In less-developed countries like Myanmar, medical facilities are few and far between. Fewer still are the medicines and treatments needed to fight diseases such as Tuberculosis and Malaria, both of which are curable if diagnosed early.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that deteriorates the tissue of the lungs, along with causing weight loss and regular fever. It is spread through fluid droplets, such as the blood that many patients cough up once the disease has progressed.
Malaria is a parasitic infection that causes fever, fatigue, vomiting, and other symptoms. It is spread almost exclusively via mosquitoes carrying the parasite. In many parts of the world, malaria is considered to be a health threat of epidemic proportions.
Many of the patients suffering from either of these two diseases in Myanmar are desperately poor and internally displaced from their home villages due to nearby violent conflict. Taking this into account, the vast majority would not be able to afford proper treatment even if it were readily available.
Thanks to the support of faithful donors, IDES recently partnered with a local mission in near the Myanmar - India border to provide mosquito nets, malaria medications, and tuberculosis treatments to over 600 different patients.
"Each year, several hundred people lose their lives or the life of their loved ones," our partner reported. "We much appreciate IDES for being the generous means for many to experience God’s love, mercy and compassion."
Pictured above is a 50 year old man named Ah Lay Par who has been suffering from tuberculosis. Before his diagnosis, he was a struggling alcoholic. Last year, he became seriously ill and developed a chronic cough. The cough forced him to stop drinking, and he found no relief in basic cough medicine. Our partner recognized the man, having seen him on Sundays at the village's home-church. After hearing about his suffering, our partner took Ah Lay to the hospital and paid for his necessary x-ray, treatment, and medication fees following his diagnosis.
"Since he is not a believer, I shared him the Word of God. Through this physical help, God was working in this man’s heart and spirit," our partner said. "Praise the Lord! Ah Lay Par has accepted Jesus Christ as his own Lord and Christ. We always thanks God that the help from IDES doesn’t save only the physical life from the lethal disease, but also save many in their spiritual lives. He is feeling better and working well every day. Whenever we go to his village, we meet Ah Lay Par and he asked us to pass his 'Thanks' to IDES and to all who participated in this ministry. Without your help, he would have lost his life."
Some of the patients served were also helpless children. One such child is 7-year-old Titus Phu, pictured here. Earlier this year, Titus's father tragically died from the effects of tuberculosis, which left the family of 4 with little hope of having food or an income. The boy's father had no idea that his suffering was caused by the disease. By the time that his father got to a hospital, it was too late for treatment. Due to the father's regular coughing, Titus Phu and one of his brothers also contracted the disease.
"His mother would give him cough medicine but the cough wouldn’t go away. After about one month, we encouraged his mother to take her sons to get checked out at the TB center," our partner said. "With IDES support, we managed to take them to a center and get x-rayed and tested. Turns out the first and second son were infected with TB. They are currently going through treatments and the good news is that they are no longer coughing--the boys were saved"
Praise God! Without your generous support of IDES' ministry, these stories of both physical salvation and spiritual salvation would not be told. Together, we can make an eternal difference by offering medical care to those with limited access and few resources.
"We extend gratitude to our Living God and Lord who has demonstrated His loving kindness through the ministry of IDES," our partner said. "Thank you for your help in meeting the needs of those suffering lethal diseases like Tuberculosis and Malaria in Myanmar."
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." - Ephesians 4:1-6
Disagreements and divisions distract us from the deeper purpose of the Church: to share the love of God and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
A lack of unity has led to hurting people within the Church, shunning people outside the Church, and a noticeable lack of missional motivation among Christians.
Before I go any further, I want to be clear in communicating that this is not an article bent on knocking down the Church. I don't think that would be productive or helpful to anyone. It also would not be biblical. Furthermore, IDES is a ministry that practices international and national partnership with the local Church as the heart of our operations.
The Church is God's desired vessel for carrying the Good News of Jesus Christ to all those who don't know Him. The Church is called the "bride" and "body" of Jesus Christ, which means it is not just an institution for worship, but rather a loved, cherished, and honored community of God's children that He is devoted to like a husband.
Our loving Husband and Head has our best in mind. He loves us deeply, and He has given us a mission to carry out in His name for the good of the world. According to Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus, one of the primary ways we ought to live not only as his children, but also as representatives of his Church is in unity.
So, in our many divisions and disagreements, how do we live in unity?
I think Paul's words to the Ephesians in Chapter 4 of his letter can point us towards at least four ways we can practice and promote unity in the Church.
1.) Do Something About Disunity. Paul writes, "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called..." Our calling is the Great Commission. We have been called directly by our Lord Jesus. He was a peacemaker and a unifier--notorious for hanging out with those whose lifestyles He didn't approve of and for eating with those whose opinions He didn't agree with. He actively took steps to bring people together. Paul writes that we should "walk;" not just talk about differences or just complain about disagreements. Instead, we must walk out into the world with inviting arms, willing to show God's love where love is not often shown.
2.) Allow Others to Disagree With You. Paul writes, "with all humility and gentleness..." How many of us who claim to be Jesus-followers could honestly raise our hands and say confidently that humility and gentleness are the absolute best descriptors of our demeanor? I certainly can't. Jesus Christ shared the truth in a way that was incredibly gentle. He told meaningful stories, and listened to others first. He expresses beautiful humility in the very fact that He is indeed fully God, yet took on the likeness of human form to be truly with us. He washed His disciples' feet to teach them servanthood. Rather than spewing angry words of arrogance over social media posts, let us instead share humble words of encouragement and gentle words of truth-telling, even with those we disagree with.
3.) Show Grace and Mercy to Others Equally. Paul writes, "with patience, bearing with one another in love..." I, for one, have sometimes been described as "overbearing," or hard to bear with. Some folks are pushy, some folks are push-overs. Some folks are loud, some folks are quiet. Whoever you are, and whoever "they" are, Jesus Christ loves you both. He was incredibly patient with his often bumbling 12 disciples. He bore with the painful accusations of the Jewish leaders who hated him. He showed grace and mercy to sinners just like you and me, without playing favorites. Even with our innumerable differences, it is possible to imitate Jesus in all of our relationships.
4.) Earnestly Seek the Spirit's Bonding Power. Paul writes, "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Do we really want to be at peace with our neighbors? Do we actually desire to be on good terms with the people in our church we don't get along with? Deep down, I think we all truly long for the Spirit to heal and bind the wounds which we have inflicted upon each other. Jesus Christ earnestly sought the Spirit's bonding power on all occasions. He healed those who were sick regardless of their social status. He rebuked the disciples for bickering with each other over petty things and encouraged them to bond with each other. In the most earnest and powerful bonding of all, He laid down his life so that all sinners may be offered the opportunity to be united once again to our Father in Heaven. Let us also seek the Spirit eagerly and earnestly when we feel tempted to draw lines in the sand and tempted to see the world as black and white.
Although these four pieces of advice are only a start, I believe that if we practice these things in our daily lives, we will indeed see fruit--sweet, delicious, unifying fruit.
"There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
As the bride and body of Jesus, our unity is not an impossible goal--it is as attainable as we want it to be. Our prayer at IDES is that by building bridges instead of burning them, we may all more effectively and more efficiently share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ with those who have not heard the good news. We are in this together.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES
"While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him." - Luke 5:12-13
Contrary to popular belief, leprosy still exists.
According to the World Health Organization, leprosy is "a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, an acid-fast, rod-shaped bacillus. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and the eyes."
Leprosy can be contracted via droplets of fluid (i.e. saliva or mucous) and is transmitted via direct contact. Most cases of leprosy are treatable if caught at an early stage. However, if left untreated, leprosy can cause permanent tissue and nerve damage due to sores, scabbing, and degeneration. These symptoms oftentimes lead to amputation of digits and limbs.
In the desperately poor, rural regions of India, there are entire colonies of families suffering from leprosy who have very little access to healthcare. Despite the fact that the disease is not highly infectious, those suffering from leprosy are forced to the outskirts of society and labeled as "unclean," which basically disqualifies them from working or having access to basic necessities.
IDES regularly partners with a local Christian mission in India to provide food and water to the families in this leper colony. Using funds raised by the faithful volunteers who host Harvest of Talents events, food and water is provided to these families on a monthly basis.
"Because of IDES, these people are able to be fed every day and survive to serve the Lord," our partner said. "Because of your love and generosity, thousands of people in the places we serve in India are able to have their physical needs met. This often gives us an opportunity to share the Gospel and introduce Christ to the lives of those spiritually lost."
Just as Jesus interacted, loved, and healed those whom the society had deemed unclean, IDES partners follow in His footsteps to not only meet these families' physical needs, but also to share the Good News of the Kingdom with them.
"It’s an amazing story to witness these people with leprosy who once used to beg on streets for their livelihood now become warriors of Christ spreading how the love of Christ changed their lives forever," our partner said.
In July 2016 alone, 60 people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That's 60 more souls we get to meet someday at that heavenly feast. These are the results that YOUR prayers and generous gifts are capable of producing.
Jesus said that the poor will always be with us. Many of the poor around the world are also suffering from debilitating diseases and disorders. As Christ-followers, we have the responsibility to keep going, to keep giving, and to keep loving.
In the prayerful words of our partners in India, "We prayerfully request IDES to continue supporting these underprivileged people so that they can have food to fulfill their physical hunger and continue bringing those spiritually lost to Christ."
Between 20-30 inches of rain fell upon our brothers and sisters across Southern Louisiana last week. Eleven people have been confirmed dead. It is estimated that over 60,000 homes have been damaged, and thousands of families are currently displaced.
IDES will begin response by sending our DART Coordinator to assist in the Crowley, LA community. Sent with him will be a load of our storage sheds to be distributed and built for families affected. The sheds will be distributed and built in partnership with Forest Park Church of Christ in Crowley, LA this weekend (Aug. 26, 27, 28). IDES will be seeking church partnership opportunities in additional communities for long-term recovery efforts as the waters recede.
UPDATE - 9/14/16
Our DART Coordinator will return to Southern Louisiana today continue our response to the communities that have been affected by the devastating flood waters. We will be partnering with Denham Springs Church of Christ to clean up and to provide another load of storage-sheds for families whose homes have been severely damaged. Just outside of Baton Rouge, Denham Springs was one of the hardest hit areas. While in Denham Springs, our DART Coordinator will assess the best plan of assistance for the long-term recovery process. Please keep praying for the families effected and for more opportunities to assist these communities.
As you can see, IDES is working hard to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those who are suffering, both internationally AND here in the United States. If you wish to partner with IDES in either of these recovery efforts, please donate at the following link and type "U.S. Disaster" in the comments box near the bottom of the form. Thank you for your willingness to serve with us!
Please pray for the families that have been severely affected by this disaster.
"...a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance..."
I was in the 3rd grade when the attack on 9/11/2001 occurred.
The event was shocking to say the least. My friends and I did not fully understand what a "terrorist" was, or how close New York City was to our elementary school in middle-of-nowhere, Indiana. The whole day was scary and sad. It was a day that many children lost their innocence in regards to recognizing evil, and a day that many people tragically lost their lives.
Now 15 years later, it is almost eery to know that this is the first generation of high school freshman that will learn about the attack as a truly historical event, rather than something they were born in time to witness.
As I remember the despair of that day as an adult, I cannot help but feel the weight of the darkness that the event cast. The attack was an incredibly low and powerful moment in our nation's history. However, we worship an incredibly high and powerful God, One who can redeem even the most broken stories.
Of course, we remember those who were killed. We remember the many public safety officials who heroically put their lives on the line to save others. We remember the tears, and we remember the mourning. But then, we must do something else.
Our God is full of justice and full of mercy. He is the perfect paradox of terrifying wrath against evil and humbling forgiveness towards the repentant. Through Jesus Christ, we can trust that He personally knows our grief and our pain. Instead of only remembering and only mourning, we must also refocus on Jesus.
We must refocus on showing love and mercy to our proverbial "enemies." We must refocus on the hope of future change. We must refocus on the Word of God as we strive to follow him day-in and day-out. But, we can't stop here either.
Redemption is real. Hope is not just abstract and far-away. Our God is active in the here-and-now. His Kingdom is both present already, and also not yet fully revealed. Jesus' sacrificial love is changing the world, one heart at a time. Evil will never have the upper-hand, for Christ has defeated death and sin. In these things, we must rejoice.
We rejoice in eternal salvation upon Jesus' return. We rejoice in the fact that peace is indeed achievable in the Kingdom of God. We rejoice that thanks to Christ, we can react to violence not with more violence, but with an upside-down love instead.
On behalf of my fellow staff members here at IDES, we pray for you in your time of remembrance; we join you in refocusing our gaze upon Jesus Christ; and we invite you to rejoice with us as we strive forward with the hope of sharing the Gospel with a hurting world.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES
Every day on the news, we hear about more terrorist attacks, more civilian casualties, and more collateral damage. It is all-too-easy to just change the channel, keep scrolling, or ignore altogether the barrage of cruel images we see. Sometimes we grow numb to the pain and suffering of our fellow human beings.
Jesus knew pain and suffering first hand. He lived a hard life, and he died a torturous death on our behalf. According to Luke 19:10, Jesus' mission was "to seek and to save the lost." He sought. He saved. In other words, Jesus did not forget about any soul, especially those who were suffering. Since God is the same then, today, and forever, He still will not forget, will not ignore, and will not grow numb. He is God with us.
In light of these things, it is the ultimate goal of IDES to also seek and save the lost. We strategically accomplish this mission by meeting the physical and spiritual needs of suffering people throughout the world in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that we too cannot forget, we too cannot ignore, and we too cannot grow numb.
Ever since western military forces pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban extremist group has been regaining territory and putting uninvolved families at risk. With the recent emergence of the Islamic State extremist group nearby, there is now even more pressure on families to flee from harm's way.
"The violence and the withdrawal of international forces has catalyzed a backward slide on much of the progress made in Afghanistan over the last decade, leading to fewer jobs, less security, less foreign investment and a loss of hope," our partner in Kabul reported.
According to our partner mission in Kabul, Afghanistan, there is one major difference in philosophy or approach between the Taliban and the Islamic State:
The Taliban's goal is to govern the country of Afghanistan under strict Islamic law, with little international aspirations. It targets primarily opposing military, development and government forces, and civilians are just unfortunately trapped in the crossfire. The Islamic State's goal, on the other hand, is to establish a global caliphate devoid of any western influence using grotesque violence in order to instill terror and to gain control of the masses. It primarily targets groups of civilians, opposing minority groups, and opposing religious groups.
Hundreds of thousands of families have been and are now fleeing their more rural villages in Afghanistan. Many attempt to leave the country as refugees, but are being met with harshness and very little sympathy from the international community. Many more simply flood into the safest relative city, which at the moment is the capital, Kabul.
Aside from the threatening violence there is another problem. These families had to leave almost all of their belongings and basic necessities behind, which means hunger and poverty are wreaking havoc amongst the displacement camps that they are settling in.
"With the smothering heat during the summer months, higher levels of nutrition are required but many suffer from food poisoning due to food rotting too quickly in the heat," our partner said.
Thanks to your generosity, IDES partnered with a local mission in Kabul to provide cases of non-perishable food items to over 193 internally-displaced families for one month. Our partners continue to serve these families with the love of God day-in and day-out, and explain to them that the relief items are provided due to the generosity of Jesus-followers who have not forgotten them in their suffering.
Your faithful support of IDES' work is what keeps our ministry of help and hope going. It is our responsibility, together, to ensure that refugee and IDP families worldwide know that there is a God in Heaven who loves them, and that they are not to be forgotten.
In the words of our partner, "We are grateful beyond words for the generosity of our brothers and sisters in the U.S. that make operations like this possible."
According to the United States Department of Labor, "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
We celebrate and tribute this holiday by taking a day off from work. ...Interesting.
Don't get me wrong, I love a well-earned day off as much as the next guy. I slept in and plan to read a book for the majority of the day. Rest is important, and it is encouraged by God Himself. I just think that the irony behind this holiday is not-so-subtle, celebrating work by not working. Furthermore, I believe the way we celebrate this holiday holds a peculiar parallel to the way we sometimes celebrate our faith in Jesus Christ.
Every weekend, we go to a church building to meet with other Christians and lift our hearts in praise to God. We celebrate His goodness and grace towards us. We worship Him and proclaim our devotion to Him. We learn about ourselves, about the world, and about how God's Word applies to our lives. We even share a metaphorical "meal" together and call it "Communion" of all things. It's like a weekly holiday, right?
Then, most of us travel back home and start our work week without ever giving Jesus another intentional thought. According to LifeWay Research, although 80% of Christians claim that they believe they have a "personal responsibility to share my religious beliefs about Jesus Christ with non-Christians," over 60% of us pretty much never share anything at all.
How can this be?! Maybe most of us are celebrating our faith in Christ more like we celebrate Labor Day, and less like the life-altering, eternity-changing, transformative relationship with God that it is.
In Matthew Ch. 9, Jesus sets up an agricultural metaphor to teach His disciples about what it means to truly follow and obey Him. Jesus says, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
This brief address begs the question, "where is the harvest field?" Is the harvest field inside the convenience of our church buildings? Is the harvest field inside the familiarity of our own homes? Is the harvest field neatly fitted inside the boundaries of our social comfort-zones?
No. The answer to these questions is no.
The harvest field is out there. It is outside of our comfort-zones. It is more than likely outside of the convenience of our church buildings. It is very likely outside the familiarity of our own homes. Jesus commands his disciples to "GO" (see the Great Commission in Matthew 28), not to stay.
The next question that this address begs to ask is, "am I a laborer?" Who are the laborers that Jesus is referring to? Are they just those crazy friends who may have "taken their faith too seriously" and left the country for a distant land to share Christ? Are they just the pastors, preachers, ministers of our local churches that teach each weekend? Are they just the folks who do social/nonprofit work for a living?
We are the laborers that Jesus is talking to. You are the laborer. I am the laborer. He says that only a few of us will take his call seriously and start planting seeds and reaping a harvest in the fields of the world around us. But, he also says to pray for more laborers to be sent out. That means there is still hope for those of us who may not quite understand the weight of the responsibility that our Lord and Savior has given to us.
As you celebrate your day off on this holiday, I pray that you will consider the words of Jesus Christ. "The harvest is plentiful." There are human beings, brothers and sisters, friends and coworkers, acquaintances and strangers, that we will interact with every single day this week and every week. The vast majority of them have no relationship with Jesus. As Jesus-followers, we have a responsibility to share the hope we have found and reap an abundant harvest for the Kingdom of God.
So, ask yourself today. Are you a laborer?
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES
"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt." - Deuteronomy 10:18-19
There are some long-term crises in the world that go unreported by the news in the U.S.
There are families suffering from myriad natural and man-made causes who are largely ignored by the media. Here at IDES, we want their story to be told. It is ultimately our mission to meet their physical needs and open the door to meet their spiritual needs with the love of Jesus Christ.
One of the most under-reported situations in the world right now is the Myanmar Refugee Crisis. Thousands of families are currently living in extremely impoverished conditions with little access to food and clean water due to being forced out of their homes by warring Army and rebel groups. The violence has continued in the country for several decades now.
"These families have been displaced from their homes by the fighting between the rebels and the Myanmar army. In addition the monsoon season has created conditions which did not allow them to forage for food adequately," one mission partner in Myanmar reported. "The landmines in the area also create reasons for not foraging in the jungle."
In years passed, many families sought refuge in the larger cities. But recently, our mission partners have noticed that these families are more often settling in smaller communities and camps, spread across the borders of the country with India, Bangladesh, and Thailand. It seems clear that this new settlement pattern allows for families to better manage finding food, water, and shelter. It also allows for our mission partners to more effectively provide physical relief and share the Gospel.
"The hands of God were upon the help which we have given and non believers even received the message and prayer...some of the people are part of the untouched tribe in the country and this time they have heard the gospel message from us and ministry partners will continue to share with them," another IDES partner said.
Because of the generosity of the donors and supporters of IDES, emergency funding was granted to mission partners throughout Myanmar in order to provide rice, other foodstuffs, clean water, blankets, clothes, medicine, and mosquito nets for many refugee families. Both the immediate and long-term results were profound.
"This relief effort allowed the doors to be opened to share the Gospel with many ancestor worshipers. As a result the villagers invited our missionary to come to their village and he and his co-workers are planning to go and share more of the Gospel with that village," our partner said. "The Christians in the area are frequently having baptisms and bringing others in the area to understand how the love of Christ can change their lives. IDES' help and work certainly open hearts and minds to why others love them and why we are interested in sharing what Christ has done for us all."
These are the stories that you are helping IDES write. Lives are being changed not only here, but for eternity. Your love for these families matters. The fighting isn't over yet, and God has provided us an opportunity as Jesus-followers to continue making an amazing difference.
"Once again IDES has provided for critical needs of many refugee families...but more importantly this particular grant saw many come to a better knowledge of Jesus Christ and made their decision to follow Him," our partner said. "We pray that this is only the beginning for their area and that many more will recognize the love and concern Christians around the world have for their physical and spiritual needs."
Back in high school, I was kind of a "faker" when it came to following Jesus.
My faith was just a side-project for occasional self-improvement. I would say I did care about serving other people, but I cared even more about what those people thought about me. Daily habits of obedience and discipleship like studying Scripture and praying were fairly nonexistent.
I could think of every excuse in the book to avoid having to sit down and be "alone with God" as they say. But, the number one excuse I would use over and over to defend myself against...well, God, was that I did not think any Scripture was "applicable to real life." I was personally convinced that most of Scripture was full of boring historical records and staunchly unrealistic expectations. Boy, was I wrong.
Praise God for sending some well-timed brothers and sisters in Christ to convict me of my apathy, lack of knowledge, and lack of obedience. It was shortly after starting my freshman year in college that I had my eyes opened to the depth and the applicability of Scripture in my life.
Have you ever found yourself falling into this thought-trap that the world has presented to us over the years? "The Bible is just a dusty old rule book," some peers might say under their breath. Or those in the higher education community may say things like, "Oh yes there are a few good stories in the Bible, but not much applies to our current cultural context anymore. Society has moved on." Sound familiar? As we hear things like this more and more often, it is easy to feel discouraged and confused.
Take it from a fellow skeptic, those voices you hear are wrong. Scripture is full of incredible power that the Lord Jesus can and will use to change your life from the inside out. In order to help you find a place to start (or maybe restart), I've chosen 3 of my personal favorite passages of the Bible that are highly applicable and relevant to living our everyday lives. (**Disclaimer - I know there are many, many, many more passages that could have been chosen for this list. All of Scripture is relevant and applicable to life in some way. This is just a start.)
1) Matthew Chs. 5, 6, and 7 - The Sermon on the Mount
This was one of the first major sermons that Jesus gave during his ministry on earth. The audience listening to this sermon when Jesus taught on the mountainside was made up of several thousand people, many of them very poor. Some of them were just the "average-joes" of the surrounding community, like you and me. Jesus' goal in sharing these powerful messages was to take what those listening had been taught from their childhood years (The "Old Law" since many of them were Jewish) and expand upon what God had originally intended these laws to communicate. Each of chapters 5, 6 and 7 are dissected into small paragraphs of truth-filled instruction which are profound and applicable in our lives today.
2) The Book of James
James was the first book of the Bible that I ever read for personal study, as encouraged by that group of believers during my freshman year of college. James, who is the half-brother of our Lord Jesus and thus an eye-witness to many of his teachings and miracles, writes in a style that is easy to understand and to relate to. He encourages the reader not to be a passive "hearer only" but rather to be an active doer of what we learn in Scripture. James beautifully levels all readers' hearts without regard to social status, creating a collection of wisdom that can be applied to life beyond any hierarchy or cultural context.
3) The Book of Proverbs
Written by King Solomon, the son and heir of famous King David, along with other wise men of God, this book provides 31 solid chapters of simple bite-sized pieces of advice and wisdom. Sometimes, when explaining the Proverbs to those unfamiliar, I jokingly describe them as the "Christian Fortune-Cookie Inserts." Usually ranging between 1-3 sentences each, the Proverbs provide deep spiritual advice for how to live a life that is pleasing to God. I assure you, there is a Proverb that can apply to nearly any topic you can think of.
If you've ever felt that twinge of apathy in your soul, or that pang of doubt in your mind, I want to encourage you to jump-start your daily devotional time with one of these three passages. Speaking from my own walk with the Lord, I can personally attest to the life-changing power and worldview-altering wisdom you will encounter as you read. Our Lord Jesus Christ is alive and is working in this world through the Church and through his Holy Spirit. Don't let the world tempt you into setting that old book aside!
Please share this article with a friend to encourage them, or leave us a comment below to tell us your favorite application passage!
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES
From December 2015 to late this Spring 2016, rain fell on the low-lying jungle lands of Southwest China and Myanmar. The areas in which rainfall was heaviest happened to be where thousands of refugee families have settled in the past, fleeing the warring Burmese militia and terrorist groups.
"The older Lisu people said that they have not seen this kind of rain. It rained so long...The rain has hit the area every day for over three months. Finally the mountains and hills burst out, dirt, stone, rock came out first and then followed by mud and water. Some is about the size of the house. Some houses were completely wiped out. Many houses, and over 20 Church buildings were destroyed," reported our partner mission in the area.
On the Southwest China side of the border, a massive landslide was triggered which destroyed countless homes, make-shift shelters, and field-crops.
"We thank God that there were not many people that got killed. Thanks to God for His protection," our partner said. "At one place there was a Church building and the house that were washed away. I asked the villagers if the people inside got killed. They said the people were safe. It happened when the whole family was up hill visiting neighbors, but when they came back the house was no more."
This particular area was first reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1912, but many believers there were persecuted in the decades following. It is reported that there are now over 700 physical church buildings, and many hundred more church families meeting in homes throughout the region; however, within miles of these churches are entire tribes that have not heard or responded to the Gospel.
Following the landslide and terrible flooding, IDES' was blessed with the opportunity to provide funding for rice, cooking oil, Bibles, and hymn books to be distributed by our partners to many of the families affected. During the time immediately following a disaster, if followers of Jesus are there and present to meet their physical needs, people are much more likely to respond positively to the Gospel message.
"We are happy that in time of pressure from out side our evangelist friends are not only giving rice, and cooking oil but they are giving spiritual food with true love. Bibles to read for knowledge and Hymns to sing praise to God...We went to pray for sick people. We encouraged those who lost family members. We also rejoiced with the family that came to Christ in Fugong. We rejoice [even more] with the 300 Lamae people who opened their hearts to the Gospel. The Lamae people are one of the toughest people for sharing the Gospel. Helping the victims of disaster is a step towards help the spreading of the Gospel. I am blessed to work with brave people of the Lord who seek to the lost all the times. I praise God for people who love the Lord and dare to go beyond the limited to share the Gospel," our partner shared.
Our mission partners stayed at the distribution point until late into the night due to families traveling in by foot from the flooded areas. Please continue to pray for the Good News of Jesus to be accepted among the families who are suffering due to these disasters. And, please continue to pray for our mission partners as they bravely and generously reach out and serve their communities. These are the stories that you are writing by partnering with IDES.