“The King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40
The darkness and the light in Africa
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on the ground in Ethiopia visiting and sharing fellowship with our church planters and brothers and sisters in Christ. During this amazing trip, I was able to witness the life-changing work that Jesus is doing through Mars Hill Church in this all-but-forgotten part of the world.
I have visited Africa over nine times and seen firsthand how the poorest of the poor live and struggle with what you and I can take for granted.
Many images continue to burden my heart—I remember on one of my first visits, watching a truckload of children arrive at a hospital for basic treatment. Some were gravely ill, and all were hungry and in need of care. But sadly, a lack of adequate medical care meant that many of these beautiful children were ignored, and their desperate families told they were simply too sick for treatment. That memory is a dark one, but there were also images of light, like when giving a family 30 pounds of grain would sustain them for an entire month. There is much to be done and many more stories like this to be told.
What would Jesus show me on this visit? Overwhelmingly, he revealed that he is the light in the darkness, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of these experiences with you. But first, let me back up a little.
The distant relatives
In the near future, we’ll be relaunching Mars Hill Global with new videos, blog posts, stories, testimonies, and opportunities to reach our “extended family” of all the people who follow our church even though they don’t attend a physical location on Sundays. You see, when I started podcasting Mars Hill back in 2007, I never considered sharing my blessings with Mars Hill. I benefited greatly from Pastor Mark’s teaching, but no one ever asked me to give!
But more than that, it wasn’t clear how I was part of the Mars Hill family and how my support could grow the church and strengthen the resources that I had been enjoying.
Over the years, Jesus has blessed millions of people through Mars Hill Church.
This weekend alone, we will have between 12,000 and 13,000 people in Mars Hill churches across the western United States, however Pastor Mark’s sermon will also go out to about a quarter million podcasters from around the world. And that’s just according to the numbers we can measure.
We want to build a relationship with these brothers and sisters in this extended family. We want to share with them the work of Mars Hill Global and invite them to participate in the God-given mission and vision of Mars Hill Church in distributing the gospel around the world.
Adoption into the family
Today, Mars Hill sponsors 26 church planters in Ethiopia and 20 church planters in India. Our prayer is that through the extended Mars Hill Global family, we will continue to actively support church planters both here in the U.S. and also “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
In Ephesians 1:4–5, Paul says (emphasis mine), “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”
As I read this verse and applied it to my life, I knew that I was a son of the Father, adopted by the blood of Jesus. I now have an adopted son, an African son, Joseph.
Until this recent visit, I had seen my son in the eyes of the children on that truck, and now for the first time I saw children living in poverty not with pity, mercy, and hope, but as sons and daughters of our great Father in heaven.
Throughout the trip, I continued to pray about the heart of Jesus and his love for us. This led me to 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
Each of us has room to grow when it comes to sharing his love our blessings with all of our brothers and sisters.
Remember our whole family
I would encourage you that, as we launch God’s Work, Our Witness and focus on our family, don’t forget our extended family.
Don’t forget their needs, their hearts, and their thirst for Jesus and his gospel. Christ sees us not only for what we are, but for what we can become. I pray that through Mars Hill Global and the stories we’ll share, you will see what our Lord sees: that we are one family in Christ Jesus.