Editor’s Note: Michael Kelshaw is the Head Minister at Trinity at the Marketplace, Albuquerque, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Mark Dever’s message from Friday evening at Clarus, February 24, “Hypocrisy,” from Romans 2.
Tonight Mark Dever showed the great dangers of hypocrisy from Romans 2. In Chapter 1 we see that Paul pursues open depravity—the clearly immoral. In Romans 2, Paul goes on to pursue hidden depravity—those who appear moral but in reality are not. He exposes their hypocrisy all the way through the chapter. This passage reveals our guilt and our need for grace by showing us that hypocrisy is inexcusable, pointless, and blasphemous.
- Hypocrisy is inexcusable. Dever explained how Paul goes at self-confidence by addressing those who would condemn others for their sin and then do the very same things themselves. Paul shows how the judgment of God is upon such people. The reality is that hypocrites are just calling for God’s judgment on themselves. Every time they are criticizing someone else they are simply giving God one more piece of evidence that they know full well how they should live and are piling up the evidence against themselves. So the person that does not repent and trust in Jesus alone remains under the right and righteous judgment of God. There is no excuse for hypocrisy because the judgment of God rightly falls on people who practice such things.
- Hypocrisy is pointless. Hypocrisy is pointless because God will judge according to deeds anyway. God’s judgment is according to what a person has done, and it will be righteous and seen as such. Ethnicity will not shield anyone from God’s judgment; He does not show favoritism and His judgment is impartial. Hypocrisy is a pointless illusion because God will judge men’s secrets through Christ and all will be revealed in the end. Hypocrisy will not shield anyone from the Lord’s righteous and impartial judgment. Christ is the only hope of salvation for sinners like you and me.
- Hypocrisy is blasphemous. Dever explained how the circumcised lawbreaker—the one who is Jewish in name only—stands condemned as breaking the third commandment. Men such as these had taken God’s name publicly upon themselves and then lived contrary to it. So do we, when we bear Christ’s name and then act in contradiction to His commands. Those who do so blaspheme God’s Name. They misrepresent God’s name to the world. Hypocrisy is blasphemous and a misrepresentation of God, and it will not vindicate you on the last day.
Dever concluded that hypocrisy will not save us. Paul assaults shallow self-righteousness and shows us that our hypocrisy actually exposes our need for Christ. Everything that we would trust in other than Jesus has been burnt to the ground, and it calls us to repent of our sin and trust in the sinless Savior. The good news is that a person is only ever justified by faith in Jesus, so rely on Him alone!
Editor’s Note: Grant Blankenship is the Preaching Elder at Cedar Springs Church, Cedar Crest, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of Greg Gilbert’s message from Friday evening at Clarus, February 24, “Unashamed,” from Romans 1:16–17.
Greg Gilbert opened our conference with three reasons we can have unshakeable confidence in the gospel:
- Because it has massive power. Paul does not say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because its message is very powerful,” but rather because it is the power that saves! The same power that resurrected Jesus from the grave is the same power that brought dead souls to life and is at work in others to bring them to life as well. Gilbert challenged us to, “Stand back for a minute in a little bit of amazement that you are a believer at all… The same word of God that was powerful enough to bring the universe into existence, brought you from death to life.” You don’t have to be ashamed to talk to others about this Good News because this message is backed up by the massive power of the God of the universe. We don’t find confidence to share the gospel because of our ability to persuade and convince people, but rather in the Spirit’s power to bring about life.
- Because it offers an awesome gift. The righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith. The gift of salvation is a gift based entirely on faith. It “begins and ends with faith; it is faith from top to bottom.” Martin Luther called this an “alien righteousness” because it comes from outside of us. The problem for humans is not just the absence of good works, but the presence of sin. We cannot blot out those sins no matter how hard we try to cover them with good works. The heart of the gospel is that we cannot save ourselves, and yet we need to be declared righteous by the Holy Judge of the universe. It is only through “The Great Exchange,” as Luther called it, that we can be saved. Jesus’ righteousness is given to us, and in exchange the wrath we deserved was poured out on the Son, satisfying the requirements of our Holy Judge.
- Because it is a wide open invitation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most universal invitation in the world. But it’s an invitation, so it must be accepted. You must come to the source of living water if you want it. This awesome gift is not found with any other god. It is only available in Jesus Christ.
Clarus ’17 is this weekend!
From February 24–26 we’ll be joined by Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert who will address our conference theme, Romans and the Reformation. Click here to read about this year’s speakers and conference theme.
We’ve been working with the speakers over the last few months to give shape to the conference. Here’s an outline of talk titles and texts we’ll soak in together.
Friday Night, February 24
- Session 1: Greg Gilbert, “Unashamed” —Romans 1:16–17
- Session 2: Mark Dever, “Hypocrisy” —Romans 2
Saturday Morning, February 25
- Session 3: Greg Gilbert, “Faith” —Romans 4:18-22
- Session 4: Mark Dever, “Conflict” —Romans 6
Saturday Afternoon, February 25
- Session 5: Greg Gilbert, “Salvation” —Romans 8:31-39
- Session 6: Mark Dever, “Election” —Romans 9
- Session 7: Panel Discussion with Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert
Sunday Morning, February 26
- Session 8: Corporate Worship with Mark Dever, “Worship” —Romans 12
For specific session times, see the Conference Schedule.
If you haven’t watched it yet, here’s the invitation video for Clarus ’17.
The original title for this post was, “Reading the Bible in 2071.” I mistyped the date. But then, that’s actually how some of us might approach Bible reading. It’s something we’ll get to later. A reading plan can help with this procrastination.
Remember Jesus’ words, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). He was talking about himself! You don’t need to read the Bible in a year, but in 2017 you can certainly read the Bible regularly if you haven’t. The New Year is a great opportunity to decide how you’ll do that.
If you’re looking for a Bible Reading plan, here’s Justin Taylor’s post from last year: “Reading the Whole Bible in 2016.” If you’re looking for more of a pattern for ongoing reading rather than a plan to read the Bible in a year, here’s a simple plan by Drew Hunter summarized in his recent Tweet: “No check-box, no guilt, Bible-reading plan: two Old Testament, two New Testament chapters per day. Finish a book, pick another.” It just might be for you.
While a read through Justin’s post should surface a good plan for you, here are a few plans to consider:
- Chronological Reading Plan: Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible, by George Guthrie is a unique resource. This Bible is published with a one year daily reading plan in mind, ordering the Biblical material chronologically along the Bible’s own narrative framework and includes a reading plan. George Guthrie has also published a one year chronological Bible reading plan, Read the Bible for Life.
- The M’Cheyne Plan with Daily Devotional Commentary: For the Love of God is a two volume series of books written by D.A. Carson providing daily reading to supplement the M’Cheyne reading plan. This plan, named after its designer and Scottish minister in the 1800′s, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, takes you through the Old Testament once and the Psalms and New Testament twice in one year.
- Several Places A Day: Crossway’s Daily Bible Reading Plan is available as a PDF form to print out as a series of bookmarks. This plan gets you through the Bible in a year, reading from several different places in the Bible each day. Crossway has published 10 reading plans to supplement the ESV, including RSS, email, audio, and print versions daily. Also, the Discipleship Journal “Bible Reading Plan,” by NavPress, takes you through the entire Bible by reading from four different places each day.
- Just a List of Chapters: The Bible Reading Record, by Don Whitney, is a simple list of every chapter in the Bible. With this, you can read at whatever pace you like and keep track of what you’ve read until you’re through the Bible. This, of course, wouldn’t necessarily be a one year plan, but it could be. To get through the Bible’s 1089 chapters in a year, you need to read an average of 3.25 chapters a day, which comes out to about four chapters per day if you commit to reading five days each week.
- A Plan for Following God’s Redemption Plan: The Bible Eater is a simple one-page print out with a list of every chapter in the Bible of you to read on a certain rhythm and check off as you go. This plan highlights the Bible’s chapters that are especially significant for grasping the Bible’s storyline centered in Christ.
If the Bible is new to you, or if you haven’t personally invested in knowing the Scriptures through regular reading, listen to Ryan’s sermon on Psalm 1, “If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life….” And if you need some help reflecting on some of the spiritual dynamics involved in our struggle to read the Bible, check our Ryan Kelly’s article, “How’s Your Bible Reading Going?.” Finally, for a list of helps in understanding the Bible as you read it, check out the previous DSC post, “Help for Understanding the Bible.”
If you’re reading the Bible, you can’t get away from it: light is everywhere.
The Bible opens with creation when God turns on the lights with the words, “let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). The Bible ends in a world without a sun, “for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb (Rev. 21:23). In between is a story about light and darkness. When God promised a Messiah, he said, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Isa. 9:2). Israel walked in darkness instead of the light, but this Messiah would be a “light to the nations” (Isa. 49:6). Speaking of the salvation of his people, Isaiah wrote these climactic words: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” (Isa. 60:1). And, today, what God did in creation he is doing in our hearts: “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus, the light of the world, shines on us and through us to the world (Jn. 8:12; Mt. 5:14).
From December 18 through the month of January we’re going to work through a series of sermons on the biblical theme of light. Ryan and Trent will tag-team on this series. Here’s where we’re going:
- December 18: Genesis 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 4:4–6
- December 24: John 1:4–9
- December 25: Light in the book of Isaiah
- January 1: 2 Corinthians 3:12–18
- January 8: Ephesians 5:8–14
- January 15: 1 John 1:1–10
- January 22: Matthew 5:14–16
- January 29: revelation 21–22
That’s the plan, though we may fiddle with it a bit.
Invite your friends to a service this Christmas season. Remember that we have two services on Christmas Eve—4PM and 6PM. Join us at 6PM if you’re able to free up space at the more heavily attended 4PM service. Then, on Christmas Day, we’re looking forward to one full single service at 10AM.
This is the second in a two-part interview with Josiah B., DSC’s new Minister of Local and Global Missions. In Part 1 we learned a bit about Josiah’s background and how he met Janice. Here in Part 2 we’ll learn a bit about Josiah’s approach to evangelism and missions, as well as some of the larger influences on Josiah’s life.
In Part 2 we’ll focus here on some questions about evangelism. Let’s start where we must: what is the gospel?
The Gospel is the Good News that although we were undeserving hell-bound sinners, God loved us and sent His Son to live the life we should have lived and die the death we should have died. This God-man was buried and rose again on the third day, promising eternal life and the forgiveness of sins to all who turn away from their sin and trust in Him alone for their salvation.
In your daily life, in what ways are you cultivating evangelistic opportunities? How have you helped others to do the same?
We invest in our neighbors by taking time to linger and have conversations about life with them, pray with them, show them hospitality. Because I spend a lot of time with students, and they bring a lot of unchurched friends to church with them, I also have the opportunity to build relationships with those students who do not know Christ. I then model evangelism for the students I am discipling by taking them alongside with me as I intentionally have conversations with those lost students. I also try to use the same vendors and build relationships with outsiders in that way. For example, our church in Oklahoma hosts events to attract local kids and families to the church, and my responsibility is often ordering a bounce house. I gladly use this as an opportunity to call a local Jordanian man who happens to rent this type of equipment. He brings the equipment and comes to collect it afterward. Each time he comes, he stays and lingers with me, and we have long conversations. He often asks me questions that give me straight-foward opportunities to share with him the reason for my hope in Christ. It is sometimes hard for those of us who spend the majority of our time in a church building to have meaningful relationships with the lost world, but I have found that if I am strategic and go to the same people each time, then I can build relationships with them and get more opportunities to share the gospel.
What are the two best books you’ve read on evangelism and why?
My perspective on evangelism was really changed through reading both Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles and The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever. First, Stiles showed the value of building an evangelistic culture within the church. Many Christians want to leave evangelism to vocational ministers, or to justify big productions as their sole means of participating in the Great Commission. However, with a biblical approach, the entire church is involved in this Great Commission. The second book by Dever realigned my evangelism strategies. He argues that while apologetics, feeding the poor, inviting people to church, etc. are all good and necessary things, they are not evangelism. When we do these things, we might be tempted to pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done, but Dever reminds the reader that if the gospel is not shared, evangelism has not taken place. This book is a kick in the pants to believers to go and evangelize!
How would you shepherd the person who says, “I don’t really think sharing the gospel is for me. Other people are good at that but I seem to struggle”?
I would encourage a person to re-evaluate how they define success in evangelism. Since we know that ultimately we cannot change hearts (that’s God’s job!), we need to take the emphasis off of the response of the individual, and instead be more concerned with being faithful to what Christ has commanded us. The Great Commission is for all believers, not just for those who are the most persuasive or articulate. Also, for the person who is struggling, I would say that evangelism is like any other discipline in that it requires some practice to feel more natural. Just like I must discipline myself to read God’s Word even in seasons when I don’t “feel like it,” I must also practice the discipline of evangelism, even if it does feel a little awkward at first, because in time it does get easier and feels more natural. If someone is eager to share but has never done so before and is nervous about it, I like to encourage them to practice sharing the gospel with a loved one. There’s no pressure, and once the message of the gospel comes out of our own lips a few times, we’ll find that we are better prepared in a more spontaneous situation where we might feel nervous. God is faithful. He empowers us by his Spirit. We just need to be obedient, and by His grace, He’ll help us.
Now, for some general influences on your life. What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?
I would say I’m very fond of the book of James. Growing up in the Bible Belt, many people talk a lot about faith, but you won’t hear so much talk about works. There’s a lot of talk about blessings that are often material in nature and the good things God has stored up for a person, but you won’t hear a lot of acknowledgments about how God’s good will might actually involve trial and suffering in a person’s life. Since being a teenager, the book of James has always been an encouragement to me to put on good works through faith. We are saved by faith alone, but faith is never alone. I think this message is especially important for a culture swept away with “easy believism” thinking that having warm fuzzies in their heart at one time in the past and saying a prayer equates having a saving faith in Christ. I am also so encouraged to read James’ admonishment that we can embrace the trials that God allows in our life with joy, trusting that our faith will be refined in our suffering and that He will be brought glory.
What book or author has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?
It was upon reading The Pleasures of God by John Piper that I first felt a desire to go overseas in order to preach the Gospel to those that do not have access to it. In this delightful book Piper describes the transcendence and magnificent beauty of God, and he calls readers to persuade others to delight in a God who is worthy of all of our praise. Through this book the Lord stirred up in me a desire to see others delight in God unto His glory. This book ultimately persuaded me to change my M. Div. focus from pastoral ministry to international church planting.
Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard?
The most influential sermon I’ve heard would have been from my pastor when I was a young child. I don’t remember all of the specifics, but he did spend some time talking about hell. At the time I realized that I was separated from God and didn’t have a right relationship with Him. This led me to later talk to my dad, and after hearing the Good News that Jesus died for sinners like me, I repented of my sins and trusted in Jesus and my Lord and my Savior.
How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?
I enjoy cooking, baking bread, and roasting coffee.
Okay, now a few left fielders. What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?
I was probably around 5 years old, and my brother would have been about 9. He had a fundraiser for school, and my mom showed her loving support by buying a chocolate bunny. She hid it up high in a cabinet, not knowing that someone had been watching! Being the cunning five-year-old I was, I got up in the middle of the night, climbed up high, reached into the cabinet, and procured my prize. I crept through the hallway, slipped into the bathroom, and quietly enjoyed my midnight snack in solitude. When I was finished eating the entire chocolate bunny, I responsibly placed the wrapper inside the trashcan (I wasn’t a barbarian, after all!) for my mother to subsequently find the next day. The dumbest thing about this story? A couple years later my brother got a chocolate snowman, and it disappeared and was disposed of in the very same way.
Any odd talents that we should know about up front?
After years of working in student ministry, I have developed a stare that can make a middle school boy reconsider his actions.
What’s your favorite animal, and why?
Cows, because they are delicious.
Without going to the internet, do you know what a Lobo is? An Isotope? Carne Adovada?
A Lobo is a wolf and the mascot for the University of New Mexico. The Isotopes, if I am not mistaken, are a minor league baseball team. (This came up in my interview!) Carne Adovada is a meat dish. I don’t know what that last word is, but it’s obviously meat.
And, for one last question, red or green?
On a Sunday in August we introduced you to Josiah B., a man we were considering for Minister of Local and Global Missions. More recently we announced that we invited Josiah to come and that he accepted. Well, he’s here!
Josiah is on site and starting to get acquainted with our history and plans for missions. What a task that is! He’s excited and so are we. Janice and his children are still in Oklahoma but hope to be here soon.
Josiah is busy getting acquainted with the history, specifics, and relationships for missions at DSC. He was kind in this transition to take some time to answer some questions for us. In Part 1 we’ll learn a bit about Josiah’s background and family. In Part 2 we’ll learn about some of the more profound influences in his life.
We’re so glad to have you here. Thanks for doing this interview with us. How are Janice and the kids?
Thank you for asking. They are really excited to be coming to DSC and we’re all praying the house sells quickly so they can move to ABQ soon! Our youngest two, Juliet and Blaise, are doing great. We’d ask for your prayers for Janice and for our oldest, Charlotte. Janice has been struggling with a new diagnosis of a rare disease called Alpha-Gal Syndrome, which is thought to be due to a tick bite. It involves a severe allergy to all red meat (=mammal) products, and because by-products are hidden and unlabeled in so many foods (even salt and sugar and enriched flour!) it’s been a struggle to avoid reactions, and lately she’s been very sick. As for Charlotte, it was recently concluded after many tests that she has a stress fracture in her lower spine due to an accident this summer and will need to wear a back brace for at least three months. The doctor said there is a chance she may never fully heal, so we are asking for prayers that the Lord would intervene if it His will and use this trial in her life for His glory.
You’ve been in ministry for about ten years now. Tell us, briefly, where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing.
Yes, I have been in ministry since college, but that wasn’t originally my plan. In college I was studying accounting, and I desired to go work for the FBI. During one of my classes I met an international student, and I desired to share the gospel with her, but I had no idea how to do that cross-culturally. So I went to the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and asked the director for advice. As a result I became very involved with their international student ministry. I enjoyed it so much I then asked the director how I could become an assistant. Upon his advice, I applied to work as a missionary with the North American Mission Board serving as a college ministry intern, working with both locals and international students on the island of Maui.
After my 8 months in Hawaii, I made a “quick stop” that Fall back in Oklahoma to see family before moving to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Forth Worth, TX. It was during these brief weeks in Oklahoma that I met Janice, and since I moved to TX, we began a long-distance relationship. The following Spring, I moved back to Oklahoma, continued seminary at an extension campus, and asked her to be my bride.
That Summer we were married and moved to South Korea a week after the wedding. We taught English together for one year at a secular school. We both had a burning desire for missions, so we decided to do bi-vocational ministry overseas. After a few months living in Korea we starting meeting expatriates that also were learning how to adjust to life in Korea. We were able to teach them the ins and outs of living as an expat and in the process we invited them to our home Bible study. During this time, we saw one man come to Christ and a Bible study turn into a small church but I also realized that I needed to continue my education in order to be a better missionary. So when our term ended we moved to Texas so I could finish my seminary education. While I was finishing seminary I also served as a Youth and Associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Venus, TX. I completed the in-country portion of my International Church-Planting M. Div. degree in Texas while we had two children, and to complete my studies we moved overseas with the International Mission Board to serve Central Asian peoples living in Germany.
We spent two years in Germany studying both German and Turkish. We met weekly with German believers to disciple and equip them in the work of reaching their Muslim neighbors alongside us, and we also met weekly with a small congregation of Muslim-background believers to encourage them in their pursuit of Christ and in their efforts to reach their neighbors as well. We saw God do some really amazing things. We were allowed to share our faith so frequently and freely. For the first time we found ourselves being the only Christian in many different people’s lives. It was a really blessed time and made us all-the-more-passionate about spreading His glory among the nations!
After our two years in Germany, the “plan” was to become career missionaries, but the Lord had other plans. Due to budget cuts we were not allowed to stay on the field. After having traveled the world, the Lord surprised us by moving us back to our home state of Oklahoma where I have served as a Pastor to Youth and College Students for the past two years. We’ve been so blessed to be near family after having lived abroad for so long, and we’ve had such a great group of students to pour into. The people at our church in Tulsa have loved us well.
But ultimately, that passion for spreading God’s fame globally has stayed alive in our hearts, and while we are grateful for our time in Oklahoma, we took this position because it allows me to participate in the mission work of equipping and sending and going. We are thrilled that God has given us the opportunity to join this like-minded body of believers at DSC and participate with you in the Great Commission.
We had a chance to meet Janice during your visit with us in May. We admired how well you two interacted and cared for one another. I know the story of how you met Janice and how you entered the mission field are mingled. Tell us the story of meeting Janice and heading to the mission field merged.
As I mentioned before, I began doing international student ministry in college with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. Janice was also doing international student ministry on the same university campus; however, she was doing it through her local church, and so our paths never crossed until I heard about how successful her church’s outreach to international students was, and I decided to go check it out. They were hosting weekly Bible studies in the home of an older married couple. Janice and I were so focused on talking to international students that we almost didn’t talk to each other, but at the last minute I came over to her, started a conversation about why we loved international student ministry, and eventually parted ways. Janice thought we would never see each other again because I was moving to Texas. I ended up pursuing a relationship with her anyway! We quickly bonded over our love for Christ and over our passion for sharing His Good News with those who have never heard. Our first date sounded more like a strategy session of asking how committed we were to obeying the Great Commission, and where we wanted to serve. Just 11 months after that first meeting we were married, and immediately set off to go do cross-cultural ministry in Korea. Our relationship began with cross-cultural ministry, and it has really been a defining and unifying passion throughout our entire marriage.
How did you first find out about DSC and what resonated most with you in learning about our church?
I first found out about DSC when I was searching through The Gospel Coalition’s job board. I read the description of your church, of what you were looking for in a missions minister, and I was extremely excited. I quickly sent you my resume. We promptly found your church’s blog and website, began listening to your sermons, and found you guys to be very thoughtful and like-minded in your theology. We were blessed by your devotion to Scripture as your authority and your desire to see Christ prized by all peoples. We longed to be a part of a church that shared our values. As we had already for years been following The Gospel Coalition’s website, we felt a kinship with you. Having the opportunity to meet you all in person and worship with you at DSC, our hearts rejoiced to confirm what we already knew!
The cultures in Oklahoma and Albuquerque are quite different. Why was Albuquerque appealing to you?
Yes, Albuquerque is quite different from “Green Country” (that’s the nickname for the Tulsa area where we’re moving from). We desired to move west of Oklahoma and out of the Bible Belt in order to be able to make a greater impact on lostness. Two summers ago I visited Santa Fe on a mission trip with my youth ministry where we did backyard Bible clubs. It didn’t take long for me to see the lack of biblical literacy present in New Mexico compared to Oklahoma, and as we’ve taken the time to study some general demographics, our hearts were tugged to go somewhere where there is less access to the gospel.
You’re coming to us from Oklahoma where you’re doing youth ministry. You have a background in missions. Why are you seeking a role in mobilization instead of going to the field?
Though our hearts are eagerly willing to uproot our lives and children and go to the ends of the earth to spread His Good News, the Lord has simply not allowed that for us at this time. Janice’s health problems have become too complicated to live overseas for the foreseeable future. We recognize that this is a limitation that God has allowed for His reasons, although mysterious to us at times, and we are at peace with that. We feel like God has allowed this opportunity to fulfill our heart’s desire to be more actively involved in mission work without needing to physically move overseas. I am hopeful that my past experiences living overseas will help me to serve DSC and love your workers who are living abroad. I am very excited about the opportunity to not only go myself, but to mobilize others as well.
From your experience, what was hardest part of being on the mission field? What was the greatest part?
The hardest part of living on the mission field for me was language. Learning language is hard. Speaking in a language that is not your mother tongue can be taxing on the brain, and sometimes you just want a break, but you may not get a break until you get home and the only person you can really, truly communicate with is your wife. It felt at times as though we were living on an island. We went to German church each week, but we weren’t actually able to comprehend and be encouraged by sermons until far into our stay there. That’s probably the other side of that difficulty. The lack of Christian community can be really hard. We had to listen to sermons online. It was rare to be able to sing praises with other believers in our mother tongue.
The greatest part was being able to share the gospel with people who had never heard it before. We had a friend we connected with, and the only contact he had previously had with Christianity was what he had learned in his Muslim school. Janice had a whole group of North African ladies who asked her to teach them what Christians believe, because they had always been so curious, but they had never personally known a Christian who would be willing to share with them.
You’ve completed a Master’s of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tell us about that degree and how it will help you in your role here.
I completed a Master’s of Divinity with an emphasis in International Church Planting. I chose this degree because I was able to get the full benefit of a Master’s of Divinity in learning how to better interpret the Word of God so that I can faithfully preach the text. Yet I was also able to study missiology and learn how to plant churches in a cross-cultural setting. I was blessed to study under professors who had not only previously served as missionaries, but also as directors and mobilizers for hundreds of missionaries. I believe that my knowledge and experience gained in this program will allow me to better equip the church body to not only support our church planters but to also personally participate in the great commission.