Global vs Local

global-local-300x300-1Churches face the often difficult decision of how much time, money and energy to devote to global missions vs local mission. That is always an interesting and important conversation, one that is and should be unique to each congregation.

At Mosaic that conversation takes a bit of a different twist. All of our global ministry opportunities have come from our local relationships. As I got know Moses Thang Hung, we became acquainted with his brother James’ ministry in Myanmar — there are now four “Mosaic Churches” in Myanmar that we encourage and support. Pastor Carlos is from Juarez, Mexico and has a relationship with Samuel Cordova who leads a dynamic network of churches and ministries in that region, I had the privilege of spending a few days with them in June. We are committed to stay connected and involved in that ministry. A couple of months ago I met Pastor Jemimah Ngatia a native of Kenya who has a ministry in our local community. We are exploring ways of working together (for the moment we’ll be working together with African refugees living in Aurora… but I know how things often evolve to a global scale).

There is an incredible amount of ministry that is needed in our local community, but here it is hard to keep that from expanding globally (and I have to admit, I’m not trying too hard to geographically limit our impact).

One of the interesting outcomes for us is that whenever we’ve had opportunities outside of our region, it seems to provide us with connections back to great ministry locally. We are praying for the right moment to launch a Burmese congregation in our community. Our Spanish language ministry and community influence is remarkable. We are developing quite a reputation in our local community for connections with ministry  that impact refugees from Africa and Asia.

I don’t have a clear picture of all of our future ministry involvements. I do know that we will continue to prayerfully engage with God as He leads us and give us opportunities to expand His Kingdom.

Please pray for us.

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A few days in Juarez

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At the US – Mexico boarder with Abraham & Samuel

I was privileged to spend a few  days in Juarez, Mexico. I was able to learn about a couple of incredible ministries and be a part of a graduation ceremony of five Worldwide Christian Chaplains.

I could talk for hours about the experience, but let me just share a few of my observations:

  1. The people and the church in Mexico seems to be less effected by the materialism and consumerism that is so pervasive in the US Church. In many cases they had very few resources, but without complaining or lamenting they simply leveraged everything that they have to do more ministry.
  2. There was a deep joy in the hearts of the people that I met. Even though I had very little to offer them, they seemed genuinely excited and happy that I had come to see them. Every place that I went there was contagious laughter… even though I didn’t understand, I found myself laughing with them.
  3. It gets really hot in Juarez.
  4. The church leaders that I spent time with have a passion for ministry that far exceeds much of what I observe in the US. The big time obstacles that our south of the border friends experience (poverty, spiritual opposition, violence, threats) seem to empower their passion even more to go more places and do more in the name of Jesus.
  5. Showing up is a big deal. Similar to my experience in Myanmar last September, the leaders seemed so pleased that I would take time, money and energy to come and spend time with them.

It was an honor to hang out with my new Mexican friends. I’m sure that I learned more from them that they did from me. I’m hoping that by showing up on their turf, by seeing and affirming their significant ministry that I was an encouragement to them.

Our neighbors in Aurora come from all over the globe. Please pray for us at Mosaic as we continue to understand and explore the ways that God is giving us natural opportunities to partner with Him all around the world.

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God is at work

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God is at work all around the world. That shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us… yet (as the saying goes) God works in mysterious ways.

In September I went o Myanmar to train pastors and to see the church and children’s home that had asked to “affiliate” with us. Based on a brief phone call (in which I apparently didn’t say “no”) the church changed their name to Mosaic Church of Myanmar. At Mosaic we had always talked about being a multiplying church, but this really came out of left field – way, way out of left field. It was inspiring to see those committed followers of Jesus doing what they sensed God was leading them to do in spite of all sorts of obstacles and with little or no infrastructure or funding.

So, I came home pretty excited about the fact that in a distant land, a dedicated group of believers in some way “affiliated” with us. I was surprised to get a message from Pastor James Mana Hung on January 20th saying that they had started another “Mosaic Church” about 15 miles away. The new church was/is lead by Pastor Myant Tun. But we are not done, yet. On February 16th in another message from Pastor James, I was informed that a third Mosaic Church had been launched in a remote area far away from the city of Yangoon. Pastor Nay Tun is the pastor of that group. So, right now I am counting three new Mosaic Churches in Myanmar since September, but that number could be inaccurate, I haven’t checked my messages for a few minutes.

I have to admit to being a bit embarrassed and really excited. I have been claiming to be a church planter… two church plants in 30 years. Pastor James and his team have three church plants in about five months! I have to “up my game” if I continue to hang out with these guys (imagine my embarrassment if I go back to see them next year with zero new church plants).

I am excited about the ways that God is at work around the world! I am excited and a bit challenged in seeing the ways that God is blessing those who step out in faith and follow Him in spite of hardships and obstacles. I’m excited to see clearly that God blesses commitment and obedience as much as or more than well put together business plans and funding strategies. I am excited and humbled to be on the same team as Pastor James, Pastor Myant & Pastor Nay.

Would you please pray for us? As you prayer, thank God for His amazing work around the world. Pray, too that God would bless and provide for the work in Myanmar and in Aurora and in every corner of this often dark world.

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Mosaic 2016

I am often asked, “How is the ministry at Mosaic going?”. It has been good for me to take some time and reflect on the answer to that question. Here are some of my responses:

Version 2I continue to marvel at the ways that God has blessed us with a couple of ministry building blocks that very few church plants enjoy. First, God has clearly answered my prayers and brought to us a diverse and incredibly talented group of leaders. I am so thrilled to be able to work with these committed, intelligent, gifted (and sometimes quirky) men and women. Second, we are so fortunate to own a building right in the precise place we want to be. There are hassles associated with ownership, but we are blessed.

There have been some “wins” for the Kingdom of God this year at Mosaic. Here are my top four:

1. The successful launch of Juwon Mosaic. We always expected that this Korean language congregation would launch out from us and while we will always be closely connected it is an independent church, having its own board and structure that work better for them. Its great to see them thrive in a location that is better for them and with additional scheduling flexibility.  14079940_10210821581122310_2026402332328078252_n

2. The successful start of Iglesia Cristiana Mosaico. Spanish is the first language of about 60% of our neighbors, so it is essential that we serve those folks. Pastor Carlos Calandreli is doing an amazing job of leading our Spanish language ministries and the congregation that meets at 1pm on Sundays. I am expecting that one day this group will be the largest single gathering at Mosaic and they have built a great foundation for effective ministry well into the future.

3. We have made great connections with immigrant/refugee churches and pastors in our community. We have close relationships with groups right in our neighborhood that worship in Spanish, Burmese, Hindi, Napoli, French and English. God is providing us with the passion and the opportunity to partner with these outstanding churches and pastors in ways that will strengthen them and help us all advance God’s Kingdom. Our connection and ministry to and with these groups was enhanced by my trip to Myanmar in September. We are beginning to be known as the bridge to and from these groups to the community at large. Most of these congregations will never be officially connected with Mosaic, but they will be and in many cases have already been significantly benefited by our ministry.

4. We have begun a significant focus on leadership development. Its really clear to me that the only way that we will be able to minister to our need filled and diverse community is with a whole lot of caring, competent and Godly leaders in every sector (church, government, law enforcement, social services, non profits, education, business, etc). God is challenging us to accept the call to identify, equip and empower leaders. Its exciting to know that we don’t have to be experts in each of these areas, but we can still significantly impact our community through developing leaders in each of those areas.

As you would suspect, there are also some challenges at Mosaic.

  1. Focus. There are so many needs and so many opportunities to address those needs. We are realizing more each week that in order to make an important impact, we will have to say “no” to many of these opportunities in order to focus on the ones to which God has really equipped us and call us. Please pray that we will have the wisdom to make the right choices and the discipline to follow through on those choices.
  2. Finances. While we operate a very, very lean organization we have roughly $7000 a month in expenses (over 90% of that is my salary and our building costs). We take in about half of that each month in tithes and offerings. That means we are dependent on generous donors from all over the country to make up that difference. God has been amazingly faithful in laying our ministry on the hearts of incredibly generous people and we are grateful. But there is a great deal of time and effort spent and a great deal of stress and pressure felt to make that happen. Please pray that God will continue to provide.

I could tell you hundreds of stories, stories that start with pain, injustice and heartbreak. But its exciting to hear how a bunch of those stories are beginning to change… through the power of God new endings are being written. Endings that now feature the breaking of destructive cycles… stories of transformation… stories of hope. Let me tell you just one story…
It started out as a pretty simple and safe conversation. Pastor Moses Thang Hung and I were talking about ways that Mosaic and I could help equip and support local Immigrant and Refugee pastors. These dedicated men and women have fled the violence and pain of their home countries often spending years in inhuman refugee camps. They come to this country committed to tell their countrymen about the hope and healing that comes from the one true God.

I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how that innocent conversation about 5 months ago could have evolved into me spending eight days in Myanmar that had me as a guest professor in Theological Seminary, launching Mosaic Church of Myanmar (that includes an orphanage)Version 2, baptizing eight new believers and strategizing with Christian leaders to impact the entire country with the gospel. But the story didn’t end when I left. Part of the conversation centered around ways that Pastor James and the church could leverage their new freedom to proclaim the gospel during the upcoming Christmas season. We prayed and dreamed. In the past few days I have learned that Pastor James and his little church that meets in his house did a community outreach that touched dozens, hosted a Christmas event in their home for 250 of mostly Buddhist neighbors and he was invited to preach the gospel at the home of the Vice President of Myanmar! That’s a pretty productive Christmas!

Thank you. Your support of Mosaic is having a impact in Aurora and around the world. Please pray that God will continue to bless and use us as we follow Him.

Reid

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Orphans?

img_1222It wasn’t what I was expecting. When I was invited to take a look at Paul’s Children’s Home, the orphanage that Pastor James is running in Yangon, Myanmar, I was expecting a stereotypical orphanage. Knowing that we were in a developing country, I was afraid that I’d see one of those cold, sterile places where kids sat with blank faces staring off into the distance.

That’s not at all what I saw. I saw a family… a big 15 child, three parent unconventional family. I saw happy, well adjusted kids that had experienced incredible tragedy in their young lives. I saw kids playing, going to school, doing homework, practicing music, interacting with each other and their “parents”. The most remarkable thing that I saw was that I was unable to distinguish between the “orphans” and Pastor James’ biological children. I saw a family.

I noticed another thing. The children were naturally learning about a God that really cared about them. They seemed to be accepting God’s blessing of a safe, loving environment and not focused on the injustices that brought them to that place. It was an incredible honor to baptize a couple of the older “former orphans”. I’m deciding to call them former orphans… they have been generously incorporated into a loving earthly family and as a result they have now been united with their Heavenly Father (it just doesn’t seem right to identify them as “orphans”).

I know those kids are being well taken care of, but I cannot figure out how Pastor James and his family is able to make it happen. As I was leaving the country and asking what I could do to help, James asked me to pray for income to sustain the Children’s Home. I tried not to make promises when I was there, but in that moment I made two. I promised that I would pray and tell the story of that amazing place where God is turning something so broken into something so stunningly beautiful. I also promised that I would be the first person to commit to partnering with Paul’s Children’s Home by contributing the $30 a month to support one of those “former orphans”. We are still figuring out just how to handle the logistics of properly accounting for and getting the money to Pastor James each month, but if you want to be a part of this miracle, please let me know.

Reid

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Home

An odd thing happened in imagesthe Singapore airport (I may have spent a little too much time in that location – actually quite a few odd things happen in an international airport at 3am, but that’s not my point). A family came and sat next to me… they were speaking Spanish and it reminded me of home. I was a bit amused at my reaction and a bit pleased that I have gotten so comfortable in my neighborhood in North Aurora, Colorado that even though I didn’t understand much of what they were saying it felt and sounded a lot like home. When I tried to tell them that, they moved a few chairs away from me – I chose not to take it personally.

It reminded me how much my life has changed in the past few years. On my way to Myanmar, sitting in the Singapore airport, hearing a family communicate in Spanish reminded me of home.

It also reminded me of the importance of “home”. Physical and spiritually we look for, we long for “home”. A place that is comfortable and safe. A place where we are accepted and valued. A place where we can relax and be ourselves. The Bible says that God has prepared a place for us – “home”. We get imperfect glimpses of it here on earth… but some day, we get to go home.

Reid

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BIG

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The world is a big place. Seems like a fairly obvious statement. But watching the sun come up over the Singapore airport and having just sat in the airplane as we flew over the US, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, The Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar, knowing that just around the corner is India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Viet Nam, Thailand, Bangladesh – millions and millions of people, the world seemed to get bigger… right now the bigness of the world is a bit more personal.

The world is a strange place. When you get a few miles away from home you see people wearing strange clothes, eating strange food, speaking in strange ways (and I made all of those observations in San Francisco!). But even as the strangeness is gets more pronounced the farther you get from home… there really is a lot of sameness. Little kids in Singapore playing on the moving walkways, the familiar looks on people’s faces of worry, fear and happiness.

The world is our home. As pleased as I am to be an American, I see the how interconnected we are. I have devoted a lot of time and energy the past few years talking about our community… that our problems are community problems and that any real solutions must be collective, the community working together. I’ll admit that the world is certainly bigger, stranger and more complex than my Aurora, CO community – yet we are all in this together.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this “clearer than ever” thought. But I am thankful for the amazing opportunity see and experience this big, strange world. And I am really grateful to be called by God to represent Him, to be His feet, hands and voice wherever He might send me.

Reid

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