Saturday, February 27, 2010

NAME Conference

Last weekend we had the great privilege to attend the North Africa Middle East ("NAME") Conference at Lake Arlington Baptist Church.  To be completely honest, I wasn't really looking forward to going, but felt like God wanted me to go out of obedience, so I was hopeful that I would learn something, but still kind of dreading spending a whole weekend at a conference.

Well, I'm here to testify to you that God blesses obedience.  Both Rob and I were so blessed and convicted by the people we met at the conference.  Most of the people we met are missionaries in the NAME region, which is really one of the most dangerous places to be a Christian.  These people are living out their faith in a way that really challenges me.  It's so safe to be a Christian here in America - we really have no idea what it's like to be persecuted - even killed - for our faith.  But in the places where Christians are being persecuted, Christianity is thriving.  Interesting, isn't it?

By the end of the first evening at the conference, I was a bit frustrated because I wanted to GO!  If God would use me, I would go into that region and share my faith with those who haven't heard.  But God said, "No."  I don't know why - I don't know what His plans are, but He has given me a peace about my purpose for now: to pray, and to give.  Up until now I've taken prayer for granted - like maybe it's not really effective.  So, commiting to pray kind of sounded like a cop-out.  But based on the stories we heard last weekend about the power of prayer in these areas, I am now fully convinced that prayer IS powerful, and if God asks me to pray for these people, then I WILL ABSOLUTELY pray.  I was also convicted that by the world's standards, we ARE rich.  Maybe not so much by America's standards, but we DO have money that we can give toward the mission work in these countries.  So, as soon as the adoption is completely funded, we will be giving more directly to the IMB.  God is CLEARLY moving in the NAME region, and I don't want to miss out on what He's doing over there - I WANT to be part of it!

While we were there we went to an advocacy meeting for the Horn of Africa, which basically turned out to be a meeting for Ethiopia.  We met some really cool people who are working over there.  Check out their blog!  I love how they describe everyday life in Ethiopia - it's so eye-opening and helps me feel a bit more connected to the country where our baby is/will be.   Also in that meeting, we found out that 2 churches in our area are partnering with missionaries in Ethiopia to reach the unreached, unengaged people there.  As God would have it, one of the churches is the church we were members of before we moved to our current church, and the other one is just a few miles away from our house.  We're not entirely sure how we'll be able to partner with them, but are very interested in being involved in what they're doing.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend.  God blessed us so much through the people we met, and we're SURE He has called us to be involved in reaching people in the NAME region, even if it's only ever through prayer and giving.  I would challenge you to consider doing the same.

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