Category Archives: Mission Nation Public

Found For A Purpose

Found For A Purpose

Missionary to America Professor Shang Ik Moon

Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know about me and what I am doing. I have sent him to you for this very purpose,that you may know about us, and that he may encourage your hearts. Ephesians 6:21-22 

Professor Shang Ik Moon had seen the movie. It was a good thing, because chances for his survival were not good. He can tell you in his own words:

The bullets flying and the bombs falling were just the beginning. It was after this, as a child on a dark mountain in South Korea, with snow piling up, cradling his infant nephew in his arms, hiding in a crevice away from the freezing cold winter  weather , with hostile soldiers moving around him, it was then that the memory came back. A classmate had invited Shang Ik to see the Jesus Movie. He hadn’t gotten a lot out of it, but he remembered one thing, Jesus saying, “I will be with you always.”  Now, for the first time, he prayed – “Jesus, be with me.”

 St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, cited above, was written from prison – a time when Paul must have been wondering how, if at all, his suffering would have a purpose. But Paul sends his representative Tychicus to comfort the Ephesian Christians in their struggles! What an act of love; what an act of faith.   Matthew quotes Jesus, “Lo (pay attention, this is important) I am with your always.” Sometimes it means just putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that He knows where we should go and we are just following Him, blindly, believing He is with us.  You and I know about that. I sure do.  

In 2016 LK Wood, the scion of the Wood Realty Company in St. Louis, asked for my help to write his biography. LK (Lowell Kenneth) had a story of survival and faith he wanted to share. I had never written a biography, and really wasn’t interested, I had my own purposes to fulfill,. But LK was persistent.  So, it turns out, was the Lord. 

I interviewed LK, recorded the interviews on audio tape, and wrote what he told me. It took months, and before I was finished LK, eighty nine years old, passed away. Patty, LK’s loving wife, wanted the world to know his story and brought the manuscript to a publisher, Rebeca Seitz. This had not been my understanding when the work began – it was supposed to be an account for LK’s family. The publicist concurred. What I had written was not for commercial consumption – but, she said, if I wanted to work with a coach, learn to write biography and rewrite the book, well, maybe there would be a future for the book in bookstores. 

To make a long story short, I worked with a wonderful coach, Julie Ieron, who had many books published. We took six months to re-write LK WOOD, AS EVERYONE SHOULD, for sale in book stores and on line. But that was just the beginning. I wondered what I would to do with this new skill. I realized the Lord had opened a new door for ministry:  I began Mission Nation Publishing Company to publish the biographies of new missionaries to America. These are courageous, intelligent, passionate men and women whom I had met while leading missions in the United States for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Missionaries like Shang Ik Moon.

When US Army Air Force Chaplain Eduard Vajda asked the Korean boy, “What is your purpose?” he had no idea. However, he was willing to go through the door Jesus was opening.  Decades later Professor Shang Ik Moon retired as the Provost of Concordia University. You can read the full story of how one child in the midst of a horrific experience in a horrific war found the purpose created for him by the God he had met in a movie.

Maybe you are just trying to put one foot in front of the other, unsure of where the Lord is leading. At those times, allow Him to cradle you in His arms, to carry you through the fierce storms and hostile challenges and bring you to the purpose He has for you.  This may be difficult, may even be impossible, and we may even have given up. That is why Jesus died in our place. Jesus did kep going, He followed  through on God’s purpose for His life; He did that for you and me and for all who are confused about where the Lord is leading. He said for us all and on our behalf, “Father, into hour hands I commend my spirit.” Jesus did not give up because it was God’s purpose for Him to love and forgive us all.

Still, out of His love, when you and I commend ourselves into His hands, in time He will reveal His purpose, He will help us to know Him, and He will encourage our heart. 

To purchase the biography of Professor Moon, The Bulletproof Missionary, click here.

To see the full interview with Professor Moon, click here.

 

 

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I BECAME A CHRISTIAN IN SAUDI ARABIA

I Became a Christian in Saudi Arabia

Missionary to America Rev. Tesfait Tesema

Surprises. Any one involved in mission work has had them; I have.

When I was the pastor of Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey we asked the poor in our community how we could help. We found there was a need for affordable day care. None of us knew how to start a day care center, so we did what you do when you don’t know something – we formed a committee. But most of all, we prayed. A secular early learning center was already using  the area where the new center would be; income from the existing center was helping us pay what, at the time, was an onerous mortgage.  I would be lying if I said we went into this without some trepidation.

After the committee was formed, two people joined the church who had started day care centers. The business of one member was tasked to invest $50,000 in a community project and loved what we were doing. The first year we used the donation. The second year of operation we cleared  $20,000 and gave $10,000 to another church starting a Christian day care. Years later, the learnings from that experience helped more than sixty new child development centers begin in the US.

So, what does that have to do with the Missionary to America, Tesfait Tesema?

Tesfait grew up in Ethiopia, in a time of civil disruption.  His early years were spent away from his family’s Orthodox Christian faith – looking for fulfillment in drugs and immature personal choices. When the Ethiopian monarchy ended, a famine was raging , and a Soviet style Communist government took over. Tesfait joined the Communists. Eventually he fell out of favor with the new leaders; he was arrested once, and, to avoid further imprisonment, in a  harrowing escape, he and two young women fled across the desert to Djibouti.  This was not the dream he had for his life.

He was finally able to contact his parents in Ethiopia and begged for their help. By God’s grace, there was an uncle, a trader, who brought goods from Saudi Arabia to sell in Djibouti. The uncle agreed to bring the young Tesfait with him back to the country that contains the sacred sites of Islam. Then, after a few weeks, the uncle left Saudi Arabia to ply his trade elsewhere.

Alone, left to fend for himself, Tesfait Tesema signed onto a building project out in the Arabian desert. He would have to live in a compound, segregated from the general population. Could life become any more difficult? But then, an invitation.

One of the workers in the compound, a Chinese man, invited him to study the Bible with him and a Chinese friend of his. Tesfait, now a young man, did not know any one “studied” the Bible.  To him, the Bible was a talisman – something that was brought out on holy days to kiss, or put under your pillow when you were sick. With nothing else to do, in a compound out in the desert, he accepted the invitation. Then, the surprise.

His first step was going to the Bible Study. Once there, the Word of the Lord pierced his heart like the sharp, double edged sword it is. That night he lay awake, terrified at the recognition of his sin, longing for the healing of his soul. He rushed through the Bible given him by the Bible study leader, furiously trying to find the text they had studied; but with no knowledge of Scripture,  no sense of how to search God’s Word, he was at a loss. Then, surprise. He discovered that God was taking a step towards him.  in the front of the Bible he found “A Sinner’s Prayer.”  He got on his knees, and he prayed:

“Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

After that, his life began to change. First, more trouble: he wanted to tell everyone what he had learned – including Muslims. That ended poorly. God then used his fear and pain to do miraculous things to and through His servant, Tesfait Tesema. For some time he led an evangelistic outreach in the Sudan, and began the first church to worship in Amharic. Eventually, he was surprised to find himself in the United States, starting new missions and leading a growing, ethnically diverse, congregation in San Jose, California.

For all those whom God has called, all who take the first step, a surprise always awaits. As Peter said, (Acts 3:12), “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you?”

To hear the rest of Tesfait’s video interview, click here I assure you, you will encounter many wonderful surprises.

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A Gun To His Head

The Missionary With A Gun To His Head

Missionary to America Rev. James Roy

Three men forced him into a car and drove him to a place where no one would hear the gunshot. James Roy had been the executive director of a Christian care ministry in Bangladesh. In his role of directing various relief efforts, he did not shy away from using words to relieve spiritual pain, telling hurting people about the love of God, shown chiefly in God’s Son, Jesus. Now three Muslim extremists were trying to convince him to eschew that type of relief. When one of them put a gun to his temple, he knew they were serious. It was also a reason to leave Bangladesh. James knew it was time for him to step back from evangelistic ministry for a while. His agency helped him leave quickly, and settle in New York City.

He was offered a coordinator position for an educational ministry on Long Island. He was all set to accept their $60,000 a year offer, when a different call came out of the blue, rather, out of the subway. James was emerging from the Jamaica, Queens, subway station when Pr. Udit, a missionary from Guyana, approached him. They had not met before. Missionary Udit stopped James Roy and said to him, “We need someone to preach to Muslims in New York. Maybe God has chosen you.”

James was astounded; he did not know how to respond. Pr. Udit asked for his phone number and three days later James heard from Udit’s boss, Rev. Dave Born. Rev. Born offered him $1,200 a month to begin an outreach to Bengali speaking refugees in New York City. The education ministry on Long Island was tempting, for many reasons. In the end, James Roy could not ignore the call to again bring Jesus to Muslim hearts.  He says, “If I did not go and preach to Muslims, I would have been like Jonah.” Today Rev. James is a missionary/pastor to a Bengali congregation in NYC.

It is a gift to be able to know when one should end a ministry.  It was clear in Rev. Roy’s time in Bangladesh. St. Paul had to end his dream  of bringing the gospel to Asia when he saw the door had closed to Bithynia. It took faith and courage to move on. That is when the Spirit showed him the open door to Europe, via Macedonia.

Maybe you can see the end of a ministry. You may be afraid, or guilty. Instead, look up – there is another door that is open, even if it is hard to see right now. After all, who saw the door God would open for Israel through a sea, or above all, the open door of the tomb where Jesus was placed. Tell me, if God can open the closed door of a tomb, wouldn’t He be able to open any closed door?

 

 

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Why Reach Immigrants

Yared Halche Has A Dream To Unite All People in ChristSnapshot 1 (2-24-2016 3-44 PM)

In nineteenth century St. Louis local newspapers railed against German immigrants. “They are everywhere, setting up houses in alley ways, littering the streets. There is German crime, German garbage and German political unrest all over the city.” The same things were being said in New York about Italian immigrants, and today about Muslim immigrants. We fear what we don’t know.

One denominational leader, perturbed over the lack of growth in his denomination, suggested the only way for that church body to grow again was for the families in his denomination to have more children. There is another way.

Steen Camarota is the Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies.  Based on the most recent data on immigration Camarota says that by the year 2023 immigrants will account for more than one in seven US citizens – when that happens it will be the largest percentage of immigrants as a part of our population ever recorded. And this percentage will continue to grow. In fact, the Census Bureau says that the immigrant population will grow four times faster than the native-born population. By 2060 immigrants will account for 18.8% of the population.

Why reach immigrants? Luke says in Acts 17:26, “God created every nation and determined the exact times and places where they were to live.” If that is true, and I believe it is, then it is the Lord who is bringing immigrants here. It is the Lord who is bringing Muslims, Koreans, Arabs, people from China and Africa  – most of whom would never be able to hear the gospel or respond in faith in their home countries. These immigrants are gifts that God is giving to the Church in North America – the way previous immigrants were gifts and helped us build a strong country.

What can you do? Encourage the efforts of people in the church to reach out to these “gifts” from God.

Find resources on the Mission Nation Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MissionNationPublishing/?ref=bookmarks). In January we launch our website – (MissionNationPublishing.com). There will be videos, books and other resources to encourage and guide you to bring the good news of God’s love to the peoples the Lord is guiding to us.

Heaven is not going to be a room filled with only white English speaking people. St. John gives us a picture of the heavenly church; “I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” More and more that is the case in many churches in North America. May it be so in your church. This is a matter for prayer.

See a short video of Yared sharing his dream: VideoScreenCapShort5

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WHO ARE THESE CHRISTIANS?

Who are they, these Christians coming to us from all over the world? They start churches in homes, in strip malls and converted warehouses. What do they want? Why are they here?

If they could tell their stories they would say God called them here as missionaries.

Some came at first as refugees from countries that crucify Christians, take their homes and businesses and destroy their families. Many are students or tourists who come to America expecting to find an alive and vibrant church, as they experienced in their homeland; then they found a country that has lost its soul, and a church that is in decline. this tugs at their hearts and convinces some that their ministry really is in America.

There are others who came to America without faith, and because the gospel has free course here they met Jesus and became disciples.

These Christians feel compelled to stay and share the good news with the people  in America who have been ravaged by spiritual deadness, doubt and depression. They find a culture that no longer glorifies God but instead runs after the things God created. We used to call those things idols, today we call those other things we worship necessities. The sad thing is for the most part these new missionaries urgent to share the love of Jesus with us and others in America are looked down upon and marginalized.

They experience all these things, these Christians from other lands, and it is painful. If they had the opportunity to speak to us, what would they say? What could we learn from them? How can we help them? That is the mission of Mission Nation Publishing Co. – to give a voice to these “Missionaries to America.” We will tell their stories; we will record interviews with them and make those interviews available on our Facebook page, Mission Nation Publishing. We will honor them, and pray for them. We invite you to join us.

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