything we need/will ever need, it’s declaring that He is so so worthy and great and greatly to be praised, and that there is so much power in our worship. To the believers here these things are not just things that they know but these are things that they truly believe.

When we come together to worship as one body declaring who He is,  God begins to fill us with hunger and He begins to move in the room. I have seen this so much in the prayer meetings here, as we begin to sing a sweet presence fills the room, hunger begins to rise, and God starts encountering people! After one of our prayer sets, I got to talk with a 16 year old teenage boy who got saved a couple weeks ago during a prayer meeting that my team and I were leading. He was telling me how he had spent 2 years asking Muhammed that if he was real, to reveal himself to him and he never did. He told me that when he was in the prayer room he said, “I don’t know what to believe, but Jesus I love You,” and as he said that he saw a light and that Jesus came and laid His hand on his shoulder! From that day he knew that Jesus is real and he gave his life to Him that day! God is so moved by our worship and there is so much power that comes when we worship that we don’t even know about.

Joanna Flores, MAPS Student


Horses and Chariots

The natural tendency for man, whether in their own country or in a country that is not their own, is to put their trust in that which they can see, into that which we can control – our own “horses and chariots” (Ps.20:7).   How different it is to put your trust in the God that we know but cannot always see.  To hold our hands in surrender and to let go of the driving seat.


Our hope isn’t in how well we can accomplish things, or a new government or a new earthly king, but our ultimate Hope is in Jesus Christ and in Him taking his Place, his Stand in this nation.  No matter how much we will it, or desire it or try our hardest to see someone come to the truth, the reality is, Only by His Spirit will people’s hearts be softened to hear the good news and to truly enact change in this place.  We are dependent upon Him in every way.  In every second of every day we need His truth ringing in our ears and in our hearts.


One of my favorite verses is Psalms 22:3-5, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.  In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.  To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”


To trust in the Lord is not foolishness, to depend on his goodness is not wistful thinking. Our Hope is in Christ, and Christ alone.  It cannot ever be on our own ability or our own desire.


Rather We are dependent on Him, we are dependent on His Spirit to Move, on His Spirit to Awaken People’s Hearts and Minds to the Glory of Christ.  As we trust, we will be delivered.  As we cry, we will be rescued, and as we trust we will not be put to shame.


He is our Strongest Horse, He is our Strongest Chariot.


Faith Kinzer, MAPS Student