The first day I arrived in the Middle East in 2014, I exited the plane and stepped onto the open-air run way and the heat swept over me like a blanket. As we entered the airport, my eyes were taken aback by throngs of men, wearing white robes, and women, wearing only layers of black. As we sat in the airport for hours, we heard the Muslim call to prayer resound through the airports walls as people filed through the visa line. As we left, my glazed over, jet-lagged eyes could hardly take in every road sign that was in Arabic script. My mind could hardly compute that I was actually in the Middle East after months of preparing and praying for this time. It was exhilarating, yet terrifying. I felt severely inadequate and realized how much I needed the Holy Spirit to enable me to work in the harvest. I had become a Christian only a year before – yet I had immediately known that I must tell others about this Good News in unreached places. I knew that the Gospel needed to be heard by people who clung so tightly to Islam, the deadly religion of works. I desperately desired to verbally proclaim the message of Good News to those broken people.
Little did I know, those four months would entail hours of long conversations simply trying to clear up one misconception. It entailed spending hours with women in their homes telling them stories from the Bible over deliciously spiced meals of rice and chicken. It felt as though we were tending to a terribly neglected garden, one filled with weeds and stones. We sought to carefully sow the life-giving message of Jesus’ death and resurrection, taking care to sow truth in place of the lies. We sought to be humble yet bold lights in a land of darkness and formed many deep, gospel-saturated friendships along the way.
Little did I know, I would return only two years later in the spring of 2016 to formally study Arabic with a team and to once again persevere in sharing the Gospel. God used my initial time in the Middle East to develop in me a passion for the people – and He is still. Only Jesus can bind up the deep wounds and lies of works based religion. Only Jesus can rescue wounded people – yet they are largely without access to hear. I long for the day that I will return to them. But for now, a new opportunity has come.
The New Opportunity
In January of this year, Avant Ministries launched an internship called the Avant Missionary Institute. I rejoice that I have been given the opportunity to join this endeavor. The first 5 months are spent in Kansas City and the last 2 months are spent in Jordan. The focus during our time in Kansas City is to urgently reach out to Arab Muslims and to grow as a team. The last two months of the internship, during June and July, we will go to Jordan in the Middle East. There, we will establish relationships with the people and seek to partner fruitfully with a local church as well. Jordan is a small country, yet has a staggering 9.5 million people within its borders, and only one-third of the population is actually Jordanian, meaning many are refugees.*
*Sources: https://joshuaproject.net/countries_photos/JO, http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/population-stands-around-95-million-including-29-million-guests
Since January, our team has been meeting three times a week for prayer, twice a week to evangelize, and once a week for an Islamic Studies course and to study Arabic. These times are especially important for us as we prepare for what could be a lifetime of ministry among Arab Muslims. I hope that you will consider joining with me in the work in the Middle East by partnering both prayerfully and financially. At this stage, I am asking you to prayerfully consider partnering with me specifically in the giving of finances. Through prayer and financial giving, you are partnering with me in this work of advancing the Gospel.
This price includes flights, food, in country travel, ministry opportunities, rent, and all other expenses:
- Half of this amount – $2,000 is due immediately in order to buy plane tickets at the end of this month, by March 31, 2017.
- Full amount deadline – May 1st, 2017.
- Giving by Check – Make checks out to Avant Ministries. Make sure to include my name (Courtney Allen) on a sticky note with the check.
- Feel free to find me at church any given Sunday if giving in person.
- If sent via mail, send to: 10000 N Oak Trafficway, Kansas City, MO 64155
- Online Giving – If you choose to give online, please do so through directly linking your bank account:
Pray that Arab Muslims in this city would realize their need for Jesus. Pray that I would be faithful to the Lord, zealous for His glory, and boldly share the Good News. I would love to talk with any of you who have further questions about this opportunity.
Behold, our King Jesus is coming soon. Let us fight the good fight as we rejoice that we have been redeemed and offer this Good News to others.
Courtney Allen is a senior at Midwestern College studying Intercultural Studies and Humanities. She previously lived in the Middle East for eight months, and hopes to continue to be a part of advancing God’s kingdom in unreached places in whichever way the Lord sees fit. If you’d like to contact Courtney directly, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was my sophomore year of college, and I found myself stuck to the chair in a dark room while passionate worship music pumped through the speakers. My world had just been rocked and — unbeknownst to me radically altered.
“God does not bless you just to bless you,” the speaker said. “He blesses you to be a blessing to others. All throughout Scripture we see how God blesses people for the purpose of making HIS name great among the nations.”
As I left the conference and drove home through a snowstorm, I knew God was calling me to abandon my summer plans. Over the next few weeks I began the process of preparing for my very first short-term mission trip to Turkey. Of course, like any normal 20-year-old evangelical female, my heart was driving the entire application process. Passionate late night discussions with friends about “the lost” around the world were common. I cried when I watched missions videos. I just knew, I knew, I could make an impact. After all, God had called me to do this thing! He had shaken my world and my heart was being remolded for His purposes. As the time drew nearer for our five-week trip, I felt ready and prepared. Our church trained us well and our team even met weekly to pray and plan. It was time to go to Turkey to make a big difference for the kingdom.
As it turned out, I was actually a really terrible missionary. From the moment I landed in Turkey, I felt fairly comfortable and in awe of all the strange new sights and sounds. But I quickly learned that my heart could only take me so far. Of all the girls on the team, I was the only one who walked away from our five-week trip without a good, solid friendship with a Muslim girl. We spent most of our time at a university, helping English classes and building relationships outside of class. I truly loved the time connecting with the Muslim students at the university but found myself feeling drained from long conversations in broken English about everything from American culture to the Bible. “What is wrong with me?” I wondered. “Why are the other girls building these great relationships with the Turkish students, and I simply tag along?” “If my heart is so moved by the lost in Turkey, why doesn’t that translate into good missionary skills?”
So many of us wear our hearts on our sleeves. We make decisions and take action based on deep feelings that propel us. This is not bad! Rejoice in how God has made you! But I am here to offer both a warning and an encouragement for those of you who are like me and have paved your life’s course based on what your heart has told you to do.
You can have a deep love for the nations. You can desperately desire to see them saved. But that doesn’t mean you should be the person sent to the front line of church planting and evangelism. Maybe it does mean that, for some. I can’t help but wonder what God could do through us, though, if we realized what role God would have us play in reaching the lost we are so burdened for.
Since my “failed” missions trip to Turkey 13 years ago, I have learned that I am not truly a failure. If anything, my desire to see the nations saved has grown by leaps and bounds. However, I’ve learned that I am far more effective as a communicator and administrator. I’m deeply passionate about helping others catch God’s vision for what He is doing on a global scale. Talking with young people about their gifts and talents and how they can use those gifts and talents in another country energizes me. This is how I play a role in God’s mission to save the nations. It is important and it is valuable. It is not sexy — and you won’t read any autobiographies written about me — but I don’t care!
You have a role to play! Never in the history of mankind has God called someone to follow Him and then allowed him or her to sit on the sidelines of His mission. There is a reason God made you the way He did.
Are you good at explaining the Gospel in simple terms? Girl, get yourself into your community and start those spiritual conversations.
Are you gifted at hospitality? Invite international students into your home for an American meal. If you struggle with making good conversation, invite a friend from church who is good at it to come, too. Don’t feel bad that you aren’t a good conversationalist.
Are you administrative? Create a system for people at your church to help pick up international students from the airport when they arrive in the country to study at your local university.
How has God gifted you and how can you use it to share the gospel with people who need to hear it? We’d love to hear from you. May you be encouraged today by the unique ways God has created women all over the world to be a part of His mission!
Julie is ta Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategist for the ERLC. She is married to Jesse and they have 3 children, one of whom was born in Madrid, Spain during their time with the International Mission Board.
Pastor Ronni recently returned from his second trip to northeast Italy where he met with pastors, Christians and skeptics. He led Bible studies, shared the gospel, strategized and built relationships with locals.
There are a lot of details that we want to roll out to you in the coming weeks about this partnership and there’s not enough time in this post to do all of that, but we wanted to share one short challenge with you to begin praying for with us.
Emmaus is a sending church and we want you to pray for those who will be sent.
In the coming months Emmaus will be sending a team to Italy to begin the process of declaring the gospel, building relationships and planting churches. Some of you will be going with us.
In summer 2018 we would like to put people in Italy for the entire summer to do the same. Some of you will be going for us.
In the next few years our hope is to put someone on the ground long-term, a few of you will be going for us.
Emmaus, will you begin praying with us today for those who will be sent by Emmaus – that God would make it clear to their hearts of this calling, and that their hearts and minds would be preparing even now.
Will you go?
One year ago this month, Emmaus embarked on her first ever international mission trip by sending two of our members on a vision trip with a team to northeast Italy to see what God might be calling us to do in order to see God glorified and churches multiplied in Italy.
Throughout that trip our team saw God clearly close doors and open doors. Over the weeks and months that followed the Emmaus elders and a few others spent much time in prayer and planning to see what God was calling us to.
Throughout that time God was gracious to lead us to partner with another Missouri church for the purpose of reaching a city in northeast Italy with the gospel. Together, Emmaus Church and Freshwater Church Bolivar will target the city of Padova in Italy to see God glorified and churches multiplied.
By partnering with Freshwater, we are able to see more teams in Italy each year and we gain the missional and partnership experience of Freshwater, who has seen God start churches in several countries through their partnerships.
Over the last year Emmaus has continued to pray for Italy, while meeting and planning with Freshwater about what this partnership will look like. This waiting time can seem long and can seem aimless to some, but it was essential for us as we sought to only walk through doors that God was opening in this city and in their culture. We knew that apart from God’s gracious provision of an in-country partner, this work would be slow and extremely difficult.
Later this month Pastor Ronni will take his second trip to Italy along with Pastor Dave from Freshwater, and they will meet with our connection in Italy and the group of Christians. For five days they will pray, strategize, teach about church, share the gospel with dozens of Italians who have already vocalized a desire to hear Ronni and Dave tell them about the gospel, and we will begin the process of planting a church and reaching a city so that God would be glorified and churches would be multiplied.
How can you help?
- Please begin praying today for Pastor Ronni and Pastor Dave that they’d have discernment and wisdom.
- Please begin praying for our Italian church planter, that he’d have faith and reliance on Christ.
- Please begin praying for this group of believers in Padova — that they’d be burdened for their city and emboldened to share the gospel.
- Please begin praying about the possibility of going with us in 2017 or 2018.
The plan moving forward:
Pastor Ronni and Pastor Dave will set a more firm plan in motion while on this trip, but it appears as if we are ready to begin sending teams this year! Pray as these plans unfold. Our expectation is that we would send a team in the summer of 2017 and again in the fall of 2017. Perhaps God is calling you to be on one of these teams. Perhaps God is calling you to help send one of these teams. I know he is calling us all to pray for all of these teams. So let’s pray.
Every Thursday we post a blog designed to equip Emmaus to declare the gospel and communicate opportunities for us to display the gospel in our city. This week we have an update from Emmaus member Elizabeth Sanders on a refugee family Emmaus has been helping.
I was contacted about a Syrian refugee family being resettled in the Northland and was made aware of some of their needs. These needs were brought before the members of Emmaus. There are 5 members of the family, and each community group chose one family member to provide for. Some of the items provided ranged from coats, gloves, scarves, gift cards to baby dolls and soccer balls. Not only did the community of Emmaus respond, but the larger church as a whole in the KC metro provided for them.
Currently, Courtney Allen and I try to spend time weekly with the family. We help them with logistical needs, but mostly we just spend time in their home drinking tea and sharing life. As we’ve grown to know them more, we have learned more of their story. We learned they are from Damascus, their home was completely destroyed, they have had family die in the conflict, and most of their family remains in Syria. They have witnessed unimaginable devastation. Courtney has been able to share many Bible stories with them and found out that the father has a copy of an Arabic Bible and has been reading it!
Adjusting to the USA from a vastly different culture comes with many challenges. However, this family is incredibly resilient. Their children are attending school and learning English quickly. They all miss Syria but are grateful to be here. The parents are attending English classes, but their English skills are minimal which has caused some difficulties regarding employment. The father works in a factory, but the mother is having trouble finding a job. She was a hairdresser before moving to Kansas City, but in order for her to practice here, she must be certified which means she needs to speak English and save enough money for the schooling.
How can Emmaus serve?
The family has had some temporary financial assistance which will not continue for much longer. Some of the ways that Emmaus could continue to serve them would be through providing items such as gift cards, groceries and help with rent. An area of concern and matter of prayer is that they are in need of a car so they can independently access the community.
How can Emmaus pray?
Pray that they would learn to thrive in this new culture as they adjust and learn English. Pray that the gifts they have been given would point them to the gift of the Gospel. Pray that as they process and seek healing from all they have undergone, they would begin to ask questions like “Where is God? Is Islam really true?” Pray that they would ultimately turn to Jesus and the veil over their hearts would be removed to see Him for who He truly is: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
If you’d like more information or are interested in giving financially to the family, email Elizabeth Sanders at email@example.com.
In Philippians 1:22-26, we have the Apostle Paul’s dialogue, if you will, with himself. In this back and forth of thought, he wrestles with a major life decision. His decision is this, “If I had the choice to live or to die, which would I choose?” Now perhaps that questions strikes concern into you for Paul’s mental stability, but it gives us an incredible glance at the treasure of his heart because Paul will continue on to say, “I would choose death because it’s much better for me. When I die, I get Jesus!”
Paul so treasured Jesus that he’d rather die, lose all that this world has for him, and therefore gain Jesus! He truly thinks that death would be a better choice for him. But what follows this is what I want to focus on for the next few paragraphs. Paul follows up his realization of what would be best for him by saying what would be best for the church; to live. In Paul’s reasoning, it’s personally beneficial if he dies because then he gets the ultimate treasure, Jesus! However, if he lives, he can keep encouraging, strengthening, and equipping the church, which is better for them. So Paul’s question moves from “What is the best decision for me?” to “Do I choose what is best for me or what is best for the church?” Guess what he chooses?
In verse 25 we get these words from Paul, “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith…” Paul reasoned what was the best decision for himself, then reasoned what the best decision was for the church, and when those two things contradicted each other, he chose what was best for the church.
Let that sink in for a moment. Paul’s choice was what would be best for the church, not what was best for himself.
Do you consider the church in the decisions of your life? Do you ask yourself how your job change could affect your church? Do you consider how your moving would impact the work of God through your church in your community? Do you seek insight into how your decision to leave or stay at your local church would affect the advancement of the gospel?
Chances are, you are like I have been most of my life. I didn’t think about the church much in these decisions. If decision A was better for me, then it must be the right decision. I didn’t pay much attention to how that decision impacted the rest of the church. But what we see in Paul’s thought process here was a communal and missional mindset in his decision process. He thought about how his decision would affect the community of Christians (the church) and the mission (the advancement of the gospel).
I think it is safe to say that most of us have much room to grow in our consideration of the church in life’s decisions.
Here are 6 practical ways you can do this:
1. Discuss your decisions with your community group for wise counsel and insight.
2. Discuss your decisions with your pastors for godly counsel and wisdom.
3. Consider how it affects the relationships of those you are sharing the gospel with.
4. Consider how it affects those whom you know and who know you deeply through confession of sin. Will your decision drastically change these relationships?
5. Consider how your decision will affect the church financially.
6. Consider whether the ministry you are involved in will be able to flourish or if it will wilt through your decision.
Joshua Hedger is the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Emmaus Church. He is married to Tish and they have an adopted teen daughter and a biological toddler son. Joshua has served in several other ministry roles including Director of Church Planting at Midwestern Seminary, planting another church, a youth pastor, and as a missionary in West Africa.