#unreachedlivesmatter

#unreachedlivesmatter

You are probably familiar with the hashtags #blacklivesmatter or #policelivesmatter. For the most part, I don’t think that the majority of us would disagree with either of these statements. (Granted, I know there are some people who do and we’ll keep praying for these people.) These trending statements have been used to shine a light on injustice against a particular group of people. Areas where maybe our words say one things but our lives and actions say another.

Often when we look at the Bible there are many “commands” which make us feel like it is compiled of a list of rules and regulations. The truth is, when boundaries are drawn and things need to be repeated, it’s probably because it goes against our very nature as humans to do those things. This is something that was pointed out to me by a friend who led our community group a couple of years ago. He ended every conversation about some sort of “command” in the Bible with this reminder, “If it’s a command, it probably doesn’t come naturally. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a command.”

The writers of the Bible were God-inspired to use the phrase, “fear not” 365 times. If we as a human race weren’t so inclined to fear, maybe we wouldn’t need a reminder for every day of the calendar year! In the same way, the sad fact is that statements like #blacklivesmatter exist because our society and its actions denote otherwise.

When God gives a commandment, it is meant to bring and give life. It is my assumption that trending statements are meant to do the same.

Here is my opinion. And what I think God wants us to understand about how He loves His people.

 

There is not one group of people that is more or less important than another … and our words AND ACTIONS should reflect that part of God.

Equally so, when 1520 Unreached decided to be a single-minded ministry, they decided to solely focus on people groups with less than 2% being evangelical Christians with no indigenous church planting movement/resources to evangelize their own people, otherwise known as an unreached people group.

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Children of the Zaramo people group.

Why?

Is it because we consider those without any church MORE important than those in communities surrounded by other believers and able of evangelizing their own? BY NO MEANS! On the contrary, it’s because they are neither more NOR LESS important than #blacklives, #policelives, #americanlives.

And the truth is, the current message that we are sending to those living in unreached people groups is that they are just not as important.

Now hear me out people, I know that somewhere in you there is a voice that wants to jump up in disagreement, but first let me present some numbers.

According to aboutmissions.org,

  • American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministries.
  • 5% on cross-cultural efforts in already reached people groups.
  • 0.5% to reach the unreached.
  • Only 0.1% of all Christian giving is sent to the mission efforts in the 38 least evangelized countries in the world!
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Small Zaramo child holding a Gospel of John.

Now don’t give up hope. If we believe that the Lord will fulfill His promises to us, and we do, then we can find hope and rest in this prophetic passage.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from EVERY nation, from ALL tribes and [ALL] peoples and [ALL] languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” –Revelation 5:9

This is the verse that 1520 Unreached derives its vision statement. Our vision is that “Every man, woman and child in all unreached people groups has the opportunity to hear and respond to the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ, at least once.”

Our heart longs to one day stand in the presence of the Lord, in this very scene mentioned in the above scripture. Standing next to our brothers and sisters, knowing it was our words, prayers and our funds that reached them from across the world.

 

How?

What are practical ways to reach the unreached from where YOU are right NOW.

Give

Find local churches and organizations that are sending missionaries to work in these unreached areas.

You can visit 1520 Unreached’s support page here or donate to Well Branch Community Church’s Well Project 11666273_10107291573475184_1260321006876417191_n_clipped_rev_1

Pray

Pray for those missionaries daily. Pray for the leadership in those areas and for the indigenous people.

1520 Unreached support group meets every Friday morning in Austin, TX to pray for the Unreached. You can join us in setting an alarm to pray at 3:20pm (15:20) daily for unreached people groups around the globe.

Go

This begins with prayer, but if you feel like the Lord has equipped and called you to reach the unreached, reach out to a local organization or leader and work towards being sent by a church to an unreached people group.

 

So ultimately, it is not that there is a group of people more or less deserving of our love, care, resources, time and efforts, rather it is that we truly believe that we are equally as loved and cared for by an all-knowing and all-powerful God, and our lives as His people should reflect that.

 

So it is absolutely #alllivesmatter, and in light of that it leads us to display with our lives that #unreachedlivesmatter.

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Swahili/English Bibles being passed out in a Zaramo unreached people group.

Life after “Yes!”

Life after “Yes!”

“It matters not how strait  the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.”

 

This is the closing four lines of the poem Invictus written by William Ernest Henley. The final two lines are often quoted in countless speeches and self-help books in one form or another. I, for the majority of my life, prescribed to this logic; I adhered to this tenet of humanism. Then, the one and only captain of my faith began to steer.

didi and moses

I would love to take full credit for moving across the world to be a missionary, but that would be misleading. I always loved the idea of missions, but I probably never would have “taken the plunge” were it not for the Lord working through my bolder than Folgers husband. You see I’m not that fearless. I would love to say I’m fearless, but I must concede that the majority of the time I am kind of a scaredy cat that puts up a great front (fake it until you make it, right?). I wasn’t raised to dream THIS big and out of the box. I like to color in the lines. But, somewhere around 23 years of age, the Lord stirred my spirit and my heart. He plucked me from my safe, planned out, master-of-my-fate line of thinking and gave me the courage to go.

 

So here I am in Chalinze, Tanzania with my family, on mission introducing God’s love to villages and people that have never heard of Jesus. My career aspirations, once luminous and weighty, have been put in place in pursuit of goals with eternal consequences. People keep reminding me how much I’ve given up, but to tell you the truth – I haven’t thought twice about it. All the possibilities, options, opportunities,  “what could have been’s” will be, because I am right where I need to be – in the center of God’s will for my life.

 

There is a common misconception that whatever happens to us is the will of God. Many of us think –  I can do whatever I want and God will either do something or not and that will be his will. It will all happen like it needs to according to his plan for our lives. God is who he says he is – sovereign, majestic, unchanging and merciful; and God is in control but all of us have a choice. We must decide to follow him or to turn away. I can say yes to Him or I can say no. I can go to the hard places, get uncomfortable, or I can remain in my safe, perimetered zone.

me with kulea girls after church

Say yes and the Lord will absolutely, positively, intentionally, give you more than you can handle. Because when you surrender to him, owning up to your complete depravity and sinfulness, and allow the Lord to take the lead, he will prove himself by doing more than you ever could or would have done alone. In this way his glory can be displayed and people can see his grace and faithfulness through our lives. As the Lord told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

Is this easy? What do you think? In fact, every day is filled with reminders, sometimes painful reminders, of my human emotions, human desires, and human limitations. The brokenness of this world does not get any less sad, the longer you live in the midst of it. It is devastating that people have to live, and die like this. I would love the view from my window to be a nice subdivision with clean children running around wearing shoes. But it isn’t, life in Africa is hard – no way to pretty that up. Sometimes I get caught up in my “I deserve more” moments; I want to go home, I want to go back to work into my office and live out the “American Dream”, I want to drop off Moses at grandma’s house and hang out with my friends and family.  These momentary screams of my heart remind me how normal, how human I am, and how much I love God. He gave his one and only son as a sacrifice for me, for us. His one and only son…When I focus on this simple truth, his faithfulness, love, and mercy resonate within me. God is using me, despite my frailties, self-reliance, and little faith. Through me, God is accomplishing his purpose. Because of him, hope courses through my veins, even on the most difficult days.

 

A part of my heart will always be in Texas and my heart will ache to be there making memories with everyone I love. This is personally my toughest sacrifice. But we all must sacrifice in one way or another to accomplish great things. Just know – God’s love made known is worth it, even if only to one person. We, individually and collectively, must keep trying. Say “Yes” to the call. Your mission field will probably be different from mine, nonetheless, we have all been empowered to do BIG things for our God.

 

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

 

Matthew 16:24-25didi with a funny face

From Prison to Mission

From Prison to Mission

Eddie & Teresa Franz returned from Tanzania a couple of weeks ago after spending 18 days on the ground with James, DiDi & Moses Myer. Eddie & Teresa will be writing multiple blogs in the near future about their experiences in Tanzania (& oh man did they get the full Africa experience) but we’d like you to get to know a bit about their story and who they are first.

 

Meet Eddie Franz

 

“I was standing in my cell being counted.  The guards were counting us to make sure none of us had: broken out of the cell block, climbed up and down a 15′ wall, and then scaled not one but two razor wire fences with 10′ of razor wire between the fences.  Not really a necessary count considering no one had ever escaped this federal prison, but one of at least 5 daily counts none-the-less.  During this particular count I made sure I the guards did not see my face as they walked by my cell.  I possessed 2 huge shiners (black eyes) that I did not want them to know about.  If they would’ve seen my black eyes I would have been taken to the hole for at least a month, or forced to tell them about the fight I was in. If you understand prison there is really no choice here.  So for obvious reasons I gave the guards my back. It was at this moment that something inside me broke.  Maybe it was my pride or maybe it was my heart, either way I was done.  I grew instantly and insanely tired.   It was in this brokenness that I realized  my entire adult life had been an act.  “Acting” tough and “acting” cool for over a decade was exhausting, and I was obviously horrible at it.  It go me nothing except a nine year prison sentence.   I was tired.  I had know idea who I was, or who I was supposed to be, but at that moment I decided to begin the task of finding out.

Thats me front left.

The guys in these pictures  were my friends/brothers.  They were closer to me than anyone I had ever met.  We would bleed for each other, to the point of death if need be.  That was even our motto, “till death.”

That’s me on the left

How could I walk away from a group of men that put their lives in my hands and vice versa.  To this day I love these men and pray for them, but I was changing inside and it was my destiny to travel a different path.

Months after the fight I was transferred to a minimum security prison. (where the inmates were different than the guys you see in the pictures.)   Not better or worse, just different.  They were men that I didn’t care to impress.  It sounds great to not have to impress anyone, but I was used to the attention that I got from doing crazy things, trying to impress.  The aloneness I felt at this new prison was staggering and profound.  It was that aloneness though, that removed the other voices long enough to finally hear God’s.

There was a group of men who came to this prison every Thursday for no reason except they cared. They usually taught bible studies, but one Thursday they showed a movie and some inmates invited me, to which I replied, “no thanks.”  The movie was, “Passion of the Christ” directed by Mel Gibson. The christian inmates continued to pitch it to me by saying, “Mel Gibson made it, so it has to be good.”  Say what you want about the sanity of Mel Gibson, but the irony of a man who starred in Lethal Weapon being the one responsible for me hearing the Gospel, is not lost on me.   I left the movie asking myself,  “was it true?”   I had to know.  So I went on a search for the truth and found only Jesus.

Fast forward 4yrs.  Still in prison, but my entire life was devoted to serving Jesus.  As much as I used to be devoted to destruction, I was now much more devoted to life.   I modeled my life after Philippians 2:17  but even if I am poured out as a drink offering for the sacrifice and service of your  faith I will rejoice.  It is amazing the difference Jesus can make.  People saw life in me where before only death was visible. I truly was a new creation.  Little did I know what God had planned next in life.

Fast forward 2 more years.  Not in prison.  I married an amazing woman and was blessed with two of the best step kids you could ever ask for.  I was serving at my home church, WBCC,  and feeling like nothing could be better.  That is until I head a sermon from James Myers on Missions.  He preached an entire sermon with a coke bottle on the podium, and the entire time I am wondering why.  At the end he says that one day he was in Tanzania looking for a group of unreached people, he came across a man who had never heard the name of Jesus Christ, but he was holding that bottle of coke.  So in about 100 years coke was able to do what 2000 years of evangelism was unable to do.  It struck me at that moment that we as Christians are making the Holy Spirit look weaker than Coke.  That to me was unacceptable.  My wife turned to me at that time and simply said, “we have to go.”  I agreed.

Next time I will tell you all about this trip, and who this man with me is.

Once again that’s me on the left.

Eddie Franz”

Visit Eddie’s blog here

“For freedom Christ has set us free ….” Galatians 5:1