I am in Athens, Greece following up with BelPres’ pastors and ministry leader partners working among Muslim refugees. Many refugees are experiencing Jesus’ love, grace, and truth through the tireless efforts of these pastors and ministry leaders. Consequently, large, unprecedented numbers are coming to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Never before has this happened in Islam. The task in front of us is to disciple these new believers to become conversant with the life and character of Christ. This is a unique time that we have to respond to what God is doing in the Middle East. Isaiah 19 looks ahead to the day when God takes charge to do a new thing in the Middle East. Isaiah writes: “In that day, there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians (modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria) will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day, Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork and Israel my inheritance.’” This is a remarkable vision and we believe we are living in a time when God is fulfilling it.
After Athens, I begin an Extended Study Leave and will be away from the office until Dec 1. I am very grateful to our Personnel Committee who makes this possible and the Mission and Serve staff for the extra workload they carry while I am away. During this time, I will look closely at discipleship, studying Jesus’ signature discipleship sermon (Sermon on the Mount), reading and interviewing leaders who are doing good things with discipleship.
One more update I want you to know about is our Roadmap Initiative around racial justice. Mission and Serve was selected to receive a new pastoral resident to provide focused leadership around racial justice. I am excited to welcome Anthony Ballard to our team!
Anthony grew up in a very diverse area of Compton, CA. Before BelPres, Anthony’s ministry included work at the Boys and Girls Club, helping found a young adult ministry in Los Angeles and working with “Reality Check,” http://www.realitycheckla.org. He facilitated “Reality Check” events in churches and public schools in Los Angeles. Anthony will be working closely with our Justice and Racial Reconciliation Team and with Pastor Harvey Drake. You will often find him in the lobby on Sunday mornings.
That’s my update for now. See you in December.
Grace and Peace in Jesus,