Three Ways to Disciple Those Dealing With Drama

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Last Wednesday while pulling lesson plans out of a notebook I asked my English student how her week had been. This is a normal way of starting class because it allows her to practice small talk, and since the answer is always good I wasn’t really paying attention while asking it.

Instead of the normal response though she looked down at the table and shaking her head said “so many problems.”

Suddenly the lesson plan didn’t seem all that important.

My student proceeded to explain some problems she was having with a rebellious teenage daughter which included among other things

  • Skipping school with forged notes and parental excuse forms
  • Telling the school her mother’s phone number had changed (it hadn’t) and then getting a friend to send messages using that number excusing her from class
  • Creating a second Facebook account for herself that her parents didn’t know about
  • Failing classes because they were too “boring”

To be honest I was pretty overwhelmed and didn’t really know how to help (single young men with no children don’t have much rebellious teen experience). Yet the pain in this mothers eyes challenged me to do something about the situation.

As Christians in a broken culture we have the opportunity to interact with people struggling with the drama (crisis situations) of life. And though we may not have all the answers, God calls us to enter into that suffering with them for the sake of the Gospel.

There are a number of ways to minister in the midst of drama, but here are the ways God led me to help my English Student.

  1. Offer Sympathy-The one thing a suffering person needs more than anything else is someone who will simply listen
  2. Offer Personal Assistance-It didn’t matter that this rebellious child would respect me even less than her parents, asking “how can I help?” still had tremendous healing powers
  3. Offer Insight-Share lessons that the Lord has taught you along the way that can help them in their time of great need

Of course in this situation it’s also necessary to pray for the student, preferably right there after getting permission.

People around the world are overwhelmed by the drama of their lives and desperately looking for someone to help. Sadly many are too busy (or burdened by our own drama) to stop and help, so there is a greater need than ever for Believers who would bind up the wounds of those who are hurting instead of crossing to the other side of the road.

Why My Heart Needs To Be Heavy

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Tuesday morning at the local Pastors Fellowship a representative of Baptist Mid Missions played a recently completed field video from Australia to highlight the need for more foreign missionaries.

That video is important to me because I’m actually in it, and even remember driving the men from their audio and visual department around when the filming took place…however I’ve never watched it.

The video has been played in a number of Churches while presenting my ministry of course, but I have never watched that DVD on my own because of the things it reminded me of.

•      It reminded me of the people in Australia who desperately needed Christ

•      It reminded me of the great need for more missionaries

•      It reminded me of the dear friends and co-workers in Australia

•      And more than anything else it reminded me of my desire to return

These emotions have a profound effect on me since I’m in a stage of ministry that focuses on getting practical experience while waiting for my Visa process to be completed. Therefore the faces and voices in that video are powerful reminders of what I miss, but cannot do anything about right now.

Yet there must be a healthier response to these emotions than putting a DVD in one of my drawers never to see the light of day.

In recent months the Lord has been teaching me ways that having a heavy heart (sadness, sorrow, frustration) can be a blessing for my life instead of a curse.

1.     A Heavy Heart keeps me close to God

2.    A Heavy Heart highlights an inability to live in my own strength or wisdom

3.    A Heavy Heart keeps me from losing sight of what’s important (returning to Australia)

4.    A Heavy Heart leads to sharing my burden or struggles with Brothers and Sisters in Christ

5.    A Heavy Heart is a constant reminder God has called me to Australia

Most of us have parts of our lives that will bring great sorrow and pain to our heart just by thinking of them.  It’s tempting to hide from that, but those emotions actually come from God, and therefore are part of His plan for our lives.

Which is why I just watched the field council video from Australia

It felt like someone had taken out my heart and stomped on it but that’s okay, someday soon I will watch it in Melbourne, and thank God for His faithfulness.

Earning the Trust of Teens in Four Not So Easy Steps

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One of my favorite ministries in Australia had to be a Religious Education class teaching fifth and sixth graders in a Public School.

There were numerous challenges to this ministry; The greatest challenge however was earning their trust….

I’m grateful to say by our last class (in the picture above) I had earned their trust and respect, but it was a long hard process. As a ministry to others who work with teenagers some of the most important lessons learned along the way are included in this post.

1. Be Honest: The first time we met, one of the boys asked “have you ever swore in your life?” After trying to change the subject he looked me right in the eyes and said in a very serious tone “answer the question”

Instead of trying to lie about it I confessed to using bad language a few times in my life, but confessing it to the Lord right away. His next question was “why did you do that?” and it led to a conversation about the Gospel

2. Be Answering: Teens have hundreds of questions about God and few people who will actually answer them. The Lord used a simple exercise that asked the students to write down questions they had for God to teach me this.

While most students wrote a few lines one girl started writing furiously and kept going after the others were finished. When she handed me her paper I had to take a picture of it to remind me of the need to answer their deep questions.

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3. Be Effective-I don’t care how crazy a group of kids is, there will always a way to motivate them. Shouldn’t be
surprising that giving a candy bar to the best behaved student allowed me to control eight teenagers (it also worked for eighteen kindergartners by the way.) The important thing is bringing a form of structure or discipline into their lives in a way that works, since many of them don’t have it.

wpid-img_03302-2014-02-24-19-40.jpg4. Be Listening: As important as the lesson is, there were moments in class when the Lord allowed me to learn about, or minister to a students deeper need. This meant having more than one conversation with students who were no longer BFF’s and immersing myself in teen girl drama for the sake of the Gospel, it also meant helping a student who was moving to another Country and would never see her friends again understand God was still Loving.

The road to earning trust is long and hard…that’s why so many people haven’t traveled it. However if your willing to put in the hard work God will give you a powerful influence in their lives.

The Gospel as a Story Part One

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One huge challenge to sharing the Gospel in todays culture is people lack a foundation of Biblical Truth. So instead of starting with the Book of Romans (their need of Christ) its necessary to start with page one of the Bible (there is a God).

One of the best ways to do this is telling the Gospel as a story because it allows us to focus on the major themes of Scripture which are

The Holiness of God (marked in Gold)
The Sinfulness of Man (marked in Blue)
And the coming Redeemer Jesus Christ (marked in red)

As a framework I use The Story of Hope evangelism material published by ABWE which uses major events in Scripture to explain the Gospel.

I particularly love the full color cards that they offer covering each event that can easily be used to share Christ, or small booklets that are easier to carry.

In part one of this series I will go from creation, to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. I pray it can encourage us all to tell the story of the Gospel beginning in Genesis 1:1.

1. God who existed in the beginning created the Heavens and the Earth

2. God Created Adam and Eve, and after putting them in the Garden of Eden, they are commanded not to eat the fruit from one tree.

3. An Angel of God rebelled against Him and tried to take His place. God responded by throwing him out of Heaven, and since that time Satan has tempted us to rebel.

4. Adam and Eve choose to eat the fruit and take the place of God instead of obeying Him

5. Because Adam and Eve sinned against God they felt shame and separation from Him for the first time

6. God promised a man would come and redeem all of us from our sins by crushing the head of Satan

7. Until the promised Redeemer arrived, Adam and Eve temporarily covered their sins with the blood of animal sacrifices.

8. They are forced to leave the Garden of Eden because of their sin. Since that time our sins have created a wall of separation between us and God

9. Instead of obeying God mankind became worse and worse so He warned them of a coming flood that would kill everyone

10. God called Noah to build an ark that would protect people from the flood, this is a picture of the coming Redeemer

11. God called a man named Abraham to leave his family and travel to a place were the Lord would make him a great nation.

12. God later asked Abraham to sacrifice his firstborn son Isaac, Abraham was about to do this when God provided a Ram to be sacrificed in his place

Come back on Saturday to read The Gospel as A Story Part Two.

Five Reasons Why I Don’t Get Homesick in Australia

wpid-3275963-2014-02-26-21-08.jpgOne of the reasons I’m a huge fan of technology is the way it helps me communicate with friends and family in the US while serving the Lord thousands of miles away in Australia.

A big challenge of living that far from home is there are days when homesickness will set in. In the past I would have to rely on pictures in those situations, but now its possible to contact loved ones instantly with the click of a button.

The Blessing of instant communication can also be a curse because there are so many different software applications to choose from. With that in mind I would like to share my five favorite tools for killing homesickness.

1. Skype: During my time in Australia it was always a Wilburn family tradition for me to Skype my parents after Church on Sunday and Wednesday. Being to see and talk to family at the same time meant all the world

2. Cloud Messaging: Its possible to send texts to people in different Countries using your Cell Phones messaging system

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First Cloud Text Message to my father in 2011

3. Facebook: On those homesick days Facebook gave me the opportunity to vent my frustrations (in a proper way) and get immediate feedback from friends or loved ones.

4. Dropbox: While Facebook is awesome for sending pictures, there are times when pics or documents will need to be sent privately, In those situations Dropbox works perfectly

5. Mailchimp: It used to take hours for me to create a ministry update and send it by email, now with the help of Mailchimp I am able to do so less than one.

Seven years on the mission field have taught me many needs are emotional instead of spiritual, or mental. Sadly I wasn’t very well prepared for emotional challenges like homesickness, frustration, discouragement, or lack of faith.

These and other online tools help me deal with those challenges.

In the past Missionaries were viewed as individuals who only worked on their own and never asked for help. Today we know true ministry can’t be accomplished without the help of other Believers as well as God…In other words ministry takes community.

It’s not always possible to have a community of Godly friends who live a few doors down. However technology ensures you can indeed have deeply connected relationships while living thousands of miles apart.

Know some other favorite tool for Online Communication? Leave it in the comments section below

Genesis 1:1-2 Our World is Broken

iStock_000004636989XSmallGen. 1:1   In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

One of the first foundational beliefs for Christians (after the fact that God exists) is that without the presence of God in our lives we have no hope. It doesn’t take long for Scripture to point this out since after declaring God’s existence (1:1) the earth is described as being without form, void, and covered in darkness.

Allow me to explain those words from their original Hebrew Language…

Without form comes from the word tohuw, to´-hoo; which means to lie waste; a desolation (of surface)*, i.e. desert; figuratively, a worthless thing (taken from Hebrews Strongs Dictionary.)

Void comes from the word bohuw, bo´-hoo; Which means an undistinguishable ruin:—emptiness, void (taken from Hebrews Strong Dictionary.)

Darkness here gives the idea of confusion since at this point there was no light in the entire world.

So the world is described as a desolate (Tohu), empty (Bohu), place of confusion (Darkness on the Face of the deep)

Not a very encouraging picture is it?

These words in Genesis 1:2 teach us a very important lesson…Apart from Christ the world is broken

There are things those who don’t believe in God will disagree with (The fact that God exists, his creation of Heaven and Earth, or God’s being there before anything else). However they can’t argue with the fact that our world (and way of living) is broken since it can be clearly seen.

  • In the news programs that we watch every night
  • In the growth of poverty, crime, and war
  • In celebrities or famous musicians who struggle with drug addiction
  • In the fact that our world is getting progressively worse instead of better

Even the individual who has no interest in God whatsoever in a moment of honesty would admit the normal way of living leads to feelings of discouraging emptiness (Bohu) or longing for something deeper (Tohu).

And it’s that realization that opens the door wide for us to share how God sent His Son, to make a broken world whole again.

Have ideas about how we see the brockeness of life apart from Christ? Leave it in the comments section below.