Listen to the gospel need.
This, my friends, is a pile of bricks.
I’m sure I didn’t need to tell you that, but what I do need to tell you is that each one represents a different nation that was present on Sunday as we dedicated our new property to the Lord. (My main ministry focus, University Discipleship Movement, has until the end of the day tomorrow to move to our new location before the old property is bulldozed. Yikes!)
I just think it is so cool that 12 countries were represented at one church! I may have gone to the nations with the hope of the Gospel, but the nations have come to me just as much!
There was one point back in September when I was riding in a car with a Ugandan, a Kenyan, a missionary born in Burundi, a Zambian, and a fellow American all at once.
Another time I was sitting in a circle as Ugandans from differing villages translated John 3:16 into their heart languages. I didn’t have anything interesting to contribute, of course, but it was absolutely beautiful to hear different tongues speaking the love and truth of the same Gospel.
While these experiences have been amazing and may seem glamorous, my home fellowship group has been talking a lot about how to live life on mission, whether God sends you away or tells you to keep close to home.
Jesus said that the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38). The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbors as yourself (39). These commandments go hand in hand with the Great Commission: to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).
Disciples can come from anywhere. They can be as far away as Uganda or as close as the people next door. Regardless of where God sends you, your job is to reach out and be a good neighbor to those who are closest to you geographically. The people that I get to minister to are the people who cross my path regularly. Because I see them so much, I have the opportunity and responsibility to pour out love and kindness to them.
Evangelism is not my spiritual gift. I will be the first to tell you that. To walk door to door and teach people about Jesus, to stand on a street corner and engage strangers in conversation, are simply not strong suits of mine. But I am a good listener. And this is where I would like to encourage you today.
Rather than forcefully pushing people to agree with your beliefs, why not listen to their own? Instead of belting out scripture that isn’t in context, why not listen to what the other person is going through? Only by listening can we come to truly know people’s hearts. Only then can we appropriately address their desperate need for the Gospel. It is far more effective to listen for the Gospel need and then give a personalized response than it is to give the same cookie-cutter response to everyone.
The Gospel is personal, and therefore we should treat it as such when sharing it with someone new. I know that in my story, I never would have made the decision to bet the farm on Jesus if I had not seen personal evidence of His work in my life and the lives of those around me.
God carefully orchestrated your story so that you may share it with others and provide them with hope for their own stories. Wouldn't it be a shame if we kept God's goodness all to ourselves and refused to share what He's done in and through us?
I'm praying that we would move forward, listening to where our neighbors are broken and hurting. I'm also praying that we would have the confidence to speak into those needs with the truth and the power of our own stories.
*A few photos of our new UDM home. Hopefully by my next post, things will be more complete!
Please pray that the UDM team would keep high energy throughout this move. It's a massive undertaking, and it's all hands on deck!
Please pray that the Lord would provide the funding needed to make this move (and other projects) possible at UDM.
Please pray for the Dignity Project as we begin editing our book this week.
Please pray for me as I am likely traveling to a refugee settlement (or two) next Tuesday through Friday.