My heart is so full that I’m finding it hard to decide what to tell you first about this on-going story of God, and me, and Eastern and Central Europe. I think Fall Conference is probably the best place to begin.
As most of you know by now, Josiah Venture has an event they call Fall Conference every September. (My blog about my 1st time at this event is here.) This conference involves all thirteen of the JV countries (and some that aren’t even a part of us yet- but we are praying for God to open doors!). Pastors and leaders in local churches invite teenagers and young adults who are in the process of becoming ministry leaders to join them at this event, and it is such a beautiful glimpse into the tremendous movement of God in this part of the world! It honestly takes my breath away to hear the stories of what God is doing in these countries. It testifies to the fact that God can do ANYTHING. He can work around laws, and government opposition, and long-standing tradition, to completely turn things His way. I wish you could all be there to experience it.
This year, the theme was “Inspire”. The week began with a field trip to surrounding areas to learn more about the Moravian movement- which was a HUGE movement of God in the 17th and 18th centuries that was ignited in part by a young man named Christian David who lived just a short distance from where JV headquarters is now. We were led through the progression of this movement that eventually impacted an enormous portion of the world with the Gospel message. (you can take the tour yourself by listening here!)
The week continued with a study of the movement of God in the book of Acts, and then the hard-hitting (for me, anyway) part began. We took a long look at what elements of these two movements were similar- and asked ourselves: what things did people in these two previous movements do that we are not doing?
There were two things that were a huge part of these two movements that I am personally not doing well.
- Specific and deliberate times set aside for prayer. The Moravians had our equivalent of 24/7 prayer- but they did it for over 100 years!!! I feel like God and I are chatting all day long, but I don’t often set chunks of time aside to pray very specifically for God to move in the world around me- and to listen and ask Him what my role in that movement should be.
- Going public with the Gospel message. Both of these incredible movements of God involved people sharing the good news of God’s love through Christ boldly and publicly– often in the face of tremendous persecution. Rob, who was the speaker for this session, mentioned the quote “Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary.” He shook his head and said that he thinks the apostle Paul would probably laugh at this and say: You have to TELL people about Jesus- not just show them!!!! Use words.
Ah… that’s so hard isn’t it? To speak to someone at the airport or grocery and turn the conversation to God and ask where they are at with Him. To speak with people about Jesus. Even though I don’t face persecution, it is hard.
(If you want to listen in to the sessions and learn about the rest of the things brought up, all sessions are available at: https://www.josiahventure.com/media/ )
So I spent a good portion of the week thinking about these two things and how to better incorporate them into my life- and I wasn’t alone! Every person I connected with shared with me things that God was revealing to them about what people in a movement of God do!
On the last evening, we spent the entire night in worship and prayer. We were asked to sit still before God and to ask Him what our next steps are in Him. I closed my eyes and quickly explained to God that I’d already started sorting out my next steps: Prayer and being bold about sharing the gospel.
Now, I’ve never audibly heard the voice of God- but the longer I know Him and love Him, the more clear his voice is in my spirit. So when I heard him say STOP…I did. And I listened. And what God spoke into my heart was basically this:
Those are two important steps Ruthanne- but they aren’t your next steps. Next, I want you to rest. I want you to listen to me when I tell you that what you do for me is not what matters. Who you are to me is what matters. You are my daughter. You are loved outside of what you do- not because of it. You are valuable because you are my very own. You are not valuable because of what you say, how you serve, or ways you give.
Don’t try to gain the approval of others.
Just be mine.
I’m hard-wired to do. I love the challenge of a new task before me and I love the satisfaction of a job well- done. But sometimes I think my confidence rests in my ability to do things- rather than resting in God’s ability to do things. Sometimes my worth comes from others appreciating my ability to complete a job well rather than realizing I have tremendous worth to God regardless of performance.
I spent an evening recently talking with Lydia, one of our staff from Scotland who does HR for JV-UK. She was telling me about a tremendous revival that took place in the mid 1900’s in Scotland. She told of churches where people walking by outside and hearing the worship and message fell on the ground weeping because they realized their need for Christ. I asked her what was happening at these churches today. She explained that she had visited a few, and that they had stopped being effective at all- there were older people who remembered the revival and were hoping God would move again- but they were just going through the motions trying to stir up the embers of a blaze long-gone. I was quiet for awhile thinking about this, and then I asked Lydia why she thought the movement stopped.
After a pause, she said- “I think they tried to control it and organize it into something manageable. Movements of God aren’t manageable, you know.”
That sentence clicked into place alongside all the things God had recently been impressing on my heart.
When a movement of God happens, He incorporates people with all sorts of gifts- including those of us who plan and organize. But the danger is this: If I run ahead of God- trying to please him or others with my doing, I might actually get in the way of movement.
Instead- by abiding in Him— by being– I need to move when, and wherever He goes. Plan and organize- but following his lead rather than setting my own agenda out of insecurity, fear or pride. Allow Him to make me more and more fully dependent on Him alone.
Be a human being rather than a human doing.
As always, thanks for letting me share a little piece of my journey with you. What an incredible adventure it is following after our Father together!
I will leave you with a few quotes from the Moravian movement, and a really interesting article written about this movement of God. I had very little knowledge about this part of world (and Christian) history- but it was truly incredible. It stirs my imagination about what God could do in our world today!!!
“I have one passion. It is Jesus. Jesus only”.
“I am destined to proclaim the message, unmindful of personal consequences to myself.”
“Missions, after all, is simply this: Every heart with Christ is a missionary, every heart without Christ is a mission field.”
“Preach the gospel, die and be forgotten. ”
“We will work simply and quietly. Even if we never see wonders with our own eyes or hear them with our ears, we are planting the kingdom of heaven into the nations and will look for the fruit which grows from it.”
A quick article (Christianity Today) about early stirrings of the Moravian Movement- it sums up much of the field trip we took. I’m in AWE of a God that draws together a church with a congregation of around 40,000 where people walked all night to meet together. We got to visit this church in Cieszyn, Poland.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Jesus (Matthew 17:20)