What Would Jesus Say to a Muslim?

It seems a bit presumptuous to assume I could know what Jesus would say to a Muslim today.  After all, there are 3.3 million followers of Islam living in the U.S. today. That’s equivalent to 1% of our population. And, there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. So how could I know what Jesus would say to a Muslim?

Many of us who read this blog don’t know much abouCross-in-the-foreground-the-Dome-of-the-Rock-shrine-in-the-Old-City-of-Jerusalem-in-the-background_larget who they are and what Muslims believe other than what we see on TV or read in the news. That’s why I am writing this series on Islam. I want to help us become better informed and better equipped for the world we live in as followers of Jesus.

That brings me back to this crucial question of what Jesus would say to a Muslim, because the answer to this question gives us strong guidance for how Jesus invites us to engage this world we live in.

What would Jesus say to a Muslim?

The responses to this question generally fall within one of three different categories. The first is characterized by the main idea that Muslims, Jews and Christians all believe in the same God. When a Muslim says ‘There is no God but Allah’, they are proclaiming loyalty to the same Unique, One and only true God that Jews and Christians proclaim. The term ‘Allah’ is the Aramaic equivalent to the word we use in English for ‘God’. So, people who think of Islam in this way would see Jesus saying the same thing to a Muslim, as He would say to the rest of us who follow him; “I no longer call you servants…instead I call you friends,” Jn 15:15. Thus, Islam is part of the one big family of faith and is fundamentally a religion of peace. It’s just another way of worshipping God. That’s one view.

There is a second category of responses, which swings to the complete opposite end of the spectrum. This view is characterized by the main idea that Muslims worship a false god whose ultimate agenda is to force the world into submission using whatever means possible, including war and acts of terror. The only way to safety and security for the rest of us is to either build a wall to keep them out or launch an all out war to wipe them out. So from this perspective, Jesus would tell Muslims they are children of the devil and that He has come to destroy the works of the devil; 1Jn 3:18. Islam is a religion of violence and all Muslims are terrorists. That’s the opposite end of the spectrum of perception regarding followers of Islam among Christians.

While the first group is more progressive and tolerant, the second group is more militant and oppositional. One tells us “we are all the same” and the other tells us to “keep ‘em out or wipe ‘em out.” It is interesting to me that the progressives in Jesus’ day were called Sadducees and the militants were called Zealots. Neither group could get behind the Kingdom of God way of life Jesus announced. Instead, they would ultimately join forces to crucify him. Think about that for a moment.

Jesus is Lord of the third way. When presented with a forced choice between two binary options, Jesus always chose something different. The third way in this Christian conversation is the view that Islam is an incomplete religion. Sadly, Muslims do not have a full understanding of the One true God they worship. There are over 90 names for ‘Allah’ in Islam, but none of them conveys the intimate relationship with Abba Father that is characteristic of God in the Christian faith. Muslims also do not have full assurance of salvation because their faith is based on obedience and good works rather than the ultimate work of Christ who paid the debt for all our sins on the cross. So what would Jesus say to a Muslim? We are called to look to scripture for our answers. “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest… take my yoke on you and you will find rest for your souls,” Mt 10.28,29. “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me,” Jn 14.6.

Jesus is the fullness of God incarnate in human form, Col. 1.15,19.  He is the Universal Lord of an uncompromising Gospel and the one and only cure to our sin problem, Col 1.13-14, Col 1.19-22, Mt 26.28, Acts 4.12, Eph 2.8   Those who place their trust in Him are made new and have a secure hope for eternity, Jn 3.16, 2 Cor 5.17; Ro, 6.23.

Understanding Islam as an incomplete religion gives us clear guidance as followers of Jesus. The One, Almighty, Compassionate, Gracious, and Loving God has revealed the fullness of His grace and truth in Jesus Christ. This wonderful good news is for everyone, including Muslims. Yes, some Muslims are extreme terrorists and have a warped, not incomplete, understanding of God. But they are a very small minority and are the reason many Muslims are abandoning Islam in the Middle East and here in the U.S..

Muslims are people: people we are called to love, not fear. People we are called to welcome and seek relationship with, not to exclude.  People who need a Savior and His name is Jesus. So what can you do today?  Begin praying for the salvation of your Muslim neighbors. Ask God to give you a Muslim friend. Pray that God will send followers of Jesus to show and tell the Good News of the Gospel to Muslims in places where they have no access to the Gospel. Find out more about one of the ministries Belpres supports to share Jesus with Muslims.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” Rom 10.13-14.

Grieving with Orlando

The following letter was sent via email to the BelPres Family on June 14, 2016.

Dear BelPres family,

Like all of you, I was saddened and sickened when I got home from church on Sunday and saw the news about the shootings in Orlando. So many victims.  Each one made in the image of God. Each one loved by God. So I want to take a moment to say in this email what we would have said on Sunday had we known all the information we do now.

In times like these Jesus instructs us to grieve, pray, trust, and love as Jesus loved. Grieve with those who are grieving. Pray for the victims, their families, and their communities. And trust that he loves each one of the victims and their families, that he is at work in our world to bring healing, that terror cannot ultimately win because he is love and he is still Lord, which means he will triumph over prejudice and hate. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, “though the wrong seems oft so strong, he is ruler yet.”

It is easy to feel helpless and afraid, but one thing we can do for sure is pray.  So here are some of the prayers I’ve been praying:

Jesus, we mourn with those who are mourning.
Help us to experience their grief with them so they do not grieve alone.
Jesus, we pray for the victims, their families and friends, the LGBTQ community that was singled out in this attack, and for Muslims who will be unfairly associated with the actions of one man.
Please bring your comfort to all of them.
Help them know that you are there and grieving with them.
We also pray that you would protect them, and that you would transform the hatred in our world and in our hearts into your love.
We also ask for the healing of our country and of our world.
May your peace and justice be done here on earth as it is in heaven, and show us how we can help that happen.
Where there is hate, help us to sow love. In your name, amen.

Dr. Scott Dudley

Celebrating Child Sponsorship–May 15!

It was 24 years ago that Ted and I first sponsored a child. We helped a young boy in Kenya get an education and the food that he and his family needed to keep him out of the workforce and in school. At the time, we were having fertility issues (we had our first kiddo 12 years after we were married), and it meant a lot to me to have Nzokia to care for, even from a distance.  We prayed for him, sent him birthday and Christmas gifts (cash, which the project leaders would use to give him gifts) and corresponded with him via snail mail.

Since then, we’ve sponsored a girl in India, and another Kenyan boy. We have sponsored new children as each of our biological kids have come along. Currently we sponsor Putu, a little Balinese guy, and Kelvin, who lives in the Dominican Republic. We’re not the best at sponsorship. I go months without writing my kids sometimes. And we’ve never visited any of our sponsored kids, either, though I sure would love to.

But it is so fun watching these kids grow and develop into healthy adulthood. The opportunity to pray and write to children outside of our own culture is so world-expanding for our kids, too. I love that they have a larger understanding of the kingdom of God through our sponsorship children. And now we can do it through email, though I still love getting Putu’s drawings a few times a year.

Last Sunday, some of our BelPres families who sponsor children shared stories of how sponsorship has impacted them. John Kim was there, and caught their testimonies on video. Hear from Laurel Fortin HERE, and from Brian Los HERE.

If you sponsor a child already, great! We want to celebrate you! Please stop by the giant map in the Lobby and put a pin in your child’s location. You DO NOT have to have sponsored through BelPres Partner ministries to put your pin on the map. We want to get an idea of how many BelPres families have Child Sponsorship as part of their family giving profile. We hope you’ll participate! We praise God for your gift of sponsorship.

Of course, we will also have many children available for sponsorship, as well. Kids from many of our ministry partners.  It is so fun to see the faces of all the kids who have been sponsored through past sponsorship Sundays, and pray over the faces of those in need of sponsors.

So come by, have a snack, pray for the children, put a pin in the map, and maybe pick out a new child for sponsorship. BelPres is a congregation that believes in children!

 

What is God Calling YOU Into?

Have you noticed that the last several Lenten seasons Pastor Scott has suggested that rather than giving something up for Lent we take something on? Well, your Mission + Serve department has been listening. We’ve compiled some ideas for service and prayer in this Season of Lent. Of course this list is not exhaustive. In fact, if you come up with something from the list, OR something you’ve dreamed up on your own, would you please let me know? Shoot me an email at Nan Van Zwol. Read on for ideas and links, and Take Something ON for Lent!

  • Serve a meal at a day center or winter shelter, helping our neighbors who are unhoused, in transition or escaping from difficult situations. Opportunities with New Horizons, CFH, and others.
  • Register for the Discover + Live Your Purpose Webinar Re-Broadcast. Register HERE
  • Correspond with a Bellevue Presbyterian Church Missionary living abroad. Contact Nan Van Zwol
  • Pray for a First Responder through Bellevue Police Prayer Partners (BP3). Read more about it and sign up HERE
  • Give up 1, 2, or even 5 lattes a week in order to increase your gift to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
  • Volunteer with Club Jubilee at Chinook Middle School.
  • Join the Fireside Knitters, meeting first and third Thursdays, 9am-12pm in the Welcome room
  • Pick up a copy of Seek God for the City 2016, a Lenten prayer booklet specifically for Revival, available in the Lobby, or download the app HERE
  • Choose a Community or Global Outreach Partner to pray for every day. See our Mission + Serve Directory for a list of partners and missionaries
  • Prayer Walk your neighborhood daily, or weekly, or as often as works for you. Let us know what you did, below!
  • Pray daily for a Winter Impact Team. Pray for Haiti with Crossworld, Guatemala with Nicolas Fund for Education, and Dominican Republic with Children of the Nations. Contact Nan Van Zwol
  • Become a KidReach tutor or an Eastside Academy mentor.
  • Read Roadmap to Reconciliation by Brenda Salter McNeil (available in the church library), and join the Justice and Reconciliation discussion group.
  • Read a selection from the Lenten resources on display in the 1st floor Welcome Room Library
    Check out the Library’s Online Catalog for more Lenten resources
  • Join the Usher Team.
  • Join the Flower Committee.
  • Send a care package to a Missionary or BelPres College Student.
  • Pack a used handbag–in good condition–with toiletries and snack foods. Keep it in your car to hand to women in need you encounter.
  • Stop by the Mission + Serve office (on the 2nd floor of the Lower Campus) and pick up a Family Prayer & Action Journey pack. 30 days of prayer geared toward families wanting to pray together for issues of Justice. Produced by Steps of Justice

Fill out this Form to find out more, or let us know what cool thing you’re taking on in the comments section, below!

BelPres Serve Service Opportunity Contact Form

Contact information for ministry opportunities.
  • Please indicate the areas in which you have interest in serving.

 

Experiencing Christmas Overseas

This time of year, my heart turns to missionary friends living overseas. Christmas for Missionaries can be a mixed bag. For the first time missionary experiencing Christmas in a developing world context, Christmas can be hard. But then, it isn’t. First, you’re missing all of the trappings of Christmas in your “home country”, but then, you also get to skip all the trappings of western Christmas, which isn’t always a bad thing. You’re missing family. Loneliness hits, big time. But then, you’ve also got your new family of friends on the mission field.  Folks who you bonded with over transportation, shopping or language learning woes. These people take up residence in your heart very quickly, and at Christmas, having them around makes all the difference.

When you do Christmas overseas, you’ll certainly miss some of the sights, smells, and sounds of Christmas back home. However, most missionaries have that sense of hope, peace, joy and love that sometimes are missing in Christmas in the west. If you’re serving in the developing world, or in an unreached place, all around you there are people God loves, people Jesus came for, and you’ve got a unique opening to talk about who Jesus is and what he did, because of this world famous holiday. So there’s a lot of joy and hope in Christmas overseas for folks working toward fulfilling the great commission.

This is also the time of year when families get reunited on t
he mission field. Children who are over 18 generally roll off their parent’s visa, so have to go back to their “passport country”—which is rarely home. For some missionaries this means the end of their overseas service. But for many, it means sending kids to college in the US while the parents and younger siblings remain “home” in faraway lands. Christmas has a heightened sense of waiting when you’re waiting for a plane to arrive.

So my heart turns toward these families this time of year, when many mission agencies support flying college-age kids back to the field for Christmas with family. Sometimes the planes go the other direction, though, allowing the whole missionary family to experience the wonder that is Christmas in America. I remember friends of ours delaying furlough by 6 months, because they, and their children, had not experienced Christmas in America in more than a dozen years. There are some pretty great things about Christmas here in the states—live church music comes to mind—and it’s special to let kids experience it for the first time.

No matter what stage of life, from those new to the field, to those who have just moved back to the states after years of fruitful ministry, missionaries need to be remembered in prayer at this time of year.

May your Christmas be filled with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love!

 

Praying with Purpose: Bellevue Police Prayer Partners

Hi! My name is Deneen Blake and I’ve been a part of Bellevue Police Prayer Partners (BP3) since 2007, praying for a Bellevue officer. Now that my daughters have both graduated from High School (what?!), I was looking for something new and am taking over leadership of this ministry. I am really looking forward to doing a re-fresh and getting new people signed up to support our officers in prayer.

Why BP3?  Remember that early wind storm that we had in late August? I was stuck in traffic, just wanting to get home to my safe, dry house and away from all of the leaves and branches hitting my car. I finally got up to a dark intersection where a police officer was standing in the middle of the road, being hit by all that flying debris and honked at by frustrated motorists and I realized…he was standing out there to get US all home as quickly and safely as possible. Talk about a thankless job!  I’m sure that members of this congregation honor the speed limits and, in any rare occasion where someone “accidentally” violated a traffic law and was caught, I’m certain that they were polite and respectful to the officer, but I understand that some other people are rather rude and hostile to them. 😉 Car3Police

These men and women see the people of Bellevue at their worst and most vulnerable, and try to treat everyone with respect. I wouldn’t want any of these officers to be out on patrol without their protective vests and I honestly believe that prayer support is as important for these first responders as their weapons and body armor.

First, I’m hoping that everyone who is currently praying for an officer will let me know, so that we can keep you up to date on any changes.  Second, I’m hoping that a lot of new people will join us! Last year alone, 20 officers retired or left the department and 30 new officers were hired. There are now about 180 officers, plus additional dispatchers and firefighters.  The first thing that I want to do is make sure that each of these first responders has at least one person that prays for them regularly.

I haven’t found it hard to do. Whenever I see a police car or hear a siren, I remember the officer that I pray for by name. I pray that he is safe and protected. I pray that he has insight and patience. I pray that he has courage and compassion, and I pray that God surrounds him with a strong support system of friends and family.

Thanks and I hope to hear from many of you soon.

To join BP3, please contact GetConnected.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

First Responders Need Prayer

This summer Washington State has experienced catastrophic wildfires, with devastating loss of property and lives. Community Outreach mission partner, Mike Ryan, Chaplain for the Bellevue Fire Department and the Bellevue Police Department, let us know the impact the fires have had on our local fire departments and first responders. Mike states, “Between Bellevue, Eastside and Duvall Fire Departments, 30 first responders traveled across the state to fight the wildfires. The County also sent a significant amount of equipment. All of the fire service family felt the p2611ain of the loss of life suffered in Okanogan County. For the fatalities suffered in Twisp, Seattle Fire sent a team of peers to lead critical incident stress management efforts, and the Federation of Fire Chaplains provided support directly to the agencies and families impacted.”

The heartbreaking loss of the firefighters in the wildfires impacts our community of first responders deeply. Bellevue Fire Department continues to have 8 firefighters on the wildfire teams. Additionally, as law enforcement across our country have been randomly targeted and attacked, BelPres Community Outreach is raising the call for leadership for our Bellevue Police Prayer Partner Team. We recognize that our first responders and their families are sacrificially giving to serve and protect our community, and we are called as a church to care for them through our prayers. If you are interested in helping to organize this year’s team of prayer warriors in partnership with local law enforcement and Community Outreach, please contact Mary McCracken, Community Outreach Director.

Ramadan is Over: Now What?

July 17 marked the end of Ramadan and the conclusion of the 30 Days of prayer for the Muslim world.  A little over 23% of the world’s population self-identify as Muslim.  Most of those 1.6 billion people live in Asia.  Less than 1% of them live here in the U.S.  Only 20% live in the Middle East and North Africa.

Most of these facts and figures are widely known.  What isn’t widely known is that in the last twenty years, there have been large movements of Muslims turning from Islam to faith in Christ.  According to World Christian (a YWAM group), a movement involves 1,000 or more people.   Christian Missionaries around the world are reporting conversions to Christ in numbers never seen before.  This increase is happening at the same time as an increased effort among Christians to pray for the Muslim world.

So now that Ramadan is over and the 30 Days of Prayer is over too, what’s next?  Here are 3 suggestions:

Pray for Muslims

Pray for Muslims in your own community and around the world.  Pray for missionaries who are living among Muslims in other countries and pray that God would raise up more witnesses for Jesus among Muslims.

Build relationships with Muslims

Build relationships with Muslims in your own community.  Many Muslims have moved here to Bellevue and the Eastside because work brought them here.  Others have come seeking safety for their families from the political turmoil and violence in their own countries.  One of the best ways to show the love of Jesus is to welcome them and help them transition to life here.

Go

Romans 10:14 asks us, “How then can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent? God is moving in unprecedented ways among Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East.  Might God be calling you to be one of His workers for this great harvest?

Do you have other ideas for how to follow up with the 30 Days of Prayer?  Please let us know, or send this to someone you think would be interested.

Christ In the Middle East

By Rich Leatherberry, Mission Pastor

Reports from the Middle East fill websites, newspapers and television news stations with bad news about terrorist groups and uprisings. Our own government rightly strategizes and builds coalitions to bring peace to the region and protect national interests. But true peace is not established through military dominance or economic sanctions. True peace is found in a person and His name is Jesus. Forgiveness and Reconciliation are only possible through a relationship with Him. This is the message of the Christian church today in places like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. These Christians trace their ancestry back to the first church born at Pentecost. Sadly, many are forced to flee their homes, neighborhoods and work places in order to find refuge in safer places. But some Christians are staying. They refuse to be enemies with those who persecute them. They choose to love rather than hate. They have faith that their Christian witness will point to the only one who can bring true peace. As hard as it is for us to imagine here, they believe that staying rather than leaving, enduring persecution and suffering, is what Jesus is asking them to do. It is the cross they are being called to carry.

On June 18, Muslims around the world will begin 30 days of fasting during a season called Ramadan. 23% of the World’s population is Muslim with 20% of those living in North Africa and the Middle East. This season creates a great opportunity for Christians in the West to join with Christians in the Middle East in solidarity and mission. Through prayer, we engage in an act of love for Muslim people, understanding their concerns, learning about their customs and praying they will discover Jesus as the true object of their devotion.

I invite you to pick up a copy of 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World in the lobby or at the Welcome desk. This guide will help you learn about Islam, what God is doing in the Muslim world and how you can pray for them. You can also find the guide and more information at www.30daysprayer.com. Our hope and our peace are in a person. Prayer is our most effective way of bringing change to the Middle East and supporting our Christian brothers and Sisters who are still living there.

Steadfast Senders, Rally the Troops!

“Social consciousness beckons each of us across the board, but the ways we could respond are as varied as our holy passions. We are called to tend to the poor, but adjust your lens and see what specific opportunities make your heart jump…or sink.” – Beth Moore

Seven BelPres Impact Teams of brave Jesus followers head out across the globe this summer to share the good news and serve alongside His brothers and sisters. Some have never been on a short term mission experience in their life and some are seasoned veterans. Some are 7 years old and some are 70 years old. But they all have one thing in common – the faith to step out and be used, however they can, by God to love His people and further His Kingdom.

Oftentimes we think, in order to change the world in a most significant way, we must have a unique or useful skill or be given a position of influence or fame…or travel across the world.

In actuality, mission trips wouldn’t be possible without Steadfast Senders. Those who may never board a plane, but give value to a little girl who received a handmade doll they created or hope to a boy who received a baseball mitt they collected. Steadfast Senders are also the ones who lift up team members by name in prayer each and every day they are on the field, serving as spiritual protectors and mighty encouragers.

So, how ’bout it? Are you ready to step out in faith and be used by God to love His people and further His Kingdom by being a Steadfast Sender?

Here are our seven BelPres teams going out into the world this summer. Be a part of their specific sending in a variety of ways by praying, gathering items to be donated or hosting a work party to raise funds.

Bolivia: Two teams, one from Senior High Ministry and one composed of BelPres Families, will be embarking on an incredible mission experience together in mid-July to Bolivia serving alongside those at Niños con Valor. To learn ways you could send this team off with overflowing suitcases and hearts, contact Laurel Fortin, fortinlh@hotmail.com, or Colin Robeson, crobeson@belpres.org.

Cambodia: An Impact Team will be returning to Cambodia August 17 – 28 to serve alongside the CUSP ministry and lead an English Camp in Kampong Thom for high school students. For specific ways to experience Cambodia without enduring 100+ degree Cambodian temperature, contact Ray Durr, reldurr@msn.com.

Costa Rica: Our Senior High Ministry will be taking a team again July 26 – August 2, as they do every year, to visit the Abraham Project in Costa Rica. They will participate in building projects and cultivate lasting relationships with the children and people served by the Abraham Project. For specific ways to send this highly motivated group of students and leaders, contact Daniel Triller, dtriller@belpres.org.

Guatemala: As they do multiple times a year, an Impact Team will visit our Nicolás Fund for Education scholars July 18 – 26 to build relationships, pray alongside and encourage our friends there. They also work in the village primary schools to provide educational enrichment projects, support village primary school teachers, and to foster relationships with the students. For specific ways to show love and care for this team and their mission, contact Becci Merritt, beccimerritt@comcast.net.

Guatemala: August 1 – 8 the BelPres Singles Ministry will be returning to Guatemala to serve alongside the Arms of Jesus ministry by building homes, installing Eco stoves, and building relationships with the sponsored students at Arms of Jesus. For specific ways to make a difference in a beautiful, Guatemalan community, contact Kat King, kking@belpres.org.

Nicaragua: A group of families will be returning to the community of Cedro Galan in Nicaragua July 16 – 28 to serve with Alongside Ministries. To ask about specific ways you could partner with this team without getting on a plane, contact Laurie Los, llos@crgevents.com.

Janvier: “Impossible is Nothing”

A Story of Renewal after the Rwandan Genocide
The 1994 Genocide in Rwanda left many women & children injured, traumatized, and without family. Orphaned during the genocide, Janvier was left to fend for himself as a child. He acquired HIV/AIDS when sexually assaulted by adults. He had lost family, faith and his health and livelihood.

In July of 2013, we had the opportunity to meet Janvier. On our visit to his ministry, we were struck by how he didn’t stop smiling, preaching, and insisting on his thankfulness to God. Due to his participation in a women’s co-op (yes a male member of the co-op!) he has a future and a hope. He repairs sewing machines for a women’s sewing co-op. He also operates a farm of beans and tomatoes along with his family. The land is situated on a steep, rocky slope, where he waters the acre of plants by hand, carrying jugs from a swampy area up a long, rocky path. He rides his bicycle many miles back and forth from the co-op to the farm over rutted, bumpy, dusty roads. Yet, Janvier was nothing but thankful.

javier

Thank you Janvier for modeling thankfulness in all circumstances and for reminding us in the Hope we have in Jesus power to transform lives. “Impossible is Nothing…”

To hear more stories like this one and to learn about some of the ministries that BelPres is connected to in Rwanda please join us this Tuesday evening at Bellevue Presbyterian Church.

Rwanda Prayer & Interest Group
March 31, 2015, 7PM
Welcome Room @ BelPres

It’s OK. Just eat.

I had been a part of the Bellevue Police Prayer Partners for several years when I started to wonder what else we could do to show our support to the department. We talked about hosting a Thanksgiving breakfast or lunch for the department staff and police officers at the church, but then we realized it would be tough for those working different shifts to attend. I don’t know why we didn’t think of it sooner, but we finally figured out we should go to them.

The Monday morning before Thanksgiving 2011 we showed up at the department with coffee, baked goods, fruit, breakfast casseroles . . . you name it, we brought it! As the night shift made their way home to their beds and the day shift made their way to briefings and patrol, Detective Jim Lindquist, one of the founders of the organization, reminded them of our invitation. The officers we met that day were grim, focused. Because at that time of giving thanks and spending time with family, the officers were investigating the disappearance of little Sky Metalwala.

“Who are you guys again?,” “Why are you doing this?,” “Do we have to come to your church?” These were just some of the questions we were asked. “We’re part of a group called ‘Bellevue Police Prayer Partners’ and we’re from Bellevue Presbyterian Church,” “To show our appreciation for the officers and staff of the Bellevue Police Department,” “No, you don’t have to come to our church.”

As more staff and officers showed up and asked the same questions, those that had come before them said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s ok. Just eat!” We didn’t talk to the officers and staff about their work; they needed a break from that. We discussed the things we had in common, our interests. These people are our neighbors, friends, fellow human beings. Once they realized we didn’t have an agenda, they relaxed.

When we showed up the next day to provide lunch (we wanted to make sure we served as many as possible, covering all 3 shifts), we got a lot of the same questions. Those who had attended the breakfast the day before again reassured their co-workers: “Don’t worry about it. It’s OK. Just eat!”

After a couple years of doing this, there are less questions and more reconnecting during the meals. As I talked with one of the officers a couple years ago, she told me that she was not just an officer in the department; she was, and is, a Bellevue Police Prayer Partner! She went on to tell me how she came to be in conversation with a woman on a bus while on a mission trip with our church. As they spoke, she shared with the woman that she was an officer in the Bellevue Police Department. The woman asked her what her last name was, then said, “I am the person who has been praying for you!” God brought each of these women thousands of miles away from home to meet each other.

Some may ask, “What do you do for the officers and staff, other than pray for them?” Prayer is the most powerful gift you can give to anyone. The Bible tells us, in Philippians 4: 6,7 “ . . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We give the staff and officers of the Bellevue Police Department the gift of the power of prayer. But for those who may not know Jesus, or think they know Him and want nothing to do with Him, we want to live out Bellevue Presbyterian’s mission statement:

If you have a heart for our community and for those who serve and protect it, consider becoming part of the Bellevue Police Prayer Partners, whether by praying or providing a celebratory meal once a year or both!

Rebellion Against the Status Quo

 

By Rich Leatherberry, Mission Pastor
 
 

Dick Eastman, author and creator of the Change the World School of Prayer writes; “In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God’s work, especially the work of world evangelism, as in intercessory prayer.””

Prayer helps us partner with God in reviving what is broken and unjust in our world. Prayer is rebellion against the status quo. It is to say, “these things are unacceptable. The way things are, are not the way things should be. So in Jesus name, I urgently plead that the present status will be radically and eternally changed. Prayer places the one praying in the midst of God’s Kingdom movement, points toward people, places and circumstances God is not currently reigning in and calls for all Heaven to show up. Your Kingdom rule come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

One book I often use to engage me as a partner in what God is doing in our world is “Operation World” by Patrick Johnston. You can order or read a shorter version of the book here: http://www.operationworld.org. It’s a great way to learn about specific countries, people groups, historical and economic realities and the Christian movement around the world. More importantly, it gives specific prayer requests which engage us in rebelling against the status quo.

Rebelling against the status quo in prayer changes us. It helps us see as God sees, love as God loves, and act as God acts. But most importantly, it engages us in God’s revival project and unleashes His Kingdom around the world.

So how can your prayer become more rebellious? Who and for what will you pray for? Keep a record of your prayer and write down any changes that take place. Start praying rebelliously and just see what God will do.

Words or Deeds

By Rev. Rich Leatherberry, Associate Pastor for Mission

Recently I met with a guy who told me about a bicycling group he was part of. It started with a few friends from the church but grew to include neighbors and colleagues from work. Some are Christians but some are not. They meet on Saturday mornings and ride off on these long excursions. Up and down hills. For miles and miles. If you ask me, it would be a whole lot easier by car. Maybe a convertible. You’d get nearly the same effect right?

Well, these guys start every trip off with prayer. They invite everyone to huddle around and then one of the three guys who started the group prays. Then they hop on their bikes and the adventure begins. The coolest part, he told me, is that several of the guys have talked with him about beginning the bike ride with prayer. Turns out they love it. And talking about prayer has opened up conversations to a lot of other topics like church, family, seeking God, etc.

Today I read this article from Relevant Magazine, titled Is Missions About Words or Deeds? and my gut reaction was “Both!” Missions is both!  Without deeds, our witness about Jesus lacks credibility but without Words, our deeds lack a witness. People are never going to guess why we are helping them, unless we tell them. And, they aren’t interested in what we have to say about the love of Jesus until we care enough to serve in ways that meet their real life needs.  Missions is both.

The debate in Missions has historically been an either/or debate. On one side are those folks who argue missions is about preaching the gospel, saving souls, converting people to faith in Jesus and planting churches. On the other side are those who view missions as serving people’s needs; providing an education, clean water, food, health care, housing, etc. They have adopted some version of St. Francis of Assisi’s famous quote: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

Saint Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi

The problem with the either/or debate is that we reduce missions to one or the other; either telling people about Jesus or serving people. Door number one or door number two. And as Presbyterians, let’s face it, we prefer door number two; “I’ll take acts of service please.” Talking about Jesus feels scary, because we have been taught faith is a private thing and because we live in a culture that prefers we keep it to ourselves.

One of the reasons I like missions as both is that it is respectful and loving.  Respectful because we are building relationships with people and helping them where they need it most. Loving because we are deeply concerned about them physically and spiritually.

So what can missions as both look like for you? Who needs your help? What would you say that points to Jesus? Maybe you know someone who is going through a difficult season, giving you the opportunity to reach out to them, stick with them and offer to pray with them. Maybe it’s volunteering for a ministry here or maybe God is putting something else on your heart.

Missions as both is an adventure. Words and Deeds are a life changer for everyone. Just ask my friend who’d rather ride his bike than drive a convertible.

Photo Credit: Thinkstockphotos.com, Suzanne Massie Manchevsky