Thursday, October 31, 2013

Discovering Where God is at Work

With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's approaching, may of us will visit with friends, co-workers, neighbors, and extended family, and these visits can be wonderful opportunities to share the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Leading missiologist Carol Davis says, "When you find the spiritually hungry and prepared people, you have found 'good soil' that God has prepared for an abundant harvest. Now you are on God's agenda." Wouldn't you agree it's always easier to share God's love when it's His agenda? But how do we find those prepared people? 

Often, when we join God in what He is doing, there is a great harvest. While on the mission field, one of the ways to see where God is working is to find a Person of Peace. A Person of Peace is the doorway into the surrounding community...or to your neighborhood, workplace, school.

As we prepare to Go to our neighborhoods, workplaces, or schools, one of the most important things to do is to pray for a "Person of Peace." What does that mean? When Jesus sent His disciples out to share about Him, He told them to look for a "Person of Peace." He admonished them: "Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' If a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house" (Luke 10:5-7). Jesus simply tells His disciples what to do. He doesn't explain why. But when we look at examples from the rest of the New Testament (examples like Zaccheus, Cornelius, Lydia, the Gadarene demoniac, and the Samaritan woman at the well), the "Person of Peace" is someone God has prepared, in advance, to receive both the messenger (you) and the message (story of God's love, i.e. Gospel). This person opens the door to his own network of friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.
Chief Sung was a person of peace in Pum Veal, Cambodia
A Person of Peace has three consistent characteristics:

Receptive: A Person of Peace is an unbeliever who has been prepared by the Holy Spirit. He always welcomes the messenger (you) and is open to the Gospel. 

Reputation: A Person of Peace is well-known in his workplace, neighborhood, school, whether for good or for bad. Some biblical examples with good reputations include Cornelius (Acts 10) and Lydia (Acts 16). Others were well-known for their bad reputations, like the woman at the well (John 4) and the Gadarene demoniac (Mark 5). Yet, when each accepted Christ, their character was radically changed. God gained the glory for these transformations. 

Influential: As the others watch the life transformation begin, they are drawn to the reason for the change. A Person of Peace is willing to introduce his or her circle of influence to Christ. They tell others the wonderful things Jesus has done for them. 

A Modern Day "Lydia"
An e3 team in Slovenia met a woman who lived in the village where they were planting a new church. This gracious woman offered her home as a meeting place. The next day she accepted Christ. She was a Muslim fortune-teller who read tea leaves and coffee grounds to predict the future. Through her circle of influence, 21 people received Christ. They started a house church in her home. After reading the story of Lydia in the Bible, this woman renamed herself "Mama Lydia." Finding a Person of Peace is key to establishing the work in a particular area (your neighborhood, workplace, school), as in the case of Mama Lydia. It has been found that when a new church or small group is built along natural friendships and family lines, the "Body" grows more quickly and often makes a greater impact than groups that do not share the same natural relationships.

So, as the holidays approach and you go into your neighborhood, workplace, and school, remember that God has been there before you. You are looking for a Person of Peace to share your story (testimony) and God's story (Gospel) with. And because God is the One who is drawing them to Himself, you will be encouraged and blessed by their openness. So start praying diligently for God to reveal a Person of Peace in your spheres of influence.

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