Saturday evening capped off another remarkable week of ministry here at New Durham Chapel. If you missed the Filipino fund raiser dinner and concert on Saturday evening you missed an amazing night of blessing. The food was outstanding and the young people from Global Harvest Fellowship richly blessed those in attendance with their musical gifts and drama presentation. The snow kept the attendance numbers down but all who braved the weather to come were truly glad they did. I say the event capped a remarkable week because of something else that happened last week.
Last week I was blogging about the changing DNA at NDC and part of that is seen in events like this dinner/concert that took place on Saturday evening and the upcoming Church Mobilization Day that is scheduled for March 1st. But I also received news last week that reminded me again about the uniqueness of my ministry here at NDC. First, a little background would be helpful. This past November I received an application from Chosen People Ministries for a scholarship to study at the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem at the International Leadership Seminar from April 25 to May 4th. On the application I talked about the unique nature of my ministry here and the many different nationalities that are being touched by the gospel at NDC. The committee that reviewed the applications would be selecting just 20 applicants worldwide to receive a full scholarship to come to Jerusalem and study at the seminar. Imagine my joy when I opened my e-mail at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning (our big snow day) to discover that I was one of the 20 applicants who had been selected for the scholarship. Praise our amazing God for His abundant grace and kindness. I believe I was selected because I was able to articulate what a unique ministry is occurring here at NDC.
This type of ministry is filled with difficulties and challenges. I believe what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians when he wrote, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ,” (4:11-12 NASB). Because I believe one of the primary responsibilities of leadership is to train the saints for the work of the ministry I have continuously invested time to disciple other men. In the past I have worked with a couple of Indians guys who actually grew to the point where they became deacons in our church. In each case, shortly after becoming deacons each man had job changes that took them out of this area. This was very disheartening to me but now I realize each man continues to serve Christ where they are, one in Baltimore and the other back in India in Chennai. I’m training worldwide leadership.
Another challenge in this type of ministry is seen in the conversation that occurred some years ago at a Christian education meeting. I was talking about “our” ministry to the Indian families. One of the committee members pointed out, quite accurately I believe, “Pastor, you’re ministering to the Indian families, we’re not.” How do you get people to move out of their comfortable circles with long term friends to embrace people who are different? It is much easier to pastor where everyone has the same political viewpoint and looks the same. But that’s not the call God has given to me right now. And so, I embrace the words of Jesus in John’s gospel when he says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (15:12 NASB). It is the love of Christ working in and through our lives that empowers us to see others through Jesus’ eyes. Remember God doesn’t see things in black and white, God sees everything and everyone in color, just as we really are. Jesus is the one who has commanded us to take the gospel to the utter most parts of the world and to tell all peoples about God’s love and His sacrifice on our behalf. Let’s do that with joy and thanksgiving even as God is working in the process of changing our DNA.
All for Christ,
Pastor Rich Sivo
P.S. I can’t wait to blog from Jerusalem!