2020 Vision – Church On Mission ~ 20200223 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
02/23 Vision- the church on mission (Acts 1:8); Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20200223_church-on-mission.mp3
We’ve been looking at Jesus’ vision for his church, and I so appreciate everyone who stepped up to serve over the last two weeks. I appreciate Addam’s focus on the gospel as the foundation of the church, that we must embrace the identity of Jesus as he really is, not as we imagine him to be; that if we attempt to add anything to the finished work of Jesus on our behalf, we nullify the grace of God. I appreciate David’s emphasis on the fact that we are all called to be missionaries, right here, right where God has us, engaging our own community with the gospel, and I am glad that this church is doing just that, often in seemingly small, inconspicuous, ordinary ways, yet in the power of the Holy Spirit, and God is doing great things through your simple obedience and faithfulness. Keep it up!
Today I want to look at the church on mission, and I want especially to focus on the global mission that Jesus gave us. I want to affirm that we are all called to missions right here, right where we live, that we don’t need to cross a large body of water to be considered a missionary. But I believe that when we work to maintain a global mindset for the advance of the gospel, we will be better equipped to do missions where we are, and we will be encouraged to engage in what God has called us to right here, where we are.
Make disciples of all nations. Jesus is building his church with people from every tribe and people and nation. Jesus is with us. The gates of hell will not be able to stand against the global advance of the good news of Jesus Christ.
You will be my witnesses, starting right at home, where you live, then in your surrounding community, then on the wrong side of the tracks, to people who are different from you socially, culturally, then to the other side of the planet, to the ends of the earth.
I have a renewed respect for our missionaries that have gone out. We just got home Thursday night, after over 40 hours of travel from the time we were picked up from our hotel, through five airports and four flights, totaling about 18.5 hours of flight time and 18.5 hours of airport layovers. We slept hard that night. I was up early the next morning feeling pretty good. Until about noon (which is about 2am in Thailaind) and I could hardly stand up or keep my eyes open. But jet lag from international travel is just a small part of the challenge of ministry in another culture and language.
Language and Culture
Deanna tried to order a Thai iced tea at a local restaurant, but she wanted it blended, like a frappe, not just poured over ice. We attempted to explain to one restaurant worker who got another worker who had a little better English, and she seemed to understand what we wanted. She left, and a few minutes later returned with a traditional Thai iced tea, not blended but poured over ice. We smiled and said thank you. If it’s that difficult to order a drink at a restaurant, imagine explaining the gospel to someone not only in a different language but of a different culture. When we attended Bethlehem church with Jason and Jenn, pastor Chalong asked if I would share briefly with the congregation. As Jason translated for me, it struck me just how difficult it is to communicate biblical truth in a different language.
[video 1 – Bethlehem church - 5:56]
Thaland is a kingdom ruled by a king. There are pictures of the king and the royal family posted everywhere, images of the king on all their money. It is considered disrespectful to point at pictures of the king. If you drop a coin, do not step on it to keep it from rolling away, that is considered highly offensive. On the way home from church I asked Jason about the implications of taking about Jesus as King above every king in a literal kingdom with a real live and very respected king.
I have a whole new level of respect for these guys as they speak Thai with the local Thai people. Jason and I went to visit ‘blind grandma’ who has asthma and has been very sick with pneumonia. He read her some scriptures and we prayed with her.
[video 2 – rural driving 1:00] [video 3 – blind grandma 1:49]
One of their greatest challenges for them is raising their family in a foreign culture, where Jenn is stay at home mom and home school teacher, with very little connection with other believers.
[video 4 – prayer requests 1:58]
Jesus is Building His Church
But in spite of the difficulties that they face, Jesus is building his church. Jesus is at work, both here and around the world building his church. This happens through the simple faithfulness of his people proclaiming his truth. His people developing relationships with people, being a light, showing love, genuinely caring for the people around them. Jesus is building his church. We can have boldness and confidence when we proclaim Jesus, because Jesus said ‘I will build my church’ (Mt.16:18).
In Acts 13, in Antioch in Pisidia, after proclaiming Jesus and being rejected by the Jewish leaders,
We can have confidence that God’s word will not return void but will accomplish what he sent it to do. We can speak the truth about Jesus with all confidence, knowing that faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom.10:17). We can be confident when we proclaim truth to unbelievers God will use that to bring people to respond to the good news message by believing the gospel, trusting completely in Jesus.
I want to share with you the testimony of a young Thai man God is using to plant a church in Issan. Nung and his wife Sarah are working with some other missionaries he mentions, Tracy and Dave. This clip is a little over 15 minutes, but I think you will find it encouraging. Nung shared that when he was young his father taught him how to fight, and so he fought a lot, and got into drugs and gangs and girls. He said ‘I was a bad guy’.
[video 5 - Nung-testimony 15:39]
God takes broken sinners and makes them his saints. He transforms our desires and uses us to advance his kingdom and bring him much glory. Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt.16:18). The way he builds his church is outlined in reverse in Romans 10. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (10:17)
Faith comes from hearing, and unbelievers hear the word preached when someone goes out to preach, and the one who goes is sent out by others, and driving it all is prayer.
So church, keep a global perspective. Pray and pray and pray, and speak of Jesus wherever you are, and give and send and go and speak of Jesus wherever you go.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org