Sunday, November 18, 2012

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE.....

THE UNDERGROUND CHINESE CHURCH
MEETS IN BASEMENTS EVERYWHERE IN CHINA
Matthew chapter 13 has an instructive discourse by the Lord Jesus. In it, He teaches in parables again, but this time, He is even more specific about what the Kingdom of Heaven is truly like! Most believers do not realize it but at the point of conversion, when we are adopted permanently into the family of God, we ARE already operational in Kingdom business! Everything we do, think, say, reveal, teach etc is viewed, in the Eyes of Abba Father, as relevant to His Work! By our actions (or lack of, thereof) we are telling a part of His Story, when we tell some of our story, or those whom we encounter around us! 

For instance, this month of November 2012 has been very fulfilling, stunning, encouraging and illuminating as far as the spirit man is concerned! Just in the past two weeks, I had an amazing conversation with a 19 year old persecuted Chinese Christian saint, whose passion for the Lord, almost shamed me in. Then, just a few days ago, one of my favorite people in the world – Dr Ronnie Floyd of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, told us at a pastors’ conference a testimony which shows just how powerfully our God is moving, in these last days! Please allow me to tell part of their story...because the Kingdom of Heaven is like.....:

"CHRISTINA": 
“Christina” was saved from Buddhism at the age of 13 in Communist China and was immediately disowned and mistreated by her parents and family! For four plus  years before she came to America, Christina had no Bible, due to the nature of her conversion – and Chinese oppression of the underground Chinese Christian church movement. There is an official Chinese “Church” and they do play actual Christmas hymns in the Beijing Airport (like O Holy Night etc),  but like anything officially sanctioned by any tightly controlled state, the true freedom and move of the Spirit of God can only be found in those who are persecuted and perseveres!

Since she had no Bible until now, “Christina” memorized the entire hymn book she was fortunate enough to be allowed to have, because it was not the Bible! What unsaved people don’t understand about the classic hymns is that they have more theology and the solid doctrine of Salvation, than any book written ABOUT the Bible. The Lord used that and His Spirit to educate this young woman in His Ways, in His Wonder and about His Love more than any five point sermon or seminary class could! Christina's host told me a humorous story about her on a long trip to another conference in the past year. Apparently, she sang hymns to the Lord for seven hours nonstop, in the back seat of a car belonging to a couple, who had taken her in, as they drove into the state of Arkansas to minister there! There is no other joy than to see a persecuted child of God sing about the Savior Who freed here from an eternal prison!

THE MARSHALLESE 
Then there is Pastor Floyd, a former member of the leadership of the world’s largest protestant body – the Southern Baptist Convention who leads the multi-campus thriving and growing (in Spiritual maturity) Cross  Church and the Church at Pinnacle Hills of North Western Arkansas. I have used his men's material in twice in the past, as president of Business Men in Christ to lead men to their full combat role, as soldiers of Jesus Christ. This region of Arkansas is home to the greatest corporation in the World – WALMART (in Bentonville, 8 miles from Dr. Floyd’s church in Springdale) and the best known chicken processor ever – TYSON FOODS! These companies and its supportive multiple vendors are the home of thousands and thousands of professionals and more from all over the world and. These good folks come from all backgrounds and religions!

Now this is the age of technology and all that. It is the age of big money from some big churches (and mostly medium sized ones) to finance foreign missions. But there is a reason Jesus Christ gave us the Acts 1:8 challenge in this order. Jesus said in Acts 1:8b “…and you shall be my witnesses…in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth".  The Lord is giving the following command to us, His Disciples, to go to: "Jerusalem (Home); Judea and Samaria (the Nation) and the “ends of the earth” (Foreign missions). Many of our modern Christians would rather support or even go on only foreign missions (all good things) for a week or so, and think their work is done. I have spoken to some of the recipients of this good charitable work (mostly from Africa and the far East). While they are grateful for rich Americans giving so much to them, they do tell me that our money is wasted by having these youth or young adult groups trying to build structures for them, when it would better to teach the residents how to do it and let them fish and make a living!!! But for our fellow citizens, it is easier to do, for instance to skip the first two (Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria) and write a check to support a mission. Then we can sit back abd do nothing for Kingdom work right where they live, 100% of the time (these are my words, not Pastor Ronnie Floyd)!

So it was not just heart -warming, but positively inspiring for me to hear this testimony from the good pastor and a man I consider my true brother.  One thing he teaches his 17,000 plus members in Springdale is to reach their own town for Christ and speak  to them culturally, personally and with love. The Marshall Islands became part of the American system and played a prominent role during World War II. They are as far away from the US mainland as closer to the coast of Northeastern Australia than northwestern Arkansas! Yet, out of a Marshall Island population of 75,000,  about 8000 live in that part of the US! They came there to work for Tyson Foods, producers of fine frozen chicken!

VOLUNTEERS AT CROSS CHURCH
SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS
Cross Church and Pastor Floyd found out about this  UPG (unreached people group) and he sent out his teams to befriend and fellowship with these wonderful 8000 folks and reach them for the saving Gospel of  Jesus! That is exactly what happened. Small bible study groups were formed and then suddenly, within a short period of time, a Marshallese language church grew up out of that. They meet every Sunday afternoon at Cross Church! Then Campus Crusade (for Christ) heard about this new Marshallese church in Arkansas. Campus Crusade (founder, Bill Bright) had made the massively popular JESUS FILM which has been seen by over 1 billion people since 1979! Many of us cut our teeth on this magnificent film!

It so happens that Marshallese is one of the few languages left which the Jesus film has never been translated into! Well, faith and begorah, they did not have to send a team for years into the hinterlands of the Marshall Islands! They just went across to Northwest Arkansas and the Marshallese, in Cross Church,  translated the entire Jesus movie for Campus Crusade!! They then took the movie to the Marshall Islands (which is over 4 hours south of Hawaii) and are reaching many in the countryside for Christ, who are getting saved by the hundreds! The Gospel is getting to the ends of the earth….all because some faithful Christians in Arkansas went out into their Jerusalem to love on some 8000 people, who looked, dressed and talked different from them! This is the Kingdom! This is the real deal! This is what Heaven will be like with every tribe and tongue in front of the Throne of Christ!  As Pastor Ronnie says “they thought they came for chicken – THEY GOT CHRIST!”

This walk with the Lord Jesus is just too much for words sometimes, for me.  Moments like these, where we see the Hand of God as He directs the events and lives of His people floor me. This should bring to mind the following from Psalm 40:5 "Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders You have done. The things You planned for us no one can recount to You; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare".

The Kingdom of Heaven is like the story happening in your sphere of influence, right now. Open the eyes of your heart, right now. Take the eyes of yourself for a minute and catch it, right now. Don't miss it, because you will miss the essence of the intimacy, joy and the Walk of the true believer/son/daughter of the Eternal God of the Universe, Who reigns from the Heavens! Why not start today?!
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