Archive for the 'Evangelism' Category

The Playground in Spring

(Some of my mom friends on the playground last spring)

Moving to this northern Russian city where the winter is so long and dark makes the coming of spring with it’s warmth quite thrilling. And it is not only the sun that brings this warmth, but the fact that the people who have lived all winter long closed in their cold communist cement block apartments begin emerging to stroll leisurely down the streets once more. Smiles and conversation begin blossoming in place of cold and brisk sidewalk passings.

Not only does the winter here starve us of sunlight, but it starves us of day-to-day community in many ways. As the ground and interactions warm, I am excited about the relational possibilities that spring will bring with it.

Once spring arrives, we resume our daily walks to the playground along with the many moms and little kids who live in our giant apartment complex. I see women and their children who have been living just yards up, down, or sideways from us, for the first time in months. New babies have been born, children have grown and moms have grown eager to relate to one another once again.

As I look forward to long mornings outside with my kids at the playground, I am also looking forward to the opportunity for relationship that is coming. Part of this eagerness is for my own desires for community and friendship, but another part is the great opportunity that this brings as I look to reach out to the women around me with the gospel and love of Christ. No matter where you go in the world, moms with little ones are eager to relate about the joys and challenges of motherhood. I have yet to meet a mom who feels like she has it all figured out. What a natural and great opportunity to share about the guidance, love, and wisdom that God provides to those who look to Him. Mothering little ones takes every single one of us to the end of ourselves. The question is when we reach that end, where do we look next? This stage of life, no matter where we are in the world, is such a unique time for ministry!

A good friend and leader here in our ministry recently was sharing with me how as her kids have gotten older it has become a bit harder to forge friendships and relationships with other moms in the community. People grow busier, kids start going out to play on their own while moms stay at home, and perhaps women even become a bit more set in their parenting ways and look less often for guidance. Hearing her share some such things made me all the more eager to take hold of this time with little ones and to pray that God will both allow me to make use of this time when it is natural to interact with so many moms on a daily basis, but also to pray that He will begin friendships and opportunities for influence that will last into those years when we no longer meet each morning around the sandbox.

Perhaps the contrast of literal seasons is a bit more profound where I am than where you are, but I am thrilled about this new time of friendship and ministry opportunity and wanted to encourage you moms of little ones as well to purposefully take hold of this unique season of life for the glory of God. Many times it can feel like this is such a difficult time to do any sort of “real” ministry, but I think in many ways we can structure our lives with our children in ways that will give us perhaps a greater influence than many other seasons. Young moms, let’s pray and be intentional with this season that we are blessed to find ourselves in!

Where do the moms in your community gather with their little ones? Are there any daily life routines in your host culture (or home culture if you’re in the US) that you might be able to take part in for the sake of growing relationships with the women in your community? Do you have any exciting or encouraging stories on this topic that you’d have a moment to share with us?

(Post by: Ashley)


Fitting in While Standing Out

Here are two very popular verses that Christians often talk about when it comes to living as believers in a world where many do not believe.

Paul encourages us to engage in the culture for the sake of the gospel as he says:

“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”  1 Corinthians 9:22b-23

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy finding common ground and I like  finding ways to fit in and be accepted.  I like the idea that the gospel is often better received when we can present it in a way that is culturally relevant. I love that it IS relevant to every person and culture! I really enjoy the practical applications of this verse that allow me to learn and engage in a culture and try to become more like those around me for the sake of the gospel.

…But there are also these very important words from Jesus in his prayer for believers in John 17 and other verses like it that speak to another aspect of how we are to live as believers in this world:

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” – John 17:14-16

This one is much harder for me. Some people find it easy to be bold, are ok with standing out, and are less afraid of other people’s opinions, but I really like fitting in and the idea of being disapproved of or even hated for my beliefs is something that honestly is very difficult for me. God has spoken clearly in His word though, and when we commit ourselves to following Christ, we are accepting the fact that we will be hated for it in one way or another. Of course we don’t aim to be hated, but we should never compromise truth or living in the way that Christ has laid out, merely for the sake of fitting in.

As you live your life for the sake of the gospel, how do these two truths affect you? Do you struggle at all to balance fitting in while standing out? In what ways have you been able to “become all things” in the culture in which you live? Have you experienced being “hated by the world” for your faith in Christ?

(Post by: Ashley)

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