Eye-Opening Experience

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Josiah and Shiela with two graduating seniors at South India Baptist Bible College

Sheila and I have arrived back from an extraordinary trip to India. Our hearts are full with all that God did and taught us during our short time there. We are so thankful for the opportunity we had to travel with WorldView Ministries and to have a part in the Pastor’s Conference on the campus of South India Baptist Bible College. This Bible College is the home of the WorldView Institute of India where men and women are trained to translate the Bible. Here are a few thoughts and pictures I would like to share from the trip.

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2020 WorldView Pastors Conference Team—Benjamin Christopher (India WorldView Representative), Ken Fielder (WorldView Director), Harely Snode (Pastor of NorthLife Baptist Church), Jeremy Rands (Pastor of Monaclova Baptist Church), Josiah and Shiela Kagin, Dan Outler (Pastor of Hope Baptist Church), Howard Casey (WorldView Representative), Bob McQueary (WorldView Church Planting Director), James Overton (Director of WorldView Institute of India)

Prayer is an essential part of all effective ministry.

We are so thankful for the prayer support from our church family and others! They were felt and are deeply appreciated. It was evident that God gave His strength and power to minister. Many of the Indian pastors and Christian leaders are serving the Lord in incredibly difficult circumstances. Nearly every one of them that we talked with had a story of being persecuted or facing persecution. They spoke of the sacrifices they and their families were making to preach the Gospel. For me, the thought of preaching God’s Word to them, as an American who has never faced persecution, was overwhelming. I remarked to one of the other American pastors on the first morning of the conference, “I have never had such a sense of inadequacy.”  Our team’s prayer was that the Spirit of God working in and through us would ignite the working of the Spirit of God in and through them. We believe God answered that prayer. For those that prayed for us, thank you for supporting us in prayer. Your prayers were essential!

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The delegates attending the 2020 WorldView Pastors Conference in the SIBBC Auditorium

God is actively working to advance His kingdom in ways and places unknown to us.

Before this trip, I had no real knowledge of what God was doing in India. India is predominantly Hindu and Muslim. Those two religions make up 97% out of 1.3 billion people. All the rest of the religions, including Christianity, make up just 3% of the population. This makes India a very spiritually dark land. You can see it in the eyes of the people. It is truly amazing to me how in the midst of such darkness, the light of the Gospel is shining. Being on the campus of the South India Baptist Bible College and in the Pastor’s Conference was like a spiritual oasis. The difference was as stark as midnight and noonday. Every believer I spoke with described their present efforts to take the Gospel to their people. It did not matter if they were young or old, they were passionate about taking the light of the Gospel into the darkness. I spoke with a ten-year-old young man whose desire was to be a pastor. I spoke with three young men who were working together to preach the gospel in every village. Many gave testimony of where they were preaching the Gospel, pastoring people and training others to do the same. In reality, it is hard for me to put it into words. God is not dead. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not jeopardized by the threats of rulers and religions. The church of Jesus Christ is being built by Jesus and the gates of hell are not prevailing against it.

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Indian pastors walking on the SIBBC campus during the 2020 WorldView Pastors Conference

The spiritual sacrifice of one generation provides stepping stones for the next generation. 

This is the lesson that seems to be dominating all the other lessons that God taught me and I am trying to absorb. An oasis is a fertile spot in a desert, where water is found.  In 1983, Dr. P. D. Cherian and his wife, Thankamma, founded the South India Baptist Bible College. The piece of land they purchased was undesirable, dry and infested with snakes. Before going, a pastor friend of mine, who teaches often at the college, told me that it would be like going to the Garden of Eden. I found this to be true. The campus is an oasis both physically and spiritually. As I heard the stories of faith and God’s provision, I was struck by this thought. What I am seeing and enjoying, along with the students and pastors, is the product of great spiritual sacrifice. This sacrifice provides wonderful stepping stones to take the Gospel further into the darkness. This is a reality in every generation. The spiritual sacrifices I make today for Jesus and the Gospel enable my children and others to go further tomorrow. This reminds me of the truth found in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

This trip was worth all the expense and effort! God taught me more than I feel I can absorb. Sheila and I are prayerfully reflecting on this incredible opportunity knowing God is using this experience shape and grow us for the work He has called us to do.

 

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Preaching main session from Psalm 13 on Wednesday of the Pastors Conference
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Teaching split session on Tuesday of the Pastor’s Conference
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Teaching split session on Thursday of the Pastors Conference. The pastors were eager to learn from God’s Word!
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WorldView Institute senior students preparing to take their final exam

A Follower’s Testimony

I was privileged to meet Jed Duarte, a third generation missionary to Brazil, for coffee as a get-to-know meeting. Very quickly, my heart was blessed by his testimony of absolute surrender. Our theme this year is I Will Follow. Here is a young man who made that decision and is having the time of his life. I wanted to share it, so we sat down for a quick interview. Jed and his family will be with us at Grace Baptist Church on September 30 for the final Sunday of Mission Weeks.

They are Watching You

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“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…” (Ephesians 4:1)

Paul, writing to the dynamic church at Ephesus, challenges believers to live in a way that becomes disciples of Jesus. Wow! That is surely relevant to our lives today! Sometimes I hear lost business owners relate their experiences of dealing with those who claim to be Christian. They will say something like, “They said they were Christians, but they did not act like it…they were just rude.”  It breaks my heart each time. My first response is, “Lord, help me to represent you in a way that causes the lost to want to be a Christian.” My second response is, “Dear Jesus, help us as your followers to get it together and represent.”

I challenge you to live this day fully aware that YOU are a representative of Jesus. How would Jesus respond to rudeness, to a life shackled by sin, a slow customer service line or an undercooked meal at the restaurant?

I challenge you to remember, they are watching you. Let them see Jesus.

Our Purpose

 

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This year, at Grace Baptist Church, we are our learning our purpose and priorities. More than anything, we want to accomplish the purpose that Christ has given us to accomplish. In Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” This is a huge, monumental undertaking! However, as one man said, “Through God’s power, our faithfulness is always possible.” We have a purpose and we must faithfully engage in that purpose.

This past Vision Sunday, I was excited to reveal our public church purpose statement. Our purpose is to engage in the complete fulfillment of the Great Commission of Christ through the power of the Spirit to the glory of God. 

During this first quarter of the year, I am preaching and teaching our priorities—how we will accomplish our purpose. I believe that accomplishing such a God-sized purpose requires that we plan and prioritize. You can listen to the message at our website, facebook or podcast.

Book Review: The Insanity of God

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The Insanity of God. An eye catching title, I know! When this book was first recommended to me, I have to admit, it didn’t sound like a book I would read. You can never judge a book by its cover! From the first pages I was struck with the powerful testimony of God’s guidance in the life of Nik Ripkens who sought God earnestly. Here are some of the lessons I learned from the book and why you need read it as well.

  1. God is a Rewarder:…he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
    Nik’s heart to seek God and to do His will is obvious throughout the book. There is a progression of growth in the author’s life that makes one thirsty to seek God also. By the last chapter, there a sense that Nik had experienced enormous growth in both the knowledge and love of God. It is time that American believers seek God in sincerity.
  2. God is Working in the Midst of Persecution: Much of the world does not know the freedoms that we experience in America. Persecution is a daily occurrence for many believers around the world. As Americans, we think restriction and persecution limits the work of God, but the opposite is true. God’s power is revealed in the most amazing ways in the most heavily persecuted countries. Persecuted believers in Somaliland, Russia, China and in Muslim lands are seeing God work as He did in the pages of the New Testament. Though we ought not seek persecution, we ought to embrace living for and serving Christ with same focus and passion as our persecuted brethren.  As Stoyan said, reference American believers, “I took great joy that I was suffering in my country so that you could be free to witness in your country.” He went on to say, “DON’T YOU EVER GIVE UP IN FREEDOM WHAT WE WOULD NEVER GIVE UP IN PERSECUTION— AND THAT IS OUR WITNESS TO THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!”
  3. God uses Dedicated Disciples: I discovered that these persecuted believers knew by experience what Jesus meant in Luke 9:23 when He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” I was left asking myself, “Do I know what that means.” They serve Jesus gladly even in the face of death because Jesus is worthy. Reading of their dedication, I have no question why God used them as He did. Let us decide to be dedicated to Jesus no matter what happens. He is worth it!
  4. God is the Same: The Bible tells us that God is always the same. We read the Biblical accounts of God’s powerful works and conclude, “That was just for Bible times.” Nik  asks, “Is the resurrection power that the New Testament describes still real and available to believers in our world today?  Nik discovered that the God of the New Testament had not changed and was still able and ready to show Himself strong.  Our God is not limited by governments. He is not limited by evil. I was personally convicted of my lack of faith in the unlimited power of God. How we need a fresh realization of the grandness and power of our God.

After reading this book, I plan to recommend it to everybody I can, simply because it was a huge help to me. I am hungry to see God work in America and more specifically in my own community. This book challenged me not to get sidetracked by the thrills of life, but to seek to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

Available on Amazon

Love and Hate

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All around us we see hate rising. Hate is not a new thing. Since the fall of man there has been hate. Do you remember Cain and how his hate toward his brother Abel led him to commit murder? Hate is the result of many other sins like envy, pride, greed, covetousness and prejudice. It is rampant in our society!

Jesus taught His followers to be different. He encouraged them to show love no matter if they were shown love. Luke 6:32 says, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.” Society around shows hate to those who hate them and love to those who love them. The followers of Jesus are to love and keep on loving. People around you toward are thirsty for genuine love. Refresh someone today with a loving spirit just like Jesus.