Missions: Local

As a child, my idea of a missionary was someone who traveled the world and spread the love of God wherever their travels took them! It was such an exciting concept, living in a strange land surrounded by people you couldn’t understand, and living in conditions that were very different than home. I aspired to do this, to travel the world and see what I could do for God. However, as I got older, it became clear that God had different plans, He started directing my heart towards various local children to teen aged programs. In a very short order my passion changed from travels to staying in Winkler and serving God in through local missions!

Local missions often don’t sound exciting to young people, they are too busy chasing after adventure to notice the adventure God might be calling them to right in their own backyard. Local missions can actually be just as exciting, and perhaps even more challenging than missions in some far off land.

What does local missions look like? It can be anything from helping a homeless person by giving them a couple of bucks, to large operations like Siloam Mission in Winnipeg, it can be as simple as saying a prayer for a strange or as complex as supporting a new family in your city, it can be seen or unseen.

This blog post is not to argue that people shouldn’t do missions far away, but that those that are called to local missions heed their calling, commit to their calling, and plant seeds in their local communities. So what I would like to look at is what does the Bible say about mission, what I see the local church doing correctly in regards to local missions, what I think our local church’s could perhaps improve/include in their local mission work.

I want to start with what the Bible says about missions, as I think the Bible is our ultimate guidance when it comes to living a life committed to God. Mark 16:15, Romans 10:13-15, 1 Chronicles 16:24, and Luke 24:47 are just a few verses where we are called to spread the Gospel and God’s love. They talk about the necessity of Christians spreading the word of God, to bring God’s love to all peoples in all locations across the globe, this means your neighbor and even those who would choose to harm you for your belief. We need to remember that in order to live a life devoted to God, we have to listen to his calling, and not our own selfish desires.

One thing I have always commended our local church’s (in Winkler) for is their ability to put aside their differences, and put on a joint worship service every year for the Harvest Festival. I absolutely love the fact that we are so community minded that we are willing to work together to further our brothers and sisters in their walks with Christ! Some things I admire my own church (Grace Mennonite Church) for is their devotion to our local youth, we put a lot of focus on our youth programs and I think it pays off, we have youth heading into all sorts of different mission fields, whether far away or close to home. I think that our church’s have a great awareness of the hurts in our local community and do a great job encouraging others to support local charities/organizations. I think our church’s as an organization is doing great work.

Where I see faults in the system, is with volunteers, I have found that over the last several years there has been a large decrease in volunteers, our church’s members, don’t seem to understand the value that their time adds, it is not all about money; money can keep a program funded, but without volunteers it won’t run. An example of this is my local church’s Sunday school program, every year we start late or just barely make it in time, because we do not have people volunteering as teachers/activity leaders. The tasks of being a Sunday school teacher are not complex, in fact they are very straight forward, everything is laid out for you and you basically have to show up and talk with the kids about Jesus! How hard is that? and guess what leading an activity station is even easier! This same rule applies to most organizations, the jobs of 90% of volunteers are easy and the only thing they require is time.

Basically, if you feel called to local ministry, don’t shy away from it because you think it won’t be an adventure or because you don’t think you will make a difference. Jump at the chance to serve your local community! God calls us to be a shining light on a hill, we live in a dark world that needs to see the light, and that applies to everyone. Live life as a servant because Matthew 20:26 says: “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”

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Aly & Tim Neufeld: Marriage, School, and Life

This post has been a long time coming. I originally planned to have these two as quests on my blog in December, but life has been busy/exhausting these last couple of months. Anyways here is my post about Aly & Tim.

A little background on my relationship with these two. Alyson is my only sister, and we have been through a lot. There were years where we were very close and there were years that we were very far apart. Although our relationship was rocky at times, I believe that we have come out the better for it. I think God used those rough years to teach us both valuable lessons. Tim and I don’t go as far back, but I think we have become good friends in the shorter amount of time. We worked together at McDonald’s for a number of years, and had similar hobbies throughout high school which allowed us to build a strong friendship. I asked Aly & Tim to answer a few questions and here are their responses.

Q: What is one hard thing about being newlyweds
A: I wouldn’t say that there is a hard thing about being newlyweds, it’s a learning experience and it is a lot of fun. I remember lots of people being shocked that we were newlyweds and going to school because they thought it was going to be extremely difficult to do, but it hasn’t been difficult and I am glad that we can help each other out and work together. One thing that isn’t fun about this semester at school is how little we see each other on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that is definitely something we are going to have to work with.
T: Learning to use the word ‘we’ instead of the word ‘I’ is a new change for my vocabulary. As long as we keep our minds open and respect each other, the learning experience Aly mentioned really is a lot of fun. We share a whole life together and we learn to take on the world as a team.

Q: What are some things you guys are currently learning about at Briercrest?
A: A lot. We are learning about all sorts. I am completing a certificate in Biblical studies so I have been taking a lot of bible courses. This semester I am taking Gospels, Intro to Psych II, History of Christianity II, Intro to Christian Theology and General Epistles.
T: Well, I learn Greek, South Asian history, Foundations in youth ministry, Geography (To fill my science requirements), and Exodus. I have taken mostly Bible, History, Theology, and TESOL classes so far.

Q: What have you learned about married life after being married for 9 months?
A: It is a lot of fun, I love being married to my amazing and cute husband. It feels so good to come home to someone you know loves and care for you. I can’t imagine my life without my wonderful husband. Married life is not a piece of cake though, we both have to work through things together and sometimes we have to make difficult decisions.
T: I have learnt that we have created a new family by stepping out of our birth families and uniting into one of our own. I think this is important because it helps us put each other first. I have learnt that married life is great. It is all around a good time. You get to do everything together! Ad she listens to my rambling… which is very important for a rambler like me.

Q: How do you incorporate God in your marriage?
A: We always make sure to pray together and out loud. Often when I am getting frustrated or annoyed I get told to pray or read the Bible. We both find it very important to have God in our marriage and we both try to read the Bible and pray often. In our marriage counseling they talked a lot about communication with the Lord and asking for his guidance on our marriage.
T: Probably one of my favourite times of the day is right before we sleep. For us, this is a time to debrief the day with each other and with God. We encourage and exhort each other to live strong biblical lives, as we are an example to many other couples here who are dating, engaged, or married. We continue to give thanks for the provisions God has granted us, we pray over decisions, and continually ask for guidance in future things.

Q: What are some funny/amusing differences or habits that you learned about each other since being married?
A: I know what Tim is going to say when he answers this question. You will often see us speed walking around Caronport because Tim always like to be on time whenever we go somewhere and I am always okay with being a little late so we often struggle with that difference. For the most part I would say we work with our differences, Tim used to never put away his jacket, now he does, that sort of thing. We are both pretty honest when it comes to things that annoy each other so we work to fix them.
T: First, I don’t think Aly knows how to close a closet door. To her, they must just be holes in the wall. Second, light switches. What are they for? She will never know. Lastly, Aly does not think the action of sitting can be done without another action. This second action can be anything from destroying cup lids to playing with a pencil. We joke about these things, and we have a good time. A wise man told me not to worry about the little things, and he was right. Things go a lot smoother when you just don’t worry about the small stuff.

Q: If you look back on you time that you dated, what are some things you would do differently? the same?
A: Something I really liked about dating is that we spent a lot of time together, I felt like I really got know Tim during this time. While we were dating we also prayed together and read couple’s devotionals together and talked about God and the future a lot. Something I would do differently is do things. We often would watch TV and talk and not do much else. We both did work full time jobs and were pretty tired after a long day’s work and didn’t really want to do much.
T: Aly nailed it with her answer., We were both quite tired after work during that time, but I too wish we would have wasted less time on TV. I think intenionality was a big deal for me, and I made that known. Getting to know someone takes time, so if you want to know someone better, spend more time with them. That part was not rocket science. Sharing dreams and aspirations was something I think is also important. Devotionals, prayer, and spiritual encouragement are great things that worked well for us, and I’d encourage anyone in a strong relationship to do the same.

Q: How have you been reaching out to those around to you to inspire, encourage and love them?
T: Aly & I try to be good examples in how we conduct ourselves in class and among our friends here at Briercrest. We are trying to get more out of our shell this semester and both do some volunteering. Last semester I worked at a local church on Friday nights teaching English and running short bible studies with the immigrants.

Q:Did you have to make any lifestyle changes since moving to Caronport? If so, what and why?
A: Well since we are going to school that is very different from the work lifestyle. I actually have to schedule what my week/dy is going to look like and be disciplined with myu time which I didn’t do at all when I was working because it was the same thing every day. We have a dog so we have learned how to her in our day. We really learned and enhoyed our time here so far and hope to continue doing that.

Q: Are there any verses or words of encouragement that have gotten you through tough times at any point in life or during married life?
A:I have always enjoyed Paul and his letters, especially his letter to the Philippians. His words are encouraging and direct.
Philippians 4:4-9 “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

T:I have five verses right above my computer. They focus me. This smattering of Scripture is to remind me why I am at school, what good my degree will do, how I am going to get it done, and who it is all for.

  1. Micah 6:8 -He has told you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justice, to love kindness,
    And to walk humbly with your God?
  2. Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  3. James 1:5-8 -But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
  4. Philippians 2:13 – For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
  5. Luke 10:2 – And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest that he send out workers into his harvest.

The rules to marriage are simple 1. love God 2. Love each other 3. love others. Marriage is not always simple, but God has provided guidelines in the Bible as to what it should look like. I think Tim and Aly understand these rules and if they follow them they will have a marriage filled with Joy, it won’t always be easy, but it will be joyful!

The Wide Gate: Did We Walk Through It?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

When I look at the world today it is very easy to see that many will find the path of destruction. The world has seen two things this week that clearly show me that. One is the gunman in Moncton (my prayers go out to all those affected) and the second is the first assisted suicide bill being passed in Quebec. These two things show me that the world is only getting worse as more people choose the path of destruction.

My bigger fear is that we as Christians might find ourselves on that path. Matthew 7:13-14 says that the path to life is narrow and the gate is small, I know in my own life that I have veered from this path and joined the easier path, but because I believe in Jesus and when I take the time to learn more about him I know that he will guide me back to where I belong.

The thing is though that we don’t know where our brothers and sisters in Christ are, we have know way of truly knowing which path they are on( often there are outward signs, but these are not always present). So, I want to ask all of you to join me in a month long challenge of devoting a portion of our prayer time for not only the Christians in our individual churches, but in all the churches. Make sure especially to prayer for church leadership and teachers, that they would get things right and be lantern on the path of life.

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” -C.S. Lewis.

Trust in the Lord

Hey everyone,

It has been a while since I posted anything. I would just like to give everyone a brief overview of what has been happening in my life recently. As some of you know March and April are called  “tax season” for me. This year it was busy at work and with school; hence why I have not posted anything in a while. Basically, my life consisted of work, school and being lazy whenever I had a free moment. Recently I have taken up the hobby of painting, I have always loved art, whether that art is on paper, canvas or in the form of music. This has been a source of inspiration for me, because recently I have been so distracted with many different things. Everyday I realize the new things the Devil tries to distract me with. It is hard to resist sometime, and lately I have found it extremely difficult. Continue reading

Making Changes

What has God done in your life to let you know that you need to make a change? Have you been paying attention? Have you been working towards a better relationship with Jesus Christ?

Recently I have been reading a book called “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis. The book has made me think about decisions that I have made in my past and the judgements I have thrown on people behind their back. God shows us in unique ways where we are going wrong in life, and he also shows us how to fix problems.

“We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.” 1 Thessalonians 2:2. This is an example of God placing people in your life. This is one of the ways that God lets us know that we are not heading down the path that He wanted for us.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; If either of them falls down one can help the other up,. But Pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” God wants us to have friends that help us through hard times. God also wants them there to help us grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, and one way they do that is by helping us identify problems in our life, such as being a control freak, swearing, tearing people down etc.

I have really been focusing on making a change in my life, I want to be someone who is on fire for Jesus Christ! Slowly I have been changing (at least I think I have been :P) with the help of all the people in my life, spending time in the Word and spending time in prayer I think I can learn day by day to know God more and to live a life pleasing to him.

I want to challenge all the people that read this to make the same kind of commitment. 😀 Good Luck and God Bless

Humans, what is seen from above.

Sometimes I wonder about what we look like to God. Would we look like a bunch of ants crawling around the surface of Earth? Would we even be noticed, because we are on only one planet out of millions in the known universe? Maybe some of you can relate to these feelings.

The answer is that God does notice us! Someone who created and rules over the whole universe sees us for who we truly are. He knows all about you and me, he loves each one of us and has chosen us for special tasks in life.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written
in your book before one of them came to be
Psalm 139:16

God loves us and has been thinking about us since before we were born. How cool is that! There has been so many times in my life where I have wondered if there was anyone who really loved me. This would happen when I would argue with my parents, get in fights with friends and especially when I moved from Gnadenthal to Reinfeld and had to change schools. I wish I would have truly known how much God loves me, then I would have realized all the people close to me that he had placed there.

God is greater than anyone can imagine, but I often try to imagine what he would be like. I really want to know what he is thinking of us when we act like our crazy human selves down here on Earth. I remember times when I would be sitting at home and it was dark outside and I would see shadows from trees. I would get so scared, but now I look back and I imagine God saying in those moments words from the book of Isaiah.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1b

I don’t know about you but the thought that I am God’s son is so crazy. I find it so relieving that someone like me a sinner who does not deserve eternal life gets it! God promises us life (eternal life) and all we have to do is accept Jesus! Once you truly accept Jesus you will realize all that you have been missing in life. Jesus brings us hope and unbelievable joy! We don’t get a free pass through hard times, but we get an amazing God to lean on and he provides amazing people to build into our lives.

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:10-11

I want to encourage everyone to build up the people around you. I will be trying my hardest to make this a focus in my life, because I know I have failed at it in the past.