Chip Jones is a blue-collar-kinda-guy World Harvest Missionary I spent a lot of time mentoring while he and wife Meredith were raising support several years ago. Unlikely candidate to be a missionary. Not a seminary grad. Not even a college grad. But they were sponges for being trained in Jesus-dependency, and they have been modeling ministry from weakness, to both believer and nonbeliever. While in language school in Costa Rica, Chip befriended a street beggar/druggie, who over time, prayed to receive to Jesus, quit drugs, got a job, because Chip was like no other Christian this street beggar had ever come across. Though untrained, Chip is a gifted communicator of biblical truth, and the chief repenter/failure/mess when he opens his mouth to teach/share. His faith is contagious. Here’s the latest prayer update from Chip and Meredith, where Chip was one of several speakers at a ten-day retreat.
–WeakDave, recruiting prayer for the Church to be transformed in our day
Have you ever seen something happen that was impossible?
Well we just have. We just got back from 10 days at a Christian camp in Linares, Chile. About 200 folks camped among the eucalyptus along the river. I knew about many of the struggles in that particular church and had heard the squabbling of God’s children. As they came to camp, many seemed to have someone else that they wanted God to touch and change…perhaps those teens who were doing things that they shouldn’t, or that hypocritical leader, or ……. well, typical church sentiments. You know what I am talking about…that we always want God to change others.
As the word was taught, many began to find that they had been living like modern-day Pharisees: living up to laws/traditions/customs but lacking love, a real love for others. Having all the right outward appearances and vocabulary but with their hearts so far away. And yet there they were judging others for not following suit. Like the Pharisees, Jesus had no real present value because they had become quite good at saving themselves as well as teaching others how to do the same. But just as the tiny moon can block something as big as the sun, so we can block others from seeing God when we think that we are ok and that its only others who need to repent and change. When our works are motivated by a love of self, not love for others, we have done what God said in Jeremiah when He said “they have abandoned me, the spring of living water and have dug for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” After all, God in all of His essence is love. When “love” is more of a word, maybe a set of actions and no longer something from the heart, we are not walking in line with the Gospel, for in that one tiny word hang all of the law and the prophets.
So what did I see that I never thought I would? People who thought that they had nothing to repent of, repenting! Pastors, elders as well as ordinary folks who were not caught in adultery or doing anything wrong on the surface. Yet they were weeping, confessing, repenting at Jesus’ feet. Mourning over their over-abundance of love for themselves and lack of love for others. The lack of love which causes factions, bitterness, jealousy and causes us to push others away as we pretend that we are better than “they” are. The stuff that makes the average Christian so dull and un-appetizing to the unbeliever. Kinda like a birthday cake that has no sugar and salt. Looks great! But unless you are trying to flatter the cook, you really won’t want much.
So God has begun to refresh the church here and the result has been people returning to those they have hurt, then un-ashamedly asking for forgiveness. Teen cliques melting in a stream of tears as they pray for each other. Another thing that really caught my attention was that the kids groups were not present to hear any of what was being taught in the adult sessions, yet the Holy Spirit caused those little kids to begin weeping and asking for prayers and forgiveness as well! The last day of camp, about 70 of us went to a pool in Linares and I was moved as I saw God’s kids playing with each other and genuinely enjoying each others’ company. I even saw a 3 tiered chicken fight! (I’d never seen that before either). This is the stuff that refreshes the weary, the broken, the un-churched and de-churched. It did my heart good!
One of the results of this camp is that I have been invited by two pastors to help teach in their churches. I have also been invited to moderate as well as share how the Gospel applies to two opposing church groups as they begin the process of healing and forgiveness.
I just wanted you to know that you are making a difference here and I cannot thank you enough for sending us and being there for us. Please pray for the work and the beautiful people here when you can.
For the work left undone,