Monday, July 30, 2012

NWMC - Grace and Glory

NWMC 2012, Photo by Jean Heller
Once again I was tremendously blessed this past week as I attended the New Wilmington MissionConference. I arrived on campus sore (one hour drive + herniated disc = extreme discomfort) and empty. I admit that I’ve been starving myself like a spiritual anorexic, coasting through daily life on spiritual fumes for much too long and needing to rest in God’s love and grace for a while. Even as I went in an attitude of condemning myself for my general lack of spiritual fervor of late, God and his people there received me with open arms, with love and understanding. Over the week, the Spirit enabled me to let go of my self-judgmental attitude and I began to enjoy the freedom of God’s grace. He reaffirmed my call to prayer and work with the grieving. He nourished me with the reading of his Word and renewed my spirit with songs of praise. Any words I write would pale in comparison to my experience this week, but I do want to share a small snippet of my week in the hope that it might be a blessing to you as well.

NWMC 2012 Labyrinth, Photo by Jean Heller
All week long, the speakers were phenomenal – like the family storytellers coming home from exotic trips and telling of their adventures – I was on the edge of my seat glued to their every word. We learned from Pastor Mangal from Nepal that in the 70s there were only 1000 Christians in all of Nepal and today there are three million. In 40 years, he went from being one of five Christians in his region to being the pastor of a church that holds four worship services every Sunday with 58 daughter churches planted by his congregation.

Christ has given all of us the great commission to go out and share the gospel, make disciples at home, in our neighborhoods and out in the world. We are made new in Christ and it is in the DNA of this new person, one missionary explained, to share the good news of Jesus. I used to think evangelism and mission work was for the specially called or educated, the theology majors and ministers. But I can’t make that silly assumption anymore. In the 70s, Pastor Mangal wasn’t a pastor. He was just an ordinary young man attending school where a British soldier shared the Gospel with him and he in turn shared the Good News he received with those around him. Today, 60% of Nepal is illiterate, unable to read or write, but they share with their family and villages what God has done and is doing in their lives. Sick people are being healed and seeing the power of Jesus in prayer offered by everyday ordinary people of God. People awaiting execution, by God’s grace and the power of prayer, are being released unharmed. God is doing incredible things in Nepal through ordinary everyday people – many who can’t even read His Word.

NWMC 2012, Photo by Jean Heller
“One year, three year, six year” is a phrase Pastor Mangal uttered that is still echoing in my ears. He explained that until recently in Nepal, if you become a Christian you would be put in jail for one year and would be forced to return to your previous Hindu or Buddhist religion upon release. If you were caught sharing the Gospel, you received a three year sentence. If you baptized anyone, you would receive six years in jail. He told of one pastor that was found guilty of 32 individual cases of sharing the Gospel and was sentenced to 96 years in jail. However, by God’s grace, under the new system of government, he was released along with all the rest of the religious prisoners in 1991-1992. The new constitution no longer has the law against becoming a Christian, but does still prescribe a three year jail sentence for those caught sharing the Gospel and a six year jail sentence for those caught baptizing others. And still three million people courageously step out in faith to share the gospel and baptize new believers. Their commitment to Christ is not now nor will it ever be taken lightly in their own hearts and lives because there is so much at stake.

I am so blessed to have the freedom to believe and worship as I choose. On behalf of my brothers and sisters around the world who don’t know that freedom, I hope to be more committed to exercising that freedom, more passionate in worshipping Jesus and living a life pleasing to God where I am, sharing the Good News of what Jesus has done and is doing in my life and joyfully giving him the praise and glory.

You too can hear Dr. Mangal speak as I did in this audio recording of his time at NWMC.

About the pictures:
I was unable to use my camera because of the herniated disc so my friend Jean let me feature a few of her photos taken at the New Wilmington Mission Conference this year. Thanks Jean.

1 comment:

Audrey said...

I am so glad that you got your "tank filled" last week! There is no better feeling than to come back to the real world refreshed and refueled.
God bless your new energy!