"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Jesus Christ
Who are the least of the siblings in God's family? We meet them all of the time, but they are difficult to recognize. I believe that the least are those who are at a disadvantage to their fellow Christians due to an external or internal factor.
The least of these don't ask for much from you. But, to serve them, you have to be willing to do a few things:
1. Give up your schedule to spend time. A greatest-of-these sibling will carefully avoid imposing on your productivity. A least-of-these wouldn't think of intruding. Time is currency... especially in the economy of helping the least of these. Spend it cheerfully!
2. Step out of your comfort zone. The least of these may not want you to come into their personal lives because they are embarrassed or shy. When you extend the hand of friendship and stop in for a cup of coffee, you have to intentionally navigate the awkwardness.
3. Be misunderstood by others and be okay with that.
4. Equip yourself to walk with broken people into freedom and wholeness.
Look around you! You'll see several of your Christian siblings who qualify as "least of these." You'll find brokenness and trauma hiding beneath the surface. Or, you'll find child-like innocence. Make the personal and social sacrifices to bring kindness into the lives of God's children who need your attention, but will probably never ask you for it. When you serve and invest in the the least of these, you are doing it for your big brother, Jesus Christ.
Education is an important companion to evangelism and discipleship. Some may wonder why we invest so much into education.
It comes down to two Biblical beliefs:
1. The purpose of each student is to glorify God through his/her unique giftings and talents.
2. God has created each student with a specific career path in mind.
The Bible does not separate spiritual from the physical. A young person's spiritual purpose to glorify God and enjoy Him is lived out in the context of his physical activities. The purpose of ACTS is to equip and prepare each student for a life of glorifying God after high school graduation. For some, that will mean being equipped to glorify God in college and then as a successful engineer, doctor, teacher or other professional. For others, our responsibility is to prepare them for trades and jobs that may or may not require additional training.
We have the privilege of discipling students spiritually and training them mentally, physically and emotionally. With ACTS as a springboard, a generation of young people will grow up to be godly fathers, godly mothers, godly professionals, God-honoring tradesmen, Biblical business owners, and God-glorifying employees.
One of the critical pieces that Swanson Mission plays in this process is by bringing knowledge of what it takes to be successful in the global community. Combined with this knowledge is our ability to coach educators to equip students for work either at home or abroad.
About 80 students are enrolled at ACTS to engage in a high-quality education. Our purpose is to teach, train, disciple and prepare them to glorify God and enjoy Him within the context of the careers that He's created them for.
Thank you for being part of God's plan bring salvation and life-purpose to the village of Aninuan. Together, we are God's co-workers, privileged to launch a generation of young people into their purpose to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
About 6000 years ago, the kingdom of darkness descended onto planet Earth when humanity rebelled against our Creator in disobedience. Plunging humanity into a generational curse of being born under the cruel rule of Satan, which is felt and seeen daily. In the midst of this darkness, there was born a bright Light. That Light quenched the power of darkness and bought back His kingdom. About 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ stood on the pinnacle of this dark planet and gave the order to take it back. "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. "
All things have been made by Jesus and for Jesus, the Bible says. Have you ever thought about how this applies to you personally? You were made by Jesus Christ, for Jesus Christ. Are you willing to submit all of your life to Jesus Christ because you were made for Him? When Jesus gives you spiritual life and forgives you all of your rebellious deeds and thoughts against Him, you become part of His kingdom of Light. You become a willing participant in giving all of your life to the authority of Jesus Christ. That's called sanctification. That's why reading the Bible and being discipled is so important for your training on how to be a citizen-soldier of the Kingdom of Light.
Jesus is taking back what is His. He's taking back individuals, entire families, government officials, police officers, teachers, mothers, attorneys, judges, lunch ladies, tryke drivers, long-haul drivers, and people from all walks of life, as well as from all languages and locations. He gained the victory over the king of darkness and is exercising His right to take anyone He wants to back from that kingdom. The Bible says that Jesus disarmed Satan and his forces and gained the victory over them by His death on the cross. Now, He is radically taking His kingdom back and His light is spreading from person to person.
That's what is so exciting about missions at home and across the dark planet. The Light is spreading like wildfire through businesses, churches, neighborhoods and cities, as the Holy Spirit transfers tens of millions into the kingdom of Light. Those people become filled with the power to live in victory over the darkness. They become filled with the Holy Spirit. "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world," the Bible says.
The Bible says that we aren't fighting against humans, but against the Satanic power structures that have taken families, neighborhoods, and entire countries captive. What are our weapons? Truth, prayer and worship. Fight bravely, live intentionally, use your weapons boldly toward the enemy and humbly in the service of your King.
I'll leave you with this. How much of your life have you given to Jesus Christ? From the tangled messes to your dreams and aspirations, give them all to Jesus. Don't hold back! And, while you're at it, be a Light bearer, join the Light Force and take back the planet for Jesus... one person, one family, one community at a time! It's messy and organic, but it's what you are made for.
We are each born with a God-shaped hole inside of us that we an only fill with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This ties very closely to our created purpose, which is to worship and reflect God in our daily lives, especially in our relationships.
It is easier to speak critically or not speak at all. Instead, speak life into those around you! Remember, speaking life is not fabricating false compliments. Speaking life is say heart-felt truths about the image of Christ that is growing inside.
In his book, The Power of a Parent's Blessing, Craig Hill gives detailed ways to speak life into your children. He also makes the point to say that a respected friend can stand in the place of a delinquent parent to speak life and blessing.
As your look at your daily conversation with your spouse, children, church-mates, do you hear yourself speaking death and negativity. Or, do you hear yourself speaking to the LIFE that Christ is growing inside of your closest friends and family?
Look for the germinating and growing fruits of godliness and maturity. Let the people around you know that you can see those and that you are proud of their growth. That you are thankful for the work that God is doing to change them into more accurate mirrors of Jesus Christ.
If you leave our house on a Sunday afternoon and hike for several hours with Pastor Arnold and his disciple, Ben, you'll find yourself high on Mt. Garo. You'll be sweaty and excited. You'll sit down in a shady spot, and Pastor Arnold will start singing with the families that gather with you. You'll realize the amazing connection between God's creation and God's word, as you study the Bible with your Mangyan brothers and sisters. After a while, you might get a little stiff sitting on the ground and you might have to use the restroom. There may be some little red, biting ants, but all of these are just a small inconvenience in comparison to the company that you're keeping! But, you might think to yourself, "Why doesn't someone put in a small bamboo hut and some toilets?"
That's such a great idea! You'll talk to Pastor Arnold. Pastor Arnold will talk with the community leaders and put together some sketches.
Before you know it, people will start digging the footings!
Pastor Arnolod is the man in the blue shirt, taking the picture.
This project will cost about $1000. To give to this project, you can mail a check or give online. Please specify that the contributions are for Tim Swanson and Mt. Garo.
We are God's coworkers. 1 Corinthians 3:9a
Being a missionary is a mindset, not a location. Each Christian has been given talents and gifts, which are designed by God to fit where He places that Christian. We are like puzzle pieces. It is not for us to decide the location, just to serve where we're placed by God.
Missions is a mindset. That way of thinking looks at all of life as an opportunity to be a living light, a walking mirror of Jesus. God has uniquely gifted and place each Christian in a specific life situation, in order to bring His people into their kingdom, the kingdom of Christ.
...Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Philippians 2:15
We look at each other and think, "I could never be that person." Or, "I would never be able to live there and do that!" We see other Christians as more qualified than ourselves or better suited for Christian service. We need to keep in mind that God doesn't use the qualified as much as He qualifies the ones He uses. The best thing that we can do is stop judging ourselves by the ministries and talents of others and focus on the ministry that God has given us. This usually starts by recognizing that we are here to be used by God to bring Christ to those who are living in the darkness that surrounds us. Are you willing to be used? Look around! Your mission is already initiated. You've been deployed... to your family, neighborhood and community!
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Jesus Christ, Creator of the Universe
The urgency remains the same 2000 years into the kingdom. This kingdom has circled the globe and transcends borders and boundaries. The command is still the same, "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field." There are no part-time Christians in Jesus' kingdom. Each is in his field. Each breathes the same needed prayer, "Lord, send more workers!"
The Conquering King! "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. " Colossians 2:15
The world is full of true testimonies of Christ's triumph of sin and darkness in individuals' lives. Christ sets each new citizen of the Kingdom of Light free from death, the Devil, and sin. Importantly, He brings freedom from serving ourselves. Mission-minded people bring Christ's freedom to those who live in spiritual darkness, regardless of the location. This is because, every Christian is a missionary, a good fit for the place where he/she is divinely placed. Mission is a mindset, not a location!
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Gal. 6:10
God's Economy of Blessing
Becoming a missionary puts me in the middle of God’s economy of blessing. We live in the midst of God blessing His children. Each time someone gives a resource through us, we get to see God’s blessing first-hand within the Aninuan community. What we don’t get to see is God blessing the giver. That we view by faith, knowing that the blessing also belongs to the one who gives to God. The giver gets to experience that blessing. We, on the other hand, get to experience the blessing of serving and seeing lives change!
God's Grace: We Get to Give
God’s economy of blessing is based on grace. Outside of Christ, we could never give enough because no one can live up to the just requirements of the law. Inside of Christ, we get to give as much as we want. Receiving from God is as much grace as giving back to God. Both our receiving and our giving are made possible by the undeserved goodness of God toward us.
Ours or God's?
You work your tail off to earn a paycheck… and that is God’s grace. In Christ, you can reflect God through your diligence and talents, resulting in earnings. As you live out Christ’s character in your daily life, you get to invest that money into the community that you live in. God uses that money to bless the people it touches across your community, whether at the grocery store or the tax office. When you give money specifically to God’s mission, you extend the grace of God into a broader community. You get to bless others in far away places, and they get to be part of the blessing.
Conduits for Christ
Whose money is it anyway? God owns all of the resources in the world and He uses you as a sprinkler to distribute those resources over the fields, whether close to home or over the mission field. It is by the grace of God that we get to reflect Christ in how we budget and spend His money. It is such a blessing to provide education, smiles, health care, prayers, teaching, clothing, and empower productivity by simply writing a check. Whether our hand is writing the check or holding a hurting hand, we are all conduits for Christ’s blessings.
Partners in the Blessing
Thank you for being part of the blessing. All of our work as missionaries is volunteer on location in Mindoro, which allows us to give all of our time, expertise and energy away for the cause of Christ. Although, we could tent-make or do business as a mission, the current model opens up 100% of our time for service to the Threads of Hope school, church and community. Thank you for engaging the grace of giving. With you on our team, the conduit of grace flows across the planet into the Philippines. Because of God’s grace through you, we are able to be the hands and feet of Christ on the island of Mindoro.
If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD--and he will repay you! Proverbs 19:17.
Jesus dealt the death blow to Satan and his dark kingdom on the cross, Satan and his demonic angels aggressively cling to the power that they've had for hundreds of generations over families and neighborhoods. Materialism, religions, sexual addictions, drunkenness, anger, and selfish pride open the door to generational bondage.
We are at war with the kingdom of darkness, and this is easy to forget! As Christians, we are given authority and the command to overcome the darkness with Christ's light.
When Christians move into neighborhoods and spring up in families, we bring hope and light! But, not without a fight. Demonic powers can see us and resist us. That is why we fight with the weapons of Jesus Christ.
Weapon #1: The gospel of Jesus Christ, who has come to bring forgiveness and freedom. We have to teach, tell, and live out this gospel in communities where the Light is needed.
Weapon #2: Resist the Devil by turning the attention from him towards King Jesus Christ. He roars like a lion, but his tendons have been cut at the cross. We attack his kingdom with the gospel, prayer, and courage. We defend ourselves from his attacks through worship, prayer, and proclaiming the Bible.
Weapon # 3: We have the Holy Spirit. As we walk in the Spirit, we bring light into the darkest corners. We have the power to bring holy living and worship into neighborhoods that are filled with spiritual strongholds.
Weapon #4: Know your identity as a child of God and a warrior for Christ.
Weapon # 5: The church! The Body of Christ is spread out by the 100 millions across the planet. In humility, we serve and pray for each other. With courage, we bring truth, justice, mercy, and love into the communities where we live.
Our weapons are found in our intentional lifestyle of Bible/Church/Prayer and living out the Truth of Jesus daily.
As missionaries, we see the immediate and long-term affects of discipleship. Parents and young people are learning how to apply the truth of Jesus Christ in their daily lives. A new generation of young people are growing up to serve Christ in Aninuan. Families are empowered to provide for their children's spiritual and physical needs. We get to play a small and important role in this kingdom of Light fight.
God is raising up men to preach, mothers to disciple, and fathers to lead, and young people to change the world. It is exciting to see the long-term affects of the Threads of Hope ministry within the Aninuan neighborhoods.
At the same time, I'm frequently reminded that we are in a battle against evil. An old man just moved into a house I pass by daily. When I talked with him, something seemed strange. Later I found out that he openly has a addiction for sexual perversion and prostitutes. This scene is repeated in tens of thousands of neighborhoods across the planet. What are my weapons against the dark king and his satanic kingdom?
Ministry is all-hands on deck! We were chosen from before the creation of the world to join this co-mission with Christ... chosen to go! Go into all of the word, teach the gospel, make disciples and teach them to obey Jesus' commandments. And, who will go with us? Christ and His church. Ministry is war. Our weapons are powerful and our victory is sure!
Young people are full of amazing ideas, talents and strengths. Most young people also have something else: They are still kids! But, sometimes, you meet one who has had his childhood stolen from him. That fun, optimistic, excited person inside has been replaced with a wary, street-smart, weathered, old person. Most young people have eyes that sparkle out a zest for life. But, for some, that sparkle is replaced with the flat eyes of a teen who has seen too much evil.
Parents have to protect their children from predators. This means taking a stand against working in high-risk jobs, where predators prowl. Young people should not work in areas of town where the older men are looking for dates. Why? Because the knowledge of such evil steals the sparkle. It also puts the young people in imminent danger.
Know where your young person is roaming! Predators are skilled at gaining the trust of young people. Once that trust is gained, they can then manipulate the young person through positive attention, gifts, abuse, and threats of violence against other siblings. Predators will say, "If you tell, I'll do the same thing and worse to your little sister."
Relatives, neighbors, and babysitters have the potential of stealing your child's innocence. Develop a level of communication with your child, so you know what is happening. Always be watching.
Young people must protect themselves by avoiding areas where predators prowl. High-traffic tourist areas are dangerous for young people because predators blend in as tourists. Young people tend to trust friendly strangers who they meet in social situations. If possible, avoid bars and boardwalks, if you are not with your family. Being in adult places may make you feel important. But, you are swimming with sharks.
Too good to be true! Watch out for people and opportunities that are too easy or too good. Be content to have only the friendships, money and things that God provides for you. Don't give in to that offer for easy money or easy friendships.
This is especially true online! Only chat with and accept friend requests from people who you know. It is tempting to have lots of Facebook friends and talk to friendly people online. Some of them will be predators.
Listen to God
Memorize these Truths:
1. I am a child of God and am loved by my Father.
2. I am a special gift and my body is meant only for my future spouse.
3. I am a child of light and I don't belong in dark places.
4. I obey my parents unless they ask me to disobey God or be unsafe.
5. I listen to my parents, pastors, and teachers.
6. If something feels strange, I tell a trusted adult.
Be watchful for children who are in unsafe environments. Keep an eye out for adults who are grooming young people. Be an advocate for children who are being sexually abused by a relative. Often, these situations are hushed up by the family. It's the responsibility of every person to look out for the youth in the community. Be alert. If you see something strange, ask other trusted adults to help you find out what is going on. Don't just ignore it or think that someone else will take care of it. Importantly, get some training on what to look for and how to react! Is there something you can do proactively in your community to prevent abuse and trafficking? Ask your pastor about this.
#1: Don't ignore.
#2: Be wise in how you react.
#3: Involve other trusted adults.
It is estimated that 100,000 children under 18 of age are trafficked into the sex business yearly in the Philippines, according to Unicef.
According to the United States government, 600,000 to 800,00 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.
Extreme poverty and extreme choices. If you aren't from a majority world country, you might not understand extreme poverty. I'll give you an example from the community where I live. In Puerto Galera, an under-aged girl can work a 12-hour shift at a bar and get paid $6 (USD). The price for prostitution in Puerto Galera is $60. To a young person, $6/day seems like good money. But, the traffickers are looking to make $60 multiple times. Evil is sick. God hates trafficking. Let's do everything we can to prevent it.
Threads of Hope ministers to prevent poverty-driven extreme choices in the Aninuan community. We are providing opportunities for livelihood entrepreneurship, education, discipleship, recreation, and accountability. We all have a part to play in protecting youth from exploitation and trafficking. Thank you for what you are doing to protect and proactively provide for the youth in your community. Be brave, Be wise, Be vigilant.
Wanted: Normal, everyday Christ followers.
Needed: Mature Christians who care about others and are willing to risk it all for Jesus.
Job Description: Move into a community and be yourself. Be a living, daily example of a mature Christian, helping others by using your skills. Invite your new friends over for dinner and live beside them. Help out at the local church and do ordinary things to help extraordinary people. Live humbly and visibly in the midst of the community, showing and sharing the gospel of Jesus. Mostly, you just need to be willing and available to lend a hand.
Location: If you respond to this call, you'll get notice of the location. Jesus has a specific location already picked out for you. Start by looking at where the Holy Spirit is working. Where are there so many people interested in the the Bible that there are not enough mature Christians to befriend, mentor or disciple them?
Warning: You'll experience great joy and significant job satisfaction. And, you will be targeted for spiritual and physical attack by the enemy. You'll experience trials, sickness, and learn deep dependence on God. You'll laugh and cry with your new friends.
Rewards: If you give up your life for Jesus' sake, He will give you all of it and more in return. Most who answer this call find that giving up their lives is a daily continuum, resulting in great joy.
Expiration Date: Time is ticking. This is a limited-time call.
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.