Category : Mike Schrage

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Tribe

Americans sometimes see the word “tribe” in a negative light. Tribe brings to mind things from the past that we don’t always like to talk about. It’s the same in Africa, where I lived for 20 years. To be called a tribalist there was like someone in our nation being called a racist!

As we enter the Christmas season this year, understand that “tribe” can also be a very good thing. In my mind, it relates well to God choosing a people – a tribe to call his own. God became Emmanuel, born into the Jewish nation.Think about these people God chose, people deemed neither important or dominant in any way.

In essence, he used a tribe that seemed weak to display his great power. He used an unknown people to bring to the world our Savior. From that collection of people, who spent much time as slaves, he made freedom from sin possible.

In my own life, and perhaps you feel the same, I often feel inadequate and unequal to the task of sharing that possibility of freedom with others. Like the Jewish people before us, members in this tribe we call the Church are just as feeble and have just as many problems as the rest of the world.

Then I think about where God has placed me.  Just as Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab (weird names, but check Exodus 36) to perform very specific tasks in building a place for him to dwell, so God has summoned me for something very specific. He’s asked me to help deliver biblically-based media content to people around the world who need to hear the Gospel. Who, me? He answers with a resounding, “yes!”

During Christmas time as you think about the reasons God visited the earth, think about the reasons, too, that he visited you. What is he asking you to do for your family, for your church, for GNPI? Is it time to step up, to lead out, or to give? He’ll show you if you ask.

Whatever God’s asking you to do, know that answering the call can turn around a struggling family. It can transform a local congregation, it can propel a ministry like GNPI.

We’re thankful that you’re part of our tribe at GNPI.  Tribe is a good word, and a great idea.  God has made us part of his tribe, so we can help deliver the Message of hope into the lives of others who need him very desperately. Whether through support of our NOMaD teams, our regional centers, The Global Gospel, Solar Kits, or App development, you’re helping add to God’s tribe.

And that’s what Christmas is all about.

 

Special Memories of our International Hour of Prayer

On December 3, technology gave GNPI the wonderful opportunity to pray with colleagues in 10 different locations around the globe.

IHOP Mike1Our second annual International Hour of Prayer (IHOP) was highlighted by times of praise for the Lord’s divine intervention, requests for healing, and pleas for provision. There was imploring for protection, wisdom, guidance, and resources.

At the end of the hour, I wanted to close our time together, but my emotions unexpectedly caused a check in my spirit, a lump in my throat, and tears welled up in my eyes. In the upper right-hand corner of the television, showing our centers from around the world, was a small screenshot of Simmi Dhingra and her team in Chandigarh, India. In the background was a portrait of her deceased husband, our friend and regional director, Deepak. It was almost one year to the day of his passing on to glory.

The second screen shot in the corner of the screen showed Sergei, Olga, and Dasha Golovin. They are currently refugees from their own countrymen. Their home, teammates, and the GNPI office in Simferopol are technically in Russia now. They have moved to Kiev, Ukraine, as the fighting in that part of the world has resulted in Russia annexing their home in the Crimean Peninsula. The Golovins’ homeland is experiencing civil war, but their determination continues. As Sergei said, “We had one, three, and even 10 years of plans. Yet, God had different plans, and so we need to adjust to God’s plans!”

IHOP Mike2Yes, God’s plan for Deepak’s time to serve on this earth, where Sergei lives (for now), and how his team does ministry was different from how we thought it would go. However, both families and teams are moving forward by God’s grace. Their example and dedication can be said of each of the regional centers represented at the IHOP. Join me right now in thanking God for the beauty of his Church and the way he can bring us all together to talk with him.

In fact, if you’d like to do something special for our regional centers – I’d love it. Would you send a prayer for one of our nine regional centers and their work to gnpi@gnpi.org? That would be phenomenal, and I know it would lift their spirits.

Our IHOP gifted me with memories to thank God for and cherish. I eventually was able to close the hour of global prayer, but my heart is still talking to God about this sweet time.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

A New Friend

Her pleasant smile made her look younger than she really is. Duan is a Chinese national who works at Johnson University teaching English to Chinese-speaking students and Mandarin to English-speaking students. Her dream is to one day start a Christian school in China.

While visiting the university, I showed her a newly-completed version of The Global Gospel in Mandarin, her heart language. I asked her to review the 88 stories and provide feedback about the content. She intently listened to the first story and said, “Oh my!” When I mentioned an additional three hours of biblical content remained, she said again in her soft English, “Oh my!”

We exchanged business cards and I left for my next appointment. It so happened that an hour later I passed by her table in the cafeteria. Duan stopped me and said, “I had to stop everything and listen to five more lessons. Oh my, they are so good!”

My new friend asked me later if she could share the video stories with her friends or anyone else she thought might be interested in hearing the stories of Jesus. She had caught the exact vision we hoped she would. There are 960 million Mandarin Chinese speakers in the world.

“Yes, Duan, you can share them with anyone!”

960 million. Oh my!

 

Some Really Good News

GNPI produces media. I can remember, not long ago, when watching television, going to movies, or listening to a “televangelist” was considered taboo. Today, in a 1000-channel world, amplified by social media, that fear has dampened.

Some Really Good NewsMedia is just like anything else – it can be used for good or bad. Unfortunately, today it seems like the bad aspects of media are overwhelming us. Yet, I am part of a team that believes God can redeem media (in all its forms) to use it for his purposes.

What Seth Godin recently wrote about media interests me. He wrote,

“I’m fascinated by this paradox. By connecting us, by integrating cultures, and by focusing attention on injustice, the media has dramatically improved the quality of life for everyone on the planet. At the same time, by amplifying the perception of danger and disaster, the media has persuaded us that things are actually getting worse. It creates a reason for optimism and then makes a profit by selling pessimism.”

Seth is right. Media has power to lead. Just as it highlights injustices, it helps start events like the Arab Spring.

In which direction will we help point the people of the world? Media has the potential, when biblically sound and culturally relevant, to be sacred rather than scary. Media can be a tool instead of a trap.

That is some really good news.

Pray for ISIS

There is no question that ISIS is evil. Yet, despite the temptation to dwell solely on this undeniable fact, we must remember two important points: ISIS army members were created in the image of the Triune God, and Christ suffered and spilled his blood so they could have the chance to truly know him.

What is happening today in the Middle East is not much different from what happened there in Jesus’ day. John was beheaded. “Crucifixion-style” executions had been perfected by the Romans and occurred often. Various insurrections bookended the one for which the Romans blamed Christ.

In reality, the Church Jesus began was birthed in a context of evil that emerged in all shapes and forms. The crucible of evil refines the Church and creates a strong, bright ray of light extending farther than before. It’s ironic but true. Knowing this, we need to boldly and earnestly pray for believers suffering at the hands of ISIS. As we read the Sermon on the Mount, we see the faithful members of God’s Church are blessed in the midst of persecution for the name of Christ.

As a staff, we are praying the Lord would draw to himself some of the most influential Muslim leaders and create a modern-day Saul-to-Paul transformation. Wouldn’t that be incredible?

Saul, who sought to destroy what Jesus built, later found himself willing to “be accursed for the sake of his wayward countrymen” who needed Christ’s saving power. The ability of the God we serve to change hearts is boundless!

We’re all grieved about the devastation caused by ISIS. However, our prayer is that out of these trying days in the Middle East, the Gospel will burst forth and brightly show the way by which many will be saved through the Good News of Jesus.

Please see: 10 Muslim Leaders you need to know (Joshua Project:IncontextMinistries)

https://drive.google.com/a/gnpi.org/file/d/0B8DdIFwW7ADFcGpCVGt1bzRrSmc/view?usp=sharing.

 

Is History Repeating Itself?

It’s been said that those who fail to read history are doomed to repeat it.

I received word this week from a colleague in Ukraine about a wonderful opportunity to share God’s Word in public schools there. Yes, you read correctly – in the public schools of atheistic, post-communist, eastern Europe! Here is some of what this colleague shared:

“…the most exciting opportunity of the trip was an invitation by the city education department to address public (state) school humanities teachers on ‘a common foundation for public ethics.’ This opened a door to speak openly about God’s nature and his plan as the only reliable foundation for any ethical system, about Scripture as his revelation for us, and about creation and our role and purpose in it. Only one lady out of the entire audience was unhappy about us ‘presenting only one view and only one religion instead of all of them.’ (Please pray for her – something in her heart is resistant to admit the truth.) History RepeatingHowever, other teachers were very open for the Message. Times of trouble make people search for the truth and hope desperately, and we have an exciting opportunity to share it. Please pray for the seeds planted among school teachers – people who will have the greatest impact on the next generation!”

Only a small percentage of American schools would welcome a strong presentation of God and his Scriptures as the plumb line for human ethics! Yet, only one teacher, in what we see as an environment highly resistant to God’s Word, had any objection. Yes, the tide is turning and some are asking, “Is history repeating itself?”

In the many US churches I visit, I often share about opportunities our centers throughout the world have to replicate what you’ve read above. In Ukrainian public schools, at Kenyan political rallies, on South African public television stations – God is opening doors for the spread of his Gospel.

People in the congregations hosting me often say, “Hey, we need to see productions like this in our schools – we need our politicians and television networks showing them!” Isn’t it ironic that 90 percent of GNPI’s financial and prayer support comes from the United States, yet we’re seeing the most impact through open doors in other nations – even atheistic, post communist Ukraine?

I’m so proud of each of you who support our global evangelism efforts!  You’re taking the blessings God is giving us here, in this nation, and using them to plant seeds in other parts of the world. Those seeds are growing into a bountiful harvest!

 

Tools Versus Time!

“Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” — Jeremiah 23:29

fire

Think about other highly effective tools through the centuries. The Roman road was a tool. The Gutenberg press was a tool. Evangelistic crusades and tent meetings were tools. All were relevant for their time and era, and all were used by God to achieve his purposes and expand his kingdom.

I recently read this from Seth Godin: “The public square is more public than ever, but minds are rarely changed in 140 character bursts and by selfies.”

Never was there a truer statement on the challenge of making disciples in today’s world! Disciple-making is not a turn-key formula or a spiritual microwave we invite someone to enter that heats to the right spiritual temperature. It is not something we can tweet or portray.

Creating followers of Jesus is a work the Holy Spirit does through us, requiring an investment of our most precious commodity, time. Here are some time investments you have to make to allow the Holy Spirit to create a disciple through you:

  • Tools2aTime on your knees

  • Time at the coffee shop or on the phone listening

  • Time sharing your own story and struggles

  • Time showing the way through God’s Word

Time; that’s what discipleship takes. How we invest time in others is paramount. Man can create a faster means of disseminating information through communication or travel. However, no one but God can create time! He can make the sun stand still! This God, who can do miracles, can take the time we invest and multiply it, pierce a heart, bring great comfort, or reveal a truth.

At GNPI, we’re investing in tools that maximize the use of time to share the Gospel of Jesus with as many people as possible. We’re working with nationals throughout the world to teach and train others about Jesus, using great media and technology tools.

One example of this is project NOMaD (National Outreach using Media and Discipleship). NOMaD teams harness the power of media to open hearts, garner attention, illustrate key truths, and present the Gospel in a way that can be easily remembered.

More than training nationals to maximize their ministry potential through great tools though, we’re teaching them to make the most of their time! Making disciples of all nations won’t happen through a tweet or post. However, it will happen as we pray and invite the Holy Spirit to lead us to create tools that he then will use to effectively chisel people throughout the world into the perfect image of the almighty God!

Being Relevant Like Jesus

Barna Group, the premier research organization, recently stated that Millennials want to learn how to “apply their hearts and minds to today’s cultural realities…finding a way to bring their faith in Jesus to the problems they encounter in the world.” The article went on to say, “They (Millennials) don’t want their faith to be relegated to Sunday worship, and this desire for holistic faith is something the church can speak to in a meaningful way.” Bottom line, they want to learn “about how Christians can positively contribute to society.”

What the Barna Group has discovered is the precise reason GNPI works side by side with global workers to create culturally relevant media local churches can use. RelevantWe want to express and portray Jesus in a way that speaks to a world that needs to see him through his church!

Think about this:

  • Jesus spoke to a woman drawing water about how he was “Living Water”

  • He called himself “the Bread of Life” after miraculously feeding a hungry crowd

  • He claimed he was the “Light of the World” after making a blind man see

Jesus taught in a way that made “cultural sense” to the listeners of his day. He helped people see, in their mind’s eye, exactly how he could make a difference to them. He made it easy to understand why he was chosen to bring life – and to bring it more abundantly!

We want to imitate Jesus, speaking into today’s cultures around the world with life-changing truths drawn from God’s Word.

If you believe GNPI is effectively taking on this God-given purpose, would you do me a favor?
Can you go to http://greatnonprofits.org/reviews/gnpi and write a review of our work? Their deadline for reviews is October 31. If you’re able to assist in this way, it will help us as we try to engage more people, churches, and other partners in spreading our culturally relevant media throughout the globe.

Thanks for the part you play in helping spread the message that Jesus is King in culturally relevant ways, as the Barna Group suggested, and for making a difference in our society.

 

Adversity or Opportunity?

Not that it’s ever overly encouraging, but the nightly news has been extra discouraging as of late, hasn’t it? As you hear stories from the Middle East (Israel, Syria, Iraq) and see the devastation inflicted by Hamas and ISIS, it’s upsetting. However, it’s not just happening in the Middle East. Tension between Ukraine and Russia continues. It’s happening at home in Ferguson, Missouri also.

Sergei ShadowI don’t know about you, but I cannot recall a time in recent years that such a gruesome array of news reports have come our way through television and social media.

Yet, as Jesus encourages us from Scripture, “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world!” Amen?

I’m inspired by our friends around the world who take this to heart. Sergei Golovin is our colleague and regional director of GNPI-Ukraine. He’s currently classified as an Internally Displaced Person (IDP). He had to flee his home and ministry shortly after the Olympics and Russian takeover of Crimea. Sergei, his wife, Olga, and youngest daughter hastily moved to Kiev, Ukraine. Then, Sergei’s daughter became very ill for a season, and his wife had a major surgery.

Despite the tremendous personal trauma they’ve experienced, they have not been discouraged, nor has the team that remained behind working at the GNPI office. As they had to leave behind Sergei’s mother, and their house, they also left behind a call to GNPI staff to accept a leadership mantle for our center in Crimea.

These Job-like experiences could have stopped their ministry plans altogether, but instead, Sergei and his family have an even STRONGER resolve. Now, they see that God is preparing the way for great fruitfulness in his kingdom.

Lord, help me NOT complain! Help me seek ways I can honor you during life’s toughest times!

Sergei recently wrote me and said this:

“Troubles under the heavens make people seek the answers from above. God is already using the current situation for spiritual awakening in Ukraine. I believe, in a few years, the church of Ukraine will become a much more powerful agent for delivering God’s truth to every corner of Russia, and Crimea will be a special door for it!”

What the world sees as adversity, God often uses to create the greatest opportunities! Join us in believing that God is preparing to do some of his best work during such a time as this!

 

Strategic Praying

We often build a lot of strategy into executing plans that we’ve made. Often these strategies are well-thought-out responses to the convergence of where we want to go, and the factors all around us that influence us getting there. What if we made prayer and concern for those who are outside of Jesus, even those persecuting his people, one of the areas of our lives in which we got really strategic?

Strategic PrayingThink about these facts:

  • Jesus asks us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us as followers of his. (Matthew 5:44)

  • Jesus used an audible voice, blinding lights, and a miraculous healing to get the attention of one of the most dangerous and feared opposers of the early church – Saul of Damascus. (Acts 9:1-19)

  • Jesus said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)

Imagine if we prayed to Jesus for the ten Muslim leaders listed in the document linked below who, like Saul, are threatening the church. Imagine if Jesus would visit them, get their attention, and eventually their allegiance. Imagine if Jesus stepped in and caused one, five, or all of them to convert, like Saul did to Paul. Just imagine!

It may sound like it’s beyond possible, but consider this last fact:

  • Nothing is impossible with God! (Luke 18:27)

Pray that God brings a harvest among even those who are persecuting his people!

———

Please look at this intriguing document:
10 Muslim Leaders you need to know (Joshua Project:IncontextMinistries).pdf

UA-961736-4