To Italy with the Gospel

To Italy with the Gospel

An Update:

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.

Declare and Display // Syrian Family Update

Declare and Display // Syrian Family Update

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 emoore023@gmail.com.

Considering the Church in Life’s Decisions

Considering the Church in Life’s Decisions

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.

josh hedgerJoshua 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. 

A portrait of Italy and why we go to the ends of the earth

A portrait of Italy and why we go to the ends of the earth

Today I want to paint you a picture of the Italy you will never see in the quintessential travel poster.  You may wonder why missionaries are sent here. You may even wonder why Emmaus is going to be sending teams each year to partner with the work here.

Let me tell you why we go. 


In the city we visited today, there were at least 80 Catholic Churches. So you may think, “These people have access to the gospel. We should go somewhere else.” But I’m not done painting the picture.  All of those churches are empty or used as something else. Some are museums and you can pay to go into them. Furthermore, a missionary we spoke with told us that their biggest immediate desire is to simply get an Italian friend to read the bible. Over 90% of Italians claim to be Catholic and the vast majority of them have never even darkened the door of even a Catholic Church.

The need in Italy is great. But that is not why we go. 

Only 0.046 percent of Northern Italians claim to be evangelical. The Italian church is small. A “mega church” we visited today averages 50-55 people on Sunday.  When one missionary asked an Italian church leader what their long term strategy/vision was with this local church, he did not know how to answer. We have learned that many Italian believers don’t have a great understanding of evangelism or why we evangelize.

This is still not why we go.

I hope you’re beginning to see the full picture now. Imagine if Emmaus was the only church in the entire Kansas City metro area. Would we consider that enough? No. There are many churches in Kansas City. Yet still we started Emmaus a little over a year ago. So let me remind you of the even bigger picture that we must always keep in mind. This is why we go:

We go because that is who we are.

We serve a missionary God. God sent his Son who sends us (the church) as His missionary to a broken world. From Genesis to Revelation, from the fall of Man to March 3, 2016 and onward, we see that God has a redemptive plan to save sinners for His glory. We get to be a part of that plan. We must be a part of that plan. We must always remember that mission is not an activity we do, but our identity as sons and daughters of the King.

So we will always go. We will go where God leads us. Our elders believe that God has lead us to northeast Italy. Therefore, we will go and evangelize. We will go and plant churches. We will take the gospel to the ends of the earth because that is who we are. 

Church, we are asking you to pray for us these next few days. We are not certain which city God would have us partner with here in northeast Italy. We need clarity and direction from the Holy Spirit. Ronni and I (and the team) travel to a few more cities tomorrow and on Saturday we have a meeting with a potential partner. Will you please diligently seek the Lord on our behalf? Pray for discernment. Pray for wisdom. Pray for clarity. We love you guys.

 

julie massonJulie is a social media strategist, blogger and the Director of Communications at Emmaus. 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.  

3 missional things you should do on Super Bowl Sunday

3 missional things you should do on Super Bowl Sunday

The Super Bowl is coming up. If you’ve embraced the gospel as your only hope then you are part of God’s mission. I know it seems weird to think of the Super Bowl and “mission” in the same sentence. But it’s actually a very appropriate pairing. Mission is not an activity. It’s an identity for any Christ follower. So in preparation for a very (very) cultural event in our society, I give you 3 easy things you can do on Super Bowl Sunday to be on mission for the gospel:

  1. Invite neighbors and friends over to watch it with you.Make it fun.  Make (or buy) good food and invite people to bring their own if you wish. Don’t over-spiritualize it.Spiritual conversations will come. They may not come during the game, but if you’re intentional about pursuing the people who come to your Super Bowl party, trust that God is going to open the door for you to talk about deeper things. Be a good friend during the Super Bowl. Ask questions about their lives: where they are from, where they want to college, etc. Just maybe don’t talk during the commercials or big plays. Don’t be “that” person. Let your friends enjoy the game.
  2. Go to a Super Bowl party. Were you invited to a friend’s party who does not know Christ? Go! Sometimes the best thing to do is NOT create your own party. Sometimes it makes more sense to go to a friend’s party. This shows them that you are a part of their world and that you care about them. When you enter into someone else’s world it shows that you’re open to discussion. Use this as a means to get into spiritual discussions. Of course, use discretion. Will there be things at the party that you’re uncomfortable with? Will you be tempted to sin? If so, then by all means, invite a friend to serve as accountability for you or don’t go at all. However, if the person who has invited you is a coworker or neighbor that you already trust as a friend and you’ve been praying for opportunities to share the gospel with him/her, go. Go be in their world and pray for opportunities.
  3. Invite internationals into your home to watch the game and eat typical American food. This is a huge culture event and for them to be invited into your home is a great way to be hospitable. Internationals will likely be far more willing to talk about things during the game, too. So make the most of conversations! You can even ask them what they think of your culture. “What did you think of that half-time show?” “Do you think Americans worship football?” “What do people in your country worship? What do you worship?” And the list goes on and on.

Bonus:  Ignore the Super Bowl all together and make it an event. It may be hard to believe but there are actually a lot of people who don’t watch the Super Bowl Party. (Gasp!) If you’re one of those people, find others who are like you and have fun! Invite them over for dinner and an evening of games or movies.

Again, all of this is part of a bigger picture of mission. You’re building relationships. You’re making connections. You’re learning more about these people. Pray before the party. Pray that you will be discerning as you engage in conversation. Pray that your relationships will grow so that in the future you can go deeper. The Super Bowl is really just a game. And commercials. And food. But God can use it to advance His gospel and we should be willing to join Him on that mission.

What about you? What are some things you do to be intentional with the Super Bowl?

julie massonJulie is a social media strategist, blogger and the Director of Communications at Emmaus. 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.  

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