Preparing the Soil

Scripture is rife with farming analogies. The parable of the sower, the metaphor of “bearing fruit”, and the list goes on and on. Using this age old analogy of planting, we look at missions in the modern world.

A man closes a purchase on a new plot of land. As he signs, his hand shakes with the excitement of years of dreaming of saving coming to fruition. That night he can barely sleep because visions of overflowing crops and a fixed-up farmhouse flood his mind. The next day, in his eagerness to make his new land fruitful, he wakes up before the sun and shoulders a burlap sack of seed. As he walks his new land with pride, he slings generous fistfuls of seeds out onto the field.

Like any good farmer, he diligently waters and monitors his crops. But nothing grows. What did he do wrong? Many missionaries are finding themselves in the same situation asking the same question. They moved to a new land to which they were called. They made efforts to sow seeds. They even watered and monitored their ministry. No results. What happened?

The crucial was missed step of preparing the soil. It’s mundane work, breaking up tough ground and pulling up weeds. In fact, weeding is never a one-and-done process. Pulling up weeds disturbs the soil which then brings new weed seeds to the surface. These weed seeds could have been dormant for years, but if now exposed to sunlight, they will begin to grow. This is why it seems that when one weed is pulled, three others pop up to take its place. Preparing the soil is an ongoing process. This is why when planting a lawn from seed, to get a well-establish root network it takes at least two years.

How, in missions, do you prepare the soil? You’ve moved to a new place. You’re ready to begin. Patrick Lai, author of Tentmaking, suggests the the best ingredients for preparing the spiritual soil are prayer and love. Before you ever sow the gospel, these two prepare the soil to receive and effectively grow and nourish the seeds.

Preparing soil in the natural mostly involves two things: breaking up what needs to be softened, and keeping “weeds” from stealing the nutrients for our fruit. Ask God to open your eyes to specific things that need to be softened in your hearers. Pray for these things then to be softened. Ask God what competition the gospel has in the hearts of your hearers. Pray that the “weeds” that would prevent it taking hold be removed. This isn’t a process that happens just once, but prayer and love may make up the majority of your initial time abroad. Then, after much preparation, the opportunity will present itself and the time to sow will arrive.

The great thing about both of these soil-preparers is that they don’t require proximity. You can begin even before you go. You can also help prepare the soil of missionaries around the world without ever setting foot in the countries in which they tread. Adopt a country or people group this week to pray for. Ask God to break up the spiritual soil in this place. Ask that the weeds be removed. Pray for those sowing to be effective and well-received. This step is crucial. Without it, all else can be done by the book, yet without love and prayer, the seeds will stay seeds until the soil is prepared.


Ministry in the Marketplace

This month we’ve been building up to the International Day For the Unreached, so it only makes sense we talk about strategies to reach them. You’ve taken that plane ride that’s so long that by the time it lands, you almost feel you’ve forgotten how to walk. You’ve found a place to live, a job or business to contribute to the community, and schools for your children. How do you actually then begin reaching those around you?

The unique advantage of working professionally among those you’re trying to reach is time. People spend a majority of their work week...well...at work. If limited to time outside of work, you would be relying on a long, friendship-building process in the hopes to even set up time to get together. While the relationship and trust-building process has no shortcuts, having the built in time all day every week at work is certainly a faster track.

There are so many unique people groups with countless unique people in them. How does someone go about reaching them? The answer is a lot of questions.

First, ask God. If God gave you this mission, He will not leave you without a strategy to fulfill it. Taking it not once, not twice, but daily to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to show you what His steps for you are for that DAY alone. Look, as a response, to answers in Scripture, notice divine opportunities that open up, and listen for His voice.

Second, ask them! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It can be about innocuous things such as the weather, their hobbies, their family. Share about your own as well! The more exchange there is, the more relationship is built. By asking progressively deeper questions, their openness (or lack thereof) can be sensed. This gives you a good idea of how to proceed and if they are ready.

Third, ask the most important question of all. When it comes to the point of the salvation question (which may be soon or may take ten years of sowing into relationship), don’t forget to ASK if they would like to receive Jesus into their hearts.

Fourth, ask “what would you like to do next?”. Give them next steps. Do they want to study the Bible together? Do they want to get rid of old charms from previous religions? Do they want to share with their family or someone they know? That point of salvation is beautiful, but it’s not the goal. The goal is discipleship up to the point in which that person can disciple others. What does he or she need to learn next? Maybe offer a starting place of books of the Bible to study. What parts of his or her relationship with God need to be nurtured? Maybe talk about prayer life habits or things that individual can do to further their direct connection with the Lord. The less they “need” you for this time, the better. The focus should be on directly connecting them to the Lord. Who would be their first goal for sharing the gospel with someone? It’s important that from the beginning the mindset is not that the gospel comes into their life and stays there. Instead, they must see that they are a vital part of its continuation.

If you’re not in an area with unreached people groups, adopt a group to pray for. Support individuals or ministries that reach the unreached. Inform those around you about the unreached so that they too can partner in reaching them. No matter who you are or where you are, there is something you can do that will change someone’s life forever.


For the mothers who will not celebrate this weekend

Visiting an Asian country a few years ago, I met a prominent national Christian family and heard, first-hand, their story. This is a true story about people in a country where Christianity is an unwanted minority religion, so I cannot name the people or country. This couple and their two grown sons were all committed to openly following Christ in this hostile environment. Worse, for them, they were actively engaged in open Christian ministry.

 Their first son was brutally killed by a local mob during an anti-Christian riot in another part of the country. It could well have been a targeted killing.

 Their second son was traveling in the Middle East. One day his parents received word he had died and his body was being returned for burial. They were never told and were never able to determine the cause of death.

 When I heard this from the father, my first reaction, as head of a Christian ministry myself, was somewhat intellectual. My mind went to thoughts of protecting ministers and missionaries. Then, ashamed of myself, I identified with the father and how well he was dealing with the loss.

 Then I thought of the mother of these two slain men. How she must have said “Good-bye” to them as they each went out the door on separate days, never to hear their voices, never to see their smiles, never to put her arms around them again in this world.

 I thought of the prophet Jeremiah’s words, quoted in Matthew 2:18, “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” I know there’s no direct correlation between these verses and this modern tragedy, but I thought about how many mothers have been forced to re-live an event like this, only because they were living their faith among those who did not.

 Unfortunately, this is one story I know, among so many others. A recent report from the British government states that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. 80% of those persecuted for religious faith today are Christians!  We’re only shocked by that because we’ve forgotten words of Scripture such as “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10) and “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

 And I think of all the mothers mourning for their children.

 It would be only human to be angry, to hate those who do things like this. We might expect our government to do something, anything. Some among us might even want to personally lash out to punish or kill our persecutors.

 And then I think, wouldn’t it be better to focus our pain and attention on winning our persecutors to Christ? These are the lost, the unreached peoples of the world. They persecute our family-in-Christ out of ignorance. We can’t ignore this persecution, but we can use it, instead, as impetus to overcome ignorance, hate, and violence with the saving and life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.

 For the sake of mothers everyone, let’s get on to the with the last command of Jesus Christ, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

Every tribe, every language, every people, every nation

A few years ago I attended a missions conference in a local Detroit-area church. Proudly, the church leaders introduced one of their own families, newly appointed missionaries, and invited them to share their call to missions. I, along with most in that church building, immediately fell in love with that family. They were young, wholesome, eager to get out there.

 Then they spoke. To summarize, they were going to an over-evangelized country in Africa, where more than half the population were already evangelical Christians. Yes, there was a small Muslim minority in the country, but this family was not going to them. It seems they had visited this country. They noticed the church there did not look like their home church in Detroit. They had dedicated themselves to fixing the national church in that country. I felt like crying! Instead of reaching those who did not know Christ, they were going with the intention of turning African Christians into American fundamentalists.

 You’ve heard terms like unevangelized, unreached, least-reached, unengaged.

 These terms, and the mission strategies behind them, were developed in recent decades to help the Western church better focus people and resources in areas where the need was greatest. Along with these definitions came strategies such as the 10/40 Window, 40/60 Window, and specialized strategies for Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists.

 It worked! No, these strategies did not bring universal evangelism, but we did see more work being done in these areas. And not just more work, but great results in terms of people coming to faith in Christ and new churches being established within those groups.

 Isn’t that what it’s all about?

 Consider these few passages from the New Testament (underlining and emphasis added by this writer).

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)

 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (John 3:36)

 The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

 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? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:13-14)

 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)

 You [Jesus] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9-10)

 What’s the bottom line?

 Definitions and strategies are tools we use to accomplish a task. That task, as identified in the above passage from Matthew, is to take the message of God’s salvation in Christ to every identifiable group of people around the world. The results of that task are described in the Revelation passage, where we’re told that Jesus died for every tribe and language group, and people group, and national group.

 It makes additional sense to direct the bulk of our efforts towards those who need it most, that is, the unreached, under-reached, least-reached, etc.

 Call them unreached or just plain lost, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about words. It’s about us, the church, focusing our resources on those groups of people who will not be reached with the gospel unless someone crosses those ethnic, linguistic, geographical, religious, and/or political boundaries and communicates God’s word in ways they can understand and to which they can make a valid response Jesus Christ.

 ‘Nuff said!

On the Road Again

It’s butterfly season! And I don’t just mean because it’s spring. We have butterflies in our stomachs as one of the Mandate team steps out into literally unknown territory this week. Most can relate to a sense of irritation or feeling flustered when plans change at the last minute. The trip that begins tomorrow has been a change of plans from the start. A divine interruption.

It all began when Mandate was invited to visit local businesses in restricted areas in two countries. Our excitement multiplied when plans changed and Mandate was asked to lead a training for local professionals. This training then evolved into a nine-days-on-a-bus tour in a whirlwind attempt to cover as much ground as possible. The final twist came only days before departure. A meeting had been arranged for members of the persecuted church in the area! Upon hearing about the development, all of us on staff were hit with a wave of awe and humility.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself there. A packed bus on rough roads making slow progress through meandering mountain paths. You make another stop, see another piece of this untouched area, get connected with its leaders, plant seeds for future partnerships, and load back onto the bus for the remaining nine days aboard. The last day you’re exhausted. Your legs have gone numb from the bumps and hours of the rough ride. But then you see it. One after another, people are assembling. People who have been persecuted for their faith. Just imagining the stories behind their wearied faces is too much to wrap one’s mind around. Yet there is still a joy. They hunger for even more of this God for whom they have risked everything. Their hungry eyes wait for what you’ll say…

Like a cliffhanger in a story, you’ll have to wait for the actual accounts of this amazing trip. We seized this open door, but more and more are opening each day. It’s our prayer and firm belief that God will supply our ministry fund with precisely what we need for doing the business He has called us to do in the places that He calls us to go. You may not be on a two week bus trip through the backroads of Asia, but you too can be a part of this. By donating any amount, like planting a seed, you’ll get to watch it grow. This is not a donation where the money disappears and you wonder what happened with it. This specific project is going to be reported on beginning at the end of next month. Ask God if you’re being called to sow into this trip. Then WATCH our blog to SEE what He will do with your obedience.

(To donate go to www.gomandate.org/donate)

Resurrection? So what?

Lew Wallace had been a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. A decade later he was a lawyer and trying to become an author. Coming into contact with one of the most famous atheists of his day, he was embarrassed. Not embarrassed by the two hours of anti-religion he absorbed during that conversation, but by his own indifference and ignorance of that area of life.

 In an academic way, that encounter convinced him to study Christianity. Even as a nonbeliever he had always enjoyed the story of the wise men who came to Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth. He had even begun a fictional novel based around that event, which he also considered mostly fiction. Now, he thought, he would carry that story down to the equally fictitious crucifixion which would, in his own words, “compel me to study everything of pertinency; after which possibly, I would be possessed of opinions of real value. It only remains to say that I did as resolved, with results – – first, the book Ben Hur, and second, a conviction amounting to absolute belief in God and the Divinity of Christ.”

 Closer to our own day, a Chicago Tribune journalist and atheist named Lee Strobel began a similar investigation. When his wife became a Christian, Strobel began exploring the historicity and truthfulness of that faith.

 Explaining his quest, Strobel wrote, "Some people are more experiential . . . but because I come from a law background, a legal background, and a journalism background, I tend to respond to facts and evidence. My way of processing my spiritual journey was to ask the question ‘Is there any evidence that supports Christianity being true?’"

 Ultimately, that two-year process convinced him that all evidence led to the conclusion that Christianity is true. As with Lew Wallace before him, Strobel acted on that evidence and made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ in 1981.

 So what?

 This coming Sunday is Easter. Millions of Christians across nations, cultures, denominations, and churches, will join in the ritual affirmation that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead. As my Orthodox friends express it, “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!” That is what Easter is all about.

 The 11th chapter of First Corinthians is all about the resurrection. The writer, Paul, might not have personally witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, and almost certainly did not witness the resurrection. By the time of this writing, however, both were as real to him as could be. Paul used this chapter to emphasize the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 He began by saying “by this gospel you are saved…” then explaining this gospel as, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, … he was buried, … he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” And “…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. …And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

 True belief in the resurrection of Christ also calls for a response.

 Consider Paul, the man who started out as Saul of Tarsus. In the early chapters of the book of Acts, the resurrection had already taken place, but this Saul did not accept that as truth. Until … on a mission to persecute members of the young church, as recorded in Acts chapter 9, the living Christ appeared to Saul.

 We don’t know how long this encounter lasted, but the recorded events outline a significant change. First the Lord grabs Saul’s attention with a bright light. Next comes Saul’s response, the question asked and answered “who are you, Lord?” Then, demonstrating what happens when a person comes face-to-face with the reality of the resurrection, Saul displays his change in faith/allegiance with the question “what shall I do, Lord?”

 As with Saul of Tarsus, Lew Wallace, Lee Strobel and thousands of others through the last 2000+ years, the realization of the absolute truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ led to the genuine belief that the risen Christ is Savior of the world, and to the conscious commitment to trust in him alone for salvation.

 There’s another point to be made. If the resurrection is genuine and true, then all of the works and words of Jesus Christ are equally genuine and true. “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save the lost.” “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

 No wonder his post-resurrection followers were so determined to share the news of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ with all peoples. They believed, as stated by Peter in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

 Let’s finish this off with words again from the apostle Paul. Many consider Paul to be the first, or, at least, the preeminent missionary of the early church. Essentially, he gave up all rights and privileges to his own life for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He wanted everyone to hear this good news and worked diligently so that all who heard might understand and believe as he did. One of his stunning declarations came in 1 Corinthians 9:16 where he wrote, “I am compelled [constrained, required, cannot-do-anything-but] to preach [proclaim, share, tell, bear witness].” And “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

 So what?

 So, do you believe the resurrection?

 So, what does the truth of the resurrection mean to you personally?

 So, what are you doing about it?

Accessing the Inaccessible

“To stay at the farm, they have to inform the local authorities and seek their approval. You can expect to be raided in the middle of the night. No foreigners are allowed to stay in the villages and communes overnight without prior permission and acceptance from the local authorities. Foreigners visiting and interacting with the local tribal people are closely monitored and not favorably treated.”

Has your heart rate gone up? These jarring lines are copied from actual correspondence regarding a Mandate trip to a very restricted area. The most amazing part? Mandate was not only allowed but welcomed for one pivotal reason: we were recruited for a training in a much-needed professional area.

This problem is not unique to this trip, nor are we the first to encounter this hurdle. This is one of many perfect examples of when going as a traditional missionary or evangelist simply does not work. In specific parts of the world the only way in is skilled professionals offering a service or training to the community that is seen as desirable by the government.

The correspondence went on the say that the last trip to this location required bodyguards. Yikes! It casually recommended having multiple passport copies on you in case your original gets confiscated. It’s enough to keep anyone on edge, but there’s little to fear when you’ve come to do exactly the job they’ve asked you to do. Encounters like these are fresh in my mind as Mandate prepares to attend the B4T Conference at the close of this month.  

B4T stands for “Business for Transformation”. The concept behind this movement is that to transform an entire community, area, and- ultimately- nation, all that’s needed is a good business and a heart that’s dedicated to hearing the Holy Spirit. Contrary to the belief of some, B4T is not setting up business “fronts” or “shells” for ministry. Business and making a profit may seem the farthest thing from missions, but a well-performing business that creates revenue for the nation and advances the people can be a powerful tool for the kingdom.

In one restricted nation that cannot be named for security reasons, the business being run there is a secular one. From all appearances it is just like the others of its kind. It treats its employees well and strives to be the best in the business. There is no preaching. There is no evangelizing. It is regularly monitored by the authorities. There is, however, an understated and silent prayer walk around the business. It’s done without explanation or invitation to the locals employed. Moves as small as this one caused one employee to begin asking questions about Christianity. This local was so moved by her Christian coworkers that she began a church plant- something foreigners could never do. This is good business as ministry.  

Professional skills are something everyone has. What are yours? This week, begin praying about where God is calling you to use your skills (whether it be right where you are or across the globe). Also pray about how your profession can become a living witness for the gospel. Transform what’s around you simply by viewing your placement and skills through the lens of usefulness to the Kingdom of God. Then take the next step. If a move overseas is in order, it’s time to reach out to us! If you’re to stay where you’re planted, do your part by following the B4T movement, attending the expo with us, choosing a B4T organization like Mandate to partner with financially, or researching local B4T groups in your area. You may find that your career could become more rewarding than you ever imagined.


Right Now in Vietnam...

“You always have a second home here”, read the welcoming words closing the last email from a Mandate Vietnam partner. If you choose to work in this location, I am envious of the kind of hospitality you will receive. The warm smiles and excited chatter about places they will take you and new things you have to try will quell any feelings of homesickness as you settle into the bustle of Vietnam.

We checked in with our site last week to get the latest update, asking how you- our Mandate family- could pray for them. This blog is to paint a picture of the lives of the Vietnamese family running this site. It could only get more real if you felt the warm, sticky Asian air on your face and watched the glow of the lights as the sun faded into night.

If you are parent of adult children, you know all too well the adjustment of sending a child to college. At our last site visit, we laughed as their growing teenage son finished his plate and progressively worked his way through every other plate at the table with a sheepish grin. There is a bitter sweet pain of watching this exceptional young man go off on his own. “Please keep us in your prayers as we all adjust to the change and being apart”, were the word this heart-heavy but proud mama chose.

As she talked about the updates at their school, “second wind and second vision” was

The phrase she used to describe its new direction. Always striving for excellence and making the student experience as warm as an embrace from God, their staff will need stamina and strength. I can still hear the reverberating chatter in the halls of the school as children flooded in and waited for classes to begin. There was so much joy in the faces of the children, even with as full of days as they had. Instead of looking tired or run down, it was evident that this was the highlight of their day.

One long-term prayer that they have held for their staff and to have more like-minded people on staff. Depending on where God has had you planted, you may or may not relate to the isolation that can be felt when brothers and sisters in faith are hard to find. I could almost feel the delight in her email as she marveled how people on the other side of the world who may not even know her would pray for her. She marveled at YOU.

She went on to describe a harrowing month of recovery that they just endured. She and two of their children came down with dengue fever and were hospitalized. I can only imagine the frustration of being excited to launch on the new vision only to be out sick for a month. I envision how she lit up when she would talk about all they were preparing to begin. She puts her heart and soul into developing curriculum, managing teachers, and being a mothering presence at the school, so the suffering here was not merely physical. Praise God, their children recovered relatively quickly after about ten days, but a month later symptoms like vertigo still linger for her. Pray for continued and complete healing. Please also pray that time would be redeemed and that as they return to work, they will be able to make up for the lost time and launch the new vision with a renewed strength.

As she neared the end of the update, she wrote “Please send our love to the whole Mandate team. God is so good!”. I just pause to reflect on those two statements. As part of our Mandate team, you are part of a network- a family- that spans the globe. This isn’t just any family. This is a family who, despite the setbacks and frustration of working in least reached areas, is still wholly convinced of God’s goodness. As you go through your week, pray for Vietnam. Specifically, pray for this partner of ours and their requests. Prayer has no distance limit on its ability to heal, change circumstances, and manifest the supernatural answers of God. Then stay tuned to our posts. You’ll hear not only how your prayers begin to unfold in the lives of this family, but you’ll also get to know our other partners and be immersed in their very different worlds.


A Letter from the Director

Mandate has been many places. You've been following our journey the past few weeks. Mandate currently is many places. You'll be hearing more real life stories, experiences, photos, and updates from these overseas partners in the weeks and months to come. This week, however, I'm not here to talk about either of those topics. I'm here to talk about where Mandate is going.

Hi! I'm Mandate's new Executive Director. The thing I love most about Mandate is also the thing that will never change about Mandate: the mission. All of Christian evangelism is entrenched in a war. One side fights for Jesus to be shared while the other fights against it. Just like a natural war, the battle lines change. In places like India and China, the push back is getting so great that ministries that used to operate successfully have now been banned. Mandate's role is to be on these battle lines, pressing them ever forward. It's not done by force or by deception. It is done by service and love. Every nation in the world has needs. Mandate finds out what those needs are, and our team hits our knees. We pray for individuals with a heart for Jesus who are qualified and trained to fill the gaps in the business or education sectors. By placing them in partner organizations, the way for the gospel is paved by their valuable service to the community.

Our future, much like our past, is not mapped out an organized progression or documented in a five year plan. It's a combination of preparedness to go where we are sent and an ear turned to Heaven to hear where the next door will open. For example, our retiring Executive Director had received a promise from the Lord that he would see Mandate get into Myanmar before his retirement. In God's sweet faithfulness, without any warning or indication it was coming, Mandate's first Myanmar connection was solidified at the close of last year just months before his retirement.

My vision is two-fold. First, I have felt much on God's heart for China, India, and North Korea. These nations are ones that have been a one-step-forward-two-steps-back dance with missions. Mandate has even had connections in the past that have been stamped out or blocked from coming to fruition. I can see God setting the stage for these nations. I listened to one of Mandate's overseas partner muse about a dream he had had about North Korean government asking him to replicate his business in North Korea. Imagine if that dream was more than a dream. A member of Mandate's team is able to legitimately travel in China even during this harrowing time. Imagine touching a nation during the heat of so much religious tension. Contact is underway with personnel still on the ground and awaiting their next steps in India. Imagine setting up shop anew in this nation that is rapidly inculcating its people and government with Hinduism. It is for God alone to say when the timing will be right, but I am hopeful we will see Mandate partners in all three of these places.

Second, I would love to see Mandate continue to move eastward, eventually into the Middle East. Again, God's timing and provision of open doors would be crucial. Moving into Muslim territory from Buddhist or Animist territory is a whole different experience. One that would take the backing of the Lord Almighty to execute safely and successfully.

Mandate has always provided skilled personnel for the areas with whom we have partnered. I would love to expand the ways our personnel can assist. While I intend to keep and primarily focus on long term employment placements, I would love to see God open opportunities for professionals to go on shorter term assignments, specifically to train local personnel. There is a great need for personnel, but there is an even greater need for training in some of these areas. Those with education and training who could carry out career training programs or continue education in these areas would be game changing.

Going forward, I encourage you to follow our journey with great curiosity. I feel an expectancy in my spirit for the Lord to move. Expect to hear more updates from those whose shoes are touching these foreign grounds. Expect to see more doors opened in new nations for Mandate. Expect to follow the journeys of our personnel and partners. We ask for you to join with us in praying for God's will to be done with and through Mandate so that His Kingdom can come in it's fullness as it says it will in Scripture. We pray for every nation to hear, every knee to bow, every tongue to confess, and every heart to know the overwhelming love and peace that passes understanding that comes with knowing Jesus. Interested? Me too! Keep following our new blog series. “Like” us on facebook for photos, livesteams, and event updates. Subscribe to our newsletter (by using the website pop up or the link in the lefthand menu on Facebook) for insider information on where in the world Mandate will be during any given month. It is your prayers and support that make this possible. Pray for this organization, brothers and sisters. Ask the Lord if you're being called to sow in financially. You will never regret saying “yes” to the Lord. Saying “yes” to this position is just the beginning for me. It's going to be quite a journey, full of foreign faces, heartbreaks, victories, and many, many salvations. Why don't you join this journey with me?

Blessings,

Sara

Leadership and Vision

Vision, leader(ship), and goals are words often used to identify or describe Christian organizations.

 In the case of Mandate, to make this personal, vision is the expectation, shared by the entire team, of what we think God wants us to accomplish.

 The leader is someone God brings to team who can share the vision, help the entire team accept it as their own, and guide them towards making the vision a reality.

 Since vision is sometimes a fuzzy concept, the goals are specific, measurable outcomes which lead to the realization of the vision.

Wow, that sounds a bit dry and academic. Sorry about that. But keep on reading.

Over Mandate’s 20+ years, God has provided three leaders to take the position of Executive Director. I’m not going to name names here, but do want to highlight the leadership roles of these three.

The founder of Mandate was a man with a lifetime of cross-cultural experience. He was able to foresee the necessary changes in missionary methods needed to bring the message of Christ into areas where traditional missions could not go. With the help of others who could catch his vision, he was able to build a new type of organization around our first written vision statement.

To lead mission agencies and churches worldwide in partnership to place their people in key locations in order to reach the least-reached people of the world according to the Great Commission by providing to provide highly qualified personnel to serve in the areas of health, education, enterprise development, appropriate technology and economic development.

 Through his decade of leadership, this pioneer established Mandate and led workers into India and Nepal. In the process, he helped other agencies and churches unselfishly pool their personnel and resources to effectively pursue both vision and goals. His final leadership role was setting the example for an orderly leadership transition, which brought in . . .

The man who became Mandate’s second Executive Director was hooked by an e-mail which began, “We’ve been waiting for you.” This man also had many years of missionary experience, including establishing churches among unreached tribal groups and home office administrative and leadership roles. He fully embraced the vision and Mandate model and helped streamline the purpose statement.

We are working to grow God’s kingdom among the least reached peoples of the world through the relationships and proactive witness of development-oriented Christian professionals. 

And, in an even more succinct purpose statement:

Serve the people, build His Church.

During his leadership, Mandate moved from the two original countries of service into Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar.

Over the past three years, Mandate had developed and carried out a plan to bring in a new leader in 2019. This led to a newest Executive Director being appointed by the Board of Directors earlier this month. Younger than those who’ve gone before her, with both organizational and cross-cultural experience, she is poised to expand Mandate’s draw in the U.S. and outreach overseas. She and the entire Mandate organization believe that God has called and gifted her to lead us into the next decade and beyond.

Our new Executive Director will take this page next week to share more about herself and express some of her goals for the future. Having heard these goals directly from her, I know you’ll be thrilled to read them here. So, please come back next Friday, March 29, and help us look into the future.