The End of an Era

Last week I officially completed my Luke 10 internship by heading to Seattle for 4 days for debrief. This was a time to share what God has done in the last 9 months, tell stories, show pictures and answer lots of questions. 😉

Luke 10:17 The seventy-two [that Jesus had sent out] returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name”.

The disciples that Jesus sent out to look for persons and households of peace and to share the love of Jesus had many stories to tell when they returned. I’m sure they had struggles and hardships along the way as well, when they weren’t accepted or had to depend on others for their provisions. But they came back and celebrated all that Jesus did and what they experienced.

As we reflected and celebrated in Seattle, we used the outline of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things”. We reflected on what God had taught us about Himself and His character, ministry, relationships, what we had learned about ourselves, and what we had learned from those with whom we worked. Here are a few of the things that I wrote down:
What is true: I saw God’s faithfulness and provision in many different ways in this last year, in the door closing to Cambodia and the many, many doors opening up in Texas, in guidance in decisions along the way, in the opportunity to go to Asia, and to stay on with Kent and Erika this fall. This was one aspect of God’s character that I particularly saw a lot this last year.
What is noble: I learned a lot from the people I worked with/lived with this last year. From Kent and Erika, I learned more about unreached peoples and was challenged and inspired by their heart to reach these peoples all over the world. From Erika, I saw her put others first and offer hospitality. From Lena, I have seen modeled a heart of love, humility, service, and bold witness for Christ. From Andres, one of the janitors at the church, I have learned to take time for conversation even in the midst of busyness. From Stacey, one of the ladies who stayed in our home during the May meetings, I learned to give generously and be obedient, even if it doesn’t make sense from a worldly standpoint.
What is pure: God tested and purified my obedience several times during this last year, and I learned a lot about giving something to Him and letting Him replace it with something even better in my life. Sometimes I didn’t understand (and maybe still don’t) the reasons He called me to be obedient in a certain situation, but when I took that step forward and said “yes”, God honored that in my life.

It was such a blessing to share and reflect with my fellow Luke 10er Stacie and our coordinators. We got to spend time in God’s beautiful creation as well, going canoeing, hiking and enjoying some quiet time on the beach. It has been a wonderful 9 months full of blessings and challenges, and I’m so excited for what God has next for me!

A Learning Experience

This last Saturday I went with Lena to an open house at the East Plano Islamic Center. They provided a tour of the mosque, and then had a light lunch of yummy Mediterranean food. There were 2 speakers who provided an overview of Islam, some of the beliefs, and the ethics of Islam. Then they had a question and answer time.

I knew a few things about the Muslim faith but several things were cleared up for me. One of the major differences between Christianity and Islam is that Muslims do not believe in the deification of Jesus- they don’t think that He is God. They believe that He was a prophet, and even the Messiah, but not God’s Son, a part of the Trinity. We have a lot of misconceptions though about the Muslim faith, such as the role of women, and why they wear the long head scarves, etc., and even some people who believe that all Muslims are terrorists. That is most definitely not true. On the role of women, in most countries women have rights like men do and they are celebrated for their roles as wives and mothers. In all but three countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan or Nigeria), according to our tour guide, women have a choice to cover themselves as an act of modesty and protection. It is a choice they make between themselves and God. Also, according to the speakers, most Muslims are taught to be peaceful and not hateful. I suppose just like in anything, there are extremists that bring a bad name to the Muslim faith.

I think that it’s important to learn about other religions. For me, it’s not because I am “seeking” or trying to find a different faith, but instead, I think that the more we know about different faiths, the better we are able to witness to people in those religions. Many of the unreached people groups in the world today are in predominately Muslim areas. I am sad to admit I used to not care if Muslims heard the truth about Jesus, and may have even said they didn’t deserve to hear about Him, or perhaps they were a “lost cause”. But God’s heart breaks for the Muslim people to know the truth of who He is and who Jesus is, and for them to come to believe in the Truth of the Gospel. He loves the people of Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, and Iraq, and the other predominately Muslim countries. Perhaps, one day God will call me to go to one of these countries, but in the mean time, there are many people here in Dallas who need to hear the Truth as well.

God opened my heart this weekend to be intentional about praying for Muslim people, for their eyes to be opened to the Truth, and for opportunities for more interaction and dialogue.


My Sunday school teacher, Lydia, and I at a Frisco Rough Riders baseball game

The Frisco Rough Riders baseball game

Lena and I with LeAnn (far left) and Stacey (on my left), who stayed with us during the MUP meetings, and Donna, our neighbor

Erika sharing during the MUP SC overview training

MUP SC Overview training in Plano, Texas

Cool Verses

Sunday morning before we left for church I was reading in Isaiah. There were a few verses that stuck out to me.

Isaiah 55:4-6 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

Isaiah 56:7 These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for the nations.

Last week I got to hear some pretty amazing stories of what God is doing around the world, drawing the nations to Himself. There were moments where I was moved to tears thinking about the peoples around the world who have never heard about Jesus and the home that is found only in Him. I am thankful that God loves all the peoples, and His house is for everyone! I am praying that I will be a part of taking His salvation to the people who still need to hear.

Prayer Requests

This next week we will be hosting 3 different meetings at our offices here in Plano. We have about 17 coming in for the first meeting beginning on Wednesday, 15 for the second meeting, and close to 50 for a training next week. We have been busy getting ready, and it will be an intense time, so I would ask you to please pray for us.

– Pray for calm in the midst of all of the logistics
– Please pray against any attacks Satan might attempt to cause troubles.
– Pray for any hiccups in the logistics to be worked out easily
– Pray for unity among the taskforce and the board as they continue to work through big issues
– Pray for the Holy Spirit to work and inspire through the planning that will be taking place
– Pray for patience for me and for Erika as we handle the behind-the-scenes work
– Pray for rest for Kent and Erika as they came from a meeting last week that was very draining

Thank you so much for your prayers through the next 2 weeks! I know that I will not be able to make it without them! 🙂 Blessings, Sarah

The Heavenly Man

I am reading a book right now called The Heavenly Man about a Chinese Christian and evangelist named Brother Yun. He came to know Christ in his teens after his father was miraculously healed after being near death. This was during a time when missionaries had been killed or sent out of China. Brother Yun desperately wanted a Bible to be able to learn more about God and he began to pray and fast for a Bible, even though there weren’t any to be found in the whole country. When God provided a Bible for him, he used every spare moment to soak up the teachings found there, and the Bible was so precious to him, he carried it everywhere even sleeping with it. God did some amazing things in his life and through him. Whole villages came to know Christ through his witness. He suffered intense persecution, beatings, and imprisonment, and was wanted all over China. On several occasions God did an Acts miracle, opening prison doors and allowing Brother Yun to walk out of the prison without being detected.

Reading this book, I have been really challenged. Do I hunger for God’s Word with the intensity that Brother Yun did? Do I have a burning desire to share Christ no matter what the consequences? Do I believe God can do miracles like opening prison doors? It’s a pretty amazing book, and I would encourage you to read it for yourself (or borrow it from me).

My 23rd Birthday!

Saturday, April 25th, I celebrated my 23rd birthday. It was definitely a day of excitement! Here are a few stories and pictures from the day.

I woke up early, full of anticipation and excitement, and before doing anything else, I opened my packages from my family and my college roommate, and then the cards I had gotten so far. Pretty soon Lena knocked on my door and told me to get dressed because we were going out for breakfast. After I opened up my gift from her, the two of us joined our neighbors Mack and Donna for breakfast at the Original Pancake House. I had yummy chocolate chip pancakes, and we had fun laughing over our meal.

Just as we were arriving home, a man drove up and dropped off a lovely bouquet from my family!

Then Kent and Erika came to take me out to lunch. We ate at a Texas steakhouse called Texas Land and Cattle. It was quite good, and they even brought out a brownie for my birthday. After the meal, Kent dropped us off at the theater, and Erika and I watched “17 Again”. It was nice to share the movie with her!

Saturday evening was a party for Lena’s Sunday school class. They normally go out to eat once a month, and this month they were having a salad supper at someone’s home. They also surprised me with a birthday cake, sang “Happy Birthday”, and gave me a huge card that everyone had signed. We played a game where everyone had written down a little-known fact about themselves, and the rest of the group had to guess. It was a fun night of visiting with people. I was amazed at the love that was shown to me on my birthday, and I’m so thankful for special friends and family in Texas and in the Midwest!

Girls in Action

Friday night I got to speak at the Girls in Action sleepover here at the church. GAs is for girls in 1st-6th grade, and they do service projects and fundraisers, learn about missions and do fun things together. I got to speak to 6 of these girls about my own story and God’s calling on my life. I also showed them some pictures and told a few stories from Asia, which they really enjoyed. Then I taught them a way to pray for missionaries and the people with whom they work, using your hand. It’s something that I learned at the SEALink meeting in Cambodia. You pray for 1) Open heavens (God to rain down blessings), 2) Open hearts, 3) Open homes, 4) Open ways (creative opportunites to share the gospel), and 5) Open harvest (Luke 10:2), using your 5 fingers to remember the five points. They had some pretty awesome questions, some fun and silly, others pretty serious. There were two exciting moments for me that I want to share with you. My internship is called Luke 10 and I’ve had the opportunity to study that chapter of the Bible in several instances and it’s become pretty important to me. I was talking with them about the last point, Open harvest, and Luke 10:2. As I read it, several of them were reciting it with me. Then I asked them what it meant, and they didn’t know for sure. As I explained what the harvest meant, their eyes got big and you could see the light coming on. The picture that there are many people who still need to hear the gospel, and that the workers are few, really connected with them. One of the girls came up to me and wanted to make sure she knew where it was found so she could remember it. I was also trying to explain to them that you don’t have to have the typical missionary job to serve God (teacher, pastor, doctor), but that God can use whatever gifts and passions he has given us. One of the older girls said she wanted to be either a missionary or a writer. I told her about my first Luke 10 assignment in South Africa that didn’t work out, where people write down the stories of the missionaries and Christians there, and then come back to the US and share that to encourage the churches here in the US. She got this big smile on her face and her eyes sparkled and she said, “I want to do that”. I am praying that these girls will keep their love for Jesus and His people, and that God will indeed send them out as workers in His harvest field.

Luke 10:2 The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

What the Church Should Be

One of the things that I’ve pondered a lot in the past 8 months is the status of the church in America. Last fall I had the opportunity to attend a church planting movement conference, and was really challenged in my understanding of church. After the conference I went back and read through the book of Acts, to see how the early Christians- the early church- functioned together. I made a list, and I’m sure I missed quite a few things, but here are some of the points that stuck out to me.

What the Church Looks like in Acts

  • They joined together constantly in prayer (1:14)
  • There were leadership positions; they prayerfully considered how to fill them (1:15-26)
  • They were all together in one place (2:1)
  • They were devoted to learning the apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to prayer, and communion (2:42)
  • They were filled with awe at what God was doing (2:43)
  • They were unified (2:44)
  • They gave generously to each other and to others (2:45)
  • They met together in a place of worship and also in each others’ homes (2:46)
  • They praised God together, and many people came to Christ because of their witness (2:47)
  • They spoke through the power of the Holy Spirit (4:8)
  • They raised their voices together in prayer (4:24)
  • They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the Word of God boldly (4:31)
  • They were of one heart and mind- unity- and they shared everything they had (4:32)
  • They claimed God’s power, and testified to the resurrection of Jesus (4:33)
  • They were highly regarded by the people (5:13)
  • They were persecuted (5:17 and following)
  • They went from house to house teaching and proclaiming Christ (5:42)
  • They gave different tasks to different people (6:1-4)
  • They lived in the fear of the Lord (9:31)
  • They were aware of what was happening with other churches, they were connected (11:22)
  • They provided help for the brothers (11:29)
  • They prayed on behalf of those who are persecuted (12:5)
  • They worshipped and fasted together (13:2)
  • They raised up leaders in the churches that they started (14:23)
  • They heard reports from the missionaries that they sent out (14:27)
  • They focused on God changing the inside of a person, rather than looking at the outside (15:5-11)
  • They were not perfect 🙂 (15:39)
  • They welcomed missionaries and received them warmly (18:22 and 21:17)

Well, I think we could learn some lessons from the early church. I know that we are currently practicing some of these things, but perhaps we have let ourselves get too caught up in things that don’t really matter. I have definitely gone back to Acts a lot this year, and I hope that you will check it out for yourselves!