Reachout

TRUE FRUIT – FROM UNSUNG HEROES

Erica Grace, ex-missionary to South America, challenges us to remember unsung Hebrews 11 type heroes!

Born in Sandviken, Norway in 1878, Marie Monsen became a schoolteacher. She went to China in 1901 to help the missionary couple sent there by her Lutheran church needing a teacher for their children.

But shortly after she arrived those missionaries left due to the national unrest and turn of events in China The mission agency back in Norway didn’t have the funds to send for Marie as well, so she stayed back waiting for her ticket to arrive.

Following Bible examples
Meanwhile, people kept coming to the mission home looking for help but Marie was the only one there.  She would face squalid conditions of starving, sick children and not knowing what do, felt helpless and overwhelmed… the situations she faced each day seemed insurmountable. Marie’s only solution would be to pray.

One emergency would be followed by another, then another in a nearby town. Everywhere she went Marie (right) would just open her Bible and read especially the gospels where Jesus performed miracles. Then she would pray for people with all sorts of problems, diseases and oppressions. She hadn’t seen this being done back home in her church, but she followed the examples in the Bible.

Not quite sure where she even was, she was woken one day by pleas for help by distraught parents. When she reached their home, she saw their only son, around nine years old, lying on a mat – dead. They begged her to pray to her God.

Miracles!
With childlike faith Marie opened her Bible, read where Jesus raised a young son from the dead and prayed: ‘Lord, you are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Please raise this son from the dead.’

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THE JOHN 3:16 TWELVE GOLDMINE TREASURES

(April 01, 2021) Honouring the memory of the late missionary statesman Dr George Forbes, we run one of his Easter blogs, a reminder that the real message of Easter is a precious goldmine treasure:

Easter is an annual holiday celebrated by many millions around the world.

  • For devout followers of Christ it is a highlight of the year; a time to give thanks to God for his great gift of the Saviour. 
  • For many others it may be the one-day they attend or think about attending a church, because it seems the right thing to do. They hope it might help when the day of accounting comes.
  • For a vast number of people it has no meaning… so they simply treat this time as a holiday break from normal routines.

Easter’s great truth
Millions of Christians commemorate the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus, especially at Easter, though most also celebrate the great victory of Calvary every time they take communion.  Many Christians say that they regard Easter as the most important celebration of the year.

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THAT BLACK DOG

(March 22, 2021) Trevor Pugh shares his testimony…

Thank you, Connecting with You contributors Pastor Charles Schwab, Dr Jim McClure, Geraldine Brandt, and Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan for your articles this month (Links below*).

I appreciate you all sharing this journey, especially Pastor Charles’ very open candidness.

That constant companion
DepressionThe Black Dog – has been a constant companion, biting away at me since l was young – unloved, uncared for, and hurting so much inside.

It was while being ‘bitten yet again’ at age 40 that I thought I had the final solution to such ‘bites’… suicide!

That dark night l held a rifle under my chin and was pressing on the trigger, when l suddenly stopped and decided to go outside and call into the night sky.

‘Why?’ I wondered as I stood there outside, making a lot of noise and shouting inanely.

My shouting woke my wife, Jan, and she rushed out to see what was going on, who or what I was yelling at.  With her help I sensed God speaking to my heart and l quieted down. I ended up going back to bed, although secretly thinking, ‘Anyway, I can suicide tomorrow.’

But praise God in the morning, l felt different! I had called out to God and he had heard me! (more…)

OVERWHELMED BY GOD’S STRONG LOVE

(March 11, 2021) Amber Varela, studying at Lighthouse Christian Academy, Los Angeles, brings shares a ReachOut testimony...

On 24-hour shifts, rifle-ready Lee Yih would peer across the border into East Germany, guarding against Soviet troops that never came. On his days off, the U.S. Army soldier fought with his wife and got stoned.

‘I was really aliened, Lee says. ‘I was just a loser, just not functioning in life.’

Before he lost his way in life, Lee Yih says he was born with great ambitions to be rich – a stark contrast to growing up as the offspring of a date rape in a single parent home. Being Asian, he felt like an outcast among all-white classmates in Mount Joy, Iowa.

Feeling lonely, unloved
‘I hated to be Chinese. I told my mom I wanted to be white. In the town where I grew, there were no other Chinese people and I wanted so much to fit in. Basically, I had no identity.’ His mother bristled at his rebellious rejection of Asian culture, so she shipped him off to Taiwan to learn Chinese when he was 15 years old.

‘I got worse problems because where once I felt so Chinese in Iowa and so foreign and not fitting in, now I was really not fitting in because I’m in China and so American!’ he recounts.

Then a friend invited him to a Christian camp. ‘I got snookered into going to a Baptist youth camp,’ he remembers. (more…)

MENTAL ILLNESS REALITIES

(March 10, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight-shooting theologian, shares on a very real issue…

A troubled Christian asked for help, saying ‘I’ve been diagnosed with mental illness and am frightened to tell my very “religious” Christian friends.’

Interestingly I immediately recalled the sad death of Robin Williams death at the age of 63.

For nearly 40 years Williams’ unique brand of humour brought much joy to millions of people, but he suffered from depression that led him finally to take his own life.

Many people in all walks of life suffer from that same debilitating illness of depression which takes from the sufferer the ability freely to live to his or her potential, and, sadly, many respond to the burden of this mental illness by taking the same route as Robin Williams.

A crushing illness
I have a psychiatrist friend whom I asked one day, ‘Why have you followed this particular medical specialty of mental illness when you are fully qualified to work in another?’ He replied with some vehemence, ‘Because I hate this illness!’

When I then asked him why he felt so strongly about it, he replied, ‘Because when people suffer other illnesses they want to live, but many who suffer mental illness want to die!’ (more…)

MOVING ON… AND NEW STEPS IN FAITH

(February 21, 2021) David McGuire, missionary to Romania, shares a memory of God’s encouragement and challenges…

In the autumn of 2011, a new step of faith and direction from God was forming when I was asked by the Manna church to attend the national leaders’ conference in the west of Romania.

Now, to be honest, I was a bit out of my usually ‘energised drive’ to serve God, so I listened to the speakers intently, wondering what God might be saying to me.

Serving God isn’t about ‘titles’
Among many things I’ve learned about serving the Lord as a missionary is patience! Now I was relearning as it was six months later before a new direction in our ministry began to open up. It started with the church asking me to be an elder and my wife Rodica entering joint worship leadership.

Now I didn’t feel anything different generally as I just did what serving God wanted me to do, ‘title’ or not. But slowly I received more prophetic dreams and words from the Lord… and new responsibilities came across my path.

I was commissioned to run a men’s group at a particular centre which, as well as being a Bible study, would offer food… meat and chips with some pop, tea and coffee. I consented, but the first week no one came along – nor the next!

Nevertheless, I enjoyed doing deeper study with God on my own, even if no one else turned up. Rodica thought that if no one came third week, I should just come back home instead of waiting around as I had been doing. As it happened, no one came that week either and so I did as my wife had suggested… but I had no peace at home.

Commitment means being committed
Then I sensed God was teaching me something important… How could I expect commitment if I were not committed myself? (more…)

PREMA – A MEANINGFUL ENCOUNTER   

(February 07, 2021) Erica Grace, ex-missionary to South America, recalls a memorable Holy Spirit-blessed occasion and encourages us to sensitive to others…

Prema (not real name) first caught my attention when, through an interpreter, I was speaking to students in India about creation and marriage, and how God had made everything perfect.

Meaningful news
When I began teaching about Eve and why God made her and how special her creation was, I noticed a spotlight over Prema’s face; she was beaming, and the rest of the class was a blur.

In a culture where girls are second class citizens, she was hearing good news and was furiously taking notes as fast as I was speaking.

When my class finished, we began pairing off with someone and praying for each other, and I went looking for Prema. On finding her, we just stood facing each other and just smiled; then I took her hands and began to pray for her.

Meaningful prayer
Suddenly, she pulled me to herself and began to pray and weep – so here we were, neither one knowing what the other was saying, but feeling remarkably close as the Holy Spirit was ministering to both of us. We were both a blubbering mess, crying and praying on each other’s shoulders! (more…)

THE MISSIONARY TASK HAS NEVER CHANGED!

(January 24, 2021) As we move ahead into this new year of uncertainties and changes, we rerun this 2017 article by the late missionary statesperson George Forbes, as it is an especially important reminder that  missionary endeavour never changes!

Christian Missions operate in a wide range of areas of ministry internationally, service and aid!

  • Some are big enough to incorporate many activities and ministries.
  • Others specialise in one field of service such as humanitarian aid, education or medical.
  • Significant numbers specialise in language translation and their provision to nations.
  • Most missions that prioritise on evangelism, Bible training and church planting also open schools, medical clinics and other services.

Such services are crucial!
Early in my thirty years of active mission organisation leadership, I discovered that these services were often crucial to our acceptance by indigenous leaders in developing countries. Biblically they were an evidence of Christian love and compassion to people in need.

The missionary task has always been about ‘making disciples.’ Jesus commanded the early church ‘to make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew. 28:18-20). He commanded his disciples to ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel’ (Mark 16:15). Matthew adds the important dimension of the Great Commission by quoting the words of Jesus, As you go, make disciples.’ (more…)

RUNNING OUT OF FUEL IN A SNOWSTORM

(January 24, 2021) Mark Ellis shares how a snowstorm led to a pilot’s salvation…

‘I was a God mocker,’ says Mark Rose, founder of Genesis Alive, and author of Last of the Long Hunters, a story of the pilots who fly the Alaskan Arctic.

Raised in the secular Seventies, completely un-churched, he had no room for God until he ran out of fuel in an Alaskan storm, miles from his destination.

Rose learned to fly at 16, and by age 22 had become a bush pilot who helped take care of a fleet of helicopters that worked on the Alaska pipeline. ‘My ego meter was on 101,’ he admits.

Low on fuel
One day he flew some hunters to the upper part of a large river on the Arctic. But on his return flight, carrying one passenger, several things went wrong.

First, herds of caribou had moved in, covering his first and second choices for a landing spot. Then he began to run low on fuel, so he called ahead for a weather check at the small airport near Kotzebue, on the Baldwin Peninsula.

‘Come on in, the weather’s fine,’ the FAA flight service operator told him.

Rose decided to take the chance that his fuel would hold out, but then weather conditions changed dramatically. ‘I ran into a snowstorm at night, and I couldn’t see the terrain, so I had to follow the grey ribbon of river below.’ In the days before satellite weather imaging, the man had given him bad advice.

‘All my options were evaporating as fast as I could fly.’ (more…)

WHAT ON EARTH DO WE NEED THE BIBLE FOR?

(January 13, 2021) Erica Grace, ex-missionary to South America, challenges Christians to value and uphold God’s word!

A pastor was announcing the coming marriage seminar to his congregation.

To encourage his people to come along, he said: ‘Don’t worry! The seminar won’t have anything to do with the Bible so it’s safe to bring your friends along. there will be no Bible bashing!’

How misguided can you be! Four important issues to note here…

1. The Bible teaches God’s word, not humanistic reasonings…
This young pastor erred in having such a Bible centre-less seminar in his church.

  • People can get humanistic teachings (that is, based on human reasoning) anywhere else.
  • But the function of the church is to teach God’s word, not humanistic teaching. (Well, isn’t it?)

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