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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!

Title: Dispatches From the Front: Stories of the Gospel’s Advance in the World’s Difficult Places
Pages: 240
ISBN: 978-1-4335-4069
Release date: May 31, 2014

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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?

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  • 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.

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Join me in 2 years for T4G on April 12-14, 2016.

Battle Wounds…

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”

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.

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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.

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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

Chris’s book Tangible is available from NavPress and will be for sale at Grace Church on November 17th. Here’s the print version and the Kindle version. I invite you to come hear Chris!

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)
www.christianfreedom.org

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CFI was founded with the help of a religious freedom lawyer on whose legal team I worked. The CFI Newsletter, mailed for free, provides a stunning visual report of persecution against believers.

Frontline Missions, International
www.frontlinemissions.info

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.

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Voice of the Martyrs (VOM)
www.persecution.com

Their web site is a treasure trove of resources on this issue.

Operation WORLD
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.

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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 Neighborshere. This book is the basis of an upcoming study at Adult Bible Class.

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Title: The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence
Author: Thabiti Anyabwile
Publisher: Moody Publishers (April 1, 2010)
ISBN: 0802471110
Length: 176 pages

Summary
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.

Recommendation
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.

Praying with Jesus for Victory

October 6th, 2013

Sermon Title: Praying with Jesus for Victory
Speaker: Josh Jensen, Missionary to Cambodia
Text: Psalm 20
Explore their ministry at www.jarai-in-cambodia.org

Listen by clicking the audio player at the end of this post.

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Online giving (tax-deductible) is now available to give toward the August Missions Offering. Here’s the scoop.

What’s the August Missions Offering?
This August we are raising funds to give to our missionaries in Scotland (Nathan and Krystal Young) and Croatia (Matt and Ellen Bjerk). The funds will be divided between them to go:

  • to their Vehicle Funds, and
  • to help GCA members travel to help the Bjerks in the summer of 2014.

Three Ways To Give

  1. Give now via PayPal. 
    Your online gift will go to the Missions Offering.




  2. Give via check
    Write “missions” on your check’s memo line and deposit the check in the offering box on Sunday.
  3. Give via cash
    Write “Missions” on the “Special Offering” envelopes at the offering box on Sunday and deposit your gift in the offering box.

Thank you for considering giving above and beyond your regular offering to assist these families who are laboring for the kingdom of God.

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From time to time, I write about missionaries and missions efforts that deserve your attention. This week the missions spotlight turns to Don and Katrina Hines who ministery to members of the military and their families in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area. We welcomed Don and Katrina to Grace Church last Sunday to present their ministry and help us think about becoming an even more military-friendly church.

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A Military-Friendly Church

Welcoming and serving members of the military is part of the heartbeat at Grace Church of Alexandria. We work to spiritually support servicemen and women, as right now, 33% of our members are active duty or military retirees. Every Sunday, members of the military check out our church and consider making it their spiritual home, since our church is surrounded by a ring of bases including the Pentagon, Ft. Belvoir, Ft. Myer, Andrews Air Force Base, and Joint Base Anacostia–Bolling. In fact, we’re one of the closest churches to the new Mark Center extension of Ft. Belvoir which has brought thousands of servicemen and women to Alexandria. We endeavor to support the wounded warriors, families of deployed soldiers, retirees, and others, who are part of Grace Church.
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Don and Katrina are focusing on supporting families who are in the military in the Norfolk, Virginia area. Their agency Military Ministry–a division of CRU–focuses on strengthening military families. Why focus on families? The stresses of war are taking a toll on the families who protect our country. For example one platoon leader successfully led the thirty troops under his command safely through a deployment in Afghanistan without a casualty. However, after just a few weeks back in the States, two of his soldiers committed suicide, and five left their families. This platoon leader says, the war is continuing, even though they’re back home. And so, the Hineses will provide seminars on family, marriage counseling, and discipleship to members of the military.

Meet the Hines Family

1. Learn More: www.hines4him.wordpress.com

Check out Don and Katrina’s web site which details their work of spiritually support members of the military.

2. Give now.

The Hineses are at 50% of the support they need to carry out this vital work. Give a one-time gift or start supporting them monthly here.

Resources For Military Ministry

Their missions has launched a web site with practical ideas for churches and individuals to care effectively for servicemen and women. Check it out: www.militaryreadyfamilyorg.businesscatalyst.com

Here’s a helpful .pdf with a palette of ideas which GCA is drawing from to implement. Suggestions include:

  • Marriage Enrichment: provide a scholarship to military families to Military Ministry marriage enrichment seminars such as “A Weekend to Remember” geared for military couples;
  • Prayer: take time to pray for servicemen and women in your church;
  • Commissioning: Hold a special time of prayer for those being transferred to a new duty station;
  • Relocation Services: help your military families and members find a gospel-centered church at their new duty station;
  • and more…

Also, Military Ministry has produced this in-depth guide for churches to care for servicemen and women.

Conclusion

Members of the military are some of the most faithful, passionate, and diligent participants of our church in Alexandria. We are glad for our friendship with Don and Katrina Hines, which is helping us to find even better ideas to serve the active duty and retirees who are becoming part of our church.

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