John 14:6 says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” Being a Christ follower epitomizes the core of my faith. Though I had heard this verse before coming to Christ, it didn’t carry meaning to me back then. Walking and growing in my new faith has transformed me. It all started with a few small steps.
I was born and raised in a Hindu family. I participated in many Hindu traditions growing up; although I often found myself questioning my Hindu faith. Secular India exposed me to many other belief systems. I felt lost at times. I was spiritually indecisive.
When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I arrived at the decision after a slow and gradual realization of my need for a Savior.
Knowledge brings curiosity. I had a multitude of questions about my new faith. My husband and Christian friends patiently took time to answer my questions via long conversations, emails, phone calls, Bible study and theological book reference. The more I read, the more I wanted to know about the God of my new faith. I did not know how thirsty I was for His words until I started immersing myself deep into it.
Ever since I can remember I have believed in some form of God. The God of my childhood was omniscient, omnipresent, transcendent God who dwelt in a spiritual realm beyond my reach. At times, I wondered, if was praying to a God who was in a spiritual vacuum, sitting on a high pedestal, unable to relate to me.
The God of the Bible is the triune God. He is not only an omniscient, omnipresent, transcendent God but he is also personal and relational.
It was pivotal for me to not just believe in God but to understand the nature of the God of my belief.
John 14:17 says, “even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
I grew up in a works-based faith. I often thought, can a mortal human being do enough good works to earn salvation? We are fallible creatures by nature; so logically speaking it is impossible to achieve perfection by our own diligence. After coming to faith in Jesus Christ, I know that my salvation does not depend on my doing. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The Holy Spirit has continued to work in my heart and grow me spiritually ever since I accepted Christ. It has taken me a while to see the fruit of this regeneration. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.“
So today, if my will and aspirations sound differently than they did years ago or even months ago, it is not because time has changed my perspective, it is because Jesus changed my vantage point.
When I look back I am not the same lost wanderer I was. I have found my focus, Christ. I have His Word, the Bible. I have a guide, the Holy Spirit. I am on a journey, abundant life; no longer exhausted and indecisive, but joyfully seeking to know him more and make him known.
You and I are being transformed every day. The question is, who is in charge of your transformation?
Nive was born and raised in India. She has a degree in Civil engineering but she decided that developing software is much more fun, so she taught herself programming. Nive has been married for about a decade to her husband, Randy, a software architect. They are very blessed to live in the beautiful Texas hill country with their two kids. Born and raised as Hindu and redeemed by love of Christ a few years ago, Nive has a heart for culture and desire to make her redeemer known. She loves to cook, has a penchant for handmade crafty things and teaches her kids to serve in the community. You can find her food blogging athandfulofjoy and serving at playdate with a purpose.
One of my favorite months of the year is January. I love what January stands for. For me, it is a month that signifies new beginnings. Each year, in the days following Christmas, I begin to daydream about all of the things the brand new year holds.
Where will we travel too? What will we learn? What will we accomplish? What will we experience? What will our lives look like at the close of this new coming year?
With New Years resolutions being announced and with dreams for the New Year being dreamt, now, is the time to start thinking about what you will say yes to in this new coming year. There is a brand new set of days ahead of you, 365 to be exact, each one holding new adventure, wonder, connection, growth and memories. What will you do with these days? What will you say yes to?
On January 17th, we will celebrate our daughter’s second “gotcha” day anniversary. I am thankful every day that in 2010 we said yes to the call to adopt. I am thankful for the adventure God took us on that year. But mostly, I am thankful for the lessons and the gifts that came out of that journey. That year in 2010, God taught us to be brave. He taught us to “stick out necks out there” for the gospel, to open our hearts, our hands and our home. I didn’t think that in January of that year when I was praying for a chance to be a witness to someone and when I was praying to take the gospel somewhere, we would be sending off paper work to Ethiopia to bring home a little girl who was in desperate need of restoration and redemption. I didn’t know that through the process of bringing her home I would discover that I too was in desperate need of a savior and I too needed some redeeming. I didn’t know that through that act of obedience God would open my eyes to a whole new world I had never seen before; a world in desperate need of a savior and a world in desperate need of love.
Since that year, 2010, each year has held adventures that I never imagined. That year signified a shift in how we live our lives and I wouldn’t trade that back for anything.
God saw each of us before we were born. Everyday of our lives have been recorded in His book. Every moment has been laid out before a single day has passed. (Ps. 139:16) Make this year, 2014, the year you say yes to Jesus. Each day holds little moments of adventure and opportunity to make Him known. How will you live out your days this year?
Jenna is a born and raised West Texas girl married to her husband Phillip since 2005 and momma to three beautiful children, Parker, Beckham and Emerson. Jenna is passionate for Jesus. Seeking daily to make His name and glory known through the little moments in life. Jenna is also crazy about Africa. Specifically Ethiopia. Jenna and her husband have a heart for adoption, missions and ministry. You can often find Jenna grabbing coffee with friends, sneaking in much needed dates with her husband, reading way to many books at once, trying out her latest Pinterest find, playing outside with her kids or serving in her church. You can read more about Jenna and her little family at DayofKnight.com or you can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter andPinterest.
Basically this is the craft for the non-crafty folks. Literally it took me about 1 minute. It feels like cheating to even call it a craft.
I live with a bunch of girls who love traveling to God’s glory. They each came back from doing overseas missions this summer with pocketfuls of foreign coins. When coupled with my coin collection, resulted in coins from 15+ countries!
I wanted to incorporate them into our home in some way that we would see them and be prompted to pray for the countries that we’ve traveled to.
Enter adhesive backed magnets!
I bought these guys at Michaels but you can get them here.
I got my glue gun out because I wasn’t sure if the sticky backs on the magnets would hold the weight of a coin. But even the heaviest coins I had stuck just fine! And some of the coins were even real metal and stuck to the magnets on their own haha!
But really, this “craft” took less than 5 minutes and now we have this sweet collection of prayer-prompting magnets on our fridge. (Which really, is there a better place for a prayer prompt? We definitely look at it at least 3 times each day!)
And lest you be fooled into thinking that because I made this craft, our fridge is super cute and organized. It most certainly is not! This is our messy, missional fridge featuring some hand drawn princesses from Laura’s and Rhonda’s kids :)
We’d love to see pictures of your coin collection turned prayer magnets! Tweet us @missionalwomen or put it on our Facebook page.
And we have a ton of other FREE stuff for you: Printables, Bible Studies, Videos, Book Recommendations, Giant List of Blog Hop/Link Ups and more. Spend some time exploring the site.
Angi loves Jesus, coffee, baseball and baking cakes. She is a missionary to college students and can't think of anything she'd rather do to serve God. Angi first met the Lord while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa but really understood His love and grace as a freshman in college. Her heart is to invest in college students in the same way that many others invested in her. You can find her blogging over at Stuff Angi Does where she tells stories about Jesus, college students, and life. You can also find her on facebook, twitter, pintrest and instagram.
I will never forget that sentimental moment, out at our beach house, where my pre-teen son let out the epitome of all of his life’s desire. “What is it?” I cried at one of those points of frustration, not knowing how to parent my first born child. “What is it you want?”
I thought he would answer with common route words most sons might; like, “I want to just play video games”, or, “I just want to sleep all day”. But, what he said left me spinning, made me re-evaluate my life and the “simply to survive” existence I was living.
With the fullness and power of any evangelical preacher, His Spirit surged, looking bold at me, both eyes filled with tears. “I just want to change the world”.
At the time, I was taken back…speechless. At the time, I had no answer for this gifted son sitting helpless in my arms…looking for answers. After all, I was just a young mother, trying to pay bills, trying to make sure that somewhat of a healthy meal sat on the table each night.
What was I going to tell him about changing the world? How was I going to lead him to where his heart most passionately and desperately longed to go?
Still, as I searched my heart and scripture, I found a different picture of Christianity than my mundane, “just make it through the day” existence. I found a Christianity led by disciples who lived radically, Acts 17:6 saying God’s people “turned the world upside-down”.
And wasn’t I a disciple of Jesus Christ? Wasn’t I called to that same high calling, to live radically for Jesus? Or was I just supposed to crash at night, exhausted, consumed with my own mundane, futile living?
Why did it become harder as years passed me, to grab ahold of that vision found in my little boy? That vision, if we are honest, inside all of us…”To change the world”?
When along the way did I stop dreaming, growing….really living a life of faith? Didn’t God call us all to have faith like a mustard seed, saying it will move mountains (Matthew 17:20), slay Giants (1 Samual 17), drive us to walk boldly around our own personal walls of Jericho (Hebrews 11:30) so, how did I stumble along the way? When did I stop wanting to change the world? Stop wanting to live…radical?
What I found was that radical world changing often starts with living with, not-so-radical fundamentals. Here are a few tips to encourage you to start reaching, influencing, changing the world for the glory of God:
1. Identify when and where you lost faith.
Like my son and most of us deep inside know…We were made for so much more. Yet, as we get older it is easy to stumble, shrink back, lose the zeal and fervor we had when we were younger. It has helped me to sit down, even write down, what happened, where might I have chosen unbelief over faith? Did a situation take place, did someone betray me, did hardships sway me, or disappoints with God lead me away from a life lived radically in His ways.
Scripture tells us, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (Gal 5:7)
2. Ask God to show you where you have looked inward, instead of upward and outward.
Most religions call you to look inward, but Christianity necessitates a life lived upward and outward. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have learned how easy it is to start living for the glory God; but like a slippery slope…family, ministry, route obedience can lead us into a pit of inward, works-based legalism. And dutiful legalism can be hard to be freed from. Motives can get off and instead of living for Christ alone, we start orchestrating situations for our own benefit. Often we can follow God’s purpose, but then as fallible human being, somehow turn our works into something that brings glory to us…comfort or contentment…instead of something done solely for the glory of God and the good of others.
Ask God to search your heart for areas you have been imploding? Where you have taken the ropes and led the horse of your own destiny. Then repent and daily “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, then all these things will be added unto you as well.” (Matt 6:33)
3. Be Authentic in a plastic world.
I have always been a writer. It’s what I do and what I love. But for decades, I didn’t want to create with words. I wanted something bigger, a calling more seen…more like others. But, God made us to be each unique, original, authentic. Isn’t it time we stop copying another person, their family, or their ministry? From my experience, nothing will make us lose faith, impacting the world the most radical-less than comparing, trying to be like or living like someone else. See, 1 Cor. 12:12-31
4. Don’t despise small beginnings.
Ever heard of that saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, or “You can’t eat an elephant in just one bite?” Well, changing the world isn’t something that happens overnight. What gifts, talents, and passions has God put in you to realistically develop practically in your life, right now? Start there, start small. I guarantee that as you are faithful in the small things, (Luke 16:10) God will call you to something larger, something radical…something that will change the world.
5. Think globally, but remember “the one”.
As Christians we are called to reach the world for the glory of God, but we must also remember the “one” God put before us. Who is your “one”…your husband, your neighbor, your children? Like a pond and the ripple effect, we must have faith in the little things before God will ever give us a sustainable, larger ministry. Still even in radical ministry, Jesus always had eyes to see those forgotten ones before Him. He was willing and obedient to touch “the one” along with the business of actively ministering to the multitudes.
6. Don’t leave your strong foundation.
Anyone can change the world. A mother nurturing her children, a believer talking to the dis-heartened one at a grocery store, a friend bringing cookies to her neighbor is changing the world. However, as we walk where God calls us, as we live to change our worlds, we must be careful to remember…people are watching us. Integrity is vital. We must never lose sight of what God has done for us, putting ourselves in a place of humble acknowledgement that anything we do and are is not because of us…but because of what God has done for us. We must keep ourselves in the Word, building our lives continually upon His rock. Where is God calling you? Have you been building upon the rock…or the sand? (Matt 7:24-27)
7. Continually pray.
So many start strong, then get discouraged, sidetracked, lack direction, wisdom, and grace. After all, truth is, we can never reach the world for the glory of God, in our own strength. The greatest world changers came because they first found strength, power, and grace…in the most humble of places; in prayer, upon their knees.
Do not be fooled, God has a great plan and a great destiny for you. He has called you to be more than a conqueror, a victor, an heir, a son or daughter who is called to live for His glory. Still, God calls the humble, not the proud; the lowly, brought down ones; not those who are high and proud.
There is no doubt…you are called to radically change the world. But I wonder first, if it is in the not-so-radical life of humble submission to God that we see our greatest reward? If it is that daily diligence, that self-less obedience, that prayerful position of God-seeking and repentance that leads to that child-like faith that cries out with unhindered God-centered faith…”We are more. We were meant for more. We have the power to change the world”.
I am not sure about you, but I want to be like my son. I want my greatest heart cry to be that prayer birthed in child-like faith, solely by the grace of God, “Lord, let us change the world.”
Did you benefit from this?
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Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11
Just Imagine you are…
Sitting in a room full of people and you are the only one who is not a native speaker of the language that is heard all around you.
Attending a team meeting that is conducted in another language and you sit in a corner receiving whispered translation where you lose 50% of the information.
Dropping your kids off at school and other than hello or goodbye, you don’t know if you are up to trying a couple of sentences when your child’s three year-old classmate speaks better than you.
Having the cashier turn your grocery cart around because you couldn’t understand what she was asking and then she catches on and says ‘turn…cart.’
Walking the streets of your neighborhood, keeping your head down whenever you pass a male, because direct eye contact gives the wrong impression.
Struggling through a presentation of the Gospel in another language because, weak as you are, you may very well be the only one who will ever share the Good News face-to-face with this person.
Praying like crazy everywhere you go…everywhere you are living your life…that all you cannot understand on the surface will some-beautiful-how translate to eternity.
No amount of short-term overseas experiences could have prepared me for when a new country would become my home. The last 15 months of my life have been some of the hardest of my 39 years. Yet, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
I am learning to embrace the life of a sojourner in ways that would NOT have happened if we had NOT pursued God’s call overseas as a family.
Abraham’s call in Genesis 12 to leave his ancestral home becomes my own.
I experience the exile of the people of Israel as well as their longing for Home.
And most, I deepen in my understanding of what Christ sacrificed to come from heaven to earth.
Leaving the comforts of an eternally secure and infinitely beautiful love relationship in the Trinity.
Surrendering riches that our fullest hearts could never imagine.
Subjecting Himself, the Word who spoke the world into existence, to all of the cruelties and depravity that came when that world rebelled and pitted itself against the Giver of Life.
Speaking the same language and yet so very, very often not being understood because eyes were blind and ears were deaf.
And through this deeper understanding, I come to the end of my secure-in-myself life.
I am stripped bare of the confidences that would cover me in my comfort zone.
I cannot survive without the depth of love and understanding from the King of the Strangers, Aliens and Sojourners.
Cross-cultural Ministry is all about stepping into a place where you become the Stranger. The one who recognizes well when the world around you collectively finds you…strange.
Where you sink or learn to swim in an ocean of Grace filled with the vision of the One who paved the way and gives you all you need to walk this road with love, joy, peace. ALL of the fruits of the Kingdom.
You are called to this life, friend.
It may never mean stepping foot in another country, let alone making it your home.
But if you want to become like Jesus in ways you never imagined as you courageously follow Him, it must mean something.
So I ask you, as I daily ask myself, how is God calling you to embrace being a Sojourner. An Alien. A person who lives in such a way that she experiences acutely that she is not meant to fit comfortably into this world?
Abby is a small-town loving, big city adventurer. She and her husband have worked with high school students most of their lives! Since their internship in Budapest, Hungary in 2005-2006, they have been working with the ministry of CRU. In May of this year, they moved to Hungary answering God's call to work long-term with the students of Central and Eastern Europe. Abby loves to laugh, especially at herself, has a passion for God and making Him known and is ever learning how to do that with three small children, ages 5, 3 and one month. She wouldn't trade the journey for anything! She blogs regularly at Fan the Flame
I wanted to send in this quick testimony about my wife Jessica and what she has recently accomplished.
I met her on the mission field over Christmas break 2009 in Mexico, and it was established very early in our speedy courtship that we would be in the mission field often, as this was something we were already accustomed to. Jessica had been on a trip every year since she was 14, and would have at 13 if her parents had let her. Her drive and her passion to see the word of God planted in the hearts of the nations is like none I have ever met.
Jessica heard from the Lord on New Year’s Eve 2011 and that the Lord said she would be going on an all-girls trip to Africa in the summer. Once March rolled around, she had made multiple connections with individuals. “One thing to another” and she was signed up for a 2 week trip to Kenya and Uganda. The Lord, for the umpteenth time, had come through on the finances for this semi-expensive trip, and she was overseas on a group tour visiting 10 orphanages.
My husband was chatting with a counselor we had just met, easily chronicling the last few years of our lives. As I met with her later, the first thing she said was, “I CANNOT BELIEVE the amount of transitions you and your husband have been through in the last few years!”
It was an objective statement from someone peering into the type of gypsy living we embarked upon two years into our marriage. It was pre-kids, so we were still newlywedsJ, and we had no idea where it would lead.
We didn’t know that a year internship in Budapest, Hungary would lead to a long-term call to that same place.
I broke the cup. Not only that, I broke one of the three cups that this family of 5 owned. This wasn't just any family. This family had been through a lot. No, they were still going through a lot. Natural disasters. Poverty. And now a "rich" white American girl carelessly enters their home and breaks what little they own. Can you see why I was devastated?
Just about 2 hours earlier my friend, Ryan, and I were walking across the small village's soccer field (think dirt clearing). Woodson, a boy of about 10 years old, had become my shadow minutes after we entered his village. Woodson was smartly dressed in a tan, gingham button-down shirt with brown shorts to match. After the first couple of minutes he made it clear that he wanted me to come to his house.
New languages. New places. New foods. New ways of doing things.
During our 30+ years in ministry, we have often encountered just one degree of separation between new friends all over the world. We commonly remark, "Small world, big God!"
I have had the incredible blessing and privilege of traveling to 11 countries (so far!) and living internationally for almost 20 years. It has been an amazing adventure. Honestly, at alternate times I've been thrilled or frightened, frustrated or encouraged, loved or hated, awkward or skilled. Overall, I've grown and matured through the joys and the challenges, and I am very grateful for all the experiences.
Can you imagine being beaten daily in prison and condemned to capital punishment for the “crime” of publicly professing Jesus Christ? This is the reality for many fellow believers around the world. Did you know you can bring those persecuted believers hope? There are several practical ways you can encourage and even be part of setting them free!
Practical Way #1: Voice of the Martyrs is a great resource in finding out what is happening to persecuted Christians around the world. By visiting their website you can access stories and updates of Christians persecuted for their faith. This website has pictures and stories of Christians that are imprisoned, why they were imprisoned, how long they have been imprisoned and their conditions in prison. There are also stories of people who were persecuted but released and amazing stories of the Gospel being preached in places like North Korea and the Middle East.