February 18th, 2015
How should we think about violent and bloody persecution against Christians across the globe right now? What in the world is going on as 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians were beheaded last week by an ever-advancing ISIS? Is the gospel losing ground as 7,000 Christians have been martyred by Boko Haram and al-Shabaab recently?
In his latest prayer letter, one of Grace Church’s friends, Tim Keesee of Frontline Missions, reminds us of the wise words of Samuel Zwemer, an early missionary to Muslims, who said:
“When you read in reports of troubles and opposition, of burning up books, imprisoning colporteurs, and expelling workers, you must not think the Gospel is being defeated. It is conquering.
What we see under such circumstances is only the dust in the wake of the ploughman. God is turning the world upside down that it may be right side up when Jesus comes. He that plougheth should plough in hope. We may not be able to see a harvest yet in this country, but furrow after furrow, the soil is getting ready for the seed.”
November 11th, 2014
Are you wondering how we get involved in global missions here at Grace Church of Alexandria. Looking for ideas on how to do missions with the limited resources of a small church?
GCA’s Missions Mindset
Grace Church of Alexandria’s global missions efforts are featured in the October 2014 edition of Postings: The Missions Mobilizers’ E-newsletter (p. 3). In it, one of our pastors and our missionaries who have been working in the Middle East describe Grace Church’s heavy emphasis on relationships and spiritual care for our cross-cultural workers, since we have limited physical resources as a church of one hundred people.
A Surprising Request
What’s amusing to me is that I’ve been seeking advice from the missions team at Catalyst on how to leverage our limited resources as a small church in order to do missions well. What began as conversations seeking their advice ended out as an interview featuring the intensive spiritual care we provide our missionaries, along with our missions advocate program. You’ll also find the 3 other interviews in this issue of Postings helpful to think about global missions with a limited small church missions budget.
Resources for Developing Missions at your Church
I heartily recommend for missions committee members, pastors, and missions-minded Christians to become familiar with these resources by Catalyst.
May 20th, 2014
I am thrilled that Tim Keesee’s Dispatches from the Front book will be released by Crossway on May 31st. This is a book you will not want to miss. Tim is a long-time friend of Grace Church of Alexandria and one of the original people who encouraged our team to plant a church in the D.C. area. His book is a gripping account of the gospel’s progress in the world’s difficult places.
Dispatches from the Front is a series of moving, well-written stories from Tim of how the good news is making strides in places we’d least expect it. In reading my preview copy, I could barely keep the tears back during each page as I read of believers who have risked all for Christ and have lost so much through persecution. I have also come away simply amazed at the progress that the good news of Jesus Christ is making in places where it hardly seems possible: the gulags of Siberia, the war-ravaged Balkans, and Muslim-dominated Pakistan.
Do yourself a favor and read the preview, then order a copy.
While you’re at it, give a follow to Frontline Mission @flmissions
HT to Melissa McKinnon for alerting me about the book release date and video!
April 16th, 2014
The videos, talks, and stories about evangelism from Together for the Gospel 2014 are well worth your time. This was the most encouraging, practical, refreshing ministry conference I’ve been to. All the audio and video are free for viewing. The theme this year was Unashamed…we have every reason to share and offer the good news of Christ to our broken world.
May I suggest you watch and listen to these T4G ’14 highlights first?
- Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith
John MacArthur on why people walk away from the faith
- The Gospel by Numbers
Ligon Duncan on the treasure we’re offering people through Christ
- Evangelism stories
In short 5 minute videos, hear from believers about the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the payoff from being persistent in witnessing.
- The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners
Thabiti Anyabwile on the joy conversion brings to the sinner, to the witness, and most of all, to God!
Join me in 2 years for T4G on April 12-14, 2016.
March 17th, 2014
It’s always been a mystery to me how the gospel advances best through suffering. These lines from veteran missionary Amy Carmichael help me see why it is that the gospel and Christian living are both cross-shaped.
Captain beloved, battle wounds were Thine,
Let me not wonder if some hurt be mine;
Rather, O Lord, let my deep wonder be That I may share a battle-wound with Thee.
- Amy Carmichael from “Swords Drawn”
December 29th, 2013
Join us Sundays at 9:30 am at Grace Church of Alexandria for an engaging, discussion-oriented class about how to share the gospel with Muslims, and really, anyone who holds different values than you.
November 12th, 2013
Chris Sicks, NavPress author and pastor in Alexandria, will be preaching about mercy ministry at 10:30 am on Sunday November 17, 2013, at Grace Church of Alexandria. Join us at 10:30 am to hear Chris–an engaging, thoughtful, compassionate believer–share how we can make God’s gospel love tangible to people in our city.
Chris has an incredible story of grace to tell, about how God has led his church Alexandria Presbyterian Church to have a powerful ministry to refugees in the Washington D.C. area, which has opened up countless doors to witness. Read the story here.
As I’ve gotten to know Chris, by his life I’ve been personally challenged to reassess how I should more actively and lovingly care for the physical needs of people in my life. By sacrificially meeting physical needs, this opens up doors to speak the truth of the gospel to hurting hearts. Chris has challenged me–what he would call a “word” person”–t0 also be a “deed” person, to make God’s gospel love touchable and real to people, so they will be more open to the saving message of Christ. As Chris says,
“I find it fascinating that Jesus chose to help hurting people as the most frequent proof of his divinity. He could have commanded the sky to rain or snow, moved mountains, and turned rocks into diamonds. These acts would have demonstrated his divinity as clearly as healing and feeding did. He once calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee, but even then his attention was on the terrified men in the boat. Jesus’ heart of compassion was always moved by people and their needs.”
– p. 30 from Tangible
November 5th, 2013
What Is the Day of Prayer?
Each November at Grace Church of Alexandria we take a Sunday to observe International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We join half a million churches worldwide in remembering and interceding for Christians who are oppressed because they follow Christ.
Day Of Prayer at Grace Church – November 10, 2013
This Sunday November 10, 2013, at Grace Church we will actively think about and pray for our beleaguered brothers and sisters in Christ. We invite you to join us at our 10:30 am service in remembering “those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3).
How to Pray for The Persecuted
Here are five resources I recommended to stay informed about Christians suffering for their faith in Christ. These magazines, emails, and books will help you get started in remembering your brothers and sisters in chains, as bound with them.
Christian Freedom International (CFI)
Frontline Missions, International
Download and print Frontline’s 31 Days Prayer Calendar for the Persecuted. Frontline works with Christians in oppressed regions and gives a gospel-minded way to think about mistreatment of believers.
Voice of the Martyrs (VOM)
Their web site is a treasure trove of resources on this issue.
This handy book is an excellent guide to prayer you should consider keeping next to your Bible. For over a decade I’ve used Operation WORLD to help me know how to pray for the spread of the Gospel and for the persecuted church. Every country in the world is described, along with suggestions for prayer for each nation. It is a worthy investment. Click here to download a sample .pdf. Purchase it here.
October 30th, 2013
Stephen Enjaian, a friend of Grace Church, provides this helpful review of Thabiti Anyabwile’s book, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence. Thabiti is a converted Muslim and now Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands. You can also find a video of a helpful conversation between Thabiti and J.D. Greear, another pastor with a heart for Muslims, entitled Loving Our Muslim Neighbors, here. This book is the basis of an upcoming study at Adult Bible Class.
Title: The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence
Author: Thabiti Anyabwile
Publisher: Moody Publishers (April 1, 2010)
Length: 176 pages
Thabiti Anyabwile [on yob WEE lay] knows that most Christians are afraid to talk to Muslims and are intimidated by the theological expertise they think is required. With a joyful style, he shows why every Christian who understands the Gospel is equipped to share it with Muslims. Having left Islam for Christ, Thabiti is living proof that the Gospel is the power of God to Muslims. His new book is the ideal introduction to Muslim evangelism.
Though Part 1 has a greater theological emphasis and Part 2 more application, both parts have a balance of doctrine, example and practical suggestion.
Part 1: The Gospel
Chapter 1: God by Any Other Name?
Chapter 2: Man’s Sin: Resting Lightly on the Muslim Conscience
Chapter 3: Jesus Christ: Fully God and Fully Man
Chapter 4: Jesus Christ: the Lamb Slain—and Resurrected!
Chapter 5: The Response: There’s Repentance and Faith . . . and Then There is Repentance and Faith!
Part 2: As You Witness
Chapter 6: Be Filled with the Spirit
Chapter 7: Trust the Bible
Chapter 8: Be Hospitable
Chapter 9: Use Your Local Church
Chapter 10: Suffer for the Name
Chapter 11: The Good News for African-American Muslims
Thabiti invites his readers to listen as he excitedly tells of his many conversations with Muslims. These conversations illustrate his points in a way that invites us to follow him out the door and join the next encounter.
Thabiti’s own conversion resulted in part from reading the Qur’an’s affirmations of the Bible as God’s Word. He quotes several Qur’ anic passages that show why even according to the Qur’ an, the Bible could not have been corrupted, contrary to what Muslims are taught.
Though Muslims frequently talk of God’s forgiveness, their system ultimately gives them no guarantee of forgiveness. Thabiti recommends explaining the Bible’s unique and rich descriptions of conversion (i.e., the new birth, raised from death to life, united with Christ).
Most Christians have the fear of not knowing “the right answer.” Thabiti shows that we already know what we need to know. Our role is “to lift the hands of suppression [of truth]” and “draw out the knowledge of sin, unrighteousness, God and judgment that God has already placed inside their hearts” (p. 48).
Unless we intentionally seek out Muslims and befriend them, they will never see a vital witness to Christ. This is especially true of Muslim women, who usually have very limited social contact outside their families. Thabiti makes a heartfelt plea for Christian women to reach out to them with hospitality, and offers practical suggestions.
Thabiti gives five action-provoking reasons to be prepared to suffer for our witness. As an African-American, his insights in the closing chapter on African-American Muslims give valuable insight into the unique barriers and opportunities of witnessing to these individuals.
Authors are pleased enough that people buy and read their books. I will go a step further. I am actually using The Gospel for Muslims to evangelize Muslims. Read this little treasure and be ready to share the Gospel with Muslims—with confidence.
You may purchase the book here.
Stephen Enjaian is a member of our sending church, Heritage Bible Church and regularly writes at www.activefaith.wordpress.com.