Pray For Saeed

It’s Switch-up week here, with Mission Monday coming on a Wednesday. You can thank April Fool’s Day for that.

But today is serious. There is an American pastor from Boise, Idaho, who is unjustly imprisoned in Iran. His name is Saeed Abidini. He was in Iran helping to establish orphanages when he was arrested and charged with trying to convert Muslims. Saeed was once a Muslim, and the case was charged because of this. He escaped the death penalty, but he has a long sentence in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons.

Saeed with his children

Many people have rallied to his cause. There is a website called Save Saeed that is the focal point. He has been featured on the national radio network Air1. The ACLJ is fighting for him, and you can sign a petition on his behalf here. Secretary of State John Kerry has made personal appeals for his release. It is heartening to see the response on behalf of our brother.

My friend Brian Harrison, a pastor in Boise, wrote a letter this week to friends and supporters about Saeed’s case. Brian writes about a prayer service he participated in on behalf of Saeed:

As we prayed that day I felt like the Lord showed me that there was a tremendous opportunity to begin to pray for Iran and indeed for all Muslims of the world. The reason was that Saeed has written to his family that he forgives his captors. This means that he is blessing those who curse him and in so doing I felt that the Lord showed me that a door of opportunity was being opened through Saeed’s suffering and prayers of forgiveness. If God’s people would concentrate prayer on Iran, I believe that we would see a great move of God in that country and a shift in the political climate. I strongly believe that God intends to move powerfully among the Muslims of the world and prayer is the first step in partnering with God in this endeavor. 

To this end, Brian and his wife Suzanne have committed to praying for Saeed, Iran, and the Muslim world for 50 days starting on April 1st, until the day of Pentecost. I’ve participated in the 30 Days Of Prayer for the Muslim world before that coincides with Ramadan, and it is always a powerful time of intercession. I wanted to get the word out about this vision Brian has and encourage people to join in prayer in this strategic time.

Saeed has a wife and young kids waiting for him in Boise, and we want to see him released, for justice to be done, and for him to be restored to his family. Can we join in prayer and believe for even greater things? To see spiritual freedom come to millions in the Muslim world?

Join me as I join with Brian and Suzanne in this prayer burden for the next 48 days. We can add our prayers with people around the world for all of those in bondage, whether physical or spiritual. Let’s do this saints!

Short Term Missions

I’m a fan. What can I say?
“How about WHAT you’re a fan of,” a random surfer could ask.
Well, random surfer, let me tell you what I like.

I like it when people take a period in their life and dedicate it to the Lord.

It is no secret that I support mission work. Today is Mission Monday if you needed any other hint. I’ve blogged frequently about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-denominational mission organization that I did two training programs with in the 90’s. (Yeah, way back then.)

When I was 18 I attended their Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Lakeside, MT. Even though they have these programs all over, the rustic mountain location was a great place to get away from distractions and spend time with God. We spent three months learning about God, His character and ways, His word, prayer, evangelism, and missions. This time changed my life, from letting me see the depth of the Father’s love for me to His heart for the whole world to come to know Him.

Our school then did a two month outreach in Asia, with my team going to Thailand and the other to Taiwan. Now we put our newfound knowledge and experience to test in the real world. We went to parks and prisons to share about His freedom. We did acts of service and prayed for a demon-possessed man chained to a bare-bones hut in a remote village. We tried to love as best we could. We even played Christian music in a Thai disco on New Year’s Eve

This changed my life forever in so many ways. I not only knew more about Jesus, I had experienced so much of Him. I got away from the small town in Idaho and saw the big, bad world. I learned that we are incredibly blessed in the West, and that there are tremendous needs around the world. Even though I have not been called (so far) to work overseas, my heart has been to shine a light on these needs to people here at home since going.

But this is not the biggest way that my life was changed by a short term mission trip.

My older sister, 15 years older, was often like a second mom to me. She got active in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college. She served a couple of summer outreaches with them, and became dedicated in her walk. At the time our family was not going to church back home. When my sister moved back for a while, she started taking me to the local Southern Baptist church where I got saved and ended up becoming a true disciple in my high school years.
If it weren’t for her influence, and the influence of her short term trip, I may not be standing here today. (And I’m literally standing – I have this cool desk that elevates and…never mind)
This is why I’m an advocate for people to do some kind of trip or service to the Lord where they get away for even just a few months and dedicate it to Him. The rewards are more than you can imagine – IF you let it transform you, and you stay with the Lord.
It isn’t a panacea to all problems. I have had friends who have done these trips and have not continued leaning on God afterwards, and they have had trouble in life. I’ve had my share of trials too, but by trying to stay close to Him, I have by His grace weathered every one so far.
YWAM is awesome, but it is not necessarily for everyone. There are many ways Christians could partake in the type of experience I am talking about today. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a similar opportunity if possible.
It may just change someone’s life. Not just your own.

Short Term Missions

I’m a fan. What can I say?
“How about WHAT you’re a fan of,” a random surfer could ask.
Well, random surfer, let me tell you what I like.

I like it when people take a period in their life and dedicate it to the Lord.

It is no secret that I support mission work. Today is Mission Monday if you needed any other hint. I’ve blogged frequently about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-denominational mission organization that I did two training programs with in the 90’s. (Yeah, way back then.)

When I was 18 I attended their Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Lakeside, MT. Even though they have these programs all over, the rustic mountain location was a great place to get away from distractions and spend time with God. We spent three months learning about God, His character and ways, His word, prayer, evangelism, and missions. This time changed my life, from letting me see the depth of the Father’s love for me to His heart for the whole world to come to know Him.

Our school then did a two month outreach in Asia, with my team going to Thailand and the other to Taiwan. Now we put our newfound knowledge and experience to test in the real world. We went to parks and prisons to share about His freedom. We did acts of service and prayed for a demon-possessed man chained to a bare-bones hut in a remote village. We tried to love as best we could. We even played Christian music in a Thai disco on New Year’s Eve

This changed my life forever in so many ways. I not only knew more about Jesus, I had experienced so much of Him. I got away from the small town in Idaho and saw the big, bad world. I learned that we are incredibly blessed in the West, and that there are tremendous needs around the world. Even though I have not been called (so far) to work overseas, my heart has been to shine a light on these needs to people here at home since going.

But this is not the biggest way that my life was changed by a short term mission trip.

My older sister, 15 years older, was often like a second mom to me. She got active in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college. She served a couple of summer outreaches with them, and became dedicated in her walk. At the time our family was not going to church back home. When my sister moved back for a while, she started taking me to the local Southern Baptist church where I got saved and ended up becoming a true disciple in my high school years.
If it weren’t for her influence, and the influence of her short term trip, I may not be standing here today. (And I’m literally standing – I have this cool desk that elevates and…never mind)
This is why I’m an advocate for people to do some kind of trip or service to the Lord where they get away for even just a few months and dedicate it to Him. The rewards are more than you can imagine – IF you let it transform you, and you stay with the Lord.
It isn’t a panacea to all problems. I have had friends who have done these trips and have not continued leaning on God afterwards, and they have had trouble in life. I’ve had my share of trials too, but by trying to stay close to Him, I have by His grace weathered every one so far.
YWAM is awesome, but it is not necessarily for everyone. There are many ways Christians could partake in the type of experience I am talking about today. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a similar opportunity if possible.
It may just change someone’s life. Not just your own.

Culinary Missions

I like hanging out with missionaries.

I admire anyone who puts their life on the line for what they believe. Now, they may not be risking life and limb directly, but the temptation to live the typical American (or Western) life is so great that they are making a distinct sacrifice. It encourages and enlivens me in my walk with the Lord.

Now, before this post gets off on high and lofty ideals, let me change directions.

Missionary stories inevitably end up talking about food.

There is a wide world out there, and there are so many foods throughout the world that every person with cross-cultural experience eventually has a food story.

These are some of the most entertaining stories you will hear.

They usually deal with some outrageous culinary item that a Westerner can’t fathom eating. The classic story involves balut, a fertilized duck or chicken egg that has been left in the sun for several days before serving. It is common in the Philippines especially, but I haven’t had the honor.

This will probably be the grossest picture ever on this blog

I spent two months in Thailand, so we did have our share of food adventures. The street vendors made wonderful fresh smoothies, but we could only drink them if we ordered them mai sik glua, “no salt”. They packed them with so much salt it was undrinkable to our taste buds. Why? I don’t know. This was a tame one, to be sure.

Australia promised to be calmer, despite the reputation of Vegemite. But I made some Filipino friends there, and those sneaky guys got me eating fermented shrimp eggs. Bagoong if you’re curious.

My mission experience was all with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), and if you get some YWAMers together, we will eventually come around to the various horrendous/unbelievable/crazy foods we encountered. Usually during dinner. Non-YWAMers in the group didn’t finish their meals, typically.

It is fun to talk about it, but it does come back to humility and laying down our rights. When we are willing to accept someone else’s hospitality and try something that doesn’t come naturally to us (some things were most unnatural!), it is a dying to self. Missionaries risk offending the very people they came to serve, so more often than not, it is down the hatch.

So here’s a light-hearted Mission Monday. To all the missionaries who have had to swallow something they never thought should be made into a food product – you are showing in a small way sacrificial love.

And guts.

By the way, that probably was what you were eating…

Culinary Missions

I like hanging out with missionaries.

I admire anyone who puts their life on the line for what they believe. Now, they may not be risking life and limb directly, but the temptation to live the typical American (or Western) life is so great that they are making a distinct sacrifice. It encourages and enlivens me in my walk with the Lord.

Now, before this post gets off on high and lofty ideals, let me change directions.

Missionary stories inevitably end up talking about food.

There is a wide world out there, and there are so many foods throughout the world that every person with cross-cultural experience eventually has a food story.

These are some of the most entertaining stories you will hear.

They usually deal with some outrageous culinary item that a Westerner can’t fathom eating. The classic story involves balut, a fertilized duck or chicken egg that has been left in the sun for several days before serving. It is common in the Philippines especially, but I haven’t had the honor.

This will probably be the grossest picture ever on this blog

I spent two months in Thailand, so we did have our share of food adventures. The street vendors made wonderful fresh smoothies, but we could only drink them if we ordered them mai sik glua, “no salt”. They packed them with so much salt it was undrinkable to our taste buds. Why? I don’t know. This was a tame one, to be sure.

Australia promised to be calmer, despite the reputation of Vegemite. But I made some Filipino friends there, and those sneaky guys got me eating fermented shrimp eggs. Bagoong if you’re curious.

My mission experience was all with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), and if you get some YWAMers together, we will eventually come around to the various horrendous/unbelievable/crazy foods we encountered. Usually during dinner. Non-YWAMers in the group didn’t finish their meals, typically.

It is fun to talk about it, but it does come back to humility and laying down our rights. When we are willing to accept someone else’s hospitality and try something that doesn’t come naturally to us (some things were most unnatural!), it is a dying to self. Missionaries risk offending the very people they came to serve, so more often than not, it is down the hatch.

So here’s a light-hearted Mission Monday. To all the missionaries who have had to swallow something they never thought should be made into a food product – you are showing in a small way sacrificial love.

And guts.

By the way, that probably was what you were eating…

A Missions Challenge

It’s Mission Monday here at Spoiled For The Ordinary.

I’ve just started focusing posts on Mondays toward missions, but I’m anticipating a question/comment that could come up at some point.

“You talk about foreign missions all the time, but what about the need here in the United States?”

Let me state up front that I am a big fan of the missional movement that talks about always being called on mission. Whether I am at work, enjoying the state fair, coaching on the soccer field, or chatting on the internet about my favorite video game, I believe God can use me. My life is my mission, and there’s no off-duty. I want to see people around me know about the glorious freedom of the children of God. I live in an area of the United States that has a desperate need for evangelism. I don’t diminish this fact.

Still, I know that if half of the people who went to Bible-believing churches in my town fully lived for Jesus, this town could be transformed. (And I am one of these who needs to fully live my life for Jesus – let me challenge myself first!) My feeling has long been that there are enough Christians in this area to do the work needed. There are at least churches here that love Jesus.

The problem is that there are so many places around the world without a Christian witness. My mission trip to Thailand was to an area that had two churches in the city – and the province. Two churches for a population of 150,000 or so. There are nations and people groups who have no reproducing witness of Christ, whether due to lack of freedom or being a hard area to witness.

There are a lot of issues that I can talk about related to this. I know that it is hard for Westerners to be effective missionaries in all areas due to risks, cost, etc., and that it is easier for native missionaries to do work in various regions. Not everyone feels called to go, and I’m generally okay with that (although there’s the old Keith Green saying that the Bible tells us to GO, so we’d better have special leading from the Lord if we’re staying!) However, there is a need for being enlightened about conditions and opportunities in the world.

I will talk about local missions as specifics arise, but my focus is going to be international, because we are abundantly blessed in America. Almost embarrassingly so. We can be so fat from feeding ourselves spiritually, we get lazy and forget to give to others. I’d like to do my little part in changing that.

Hard words for a Monday. What do you think about this? I’m truly interested to hear!

A Missions Challenge

It’s Mission Monday here at Spoiled For The Ordinary.

I’ve just started focusing posts on Mondays toward missions, but I’m anticipating a question/comment that could come up at some point.

“You talk about foreign missions all the time, but what about the need here in the United States?”

Let me state up front that I am a big fan of the missional movement that talks about always being called on mission. Whether I am at work, enjoying the state fair, coaching on the soccer field, or chatting on the internet about my favorite video game, I believe God can use me. My life is my mission, and there’s no off-duty. I want to see people around me know about the glorious freedom of the children of God. I live in an area of the United States that has a desperate need for evangelism. I don’t diminish this fact.

Still, I know that if half of the people who went to Bible-believing churches in my town fully lived for Jesus, this town could be transformed. (And I am one of these who needs to fully live my life for Jesus – let me challenge myself first!) My feeling has long been that there are enough Christians in this area to do the work needed. There are at least churches here that love Jesus.

The problem is that there are so many places around the world without a Christian witness. My mission trip to Thailand was to an area that had two churches in the city – and the province. Two churches for a population of 150,000 or so. There are nations and people groups who have no reproducing witness of Christ, whether due to lack of freedom or being a hard area to witness.

There are a lot of issues that I can talk about related to this. I know that it is hard for Westerners to be effective missionaries in all areas due to risks, cost, etc., and that it is easier for native missionaries to do work in various regions. Not everyone feels called to go, and I’m generally okay with that (although there’s the old Keith Green saying that the Bible tells us to GO, so we’d better have special leading from the Lord if we’re staying!) However, there is a need for being enlightened about conditions and opportunities in the world.

I will talk about local missions as specifics arise, but my focus is going to be international, because we are abundantly blessed in America. Almost embarrassingly so. We can be so fat from feeding ourselves spiritually, we get lazy and forget to give to others. I’d like to do my little part in changing that.

Hard words for a Monday. What do you think about this? I’m truly interested to hear!

A Guide To Prayer

 Many people would like to pray for missions, other countries, and different prayer needs. Where can you find such information?

One tool I know about provides this and a whole lot more.

Youth With A Mission produces a Personal Prayer Diary each year. It comes in a nice day planner with areas for notes, calendars, articles about Kingdom issues, as well as information about every country and specific prayer highlights each month. The diary also has a Bible reading plan that takes one through the Old and New Testaments once and Psalms and Proverbs several times.

The diary also includes an encouragement to pray for the Seven Spheres of Influence that I’ve talked about before. Each day of the week is reserved to lift up concerns regarding Church and Religion, Family, Government and Law, Education, Science/Health/Environment, Business, and Media and the Arts.

I’ve used this for years, although often sporadically. This year I am committed to diligence in praying for the daily topics. I know many people are tied to their electronic devices, but this slim and durable book is a more than a planner – it has the potential to impact the world if people use it to pray for the nations.

Right now they’re only $11.89 at the World Christian store, and I’ve seen it listed on Amazon as well. Check it out if you’d like a simple way to make a difference!

A Guide To Prayer

 Many people would like to pray for missions, other countries, and different prayer needs. Where can you find such information?

One tool I know about provides this and a whole lot more.

Youth With A Mission produces a Personal Prayer Diary each year. It comes in a nice day planner with areas for notes, calendars, articles about Kingdom issues, as well as information about every country and specific prayer highlights each month. The diary also has a Bible reading plan that takes one through the Old and New Testaments once and Psalms and Proverbs several times.

The diary also includes an encouragement to pray for the Seven Spheres of Influence that I’ve talked about before. Each day of the week is reserved to lift up concerns regarding Church and Religion, Family, Government and Law, Education, Science/Health/Environment, Business, and Media and the Arts.

I’ve used this for years, although often sporadically. This year I am committed to diligence in praying for the daily topics. I know many people are tied to their electronic devices, but this slim and durable book is a more than a planner – it has the potential to impact the world if people use it to pray for the nations.

Right now they’re only $11.89 at the World Christian store, and I’ve seen it listed on Amazon as well. Check it out if you’d like a simple way to make a difference!

Book Review – The Book that Transforms Nations

My friends and regular readers of this blog believe that the Bible is a special book.

If we only knew how much…

I recently finished The Book That Transforms Nations, the latest book by Loren Cunningham. He is the founder of Youth With a Mission, and if there’s anyone who is qualified to write this book, it is him. He has ministered in EVERY country on Earth, as well as numerous territories that don’t count as countries but are distinct areas nonetheless (how many of you have been to Pitcairn Island?).

The book has a straightforward structure. The first part of the book explains the problem, especially in the West, of our turning away as a society in general from God’s Word. He then spends a majority of the book describing ways the Bible has been used to transform cultures, from whole countries like Norway and South Korea to Calvin’s Geneva and yes, Pitcairn Island. Third, he describes how what we believe about God affects how we act in life, and shows how exceptions to the rule actually prove his point, with examples such as Japan and Latin America. Finally, he casts a vision on how we can get the Word out there.

We don’t hear stories anymore of the way God has transformed societies. I was impressed by Hans Nielsen Hauge, the Norwegian who skied to much of Norway spreading the Word, and the difference it made in that land. We may know a little about William Carey and his ministry in India, but I didn’t realize the extent of work done there.

Some of this information isn’t all that new. The idea that how we believe about God affects our culture comes admittedly from Francis Schaeffer (and it isn’t necessarily original with him). Loren touches on the various areas of culture that shape it, the Seven Spheres of Influence, which I have blogged about (after learning them from YWAM). There could be more practical information about how to do what the book is trying to promote: getting the Word out to people and let it transform hearts.

Still, Loren (and his sister Janice Rogers, who has written other books with him) has an easy style to read, and he excels at getting the reader excited about the proposition in the book. I finished and was immediately ready to start tossing Bibles on co-workers’ desks (however, I believe I would better serve the Lord by staying employed for a longer term basis).

What really challenged me was page 198, where he talks about how easy we have it to finish the job, as previous generations had to hand copy the Bible, and travel by foot or animal to get it anywhere. Modern technology puts reaching the whole world with the gospel as a doable goal in our lifetime! His challenge is that “our willingness to obey the Lord and move out is the only real limitation” (p 198).

I encourage anyone who has a love for Jesus and His Word, and a desire to see our country and the other nations changed to check out this book.