Archives for posts with tag: Missions

Haiti 1I came back from Haiti with some blister-like thingies on the plant of my left foot. I immediately knew what caused it and it was not mosquitos or a tight pair of unbroken in shoes. It was my own fault. I am usually very disciplined about this — don’t go out on the streets wearing flip flaps, I always tell myself. But for some reason, on my last morning there, I did just that and walked around a swampy area behind a church building where I am sure all sort of bacteria finds a warm home. I saw chicken, pigs, dogs, etc. walking around so I am sure I carried a foreign agent back with me. Glad the German Shepherds at the Miami Airport didn’t spot that!


Now, you have to understand something about me: I am somewhat of a hopeless germophobe.  I’ve gotten better over the years, but I’m a long way from being cured. I don’t even like to touch my own food, I am not a big fan of “sharing” from the same plate and if somebody, and I mean anybody, takes a sip from my drink, that’s it — I ain’t touching it anymore. So I am bad. Pray for me.

With that little piece of TMI, you can imagine my reaction at 3:30 in the morning when I felt those little bumps on my foot. Yes, if you suspected it, you got it right — I called my wife right away! “Don’t touch it!” She exclaimed, “it’s contagious.” From a true germophobe to another! Nice.

I started thinking about people I know who got stuff like this when they were overseas and it turned into a bigger mess than they had anticipated with lots of visits to doctors, trying different medicines and dealing with lots of pain. I wonder if I should go to the urgent care, like right now. I tried to remember if I had topic antibiotic in the house and if the athletes foot cream I saw in a cabin somewhere would do any good.

Haiti 3Then it hit me. Here I was, less than 24 hours removed from this place I had visited, a place ridden with diseases, trash, contaminated water from a canal that serves as a repository from any and all kinds of waste, and yet that’s the place thousands of people call “home.” In fact, I had been with the little kids on the streets who had laughed with me (and at me), calling me “blank” “white man,” making fun of my attempts to speak Creole and generally acting like children in any other part of the world.

Haiti 4

Except, they aren’t. The reality is, these children’s parents do not have the luxury of being germophobe. There is no urgent care facility to take them to when real emergencies struck in the middle of the night. There are no playgrounds. In fact, I saw two little kids on the edge of the canal poking at some fetid plastic bag in the water. I don’t think they were trying to retrieve anything, they were just playing, though I don’t know what the game was. Maybe just a pass the time game.

Haiti 5After I came back to my senses, I realized that though having these “blisters” on my foot is a bit of an inconvenience (and trust me, I’ve already started treating it and want to get rid of it as soon as possible), in one way, it’s like the perfect “souvenir” to bring home, if you want to bring home something that will remind you of the daily plight of the poorest of the poor around the world. I know it’s a different perspective, even a foreign one, but if God, using an experience caused by my own carelessness, desires to stamp me temporarily with the trademark of those who are trapped in a world of enemies lurking in unexpected places, how dare I not accept this infinitely small trial and try to reflect on it from God’s perspective?

Look, I know it’s Christmas and we want to lift ourselves up from the fog of war and the fear of other types of dangerous foreign agents, but believe it or not, to me this is a story that has the elements of a tsunami-like positive force to help me change my focus this Christmas.

Haiti 6So instead of focusing on myself and spending on myself, I will endeavor to bring into a sharper focus the needs of people like the ones I just met on those narrow streets of Cap Haïtien, surrounded by dangers they cannot escape from and yet exhibiting the kind of resilience that I would be blessed to have even to deal with some blisters on my foot, not to speak of the real challenges that lie there in the days ahead.

 So I want to encourage you strongly to give to “the least of these” to use the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, by helping organizations such as Water for Good, World Vision, Hope International, G.R.O.W., CPR-3, Three Strands. These folks, among others, know how to help people in their countries of origin, without creating unhealthy habits of dependence.For those of you who are part of Grace Church, please remember “Birthday Gift for Jesus,” our effort to give to orphans in the CAR and to our new campus in Lancaster.

Think beyond yourself. Give smartly. Spread the word. Embrace your “blisters.”

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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“It’s like turning the Queen Mary,” said a friend, to encourage me as I tried to change the way people thought of “missions” almost 20 years ago. My proposition was rather simple: “God is sending the nations to the U.S. in record numbers, why not start reaching them right here as part of our mission’s effort?” I used catchy phrases, such as “Reaching the World in our Backyard,” “Across the sea and across the fences.” “Don’t bypass Samaria on the way to the ends of the earth”, etc., etc. Okay, maybe you don’t think they are that cute. I did.

But no matter how hard I tried, people were not buying it. One lady in a large church in the west, after I made a presentation to the mission committee in her church, told me, almost in a condescending way, “That’s nice that you are doing this, but we only do ‘foreign missions.’”

I glanced at the kitchen in the restaurant where we were meeting and smiled at the cooks who were gladly conversing in Spanish. From there, I could almost smell the spices from the open air market I would visit later that day, where people from all nations would come to buy goods. In that case, the Queen Mary analogy failed. More like: “No need to keep the fan on when you leave the room. The dead will not complain for lack of fresh air!” And true to the script, that church, sadly, is no longer on the map.

After these many years, I find myself thinking of that analogy again. But this time around, I believe, there is a lot more at stake. Churches across this great nation, however big or small, are not succeeding at reaching new people for Christ. In the last decade, the number of evangelicals declined. Young people (20-30 something) are leaving the church in droves. Those who remain are plagued with a consumerist mentality (“What can church do for ME?”), are lethargic (“alright, let’s get ready for church…”), or simply don’t care (“lost? who?”).

Jesus said that His main thing was “to seek and save that which is lost.” At Grace Church we translate this statement this way, “Grace Church is leading people to Christ and coaching them to live for Him with purpose and abandon.”

But to succeed at this mandate, there will have to be a HUGE paradigm shift. We will have to start thinking constantly about people who are still outside of Christ. We will need to focus on praying for them. We will need to find ways to creatively be involved in their lives and reach out with compassion to them. And we will need to lovingly pursue them and gently influence them to move closer to the Messiah.

And all of this calls for the biggest shift you will ever be asked to make: you will need to become passionate about this mandate. Yes, you heard me say it: PASSIONATE. That’s a word Lancaster County people, if you believe the reports, don’t usually use to describe themselves. But I believe otherwise.

I look around and see that the so-called “reserved” people of Lititz and surrounding areas are passionate about so many things. For example, what if the government suddenly decided to no longer issue hunting and fishing licenses, what would you do? What if the Department of Education mandated that every child had to go to public schools until the age of five? Or what about this: the Justice Department has given each citizen 30 days to turn over all fire arms which will now become property of the government. I can see the flames of fire in the eyes of people through the pages of my blog already!!

You see, what we need is a re-direct. We need to evaluate the amount of time and energy we spend with so many other things that we feel so passionate about and we need to start thinking about people. Yes, people who are outside of Christ. Satan has held them under bondage for so long and the Gospel holds the key to liberate them. But how will they know unless we tell them? And how will we tell them unless we seek them?

Satan’s usurpation of people’s minds and souls is a much more egregious and paralyzing thing than the government taking away our freedoms. Without guns we can still have a vibrant connection to God, but without Jesus the future looks bleak and eternity is hell. Which is more important to you?

Twenty years have gone by since the Queen Mary analogy and today I am glad to report that many churches now get it. My own Fellowship has turned the corner. Reaching the world that is coming to us is now part of our natural parlance. Though we need to do more in this area, it is obvious that a lot of progress has been made.

How about turning the tide on being passionate about people who still need to hear that Jesus loves them? Will you help turn the big ship or stand in the sidelines and watch?

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade


Southeast Asia 2013

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

My wife was helping me pack for this trip and I asked her if bringing five books was too ambitious. We agreed that though I will have spent 40+ hours on airplanes, alone, I probably should only bring 3. I just love learning. (Which is probably why I keep going back to school :)… I promise, honey, I will be done soon!

I’m currently reading books related to missions philosophy. A lot has been written in recent years, especially related to how our Western perspectives of ‘helping’ can sometimes actually ‘hurt’. Challenging stuff that we need to be responsible to consider.

I won’t elaborate too significantly here, but thought I’d share a few highlights from the book by Peter Greer, “The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good”. (You should Google him and his Lancaster-based organization, Hope International)!

“…it’s possible to sacrificially serve God and be completely self-centered in the process. Morally upright people fully immersed in service can be…far from God…” (p. 33).

Personal application: I need to check my motives for serving. Is it to make me feel good or look good? Is it to try to earn God’s favor? Or is it in humility and simple obedience to God’s leading in my life?

“It is possible to be successful, even in service, yet be heading in the wrong direction” (p. 54).

Personal application: How am I measuring success? Jesus said that apart from Him, I can do nothing. Am I abiding in Him? Are indicators such as my marriage and home life healthy? Are the things that are most important to God most important to me?

Quoting Dorothy Sayers: “It is the business of the Church to recognize that the secular vocation, as such, is sacred” (p. 91).

“…an elevated view of full-time ministry is thoroughly unbiblical. Sabotaging our ability to impact the world for Christ, it leaves most of the church on the sidelines, cheering on the pastors and missionaries” (p. 93).

“If there is such a thing as full-time ministry, we’re all in it” (p. 95).

Quoting Abraham Kuyper: “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!'” (p. 95).

Personal application: We are all ‘in the ministry’ no matter what our vocation. How am I expressing my commitment to the ‘mission’ through what I’ve been called to do, today?

Quoting Henri Nouwen: “I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me – my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts – and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards instead of developing them for the glory of God” (p. 101).

“Breaking free of our inflated view of ourselves comes when we ruminate on the amazing story told in Scripture. When we orient our view toward God’s glory, we get a glimpse of the grand story, one of redemption of wholeness and hope from a very big God…When we turn our eyes away from ourselves, we see that we’re not the superheroes-but we’re part of a much bigger story than we ever could have dreamed” (pp. 108-109).

Personal implication: It’s not about me. Never was. Never will be.

This post has gotten lengthy. To wrap it up, I ask for your prayers for me and our church leadership as we consider these kinds of challenging thoughts in our missions and outreach strategies. We want to partner in ways that are pleasing to God and that richly benefit his Kingdom. We want to participate in short-term missions opportunities that aren’t about making us feel good, but that are advancing the power of the gospel.

I challenge you, too, to be praying about your investment. What may God ask you to do to advance the message and transformative power of the gospel both at home and abroad?

I’m looking forward to the journey together!

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

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