Adults

Little Sweet Treats: Use Cookies to Open Hearts to the Gospel

Decorations, trees, gifts, and food define Christmas for many, leaving little room for Jesus. Rather they think of Santa Claus and overspending. This year, share the Savior with homemade witnessing tools—cookies—and create a connecting point for future relationship building.

Plan a group cookie party to make, decorate, and share cookies and then use them to open hearts to the gospel. Search recipe websites for decorated cookie recipes, try one of the recipes below, or dig out your grandmother’s favorite cookie recipe. Choose large batch recipes simple for a group to make, or bake a few batches ahead of time and decorate later as a group. Cookies that stay fresh, transport easily, and won’t crumble make for a better presentation.

Prepare an invitation listing December church events as well as Bible study and worship times. Attach a catchy poem like this on one side to use as an icebreaker:

Missionary Spotlight Update: Jared and Tara Jones

Jared and Tara Jones knew that God could do a lot with something little. But they never imagined just how many doors He would open through their young son, whose adoption people had told them was almost impossible in Japan. In the East Asian country, 40,000 children live in orphanages, but parents rarely give up their rights so that a child can be adopted.

But the Joneses knew God had placed a baby on their hearts, so they prayed, and not too long after, they both got the impression that they were praying for a particular expectant mother. Soon after, God opened the doors and gave them favor with Japanese social workers, Tara Jones said.

“The birth mother had asked to meet us, and it was the most emotional day,” she said.

The Joneses thanked the young mother for her courage, for her choice to give him life. They prayed God’s presence would be so strong in the room that the mother would remember that day and God would fill her with peace all over again.

“We wept, and so did the social worker,” Tara Jones said. And the Joneses walked out of the hospital and onto the train with Ezra in their arms.

Purposefully Praying for Lost People

We sat on the concrete floor with our friends’ family surrounding us, waiting intently for what we would say.

Our friends were newly married, and we’d been invited back to the family home to stay overnight.

We had the opportunity to share the gospel and encourage the family, and it was an answered prayer happening right before my eyes.

Days before, I had been praying for this trip and had asked others to pray, too. I knew I’d be around people who have yet to come to faith in Jesus, and I wanted to be able to share the gospel with them.

That night, 3 people who had yet to believe in Jesus heard the story of a God Who created them and loves them. And while 3 seems small, to me, they represent billions of lost people around the world who haven’t yet heard and responded to the gospel.

Why do we pray for these lost people? Why did I take the time to pray to have an opportunity to share the gospel while celebrating the marriage of 2 friends?

3 Things Taking Our Toddler Overseas Taught Me about Missions

Teaching the gospel has no age barrier. We as Christ followers are commanded to make disciples of all nations—to live life with people in a way that encourages another Christ follower. When we first thought about taking our almost 2-year-old daughter overseas, we got all the questions: “Why are you taking her? She won’t remember it.” “Aren’t you afraid of something happening to her while you’re there?”

Then, we took her overseas. And it vastly expanded my idea of what reaching the nations is about. I learned 3 things about missions from taking my toddler overseas:

Pray for the Harvest

I’ve got a question for you. When you read the following verse, what do you feel?

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’” (Matt. 9:37–38).

Do you feel urgency? Do you feel responsibility? Do you feel the need to pray, pray, and pray some more?

If your answer to these questions is yes, that’s great! If your answer is no, we have a little work to do. I think I fall somewhere in between.

There’s been a theme in my life lately of God telling me to pray more. I don’t spend enough time in prayer, and when I do, it’s too often self-centered, even if that’s not my intention. What I really need to double-down on is praying for the lost. Sure, it’s easy to pray for things I’m worried about; it’s a little less but still important to me to pray for other people’s worries and fears. But how often do I think to pray for the lost? Specifically, how often do I pray for someone I personally know who is lost?

Step 1: Prayer

As much as I hate to admit it, many times my prayers closely resemble the Christmas lists I used to mail to Santa as a child—a list of very selfish wants and needs. While my requests to God have matured just as I have, they still very often revolve around me: “Lord, help me focus so I can ace this test,” or “give me the patience to deal with my co-workers.”

When I do extend my circle of prayer, it is usually to include my friends and family who I know have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But what about those who don’t? Why is it so important to pray for those who don’t yet know of God’s love, and how do we do it?

God is working in people’s lives long before they hear the gospel. That work continues with our prayers. It is the catalyst that ignites the desire to know God. When spreading the gospel, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Prayer is one of the greatest weapons we have when fighting the enemy (Eph. 6:16–18).

We All Need Redemption sidebar

Pastor David Tarkington shared this additional advice and resources about gender-identity issues as a supplement to the article on page 24 of December 2017 Missions Mosaic.

As parents of children with gender-identity issues, remember

  1. It’s not your fault. I emphasize this reality to Christian parents who have done the very best they knew how to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.
  2. To trust God. He loves your child more than you ever have or can.
  3. To love your child. This may be the most challenging aspect of the journey. Remember that loving your child does not mean affirming sin.
  4. Prayer is vital.
  5. God is good. God is great. He is not taken by surprise, though you were. Trust Him.

Remember God knows grief and will stay in the valley with you until you make it through.

Resources

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

Plan a Prayer for the Nations Night

Antarctica. That was what was printed on the folded-up sheet of paper I pulled from the cup on a small-group retreat once, and we all had a good laugh.

The 7 of us had each drawn a continent to pray for, and that was mine. But as we began to talk about it, we brainstormed who that could be. We talked about the scientists there who might not know Christ. We moved on to people in cold places in other parts of the world—Scandinavia, Siberia, Greenland, and so on. We went in a circle for quite some time, and when it got around to me, I lifted them all up.

That might not have been the most conventional way to pray for the lost around the world, but it’s one I haven’t forgotten even years later. And I think that tactic, while unusual, accomplished something. It made me remember those people. I still pray for them when Antarctica gets mentioned in conversation or in a movie. I still remember the people in all the cold places of the world.

Praying for May*

“May’s mother called from another province, saying that May had an evil spirit inside her and asking if I would go see her immediately,” Helen Caldwell shared. “Due to the fact that May was recuperating from surgery, I interpreted that to mean that May was feverous—an infection from the surgery, perhaps.”

Caldwell grabbed the thermometer, dropped her schedule, and drove into town. Thinking this wouldn’t take long—assuming she’d take May to a doctor—she went alone. “When I get to May’s neighborhood, I begin to get nervous—abandoned and semiabandoned buildings, trash everywhere, teenagers standing aimlessly around. But I park the car, go in the house, and call for May. No answer. Now I am really nervous.”

An upstairs door opened, and a young man called out, saying May was upstairs. Caldwell found May silently lying on the floor, her eyes closed. “I speak to her—no response. I ask the man what is wrong, and he says, ‘She has an evil spirit inside her.’ I’m still assuming she has a fever, so out comes my thermometer. Getting May’s temperature is difficult, but she finally opens her mouth enough—perfectly normal results. Now I am beginning to catch on.”

Missionary Spotlight Update: Brian and Heidi Frye

Because there are so few activities targeting children of collegiate church planters, they are immersed in church-planting events alongside their parents. “Children spend far more time learning the gospel and seeing it work in the lives of college students who come to their homes, teach them on Sunday mornings, and who babysit as their parents lead, teach, disciple, and mentor,” explained Brian Frye, collegiate evangelism strategist in Ohio. The end result is a life-changing experience for them. “It is very normal for children of collegiate church planters to say, ‘I want to plant collegiate churches when I grow up.’”

Ministry/Witnessing Tools

Below are examples of ways Frye and his wife, Heidi, successfully plant collegiate churches in Ohio:

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