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Tag Archives: missionaries

Forbidden by the Holy Spirit

During the Day of Pentecost detailed in Acts 2, a supernatural event enabled first century disciples to speak in tongues.  Initially, eyewitnesses thought the disciples were drunk until foreigners, visitors to Jerusalem, began to hear these men speak in their own native tongue.  According to Acts 2:9, this included Asia Minor, a place Paul and Silas chose to reach during Paul’s second missionary journey.  However, Luke records another strange occurrence in the passage below, the apostles were prohibited to introduce the gospel to Europe.

Now they passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, after being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in [the west coast province of] Asia Minor, Acts 16:6.

There are a couple of explanations for this region being forbidden by the Holy Spirit.  One Bible Commentary suggests this territory was not a designated Roman province.  As a Roman citizen, the apostle Paul accepted this spiritual push back as a clear sign to wait for another opportunity in the future.  Meanwhile, Acts 1:8 refers to a natural progression for the gospel to spread: Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.  The most logical explanation is that Paul and Silas went out of order, visiting the ends of the earth before reaching every nearby town and village.

And after they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; Acts 16:7.

As modern missionaries continue to fulfill the great commission, Matthew 28:16-20, the Bible warns of regions controlled by demonic powers such as Persia in the book of Daniel.  Those called to enter these dangerous countries and nations face the same risk the Elliott family took as described in the film End of the Spear.  When five missionaries were killed in Ecuador by the Wadani tribe, some would have seen this as a sign to quit.  Yet, this loss of life opened the door members of the Wadani to accept and receive the good news about Jesus Christ.  While there will always be forbidden areas on earth, may God fill you with resolve to fulfill God’s plan for your life.

by Jay Mankus

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Entrusted to the Grace of God

As a former youth pastor, I have seen how creative teenagers have become to raise money for mission trips.  During my tenure at First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana, three bus loads of junior and senior high students spent a week each summer repairing roofs for a poor community in southern North Carolina.  Anyone who donated money received an invitation to a banquet where pictures and testimonies were shared.  This event was designed to highlight and summarize all that God had done through these young people.

From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work which they had now completed, Acts 14:26. 

Based upon the words of Luke, Paul and Barnabas began this tradition at their home church in Antioch.  Paul and Barnabas traveled over 1200 miles in a little over two years.  As a result of their travel, more than a dozen new churches were established.  These new partnerships resulted in a series of letters, questions and return visits to help and nurture new converts to Christ.  According to Luke, it took a long time to communicate all that had happened, staying in Antioch an extended period, fellowshipping with Christian brothers and sisters.

Arriving there, they gathered the church together and began to report [in great detail] everything that God had done with them and how He had opened to the Gentiles a door of faith [in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior]. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples, Acts 14:27-28.

While fasting and praying back in Acts 13, the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to become missionary partners.  Luke refers to this event as being entrusted to the grace of God.  The church leaders in Antioch assigned the task of missionaries to these two godly leaders.  Paul was a Roman citizen while Barnabas was a wealthy man, a good combination for traveling throughout the Mediterranean.  Depending upon the gifts, resources and talents you have been blessed with, make sure you listen to God’s calling so that you will fulfill what God has entrusted you to do.

by Jay Mankus

That’s Impossible

It’s a Miracle debuted on Pax Television in 1998.  This sixty minute documentary examined true stories that on the surface appeared to be impossible.  However, as eyewitnesses recounted these events, it was clear that angels, divine intervention and the power of prayer gave birth to a miracle.  This program that ran for six seasons reminding me that with God, anything is possible.

Now as He approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her [in the funeral procession]. 13 When the Lord saw her, He felt [great] compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep,” Luke 7:12-13.

When I first read the passage above years ago, I didn’t conceptualize the magnitude of what Jesus was able to do.  I’ve attended several funerals where the victim died unexpectedly, long before they should have.  As a bystander, Jesus is moved by the Holy Spirit, stopping what he was doing to approach the casket.  When the pallbearer’s stopped, Jesus touched the bier and spoke life into this dead man.  What Jesus did defies logic and medical science, a resurrection.

And He came up and touched the bier [on which the body rested], and the pallbearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise [from death]!”15 The man who was dead sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother, Luke 7:14-15.

In 2015, Project Afterlife took a closer look at near death experiences.  This Destination America series explored cases of individuals presumed dead by doctors, but miraculously awoke, given a mulligan, a new lease on life.  According to reports from missionaries in Africa, resurrections aren’t limited to the Bible.  According to eyewitnesses, persistent prayers refused to believe that their loved ones have passed on.  Like the example from the film Faith Like Potatoes, the impossible is occurring as the pronounced dead are being raised back to life.

by Jay Mankus

Worthy of Suffering

During my time at the University of Delaware, I was fortunate enough to meet several missionaries.  Through campus groups like Campus Crusade, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Intervarsity, opportunities arose to interact with individuals from different countries, cultures and dynamic characters.  In biblical terms, several of these people I met are worthy of suffering.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name, Acts 5:41.

It’s interesting how people define success in various ways.  The poor may say a good day is having enough money to feed the whole family.  The middle class might suggest its making more than you spend.  Meanwhile, the upper class base success on property, possessions and power.  Yet, for first century Christians, enduring public persecution for their faith was like a badge of courage.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name, 1 Peter 1:7.

Beyond any physical or verbal abuse martyrs experienced, a nugget of truth has been passed on from generation to generation.  While you may suffer for your beliefs, trials serve as a vehicle for growth.  Just as a furnace uses fire to remove imperfections from clay, persecution strengthens faith.  Thus, while the world is dumbfounded by those willing to risk death, imprisonment or public beatings, devout Christians continue to embrace suffering for the sake of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for the Workplace Anointing

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him, 1 John 2:27.

One of the greatest misconceptions Christians make is limiting the power of God outside of church.  Anointing is something most leave for missionaries, preachers and teachers.  The Old Testament disagrees with this mentality as the Lord called Elijah to anoint both kings and a prophet.

Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet, 1 Kings 19:16.

When selecting an individual to anoint, its not always obvious.  Religious leaders tend to concentrate on physical features, personality and stature.  In the case of David, he was the least likely candidate, yet his heart was prime to serve God.  Nonetheless, the Lord made David wait 22 years before receiving the promise of his anointing.

So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives,” 1 Samuel 16:11.

Anyone else who chooses to run a business, follow a career or pursue a profession must wait for things to fall into place.  In the meantime, its essential to prepare yourself for the future.  Just as pastor takes time each week to carefully construct their message, those called to the workplace should invest the same time and energy to better their company.  If success is the process of arriving, may prayer pace you along the way as you wait for the workplace anointing, 3 John 2.

by Jay Mankus

An Unusual Answer to Prayer

Like any student, college introduces you to many interesting people.  Although, some may be bizarre, strange or flat out weird, appearances can be misleading.  If you allow yourself to approach each individual with an open mind, you might be surprised by what you discover as you peal away stereotypes, one layer at a time.

During my final semester, I met a missionary with an unusual testimony.  According to her story, she claimed God got her up every day at 6am in the morning without using an alarm clock.  As a person who enjoyed sleeping in til noon or later, I was skeptical, doubting her claim.  Perhaps out of spite or sheer curiosity, I challenged God to see if I could have a similar experience during my last two months of college.

To my surprise, the first morning I arose, sunlight shined directly through my bedroom window right on my face.  When I rolled over to check out the clock on my night stand, it was 6:00 am.  Immediately, I jump out of bed, causing goosebumps to appear.  I spent the next 15 minutes, praying and reading the Bible, wondering if this was real or merely a dream.  Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I got out each morning at the same time for the next 60 days, an unusual answer to prayer!

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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