Sunday, May 11

The little things God does

About two years I was going through a tough patch of discouragement. Little was happening, and our discipleship/church planting ministry was stuck in neutral going nowhere.

During this period of little fruitfulness, I was asked by a small church to come share our materials on a Sunday night. I accepted, but had little enthusiasm. My excitement decreased further upon arrival to see only a handful of bored people sitting in a tiny hot room that served as their auditorium. My alloted part in the service turned out to be, not a two-hour training of the church, but only the "sermon time." There was no intention of putting into practice the COSECHA (Harvest) materials I had brought to share. I was only "pulpit filler" for that week.

Afterwards as I was driving home and feeling pretty low, I stopped at a red light only to see a huge gymnasium on the corner that was obviously being used as a church. What was amazing is that this mega-structure had been built in less than 30 days time, and now was filled to the brim with people. Praise choruses roared from the loud speakers clear out to the highway.

By then I had just about had it. It was like the fulfillment of the "if you build it they will come" from the movie Field of Dreams. How was it possible that in less than 30 days this church had been able to build this huge structure holding thousands of people, and fill it to the brim with excited worshipers? They were obviously doing something right, and we were somewhere far off in left field with all the stuff we were trying to teach.

As I stared at that red light, Satan stormed in and began taunting, "you are a total failure...wasting people's time...nobody is interested in simple church or anything you are trying to'd be better off pulling in and sitting on the back row and learn a thing or two from people who are getting the job done...the mega-churches are the only ones reaching people...throw in the towel and go home!"

The light turned green and I drove on home feeling sorry for myself and totally defeated.

Fast forward 18 months to May 10, 2008...

The mega-gym-church on the corner invited us to come train them with our COSECHA materials. Yes, the same church that Satan had taunted me with and had felt so inferior to only 18 months prior! It is the little things like this that God does that strengthen our faith and renew our passion for Him and his Kingdom. Here was the "successful mega-church" calling on little old us to help them. I felt the affirmation and smile of the Lord. I guess He isn't finished with us yet!

I arrived a few minutes early to talk with the pastor and learn a bit about the church before doing the two week training. Boy was I surprised!

The facts...

The church that I had seen filled to the brim eighteen months prior was not the congregation that normally meets there. The gymnasium had been built 18 months prior by the largest evangelical church in the country with some 10,000 members. This "mother church" was needing an extra large auditorium for conferences since there was no space downtown for such an edifice. The "gym-church" was the downtown mega-church's conference center!

The actual church that continues to meet in the gymnasium during the week is a church of less than 200. Most of those 200 are members of the downtown mega-church who find this satellite congregation more convenient to attend. The night I had seen the gym full, I had assumed they were all new converts of a new church plant. The reality was they were having a special conference that night and all the church members had been bused in from across the river for the special event.

The actual pastor is a lay pastor. He and the church are eager for help in training them how to reach their community, and how to go about planting new churches in homes. They realize they have not been making disciples and want very much to turn the church around in this direction. They were thrilled and honored to have me. I was treated like royalty last night. I couldn't help but smile at God's goodness, and my whole misunderstanding of the real situation.

What I learned is that Satan is a liar. He is always distorting the truth to try to discourage, distort, distract, diminish or divide God's servants. That night 18-months ago, he hit a home run with me, but it turned out to be all lies.

We should learn to trust God and not judge things by their outward appearances. We are nothing more than servants. "A test of how much a servant you are is how you act when you're treated like one." (Mark Chase) And, "We have no right to judge where we should be put or to have preconceived notions as to what God is fitting us for. God engineers everything." (Oswald Chambers). God, in his goodness, allowed me to be invited personally to see the real situation and to affirm me as a servant. What a humbling experience, but one I truly rejoice in.

As I returned home from the training there was another song playing on my car CD player, Chris Tomlin's, "How Great is Our God"--indeed He is!

1 comment:

Joe said...

I’m writing this to inform you about a project I am working on something that will help missionaries like you raise awareness and support. I am in the planning and design stages of launching a missionary news website (GodWitness News) and I would like you to be part of it. The purpose of the website will be to increase awareness about what missionaries are doing around the world. It will be missionary related news, by missionaries. The design I’m working on will be similar to the Yahoo News or to the BBC News websites.

I’m a professional Internet marketer, SEO expert and web designer. I have been thinking for some time that there must be a way I can use my skills to further God’s kingdom. After doing some analysis, I discovered that although there are many missionary blogs and websites, there are not many that have been optimized correctly to get a lot of readership traffic. You are probably aware of this, but a couple of the most important ways to get a lot of traffic is by having a high Google (Google, because it gets the most search traffic) PageRank and by having new content – A LOT of new content.

That is were you come in, with the content. Before I launch the news website, I would like to get 100 (eventually, I hope to have even more than this number, but this would be a good start) missionaries around the world to agree to be “news journalists.” If you are interested, I would like you to be one of the 100. If successful, there would be thousands of hits a day on the website. You would benefit by having many thousands of people around the world read about how God is using you, the work you are doing, and the people you are working with. Hopefully, some of the people visiting the website would support you with prayers and/or finances. Maybe some of them would want to volunteer to help with some of the projects you are working on. You could also benefit from having increased traffic to your website (each article you write could have a link to your website).

If you choose to participate, I would like you to agree to provide at least 12 articles in a year’s time. If you don’t want to write that many, you don’t have to feel obligated to do so though. The topic choice would pretty much be up to you. You could write about events in the country, challenges you are facing, tips for new missionaries, how God provided for your needs, and more. The articles don’t even have to be all that long. If you want to write more detailed articles, that’s fine, but if you want to write short ones(minimum should probably about 300 words), that’s fine too. You can also submit videos and photos. I just ask that everything submitted is good quality (you know, dot the i’s and cross the t’s, spelled checked, etc.) and original. It’s fine if it’s been published in print before, but if the content is already on the internet, the news websites PageRank will be reduced if the content has a copy somewhere out there on the web (yeah, the search bots are picky like that). Search engines don’t care about copies of videos and photos, so no worries there. The reason I say a year is because that is the time period through which I will evaluate how well the idea is accepted and whether I should continue the project. Call it beta testing if you want But that is about the necessary time needed to make the website a success.

If you are interested, please contact me by sending an e-mail to Please let me know your name, the country you are working in, your missions name, your website, your contact information, your website, and any questions you have. Please provide as much of that information as possible as it will be hard to keep track of everyone if I have so many participants. Sometime after I get your e-mail and once I get the site going, I will send you a user name and password for your publisher account. I may also send updates or more detailed article criteria (good titles, photo sizes, etc.). I will also send a statement of faith that will have to be agreed to. Pretty much Jesus is the only way, the truth and the light and no one comes to the Father but through him.

I think that’s about it for now. Oh, yeah one more thing, I would like participants to add a link from their website (if they have one) or blog to the news website. In-links is another way that Google uses to establish PageRank. Also, I have had some people respond saying that they were uncomfortable with having the articles link to there blogs, if you don’t want to do that, it’s fine. And if you feel uncomfortable giving me some info, then that’s fine, I understand. I won’t sell it of course, but you don’t know me, so I can see why there would some level of distrust.

Along with the news website, I’m thinking of launching a social networking website (maybe part of the news website) for missionaries and those interested in getting connected with missionaries. It would be very similar to myspace’s set-up, but would be geared towards the specific audience that I just mentioned. Before I launch that though, we’ll have to see how successful the news website is. It would take considerable resources to get the social networking site up and running.

If you don’t want to write articles, adding a link on your site directed to the news site would help increase it’s PageRank. If you only can do that, email me and let me know and I will let you know when the site is ready.

So think about it, and most importantly, pray about it! Thanks in advance!

If you have any ideas that would help with the website, let me know!

God Bless You!!


PS. A little introduction to myself: I’m Joe Kolb and I’m from Britton, Michigan. I go to a church called Hope Christian Fellowship and North Ridge Church on weekdays. I’m currently working as a web/graphic design and finishing my second degree. I am engaged to an awesome girl and Lord willing, I will be getting married January 2, 2009.