Adults

Starting Over: Refugees Must Submit to a Thorough Vetting Process prior to Resettlement in the United States

In one country, a family lives in a city under siege. Gunshots and daily explosions rock the neighborhood. Children cannot play outside nor can adults go safely to work. Food and water are scarce. Escape is the only option. In another country, a young woman professes Christ and immediately becomes a target of the local police. It is illegal to profess any religion other than Islam. Her family shuns her, leaving her isolated and unprotected. If she stays, then she will surely be killed. She too must escape to survive.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that worldwide, some 21 million people, half of them children, are refugees—individuals driven from their homes to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. A very small number of these individuals (less than 1%) will receive the opportunity to start a new life in a third country after leaving their homeland.

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Refugees in Our Midst: Wars, Natural Disasters, Hunger, and Persecution Produce Refugees

More than 65 million displaced people, including 21 million refugees, fled their home countries in 2015, according to the Migration Policy Institute. In 2016, nearly 85,000 refugees resettled in the United States. They came from Syria, the Near East, South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other places worldwide. Consider the countries where our missionaries are serving. Many of those, such as Ukraine, are flooded with refugees, forcing missionaries to revisit strategies and form new avenues of ministry and evangelism. The sheer numbers are overwhelming. What are citizens of receiving countries supposed to do?

If we flashed back to biblical days, both Old and New Testaments, we would read of refugees from countries such as Egypt, Moab, Babylon, and others. Perhaps one of the greatest movements of refugees in history was Moses’ leading the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land. Whether the plights of refugees existed more than 2,000 years ago or today, the Bible has some very specific words for those who find refugees in their midst.

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By All Means Changes Lives

“El Salvador will never be the same,” said one of our church members when she saw who had decided to go. While I can’t say that is true of the country, it is certainly true for those of us preparing to go. As of this writing, a dozen men and women are preparing for our church’s first international missions trip. Six of the 7 women in the group are members of our Martha Robinson Baptist Women, and some have never been outside the United States. As we prepare to step out of our comfort zones to change lives in El Salvador, changes within our lives and the life of our church began months ago.

Personally, I began working with our Wednesday night children’s ministry, at first serving food but soon joining in teaching first- and second-graders. Others joined in as well. Several children have received Christ as Savior and their families are starting to attend on Sunday morning.

Celebrate, Evaluate, and Look Ahead

For many small churches, WMU and Women on Mission or Baptist Women are synonymous. Perhaps 1 or 2 groups of women of various ages meet monthly to learn about missions, pray for missionaries, and develop a missions project. The pattern rarely changes.

Instead of doing the same thing with your adult missions group, celebrate what worked, evaluate what didn’t, and enter the new church year ready to pray, learn, support, and develop a missions lifestyle.

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Building the Kingdom One Friendship at a Time

The phrase “hustle and bustle” used to apply to the hurriedness of the holiday season, but for many, it now applies to everyday life. As we add just one more thing to our to-do list, we often let time spent building relationships fall to the wayside. However, meeting new people and building relationships should be an intentional part of life for every believer.

Consider how you can change ordinary activities into ones that build the kingdom of God. Sporting events, especially those our children participate in, offer opportunities to share life with others. If you sit in the same seats, seeing the same people each game, why not engage in conversation? Listen intentionally, ask questions, and you will be amazed what you might learn.

Home-cooked goodies are a way to get to know your neighbors. A recent television commercial depicts a young family treating its neighbors to a weekend pancake breakfast. Who could you invite?

Seeking the Divine: A Mother’s Mission

“Nor, who created you?”

“God” (pronounced “Gah”).

“Who created Daddy?”

“God.”

“Who created Mommy?”

“God.”

“Who created your baby brother or sister?”

“God.”

“That’s right. God created everything.”

At 18 months old, my daughter understands patterns. And the patterns I place in her life need to connect her to something more than diaper changes, baths, bedtimes, and meals. Her personality is developing quickly, and she is soaking in more language than I can keep up with.

Through the mood swings, the temper tantrums, the cuddles, the early mornings, and the asserting of her will, it’s easy to lose track of the time and let the day get away from me without teaching her things that will last beyond her time in this world.

Yet, each day, I have been tasked with the choice: focus on my needs and wants or invest in her eternity and make a little disciple out of my toddler.

Natural Conversations

I love my electric pressure cooker. It allows me to have the “set it and forget it” aspect of a slow cooker, but the food gets cooked in 1/3 of the time. And, the truth is, it doesn’t take much for me to want to tell you about it. That’s because I use it all the time and I think the results are miraculous. I can tie it into almost any conversation and I’ve been convicted recently about not doing the same with my relationship with Christ.

Why on earth would a pressure cooker be easier for me to discuss with people than the God Who saved me? I could give many reasons, but the most honest answer is that I spend more time focused on the trivial day-to-day things than I do my relationship with Christ.

When it comes to connecting our relationship with Christ to everyday conversation, the most natural way to do that is to be in relationship with Christ. Study the Bible every day. Pray without ceasing. Don’t be afraid to share with others about the difference those habits make in your life. That last one is the hardest for me. I’m constantly afraid of being judged as ungenuine. I question my own motives and if I’m questioning, surely others are, too, right?

Extraordinary Blessings in Ordinary Places

I like to consider myself a person who delights in the simple pleasures of life. A cup of coffee in the morning, a hug from a friend, or an afternoon spent driving with my windows down can lift my spirits more than an expensive trip to a spa or any sort of “retail therapy.”

Recently the Lord has been teaching me to see these small comforts as they are meant to be seen: as blessings from Him. Second Corinthians 1:3 says God is the “God of all comfort” and James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” So it is obvious that any happiness we derive from the little things, as long as they are free from sin, comes as a gift from the Lord.

Prayerwalking: Uncover Clues to Needs in Your Church Neighborhood

Week after week, I wheel into our church parking lot, pull in my favorite space, and hustle inside through the usual entrance. Seldom do I notice the neighboring landscape in the shadow of our steeple, much less the latest changes to the half-mile block surrounding our campus.

Call it routine, but perhaps I’m not alone in my traditional way of “doing church.” Have I become too comfortable within the walls of our sacred abode? Suddenly that powerful mandate known as the Great Commission saturates my heart like an unexpected summer rain. Jesus is calling us to go, to take His case well beyond the walls of His church into a lost and dying world.

Prayerwalking is a key step in answering His call.

Keep on Truckin’

Life on the road with an 18-wheeler in the United States can be hard. But there are relaxing truck stops along the way and comfortable berths and even satellite TVs in many trucks. Life on the road in West Africa is very different.

Truckers face long delays at border crossings with no facilities. They may sleep on mats by their trucks, cooking over open fires. They sit in the shade of their rigs for hours or days . . . waiting . . . talking . . . waiting. “They are sitting there with nothing to do except hear the gospel,” said Katee Sheppard*, an International Mission Board missionary in Burkina Faso.

So she began sharing oral stories from God’s Word, targeting truck drivers, and from there, training more and more nationals to do the same thing. As trucking routes connect all of Africa, the vision was for those West African truckers who became believers to share the gospel all along their routes. Ordinary truckers have become carriers of the divine message.

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