6 Ways to Be a Part of a Missionary Movement

My wife Danielle and I went on our first short-term mission trip together about 12 years ago. That planted a seed that eventually grew into a decision we made seven years ago. We quit our jobs and moved to Thailand for several months to volunteer with some mission organizations.

Why would we do something crazy like that? We want to be a part of a missionary movement.

God is a missionary God, meaning He sent His own Son into this world.

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How Safe Are Your Investments?

Do you invest? Are you like many that have no idea where to begin? Do you spend all or even more than you have?

 

 

You might be wondering if I decided to broaden the scope of what I blog about. Not really. I do though enjoy investing and learning about investment strategies.

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The Tamar Center Pattaya, Thailand – New Website

Danielle and I spent 4 days in the Spring of 2010 in a village in the Northeast of Thailand. This region’s name is Issan. We worked with a team from the Tamar Center that headquarters in Pattaya, Thailand. Five of the women on our team formerly worked in the bars in Pattaya, Thailand. Some worked in prostitution. In this picture, we are sharing a dinner in the home where we stayed.

by Kenneth A Camp

by Kenneth A Camp

Issan is the poorest region of Thailand. The girls travel to Pattaya in search of happiness and financial security; instead they find prostitution and loneliness. Far away from their families and friends many girls desperately desire love, comfort, and help to find alternate employment.

This is where the Tamar Center enters the picture. View this video to learn more about the Tamar Center and their ministry. Please use viewer discretion.

Danielle and I lived in Pattaya, Thailand for 6 months in 2007. During that time, our hearts connected with this ministry. So many around the world are without hope. I urge you to allow your heart to be touched. Then become a part of the solution.

For more information about the Tamar Center, visit their new website – www.tamarcenter.org

 

 

 

 

7 Warning Signs that You Are Not Living in the Present

by Kenneth A Camp

This picture is one I took when Danielle and I were touring the Forum in Rome. I pondered the fact that I was walking among the ruins of a civilization that existed over 2000 years ago. This picture captured for me the way the distant past can stay for years, and the way the immediate present is often fleeting.

One of my biggest struggles is living in the present, or Staying in the Moment as I write about in my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart. I am much better at it today than I was in the past, but I still struggle.

Why live in the present one may ask? Jesus referred to it as abiding. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

When we live in the present or stay in the moment, we are more fruitful and productive. We enjoy life and relationships. We are at peace.

God uses different ways to teach me how to live in the present.

He uses my mistakes to teach me. I lived for years with regrets of my past or fear of my future. The result was that I hardly ever lived in the present. All that accomplished was a lot of mistakes which only pushed me to live more like this. However, He grabbed my attention because of my failures. He used counselors to guide me. He used my broken state to speak truth to my heart.

He uses life experiences to teach me. One experience was when Danielle and I decided to quit our jobs and move to Thailand. We decided to serve as volunteer missionaries for at least 6 months. I had no idea what I would do after we returned to the states. But God taught me how to live each day while we lived in Thailand trusting that He had my future under control. And, He proved faithful.

Another life experience that has taught me how to live in the present is fostering. When our son was our foster child, for months I did not know if any given day would be his last with us. Once again, God proved to me that He was worthy of trusting and abiding in.

So, what are 7 warning signs that you are not living in the present?

  1. Anxiety – For years I struggled with anxiety. Some call it worry. Philippians 4:6
  2. Regret – Regret focuses on the past. Intellectually we know that we cannot change the past, but many live there.
  3. Fear – Similar to the first two, but this one focuses on the future. Anytime we focus on our past, future or both, we are not living in the present. 1 John 4:18
  4. Difficulty Listening – When our mind is not in the present, it is almost impossible to listen to someone speaking to us. If others ask if you are listening, that is a warning sign that you are not living in the present.
  5. Avoidance – These next three involve the desire to avoid pain. If you are avoiding certain conversations, tasks, people, etc. you are not willing to face your present reality.
  6. Obsession – Avoidance easily turns into obsession. People become obsessed with anything. A big one today is our digital devices. How many times did you check social media or email today?
  7. Addiction – Addiction is one step further away from living in the present. It is probably the most destructive. Warning signs include losing track of time or money, lying about your actions or whereabouts, and ignoring responsibilities.

Question for you – What are some other warning signs that you notice?

 

 

Are We Out of Balance?

My friends, Brian and Dawn, are in South Asia for about 2 weeks.  I have enjoyed their updates and the opportunity to pray for them as they travel to different parts of the region to work with different mission organizations.  Anytime someone gets to travel in another country, it potentially shakes their accepted point of view.

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courtesy of Dawn S

No matter where we are from, we have a tendency to think that we are at the center of the universe.  It reminds me of the farmer whose son returned from college.  The farmer dad had never traveled outside of his county.  His college educated son proclaimed that there was a whole world out there.  “You are not the center of the universe, Dad!”, the son complained.  The dad replied, “There is north, east, south and west.  Sure looks like I am in the center.”

This mentality inhibits our ability to see the needs of others, especially when they live on the other side of the world.  In some ways, they hardly exist in our sense of reality.

Many of these people have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.  In fact, entire groups of people have never heard His Name.

Over the past decade, the Western church focused more attention on unreached people groups.  These are people who have less than 2% of Christians in their group.  The increased focus is good.  However, I think that we are still way out of balance.

Most churches in the West focus 90% or so of their budgets on their own culture.  If the church does provide funds for missions, a large part supports short-term teams.  Again, that is a good thing.  But, the focus is really on the team, not the mission field.  And, how many churches are willing to risk sending short-term teams to the places where most of the unreached are located?

We are a risk and sacrifice averse society.

Here are some facts compiled by www.thetravelingteam.org/stats (this is in the US):

Annual Income of All Church Members: $30.5 trillion.
Annual income of Evangelical Christians is approximately $6.72 trillion.
Given to any Christian causes: $545 billion (1.8% of our income).That’s also how much we spend in America on Christmas.
Given to Missions: $31 billion, (0.1%). That’s only 5.7% of the money given to Christian causes of any kind.That’s also how much we spend in America on dieting programs.
Money that goes toward the Reached world: $26,970,000,000 (that means 87% of the money given to “Missions” goes to areas with “reached” status or access to the gospel already).
Money that goes toward Unreached Peoples: $310 million (that’s only 1% of what is given to “Missions.”).That’s also how much Americans in 2011 spent on Halloween costumes (for their pets).
The $310 million (going toward UPG’s) is only .001% of the $30.5 trillion Income of Christians. (for every $100,000 that Christians make, they give $1 to the unreached.)

 

So, what is the big deal you ask?  Here is a quote from my friend Brian,

“Our English-speaking(italics mine)guide made a comment about how the wind chimes and bells were meant to wake up the gods so they could hear the prayers.  I chuckled and asked, so why do they need to sleep?  At the end, when I paid him, I challenged him to find a god that did not sleep or slumber.  Here is a whole massive group of people depending upon gods that supposedly need to sleep and be awakened by physical sounds in order to hear prayers.”

Over 40% of people in the world today have similar beliefs.  Most of the people are in parts of the world where we send very little resources to share the good news of a God who never sleeps.  That is why I say we are out of balance.

Question for you: Do you think that God cares how we invest our resources?

 

How to Have a Spiritual Retreat with Your Spouse

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A spiritual retreat with just your spouse may seem strange or maybe even totally disastrous to you.  But, just maybe, this peaks someone’s interest.  Most married couples probably admit that they do not spend enough time together seeking God .  For most of us, our lives simply drift along the river of life.  We feel blessed if we do not hit any snags or go over any unexpected waterfalls along the way.

The beginning of 2011 was a challenging time for us.  I had left my job as a mission pastor, but I was unsure of what was next.  My wife and I really thought that we were going back overseas as missionaries.  But, God had redirected our path, at least temporarily.  We had just received our certification to foster and adopt in the state of Texas.  If we were not going back overseas, I needed to know what I was going to do with my time.

Some friends of ours offered the use of their lake house.  It was a perfect setting for us to get away from our routine so that we could listen to God and each other.  I mention this retreat briefly in my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart.

Please hear me, we had never done this before.  And, we need to do it again.  In fact, now would be a great time for us to spend some time like this again.

Here is some of what we did on our spiritual retreat:

  • Spent three days alone away from home.
  • Chose to fast for most of the three days.  We fasted from all media, except some worship music.  We only ate raw food – vegetables, fruit, and nuts.  We did not want to spend our time on preparing food.  We broke our fast with a late lunch at a restaurant on our last day.
  • We put together a schedule for the three days.  We included alone time, worship time together, discussion time, and recreation.
  • We gave ourselves assignments for our alone time.  Reflection of current state, dreams of what could be next, review our finances and relationship.
  • The idea was to spend some time preparing our hearts first.  Then, dream about what God had next for us.  Finally, address difficult areas.

Sound like fun yet?  I thought I would expound on one thing we did – Dream about what was next for us.  That was the main reason for us to spend this time together.

When we worked on this separately, the instruction was to keep all options open.  Nothing was too silly or outrageous.  At least we could write everything down and voice it.

Later that day we shared our ideas and wrote them on one piece of paper.  Here are a few things we wrote down:

  • Sell everything and travel around the world working with different mission organizations.
  • Move to the beach.
  • Go back to school.
  • Start a bakery.
  • Become an author.

Now you know why I began writing!  It still took me some time after that retreat to settle on writing, but I eventually arrived.

Question for you:  Have you and your spouse ever had a retreat like this?  Would your relationship/future benefit from a spiritual retreat?

 

Change of Plans

No, I am not changing my mind about writing books.  Yes, I am still working on my book – Adopting the Heart of a Father.  In fact, I only have a few pages left to work on from Danielle’s, my wife, review.  Then, I will decide on an editor, designer and publisher.

 

 

At least once a week for the next few, I will blog about a section in my book.  In case you are not aware, you can read an unedited sample of the first two chapters.  You can find them by going to the home page.

Early in the book, I share some of our history to give you some context.  It helps a little to understand why we decided to be more involved in orphan care at this stage of our lives.  One sub-chapter I entitled “Change of Plans”.

February 2007, Danielle and I led a small mission team to Thailand for a 10 day trip.  Danielle and I had gone once before, but this was my first time to lead a team.  What a learning experience!  Short story is that after we arrived home, Danielle and I decided that we needed to go for a longer time.

We talked to the project leader in Thailand about us volunteering for 6-12 months.  That turned out to be an answer to his prayers.  They needed some help.  Immediately.  Within 2 months, Danielle and I quit our jobs, set up care for our home and vehicles, and were on a plane back to Thailand.

We volunteered with several mission organizations during the 6 months in Thailand.  It was painful to leave and transition back to living in the U.S.  I really thought that we would quickly be back overseas.  But we have not gone back long-term.

Over the next three years, I served as the mission pastor at our church.  In 2010, while I was still on staff, we felt that we were ready to return to the mission field.  We began making plans, including setting up several meetings with mission organizations in Thailand.  We went to Thailand for 3 weeks in March, 2010.

However, God had other plans for us.

Before we left for Thailand, Danielle and I attended a Verge conference in our city.  Our focus was on learning more about being international missionaries.  God refocused us.  Not that our desire has changed about international missions.  We still want to go.

At the conference, Aaron Ivey’s worship team shared about God’s heart for the orphan.  Many on the worship team had adopted children.  They emphasized the need for foster care and adoption in our own city.  As, I sat their listening to their stories and challenge, I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart.

As Danielle and I walked across the parking lot to our car after that session, we both knew that we were about to change our plans.  We still went to Thailand the next month to serve with a youth team from our church.  Then, we served with a team from Tamar Center in a village.  The next week we met with several other mission leaders in the country.

By the time we returned home, even though it did not make sense to me, I knew that we were going to pursue foster care and possibly adoption before we returned overseas.

The change of plans caught me completely by surprise.  But, it is not the first time that God has done that in my life.  And, I have no regrets at all.

I try to live my life with a loose hold on things so that God can change my plans when He chooses.  I look forward to whatever is next.  What an adventure!

Question – Has God ever radically changed your plans?  How did you respond?

 

Missional Lifestyle – Not for the Fainthearted

Missional Lifestyle.  This term has become popular in some circles in the past few decades. Many well-known authors and preachers have written, blogged and preached about this way of living.  Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Alan Hirsch are just a few who have.

I will leave it to guys like these to discuss the theological validity of this lifestyle.  Instead, I want to discuss some practical aspects of living missionally.  To begin, my simple definition for Missional Lifestyle is living a life that is sent.

Usually, when a person thinks of a missionary, they think about a person who is sent from their home country to live in a foreign country for sharing God with those living in the foreign country.

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But what about Christians who live in their own country?  Is it possible to live a sent life when you stay in your own country?  I think so.  It has been said before, “You do not have to move to the other side of the world to be a missionary.”

I am going to share some traits that I believe are important for someone to live a missional lifestyle.  These traits apply no matter what context you live in.  Warning – this lifestyle is not for the fainthearted!

  • Remember that this world is not our home.  No matter where we live, we are foreigners.  We are simply traveling through to our destination.  So, we should live like we are here temporarily.  One practical thing that comes to mind is avoid accumulating stuff.  We all know that we can not take it with us.  Why not invest in things that will last for eternity?
  • Live a life of integrity.  Now this is a tough one.  About ten years ago, I decided that I was tired of juggling a double life.  I want others to know me, good and bad.  I want to be the same person no matter who I am around.  So many Christians have what I call a “stage presence”.  We turn it on when we are supposed to be righteous.  Regardless of where we do life, let’s be the same person.  Allow people to know us, and the Person who is in us.
  • Live life with a sense of urgency.  We all live as if we have forever to live.  We know it is not true.  A missionary realizes that they may only be in a certain country for a short period.  So, they do not waste a lot of time on useless activities.  Also, when we are in a foreign context, our senses become sensitive to the needs of that culture.  We need a renewed awareness of the needs around us.
  • Recognize the different sub-cultures.  It is easy to see our culture as all the same.  If we look closely, we can see many cultures.  I am not talking only about ethnicity.  Missiologists refer to this as the different domains within a culture.  Government, Education, Entertainment to name a few.  Think about how the culture is different within each of these domains.  Is God sending you into one of these domains to be a missionary?

I plan to blog later on each of these points.  But, for now, I have some questions.

If you call yourself a Christian, how are you living a missional lifestyle?

If you are not a Christian, what traits do you wish to see in a Christian’s lifestyle?

Please leave comments.  I want to have more dialogue about this topic.