Good morning. The world has changed in the span of 21 days because of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. We have never seen anything quite like this before.
And there will probably be some long-lasting repercussions, some of which we cannot yet imagine.
For up to the minute news on the situation, visit the World Health Organization website - https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
OMS Canada takes this pandemic very seriously. Our Global office has put together a COVID-19 Response Team and they relied very heavily on Dr. P., OMS Canada missionary to East Asia. The Response Team meets often to monitor the situation and recommend actions to be taken.
Each OMS Field leader, in consultation with their International Regional Director, have developed their own monitoring and contingency plans. We are confident that the OMS workers are well monitored and cared for.
In light of the evolving situation and in order to best protect our team members, the MFM team that was scheduled to work on the 4VEH Radio/Tele building this month in Haiti was cancelled. We also called Special Assignment missionaries Brad and Caroline Buzza back to Canada from Haiti, as they were there to do preparatory work ahead of the MFM team's arrival. Subsequently, the Haitian government has essentially shut the country down upon confirmation of COVID-19 cases in Haiti.
Jesus to the Nations, the large missions conference that was to take place in Halifax March 27-29, 2020 and at which OMS Canada and MFM Canada each place a booth and where Mark and Marlowe often present seminars, has been cancelled for this year.
To protect our workers, the OMS Canada office is working remotely. OMS Canada had already been doing so for some time, both to minimize overhead costs and to be able to operate through possible future times of domestic disruptions of any kind. This means that on most days there is nobody actually in the Burlington office. They are all able to connect to the OMS Canada network and our phone system allows them to answer their phones in their home office as well. Therefore, God enabled OMS Canada to continue its home office service throughout these times of uncertainty; it is almost business as usual in terms of the back office work required to keep our missionaries well served and in place.
May we take this time to remind you that the OMS Canada work that you support, whether a missionary, a Starfish Kid or a work project, continues in spite of this pandemic. In some cases, the work has intensified and has the potential to produce greater fruit. Please continue to make your donations online at www.omscanada.org/give.html or by calling Cheryl at 289-812-0659 or by mailing in your cheque to OMS Canada, 1295 North Service Rd, PO Box 1457, Burlington, ON L7R 4L9. If you have questions about giving or donations, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Physical Distancing may prevent physical nearness, but we are able to draw near to each other, our missionaries, those who are in need and the Creator of all through prayer. Let’s make prayer our automatic response when we hear news about this situation.
Here are some specific things you can pray in light of this COVID-19 pandemic:
May God bless you and give you peace.
for OMS Canada
In a past series of blog posts on the ‘Call to Missions’ we concluded that if one is properly relating to God and pursuing godliness, there is little to fear in terms of missing God’s call, whether to missions or any other pursuit. If you haven’t read that post yet, click here to go to it now.
We then determined that the way to ensure that one is properly relating to God and pursuing godliness is through the practice of the spiritual disciplines or habits of grace. We composed a list of ‘habits of grace ‘that are biblical, that is, they are taught or modelled in Scripture.
The first was Bible Intake. The second was Prayer. And this post is Worship.
One spiritual discipline that we are called to do as Christians, but is often confused or unclear, is worship. Often when we hear that word, our first thought is music, the singing part of our Sunday gathering. While that is an aspect of it, worship is a far greater discipline that should engage multiple areas of our lives.
Worship is difficult to define well. So let’s look at it first.
In John 20:28, when the resurrected Jesus appeared to Thomas and showed him the scars in His hands and side, worship happened when Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God.”
In Revelation 4:8, we read about four creatures around the throne who worship God day and night without ceasing and saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Then in verse 11 the twenty-four elders around the throne of God in heaven worship Him by throwing their crowns at His feet, falling before Him and saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.”
In the next chapter, thousands and thousands of angels, elders, and living creatures around the heavenly throne of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, cry out with a loud voice in worship, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” (5:12). Immediately following comes worship from “every creature” saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!” (5:13).
To summarize, to worship God means to ascribe the proper worth of God, to magnify His worthiness of praise, or better, to approach and address God in a worthy way. As the holy and almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and the Sovereign Judge to whom we must give an account, He is worthy of all the worth and honour that we can give Him and then infinitely more.
You see, the more we focus on God, the more we will understand and appreciate His infinite worth. As we understand and appreciate this, we can’t help but respond to Him. Just like a gorgeous sunrise or a breathtaking mountaintop view sparks a spontaneous response, so we cannot encounter the worthiness of God without the response of worship.
Therefore, worship is focusing on and responding to God appropriately.
But how does the invisible God reveal Himself to us here and now so that we might focus on Him and respond appropriately?
First, He has revealed Himself in a general way through Creation (see Romans 1:20), so the right response to that stunning sunrise (I am a morning person) or the spectacular mountain view is to worship the Creator of such beauty and majesty.
Second, God has revealed Himself flawlessly through His written Word, the Bible (see 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21), and His incarnate Word, Jesus Christ (see John 1:1, 14 and Hebrews 1:1-2). In response, we should seek God through Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. As we do so and the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our understanding, we will see God revealed in Scripture and respond with worship.
That is why all worship of God – public, family and private worship – should be based on and include much of the Bible. The Bible reveals God to us so that we may focus on Him, and to the extent that we focus on Him, we will worship Him. So if there is little focus on God, there is little worship of God. Conversely, much revelation of God fosters much focus on God, which in turn results in much worship of God.
Now, since worship is focusing on and responding to God, whatever else we may be doing we are not worshipping if we are not thinking about God. You may be singing holy, holy, holy but if you’re not thinking about God while singing it, you are not worshipping. You may be listening to someone pray, but if you aren’t praying with him or her and thinking of God, you aren’t worshipping.
Worship often includes words and actions, but true worship goes beyond them to the focus of the mind and heart. Worship is the God-centred focus and response of the soul. It is being preoccupied with God. So no matter what you are saying or singing or thinking or doing at any moment, you are worshipping God only when He is the centre of your attention. And whenever you do focus on the infinite worth of God, you will respond in worship as surely as the moon reflects the sun. This kind of worship is not in vain.
So let’s daily cultivate a lifestyle where we consciously work to make God the centre of our attention and respond appropriately in worship.
This is an especially important habit of grace for those who may be considering a role in cross-cultural missions because the missionary’s role among the nations is to create worshippers where there are none. As John Piper states in the book, “Let the Nations be Glad”, missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions because God is ultimate, not man.
With this in view, Psalm 96 becomes an example of God’s people summoning the nations to worship the Lord. “Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For the gods of the people are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendour and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”
What do you think about worship? Has this post challenged what you believe? Let us know in the comments section below.
KAIROS is a foundational course on world Christian mission. It brings out God’s heart for all the nations of the world and His desire to use His people to be a blessing to them. KAIROS emphasizes the importance of ministering to cultures that still have few or no indigenous churches.
KAIROS is designed to educate, inspire and challenge Christians to meaningful participation in God’s heart for all the nations.
It is a tool God is using to help transform the worldview of believers, so they see themselves as having been blessed in order to be a blessing to all people groups.
The Kairos Course is a nine-session, interactive course on world Christian mission, designed to educate, inspire and challenge Christians to active and meaningful participation. It is ideally suited to be conducted in local churches, organizations or with special interest groups such as Christian business people.
The Kairos Course utilizes a variety of adult learning styles including group discussions, short lecture introduction, devotions, video teaching and student participation in specially designed activities.
Kairos looks at the four main areas of mission concern, which are the Biblical, Historical, Strategic and Cultural dimensions of mission.
The Kairos Course can be conducted using a number of different formats that best suits the situation or the people taking the course.
Common formats are as follows:
Other formats can be considered but must first be cleared by the Course Director.
Kairos looks at the four essential areas of mission concern.
1. God’s Purpose and Plan
We will discover from the Bible, that mission lies at the center of all God’s concern.
God – The Bible is the story of His Glory
God’s Purpose – To re-conquer His usurped kingdom and reconcile the nations to Himself
God’s Plan – To engage His chosen people in His world-wide mission of mercy.
2. Israel, The Covenant People
We will study God’s dealing with the nation of Israel in His desire to fulfill His purposes through them.
Israel’s Obligation – To bless and be God’s priests to the nations of the world.
Israel’s Opportunity – God did everything for their fruitfulness and success.
Israel’s Response – On the whole negative – but God still outworked much of His missionary purpose through them.
3. The Messiah, the Message & the Messengers
We will see that God’s concern for all nations is still His central purpose as we move into the New Testament.
Jesus, Messiah for all peoples – Jesus, ministered to both Jews and Gentiles.
A Message for all Peoples – Jesus’ preaching on the Kingdom was for both Jew and Gentile.
Messengers for all Peoples – The advance of the Church into intentional missions after Pentecost.
4 . Expansion of the World Christian Movement
We trace the advance of Christianity from its beginning to the present day
The five periods of mission history since Christ.
The three eras of modern missions
The Final Thrust
5. Mission Strategy
We consider the place, value and nature of strategy in world Christian mission.
The value of strategy in mission, combined with prayer and power.
Church planting, people movements and church planting movements.
Local churches and mission agencies
6. The Task Remaining
We look at the mission task remaining, who and where the majority of the unreached are, and what methods should be used to reach them.
The nations and cross-cultural evangelism – Understanding mission terms and the priority in missions.
The major blocs of unreached peoples.
Modern strategies and approaches in missions today.
7. World Christian Teamwork
We look at the variety of exciting ways the whole church can and must get involved in accomplishing strategic world mission.
Teaming Up with God – Becoming a World Christian and finding our role.
Teaming Up Locally – Active Local Church involvement in missions
Teaming Up Globally – Partnership worldwide to fulfill the Great Commission.
8. Cross-Cultural Considerations
We address issues, in this chapter, on communicating the gospel cross-culturally. We also look at aspects of church contextualization and its implications for seeing unreached communities of peoples discipled and won for Christ.
The Kairos Course is designed to lay a solid foundation in the life of the believer and of the local church, in world Christian mission. From this foundation, exciting and meaningful missions endeavour, can result.
If you would like more information about the Kairos course and how you might host the course, please reach out to Lorna Johnston, National Director for the Kairos course in Canada at (604)952-0050 or go to https://simplymobilizing.outreach.ca/courses/kairos/Home and contact the office in Delta, BC.
Also, if you live in a smaller rural community with two or three evangelical churches, consider cooperating with the pastors to do a community Kairos course. The course can be completed over three weekends or four Saturdays and it will forever change the lives of the participants.
If you want to know more about the course and how it has affected my life, give me (Mark Kroes) a call at 289-812-0661 and I will happily tell you about my experience.
Become a mobilizer in your family, your church and your community for the purpose of God’s global glory.
When you think of the word “connection” what comes to mind?
Today, we have many great resources that enable us to connect effectively with others.
With the touch of a click we can communicate with someone who is across the world. With
fast Internet speeds, we can have access to the latest movies, etc. quickly and with ease.
Connection is something that we can all relate to and it is important to us in one way or another. We all desire and long to feel like we belong, to feel connected. God created us that way.
In any relationship, if there is no communication it has an impact on the relationship. It starts to create distance and the only way to build that relationship again is to talk to the person, listen to them, spend time with them.
While our connections with people are very important and necessary, the most important and significant connection we can ever have is with God.
It’s also important to note that sometimes we can feel a bit distant from God and that can happen for a variety of reasons.
Let’s look at some practical ways of how we can stay connected to God, regardless of how we are feeling:
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you.”
This is key in our relationship with God. We come to God to thank Him, to ask for forgiveness, to share our heart with Him, and to simply talk to Him. What a great privilege to know that the Creator of everything always has His ears open to His children and we have an instant connection through Jesus Christ.
" Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
God’s Word is the greatest manual of life for us. God speaks through His Word, we gain wisdom and understanding, and through the Holy Spirit we are able to make decisions according to God’s will for our life. We can never get too much of God’s Word, but it’s important that we are reading the Bible daily.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Getting together with our brothers and sisters in Christ is also so important. We are there to pray with one another, to provide encouragement, and to grow together. It is so enjoyable to get together with others who are like-minded. These connections are important in our lives.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Another great way to help us stay connected to God is through serving Him. When we make every part of our lives about God and about serving Him, we will be more connected to God.
Connection to Missions
So now, the connection to Missions.
God is passionate about missions. He sent Jesus so that we can have a connection to Him through His Son. That was the greatest mission.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
“Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
1 Chronicles 16:24
The closer we are to God, the more we are passionate about what He is passionate about.
Let’s make it a priority in our lives to connect with God daily. We have access 24/7.
How has your connection with God encouraged you lately? Feel free to share your experiences below.
At OMS Canada, our desire is to make Christ known among the nations, to declare His glory among the nations. To learn more about us, click here.
In this week’s blog post we consider the second habit of grace that needs to be built for the purpose of godliness. That habit is prayer.
Prayer is second only to God’s Word in importance when it comes to disciplining oneself in spiritual things. We know that through His Word God speaks to His church and to His people. There is nothing more important for us to hear than the Word of God. He is a speaking God and His Word is written for us.
But, not only is God a speaking God, He is also a listening God. His ear is continually open to us. He stands ready to hear every prayer of His children, even when our prayers are weak. God speaks to us through His Word and He listens to us in prayer.
However, despite its importance of prayer to the Christian, surveys and anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that a large percentage of professing Christians spend little time in sustained prayer. Short sentence prayers get offered here and there throughout the day but it is rare that more than just a few minutes is spent in conversation with God.
We must come to grips with the fact that, if we wish to be godly, if we wish to be like Jesus, we must pray.
Prayer is Expected
Those who have been brought under the authority of Christ and the Bible know that the will of God is for us to pray. And we also know that the will of God is good.
This expectation is seen in the words of Jesus in the gospels;
Matthew 6:5, “And when you pray…”
Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray…”
Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray…”
Matthew 6:9, “Pray then like this…”
Luke 11:9, “And I tell you, ask…seek…knock.”
Luke 18:1, “And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray,”
God’s word makes it clear that prayer is expected;
Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
These verses are commands for the Christian to pray. Commands. This means that too little time, too many responsibilities, too many kids, too much work, too little desire, too little experience, and so on are not excuses that exempt one from the expectation to pray.
Martin Luther put it this way; As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.
So why do so many of us confess that we do not pray as we ought? Sometimes it is just simply a lack of discipline. Prayer is never planned, time is never set aside just for prayer. While lip service is given to the priority of prayer, in reality it always seems to get crowded out by things that seem more urgent.
Often we do not pray because we are not convinced anything will actually happen if we pray. Naturally, we wouldn’t admit this publicly, but if we felt certain of visible results within sixty seconds of every prayer, there would be holes in the knees of the pants of every Christian (and not because the pants were bought with holes in the knees). The Bible does not promise a visible answer to every prayer but it does promise that every prayer is answered. Since prayer involves communication in the spiritual realm, many prayers are answered in ways that cannot be seen in the material realm.
In addition, where there is little awareness of real need, there is little need for real prayer. The truth is that we believe we can get along pretty well in Canada without any sort of divine intervention. We generally have jobs, shelter, friends, family, healthcare, and safety. What more could we need? In pride and self-sufficiency, we may live for days as though prayer is needed only when something comes along that is too big for us to handle on our own.
But this view is short sighted in that it assumes that the temporal things are the only things about which we need to pray. Listen to the prayer requests that people most often present and they will be for things like health, family, work, finances, etc., all temporal things that really have no kind of eternal significance. Why do we pray so little for the things that really count, like the battle against sin, the lack of faith, the need to evangelize, and the lack of spiritual fruit? Above these needs there is always a need to pray until Jesus returns or calls us home.
Prayer is Learned
Another reason why Christians pray so little is because they haven’t learned about prayer. If you are discouraged by the command to pray because you feel like you don’t know how to pray well, the fact that prayer is learned should give you hope. This means that it is okay to begin the Christian life with little knowledge or experience of prayer but as you are discipled, prayer should be a part of what is taught, learned and practised. I grew up on a dairy farm in Ontario and 4-H clubs were a popular activity for kids. The 4-H motto was, “Learn to do by doing.” This is certainly true of prayer.
If you have ever learned a second (or subsequent) language, you know that you learn it best when you actually have to speak it. The same is true of the ‘foreign language’ of prayer. There are many good resources to help you learn to pray but the best way to learn how to pray is to pray. Learn to do by doing.
Another way that one learns to pray is by meditating on Scripture. Here is the simple but extraordinarily powerful truth. Meditation is the missing link between Bible intake and prayer. Although often separated, the two should be united. Typically, we read the Bible, close it, and then try to shift gears into prayer. But many times it seems that the gears of Bible reading and of prayer do not mesh properly. We blow the shift (trucker talk) and lose momentum and give up on prayer.
Instead, there should be a smooth, almost unnoticeable transition between Scripture input and prayer output so that we move even closer to God in those moments. This happens when we insert the link of meditation in between. There are a couple of Psalms that make an explicit link between meditation and prayer. Psalm 5:1 says, “Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray.” The Hebrew word translated groaning may also be translated meditation, as it is in the King James. In fact, meditation is used for the same Hebrew word in Psalm 19:14; “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Notice that both verses are prayers, pleas to God that consisted of David’s words (as we would expect in prayer) but they also involve meditation. In each case, meditation was the catalyst that moved David from considering the truth of God into talking with God.
Meditating on God’s Word can also serve to move us into a conversation with the author of the Word.
Prayer is Answered
Probably no principle of prayer is more taken for granted than that prayer is answered.
Matthew 7:7-8; “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Andrew Murray makes the observation that asking and receiving is a fixed eternal law of the kingdom. If you ask and do not receive it is always because there is something amiss or wanting in your prayer. Hold on; let the Word and Spirit teach you to pray aright, but do not let go of the confidence God seeks to awaken. Everyone who asks receives…Let every learner in the school of Christ therefore take the Master’s Word in all simplicity…Let us beware of weakening the Word with our so-called human wisdom.
So, despite what we see in response to our prayers, let’s not become so accustomed with our shortcomings in prayer and to the perception of asking without receiving that our faith in the force of Jesus’ promise is diminished. Prayer is answered.
So, how is your prayer life? Is prayer a natural thing or is it a chore? Do you see prayers answered or are you in danger of weakening the promise of answered prayer? Let us know by leaving a comment.
And if you want some prayer requests to practice your prayer skills, click here to find out how to become a prayer partner of OMS Canada.