The Encampments of Our Hearts

We really are screwed up.

Yes, every single one of us.

We crawl, walk, run, stumble, fall, crawl again, and the cycle continues.  Just when we think we are finally steady, we miss a step.

At the beginning of this year, the Lord impressed this Scripture upon my heart:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24

I started praying this daily, and then one night it happened. I awoke in the middle of the night shaking and sweating as if I was having a nightmare, except the nightmare was real. Somewhere, buried deep in the crevices of my heart, was something that I hadn’t thought of…something that I hadn’t confessed. I awoke with eyes wide open to a chasm in my relationship with God, one that I didn’t even know existed. I literally shook as I prayed for forgiveness and felt the weight lift off of me.

The crazy part? I didn’t even realize that this sin was in my life. Somehow I missed it. Somehow I thought I was okay and was walking (at least to the best of my abilities) in righteousness. Boy was I wrong.

I finished reading the Book of Deuteronomy today, and as I read about the death of Moses, I feel certain he felt the same way. For decades he had spoken with the Lord, walked with Him, seen His Glory, and led His people…but somewhere along the way, even if only for a moment, he forgot. Yes, he FORGOT that it wasn’t about him, that this great deliverance of the Israelites had absolutely nothing to do with him or his righteousness and absolutely EVERYTHING to do with God’s relentless love.

I’m sure it was accidental. I’m sure his intentions were good. I’m sure that he regretted what he said the moment that it slipped from his mouth. But even so, he forfeited his ticket into the Promised Land. He was allowed to see it only from a mountain top before he died.

We are no different. The truth is that as long as we live in this body, we are subject to the inclinations of our flawed hearts, and those inclinations are ones of selfishness, pride, and evil. It is our nature to seek independence, to credit ourselves, and to try to blaze our own paths. It is our nature to want what we want without consideration of consequences. It is our nature to war with the new self that Jesus creates within us. Taking our eyes off of Him for even a moment is all that the enemy needs to trip us and cause us to stumble.

I share this because we need to be honest with ourselves. We need a right view of where we stand before God. We need a right view of His relentless love and glorious grace. It’s not about our titles, our social media facades, or who the world thinks we are. It’s not about how we’ve walked in the past or what we’ve seen the Lord do.  It’s about RIGHT NOW.  It’s about asking the Lord to show each one of us where we stand before Him and taking the time to LISTEN. It’s about asking Him to search our hearts because sometimes we are so flawed that we can’t even see our own sin until it spews out of our mouths from some ugly place in our hearts that we didn’t even know existed.

A dear friend once told me that we should rejoice when we are under conviction. (I can think of many words to describe conviction, but “rejoice” is certainly not one of them!) Then he asked me: How many times do you think you’ve sinned today? This week? This month? This year?  I shook my head with wide eyes. He replied, “God doesn’t lay all of that on you at once; He gives it to you one piece at a time. So when He brings up sin in your life, you should rejoice because He loves you enough to mold you into the image of His Son.”

So I challenge you to ask, to dig, to search, and to pray. There are many encampments in our hearts, encampments that wage war against the Lord and encampments that wage war against the flesh. Jesus IS the Victor and the Savior, but is He really your LORD?


Photo via Visual hunt


Alaska and the Piece of My Heart That I Left There

I’ve been asked approximately a hundred times this week: “How was Alaska?” I don’t know why, but every time I try to answer, I get a lump in my throat.  I guess writing about it is my best bet, so here goes:

Alaska is a place of extremes: extreme terrain, extreme brokenness, extreme weather, extreme people, extreme lostness, extreme love, and extreme possibility.  When I heard that where we were going was the least evangelized place in the nation, many things went through my mind. I imagined stories from our friends who are church-planting in Brooklyn, the look of hatred on people’s faces when we went door-to-door in Spokane, the man cursing my husband at the top of his lungs at a market in the French Quarter.  I braced myself for extreme rejection and the heaviness that accompanies the dark places in our country.

But that’s not what I found.

You see, most places in our country have experienced a movement of Christianity, and that movement has started to pass. Some would even say the Bible Belt is “post-Christian.” But Alaska isn’t like that. When you look around, there are a few churches sprinkled here and there, but overwhelmingly the church is just absent. It never came to have the chance to leave.  Because of this, I expected extreme rejection. While our trip focused on service, I did notice this: The people of Alaska (generally speaking) are NICE! Many were very appreciative of what we were doing, and one even said, “Forget our differences; I’m just glad you guys are here sharing the love of Christ.”

Now THAT is not what I expected.

While most of our time was in Anchorage, we spent one of our nights doing ministry in a laundry-mat in Girdwood. While there, I had one of the most horrific migraines that I’ve had in years. I was almost an hour away from where I was staying and had no access to a vehicle. A complete stranger offered his van, and being desperate, we took it. When we got in, it was not just his van– it had a mattress and all of his stuff in it. I was overwhelmed that the Lord would provide through His people in such a way that a man would offer all he owned to me just because I was sick. This, for me, spoke volumes about the heart of the people there.

But it wasn’t all roses, and I don’t want to paint any false pictures. There is extreme lostness and extreme spiritual warfare there, too. When we arrived, we learned that the head church planter had unexpectedly resigned, leaving Jason (the Girdwood planter) and a team of interns with a full plate, two mission teams, and one week until Easter. The leadership there was under tremendous stress, and it was incredible to see them work together to stay the course and encourage their congregations to continue in what God had called them to do. With everything that happened, our entire agenda completely changed. We learned that we would not be doing anything that we planned to do. (Gotta love mission trip flexibility!:)

While we didn’t expect service projects, doing them gave us a truthful look at the lostness of the city. We did a block party in the most diverse neighborhood in the entire country and also did some street clean-up. This was a tense time as our team members encountered lots of homeless people and saw firsthand the devastation of particular lifestyles. Likewise, some of our team got the chance to serve lunch to a center with AIDS patients, seeing again the brokenness and destruction of drug addiction and lifestyle choices. Even our donuts ministry (we took donuts to local businesses to invite them to church) provided us with a chance to truly SEE the city. I don’t think it’s an accident that the first coffee shop that we went to was next door to a Buddhist society.

In all of this, we did not get to have many Gospel conversations, but we did get to invite many people to True North Church, and being in those places allowed us to pray and know more specifically HOW to pray for the people and the church.

On our final day there, Danny and I rode with Jason to Wasilla to discuss how he believed the Lord desired to build a church there.  As we drove, I couldn’t help but think about how much Wasilla reminded me of home, except my city is called “The City of Churches.” It broke my heart to hear that members of his congregation had to drive an hour just to attend a church service. In fact, later that afternoon, someone from the church said, “I’d love for someone to plant a church in Wasilla! I have coworkers who would LOVE to go to church but can’t drive all the way to Anchorage!”

And that’s where I lost a piece of my heart. You see, many people dismiss Alaska. They imagine this frigid ice-land with some kind of cross between igloos and Sarah Palin, and neither could be farther from the truth. The people of Alaska are as diverse and transient as those of New Orleans. Out of all the people we met throughout the week, only a few were actually from Alaska. That transience makes it hard to plant a stable church but likewise opens the door to many nations. In fact, planting in Alaska provides access to 68 unreached people groups.

Did you hear me? SIXTY EIGHT UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS, and that isn’t counting the melting pot of travelers who come to visit and decide to call Alaska home.

Since I’ve returned to Arkansas, I’ve pondered many things about our trip, from the people of True North Church to the need for people to hear the Gospel. I wonder if we could’ve done more? I wonder how God will continue to use the core group. I wonder how the church in Anchorage will move forward after the grief of losing their pastor? I wonder who will plant in Wasilla and bring Light to it?

And then my mind wanders from the crystal blue waters of the inlet to the heights of the majestic mountains, and the picture dissolves into a white field and Jesus calls out:

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2




On the Edge

We are only ever on the edge…

the edge of something new, the edge of sickness, death, success, love, temptation, destruction, healing, hope… we are only ever on the edge.

Today has been an emotional roller coaster of celebrating a reunion and God’s grace, mourning the death of a friend lost far too young, and learning that a dear sister has breast cancer.  I am both in awe and numb all at the same time. But that’s life, isn’t it?

On Christmas day, I visited a place that meant much to me during my teenage years. It was a gloomy old bridge in the middle of nowhere, and I used to go there to escape the turmoil of my world. I would sit mesmerized, staring into its black waters, and more than once I contemplated letting them swallow me up.

It was strange to visit those same waters as an adult, saved by the amazing grace of God, and see them so differently.  The black waters still swirl, but they no longer beckon me… because my hope is no longer in escaping the tough situations in my life; my hope is in Jesus.

I am aware that I am only ever on the edge in this life. This world is not my home, and every part of my physical body wars against the spirit that God has placed inside me. This world is fallen; every part of it is broken.  Everywhere is temptation, and I am only one thought, one arm’s reach, one choice away from going over the edge. God’s grace alone holds me in place.

And what of this grace? This infinite, unwavering, steadfast grace that He offers? It is the one that allows me to look at those swirling waters and see the miracle in them, the one that whispers, “You are loved; you have a purpose; and you need only look to Me.”

One of our pastors, Dan Reeves, once said, “The greatest indicator of God’s future faithfulness is His past faithfulness.” This thought has resonated with me ever since.  I remember doing Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby, and he echoed that thought as he discussed the patriarchs in the Old Testament. He mentioned how every time God moved mightily in one of their lives, they would build an altar to the Lord in that place and name it after the characteristic that God demonstrated. Blackaby urged us, as believers, to make mental altars in our minds, ones that marked those tough moments in our lives when God rescued us and really showed us who He is.  In our darkest times, we can look to those “altars” and remember His faithfulness.

So when I look at the waters under my bridge, I now think “Emmanuel” because I realize how dark depression can be, and despite my feeling that I was alone, He was ALWAYS with me, directing me in ways that I could never have even imagined.

You see, God is sovereign. He is in control of absolutely everything in the universe. He knew your innermost being before He spoke words and created the world. But even more than that, He is GOOD.  I think sometimes we forget that He is not just in control…HE IS GOOD.

Whatever difficulties you face, reflect on your altars, remember His power, and know that He is good and loves you infinitely and irrevocably.

Trust Him.

The edge is not the end, and it won’t swallow you up; it’s where He will help you walk on water.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

    Psalm 91

Rapture Practice: Calling All Christians

I hear it all the time. “Lord, come quickly!”

But it’s not a fervent, prayerful request or a sincere desire of our hearts. It’s usually accompanied by scoffing, eye-rolling, or perhaps an attempt to ask God to deliver us from whatever obstacle we are facing at the moment.

But I want to ask you something. What if He did return? What if He came back tomorrow at 12 pm.   What would you do tonight?

If your answer is anything other than what you already had planned,  then you aren’t ready. Neither am I.

You see, of the 7+ billion people in the world, more than half have little to no access to the Gospel.  And let’s be realistic– among those who do have access to the Gospel, relatively few choose to accept it. So I’ll ask you again…do you still want Jesus to come quickly?  Do you understand that this would mean the end for nearly 5 billion people?

When I look at the world and how far we are from the will of God, I often wonder where the wrathful God of the Old Testament is.  I wonder how Sodom and Gomorrah could be destroyed, yet we could stand through the terrors of Nero, Hitler, and more currently, ISIS.  Why would God not choose to end this?

And then it hits me.  It is God’s GRACE that keeps Him from returning. He WILL return but not until every ear has heard the Good News.  He will not give up on us, even when we are ready to give up on each other, and that should challenge us to love more deeply than we ever thought possible.

So enough with the division. Enough with the negative comments. Enough with the narcissism. Enough with the hatred. These are not of God. In fact, He gave us specific instructions for how we are to handle ourselves as we await His return.

So consider yourself cordially invited to Rapture Practice.

12 But we request of you, brethren, that you [i]appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you [j]instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the [k]unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic [l]utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every [m]form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

25 Brethren, pray for us[n].

26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

As we enter a time of reflection before the beginning of a new year, I am asking you, fellow follower of Christ, to examine your life.  Do each of these verses describe you? If not, you may have some practicing to do.




More Than Just A “Sit and Soak” Christian

I see you. You’re tired, stressed, pulled in a thousand different directions. Some of you are grieving losses that the world cannot fathom, losses of childhood, innocence, family, friends, jobs, marriages, and hope altogether.  Mary Magdalene must’ve been the same way.

I can just imagine her, heading to the tomb…reliving every gruesome moment of His death, watching as they nailed Him to the cross, weeping with His mother as she likely collapsed under the weight of what the soldiers and the crowd were doing to her Son. Listening to the cries of the Lamb of God.

I bet she relived every moment…the moment that He saved her…the moment that He pulled her out of the darkness and released from her the demons that controlled her mind. I wonder if she smiled to think of the new life that He gave her or if she was too torn with grief to even consider it.

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in [a]Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).

John 20: 11-16

How could she not have known that she was speaking to Jesus?  Was it too dark in the tomb? Was she too sleepy or upset? Did she miss the angels sitting there?  How many times had she heard Jesus’ voice? How could she have missed Him standing right in front of her?

Maybe a better question would be, “How often do we do the same thing?”

When we go to church, we expect to meet Jesus.  When we are praying or reading the Bible, we expect to meet Jesus. When we go to work…do we expect to meet Jesus?  When we’re doing the dishes, cleaning the house, and trying to get our children to stop fighting, do we expect to meet Jesus?  Perhaps Mary didn’t recognize Jesus because she wasn’t expecting Him.

And this thought makes me ponder how many times a day I miss Him.  How many times is He prompting my heart, but I am not truly listening.  How many times do my own griefs and troubles drown out the sound of my Shepherd’s voice?

But then He calls her attention; she recognizes Him; and I can just imagine the excitement in her heart.  He is standing before her, alive! I don’t know about you, but I would fall straight down on my face, too. I would never want to leave his presence, and I don’t think she intended to. You see, Mary’s relationship with Jesus was based on His physical presence. She needed to be physically near Him…and who wouldn’t want to be?  But we can’t miss what Jesus tells her next:

17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

John 20: 17-18

Stop clinging to Me.

Stop clinging to Me?!  But Lord, isn’t that what you want?  There is no place that I feel more refreshed and whole than at Your feet! I love my quiet time and my small group and my coffee/prayer talk with my Christian friends and my pastor’s sermons and my…

Stop clinging to Me…Go and tell what you have seen.

And there we have it: the missing piece.  In a world that is starving for authenticity, starving for the Truth of the One who can save them, we have chosen instead to sit and soak on all that we are “learning” rather than share what we have seen with the lost.

Don’t misunderstand me: there is NOTHING more important than our intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nothing! But if no one ever hears the Gospel, have we really fulfilled our purpose?

We imagine America as a “Christian” country, but according to Pew Forum’s 2014 poll, only 25% of Americans are evangelicals. Only 13.1% of the entire world is evangelical Christian.  Considering that 108 people die every minute in our world, I’d say we have work to do.

So this brings us to the subject at hand: how do we move beyond the boxed up version of Jesus in our prayer closets and recognize Jesus’ prompting in our daily lives? How do we truly share Him with others and move from a mindset of  “me” to a mindset of missions?

First, we must EXPECT to meet Jesus…in every moment of every day. We must pray for open eyes and an open heart. We must train our ears to hear our Shepherd’s voice, even in the most unexpected places. And we must realize that there is so much more to the Christian life than simply overcoming our own trials.  We must look at the bigger picture: the Kingdom.

And we must share what we have seen. No, Jesus didn’t “need” Mary. He would’ve appeared to the disciples either way. But He allowed her to be part of what He was doing, and her obedience grew her own faith and prepared the way for His appearance to them. This set the standard for what He requires all of us to do–go and tell! I once heard a missionary say, God calls; the Holy Spirit convicts; Jesus saves.  Your job is to tell the story.  We see the same principle at work here. Mary was commanded to tell what she had seen, and Jesus followed. Oh that the same would happen for us– that we would share our stories only to have Jesus Himself show up!

19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, [b]Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

John 20: 19-21

I can’t even fathom the awe of the disciples when Jesus appeared. I’m sure they were eager to see Him establish His Kingdom, the one they believed would be on the earth.  But Jesus’ Kingdom would look different than they expected, and His instructions would be simple ones: Share the Gospel.

He showed them His hands– the same ones that were pierced for our transgressions. The ones that were nailed to the cross that we should’ve borne.

He appeared to them after rising from the dead– the incomprehensible realization that He not only died for our sins but that He overcame death for us.

He prepares to ascend to the Father, the same one that He says is also now their Father because they have trusted in Jesus.  The Father who is now restored to them.

You see, the Gospel is not some long story that we have to memorize.  We are all broken, but God didn’t leave us that way. He sent His only Son who lived a perfect life and sacrificed Himself on the cross to pay for our sins. He was buried and arose three days later. He offers us eternal life and restoration with the Father if only we believe what He has done, believe that His sacrifice can save us, and trust Him to be Lord of our lives.

See?  It’s that simple.

So how does that translate to missions?

Jesus is sending us. He tells us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:20), and He tells us to start in our own backyard (Acts 1:8). When is the last time we truly asked the Lord to break our hearts for the lost that are right in front of us? For the lost in our city? For the lost in our country? For the lost around the world?

No one on earth has the exact same inner circle as you.  Only you have your family, your friends, your coworkers, your routine, and the people that you encounter every day. Have you considered how to reach them? Have you considered that God has placed you exactly where you are for a purpose bigger than you? Are you complaining about the disgruntled people around you, gossiping about the wild coworker, judging another’s parenting skills, comparing yourself to the ones who seem to have it all together… or are you recognizing that some of these people are LOST?

One thing is certain: being a “good” person is not enough. Posting a Scripture on social media is not enough.  Hoping that someone will magically ask you if they can come to your church will likely not happen, and even if it does, there’s no guarantee that they will come back.

YOU must SHARE the Gospel…and you must LIVE it, too. Yes, you!

So that’s a start…because missions isn’t location specific; it’s a mindset.

Then there’s your city, your state, your country, and even the ends of the earth. Because Jesus is worth it. Because He commands it. Because our joy overflows to the point that we can’t help but share our REAL, PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, not some scripted version of religion. We must share what we have seen, just as Jesus commanded Mary to do.

It’s time to stop sitting and soaking, and go out there and get our feet dirty.  Then we should repeat the cycle and soak again…then go and tell again.  And this should be the beautiful race that we run because the world is still lost…and it is our job to share the Gospel.

How Can You Get Involved?


  • Minister to your family– remember, Jesus commands us to make disciples, not converts! How are you reflecting Jesus’ love to your family members? How are you talking about all that He has done? Who are you discipling right now?
  • Work, Kid Stuff, Daily Activities:  Identify a few people that you can build intentional relationships with.  How can you share with these people?

At Church:

  • What are your spiritual gifts?  Are you using them?
  • Who can you encourage that is outside of your typical friend group?
  • Where can you serve? (Greeting, singing, media, teaching, stocking pews, preparing food, children, youth, college, etc.)
  • Sit by someone who is sitting alone and talk to him/her!
  • Connections: Participate in community outreach such as writing letters, making phone calls, going on visits, and participating in events that help to share the love of Jesus.

Jonesboro Opportunities:

  • Foster Care/Adoption
  • Pregnancy Resource Center
  • International Student Ministry
  • Chinese Church
  • Family Care Home
  • Mercy Ministries
  • Kids at the Cross
  • Prayer Walking
  • Adopt an ASU football player
  • Christian Men and Women’s Job Corps

Arkansas Opportunities:

  • Prison Ministry
  • Children’s Homes
  • Forrest City Church Plant

USA Opportunities:

  • Spokane, WA church plant
  • Seattle, WA church plant
  • Alaska church plant
  • Brooklyn, NY church plant
  • Denver, CO church plant
  • Santa Barbara, CA church plant
  • Montana “Fry Bread” church plant
  • St. Louis, MO- outreach before Pastor’s Conference
  • New Orleans- Global Maritime Ministries

International Opportunities:

  • Haiti
  • Uganda
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Egypt
  • South Africa
  • Poland
  • Guatemala
  • Nicaragua (youth)
  • India

Want to know more about any of the CBC opportunities above? Contact Bro. Danny at Word Campus! 🙂

Worth the Risk: A Response to the Refugee Crisis

We’ve all seen the pictures—the ones of men lined up on the beach waiting to have their heads chopped off. We’ve cried through the photos of children with tear-filled eyes posing with the leaders as a “warning” for the media. We’ve been enraged to hear about groups of people who have been forced to leave their communities, starve on a mountainside, and wait for an imminent death. We’ve heard of the rape, the torture, the crucifixions, the burnings… and we are angry.

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Southern Baptist Convention. The theme was prayer, and I can never express the power of the Holy Spirit in those moments when thousands of pastors cried out to The Lord for our families, our cities, our country, and our world.

The last part of the night was prayer for the persecuted. As the faces of our brothers and sisters from around the world flashed across enormous, panoramic screens, I couldn’t contain my sorrow. Sorrow for those who are facing a hell that I cannot even comprehend, and sorrow that I could live my life and only have them as an afterthought. Why had I not been praying, fasting, relentlessly seeking wisdom from the Word and interceding on behalf of these people? How could I have been so inconsistent? How could I forget the innocent blood being spilled? How could I have been so selfish?

So I prayed. I prayed for deliverance for them. I prayed for brave men and women to rise up with the courage to fight the terrorists. I prayed for the Lord to remove the enemy. I prayed for the believers to remain strong and look to the Lord. I prayed for the terrorists to have dreams and visions of Jesus. And more than anything, I prayed for the Gospel to spread like wildfire.

Fast forward just five months, and something miraculous is happening. Because of the persecution, the people of the Middle East are beginning to question things that they have never questioned before. They are beginning to wonder why they are being forced to subscribe to a particular extremist brand of their religion. They are wondering why people are willing to die for Jesus. They are wondering why a line of men sang praise songs to Jesus until their cords were severed with knives.   And a movement is happening. But you’ll never hear about it on the news.

And then another miracle happened. The Lord answered our prayers. He delivered the people from the arms of the enemy. He gave them safe haven in a number of countries, and HE even hand-delivered them to our doorsteps so that they could hear the Gospel and sleep without fear of death.

And we welcomed them…with hatred, closed borders, name-calling, stereotyping, and prejudice. We looked at the color of their skin, the hijabs on their heads, and the country from which they came, and we forgot that they are the very people that we asked God to deliver and chose instead to brand them all terrorists by affiliation.

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you to pray and ask the Lord for wisdom in this situation. The Gospel has NEVER been about comfort, safety, and prosperity. If you don’t believe me, just look at the lives and deaths of Jesus’ own disciples. Better yet, look at Jesus’ life! These people are simply LOST, just as you and I were once lost. I implore you; pray and ask the Lord to show you how to see them the way HE sees them. He loved them so much that He died for them; who are we to deem them unworthy?

I understand that this is scary. I understand the potential threat. And I understand that the Gospel is WORTH IT ALL. I am in awe of how gracious our Lord is to give us such an amazing opportunity to share and to give these people such an unlikely opportunity to hear the saving, glorious Gospel of Jesus. We don’t have to go to the front lines; we don’t have to sacrifice anything except our personal, luxurious comfort.

It’s time for us to rise up and BE the church. We should love these people (and ALL people) so immensely that they can’t help but wonder the source of our love. We should pour out ourselves in every way possible to show kindness, friendship, aide, education, and any other means available to bridge the Gospel to them. We shouldn’t be fearful of foreigners if they come to our churches; we should welcome them with open arms and as much love as humanly possible. Because this is what Jesus would do and what He commands us to do.

I realize that many of you will disagree with me, and that’s okay. This is truly the conviction of my heart. All I am asking is that you genuinely seek the Lord in how to handle this situation. If your words flow from the condition of your heart, what does the world see when it reads your social media posts?

As for me, I am excited. God is never surprised and always has a plan. My prayer is to be ready for every incredible opportunity that He has in store! He is working everything out for good…we just have to have the right vision to see it.

Thus says God the LORD,
            Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
            Who spread out the earth and its offspring,
            Who gives breath to the people on it
            And spirit to those who walk in it

  I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness,
            I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
            And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
            As a light to the nations,

   To open blind eyes,
            To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
            And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.

Isaiah 42:5-7


"But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:1