Jacky Lowe woke up in terror. Never before had she experienced a nightmare like this one. She had just returned to Madagascar from a visit to the United States. In this dark Thursday night, deeply disturbed in her spirit, she struggled to find the peace she needed to return to sleep. She got up from her bed and paced her home in prayer for two hours before returning to her bed. She continued to pray to the Lord as she fell back asleep.
Jacky is not the only Christian in her Madagascar community to experience such a disturbing dream this past year. Her fellow SAMS missionary Patsy McGregor has also suffered from a nightmare the first night returning from a trip – on a Thursday as well. This is hardly a coincidence: Jacky and Patsy have received reports that a local group of witch doctors prays against Christians, marriages, and families every Thursday night. “Why would witches pray against marriages?” I asked Patsy. “Because marriages are strong,” she replied. In the words of last week’s New Wineskins for Global Mission Conference theme (September 26-29), God’s people are #BetterTogether.
The Anglican Diocese of Toliara, of which Patsy’s husband, Todd, is the bishop, ordained and commissioned ten leaders on August 25: one priest, three deacons, and six evangelists. With such growth, I am not surprised that the devil is nervous. “Spiritual attack is ongoing on a daily and weekly basis. It’s very heavy,” says Patsy. “We have done a lot of ‘spiritual sweeping’ to get the darkness away. God is stronger and breaking through!”
Here in the West we rarely encounter such obvious spiritual warfare. One could say this is because our senses are dulled by entertainment and comfort, and the devil has an easier time distracting us from God. Whatever the reason, we can respond in two ways to this story.First, we can pray for spiritual protection over Jacky Lowe, Patsy and Todd McGregor, and their community near Toliara on Thursday afternoons Eastern Standard Time (Thursday night in Madagascar). We can pray in Jesus’ name that the witch doctors would be freed from the forces of evil. Second, we can live daily with deeper assurance that the spiritual world is real and the material world is not all there is. St. Paul’s words are true: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12 – 13 NIV)
Are you thinking about mission, but unsure where to start? Where are you to go? How are you to serve? What about all the logistics of traveling to a different country?
The Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders is a missionary sending community. Through building relationships with the worldwide church, SAMS experience the power of God manifesting itself in the broken restored, the wounded healed, the hungry fed, and the lost found, all by the love of Christ. Serving in mission through a sending organization like SAMS-USA is worth considering for several reasons.
What happens if you need assistance, support, or counsel? SAMS is committed to the Great Commandment and values caring for the people with whom God entrusts us. Meeting urgent needs during crises or transition restores and strengthens servants to either return to their ministry or find new places of fruitfulness in their lives and for the Kingdom of God.
After returning from the mission field, SAMS recognized that we were burnt out. When we went to SAMS for help, they were able to meet our needs. If it was not for the Missionary Care Fund, we may not have been able to return to the field.
How do you prepare to go without a missionary sending organization? With SAMS, missionaries are able to go through a discernment process as well as pre-field training. Missionaries may do language learning as part of their cross-cultural training. What about when you return? There is a time of adjusting when returning from the mission field. SAMS helps Missionaries debrief their time spent in the mission field.
Without a sending agency, I might have left the field just after a year, but SAMS has been there for me praying, helping me with finances, and even visiting me.
Prayer is powerful! With SAMS, there is a whole team of people back home praying for you. SAMS Staff is committed to praying every day for Missionaries. With tools such as a prayer calendar, the needs of Missionaries are shared and those all around the world pray for you and your ministry.
I love receiving the SAMS Prayer Calendar. It reminds me that God is working in so many different ways. As a supporter, I am part of that mission happening around the world.
Easter! The season that puts all the other liturgical seasons in order. Just think, no Easter, no Christmas! No going back to hear His stories and lessons that He taught. When someone says “The Reason for the Season,” it really is more than the birth of Jesus (though that is what they mean), the real reason is in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead! As we continue to observe this Easter Season, be sure and give thanks to our Lord for not giving up on the world!
The Bible only makes sense when we understand that God had a plan all along for the salvation of those who would believe in His son, Jesus. When we make that connection, we begin to live a life that is different from the rest of the world. For we know that we worship a God who desires to be intimate with us.
Reading the Bible is like reading a love letter left behind from the Lover to the Beloved. As we read the Bible, we get in touch with the one who made us; who desires to be with us in all aspects of our life. The good, the bad, and the ugly! So often we forget.
Just as the disciples forgot what Jesus told them about him being crucified and then in three days would rise, we too, forget; oh so often, that He is alive and desires us to be with Him.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-5
As members of the body of Christ, God has uniquely gifted us to play an important role in the work of the Church (1 Corinthians 12-14). The gifts God has given us should contribute to the fulfillment of the responsibilities of the church – including missions. Even if only 5% of the people in the church have a calling to cross-cultural service, the spiritual gifts of the other 95% still have as much a bearing on missions as they have at home.
For instance, if you are gifted in helping other people, you can not only help friends and fellow believers but also non-believers and missionaries.
Are you an encourager? Missionaries love to receive letters and emails with words of encouragement.
Are you musically talented? Musicians are quite helpful on the mission field and in motivating other Christians to a commitment to missions.
Do you have a knack for making money? Consider financing people to take the Gospel to cultures which have never had a witness or a Bible!
Are you a teacher? Part of teaching and educating the body of Christ is to equip them for spreading the knowledge of God to others.
Do you have the resource of time? Budget that time to get serious about regular prayer for missionaries and people in need of Christ.
The list goes on. We must remember that Jesus would not have commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations unless He knew we were capable of completing the task. He gave us the tools to do so. Are we responding? There is a great need for participation in mission, either right at home or across the world.
Do you see the big picture? God gave us a glimpse into the future to John in Revelation:
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
Consider your own spiritual gifting and calling; how can you work in partnership with the body of Christ to participate in mission around the globe to see the task finished? Maybe you are being called to participate in mission with SAMS. Discover how SAMS Missionaries are using their gifts around the world here.
Ron and Valdomiro during their weekly Discipleship meeting.
Making Disciples who Make Disciples:
This is the theme in the book by Francis Chan “Multiply” published by David C. Cook. In Brazil we use the version published by Editora Mundo Cristao and translated into Portuguese by Daniel Faria. I have been meeting with Valdomiro on a weekly basis for one hour for most of the past year. This relationship is directly inspired by Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV), “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We recently finished reading together in Portuguese the book Multiply; Valdomiro does not speak English, and then we began reading Alister McGrath’s Mere Apologetics. In Portuguese the title is Apologetica pura & simples. Simply put by McGrath, “Apologetics is about persuading people there is a door to another world – a door that perhaps they never realized existed. Evangelism is about helping people to open that door and enter into the world that lies beyond.”
When Valdomiro and I meet for discipleship we spend time discussing the implications of what we are reading for God’s purpose for our lives through the lens of Scripture. We also spend time discussing how our week is going and the thanksgivings, challenges, and opportunities for growth into the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, and Friend. We also catch up on the thanksgivings, challenges, and opportunities Valdomiro is experiencing in his discipleship of other men in our parish.
This is my thanksgiving for discipleship in Brazil; I consider myself to be a novice with the Portuguese language and Valdomiro does not speak English. Our conversation in Portuguese at times can be both intense and full of emotion, and sometimes Valdomiro needs to restate his thought for me using simpler words. Valdomiro also is patient with me and calmly corrects my numerous grammatical and pronunciation errors especially if I rush my delivery and, for example, I’m talking in the future tense when I should be talking in the past.
Last week Valdomiro asked me if we could increase our discipleship time from one hour per week to two hours per week due to the intensity of the content of Alister McGrath’s book so we do not miss out on the other aspects of our time together. Of course, I said yes, and praising the Lord, almost fell off my chair! I took this as a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of two people who not too long ago could not understand a word the other was saying. Now we are both Making Disciples Who Make Disciplesonly for the Glory of God’s purposes for His Creation.
Ron and Debby Mckeon serve in the Anglican Diocese of Recife in Brazil. They are dedicated to helping the Anglican churches in Joao Pessoa grow spiritually, numerically and missionally. Please prayerfully consider giving to support their mission here.