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We know this. Part of our responsibility as recipients of God’s generous grace, lavished on us through Jesus, is to share The Good News with others.  And yet we can become so busy that we hardly have time to build relationships with those who are far from God.  Or we are so afraid that we might say the wrong thing, that we don’t say anything at all.  Or we chose to live out the Gospel and demonstrate it in practical ways, and leave the “sharing” to those who have the gift.  Or, or, or...

A couple of months ago, I was invited by the President of the Free Evangelical Association of Lebanon (FEAL) to come and see how Evangelical Free Churches are serving among the nearly 2 million Syrian refugees who have arrived in the country. We discussed the possibility of the EFCC/M getting involved  -- the needs and the opportunities are abundant.  As I got to know some of our brothers and sisters there, I was impacted at a deep and personal level in my own commitment to being a “Gospel sharing person.”
Our first two days in Lebanon were spent participating in a conference of FEAL missionaries, primarily church-planting pastors in the Arab world. We heard testimonies of how they came to Christ, many from an Islamic background. Several of them were training for significant leadership in 
local mosque when the Lord got a hold of their lives. Their testimonies are characterized by dreams and visions the Lord used to draw them to Himself. Most of them have made the decision to follow Christ at great personal cost.
A young man planting a church in Damascus, Syria lives under constant scrutiny by the secret police.  Members of his congregation have mysteriously disappeared after coming out as followers of Jesus. The cross' prominence in the church’s logo is more than just a reminder of what Christ did
for them.  It declares that to be a follower of Jesus you must be ready and willing to die for your faith. This church-planter told us that they do not see ISIS as terrorists or the enemy, but as victims of the delusional lie of the enemy who need to be loved and prayed for.

That is just one of many stories I could tell of these dedicated servants of the Lord and His church.  We know so little of what it actually means to “Deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.”  One of the things I have been reflecting about is what this looks like in Canada. It is still something that Jesus expects of us, even though happen to have great freedom to practice our faith.

Perhaps if we took Jesus' words more seriously, our excuses would fade away.  Like our brothers and sisters in places where they could actually die for their faith, we might be more willing to be inconvenienced to build those relationships. We might be more dependent on the power of the Spirit to be witnesses. The people I met in Lebanon experienced God’s love expressed in practical ways, and heard a message that made sense. And hearing, they believed.

I’m still processing what this means in my life. Won’t you join me in asking the hard questions? What might God choose to do through men and women surrendered to Him and to His purposes in our world?

Dave Penner
EFCCM Director
Servant Leadership with friends of the EFCC, MinistryLift!
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