My Straying Heart
“Your anger is the problem! It is hard to work on other issues in the family until we deal with it”, said the expensive Christian counselor.
Below, I have posted an extended citation from How People Change by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane on my blog because it reminded me of a family counseling experience we had years ago.
As a family we needed help to work through behavioral problems. At the time, my wife had been homeschooling the kids. There was daily conflict that was increasingly difficult to manage. Regularly, I returned home, tired, wanting peace and rest, only to find myself in painful remediation, often conflict which I escalated by my handling of it.
It was effecting our entire family and marriage, and seemed to centered most on one of our children in particular, what psychologists sometimes call the “identified child or patient.”
Often the identified child or patient is not so much the problem as they are the most sensitive person in an already broken family system. It is common to identify this highly sensitive child/patient as the problem when in fact there is a deeper more hidden problem causing the one more sensitive to pressure in the system to act out.
In Family Systems Counseling (which I don’t know too much about), the identified child is more like a barometer sensitively measuring the pressure and strain in a family system.
After taking a battery of tests and providing some written history, my wife, my son and I, for the sake our family, attended our first counseling session.
Since the counselor was associated with our presbytery, I received a discount as a preacher. Instead of $150/hour we only had to pay $100/hour. Though he was supposedly one of the best, it was still expensive.
I was ambivalent going into our first counseling session.
As I recall, I was somewhat afraid my presbytery colleagues would discover what a mess our family was, that I was not all that good a parent or husband, now added to the personal struggles I’d already been open about, and these brothers, regretting having ordained me, would come to their senses, and I’d be out of a job.
On the other hand, I was glad to get help. Frankly, going in, I was fairly certain my wife and son were really the ones needing the help. I was sort of sacrificing myself for the family and our marriage for being willing to spend the money, to get “them” help, and to voluntarily attend to provide moral support. What a saint!
I wasn’t even at home when these conflicts normally originated, so it never occurred to me that I’d be central to the problem or solution.
But within 30 minutes of our first counseling session, the counselor, my wife and son had directly identified me as the culprit. It was like a police line up reversed where the innocent victim is identified by the guilty party with no one-way-glass for protection.
I was completely stunned, even more stunned that this supposedly Christian counselor gave this absurd strategy of redirection credence.
If I was angry, I had a reason to be angry. I had worked so hard at trying to control my anger. How could this be about me?
Being the good stoic I am, I could hardly get angry in that situation. It would just prove their point.
But inside I was seething and incredulous. “What! Has it suddenly become opposite day? Whether it is premeditated or not, how can this expensive Christian counselor not see what is going on. Is he an idiot? Can’t he see he is being played.”
Of course, having counseled others, and being the reasonable and humble person I am, I was ready-made with informed and nuanced biblical responses. Maintaining my composure, I played along with this now absurd and expensive counseling session while skillfully deflecting the misdirected shots at my heart.
But in my mind, I had already decided. I was especially angry at my wife who knew better and less so my child. “They know they were the problem! How could they turn on me, betray me even, when I’m trying to help them and our family?”
The expensive so-called counselor, he was finished! He obviously was overpaid and should know better than fall for such elementary avoidance and denial tactics.
Anger and martyrdom/self-pity often come in pairs. “Why do I need to pay someone if I am the problem. Fine, I will start dealing with my anger!”, I angrily announced, as if sanctification is really easy. “I’m the only one around here who says he’s sorry and really tries to change anyway!”
Reading this section in How People Change by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane triggered me to rethink about this event. I often blame others rather than looking into my own heart. Worse, blaming others also enables me to actively avoid looking inside. I was accusing my family of shifting blame to protect themselves while I was doing the same thing for self-protection.
Periodically, and recently, when we are going through some episodic marriage or family difficulties, someone will likely bring up the idea of getting counseling to help us sort through things since we are too close to it.
However, when counseling is suggested, there remains a cloud of skepticism; a qualified agreement with the caveat: “Is Dad/Mike going to dislike the counselor and quit like he did before?”
How do I react to the news that “I’m the problem”? Am I shocked, disappointed, offended, angry? Is it the last thing I want to hear? Do I partition blame between my children and wife sharing in little of it myself while justifying my sin? Is the last thing I want to admit that it is my fault?
Usually, I do not react well at all to the news that “I’m the problem.” What about you?
The Structure Of The Ten Commandments
“When we rightly identify the source of our problem, we are on our way to a solution that celebrates the grace of Christ. But we must first acknowledge that the problem is us! It is inside us, deep in the recesses of our hearts.
How do you react to this news? Are you shocked? Disappointed? Offended? Angry?
It’s certainly not what we want to hear. When I am impatient with my children, the last thing I want to admit is that it is my fault. I want to blame my child and justify my sin!
But if we don’t face our own sins, we will never get to the real solution. We will minimize the redeeming love of Father, Son, and Spirit or bypass it completely. This is deadly. There is nothing more serious!
The Bible says that my real problem is not psychological (low self-esteem or unmet needs), social (bad relationships and influences), historical (my past), or physiological (my body).
They are significant influences, but my real problem is spiritual (my straying heart and my need for Christ).
I have replaced Christ with something else, and as a consequence, my heart is hopeless and powerless. Its responses reflect its bondage to whatever it is serving instead of Christ. Ultimately, my real problem is a worship disorder.
The Law and the Heart
The Ten Commandments may not be where you would expect to find an emphasis on the centrality of the heart, but it is there if you look carefully. . . .
The first three commands focus on what or whom you worship. They command us to make the one true God our God, and condemn making a god of anything else.
The order of the commands is important, because the commands begin by focusing on our heart tendency toward idolatry.
That is why, in Deuteronomy 6:4—5, the centrality of worship is emphasized. These two verses capture the essence of the first three commands:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
The reason we fail to keep commands 4 through 10 is because we have failed to keep the first three. If you break commands 1 through 3, you will break commands 4 through 10.
Your Thorny, sinful responses to life grow out of a heart that has defected to worship something else.
. . .
Look at commands 4—10. Why did the Israelites so often fail to keep them? Why do you and I fail to keep them?
Commandment 4: Remember the Sabbath. At the heart of the fourth commandment is the call to honor and obey God in your worship, work, and rest. But when commands 1—3 are broken, I worship and serve
myself and use my time for my own self-interest. I make work my god and define myself through my career. I elevate personal peace and comfort above God.
Commandment 5: Honor your father and your mother. At the heart of the fifth commandment is the call to honor and obey God by respecting those in authority. But when commands 1—3 are broken, my will and honor become primary.
Commandment 6: Do not murder. At the heart of the sixth commandment is the call to honor and obey God by loving, serving, and forgiving others. But when commands 1—3 are broken, I demand to be loved and served by others. When I am wronged, I demand revenge.
Commandment 7: Do not commit adultery. At the heart of the seventh commandment is a call to honor and obey God by remaining sexually pure and by keeping my promises to others. But when commands 1—3 are broken, my pleasures rule.
Commandment 8: Do not steal. At the heart of the eighth commandment is the call to honor and obey God by freely and joyfully sharing my resources with others. But when commands 1—3 are broken, I want things for myself.
Commandment 9: Do not bear false witness. At the heart of the ninth commandment is a call to honor and obey God by speaking truthfully, in ways that build others up. But when commands 1—3 are broken, my words are used to make me look good and you look bad.
Commandment 10: Do not covet. At the heart of the tenth commandment is the call to honor and obey God by rejoicing in the blessings of others. But when commands 1—3 are broken, I want what you have, and I don’t want you to have it.
The structure of the Ten Commandments teaches us that we fail to keep commands 4—10 because something has gone wrong inside us. We wrap our hearts around something other than the living God and we believe the lie that without it, life is meaningless.”
Lane, Timothy S.; Paul David Tripp (2008-05-01). How People Change (Kindle Locations 2631-2699). New Growth Press. Kindle Edition.
Phil 2:5-11 — The Wounds Of God
preached at Hickory Grove Church, PCA on November 24, 2013
Matthew 6:25-31 — What Makes A Person A Christian?
preached at Hickory Grove Church, PCA on November 17, 2013
Many of you can relate to the pain and suffering in Emily’s story.
Betrayal is as awful suffering. It both helps and hurts when I feel either betrayed, or if I am the one who has forsaken someone I promised to love, to consider what betrayal, being forsaken by His bride, feels like to Jesus.
Re-considering my betraying heart that forsakes Jesus doesn’t take the hurt away, but taps into a real Person who perfectly understands suffering and pain, and walks with me through the purifying fire of His holy grace.
Emily’s Story and The Fairy-Tale Ending?
“If you had asked me what I was thankful for before September, I would have said that I am thankful for my family, my home, my job, and for God— for a husband who loves and cares for me, for four children (ages fourteen, eleven, nine, five) who are healthy and happy, for a home I never dreamed I could have, for a career that allows me to work from home, use my brain, and make a difference for my company and my clients, and for a God that has provided me those things— regardless of my worthiness.
In September, completely out of the blue, my husband left me and our four children for someone else (who left her husband and two children as well). This other family were friends of ours; we’d vacationed with them on three separate occasions during the summer. I thought they were our friends.
My heart died within me. This could not be happening. My Christian husband— the one who with me sat down with our kids and explained that while divorce does happen, it would never happen to us— we made a covenant, a promise to God and to each other— no matter what— we will always be here for each other and for them. I sobbed and begged him not to go, that we would figure this out. No, he was leaving.
I asked what he was going to tell the kids; he said he didn’t know. I told him, “You can’t just leave without telling the kids something.” Surely, this would hit him— he would not be able to look at these precious children and tell them that he was leaving . . . but he did. He called them back downstairs from bed and told them he was leaving. They didn’t understand. . . . Is this for work? When will he be back? No, kids, I’m moving out— not to come back. He left. We were crushed. After eight weeks, my heart was still crushed.
God, is this really your plan? How could this be your plan? I know that you will heal my heart, I know that something good will come from this— but how and why THIS? I feel you— I feel people praying . . . but what is going to become of us? I have never been so angry. Our poor children are suffering terribly; their father’s “wants” come before their “needs.” “I still love my kids,” he says. Really? How can you love them and cause them such pain?
After four months, God is beginning to heal me in a way I’m not sure I want to be healed. I want to see justice, but it is not mine to inflict. I am beginning to try to pray for him . . . not about him. I am beginning to pray for his heart to be healed. For him to come back, not to me but back to God. I need to move on without him, for now and maybe forever, but I have to forgive him to get through the bitterness. I will not be bitter for the rest of my life.
But how am I going to make it? God says pray, so I do.
I love my family, and I will always love the man I married. I’m praying for a miracle— for him to snap out of this and find his way back home— but I am also moving forward without him. I’m planning and trying to continue with my life, with everything that needs to be done from a practical, spiritual, emotional, and financial perspective.
I am going to pray for him on a regular basis, I am going to love him (but I will not be a doormat). I am going to support my family and I am going to seek God’s plan for our life. I am going to forgive him, but I won’t forget— because if I forget, I won’t be able to use what I learn to help others who may go through this nightmare. I need to feel the pain, allow God to heal that pain and transform me into someone that he had intended for me to become all along. Somehow, I feel excited. It feels wrong in so many ways— to be excited to be going through this nightmare.
It has now been six months, my situation has gotten worse, and yet I feel truly blessed.
My husband is still gone, still with his girlfriend. He has told me that they will be a part of our kids’ lives and I need to get used to that and not hate her. He told me that if she was my enemy, then I was his.
My kids are still dealing with the impact that their dad left; they are depressed, angry, confused, and frustrated. My oldest has started questioning his faith; he is rebelling against all authority, and lashing out at his family. My house is up for sale— a short sale, which could turn into being a foreclosure. We have no idea where we will move.
And yet, in the midst of all this— I have come to know God on a different level, to see him work in a way I had only heard about. To experience this is quite amazing.
I’ve never had a big tragedy in my life— never really had to depend on God. I mean, sure, I prayed and I saw God work— but not like this. I never had the need to rely on God, truly just fall and rest on him. When I needed God’s comfort, the image in my head was me clinging to Jesus and him hugging me. My image now is me just completely collapsed, and him carrying me— and it is awesome.
In the midst of this horrible situation, where my whole identity and where my family has been attacked, I see glimpses of what God is doing and how my life and our lives will be changed— and I get excited to see who I get to be at the end of all this. Like being in a race, where it starts to rain and you hit a mud pit. You can’t go around it, you have to go through it— and the rain and the mud are weighing you down— you can’t go through it fast; you must concentrate on each painful step . . . but at the same time, something is keeping you upright and compelling you to continue. In the distance, you see what appears to be a sheet of rain (almost like a car wash rinse) and then you see it— the sun; it is perfectly clear . . . The person you will be there will be stronger, with more understanding of how to run this race, and with satisfaction/ peace. Yes, that person is tired— but they are also energized by the experience. I can’t wait to use what God has taught me; I can’t wait to learn more. I have explained it to my children like this: In every fairy tale, there is always a tragedy, and the protagonist faces that adversity, overcomes it, and thrives because of it. God is giving us our fairy tale— what do you see at the end?”
Keller, Timothy (2013-10-01). Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (p. 31-34). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
The Son Of Man Came ________?
Sacred Hospitality As A Menu Of Hope With A Theology Of Leftovers
Sacred Hospitality As Enacted Mission
Sacred Hospitality As Enacted Salvation
Sacred Hospitality As Enacted Promise
Note: Credit for much of this series goes to Dr. Tim Chester and his biblical theology of Luke as expressed in his book, A Meal With Jesus.
Mission — What We Do — The Co-Mission to Make Disciples Who Glorify God And Enjoy Him Forever
Vision — Who We Are — The Gospel IS The Power Of God For Worship, Missions And Renewal
Core Value 1: Enjoying Repentance
Core Value 2: Receiving Faith
Core Value 3: Abounding Love
Core Value 4: Spiritual Supply
Core Value 5: Sacred Hospitality
Core Value 6: Risk Or Rust
Core Value 7: Repentant Leadership
Our church website has had difficulties for sometime, including being restricted by google due to some sort of problem with the twitter feed.
As a result, we have not uploaded audio recordings of sermons for some time.
Several people have asked for me to make these available.
So, I am uploading today’s sermon to my grahamline.net site, as well as our sermon series on our Mission, Vision and Core Values, and the sub-series on our Core Value #5 – Sacred Hospitality.
Sorry for the inconvenience. We hope to have things working properly in the near future.
Love in Christ, Mike
The Glory (Weightiness) Of God’s Holiness mp3
The conventional wisdom today is that friendship evangelism is the only form of evangelism. . . . In fact, friendship is so stressed that it would seem that “being a friend” is all that is needed to win people to Christ. It is this underlying belief that is so unbiblical.
Our Lord asks us to be much more than a friend to others. To love friends doesn’t take a great deal of grace, most of the time. Anyone can love their friends. . . .
What does The Lord ask us to do. He asks us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us and bless those who curse us.
Fully biblical evangelism is, in fact, enemy evangelism — loving, blessing, and praying for our enemies.
We don’t need Jesus in order to love our friends– most of the time! We don’t have to rely on his grace to be kind to those we care about. The world pays no attention to our bold statements about how different Christ has made us when there’s nothing extraordinary needed to love and care for our friends alone.
To love our enemies requires God to show up in our lives. To forgive those who deeply hurt us can only be the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts. To pray for those who curse us is evidence of Christ in us.
Making our enemies the object of our outreach requires us to change, because in reaching out to our enemies we become deeply aware of our own need of Christ and his grace. We realize that we need Christ as much, if not more, than our enemies do.
Enemy evangelism is dependent on Christ and the Holy Spirit. Friendship evangelism puts the focus on us, limiting the power of the Gospel to our ability to be friendly.
At the heart of friendship evangelism is the unspoken belief that the more people know me, the more they will want Jesus. But is this really the case? Don’t we all have close friends, even family members, who have known us longer than we have been Christians — and who are no more interested in the gospel today than the first time we shared our faith with them?
If friendship is the true power behind evangelism, wouldn’t out closest friends and family come to faith as a result of our friendship?
If our close friends and family aren’t becoming Christians, and we believe friendship is what empowers the gospel, shouldn’t we accept the responsibility for their lack of response and ask the questions, “Is it because I’m not a good enough friend or because I’m not a good enough Christian– or both — that more of my friends and family haven’t come to Christ?”
God may very well use your relationships with friends and family to bring them to Christ, but the gospel isn’t bound by friendship. It is just one of the means God uses to turn the gospel loose in the world. . . .
The paradigm driving friendship evangelism gives us an excuse not to witness because if we’re not a friend of the person we’re exempt from speaking to them.
This may explain why so few Christians witness today– because they have so few friends and the friends they have are not interested in the gospel.
We need to reverse the way we do things. Instead of making friends, hoping that one day they will be interested in the gospel, we should find people who are interested in the gospel and befriend them.
Christians will ask me, “What should I do if none of my friends are interested in the gospel?”
The answer I give them is, “Keep your friends; their interest in the gospel could change any day. Just make room in your life for some new friends who are interested in the gospel.
(John Leonard, Get Real: Sharing Your Everyday Faith Everyday (Kindle Edition), Chapter 6: Be More Than A Friend)
There was a missionary named Joseph Damian who served in Hawaii. Tough spot— Hawaii. But he served on the island of Molokai, at the leper colony.
When leprosy arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, those who contracted it were treated cruelly. They were rounded up and dumped on the island of Molokai, on a sandbar that formed a natural prison with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. The crews on the ships that carried the lepers would make them jump into the ocean and swim ashore, throwing their belongings overboard as well. The doctors visiting the lepers would examine them from across the room and leave the medicine on the table, making them wait till after they left to retrieve it.
When Joseph Damian arrived he found people simply waiting to die, living like animals with no hope. Instead, he washed and bandaged their wounds, built a church, started a choir, and helped people plant gardens. He served them faithfully for years.
One morning, when he was preparing his morning cup of tea, he spilled some hot water on his toes, but he felt nothing. He then took the teapot and poured hot water over his feet, but still there was no sensation. He had worked with lepers long enough to know the diagnosis.
That morning he addressed his people with these words: “We lepers.” At that moment, his congregation understood the work of Christ in a brand new way. They could understand how God loved them so much that he sent his Son to bear their infirmities and to take on their sickness so that they might be made well.
In Statuary Hall in the House of Representatives, each state has the right to choose two statues that represent the best ideals of their state. Hawaii sent their two statues. The first statue is of the Hawaiian king Kamehameha I, who is believed to be divine because he descended from the gods and heaven. The second statue is of the missionary Joseph Damian, in whom they saw the Divine at work by stepping down into the sin, sickness, and suffering of mankind.
Leonard, John S. (2013-10-01). Get Real: Sharing Your Everyday Faith Every Day (Kindle Locations 585-598). New Growth Press. Kindle Edition.
This year at Hickory Grove (www.hickorygrovepca.org) , we have identified “Sacred Hospitality” as our wildly important goal for 2014. Our eyes have been further opened to the particular biblical emphasis on Sacred Hospitality that takes place around a meal at the table.
What would it look like to add Sacred Hospitality and Nation2Nation together?
What does sacred missional hospitality to the nations in Nashville look like?
Increasingly, the Sovereign God is bringing the nations to Nashville. Further, reaching the nations with the gospel here is also a great way to reach the nations with the gospel over there. And still further, who needs the gospel God has given to the nations more than our own nation?
I have neighbors from Ghana, India, China and who knows where else. A Hindu Temple recently opened in Hermitage. Our fellowship hall has been used for a Muslim family reunion (which I was invited to attend, and will this year).
We care for diaspora children in our childcare. We have people in our congregation from South Africa, a mother who adopted from Ethiopia, member of our church in Kenya, a recently deceased member who helped found Rafiki.
We have a church member who helps resettle refugees in Nashville, an Indian brother in seminary in Jackson and who lives with us when school is out. We helped plant an International church now meeting in Greenhills as well as a denomination in India, the Presbyterian Church of South India.
This month, Richard, Rick and I have preached at a Latino church in Shelbyville, and over the years we’ve sent who knows how many people through N2N to China, Latin America, India and Sri Lanka.
And a few weeks ago I received the above picture from Bill Iverson that reflects the beauty of Sacred Missional Hospitality. This is one of the water treatment systems N2N sent to Japan after the Tsunami.
Now a whole neighborhood in India has clean water. Before treating, the water in the whole area was outside the World Health Org standards. After treating, the water is now on par with Brentwood city water.
Instead of a drink of clean water, our Indian brothers now have continuous supply of clean water.
This supply of water is a constant reminder to the church planters and leaders we train in this village of the Sacred Missional Hospitality of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t give us only a sip or drink of His grace, but gives us the whole well of salvation in Him welling up to eternal life.
My guess is that many churches, schools and neighborhoods are increasingly impacted by diaspora migrants, the nations coming to Nashville.
How do we begin reaching diaspora migrants? I’m glad you asked.
This morning for school assignment, I was reading a chapter in Reformed Means Missional talking about diaspora missions and migrant church planting.
Over the years, without knowing much about what we were doing, our small church has stumbled into some exciting missional adventures.
So, when I stumbled across the 7 helpful steps listed below, I thought, “What if we actually knew what we were doing?”
What if we add “Sacred Hospitality” and Nation2Nation together and get “Sacred Missional Hospitality” with a strategy to embrace diaspora missions and migrant church planting in Metro Nashville?
Personally I find diaspora migrants to the US more open to hospitality and the gospel than I do Americans who are either increasingly antagonistic to the gospel, too busy to bother with the gospel, too private and pluralistic to discuss faith publicly, or generally disinterested and closed in light of all the other fantasies of good-though-empty-news marketed daily to our hearts, minds, and imaginations (e.g, I can’t tell you how often I have to repent of my imagination filling up my heart with fantasies that snatch away the gospel before it is seeded).
On the other hand, whenever I talk to migrant people from different nationalities and cultures, generally it is an entirely different sense of openness, greeting and hospitality.
One of my pastor friends who is also a musician recently told me he wants to plant a red-neck Arabic church in Music City. He speaks Arabic, spent years in Israel, and is from Fairview area. Who’d have thought. I would love to be a part of that!
In any case, read these 7 steps and tell me what you think?
I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I’ve secretly prayed for the Holy Spirit to go into the basement of our hearts and turn up the fire of the gospel to propel us out of ourselves with the gospel for the nations in Nashville.
“With so many people from so many origins moving in so many directions and landing in so many destinations, planned or unplanned, it could be concluded that we are fast becoming a ‘borderless world.’ The Triune God in His sovereignty is moving people so that they may seek Him and know Him. Reaching the People on the Move is both an urgent necessity and an amazing opportunity for Christians and Churches. This certainly is a new paradigm in the mission of the contemporary Church.
Step #1— Help the Church Embrace the Vision for the Diaspora Peoples
- Each diaspora group provides both an accessible mission field and a potential mission force.
- People on the move are more open to listen and are often receptive to the gospel.
- The primary agency for the evangelization of the people on the move is the church of Jesus Christ in its local and global presence.
- The gospel fits into any culture and background, but the church has to use the necessary means in order to reach out to the respective diaspora group.
- Evangelization of the People on the Move calls for focused intentionality, urgent passion, and strategic practical action.
- Reaching an individual or a group with the gospel can have far-reaching consequences for kingdom advancement.
Step #2— Ensure the Right Attitudes
Attitudes are important and powerful in life, relationships, and ministry. The following are seven questions that will help you and your congregation to assess your readiness to reach out to diaspora people:
- Do you have a patronizing attitude toward other cultures, races, and ethnic groups?
- Are you racially prejudiced or ethnocentric?
- Has the influx of people from other cultures, races, and ethnic groups paralyzed you, or excited you to evangelize them?
- Do you have a loving burden for the “strangers” in your midst (Leviticus 19: 33– 34; Deuteronomy 10: 19)?
- Are you ready to embrace diversity of culture and ministry to all cultural, racial, or ethnic groups?
- Have you embraced loving hospitality as a vital spiritual principle of Christian life and ministry (Matthew 25: 35; Romans 12: 13; Hebrews 13: 2; 1 Peter 4: 9)?
- Are you an active part of a nurturing community who worship and learn together, love and serve each other (Acts 2: 42– 47; 1 Peter 1: 22; 3: 8; 4: 8– 11)?
Step #3— Explore Your Neighborhood
Increasingly, diaspora people are moving into all kinds of environments. Often, people are unaware of the changes taking place in their everyday world. Here are some questions to help diagnose who really is your neighbor, in your work, residential or leisure world:
- Who are the diaspora people in your neighborhood?
- What are the lands of their origin?
- What is the size of each diaspora group?
- Why did they come? Or, what factors brought them here?
- What is the heart language or mother tongue of the diaspora people( s)?
- What generations are represented among them?
- What are their religious affiliations?
- Have they established worship places?
- Are there some Christian believers among them?
- What are their educational levels?
- Where are they vocationally/ professionally?
- What is their receptivity level to the gospel?
- What are their felt/ immediate needs?
- How can you meet these felt/ immediate needs and begin to build meaningful relationships with them?
- Who else can you partner with to reach them?
Step #4— Engage in Holistic Ministry
- Treat all people with mutual respect, dignity, and generosity.
- Work collaboratively with people of all backgrounds, [when Bible truth will not be compromised, on issues of common concern], e.g., youth issues, drug abuse, housing, unemployment, racism, etc.
- Encourage various diaspora groups to work together to face common challenges and serve their communities.
- Pursue partnerships with other churches and Christian agencies which share expertise, materials,
personnel, prayer, and resources for training.
- Work intentionally in partnership with governments and non-governmental agencies (NGOs) whenever possible, where Bible truth and practice are not compromised.
- Approach ministry with extreme creativity and flexibility.
- Extend ministry to diaspora people on existing ministry initiatives.
- Seek to provide advocacy services and legal expertise for those who are victims of injustice— the refugees, the sinned against, the trafficked people, the powerless, etc.
- Provide material, emotional, and psychological support, and trauma counseling for the vulnerable.
Step #5— Equip for Effective Ministry
- Help the local church realize that it is a landing place for diaspora people and a launching pad for diaspora ministries.
- Make believers aware of the scope and the available avenues of ministries to diaspora people.
- Keep believers informed of timely and true information about challenges and progress of ministry.
- Ensure spiritual growth and vitality are regularly experienced by believers
- Mobilize intercession.
- Provide training to increase cross-cultural competence of believers.
- Equip believers to share their personal testimony succinctly.
- Enhance believers’ skills in cross-cultural hospitality.
- Train Christians to engage in culturally sensitive evangelism and discipleship.
- Provide appropriate culture-sensitive and language-specific resources for effective outreach and discipleship.
- Expose key language-specific resources available on the Internet for evangelism and discipleship
- Explore ways to open doors and use contact points for the gospel to them.
Step #6— Encourage Building Genuine Relationships
- Identify with the people of the diasporas and get involved with them on a personal level.
- Take risks and build genuine cross-cultural relationships.
- Provide loving hospitality to care for their felt and immediate needs.
- Get to know the diaspora peoples and their original cultural contexts.
- Find believers who can communicate with them in their mother tongue or heart language.
- Seek to expose your faith, but not to impose your faith on them.
- Pray for guidance of the Holy Spirit to share the good news of Jesus with them.
- Ensure Christianity that is shared is Bible-based, but also culture-based.
Step #7— Empower the Diaspora Christians of Churches for Mission
- Present to diaspora Christians or churches the vision, advantages, and opportunities for mission.
- Instill a missionary vision, and foster an environment of mission.
- Plan relationship-building opportunities with the diaspora to implement the Great Commission locally.
- Identify and train diaspora leaders.
- Cooperate with mission agencies to provide theological training in the respective mother tongue.
- Employ distance learning and electronic means to train potential Christian workers.
- Network partnerships with Christians and churches in countries of origin.
- Cultivate partnerships with host country churches to engage in mission.
- Create focused prayer networks for ministry effectiveness.
- Link with national, regional, or global Christian diaspora networks when possible.“
T.V. Thomas, Lausanne Diaspora Strategy Consultation in Manilla as quoted in chapter 9 of Reformed Means Mission, “God Scatters to Gather through His People: A Missional Response to Migrant Churches” by Elias Medeiros
(New Growth Press. Kindle Edition).