Category: Missions

I Wanted Us to Suffer a Little, Then I Saw a Tree and Changed My Mind.

IMG_7399Just above me is a giant tree in our backyard. Growing up in Oklahoma the giant trees were few and far between, and were put on display at Christmas and people drove from miles around to take a look. Here, in Tennessee the trees are quite different. The rise so tall that you hurt your neck looking up for too long. They cover the landscape like a blanket and provide shelter and shade for everything below them.

Trunks so large it takes arms and arms to reach around.

treehugThey sway in the breeze and climb the hills together to display their gold and orange change every fall.

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They are wonderous.

There is a verse in Revelation that has been tucked in my heart for over a decade

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

trees in sun

I sit under that tree in my backyard many times a week. I look up at it and that verse runs through my mind as I stare at the thousands of leaves whispering over my head. “How are the leaves the healing of the nations?” I don’t know, but I do know scripture says it. I also know that is Psalm 1 a righteous man is compared to a tree by living water. And although Jesus said he is the root of the vine, why not be the root of the trees? Would that not be a stretch to think that the leaves are….us? 

Are we the leaves that are to be the healing of the nations?

He is healer, no doubt, but we are the messengers, the ambassadors, the one reliant on the root of the vine, where we are admonished to be “root and established in love.” Rooted. Roots that go down into someone who provides all we need for life. Roots so deep that when they are threatened, they cannot be uprooted, even when storms shake and whip the tops.

tree in storm

What if when we are rooted and established in love, even though he slay us, we never stop trusting him? What if our roots were the only thing that kept us from dying in the worst of times? What if our roots in Christ, though we are pruned and changed, we grew stronger and more powerful as a whole collective?

natchez

treepath2

 

I wanted, for awhile, to be really upset with the Church, not a particular church (notice the capital “C”) but at the church of America. I was even thinking “Bring on persecution! It will only cause us to grow! We deserve a little tough times. We don’t know what persecution is! Let the storms come and cut us down a bit. Let the lightning strike and strip us of our pride!”

Angry

Bitter

Arrogant

Then I realized that the church of Acts, when persecuted was scattered. Scattered like ants when their little ant piles are messed with. Scattered like roaches when the lights come on. They, our first brothers and sisters, were forced out of homes and displaced by persecution. Much like what is happening even now to our brothers and sisters.

Then I looked at the tree and wondered, “So, what happened between the times of persecution?” What happened as they rebuilt their lives and started again? What did they do?”

 

They grew.

treepathShe discipled. She spread the gospel. She took care of her own. She fed the poor and took care of the sick. She supplied food and money to missionaries and housed them when they returned. She prayed for each other and encouraged them in Christ. She met for communion and eating, and I’m sure, laughter and tears.

She healed nations.

Now, we sit in a nation, one that is sick and dying, and I’ve wanted the Church of America to feel the pain our brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing, but have realized what an awful thing that is. I only meant it like how we talk to our kids “When I was your age!” as though our experiences might make them different. I wanted the experiences of others who were persecuted to guilt the American church into feeling bad about herself, and maybe even wanted us to “suffer” a little more and grow up.

There might be some truth in that. We have a tendency to be spoiled. Our freedom has made us comfortable and we can easily miss the suffering around the world, but that’s not true for all of us.

Obviously

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We have more than a great opportunity here. We have a great gift, obligation, responsibilty as the Church to be the turning tide of our Nation, and to be the ones who fund other other nations to take care of the displaced, the refugee, the poor, the homeless, the persecuted. We, as millions of believers in Jesus, have the time, resources, technology, and freedom to be those healing leaves, not only to the world, but to ourselves, to our neighbors, to our politicians, to our enemies.

No more do I say, “Bring on the persecution and watch us scatter!” No, I say,

Bring on the Holy Spirit and watch us explode!

I pray the prayer of the founding Church,

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.”

And I pray, that through our unity, the same thing will happen among us:

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

We still live in a free country. We still have the freedom to pray and gather and stand up in boldness. Not in anger, not out of guilt, but in a great unity of believers, full of love and hope and faith, so that we will be filled with the Spirit to expand the kingdom. While we are in this freedom, let us not squander it. I pray we take advantage of it.

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And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Rev. 22

 

Round Tables Meant Engaging. Gag.

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I’m reluctantly taking a class called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. And by reluctantly, I mean I flat out don’t want to take it. JT took it and I don’t want to. And yet, I signed up. I drag myself to the church, keeping my eyes down in case Jesus was looking for people with bright eyes willing to shoot their hand in the air and say “YES!”

I know, I just know that if I take this class God will make me want to leave the country and live in the jungle. That’s not something I am willing to do. I mean, where is the good mascara and air conditioning? Doesn’t He know I have issues with sweating, like I don’t sweat very well at all and can break out in a migraine? God, this isn’t funny. I cannot leave America. (Note: I still live in America.)

I’m dreading the class.

Dreading. It.

But because I am a submissive wife and listen to my husband when he says, “Honey, I think you will really like the class. There is homework and reading. You’ll love it!”, I’ll go. New pens. Drive to church. My Tuesday nights are about to be hijacked by sixteen weeks of “WILL YOU BE A MISSIONARY AND GROW OUT YOUR HAIR AND WEAR DRESSES?” I’m not looking forward to never wearing pants again.

I am greeted by smiling people behind eight foot tables. They are armed with computers, pens (thanks, I already have some), books, nametags and plenty of offers for help if I needed it. I appreciate that, but I can find where to sit. Dang. We are at round tables. Round tables mean talking with people I’m sitting with. Round tables mean engaging, sharing and “ice break-ing.” I’m thinking, “How do I tell these people I’m not in the mood to be a missionary? How do I tell them that I’m here because I told my husband I would come? How to I tell these bright-eyed, eager-to-learn weirdos that I don’t want to be there?”

Round tables mean exposure. It’s not looking good.

Our leader leads the way as a leader should lead and we all watch and clap and pray. There is worship every night and snacks (please note: as a leader, provide snacks. Keeps people happy and coming.) But, there is something more. Each night provides a different teacher or instructor. Something is happening…

The stories, the wisdom, the knowledge are blindsiding me and I am realizing I didn’t know jack about what God had been doing around the world for His name and am appalled at the ignorance and pride in my life.

Week after week, chapter after chapter (of a very large book, by the way), open book test after open book test (which, if you really pay attention at the beginning of class, you will know these are open book tests. I, did not hear that for the first two. But, nailed it anyway!), I was exposed to God’s love and plan for the nations.

It wasn’t a class about missionaries…

It was a class about God’s mission for the world and our part in that plan. 

2004-2014

That class was the pivot point for what God would want me to do with my life. Even since that class, I have, in some ways, kept trying to dodge the world of missions. Oh, I haven’t completely stayed out or away, and He didn’t call us to Africa, but, I have tried to do other things and keep this whole idea of being in the Global Movement to the side. I wanted to be a famous Bible teacher, or publish books that would not only bless your life, but change it forever!

*crickets*

I thought I could become a blogger that had millions (thousands) of readers and keep their hearts warm with all my brilliant parenting tips and ways to be a godly woman.

These things haven’t happened, but what has happened is a deep and unending draw to the world of global impact in the kingdom. I dream about it. I can cry when I think too long and hard about missionaries. I want to know what is happening in the underground church and pray for the persecuted. I worry about believers who are being hurt and killed. I wonder what they do from day to day. I wrote a prayer blog for those who support missionaries and the people they serve. I want to have a furlough house in the states someday. Through the last decade I have been in and out of a committed heart to this. But in all these years…it doesn’t go away.

The want to publish….gone.
The desire to be a Bible teacher in some mainstream “famous” way… gone.
Blogger extraordinaire? vamoose!

There is nothing wrong with these things, it’s just they have been wrong for me.

In 2015 I will be diving head first into the world of the global movement of God. I don’t know what that looks like, but I know where to start. I’ll begin with being the coordinator the the class I never wanted to take, here, in Nashville. Perspectives has been gone from Nashville for three years. It’s time to come back. Also, I will stop the nonsense of not talking about what is near and dear to my heart. It doesn’t matter who reads what I write, but it does matter that I do what I think God is telling me to do. Write.

So, come back if you want. Read. Enjoy. Learn. I will do my best to present what God has asked me to in regard to His heart for the nations. Who knows, maybe someone who doesn’t want to read this will someday be in it neck deep.

 

To find a Perspectives course near you or learn more about his life changing class, please visit the Perspectives website.

The Snake Guy was Murdered

Baughmans

Don and Marianne Baughman

The Snake Guy drove me to my junior high on a very stormy day. I can remember being in car and watching the torrential rain slam into the windshield. My seventh grade memory fails me as to why, exactly, he would have taken me that morning. I try and reconstruct what must have happened. I assume he had come over for breakfast, realized that mom was going to have to get out in that weather, and offered to take me since it was on the way to our church. That had to be it. The Snake Guy was back in town visiting our church, telling us stories of what happened on the other side of the world (Africa) and brought with him a slide show and, yes, snakes. He was captivating. And he stayed with my grandparents when he came.

 A few years later I was back a church, this time in high school. I was there making copies for some up and coming very important youth group shindig when my pastor came in to tell me that the Snake Guy had been murdered on his front lawn. Bandits. No reason. Shot dead. He was in that country for Jesus.

Martyred. Don, the Snake Guy. 

I walked down the hall to the sanctuary. The stain glass window faced the West and the sun was just low enough to pierce the colors. The whole room was warm and thick with silence. It was just me, the green carpet and pews, and a glow in the room from the sun. It’s like the light was hugging me. I didn’t ever really know how to comprehend all of it, but I sat on the front pew and cried. Wept. Stunned.

Murdered? Unbelievable.

But, his story is one of thousands. Millions. Those over the years who have died for the name of Jesus. Those who have given their lives so that the name of Jesus would be made famous around the world are by no means a small amount of humanity.

It happens everyday. All the time. When I am shopping for shoes on Amazon or am weeping over the nations, they are dying. Who will go in their place? Maybe some will. Many will rise from the places they fell and take up the cause right there. Over and over the name of Jesus is taken round the world, fulfilling God’s desire that all men would know his name and the redemption he offers.

So, what does the Church do?

What about those of us who live in the States?

What do we do?

We pray. We pray for the power of the Spirit to consume us and show us how to pray and what to pray for. We pray that our strength and vitality to complete the task is armed and made steady. We pray.

We pray…and we pray again.

We study. Most of the Church doesn’t know exactly what God’s desire is for the nations. Start reading. Find out. Take a Perspectives course. Go through “Xplore” with Center for Missions Mobilization. Study the Bible. Read Andrew Murray and John Piper. Learn. Don’t just say, “I don’t know.”! Find out! What IS God’s plan and heart for the nations? If you can’t answer that…find out the answer. (or ask me)

We join. Find out what your local church does to send missionaries around the world. Find out what trips you can go on and do it.

We give. Global impact can only be successful (outside of prayer and commitment) if the Church is not only sharing her time, and prayer, but her money as well. Send. Give money to those who are going into the nations who have yet to hear Christ! Get them there and then support them ferociously.

We go. If you have a burning to see the name of Jesus go into all nations, then by all means, GO! Find a team and join them. Talk to your pastor. Get trained, get support and get out of here!

We wake up. Our society feeds us with the mantra that more is better and your dream is exactly what God wants to do in your life. Man, that sounds amazing. I want him to make me happy and give me a dream to fulfill, but, oh (and I know I am swimming upstream) I struggle with our constant state of “Make my dreams come true, God!” when how many of us are asking, “God, will you make your dreams and passions come to pass and use me to do it?” Church. Wake up. It is HIS dream and HIS passion we should be studying, searching, praying for and living for. Not ours.

Will your 2015 be more about you and your dreams and plans, or will you take the time to find our exactly what God wants from his Church, from you? Will you pray, study, join, give, go and wake up? I pray you do. I pray I do.

Psalm 46:10 I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.

What the Heck is a Sender, really?

I have to admit, there was a silent sigh of relief many years ago when I realized that God had made me a Sender. Shew! I didn’t have to “go” anywhere. But reality soon sets in. Being a Sender is no small task. It’s purposeful, deliberate, challenging, time consuming …and I have failed miserably at it. However, as I sit and think back over the last eight years from that Perspectives course, I can see how God deepened some things in me regarding this calling.

If you’re thinking, “Hey, I wonder if I’m a Sender,” maybe some of this will resonate with you.

For example, every time I spoke at a church or taught a class, I instinctively wanted to get to a point in my message where I talked to my audience about their part in God’s story. Somehow, regardless of the theme of the night with chicken and rice and delicious salads, I nailed the point that we are all a part of this amazing, radical and world changing thing the Bible calls the Great Commission. That part of my message would be the point my whole spirit, mind and body would come to life. Those moments where when I felt like I was firing on all cylinders and that God was speaking directly through me. I desperately wanted them to know they are valuable to His work. If you look around at the Church and think, “I can totally encourage her to go out there and kick booty”, then you might be a Sender.

Something else that may mark a person as a Sender is that they don’t every really land on a particular mission, organization, or group. All seem equal in their importance. All are deeply loved by a Sender because not only is the purpose of that mission or organization important, but the people who run it strike a chord deep in the Sender, thus making all missions valuable. A Sender sends those to what they are called to do. (However, as a Sender you might be called to one person or group. If so, just go with it!)

Senders are usually concerned for the well-being of a missionary, pastor, or group leader more than the outcomes of their mission/church. When I think of my international missionary friends, pastor’s, pastor’s wives, organization leaders, my first thought isn’t about their outcomes, their numbers, their goals. My first thought is, “I wonder how they are doing. How is their relationship with God? What do they need?”

From the Perspectives course book here are some other things that may mark a Sender:

  • Live very normal lives.
  • Have a heart that yearns for people they have never seen.
  • Work very hard to love and make connections with people they may only see once every 4-5 years.
  • Noted for zeal to make disciples where ever they are.
  • Caught up in a war that many of their friends and family may not or will not acknowledge.
  • They give away up to half of what they earn.
  • Their lives are simple.
  • They speak often of distant people.
  • They relish extended times of prayer.
  • There is a joyous detachment yet and earnest involvement in the affairs of the world.
  • Senders serve with a singe-hearted joy: the joy of laying down their lives so that other’s obedience will be abundant.

Maybe you’re a Sender. Maybe you’re like me and when you think of the throne room of heaven, you’d gladly take a stool in the back, in the nose-bleed section, looking down at the Throne of Grace and applaud (while crying and snotting up your new duds) those coming in who faithfully laid it all on the line for the One they loved.

They deserve the front row… and back stage passes.

 

Made for This – Part 2 “Why I’m Not Called to ‘Go'”

When people ask me what I do outside of being a mom, you know, what’s my passion, my heart’s cry, I usually say things that range from being a speaker to a Bible teacher to even a writer.  All of which is true. I’d say it and really try to believe that yes, that was my calling. However, in all my years of describing myself that way it never rang deep and true in me that I had actually landed on why I was created. I was good at things that felt like they should be my calling. I could make myself a great speaker and actually being a Bible teacher was something I loved, but there was always a deep unsettling feeling about those things. While good, and even the will of God at that time, I never walked away saying, “Yes, this is what I was knit together to do. This is why I wake up!”

(sidebar: I’m sure those gifts and talents will be a part of my life still, but they will be a catalyst to what I’m about to explain. Ok, on we go.)

In 2002, JT suggested I take the Perspectives course on the Christian Movement. Like a loving wife and faithful woman of God, I didn’t go. Why? Because who wants to hear about what a low-life they are because they don’t want to go out on the mission field? Who wants their heart changed and have to move to some remote village void of toilets and light switches? Not. Me. So I didn’t go to Perspectives until two years after JT.

What I found was quite the contrary. God didn’t whisper to me “Gooooo! GOOOOO!”

Something else happened. He said, “Stay. Send.”

Fast forward eight years later, a lot of wrestling, a lot of trying to find my place to land and call my passion, I finally get it.

I am a Sender

Like my parents before me and their parents before them, I was created to love the Body, uplift her, encourage her, teach her, send her on her way, and care for her as she lives out her purpose.

Even typing that my heart beats a little faster. Unlike saying I’m a speaker or teacher, saying I’m a Sender resonates so deeply I’d dare say it is supernatural. It makes sense to me in ways I can’t fully explain in English. I’d try Spanish but then I’d just be making a fool of myself, but many of you would be like, “Yes! She got her prayer language!” (Some of you would be like, “Wait. I think she’s trying to communicate, I just know it.”)

Now when people ask me what my passion is I can truly and deeply and with all my heart, without a shadow of a doubt, from the very soul of who I am, say, “I…am a Sender.”

(Tomorrow: What the Heck is a Sender, really?)

Kisses for Dolly. A Chance to Help

She is only a baby, but she has the opportunity to have a life-changing surgery in a few weeks. However, her life is in the hands of others. Money, surgery, travel, all of these come through the hearts and hands of those in the States. Her name is Dolly. And she needs your help.

Recently, my friend and founder of Speaking Thru Me Ministries went to Liberia.

Ginger met Darlene while in Liberia in June 2010.  Darlene’s mother, Cecelia, traveled 8 hours to meet the speaker team and request prayer for her daughter’s healing. Darlene was born with an omphalocele (organs on the outside of her body).

With God leading the way, surgery for Darlene has been scheduled at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, TN.  Darlene’s first appointment in the states will be October 11th with a tentative surgery date of October 21st.

Speaking Thru Me Ministries will need financial support for the cost of paperwork, travel, housing, etc… for this family to make the very long trip from Liberia to Tennessee.

Please consider donating to help Darlene today!

Through your generous donation with Speaking Thru Me, we can get Dolly here and give her a surgery that will forever change her destiny. I know, you have no real emotional attachment to this child. I know this is a story we’ve all heard. I know, this is not something new to us… but it is to her and her family. They are emotionally attached. This this their story. This is always their story. Now is our chance to help them rewrite the story of her life.

Please consider donating for Dolly at Speaking Thru Me. There you can use PayPal or send a check.

Thank you

Decide

It’s simply a matter of believing.

Here it is 2009, the largest population on the planet in recorded history.

We are positioned for greatness for God.

It’s just, do we believe it enough to dive in, join the ride, and forget about being like everyone else?

Do we believe that God would place each of us at the right spot for His greatest glory?

Do we believe that we could actually walk in the power of the Spirit to contribute to telling of His goodness to a desperate and hopeless world?

Do we believe what He has said….

or not?

If you do, what does it look like for you?

If you do, then where you live and the people you know are not an accident.

If you do, then you have certain gifts in the Spirit that need to be molded, flexed and lived out to accomplish more than you could dream.

This gig called life, well, it’s all about Him and the more we make it about Him, the better it gets.

Ask yourself, what do I really believe?

Maybe Daisy Dukes will come back in style.

Sorry it’s late y’all, but I’m in Big D right now seeing my brother. Of course, we are headed to IKEA today to spend some of the churches money on office stuff. That’s always fun to spend someone else’s money!!

Gosh darn, I might have to spend some of my own money as well. But, I might wait and spend that on a new pair of jeans because they literally ripped off last night. I knew it was coming, but last night the tiny hole inside my inner seam began to really split. Sitting there talking to my brother and his wife, we heard it slowly rip and rip and rip. Finally, I stood up, ripped the right leg all the way around the back and ripped the entire leg off. I stood there with one normal left leg and a oh so sexy Daisy Duke on the right leg! SOOO funny!!

I’m thinking of starting a new style. Maybe I’ll get a tan and lose the gray sock first.

So, here is what I want you to do. All you have to do is click on the link below and see the ministry that my little bro is involved in. It is

a

maz

ing

I’m off to go to IKEA, I’ll be back MONDAY! Hopefully, I’ll have new pair of jeans.

Gospel for Asia

I Wonder if it Still Smells the Same

I grew up on a lake. A small lake, but still, a lake. In the middle of the city. Of course, I didn’t realize how incredibly AMAZING that was as a kid, but as an all grown up person, I now see it’s VALUE!!! AND AWESOMENESS!

ahem

Anyhoo, my grandparents also lived on this lake. In my teens, when we were allowed to swim whenever and without life jackets, we could actually swim around the lake bend to my grandparents house. Granted, we got out half way and walked the rest of the difference because clearly, we were not Phelps.

Their house was a wonderland. Huge. Non-ending and full of ancient artifacts dating to the mid-60’s and earlier. It was FOUR levels. Are you kidding me? That’s a child’s dream house. Do you know how many places there are to hide in a house with four levels?

Top: Master bedroom (more like a landing, but when you explain to your kid friends it’s definitely “upstairs”).
Middle: Huge living room, kitchen, long hall to the front door, and sewing room, giant windows lined the living room to give a great view of the lake.
Middle 2: Bedroom and bathroom. However, a small rhino and her family could live in there comfortably for years.
Lower level: Den, 2 bedrooms, basement.

Perfect.

We would go to the basement and climb for ages! That basement wasn’t as big as I remembered the last time I visited. Strange how that happens.

Well, about this house. It’s no longer in the family. My grandparents died in 1986 in a plane crash and my uncle took the house. He and his family lived there for a bit and, well, didn’t treat it very nice to my grief.

He sold it for a song. Maybe just a whistle.

Since him, others have live in the place I once called my second home. I doubt it even smells the same anymore. I wonder if it holds the same treasures for others as it did for me? Do the people in there now honor Christ? Or has that house been lived in by the Devil himself? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I pray….often…that the Father would one day let me have that house. I drive by it all the time asking him for such an honor. And it’s not because it’s a awesome house on the water with FOUR levels. Did I tell you it has FOUR levels? It does.

No, let me tell you my heart. You may have seen it pop up here before.

I

love

missionaries.

For years, I have prayed that one day we could be a house that could house missionaries on furlough, or that we could be a place they come a stay couple of nights. I want to be their refreshers, friends, and spiritual encouragers while they are resting in the states. I would love to house missionaries from other countries when they come here.

I simply can’t do it to my best ability in this house I’m in right now. I don’t believe it’s time NOW, but, some day, I am praying that God would do a GOD sized miracle and bless us with that dream in that house. It’s perfect.

Maybe one day, I’ll have the honor of hosting many missionaries in the house that was such a comfort and place of encouragement for me.

Wouldn’t that be cool!?!?!?

It’s a Black and White Issue

Well, just like everyone else, I’m sure, I’m blogging about the election. I know it’s still Monday, but I just wanted to get it done. I promise I won’t take up much of your time because I don’t want to talk about it any more than you do. But, let me offer you something else.

This is what I have to say about this election:

Regardless of who wins, we still live in the greatest country with the greatest advantages to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Period.

We have no limitations.
We have the Internet.
We have more money than we really know what to do with.
We have the best schools and the greatest minds to teach us about spreading the Word.
We have the resources to take to the nations.
We are in the best position both historically and physically to complete the mission that all will hear the about the Savior.
We have the Greatest God to fuel the flame and send us out triumphantly.

Now is the time for the church, the Western church, to pay even closer attention to our calling. It’s time for us to stop spending so much on ourselves and fund those on the field. It’s time for us to stop panicking about our country when we still eat out every weekend and have the latest clothing style. It’s time for the church, the Western church to continue in Her strengths and calling.

She will be victorious regardless if McCain or Obama grace the halls of the White House.

Look outward! Look toward those places where the name of Jesus has yet to be heard and pray for them because you have the Freedom to do so.

Embrace your freedom to love beyond our borders. Embrace your freedom to cry out to Christ to send out missionaries. Keep your eyes on the Heavens and your feet firmly planted in the Word. Extend your hand to the field in prayer, money, and help. Take advantage of your place in history!

Oh, change is coming, let us pray it is changed hearts for Christ!

I’m Natalie Witcher, and I approve His message.