When we arrived in the Philippines, we lived at a discipleship house and were immersed in ministry 24/7. We were taking on the forces of darkness with our throttle wide open! We saw the hand of God vividly and celebrated His work of hope in the lives of the kids we were working with.
With the birth of 2017, the Master Mechanic told us to book some garage time, where He'd be making a few modifications, not a full rebuild, just some adjustments for a sustainable journey, which included learning Filipino culture, history, and language.
Garage time is punctuated by the reward of exploring the neighborhoods and riding the highways of ministry. As we learn Tagalog and culture, we hit the road to try out our new skills. At times, we open up the throttle on the open road of discipleship, and other times, we test drive Tagalog with neighbors and students. The keys to taking on the kingdom of darkness full throttle with the gospel are language, culture, prayer, and a servant's heart. Something to remember is that time spent with the Mechanic working on modifcations is ministry and is equally important as the time spent on the winding mountain roads of discipleship and evangelism.
Garage time is great for building relationships!
God sent us to the Philippines with a purpose and a plan. He knows the travel itinerary, the routes, tolls to be paid, sights to be seen, tune-ups, travel companions, and destinations. With the Bible as our GPS, and the Holy Spirit as our Navigator, we humbly anticipate God's plans for Swanson Mission here in the Philippines. Strap on the helmet of salvation. Turn on the high-beam of the gospel, we're heading out for a midnight ride... full throttle.
The kingdom of God that most of us are familiar with is the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ that extends across our spiritually dark planet one converted soul at a time. These souls are hard won because kingdoms are never extended without blood, sweat, and tears being shed. Valiant men and women give their lives to extend kingdoms. Some give their lives in a conflict, and many give their lives by fighting and sacrificing one day at a time.
The unique aspect of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is that the citizens all used to be autonomous from the King. They all used to be rebels, in pursuit of their own power. Then, they have a saving, heart-changing encounter with King Jesus and are changed from the inside out. In a moment, a new citizen is born into the kingdom of light. That citizen begins to live out the priorities of the King: faith, repentance, love for Jesus, love for others, forgiveness, kindness, submission to authority, gentleness, love for justice, mercy, self-control, diligence, patience, and holiness.
This spiritual kingdom isn't one that replaces political powers. Rather, these citizens are commanded by their King to submit to earthly authorities, as long as it does not cause them to sin against the moral character of God. Actually, Christians are commanded to pray for their governments. Many Christians work to bring peace, justice, and morality to their communities. The top-down directive from our King is to Love God, and Love others! That's why we fight for the plight of the widows, orphans, sexually trafficked, abused, and of those in danger of death by abortion. That's why we educate, counsel, coach, and extend helping hands.
When a Christian prays, "Thy kingdom com, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven," he or she is asking God to bring millions more into the kingdom of God through a saving, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. He/she is asking God to bring justice, peace and mercy into the lives of billions of people across the planet spiritually and physically.
Missions used to be for a few people who went to Bible school, went through a rigorous process with an agency, and eventually made it to a foreign country. Today, missions has become the privilege of every Christian. Everyone has a part to play, no matter his/her confidence, calling, or education.
There are four basic parts:
Sending: These people send missionaries by supporting them in prayer, funds, encouragement, and by validating them. Missionaries need people who believe in them and believe in the mission. They need cheerleaders, financiers, and a team of prayer warriors. Missionaries are vulnerable to physical, spiritual, and emotional attacks, so they need a team of senders who have their backs. A sender feels the weight of the lost. He or she thinks about missions and prays for friends who are missionaries. A sender likes to hear missionaries report at church. Senders usually have pictures of kids and missionaries plastered on their refrigerators. Where will you find a sender? At work carving out a paycheck, so he/she can send a child in Uganda to school and a missionary to the Philippines. Senders are usually making up an Operation Shoebox in October. Some senders pray throughout the day. Others, spend time in the war room. Who are senders? People from all walks of life who support, pray, and encourage.
Welcoming: A welcomer is always looking for opportunities to develop relationships with foreigners and immigrants. These could be overseas foreign workers, students, teachers, illegal immigrants, legal immigrants or tourists. (It's easy to get snared into immigration debates, albeit there is a place for those. We must always remember that our first allegiance is to Christ's kingdom.) A welcomer is a Christian who invites students into his/her home for meals, or befriends a family that owns an ethnic restaurant. Businessmen who relationally evangelize foreign colleagues are welcomers. A welcomer meets an immigrant family at the airport and spends a year helping them acclimate to US society. You may be a welcomer if you befriend an overseas foreign worker and invite them to your house for a birthday party. 62 million immigrants live in the United States and over one million international students study in the US. A welcomer takes advantage of those statistics and makes friends with others.
Going: These are the people who go, either long-term or short-term. They are ordinary people who decide to use their career-potential to live out the gospel as a guest in another community. Many missionaries aren't the smartest or most talented. They are the people who are willing to give up the homeland for a little taste of future glory. The people who go sometimes experience an inward call from the Holy Spirit. Others who go don't have any call. They simply submit to the fact that people in other parts of the world need to hear, so they go. I've met both types on the mission field. How do you know if you should go? One way is to meditate on the command to go.
In the World Today There are 5.5 Million Christian Workers