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Posts from: 07/2017

Taking a Prayer Ministry to the Nations

July 19, 2017

Our newest missionary, Devon, wrote a beautiful letter detailing the way in which she received her calling in and through Resurrection ministries, including the 24/7 prayer initiatives, the Transformation Intensive, and Holy Week. It is a powerful, encouraging testimony to the way that the Lord is answering the core prayer of our Moved by Jesus campaign, that the Lord would "send forth laborers into the harvest."

Dear Resurrection family,

When I found out that the Global Mission Team decided to officially send me out as a Resurrection missionary, and I felt so honored, joyful, and grateful for their affirmation of my call to serve the Lord in the Middle East. While reflecting on all the ways that God shaped and directed my life these last few years, it is clear that Resurrection played an integral role in the discernment and confirmation of my next season of ministry.  I want to testify to all the ways that Resurrection has equipped and apprenticed me for “such a time as this,” and to thank this church for the way that you have supported me in the past and continue to support me as I move ahead.

I started going to Resurrection fifteen years ago as a high school student, but was not truly involved until I joined Choir and the Communications Team after college. When the Internship program was launched several years ago, I was thrilled to receive training and discipleship from Fr. Trevor, my cohort leader, and from the pastoral staff at Resurrection. I grew so much over those two internship years, becoming involved in several different teams—including the then Nations Team—and stretching myself to grow in devotion to the Lord, in leadership, and in service.

The most impactful experiences that overlapped my internship were the prayer intensives. While in college in Chicago, I had become involved with a 24/7 prayer ministry, and was deeply impacted by the call to worship and pray with a community around the clock. When I heard that Resurrection wanted to champion the call to pray continuously in the form of these prayer intensives, my heart could barely contain itself! My beloved home church was embracing a ministry that was near and dear to me. I look back to Prayer40 and Prayer100 as times of accelerated spiritual growth, where the Lord saw the fasting of our time and our weaknesses, and he moved in strength and power! Especially during Prayer40, as I meditated on Matthew 9:36-38 and prayed that “the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers,” and as I helped with the communication of the “Moved by Jesus” campaign, I began to see the profound connection between my call to pray and my call to labor in the harvest fields.  There were many NightWatch prayer slots where I would go and just pray over the map in All Saints Chapel, with a sense that the Lord was calling me to go, but the questions of where and when remained.

Sandwiched between the two Prayer Intensives, I took the Transformation Intensive with Deacon Val. Because the Transformation Intensive is particularly helpful for those discerning a call, my intention was to use this time to seek the Lord about if, when, and where he would like me to serve as a missionary. Going through the Ignatian exercises and attending weekly spiritual direction helped ground me further in my dependence on the Lord and in hearing his voice.Though I did not get the “final word” during this time, I firmly believe that it was here God laid the groundwork for his call to the nations.

Soon after I completed the Transformation Intensive in spring of 2016, a good friend called and asked if I could join her on a short mission trip to Jordan. I was pretty indifferent to Jordan at the time, but I agreed to go. Nothing could have prepared me for my first foray into the Arab world. After several days of observing and absorbing, I arrived at a startling conclusion: I loved this place, and I loved these people. It seemed so sudden, so different from the ministry that I was currently in, so divergent from any work that I had done in the past, that I felt it must be the Holy Spirit loving these people through me. Every day during the two weeks that I spent in Jordan, I was overwhelmed by how the Lord was moving and drawing me into his Middle Eastern story. By the time I was on a plane back to O’Hare, I knew that I needed to seriously pursue specific answers—did I need to focus my prayers to intercede for this region, or did I need to go and live and work there?

For about a month I fasted and prayed, asking God to show me in a very clear way what he wanted me to do. Around the end of this month was Holy Week 2016. I walked through that week somewhat distractedly, not being able to fully enter in because of the questions that loomed so prominently in my mind and spirit. It wasn’t until the start of the Vigil where I had breakthrough. Bp. Stewart led the first ministry time, and had a word of knowledge that the Lord was commissioning new works in our congregation. As he called out these new ministries, Bp. Stewart mainly focused on local, compassion ministries such as working among the homeless or marginalized. I prayed that if God was commissioning me to a new ministry overseas, that Bp. Stewart would specifically address those who felt a new call to the Middle East to come up for prayer. Within a few seconds, Bp. Stewart called all those with a burden to minister to Jerusalem and the Middle East to come to the front for prayer. Stunned that my request had been so immediately and exactly answered, I walked to the front.

As I kneeled for prayer, I questioned over and over in my heart, “Lord, do you want me to go? You want me to actually pack my bags and move?” Soon, Margie Fawcett placed her hand on my shoulder and started praying for me. As if in direct dialogue with my internal prayer, she said out loud, “Go! I will make you a fisher of men. Take only your cloak and your staff. You are coming back with stories.” Fr. Kevin, a few weeks later, further confirmed this word during Eucharist by telling me, “The Lord is taking your prayer ministry to the nations!” In his kindness, God had given me a direct, irrefutable, answer to so many of the questions that I had been asking. No longer was I questioning if I was supposed to be a global worker or where I was supposed to serve, but when do I need to leave and how will I get there?

These questions didn’t remain unanswered for long. Later that next week, I received an email announcement from one of my favorite missions organizations: Frontier Alliance International. They were starting a training for ministering in the Middle East—an “Emmaus Walk”— and were currently accepting applications for their Spring 2017 school. I presented this training opportunity to the Global Missions Team as a first step to answering the clear call that the Lord had communicated through the ministry of Resurrection.


Without reservation, I can say that this Emmaus Walk was absolutely what I needed to succeed in this next season. After three and a half months on the field, I returned to Wheaton and Resurrection ready to go back long-term to the Middle East, and more confident than ever that this is where the Lord has been leading me these last several years.

In August, I will return to Jordan to begin working with a Frontier Alliance International team. This team will be providing accountability and encouragement toward growing in intimacy with the Lord through worship, prayer, Bible study, etc., toward diligent acquisition of Arabic, and toward regular and intentional gospel engagement with those around us, including Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemini refugees. We believe this intentional gospel community that ministers to the Lord with regular prayer and worship will provide a rich context for the Holy Spirit to equip and send small teams out from our midst into other ripe fields in the region by the grace and for the glory of God.

Thank you, Resurrection, for walking with me on this pilgrimage. I am forever grateful for the way that you have heard the word of the Lord on my behalf, how you have called me to grow and not let me stay stagnant spiritually, and how you have supported me in the various stages of this journey. I am deeply humbled to be sent out by this church, and with God’s help, I hope to honor the trust that you have put in me.
 In
Your thankful daughter in Christ,

Devon

To read an article Devon wrote for Frontier Alliance International, click here!
Devon P.
Global Partner
devonphil@gmail.com
Tagged: missions, prayer, calling

Snapshots of Service: RezYouth Missions Trip 2017

July 19, 2017

After spending three days focusing on the idea of "mission on our doorstep" at the Provincial Assembly, eighteen students and four leaders from RezYouth joined fifty others from Anglican youth groups around the country on a mission trip to Chicago.

We partnered with City, Service, Mission, a ministry that hopes to transform students so that they'll make an impact in their own communities. Our students got to know Chicago—the real Chicago, where most people live and raise their families—through service projects and immersion activities in the neighborhoods of Uptown, Albany Park, Lawndale, and more.

In some ways, this wasn’t a traditional youth missions trip. Yes, we went to Chicago in order to serve, but more importantly, we went to learn—about the triumphs and challenges of this city in our backyard, about our diverse neighbors living there, and about how God is on mission through the Holy Spirit to bring justice, peace, and knowledge of himself to Chicago.

As one student put it, "By going in with the primary goal of learning, rather than simply helping someone out, I felt like I actually served much better." And another, "I realized just how human these guys are—guys that I had formerly just labeled as ‘homeless’ or ‘in-need’." Below are two more testimonies from our students. They represent well the impact of this trip on our entire team.

—Will Chester

Gwyneth's Story:

At the conference we listened to many global and local Church leaders. One night, a Nigerian bishop came to talk to the youth about persevering in faith and loving Christ, and he shared his story about how he came to Christ. This was one of the most influential sermons.
After the Anglican Conference, we traveled to a neighborhood [on the north side of] Chicago. One of my favorite things we did was serve at a soup kitchen. All the people were fed with such dignity and grace. Upon arriving, the guest would be seated at a table with fresh flowers. As a waitress, I would come, welcome them, and bring them their food. Bus boys would refill their drinks, and when they were finished, their plates were cleared and they could stay and talk or leave. While serving, we shared the Gospel with them and invited them to our local church plant. This experience was so humbling. It was amazing how kindly the homeless men and women were treated and how much thought was put into serving them.
I also enjoyed an immersion activity we did. Each group was given $3; we then roamed through a chosen neighborhood, talking to people about its culture. With our $3 we bought something to represent the culture we visited. My group of four went to a Middle Eastern town and had a conversation with a 16 year-old Muslim girl and a local shop owner. The store owner showed us his handmade caps, hijabs, and burkas. Once we finished we bought bracelets with our $3. Later we compared and contrasted the similarities and differences of our beliefs.
I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. It was such a humbling experience and changed the way I thought about Chicago, Christ, and the less fortunate.

William's Story:

After the Provincial Assembly, we travelled to Chicago for our missions trip. We were in Chicago for a little over three days. Saturday, we helped out at a food dispensary in the morning and then drove back to Albany Park. Albany Park is an extremely diverse neighborhood. Just walking down the street, we saw signs in Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Farsi, Portuguese and Turkish. We went into ethnic stores and stopped at food trucks to talk to locals and learn about their cultures. I could tell that locals were so blessed by us just wanting to learn about their culture from them. After returning for this activity, we went to two different retirement homes to play bingo with their residents. Although most of them didn’t speak English, we could tell that the adorable elderly residents were quite happy to have us there (although, they were very competitive about their bingo and a few of them were definitely making fun of us in Korean).
On Sunday, we went to Lawndale Community Church, a mostly African American church. I really enjoyed this experience and was shocked when, during the sermon, the pastor said that both of her sons had been shot in some gang-related violence. I will definitely be keeping the brave people of Lawndale in my prayers. At the same time, I think I learned that, for all the violence the news shows in the South and West Sides, these are very human communities with normal people inhabiting them (which to me, makes the violence all the more terrible).
From there, we went on an immersion activity. We were each given $2 to find dinner and directions to a neighborhood. The goal was to experience what homelessness and extreme poverty is like in different areas of Chicago. My group took the train to Lakeview. We ended up pooling our money to buy a pizza, which we ate with a homeless man named Ken. Then, we got our dessert in the form of free cherry pie samples from Trader Joe’s. That night, we visited a homeless shelter and talked to its residents. A friend and I talked with a man named Ishmael about books, superhero movies, and the city. This experience was so humanizing, and broke all of my stereotypes about the homeless. I was so blessed to speak with and learn from these people.


To see more photos from the trip, follow us on instagram at churchrezyouth!