As we have done in previous Lent and Advent seasons, we are again blogging our way through the Lenten Lectionary Texts. In this season, our prayer is that we will bless and inspire you in your walk between the Now and Not-Yet of the Kingdom. We pray that our meditations will be life-giving to you in your journey.
A reading from First Samuel.
Now the LORD said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”“Take a heifer with you,” the LORD replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the LORD. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”So Samuel did as the LORD instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”“Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too.When they arrived, “Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the LORD’s anointed!”In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any of these.” Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out int he fields watching the sheep and the goats.”“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.And the LORD said, “This is the one; anoint him.”– 1 Samuel 16:1-6, 10-12 (NLT)
This is the Word of The Lord.
Last week, we introduced you to the 10/40 Window. That swath of the world that sits between 10° and 40° north of the Equator and spans from the east coast of Japan to the west coast of Africa. It’s the part of the world that is home to every major monotheistic religion. 85% of the poorest of the world’s poor live there as well.
It is also home to 47 out of 50 of the nations on the 2014 World Watchlist. These are the nations where the persecution of Christians is the highest. They are also the nations where it is the most difficult to be a missionary. These are countries with no religious VISAs. You can’t go in and say, “Hello, I’m here to be a missionary.”
Yet, God calls us to go to ALL THE WORLD. Even the hard part. Even the dangerous part. Even the part that is controlled by powers hostile to Christianity. God calls us to the WHOLE WORLD.
For many years in missions circles these nations were referred to as “closed nations.” Yet, God, in His wisdom and grace, has given those whom He has called to these nations “creative” ways to go. Therefore, we now call these places “creative access nations.”
In our Scripture passage, Samuel is given a pretty frightening call. He’s told to go to a city called Bethlehem and find a new king. This is problematic for Samuel. He’s already anointed a king. His name is Saul and he’s still living and reigning. To go and anoint a new king at this time is tantamount to treason.
Samuel points this out to God.
Notice God’s response. It wasn’t to change the mission. Samuel was still to go and anoint a new king. Rather, God gave Samuel a creative way to go to Bethlehem and accomplish the mission.
God uses this same technique today. Every nation on the planet has specific needs that can be met by God’s people. When God calls a worker to a nation, He will give a means to go. He will give creative dreams, plans, visions, and ideas to get into (and stay in) that particular nation. Some examples of the creative means of going are: tourism, photography, business, teaching English as a second language, and attending university.
Workers in creative access nations don’t merely use these means as “cover” for the real work. These means are the real work. During the course of their work, they encounter people who are hungry to know about Jesus. They live out their lives as Ambassadors of the Kingdom, and in their faithful representation of the Kingdom they bring light into the darkness. They proclaim the beauty of Jesus in the messiness of the world around them.
They proclaim that a new King is coming. Just as Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to proclaim. These workers go to where they aren’t wanted. They go to where danger exists. Yet, the do so because they’ve captured the heart of God for those nations.
For our family, the workers in these nations have captured our hearts and minds. God has called us to come alongside them to bring them life and hope and rest. He has also called us to make the church aware of the work that they do in these nations. He calls us to share with the church what He is doing around the globe—even in those places least reached by the gospel.
Would you consider partnering with us in this call? Here’s a couple of ideas of how you can do so:
Pray for us.
There is no way we could do the work that God has called us to do without your prayers. If you’d like to receive a prayer card to remind you to pray for us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address and we’ll send one over.
Support us financially.
The work we do is expensive. We are currently booking travel for the Summer of 2014 that will take us points within the US, Central America and Northern Europe (budgeted at $6,000). If you would like to help us met this need, then click here to be taken to Get The Word Out! (they handle all our financial stuff) donation page. Be sure to select “Michael and Stephanie” from the drop-down. Or, you can mail a check or money order made out to GET THE WORD OUT! (due to IRS regulations, we ask that you include a note in the envelope designating the funds for Led By The Word or Michael and Stephanie) and mail it to:
Invite us to speak.
We love to talk about our friends around the world. We love to share what God is doing around the world. We would love to come and visit with you, your church, school, small group, camp, training school or conference. We love to talk about missions, prayer, Islam and worldview. Reach out to us at email@example.com and let’s schedule a time!