Having just arrived back from central Asia, I wanted to write to all our flock and just express the deep gladness we share as we participate with God in his global gospel work. Make no mistake—it is his work, solely and wholly. But how amazing that he invites and includes us into it! Frankly, it is this very God-orchestrated, Spirit-empowered, Jesus-magnifying work that ignites the flame of joy within our souls. Let me illustrate.
As many of you know, this past weekend I was privileged to accompany our central Asia church planter, Timur, to his hometown, handing him off to the team there in central Asia. It was a powerful day watching the end of one thing and the beginning of another merge into a divinely ordained moment. The room was full of both committed believers and curious seekers; more than 50 altogether. From this God will, we pray, birth a local expression of his body (i.e., a church) who will reach out and “make disciples of all nations” who will, in turn, reproduce what they saw and plant yet another church. Oh, the genius of God!
I was no sooner heading home after the six-hour gathering and it hit me deeply once again—a multiplication of disciple makers is the heart of our God! Yes, people from every language worshiping the Almighty for his own renown is the ultimate end, and the means by which God will accomplish that is a continuous multiplication of disciple makers (Matt. 28:19-20, Romans 10:14-15). My response to that needs to be to see the fields as “white unto harvest” (John 4) and pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers. What divine joy is ignited deep down when you see God doing exactly that.
That’s when, in seat 16D on an Airbus 330, my heart exploded with gratefulness. For while I had just left a planter in central Asia, another one was actually in the middle of preaching right here in Ankeny. That’s right —Brad, who spoke this past Sunday, was one of our original six people (three couples) who helped plant FFC. And now, 12 years later, God is using him as an under-shepherd to teach the sheep. What’s more, the other man who helped plant FFC, Jason, was preaching at that moment in Missouri where God used him to replant a church by bringing together two churches for greater impact than either had alone.
It doesn’t stop there. Just 15 minutes away from FFC, over 100 people—Carlos and FFCB—were meeting then as well in an elementary school in Bondurant, many of whom just a little over three years ago left the “mother ship” in Ankeny to reproduce in their own area in a more localized, targeted fashion.
My mind had only scratched the surface. An FFC couple is bound for India this coming July to assist front-line church planters with their God-given gifts, another is in training in Mexico preparing for church-planting life in a less-access nation, and a team of more than 20 FFCers were heading to Utah the very next day to actively engage the precious people there who have been blinded by Satan through the false religion of Mormonism.
My mind was ready to race to more disciple makers, but my heart, poundingly overflowing, stopped. Yes, somewhere over Asia my heart stopped. Okay, not literally. But whatever we mean by that, it happened. My heart stopped and my soul worshiped. To witness the grand power of our missionary God in the middle of our very own assembly brought me to silence. Then tears. Then more silence. And ultimately, deep gladness that God would be so gracious as to include us in his global gospel work.
Please don’t hear any of this as a self-patronizing editorial about our body, or as a corporate “attaboy” to First Family Church. Not at all! Hear it and read it as what it is in all of its practical reality, theological simplicity, and yet divine mystery — God will build his church!
That’s what our eyes long to see and ears long to hear. That’s what our mouths long to tell. That’s what our souls so desperately need to know: That God will keep his Word and build his church. Here. There. Everywhere. And as every bit of our spirit, soul and body watch our Trinitarian God do what only he can do through a people who can’t do anything without him (John 15), then every bit of our entire being will be overwhelmed by every bit of the One from whom all blessings flow. This is when his passion will become our mission.
That flight ended, but my deep gladness hasn’t. That God would do his work in us, then through us, is a thought so high and wonderful no man or woman should remain unmoved. Rather, may the humble privilege God grants us cause our hands to raise, our arms to extend, our feet to go, our mouths to speak, our homes to open, our resources to be invested, and our lives to be expended in grateful worship of the King of all the universe and Shepherd of our souls, Jesus Christ the Lord.
For his fame among all peoples,