Saturday, October 14, 2006

Basic Principles

Many times we read in the history of modern missions tales about men and women who struggled for years before they saw any real fruit. I used to think of their hard work and dedication as they struggled on what must have been really hard ground. After ten years on the field I decided something else as well; that's how long it takes our Lord to work in us until we are useful for His purposes.
We began learning many useful things from friends, coworkers, the Word, and even a few heretics and nut cases. We began putting together some basic principles that we felt were essential in our situation.
1. The Word of God. It is the beginning and end of the resources we need to do the work. I have decided that tracks, study materials, Bible studies etc etc are all crutches for us, usually needed because we do not handle the Word well. That's harsh but I believe in the end it is true.
2. All discipleship questions are to be answered by the question, 'What does the Bible say?' I endeaver never to say power hoarding things like, 'We have always believed that....', 'We have traditionally practiced....', 'Just do it like I told you.' Try this and you will be amazed at how freeing it is and more importantly, how powerful it is.
3. Vote no on extraction evangelism. Generally many people only win 20 year olds to faith because they only have faith to believe they can talk the younger kids into what they believe. We refuse to share to individuals. We share with families and whenever possible whole communities. By respecting the community and the family we have achieved some success at getting away from extraction EV.
4. Prayer is the way to fight the spiritual fight that must be fought. Seeing men and women set free from the evil one is miraculous and we expect to see the miraculous happen in our work. When we see the Boss moving we will join him.
5. Fear is from the evil one. 100% of all decisions based on fear are the wrong decisions. We serve what we fear therefore we will fear God alone.
6. It is about the people. It is about the people. It is about the people. Christ died for people therefore if we would serve Him we must live for them.

So, in year 2000 Beren came to me and told me that the Lord had asked him to start a church for people from Mordor right here in Minas Tirith. He was from Mordor himself and had been a believer for about 2 years when I met him. He had escaped the war in that country and was working with another aid agency here in Minas Tirith. He said he just needed a place and someone to lead it. I said, 'Beren, I think the Lord has already picked someone to lead it.' His eyes grew wide and he said no, wouldn't I do it? I told him no way but if he would be obedient I would help him. Two weeks later he came and we began meeting. People from Mordor are not really welcome here and it was difficult for them. I met with Beren two or three times a week and he met with his small group on Saturday mornings. On Saturday afternoons he would meet with a small group of seekers and on Sundays he would meet and disciple individuals. I never met any of those in his group. This is called shadow pastoring and it was a thrill for me to be used of God in this way. Every meeting with him I would say, 'Tell me about your people, what are you facing?' He would say a few things and then the Holy Spirit would tell me where to go. I would say, 'That sounds like Philippians 2. Let's look at it.' I answered all questions with Bible verses and never ever said anything like, 'When I was a pastor in West Virginia we...' It was very hard but very rewarding. I wondered how quickly this methodology would be reproducible and I soon got my answer. After ten weeks I saw him on a Monday and asked him how the study on Second Corinthians had gone. He replied that they didn't study Corinthians, they had done Psalm 27. I said, 'But we have never studied Ps 27!' He said, 'I know but they were talking together and I thought it sounded like they needed Ps. 27 which I had read last week in my devotions so that is what we did.' In another 6 weeks he was teaching the various men in the group to lead. He had moved from disciple, to Pastor, to Church Planter in the space of three months.
The group received no instruction whatsoever that was not from the Word so all issues not dealt with in the Word were decided by themselves. This may be wrong but some friends of mine think that this is the first ever group of Mordor believers lead by people from Mordor- a real Mordor church right in Minas Tirith. In September of 2001 significant things happened and Morder's black gates came crashing down. The church disbanded and most went back to Mordor. Two families immediately started house churches in the Capitol. Another family still serves faithfully in the north of the Country.
We tried the basic principles for the first time and they seemed to work. In the next couple of years the Boss would open our eyes as to what His Church and His Kingdom were really about.

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