You may have heard on the news about an American doctor in Afghanistan, Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was kidnapped by the Taliban and rescued by Navy Seals a few weeks ago. Dilip is a ministry partner, and an ambassador for the prince of peace whose birth we celebrate this Christmas. In light of his kidnapping, I have been reflecting some on the peace that Jesus came to give.
When Jesus spoke about the kingdom, he spoke to people who believed that the coming Messiah would establish his rule through violence. They expected him to throw off the yoke of the oppressors, and reign in righteousness. The journey of Jesus to the cross was a mystery to his disciples. It was just the opposite of what they expected. Instead of conquering, he would be crucified.
Jesus told six parables in Matthew 13 to explain the nature of His kingdom, and to resolve this contradiction in the hearts of his followers. He described His Kingdom not as something that would be imposed by force, but a transformation that would begin in the heart. There would be different reactions to the kingdom message: good soil that received the truth, parched and thorny soil in which the truth could not take root and grow, and hard ground that would not receive the truth (Matthew 13:24-30). The kingdom would start small like a mustard seed and grow very large; truth like leaven would permeate the whole lump of bread (Matthew 13:31-35). People would be willing to sell everything to be part of it (Matthew 13:44-45). The good and the bad would grow together until the judgment when God separates the righteous from the unrighteous and establishes his righteous reign forever (Matthew 13:47-52).
In these parables, Jesus called for an end to holy wars that
seek to impose ideas on people by force. Instead, entrance to the kingdom would be voluntary and open to all people
everywhere. The message of the kingdom has inherent worth and value that yields great influence and power, compelling people everywhere to abandon all and follow Jesus. His teaching is right and true. His salvation is free and undeserved. The future he promises is perfect and eternal. Jesus described those who carry the message of the kingdom as the salt of the earth and light of the world. Their influence is felt in lives, families, communities, and cultures.
Dilip made the choice to believe in Jesus, trust him for salvation, and to carry the message of the kingdom to the ends of the earth at any cost. I thank him for his example, for his witness and obedience to the principles of the kingdom, and for his role as an ambassador for the prince of peace. I also want to thank you for your role in enabling us to serve as Christ’s ambassadors to the poor in villages and slums around the world.
2012 was a good year. Below are a few highlights from 2012 and an invitation to join us for a major event in January 2013.
Please join us at the first annual wholistic missions
conference hosted by Global CHE Network. 400-500 mission
leaders from across the country and around the world are
coming together for the strengthening and expansion of word and deed ministries that transform lives, families, and communities through the power of the Gospel. The
conference will feature 70 workshops and top notch speakers. For more information, visit the conference web site.
Highlights from 2012 – Praise!
- Provided CHE training for leaders from Healthcare Christian Fellowship International to equip them to achieve their goal of mobilizing 1,000,000 witnesses and 100,000 churches through Church Health Ministries in 100 countries. Plans were made together with the international board, and training seminars were held in India, Singapore, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Vision was cast at conferences in South Africa and Costa Rica.
- CHE programs were initiated in Eastern Europe, and CHE centers established in Hungary, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
- Bryan Benz, a lifetime friend and support from Bethel Baptist Church in Tucson, joined our staff as a Projects Manager. He will be giving oversight and direction to many of our major initiatives around the world. Bryan needs support, if God should put it on your heart to
Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men!