Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

3
Apr

Long, but worth reading…

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

This Easter I have many things on my heart.  But the most prevalent is the Sacrifice and Rising of Jesus.  The most important fact in Life. 

I want to share scriptures today.  Why?  Because it points out something important about God that people forget.  I have repeatedly been warned by others that speaking out is not becoming of a missionary.  Yet, is it not what the Lord has asked of those he calls to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We are speaking out against a world that wants what it wants, when it wants it.  People do not know the truth and we are called to tell them.  We are pointing the way to God and that means making a commitment that requires the uncomfortable role of speaking out, stepping out, and going where the Lord calls us no matter how uncomfortable it may seem or be.  I do not expect to be popular by any means, and if I am then I must ask myself if I am really doing the Lord’s will.  For Jesus himself said that for following him, and doing what he has asked, people will hate us. (Mark 13:13 7 & Matthew 10:22, Luke 6:22, Luke 21:17, John 15:18-19)

We have experienced people having doubts as to the call of our mission.  We have had people who have given us words of discouragement or warning.  Churches and Pastors telling us their reasons for not being able to even hear about this mission God has us on.  Often it has been because of a fear that there is not enough money.  Or because they just don’t do that anymore.  And it has been discouraging on a very human level.  On a spiritual level it is just disconcerning how people think that in this “modern time” that we are no longer under the same call that Jesus originally gave.  People may have changed, times may have changed, but the call of the Lord has not, nor has the Lord himself.  Mathew 18:19-20  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8)  God is not saying go to all the nations and share me.  He is saying go and make disciples.  That means that he wants us to go, show, and teach.  Just as he did 2000 years ago.  And he reiterates that he is with us to the end of the age.  That would speak the end of this world to me. And we are not there yet.

We are stepping out to do exactly what the Lord has asked us to do.  We are praying for his encouragement, but also the encouragement of those who have been called by Christ to walk along side us in prayer, to stand up for us, and financially support us.  Many times in history people have decided the work of God was done.  Many times people have fallen away from following God.  Many times people get comfortable in their lives and decide that if it is to be done, well, then there is someone else to do it.  But maybe God wants you to do it.  Don’t be afraid to ask and lay fear aside so that you can actually hear the answer.  God is not through speaking to us and our work is not done until the Lord Jesus Christ returns again and says “It is finished”!  We need your help and we need you to hear God when he tells you that this is His will.

I love this scripture from a little read book of Haggai, in the bible.  It tells of another time when God’s people grew comfortable and got lost in themselves.  I fear that at times we do this too.  And I want to learn from the mistakes that people made prior to me so that I do not have to learn things the hard way.  Some day each of us will stand before our Lord.  What will your testimony be?  I pray that the Lord will speak to you and be with you and point you in the way that is often not easy, but His way.  Much Love, Stephanie.

Haggai 1

A Call to Build the House of the LORD

 1In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua [a]son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

 2This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ ”

 3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

 5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

 7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

 12Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.

 13Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. 14So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.

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1
Jul

While We Were Gone

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

You know those signs in malls or hospitals that tell you where things are.  They have that lovely arrow or X marked with “You are Here”.  Well that is us.  There is so much going on around us and we know we are here.  We are over the half way mark of our two week training here in South Carolina, at the South America Mission Home Office.  It has been more than we knew to look forward to.  So here you go…

Day 1, Monday June 22
We have survived our first day! Hurray!  Other than being tired it could not have been a better day.  We traveled the first part of it and then got to the hotel around 7 am.  We crashed at the hotel until it was time for lunch.  I woke up with a return of the HEADACHE.  I took some medicine, but it is still there in the shadows.  We met in a meeting withall the SAM people and new recruits at 4 pm.  Of course it was a whirlwind of names and faces.  A few we have talked in depth with enough to actually pick them out of the crowd. We have been paired up with a family for carpooling.  Breeann has made friends with their daughter who is 17, Rachelle.  Our days of training start tomorrow at 8:30 am and go til 5 pm. We feel really positive about it all and after the overview today we know that not a moment will be wasted or idle. The kids are acclimating so well that they just beeline for the other kids and were just part of the pack.  Pray it stays that way.
 
Day 2, Tuesday June 23
Well, day 2 is done and I am heading off to bed.  We had a great day of training and are all tired.  The little ones have long been in bed and Ron is doing his school work outside, because it is so peaceful and warm out there.  The kids have fake passports and are learning about all the places SAM goes and serves.  We too are learning about all things.  We had some heavy learning about what SAM is all about and what being a missionary is all about.  There are some here who are on the field already and have come back to speak with us.  Very memorable.  Ron and I shared our testimony today and blessed many through it, praise God!  If only they knew we were so nervous that we cannot remember our exact wording.  God is so Good!
Tomorrow there is more to learn and the kids will be going on field trips all day.  They are having a wonderful time while learning.  Hopefully I sleep much better tonight and wake well rested tomorrow.  My headache is still mild, but I would love it to be gone.  Also Ron twisted his back, but says he is feeling better.  He had a hard time sitting in the chair all day.  I think the enemy is quite irritated with us and I am so glad but am praying for some relief all the same 🙂
 
Day 3, Wednesday June 24
So, day three.  What is new?  No headache today!  Yeah, but come lunch time too much cilantro in a Peruvian dish gave me a tummy/heartburn battle.  Best not to eat too much of that.  We had a lot of great information today.  We started the day with a local pastor giving a devotion.  Skip, was his name.  We studied policy, procedure, obedience to authority, and SAM’s Organizational structure.  I found it all very comforting. Everyone is very positive, yet realistic.  transparent yet with common sense boundaries.  This is good.  We have had great conversations and have learned a lot from the other missionarie’s journeys.  Some of them have been in this process for 2 years before coming to this.  I ask why?  I am amazed again at how quickly God has brought us here.  They said to the group that to be realistic most people take 2 years to raise their support now and days.  2 years!  Pray that God miraculously provides for us.  Many of the churches that sponsor some of these families are big financial backers.  With our church not giving to missions as a church we know this is going to be a huge challenge.  Not bigger than our God, but still something that has been presented to us.  They put a big emphasis on the role of your sending church and that they tend to be the biggest backer you have.  I did not know this was a normal thing.  Just pray for me not to feel anxious over this. There are two families that have Peruvian people in them.  I think this is very interesting and a real blessing to us.  The kids today went to a museum and planetarium.  They had an excellent time.  Tired, very tired.  Talked with Ryan, he says he is doing good.
Ron is doing great on his schoolwork.  Keeping up and yet doing it in a timely manner where he can get some good sleep at night.  Thank you again for your prayer.  We will be doing our psychological exams and interviews with the organizational heads and board members tomorrow.  Around 5 hours of interviews and questions.  I am probably most nervous about this. Yet we are just going to be honest and leave it to God.
 
Day 4, Thursday June 25
I am writing you with great news!  We had 5 hours of interviews today.  I know… Great news??? Well, Nothing like having 5 hours to answer question about what God has done in your life, how great God is, and missions.  I suppose it would be looked upon differently depending on the eyes of the beholder, but take it from us, IT WAS GREAT!!!
First we met with the Executive Director, Kirk.  That one was a little nerve wracking as it was the first, with the most powerful decision making person.  We did well, but did not have enough time to actually get through everything we all would have liked in an hour.
Next we met with New International Ministries Director, Dave, who is new to the game, but a valuable resource and just as important in the decision making process.  He had some good things to say about going on the field with the kids.  We then had the lunch break.  I have to say we will weigh more when we return.  Good food and the conversation at meal times is always edifying and uplifting.  After lunch we had a two hour meeting with our psychologist.  That was the one that worried me the most.  Ron and I have been through a lot.  Separate and together.  What would he say???  Well after all the reviews of our tests and the major questioning he feels that our lives have been divinely touched by God and that the best thing for us is to serve on the field as missionaries.  That should not be taken lightly.   God was so there.   God is so here!  Ron and I talked during the walk outside to that appointment.  And we realized that we were so fixed on serving the Lord and not on the outcome that we could handle what ever happened.  We went in honestly and with integrity and were very candid and frank.  Not an easy thing when you have lived a worldly life before Christ or even suffered through some of the things we had as Christians.  God is so good.
After that our last hour was with theDirector of International Staff Development or Mobilizations, Kenny.  Kenny floors me like Pastor Guy often does.  Quiet a lot, but when he says something it has real meaning and impact.  That is what our hour with Kenny was like.  It was real.  It was honest.  It was sincere.  It asked some hard questions, but from the perspective that he was inviting our processing and hearts to be shared.  It ended with all of us being encouraged and feeling like God’s will is being accomplished this weekend and it is AMAZING!!!  I cannot wait to see what happens every day.  The kids did wonderful today.  They had some counseling stuff and the staff feel that they are doing a great job with healthy emotions and we have done well in their preparation thus far.  Tomorrow they get to go to a petting zoo with real zoo animals.  Have you ever petted a zebra?  They are excited.  We are back to intense classes and are looking forward to them.  Keep praying we are all feeling well and have been healed of all those ailments.  Praise God.
 
Day 5, Friday June 26
Well we made it to the end of the first week.  Today was maybe the hardest day because everyone had “learning lag”.  Kind of like jet lag, you know??? It has been such a full week and they warned us, but of course in all the excitement you think, not me!
We had some great practical classes today.  Talks from current missionaries that are home from the field on living on the field.  Very helpful.  We also had a class on cultural sensitivity and acclimation.  Again very interesting.  Lots of paperwork, homework, and think work for this weekend.  Of course they have some fun stuff planned for this weekend and no formal classes so we do get a break.  We get to go to the Billy Graham Library, which is a museum, tomorrow morning.  I am excited to get to see some of the things that He and His family have put in there as indications of importance.  Keep us in your prayers for the paperwork.  That we would have wisdom in planning our action plan and doing the homework.
 
Day 6, Saturday June 27
Well, I have to tell you it has been a very full week and this day was no different for being a day off.  We started off by going to the Billy Graham Library. 
Here is the link:   billygraham.org/BGLibrary_Index.ASP
It was an awesome time for our family and the whole group.  I never knew so much about his ministry and I was very inspired.  The have things in their gift store that are no mark up and they had matching silver rings with crosses on them so Ron and I got them for our Anniversary on Tuesday, when we will exchange them over dinner. (Aaawww, so romantic)  This is very special to me.  We were not married knowing Christ and I have not fit into my wedding ring for years.  Ron’s is missing several stones and does not fit well. They were quite a deal, but a blessing to us.  I have an interesting little story to tell you all.  After touring the library we went out to the prayer path where Mrs. Graham is buried. It is really beautiful here and we were taking pictures.  A gentleman asked if we would like a photo together and we said that would be nice.  He joked that he usually charges 50 dollars.  But I said well it was a good thing he wasn’t and that he could consider it a gift to us going into missions.  This sparked questions from his wife and himself and when we were done sharing our hearts he said he felt called to pray for us.  He asked for some information so we gave him a picture of our family with our information on the back.  Ron and I know that was of God and do not know what it meant to them.  So God ordained this divine appointment.  Praise Him!
After that we did lunch and then came back to the hotel.  It was close to 100 degrees today, but it wasn’t really that bad.  Gabby wasn’t feeling well though and I found out she wasn’t drinking her water.  We went back to the hotel and rested before the next thing at 5:30. The group had bag dinners and then went to the baseball stadium for a great Christian event.  It was called “Faith, Family, and Freedom” their forth of July celebration.  We got to see a teen band, PureNRG, and they were really good.  The we saw Matthew West and Natalie Grant. 
It was followed up by 30 minutes of the biggest fireworks display I have ever seen.  They were so close my neck hurt watching them.  We didn’t get out of there and back to the hotel until 11 pm.  Ron is now doing his schoolwork.  He has until midnight west coast time to turn in his assignment.  That is 3 am our time.  Pray he doesn’t do that.  He needs rest.  Tomorrow we have a Spanish church service at 11 am and then a BBQ at the executive directors house.  It will be another wonderful day! 
 
Day 8, Monday June 29th
Welcome the new week and the countdown is on for when we come home.
As much as we had to prepare to come here, we need to prepare to come home.  It is amazing how you build relationships so fast in the body of Christ and in the unity of His love.  We went to the Spanish church yesterday and it was really great.  You would not believe how many people there are from Peru at that church.  One lady had only recently started coming to the church and through our teams introduction she was interested in checking into missions.  Last night we went to a BBQ and it was good.  It was hard for all of us though.  We were to just have down time, but considering today was our assignment appointments we all were feeling so eager!  We slept very well last night.  Today we had a great session in the morning.  There was a pastor from a huge church here in North Carolina.  He spoke on how to do a bible study on short notice with only your bible.  It was awesome.  On 3×5 cards he gave us a template and it really will prove useful.  He also spoke on Spiritual Perspective.  It was interesting too.  We really retained a lot considering we had our assignment appointments this afternoon.  We had our appointment at 2pm.  We went in not really sure what they would say.  They really said they saw and witnessed in us the work of the Lord and saw a great ministry to come from us.  I was wondering if they had a ball to drop.  I am not much for lead-ins.  But what they let us know is that they find us having so many practical skills that they are having a hard time choosing between fields and ministries.  So they asked if we would accept being appointed to SAM with the patience to wait for our field assignment so that they can talk to the different field directors and find where we can be utilized the most.  I was floored!  I cannot believe the calm I was able to exhibit when inside I was jumping up and down so amazed and excited.  We are officially SAM Missionaries!!!  We have an account and can start fundraising immediately.  We asked some questions about how you can fundraise when you do not have a concrete destination.  They made it clear to us that it is not a bad thing, that we need to communicate to our supporters that there are so many opportunities that we’re suited for that they are continuing in prayer over the exact appointment.  Just a couple of the fields mentioned are Paraguay (I know, not Peru) and Pucallpa Peru with Ron working with the substance abuse rehab center and there would be plenty for me to do there too.  We actually told them at our interviews last week that we really wanted to be where the Lord wants us, no matter what country.  We felt after much prayer that we needed to lay that decision in the Lord’s hands by trusting SAM in our placement.  They were so excited at this willingness and all the opportunities that this makes possible.  God is so good!  It will not be Brazil, due to visa restrictions so we know at least that it will be a Spanish speaking country.  So now begins the tough work, as they say.  But I have to tell you that God has been amazingly faithful and gracious and merciful. 
group-orientation-picture1
We have gained a great bond with all the families.  I do not know why we had such a positive experience and can only attribute it to the fact that we vowed to be real and honest and trusted in the Lord no matter what happened.  I think it is was not even that, but just all God.  Don’t you agree???  So much of what time we have left will be spent on logistics, training on fund raising, and prayer card stuff. Pray that there will be no anxiety over fundraising as I know that it is a lot to raise.  I know I have a big God who wants us there.  Look at all He has done.  I pray to stay focused on that. 

 

 
Day 10, Wednesday July 1
Well, as many of you that have been on the field has said, missions involves much prayer, preparation, and patience.  Will be calling on YOU much for the first one, and we will be working hard at the other two. We found out this morning that we are looking at a year of theological training for Ron after he finishes his Associates in November.  They are not concerned with him having a BA in Theology, but they want him to go to a accredited college so that the credits that he receives will be with the goal to work on that during our furloughs.  I will be taking online theology courses when I come home.  Now for the big part.  The reason for this is because what they see is that we could to go to the field to help plant churches.  They see us in a more ministry role.  I know to some of you this is no surprise because you have been telling Ron and I that for years.  For others it may be a surprise.  The Lord has been transforming us our entire walk for this. 
 
Now the journey goes to a whole new level and we are very exciting.  There is so much to do and so many deadlines.  But the truth is that you need to know that most of what you are going to need to do at this point is pray, pray, pray, and our job is to make sure you know where we are and what we are doing AND do everything else.  So much of what use to be done by your team is now done by our sending organization, SAM. Prayer letters, updates, mailing, etc.  What you will need to do will be to keep us in the forefront of your mind and speak positively and confidently about our appointment with SAM.  As you heard in the last prayer letter we do not have a specific destination in South America.  This could be perceived as a problem by those we talk to, but you need to express the fact that the reason we do not have an exact destination is because we, in our flexibility, are in demand and they are consulting with field directors to find where God can utilize us the most. We have many who are trying to have some pull for particular countries and ministries.  But what we want, and what the leadership is doing, is to consult our Almighty God and rely on him for the direction.  We know when the time is right God will be the to reveal the destination.  They plan on giving us our destination by December 2009.   There will be representatives visiting countries and they will be keeping us in their minds for serving in those countries.  Right now, our focus is on getting fully funded by December 2010.  That would mean as soon as we finish our theology training we can go to the field for language training.  They want to be realistic and told us it could take until 2011 to get fully funded, but I know that God wants us there and I will rely on Him for the funding and the timing.  So far in our journey he has done things sooner than later.  Anyway, we are coming home tomorrow and I will not be writing again until I am sitting at home.  God bless and thank you for following our journey.
 
Love Stephanie, and everyone else, of course!

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1
Apr

Pondering Questions…

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

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So, what is to ponder?  Well, I want to pass on to you some questions that are on our application and you may find yourself pondering these very aspects of your own life.  It could change how you live, or at least make you question what your life says about your Christian walk.

1.  When was the last time someone received Christ due to your witness?

2. Have you ever received discipleship training?

3. Have you ever discipled someone? 

4. Tell us about a difficult (non-family) relationship?

5. What experience have you had in trusting God for your financial needs?

6. Describe your attitude concerning the authority of the mission(Church)?

7. Describe your habits concerning personal bible study and prayer?

8. What are your spiritual gifts?

9. Name 2 non-Christian references that are not family:

Whew.  Did you make it through them all?  This is only two handfuls of questions from the 8 pages of application, part 1.  How did you fair?  Really most of you read through them with little pondering just to get to where I am suppose to tell you how we have done…huh?!

Well, we answered them.  We got through them with some joys and sorrows.  Why?  Because we were left with wishing we were doing more now and had been doing more.  We realize that we do not have substancial relationships with non-Christians outside of family.  We have had all the same excuses that you will find yourself using, but truthfully we have not used relationship evangelism to reach out.  We realize, though, that that will be a part of our ministry and if we are to evangelize through relationship how do you do that without the relationship? I know there are other ways to evangelize, and I have concerns as to what I expose my kids and myself to when I step beyond witness and neighbor  and commit to a relationship (friendship).  Yet, we will be doing that in Peru and we have not done that here.  I am not sure how, truthfully.  I will say that I found the following on a question and answer site, http://www.liontracks.org/, that I found interesting:

A number of passages do directly warn us to beware of who we are keeping company with. For example…

“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NKJ)

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20, NKJ)

“Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.” (Proverbs 22:24-25, NKJ)

“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.” (Proverbs 4:14-15, NKJ)

These, and a number of other passages, clearly show us that those you regularly keep company with will affect you. Some will say, “well, what about Jesus? He’s our example and he spent a lot of time with unsaved people.” True. But look at the whole picture. Jesus knew what he believed, was unwaveringly secure in His belief, and did not just hang around unsaved for friendship. He continually taught the unsaved, by His example and by His words (i.e. Mark 2:13). And still, Jesus had a close group of friends who were believers (the disciples) whom he spent more time with than anyone else. (Not to mention that He regularly took time out to be alone with God, see Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12-)

If you go to where the unsaved go, and do the things the unsaved do, and laugh at the jokes the unsaved tell, etc., etc., what witness do you have? And who is ultimately influencing who? What “new life in Jesus” can you offer when you live in the old? Jesus was a friend of sinners because he took the message to them — and lived out that message, being different (separate) from them, even while he was with them (see Matthew 11:19-24)

Yes, we as Christians need to befriend non-Christians. We need the opportunities to witness to them. But this does not mean compromising our beliefs (and practice of those beliefs) to do so. Things need to be in the right order. First be grounded in God’s word. Secondly, surround yourself with the fellowship of other like-minded believers. Thirdly, go out and witness to the unsaved without participating in their evil deeds. This is the line you cannot cross. If the unsaved attempt to draw you into their practices (sin), you need to truly be able to respond as David did…

“Depart from me, you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my God!” (Psalms 119:115, NKJ)

Please pray for us as we try to hear God’s direction in this part of our lives, as with all parts.  We want to be effective witnesses for God here, not just in Peru.  Blessings to all of you as you, too, come to term with these questions and their answers in your life.

Stephanie

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