Across Cultures

No Non-Compete Clause

Photo credit: unsplash.com_DSytnik
Photo credit: unsplash.com_DSytnik

My recent travel overseas reinforced, once again, what I've known for many years. A huge disparity exists between the church in North America and most of the rest of the world.

When a person leaves a company with vital information of a company's products or operation, they're often required to sign a non-compete clause. The same goes when a startup company is bought out.

In the Kingdom of God and the church, this should never be a concern.

Rich in resources

Far more energy and emphasis is made getting people to come to a church service, than equipping and sending them out with the gospel.

[bctt tweet="Is your church concerned with getting people into it, or sending them out with the gospel?" username="tkbeyond"]

And yet, we—the American church—hold incredibly rich resources that an impoverished church needs in much of the world (MOTROW).

This was reinforced in each of the five places I visited in the Philippines and Thailand this past month. It reminds me of what Jesus told his disciples after telling them two parables—

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48b NIV)

Time to get honest

At some point, we—the church in North America—need to get honest with God and ourselves about the responsibility we have to the church worldwide.

[bctt tweet="The American church has a shared responsibility with the church worldwide" username="tkbeyond"]

I have several missionary and pastor friends who share this same burden, but we are few in comparison to the vast need that exists (Matt 9:37).

Sadly, the trend is going the opposite direction for the church immersed in our present iCulture.

Who builds the church?

Jesus said He would build His church (Matt 16:18). Does He need our help? Not our help so much as our cooperation.

We are to partner with Him to equip His church for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16).

[bctt tweet="We are to partner with Jesus to equip His church for the work of the ministry" username="tkbeyond"]

What is the work Jesus calls His church to do? The primary objective remains the same as it was in the beginning. It's called the Great Commission found expressly in five places in the New Testament—

  1. Act 1:8– to go into all the world as living testimonies (witnesses) to the ends of the earth
  2. Matthew 28:19-20– to make disciples of all nations (peoples) and teach them what Jesus taught
  3. Mark 16:15– to preach or proclaim the gospel to all people in the world
  4. Luke 24:47– to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (peoples)
  5. John 20:21-23– to go out as Jesus went out with God's power to extend His forgiveness

The need

Even in America, we only reach a small percentage of the population. In 2014, the number of unchurched and unengaged in the US was about 156 million people. When it comes to the world at large, it's a few billion.

[bctt tweet="Millions in America & billions in the world are unchurched or unengaged" username="tkbeyond"]

If you're called to plant a church in North America, do it with new growth, not borrowed from other churches—people who are unchurched, unengaged, or even the de-churched. This is what the apostle Paul said about this—

My goal was to spread the Good News where the name of Christ was not known. I didn’t want to build on a foundation which others had laid. (Rom 15:20 GW)

But don't stop there!

Each church needs to equip their believers as disciple-makers, not just to serve the existing church. We need to prepare them to know and share the gospel message and to disciple others with the truth of God's Word.

[bctt tweet="Leaders need to equip believers as disciple-makers, not just to serve the church" username="tkbeyond"]

As I've shared before, this isn't rocket-science, and it's not a cognitive skill to develop but a way of life. Making disciples takes commitment, and needs to be intentional, yet relational.

Take-aways

My personal take-away from this past month of ministry overseas is to continue to do what I do well—what I'm gifted in, called to, and have done for many years.

I want to continue to assist churches to set up practical ways to equip believers to study, understand, and share the truth of God. I'm also committed to equip pastors and leaders to do the same, whether overseas or here in America.

What is your take-away from what I've shared in this post?

If you'd like to stay updated on what God is doing with me and the ministry He's given me, I invite you to sign-up for my periodic email updates–  [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][/contact-form]

If you'd like to help support me in this ministry, here are two ways you can. Just click on one of the links—

Shepherd's Staff Missions (my account is #511 for Trip & Susan Kimball)

Shoulder to Shoulder (put a note with your check for me or Word-Strong)

Thanks!

A Time for Tears, Laughter, and Rejoicing

RVM_group_reunion.jpg
RVM_reunion_062214
RVM_reunion_062214

This past weekend was filled with lots of emotion—both tears and laughter. In the midst of sadness, there was rejoicing.

We had our reunion-celebration this last weekend, June 20-22. People had the opportunity to share some testimony, as we highlighted specific areas of Rainbow Village's ministry over the past 23 years.

It was a good time. A time of remembering, affirming, and closure for those gathered.

Opportunities to share from the heart

Bec_A-girls
Bec_A-girls

The first night was an overview of Rainbow's history where some of our missionary staff shared important highlights from their point of view. Then the woman who helped us establish our process for adoptions shared, along with some sharing from adoptive families and those adopted.

The Filipino staff got to share what was on their heart, and got to see some of the fruit of their labor all grown up.

My daughter closed Saturday evening by sharing an overview and highlights from our restoration program for abused girls. Some of them shared also, so you can imagine how emotional that was.

Trying to make sense of it all

praise-band
praise-band

Sunday morning was a time of worship with our international-Filipino praise band. It was sweet seeing these who had come to Rainbow as children, now leading as young adults.

I also brought a short message based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11, 14. The gist of it follows.

Life on this earth is neither a random string of things that just happen, nor a fixed chain of events sealed by fate. Each person has free will and yet, God is sovereign over all.

One person's free will can be exercised at the cost of another's—in the form of abuse, violence, and even slavery.

In these times it may seem as if God stands by and watches without caring. Or, so it seems to us with our limited view of life. If we have  a personal relationship with Him, we know He cares. Yet we still ask, “Why God? Why do these things happen?”

This is where ministries, agencies, and NGO's like Rainbow come in. We are God's hands of restoration. RVM is one small part of a much larger network of people who bring restoration—to heal those who are abused, and to bring hope in the midst of despair.

Some perspective

The great and wise King Solomon understood this. His poetic expression reminds us of the ebb and flow of life's events on earth. Life is not random. There is a season and a purpose for everything within God's creation.

God called us—our family and others—from America to the Philippines for a specific purpose within a season of life. It began officially in 1991, but God stirred our hearts for this in 1988. It was a combination of things that stirred our hearts.

We were foster parents of two Filipina sisters for several months, along with other foster children. I came to the Philippines for a short-term mission to teach with the ministry I would join two years later.  My friend with that ministry came to the US on a furlough. While visiting with us, his wife shared her heart with Susan. They adopted an abandoned child, Aaron. His story stirred her heart with a burden and vision for an orphanage for abandoned children.

Rs_sharingThe end of Rainbow's role in God's greater purpose

Our role in God's purpose ends this year, but God's purpose continues.

Susan and I, our family, many missionary staff, and our Filipino staff were not the central focus of Rainbow Village. We were partners together with God.

The central focus was always the babies, children and young women we cared for, whom God brought to us. Their life stories continue on as a reminder of God's kindness and care—His love.

We saw many children reunited with their families, or placed in new families all over the world. Young women experienced restoration, and some started their own families.

A change of seasons

Will we miss the ministry of Rainbow and this place? And, our friends and extended Rainbow family? Sure!

But as we look over the last several months, we see Rainbow's season and purpose is completed. More work is to be done, but others will do it.

The seasons and cycles of life continue on. When we look at the bigger picture, as Solomon did, we see our place and purpose within it all.

Beauty and eternity

In verse 11 (Eccl 3:11), We are reminded that God makes every thing beautiful in its time. This is according to His time, not our time.

We are also told that God has put eternity into the hearts of people. God has put a longing in the heart of every person to play a part in His grand story. If, we choose to do so

We may not understand everything, but it's because we only see our part within the larger picture. We only see this within our season of life.

RVM_group_reunion

Frustration or fulfillment?

Whatever God does endures. Though things may appear chaotic and random around us, God's purpose prevails.

We need to see this bigger picture and respect Him. If we do not, our life will be filled with frustration and emptiness.

But when we see our role and purpose within God's greater plan, and understand it as one season among a series of seasons throughout the ages—we experience fulfillment.

Do you know your place within God's plan? If not, seek Him and ask Him to show it to you. He will if you're heart is sincere. He's given us a way to know this and to know Him, thru His Son, Jesus.

Looking forward in faith

When one season ends, another begins. Our responsibility is to find our place in God's purpose within each season. Rainbow's season has come to an end.

I don't look forward to the final closing of the gate. I will miss this beautiful place and the life we've been blessed to share in it with others. But I look forward in faith, because I've seen what God let us be a part of these past 23 years at Rainbow.

I hope you can look forward in faith also. My prayer is that you will always seek God through His Son Jesus, to know your place in His family and your purpose within His plan for your life.

Daghang salamat sa Ginoo!

There you have it. It was a full weekend, and it went too fast. It was a time for tears, laughter, and rejoicing.

We're thankful to have shared this time with those who were able to join us. And again, we're thankful for all those who served and supported Rainbow over the past 23 years.

As we say in our place in the Philippines— Daghang salamat sa Ginoo! (thank you so much, Lord!)

Killing of the Innocents

Last week I saw a clip from a movie about the life of Jesus, one of the many shown each Christmas and Easter season. It is a disturbing part of the life of Jesus (Matthew 2:16-18) where King Herod orders the murder of all boys two years and younger. It is a prophetic echo from the prophet Jeremiah when he foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem hundreds of years prior to Herod (Jer 31:15). Herod orders the killing of these innocent children out of his own self-absorbed anger and jealousy. It was pure evil.

Reflecting on the recent evil killing of innocent children in Newtown, CT, I'm reminded how often such killing takes place unnoticed by the general population of the world. But it doesn't go unnoticed. Not by those parents, children, and communities who witness these atrocious and evil acts. Neither does it go unnoticed by God.

The Fix
I addressed this a bit in another post (Broken), but I have some further thoughts on the aftermath of the killings. A lot of debate developed over how to fix whatever problem caused it all. How to prevent such tragedies. I heard three general themes or issues through all the rhetoric—gun control, violence in the media, and mental and moral health management.

Gun control will be debated over and over, and some good points can be made. Two thoughts come to mind. Gun ownership is a right according to the Bill of Rights, and once a right is eroded in some way (like the current assault on religious freedom, ie: Christianity), it is a slippery slope for more erosion. Okay, I get that. 

But the 2nd thought is this—guns are instruments of destruction, pure and simple. That's their purpose, whether it's a target, an animal, or a human being. Yes, they can be a deterrent and means of protection (self-defense). Yes, others with evil intent must be restrained, whether individuals or people groups (nations). But, the ultimate question is how much is enough, and will it really be enough?

We do live in a violent culture. I see this obsessive fascination in the many forms of media that inundate our culture—movies, TV series, digital games, cartoons, etcetera and so on. It isn't normal and it isn't healthy, just ask the many men and women of the military returning from active war environments, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

This also can become another so-called freedom issue. But is it really? Do we really need all this violent input involving zombies, vampires, and people who take the law into their own hands. We (our culture) glorify violence, plain and simple. And if we think it doesn't have a lasting and impactful influence on our psyche, then we are in serious denial at best, or simple self-inflicted delusion.

Deeper down
The third general theme of discussion formed around people with mental health issues and the general moral compass of our culture. This gets much closer to the core issue. But alas, morality cannot be legislated. Well, it can be put into law, but it won't just happen because of a law, no matter how well enforced.

How about the prevention of violence by the mentally ill? First of all, who determines which people are at risk for violence? How does one go about doing this? It's a rather impossible task to accomplish. Too many variables and factors are involved, and the bigger issue would be those in contact with whoever could be considered potentially dangerous. Dr M Scott Peck looked into this issue in his book, "People of the Lie."

Determining who is bent towards violent, evil action is not easily discerned. Ultimately, it's a people problem. All of us have a certain capacity for doing terrible things. It's called selfish human nature. When self-indulgence and self-exaltation (and other self absorbed characteristics) go unchecked anyone can be self-destructive, and this can spin off into violence towards others.

A cursory view of un-rewritten history (think– non-politically-corrected) brings the reality of human evil into sharp focus. It is easy to blame tyrants such as Hitler, but what about the many people who played a part in his spectacle of evil? The problem of evil is an internal one. Whether we choose it or not, it coexists in our world with good—moral, ethical and spiritual goodness. 

External restrictions and controls will never fix this problem. It might slow it down a bit, for a while, but it won't solve the problem. It requires a change in human nature. An internal change. One impossible for humans to bring about on their own.

Can we fully understand the power and nature of evil? Perhaps not. Even so, it's real. When innocents are killed it is incomprehensible, regardless if it takes place at an elementary school, an island retreat (Norway), or the region surrounding Bethlehem.

The truly innocent One
The story of King Herod's senseless, brutal massacre stems from jealous insecurity, after hearing of a newborn king of the Jews (Jesus). But this innocent child escaped his terror. Later, willingly, Jesus submitted Himself to the murderous plot of Jewish leaders and the complicity of a Roman ruler. Even at 33 years old, Jesus was still innocent—sinless.

His innocence (sinlessness) was sacrificed for man's lack of innocence (sinful nature). This is the only solution for evil—an internal change, a change of inner nature. Only by trusting in Him and His work of redemption upon the cross can we hope to escape the power of evil. Will it remove the presence of evil in the world? Not until people's hearts are changed and they receive a new nature.

I look forward to the day when God will end evil's reign for good (Rev 21:1-4). Until then, I must continue resisting evil in my own life, and spread the message of the only solution I know. I choose to look beyond the killing of innocents to the only One I know to be truly innocent. He is the judge, not me. He is the One who will resolve all things in His time (Eccl 3:1-8, 11).

How will you process senseless violence? What will you, and can you, do about it? It is your choice, each of us, and it is a daily choice to be made.