Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

by Judi Chow

When my mom failed to reach my brother at his home or cell phone, she would call and ask me where my brother was. I usually would tell her he was probably out of town but inside I would say, how should I know… am I my brother’s keeper? Without realizing it, I quoted Cain’s answer when the Lord asked, “Where is your brother?” from Genesis 4:9. I might not be as evil as Cain trying to shed his responsibility after killing Abel, but that carelessness mentality is the same. It is not that I don’t care for my brother’s well being; it is just that we live thousands of miles apart, he is a grown man, and I have my own life, ministry, and other responsibilities. This might sound like excuses, but they are genuine reasons for me not knowing my brother’s whereabouts.

Let’s change the scene – suppose a missions director came to the village where a team of missionaries has been working together for three years. Attending their weekly prayer meeting and enjoying the fellowship meal afterwards, the director suddenly realized Missionary A (the only single missionary among the team) wasn’t there and asked, “Where is Miss. A?” “Oh yes, she hasn’t joined us for a few weeks now, must be busy.” Actually Miss. A had an emotional outburst during the last prayer meeting she did attend complaining the missionary couple and family didn’t understand her. The team members didn’t know how to respond and assumed she wanted more privacy, so they left her alone. It is not that they don’t care; it is just that they felt they are called to share the Gospel among the local people there. The family has young kids to home-school and the couple is busy discipling new believers. Excuses? No, these are genuine situations.

I don’t believe any missionary would answer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” when being asked what happened that caused their fellow missionary to be so distant or depressed. It is just that most missionaries are very focused on their calling to obey the Great Commission to share the Gospel that they might fail to see the Great Commandment to love one another, which includes their fellow missionary. When God asked Cain, “Where is your brother?” He was giving Cain another chance to repent and respond with his conscience. God wanted Cain to search deep in his heart and soul to find a love for his brother instead of the needless jealousy he felt. God probably doesn’t ask us to keep our eyes on our brothers every single minute of the day, but He does want us to love one another. That love can be seen in our daily interaction with our brothers or coworkers.

God is still asking questions today, I am just wondering what kind of questions will He ask me at the end of the day. What about you, what is He asking you? Can you discern His voice?

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Lord, hear my prayer!

by Judi Chow

Dear Lord,

Thank you for calling me to labor no matter on the field across the globe or at the office.
Thank you for Your promise to be with me always to the ends of the world.

Thank you for helping me to give up the familiar comfort and security in exchange for an opportunity to share and show Your love.
Thank you for giving me zealousness in proclaiming the Gospel.
Thank you also…  when I seem to be burning out and waiting for Your healing hand’s touch.

Lord, touch me, heal me, embrace me now.
Lord, please show Your mercy when I am suffering from discouragement and misunderstanding.

Enable me to experience Your love so I can love my “enemy” once again.
Empower me to forgive as You have forgiven me.
Enlighten me to see the situation from both sides.
Nourish me with Your Word and Work.
Remind me it is You Who is in control and not me.

Lord, speak to me; surround me with Your presence.
Lord, help me to use all my senses to communicate to the unreached the same way as with my family members and coworkers, so I may……
……listen patiently with my heart as well as my head,
……verbalize my expectations clearly and lovingly,
……express my respect and acceptance toward the other person,
……speak the truth in love and humility but with boldness,
……not compromise the message, but be flexible on the method of deliverance.

Lord, break me, mold me, refine me now.
Lord, help me to put You in the Center of my focus instead of the problem.

Elevate me to meditate on Your Word rather than men’s words.
Let me be satisfied by Your presence more than the work well done.
Allow me to die to self as I carry my cross to follow You each day.
Protect me from the evil one’s temptation.
Cleanse me from sinful and revengeful desires so I can continue to be Your servant.

Holy Lord, show me how to love myself so I can love others as I love You!

In Christ’s Name I pray,

Amen

A Prayer for Missionaries

by Judi Chow

Dear Lord,

Thank you for calling so many unknown missionaries laboring in remote villages as well as urban cities across the globe.
Thank you for Your promise to be always with them to the ends of the world.
Thank you for their willingness to give up the familiar comfort and security in exchange for an opportunity to share and show Your love to the lost.
Thank you for their zealousness in the proclamation of the Gospel.
Thank you also… for wounded soldiers awaiting Your healing hand’s touch.

Lord, touch them, heal them, embrace them now.
Lord, please show Your mercy to those who are suffering from discouragement and misunderstanding.

Enable them to experience Your love so they can love their “enemy” once again.
Empower them to forgive as You have forgiven them.
Enlighten them to see the situation from both sides.
Nourish them with Your Word and Work.
Remind them it is You Who is in control and not them.

Lord, speak to them, surround them with Your presence.
Lord, help them to use all their senses to communicate to the unreached the same way as with their family members and coworkers, so they may……
……Listen patiently with their heart as well as their head,
……Verbalize their expectations clearly and lovingly,
……Express their respect and acceptance of the other person,
……Speak the truth in love and humility but with boldness,
……Not to compromise the message, but be flexible on the method of deliverance.

Lord, break them, mold them, refine them now.
Lord, help them to put You in the Center of their focus instead of the problem.

Elevate them to meditate on Your Word rather than men’s words.
Let them be satisfied by Your presence more than the work well done.
Allow them to die to self as they carry their crosses to follow You each day.
Protect them from the evil one’s temptation.
Cleanse them from sinful and revengeful desires so they can continue to be Your servants.

Holy Lord, show them how to love themselves so they can love others as they love You!

In Christ’s Name,

Amen

Community and Commitment

by Judi Chow

Lately, a word kept popping up both in my conversation with people as well as during my personal reflections. The Lord is calling my attention to this word— community. I know what a community is; we all are part of a community, and some of us live or work in a community. So, what is the Lord trying to tell me about community?

Someone said community is a place of belonging, a place where people find their identities. That’s true, I am part of the CCM family (sense of belonging) and I am CCM’s missionary (identification). Generally speaking, I say a community is a group of people who share a common interest or goal. How committed a person is to that community depends on how much that person feels belonged or identifies with that community. How committed are CCMers? Well, if time is any indication, some of us are on this journey together for some twenty, thirty years. We shared the common interest of serving Christ and our goal is to spread the Gospel among our kinsmen worldwide. For me, it was that calling from God to serve HIM through CCM that kept me tied to this community. It is the memories we share which bond us together spiritually and emotionally.

Larry Crabb refers to the church as a community of people on a journey to God. It is ironic that we presume the church to be a loving community, yet people are not satisfied. Why? Maybe we have a too-high view of the church. We expect perfection in the house of God and forget the people in it are imperfect sinners turned tarnished saints. We want nurturing, but we land up with responsibilities. We want affirmation and acceptance, but we get guilt and gossip instead. We desire the greatest gift of love, but what we hear are clanging cymbals. Shall we lower our expectations so we won’t be disappointed? Reducing the church to be a place for social gatherings? May it never be!

If we are together on this journey to God and if we are clear about our destination, steam ahead. Transformation will take place with one (me) plus another like-minded individual. A community between the two will form with the common desire for spiritual quest and intimacy. As sojourners committed to travel the narrow path, a mutual support and the willingness to carry each other’s burdens will develop. Christ has promised where two or three are gathered in His name, He shall be in their midst. Don’t give up and settle for mediocrity. Instead, pray for the Lord to reveal a kindred spirit committed to walk with you in community.

What is a Missionary?

by David Mays from http://www.davidmays.org/missionary.html

About a dozen years ago a pastor asked me how missionaries are trained. He said he wanted to train his whole congregation to be missionaries. I was thinking “A missionary is a person who crosses cultures with the gospel.” He was thinking, “A missionary is a person who is fully committed, dying to selfish ambitions, living the Christ-indwelt life, and passionate about people.”

The missional movement often uses the term “missionary” to encourage people to be like this, “sent” into their world to represent Jesus by loving people and doing works of service. For some time I have heard pastors say, “When you leave this building you are entering your mission field,” and “You are all missionaries.” The term “missionary” thus serves to help people understand the call of every Christian to commitment and outreach. At the same time, this is different from the traditional meaning of the word.

In the New Testament the “sent ones” were apostles. Not all Christians were given the apostolic gift. Some were pastors, teachers, etc. During the past two hundred years, the “sent ones,” the missionaries, were the pioneers, the mavericks, those whose passion for Christ and people took them to people very much unlike themselves beyond their own land, culture, and language. Traditionally, we have recognized missionaries as those who have taken special training and obtained unusual experiences to help them understand cultures, learn languages, discern world views, and to love, communicate, and make their home among people very much unlike us. This kind of work requires particular gifts, aptitudes, qualities, and training. Not everyone is gifted for it. Not everyone is called to it. Not everyone can do it.

However, all Christians are called to love their neighbors and reach out to them. This is what a Christian does. At one time we might have called these people “Christians.” As the word Christian became too broad, we might have called them “evangelicals.” When the category evangelical became too broad, we might have called them “disciples.” When it became too easy to be considered a disciple, we might have called them fully devoted disciples. Now that this term has been overused, we are calling them missionaries.

Degeneration of language is inevitable, so missionary may be the best term we have until we find yet a more powerful word. At the same time, some people feel hurt and disrespected when all Christians are considered missionaries.These are often people who went through extensive training and years of hardship living among people of primitive cultures far from friends and family for the sake of the Gospel and people with very little access to the Gospel.

Further, it devalues the gifts, call, and training of those who continue to study and serve in cross-cultural roles. Few of us recognize what is required. If we have been in another culture or even served someone nearby, we think we are already missionaries. The concept that some must undergo serious training and sacrifice to reach people with little access to the Gospel may escape us altogether.

For an analogy, suppose that everyone who serves in the healing process becomes known as a doctor. Nurses, who assist doctors, become doctors. Aids who assist nurses become doctors. And neighbors who sit by the bedside of a sick friend are doctors. Everyone who is concerned about health becomes a doctor. You can see that calling everyone a doctor tends to minimize the training, qualifications, skills, and commitment required for an M.D. And it further confuses communication about the persons we are talking about.

It would be nice to go back and limit the term “missionary” to those who cross-cultures with the gospel. But since that is not likely to happen, perhaps we will need to distinguish traditional missionary roles and recruit people for these roles by calling them cross-cultural missionaries or international missionaries.

Think with me.
What is your feeling about the use of the word “missionary?”
What are the advantages of using it to describe Christians committed to Christ and their neighbors?
What are the disadvantages?
What terms would you prefer?
What is a good way to respond when you hear the word missionary used generically?