Monday, October 29, 2012

What is success?

Seven people? Is seven people success? How about forty? Is that success? What about seventy? Is that success. Ruby, Huslia, Galena. Seven, forty, seventy. They're just places, and they are just numbers. But when you understand what they mean they hold a little bit more importance. The Bible church in Ruby runs about seven. The Community church in Huslia runs about forty. The Bible Church in Galena runs about seventy.  How about a hundred, about three hundred, about Six hundred fifty. That's the populations of these villages respectively. That's about ten percent of each village. Ten percent of the village regularly attends the local Bible church of that village. Ten percent! Do most churches impact ten percent of their communities lives? Not in most of my experience. What an amazing impact!

But what if the number is zero?


Year after year. Winter after winter. One funeral after another. Zero. Zero. Zero. What if a missionary lives the Gospel out in full view of the lives of a culture for one, two, three decades, and nothing. One brother and sister in missions spent 18 years in a neighbor village and finally had to leave because of health issues. No church. Is it success?

This is an important thing for missionaries to understand and be encouraged in. (By the way if you follow Jesus YOU are a missionary.) In Matthew 25:21 Jesus is sharing the parable of the Talents and says, "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"
Good and FAITHFUL...not good and SUCCESSFUL. What is success? It is in fact obedience to the will of God. Are you willing to be faithful in the things God has given you to do even if it means not being 'successful'?

October has been an extremely busy month. Galena Bible Church hosted a community church service in conjunction with the Yukon Jamboree, a sobriety awareness fiddle band event. The Bible Church sponsored Bill Pagerin, a Tlingit Native man who is a brother in Christ and president of a suicide prevention non-profit called Carry the Cure, to be the guest speaker of the Yukon Jamboree, and to preach at the community church service. We had about 80 people attend the church service including several local community members, and residents of other villages that came in for the Jamboree.

Since the end of September I have been preaching through the book of Titus. Two weeks ago we addressed the men of the church from Titus 2, and some amazing conversations have taken place since then by both younger and older men wanting to see men set the example of Godly leadership and character. We are quickly working on putting together a monthly "man skills" event where one christian man from the church will teach a "manly" skill (like how to skin an animal, how to sharpen a knife, or how to make a fishing net) to teens and younger boys, and then will share their testimony of what it means to grow as a man following Christ. We are also working on a men's Bible Study that will be taking place before work one day a week.

Things to be praying for:
  • Shell and the kids are in Louisiana and Texas for two weeks visiting family. I'm holding down the fort in Galena. Pray for their protection.
  • Pray for the Students at the boarding school who are experiencing homesickness, and other situations that cloud their ability to receive love from the dorm staff and members of the church.
  • Pray for one young teen guy that recently decided to go home even after many of the men at the church poured significant effort into encouraging him to be the man God wants him to be. Pray that the Lord would lead him back to the truths lived before him.
  • Pray the the Lord would continue to build a true unity amongst the body of believers at the Galena Bible Church so that this community would know we are disciples of Jesus by our love for one another.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Giving Thanks

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15-16)

I hope and pray that most days I would be like the Samaritan leper healed by Jesus: immediately grateful for the work of Christ in my life. But if I'm honest (a noble quality in a missionary, I know) I'm quite regularly like the other lepers that were healed but did not return to give thanks to Jesus for His work in their lives. Why do we do that? God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and all we can do is occasionally remember to thank him for our food. Lord where is the heart in me that falls at your feet giving thanks for healing me of the life ending disease of sin and death. Why not give thanks instead?

I had one of those moments during moose season this year. It was the last day that I was planning on hunting. The reason there haven't been any blog updates since August is that it's been moose season. Every opportunity is spent in the field with others to find a bull moose. For me up until that point I had seen only cow moose (female moose). I was thinking about how much I wanted to shoot a moose, not just for my own need, but so that I would have the ability to be able to give moose away and be generous. An average Bull Moose has close to 500 pounds of meat on it's body. That's enough for my family and enough to be generous with as well. It was about 6:30 in the evening on the night of the last hunt and I was hopeful. I had just sat down and in my spot about a mile out of camp when I heard the shot. It was from the direction of where my brother and nephew were hunting about a mile and a half away. I waited a couple minuets and then messaged them on our radios. Sure enough they had shot a moose. General rule of group moose hunting, is when a moose is on the ground everyone stops hunting and starts cutting and packing. So I started the mile and a half march over to where they were. I felt a bit down. "God," I thought, "It's not like I haven't been working hard at this for the past month. I really wanted to get a moose so that I could be on the giving end not just on the receiving end." (I think the parental term for this emotion is "ungratefulness".) And so this one sided conversation went for about a half mile. Then it (the quite voice of the Holy Spirit) hit me like a full charging bull moose: "What do you think you've been doing the past month?" I stopped on the trail and thought about each person that I had taken hunting on different trips through the season. Some (very) late night heart conversations around a campfire. Some whispered prayer times overlooking a field. Some pastoral care over a lukewarm MRE. I HAD been giving. But I had only been giving out of what had been given to me: God's amazing grace to a leper named Chris. At that moment I looked up and a double rainbow arched over the field that I was standing in. (For Real) And the last mile of my hike was a SWEET fellowship with my Father, who patiently gives what we really need at the time that we really need it. And then when cutting the moose my brother and nephew decided to give me the ENTIRE moose. So I did have a whole moose! I ended up giving about 180 pounds away. I turn back and give thanks. What's going on with you that you can do likewise?

Things to pray for:
  • There has been an extra-ordinary amount of loss in the village recently. Tragic deaths, major family health problems, and hard relational circumstances have seemed to hit many in the faith community very hard. Pray that God's grace would in deed be sufficient to the believers and that His peace that passes all understanding would be tangible.
  • Galena Bible Church is hosting a community church service at the City School gym this Sunday. Pray that our guest preacher (Bill Pagerin) would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to clearly share the Gospel.
  • Galena YoungLife is hosting a Basket Ball clinic Oct 11th-14th. Pray that the YL Staff would have opportunities to share the Good News.
  • This past Saturday Galena Bible Church sent 4 guys to Ruby to help the Bible Church there with some construction work. Pray that the team that came from Anchorage this week will be safe and will be a blessing to that small fellowship.