Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bangladesh Mission Trip 2012

How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news! Romans 10:15 NLT

A and M A are the EFM National Leaders in Bangladesh. They've been working with EFM since 2005. They are such effective, wise, and powerful leaders, and are carefully and patiently leading an indigenous Friends Church planting movement in Bangladesh. Albert says one of his goals is to one day have a Friends Church in every one of the 64 provinces of Bangladesh. Albert and Metali continue to impress and challenge me with their radical commitment to the gospel and ministry of Jesus Christ. They are so, so faithful to the ministry God has called them to and live out faithfully the disturbing words of Jesus in Luke 14:26-27 & 33 so well!

The 2012 prayer, encouragement, and exposure mission trip to Bangladesh was a great success! Team members consisted of Kevin Johnson (Crossroads Worship Leader), Lisa Leslie (Crossroads Elder and Mission Team Leader), Matt Macy, myself, and Dana Quigley, all from Crossroads. This is Crossroads 5th annual trip and my 4th> to be a part of. I believe this trip may have been one that will have some of the greatest impact on me, my teammates who went, and on my church (and hopefully even Mid America as well).

There are so many new Christians and new churches popping up and so many new ministry sites where new Christians are taking the gospel to new places. With only a few exceptions, in my four trips to Bangladesh, we have visited new sites (whether churches or ‘preaching points’ or ministry outreach sites) almost every time. This shows how fast the church is growing and how quickly new disciples are making new disciples.

On this trip, we very intentionally continued our deep friendship between the Bangladesh mission and Crossroads Friends. We presented our greetings and gifts (pictures and other tokens of love and reminders of our care as a church). The Bangladesh Christians send back their greetings! We also were able to hand-deliver greeting cards handmade by Crossroads Kids, church people and especially meaningful were the cards from Crossroads Friends Women.

Our ministry consisted of Bible teachings, impromptu messages of encouragement and discipleship to people who are new Christians or who are newly exploring the Christian faith and know almost nothing about the Bible. We visited a dozen different villages, some with newly baptized Christians and some that are preaching points where the gospel was newly being shared. In every occasion, our ministry of presence and our words of testimony were an important encouragement to the Bangladeshi believers, many of whom have endured significant persecution for making their important decision to follow Christ. Each group we visited offered us very kind hospitality (tea and a snack, like fruit from a nearby tree and crackers) and was very eager to hear our words, demonstrating a spiritual hunger and desire to learn and grow.

Other Trip Highlights:

The Beautiful Women’s Movement that was born in the Fall 2011 women’s retreat has been having a powerful impact on us and some very practical implications for our family and church, and possibly even some other areas in the Friends Church. We are thinking about how to apply it to Crossroads, probably calling it the Beautiful Feet Movement, based on Romans 10 passage which states, “beautiful are the feet that take the good news.” Disciples make disciples and have beautiful feet that serve and sacrifice for others.

We washed feet on our last morning and it was quite the experience. We washed the feet of Kanok, the persecuted Christian and Depali, the hero apostolic gospel-preaching woman worker, and of course A/M as well as our team. And they also washed our feet. And the most moving thing to me was that they washed each other’s feet, with much weeping, and they just kept doing it over and over. It was a sort of commissioning as we consider feet washing to commission more at Crossroads to live as sent people.

Albert challenged us with the clarity of his passion and strategy that he is called not to be in the office but to be “in the field”. They had ministry months in November and December, which means they said no to everything except taking the gospel to people. They produced great fruit because of that focus. We are so challenged by this and realize it speaks to our condition at Crossroads…less ‘office work’ and less ‘in the church walls’ work and more getting into the neighborhood and entering people’s lives.

We enjoyed riding in the EFM car that we raised the money for. It was perfect size for 7 and sometimes 8 of us. So it was different this year not riding public transportation as much.

We did not stay in the hotel down in Khulna, as we have done every year in the past, but rather stayed in A and M's home, which they were so afraid of because they don’t have hot water or soft beds or toilets (just squatties) or even a door on the bedroom us guys stayed in, but it ended up being a great blessing to us. We had such a wonderful time of fellowship with them over the three nights there. The meals and time with them was invaluable. Some of the best conversations were during morning and night times that we wouldn’t have been present for if we had gone back to the hotel.

Our small missionary team was such that we were on maximum silliness much of the time, so we were plenty goofy and laughed plenty hard. Kevin Johnson was a tremendous blessing and so smoothly and easily participated in the ministry and interactions with people/kids (his first mission trip). Dana Quigley’s ministry of presence was super good and her gifting in offering very timely words of encouragement was a blessing. Lisa Leslie, aka “missionary Lisa”, has that chemistry that even when in a totally cross-cultural environment, puts people at ease with her smile. Thanks for your faithfulness to send, support, and pray. Personally I am grateful and I believe whole-heartedly that the Church is blessed and advanced because of it!

Adam Monaghan

Link to Kevin Johnson's blog report:

From Lisa Leslie: trip was amazing... told cal that i didn't want to come home, just wished he could get on a plane with the kids and meet me there. my heart has melted for these people who so want and need the good news. i'm anxious be back with them. i know it's God because it was not an easy vacation of a trip! so many crazy things that i would almost always shrink, squatties, buses/trucks/bikes/motorbikes/ricksaws coming at you at unknown speeds with really no traffic laws, people staring all the time, etc... so many good things and watching God work makes all of that seem like nothing. they are church planting fools! taking the good news to hindus and muslims like crazy. there is lots of persecution, so when they accept Jesus, it's no walk in the park easy thing. we live like kings and can choose to act like a christian or not, eat whatever we want whenever we want, buy whatever we want, move to another part of the country at a whim, be wasteful, etc... my life has been changed for the better. i want to have the "beautiful feet who bring the good news." but how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? and how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? and how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? and how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? as those who love Jesus, we are all sent out. who are you sent to?

From Matt Macy: We are addicted to hanging out with the unreached peoples that God desperately pursues, telling the beautiful story of Good News, and becoming better disciples of Christ while rubbing shoulders with the persecuted church.

As they traveled from town to town…the churches were strengthened in the faith…they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them...Then they left Acts 16:4-5

Out life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love. Acts 20:24

When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. Acts 11:23