We were in the Philippines. Gathering at church after church, in out of the way places where foreigners have never been before. Here we celebrated, here we ate together, here we worshipped. We shared that it is not God who turns his back on us or holds things between him and us, but that it is us who do this. We hold things between us and God. We carry regrets and failures and condemnations as secrets in our pockets, heavy ugly rocks that weigh us down – some of us have whole sacks of rocks on our backs. We shared that God has been waiting for us to come to the end of ourselves, to put down our self-effort, our contrived moralities, our trying harder, and our good enough. Once we do this, the Lord’s spirit swoops in to wash us, to massage our wounds, to touch our scars, to make us new. This is what we do together – we become new. We agree to healing and to wholeness from the inside out. We stop trying so hard. Because God loves us, cherishes us, sings over us, heals us, and woos us to beauty and life in Christ.
Since the beginning CCIM has been stating that without rapport, fellowship and trust, CCIM has no work. The goal of discipling nations, to which we are called, is not possible unless we are working in conjunction with the body of Christ as it is, in the nations of the world.
Our general north-american paradigm of missions is that we are the ones helping them, but in true and actual fact we are the ones brought in to serve the spiritual needs of leadership in the church so that they are further strengthened and equipped in their God-given roles and tasks.
Our two weeks in the Philippines has been just such an encounter. The pastors that we were with were all convinced by a vision (before we even arrived) that God was connecting Pastor Edgar with myself and CCIM for the express purpose of God’s will in the Philippines.
My time in the country was therefore a dry-run, a lived-out resume, so to speak, in order that they could see (or not see) the validity of the vision and sense of God’s deliberate connection at work.
As some twenty of us travelled as a group to another church each day (for most of one week) they were able to (pretty much) hear the full gamut of the primary teachings that we bring. They were able to see the manner in which we come and the various ways we ‘show up’ depending if we are at a school, at a small village church, at a prayer meeting, at a bigger church gathering, or at a baptism.
And the response was the same as everywhere we’ve ever been: ‘thank you for loving us’, ‘we are missing you’, ‘we love you’, ‘when are you coming back?’, ‘you have blessed us, we have been moved by your messages, we have been so touched’, — over and over, again and again.
Our time in the country felt particularly strategic. I was reminded our first few days in the country that God does not waste our time or energy or efforts, but that he sets up directed and specific connections for his purposes in a country. CCIM does not just travel anywhere for any reason, we are called to bring nations to the Lord and into the likeness of Jesus Christ and it is increasingly evident that those to whom God connects us are for these exact purposes.
Pastor Edgar is a man of great integrity, vision, heart, and reach within the country. Influential in six districts with many churches I fully expect to be back in the country for a much longer period of time in the future. I could easily spend three months in the country and still not run out of places to which they would want to take us, just as our three months in Uganda back in 2014.
I was able to take a printed and bound copy of Module 1 – Months 1-4, and Module 2 – Months 5-8, of our CCIM College Course. Pastor Edgar was very appreciative and so thankful for these copies and plans to use them at their one-month Bible School in June of this year. Once I have the final edit of Module 3 – Months 9-12 completed we will get this to him as well.
In addition to Pastor Edgar and his family we were completely blessed by the fellowship and family of pastors and leaders that we were enveloped into. There are no words to explain the beauty of this particular body of Christ to whom we were welcomed. There is nothing like these communities here in North America. Literally, nothing like it.
Generally speaking, we, in North American churches, are the poorest, the ones the most impoverished of fellowship and life in Christ together. It is hard to come back to the poverty of church that is here at home. They may have been blessed by us but we were completely blessed by them; many times we were brought to tears with the stunning beauty of the people and their normal, natural gatherings.
Additionally, every time I take a ministry trip I inevitably come to villages where I am told, “There has never been a foreigner to this village before.” I am slowly realizing what an incredible honour this is, seeing and being part of a community (if only for a day) where no one, other than those who live near, have seen or been. We were in two such villages during our two weeks in the Philippines. What a blessing!
Thank you for your prayers as Maggie and I were in the Philippines. We continue to pray that the Lord’s purposes would be fulfilled and brought to bear much fruit for his glory. Thank you Jesus.
If you are following these ministry trips via facebook you may find that I am not explaining very much about the actual core ministry and the work of the Lord that is flowing out of our times. This is because I am deliberately keeping a low profile in terms of sharing publicly the true touch of the Lord as we encounter him together.
Therefore, if you want to hear the truest and full scoop, so to speak, I suggest:
- request an invite to one of our sharing evenings (we always host these after a time in a country for those in the greater Vancouver area)
- or, invite me out to dinner (I love eating and sharing with folks over a good meal)
- or if you live a few hours away invite me to your home for a weekend (I love fellowship that comes of a few days spent in easy company)
- or, if you live very far away let’s set up a time to skype and share this way
We pray for much fruit from this short time in the Philippines and we look ahead to the Lord’s continued leading and the next time CCIM will be in the country.