Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Gospel Story

It’s been a long time since I last wrote to you guys. I repent of this, one because I have not valued and loved you through keeping you updated on what is going on in my life and our ministry at Covenant church. I also repent, because of my foolishness in not seeing my need for the specific prayers of God’s people. Your prayer is just as significant, if not more, than my presence and work here. Thank you for your faithfulness to pray and support me, even in the midst of my sinful negligence.

This summer was deeply challenging. Many people in our Korean congregation stopped coming, a handful of people in our English congregation went back to either the States or Canada, and our financial situation was a source of constant stress. We even came to a point toward the latter half of the summer where we considered moving out of our building to find a cheaper space. All of these factors led to a difficult season of trial in our body, as we didn’t know how God was leading us.

Now, does that sound like the vision of what missions and church planting is? Not the stuff you think of and hear in missionary stories, which sound far more adventurous and life-changing. That’s exactly why I was not compelled to update this blog--didn’t have many uplifting, exciting stories to share; instead, only trials that forecasted a ministry of potential failure. But my thinking is the essence of worldliness: defining our ministry by success and failure, not Jesus Christ and the gospel.

The gospel meets us in the height of colossal failure: a cross, a symbol for one who’s cursed. On the outside, Jesus’ life looked entirely wasted, as he was dying, with followers who were betrayers and failures. But the cross, which in that night represented only failure and foolishness, became the symbol of shocking, world-changing reverse: death to life, foolishness to wisdom, defeat to victory, despair to hope. This is the announcement of the best news ever heard in the universe! But it also presents not simply the way to eternal life but a new pattern by which the Christian is to live and see ministry. Failure, suffering, weakness--things which formerly led to paralyzing fear and crushed our identity--are now God’s megaphone, proclaiming to us, His church, and the world, it’s not about us but all about Jesus and the cross.

Our stories aren’t meant to make people say, “Look at that successful person, ministry, or church. I want to be like them.” They are meant to be illustrations of the One true gospel story where people see through us in the face of brokenness, weakness, and even failure to the greater Savior, who gives us true rest, joy, and peace no matter our circumstances. That will leave people wanting Jesus, not our program for success.

The past couple months many new people have joined our church, as we even had about 60 people in our English service and over 50 people in our Korean service. Not only that, but enough money is coming in now to enable us to remain in our current building. Praise God! But please don’t think that is the good news. The good news is that God is slowly but surely weaning me and our church off of ourselves to make us a people that point others to Jesus.

A summer that seemed to signify God’s absence actually showed His presence more clearly than success ever could. These experiences are building us into a community that is beginning to experience, rejoice in, and show Jesus. What seemed to be the source of possible separation was God’s instrument for deepening our love and unity in the gospel. How sweet is that! May God continue to write in my life, Covenant church, and your lives gospel stories, crafting us into people who, more than wanting success or fearing failure, desire to share Jesus no matter what.

Love you guys.

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