Be Inspired. Be Honest. Be You.

SMC Women's Ministry

Be inspired. Be honest. Be You.

Posts tagged mission work
Questioning Worth

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What questions do you have? I heard this week: -its hard to get answers to questions you don’t have.

One time in my life when I had so many questions is when I came back from 15 months outside of North America. I had questions that rattled my mind about everything. Like why do I have to buy a pack of 4 batteries when I only need 1 battery?

What I’ve been questioning recently- woolly worms! We went to Stone Mountain this past weekend and I saw a posy of woolly worms wiggling across the path. They’re supposed to predict the weather or something? What’s up with that? Is this legit?

But this week I want to highlight a question that I think I find myself suppressing. A few years ago a friend of mine was attending seminary and we were talking through what was going on in her classes. She was telling me about a question one of her professors posed: are you living for something that you would die for?

Gut check.

I want my answer to be yes, Jesus is worth the most and I want my life to depict that. But when pressed, I know I can have the propensity to be like Peter - when questioned, denied Jesus. But I’m thankful Jesus gave Peter grace and other chances because I know I need it.

So I’m thinking about our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and face this question head-on daily and how their powerful testimony sings out their answer. Some friends of ours gave us “the voice of the martys book” a few months ago. Full-disclosure – haven’t cracked it until this week.

As I’ve been reading testimonies of people who remain faithful despite persecution and loss I am moved. It’s as though the strength of their devotion moves the heart of God and jumps off the pages to my heart. A testimony of faithful endurance speaks of eternity, this seemingly foolish devotion speaks of a soul that is truly living for something worth everything.

There is something inside our souls that cannot be stomped out, intimidated, something that no degree of hatred and fear can overpower. It is the very heart of God inside of us, it is our connection to our Jesus, a chord of love that cannot be broken.

I’m provoked to share Cheng Jie’s story. I’ve actually never met her. But she shares some of her story on the voice on the martyrs website. Her story speaks of what she’s living for. Here is some snip-bits of it:

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"Cheng Jie — a young mother, a pastor’s wife, and a former kindergarten director — never anticipated her 2014 arrest. With a husband who was a pastor in China where religion is tightly controlled, she and her husband, Du Hongbo, had prepared for his possible arrest, but never hers. In the end, it was her role as the director of the Hualin Foreign Language Experimental Kindergarten that took her to prison for two years. Chinese authorities charged the school and its administration of “illegal business operations,” due to the use of what the authorities called religious curriculum. The school was closed, and four people associated with it, including Cheng Jie, were arrested.

But God provided her with a copy of His Word another way. Another prisoner had one, and she traded it to Cheng Jie for some other items. Despite the long work hours, Cheng read the Bible faithfully every night and found encouragement in God’s Word. She also taught her cellmates songs, hymns, and Bible stories. Her faith and trustworthiness made her stand out to prison authorities. “God is great! It makes me think of Joseph in the Old Testament. After six months, they let me manage all these cells,” she told us. She was also thankful for a good lawyer who advised her on how to address the charges against her. She pled not guilty; if she had said she was guilty, she may have gotten a longer sentence. She said she often felt anxious, but she learned to trust God for each day during her imprisonment.

Another thing that provided encouragement was all the letters she received containing hymns, Bible verses and encouraging notes from VOM readers using Prisoner Alert. As letters poured in from the United States, she thought, “Really, I can’t go through this, but because of the encouragement from all over the world, it makes my faith strong. That is why I can go through my difficulties.”

Though our circumstances and challenges may be different, we are united by God’s presence. And the same question faces us – are we living for something worth dying for? Jesus’ presence with us in the midst of our suffering and trails is what gives us strength to press on. There are many stories of faithful witnesses we can be encouraged from. Lets draw strength from one another’s victories.

You can read the rest of Cheng’s story here:

Carin Thompson

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Reinvigorate

1215_Reinvigorate-Marketing reinvigorate /ˌriːɪnˈvɪɡəˌreɪt/ verb (transitive) 1. to put vitality and vigour back into (someone or something)

Have you ever just felt…..blah? That has been me this last week of school, baseball, etc., as we transition into summer. I’ve felt run absolutely ragged (can we reinstitute naps after lunch at work?). I’ve need a little extra java in the mornings these last few days, especially. But I have also noticed that I’ve need a little extra pick-me-up in my spiritual life as well. It’s so very easy to get into a rut and, next thing you know, you’re three months down the road and everything feels a little stale. This busy-ness will do it to you.

I do not want to feel that way about God and His good news. As it happens, I could not for the life of me find the word “reinvigorate” in any version of the Bible I looked into. I was hoping to find a magic verse that addresses the stale, blah feeling I’ve had. But, good news! There are words of wisdom that show us how to reinvigorate our faith walk, when we’ve gotten into a rut and out of communion with the Holy One.

A little further digging led me to a great article, written by Josh Nink, titled “5 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Faith Life.” It really hit the nail right on the head and it reads, as follows:

I’ve been there. It happens to the best of us. There have been seasons of my life where my faith life seems drab and routine, or I feel that God is distant. In those times I become overly critical of myself and the world around me, seeing everything for their failures instead of seeing it all from a heavenly perspective.

It in the midst of those times that I begin looking for ways to reinvigorate my faith life. However, A “Renewed a Rejuvenated Faith in God” is not typically something you can just pick up at Target or have happen in a few moments. It often takes a deliberate effort to shake free of the shadows that distract us from God. Here are 5 ways that have worked for me in the past and helped refocus my vision on God.

Read your Bible

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, – 2 Timothy 3:16

I know it sounds like the go-to, “churchy” answer… and it is… but being in the Word regularly, even if only a single verse at a time is immensely powerful when it comes to changing your focus. The bible is the story of God and His people, and what better way to start renewing your relationship with the creator than reading His autobiography?

If this is hard for you, start with just a single verse a day, or use the audio version on your phone’s bible app during your morning commute. Find a way to rearrange your life in order to make time for a bit of God’s word. He will honor that, I promise.

Get out of the boat

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. -Mathew 14:28-29

It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. So if you want to change something about the way you live your faith, you have to get out of your routine. Find a way to step out in faith. Get out of your comfort zone. Rearrange your schedule to allow daily quiet time. Leave earlier for work, so you can stop by that pretty-looking park for a few minutes to pray. Change your routine to reflect your new priorities.

Get plugged in

…encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11 It’s impossible to live the Christian life in isolation. Community is a must. Therefore, get plugged in. Find a small group or Bible study that works with your schedule. Get to know the people that sit around you in church… actually get to know them beyond their names and who is married to who.

Find a small community of Christians who will celebrate with you during your successes, but also encourage you through your failures. We are not supposed to go at this alone.

Get to work

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. – Isaiah 58:10

Find some way to serve others, whether it be volunteering at Mohm’s place, helping the welcome ministry at church, or scrubbing toilets. Serving others forces us to act on behalf of someone else, making us to see them as God sees them. In other words, getting in the habit of serving others changes how we see the world, which also changes how we see God. There is something amazing about seeing God use an imperfect, flawed person like myself to bless someone else. “If God can use ME for THAT, then… wow!” Serving others changes your heart.

Pray

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. … -Jeremiah 33:3

Often our culture treats prayer like a last resort… or a hopeless endeavor. Prayer is far from hopeless or powerless. When you pray, you are speaking with God, himself. You are conversing with one who knows every star and every grain of sand. There is nothing minimal or powerless in that.

In order to maintain a healthy friendship, you have to spend time with your friend. It’s the same with your faith life. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship with God, you have to spend time with Him. So find time to pray. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Find time for regular prayer, even if it means talking to God through the roof of your car on the way to work.

There you go. Here are the things that have helped me rejuvenate my faith life in the past. I have found that if I stick to these, and commit to adding them to my routine, then God meets me in the effort… rather I stop getting distracted and realize he’s been there the whole time.

So, one more cup of coffee under my belt, and I’m going to jump right in with both feet. How about you?

Jessica

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Living On Mission

1 I have always been in amazement of the way the Lord came to this earth, humbled Himself and served His people. This idea has really made me into the person I am by pushing me to ask myself what really matters in this world. It is so easy to get caught up in all the “stuff” and even easier to pass up opportunities to serve God’s kingdom. Even in small ways. And that’s what I wanted to talk about today.

In July (the 12th-19th), I spent a week on a mission trip in Robeson County building wheelchair ramps with First United Methodist- Graham. I was really excited to go- but if I’m being honest with myself and you, I wanted to do more. I wanted to go out of the country and have this life-changing opportunity to serve God and His people. I was so blinded by this desire, that initially I was kind of disappointed. Then God worked His magic on my heart and got me to see the big picture; His picture.

After a week of building wheelchair ramps and seeing the reactions of the people receiving them, that is when the heart change happened. I was right where God wanted me to be. I went into this mission trip thinking I was just building ramps, and left it knowing that building ramps is more than that. It’s a ministry. The work we did allowed people to leave their house for the first time in a while, brought family back together, and improved their overall quality of life. And I realized- I take all of those things for granted in my own life. It’s the little things that we need to be grateful for. And this can only be realized in its purest sense through the reality of God and gratitude for all He has given us.

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When the week was up, we all went home. Sad it was over but so grateful for the experiences we shared. This is typically when mission trips end, but not for us. And that’s just the way God works. In amazing and unbelievable ways. Nearly a month later, on August 8th, there was a need in Mebane for a wheelchair ramp that was expressed and we jumped on the opportunity. This is the timing and working of God and I truly believe that without Him, nothing would have fallen into place as perfectly as it did on that day.

So on that Saturday we met at that house in Mebane, early in the morning, still rubbing our eyes, and we built a ramp. We worked hard knowing that it had to be finished that day. And when we laid the last stone, we all looked at each other knowing we had just been working in the presence of God. When it was finished, the lady we had built it for was able to be released from the hospital after a month of not being able to come home. She cried, we cried, we prayed together and hugged and rejoiced! Because God is so good.

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And there I was, in my hometown, 7 minutes from my own house. And I had just had one of the most rewarding mission experiences of my life. I love when God gets in my face and proves me wrong. I could feel Him saying in that moment, “Told you so.” I didn’t need to go far away at all. I just need to make my love for God stretch further than it had ever stretched before.

Sarah

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