Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Heart Beats for Europe

My husband saw this blog and shared it on our Copeland Clan to Ireland Facebook page yesterday. I read it this morning, and it burned in my heart! I had to share it here! But first, I have to say, I am not saying anything against missionaries over other parts of the world. We have dear friends in Uganda, China, Japan, and some headed to the Ivory Coast we support financially. My sis and her family were missionaries in Kenya for 2 1/2 years. We believe there ought to be missionaries EVERYWHERE. One thing Chrissy, the author of this blog, does not say is how long it takes to raise support. We've received comments like, "Maybe God is going to change the path for you" or "What happens if you don't ever raise the support?" For most missionaries in Europe, it takes twice as long as any other place because a lot of people don't understand the hardship of being a missionary in Europe. They believe a lot of what is spoken here. Yet, I laugh because when we visited Ireland, I saw how much one of the missionaries there was in the kitchen, making things from scratch. In Africa, my sister had house help. We won't get that in Ireland. So, please as you read this, open your heart to what God is doing ALL OVER THE WORLD, not just the outward broken places. Also, we aren't going to Iraq or Belfast. We're actually headed to Galway. :)




Chrissy's post:

Okay, so the Lord has burdened my heart to write about this subject that is so close to my heart. For those of you just joining us, I did a missionary internship in Marseille, France last year, and I’m going to Belfast, Northern Ireland next year as a missionary. So clearly, God has given me a heart for Europe. But I need to address something I have found very disheartening within the church: the lack of support I have received in these endeavors to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Europe that so desperately need it.
europe
Now when I say this I am not just talking about financial support, and for the sake of the rest of this post, support will not mean financial support. I am talking about prayerful, spiritual, and encouraging support. That is not to say I haven’t received any support, I have, and I am so thankful for those of you that have been supportive, and agreed with me in prayer as the Lord leads me to these amazing people. But we need to talk about the people who haven’t supported, the leaders that I had to fight tooth and nail to get on board with me, and even then it’s with much reluctance. This needs to be addressed, and I’m not going to stay quiet about this anymore, because my heart is weeping for Europe, and I know that it is a reflection of how God’s heart weeps for the lost that still reject Him.

The Great Commission Reinterpreted

We all know the great commission:
“Go into the unreached parts of the world, in Asia, Africa, and parts of South America, with the most poverty, that have the best pictures for your slideshows, and tell them about Me so I can come back sooner. But do not worry about those that have television, radios, and access to bibles, they’ve chosen to reject Christ, and that’s their problem, not yours. And I will be with you always.”
No?
Yeah, that’s not the great commission I remember either.
Here’s the real one:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
—Matthew 28:18-20, emphasis mine
Huh, that’s odd… I missed the part where all Jesus cared about were the unreached? Oh, maybe because that’s not all He cared about! Now, I have to say this, and it is one hundred percent true: I absolutely care about the unreached. I long to see them know Christ and make Him known in their nation. I believe that there are many people called to them, and I myself am called to one day go to the unreached. If you’ve known me for any amount of time you know I feel called to go to Iraq one day, and be a missionary there.
So yes, reaching the unreached is so important, and is very much on God’s heart, but is it supposed to be at the expense of other nations as well? Europe needs Jesus, and I will touch on that in the next section, but should we be making it difficult for people, like me, and many friends of mine, that are called to Europe to actually get there? When Christ has specifically said to go to all nations? I think there is something seriously wrong with a picture where other nations, that need Jesus, are being rejected and passed over because we want Jesus to come back sooner? Is it fair for us to pass judgement and say: “Well they had their chance, too bad, so sad…”?

“Europe Doesn’t Need Missionaries” And Other Lies I’ve Heard

“Europe doesn’t need missionaries.” This is one of the biggest lies I’ve heard. Here are a few others I have heard:
“Why are you going there?”
“Sounds like a vacation to me…”
“That’s too expensive, why don’t you go somewhere else that has a lower cost of living?”
All of them are arguments that have their root in the lie that Europe does not need missionaries.
So let’s have a little history lesson, shall we?
Since Christianity became a major player in world religions, and even before, there have been countless wars over religion. But let’s focus on the part Christianity played in religious wars… To name the major conflicts, there were the Crusades, where European “Christians” invaded the Middle East and North Africa to force Christianity upon the “heathens”… And yes, there was much more at play than just that going on, but it was all done in the name of Christ.
Many died, there was much bloodshed, and death. Then there’s the Inquisition, can’t forget our buddies involved in that one. Many were tortured, burned, and killed in the most brutal way for “not complying with the Holy Church”. Oh, and of course, the slaughter of Protestants during the Reformation. This is the conflict that has carried the longest… There is still fear amongst Protestants in France because of what was done to their grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the way back to the beginning of the Reformation.
Northern Ireland is still just coming out of the fog of war between Protestants and Catholics. Many times, if we’re being honest, there is much behind just Protestant and Catholic, Christian and Muslim that brings about these wars and killing, but it’s more often than not wrapped in the label of religion in order to justify it.
Okay, so what’s up with this history lesson? Well, now you understand the utter distaste many Europeans have for religion. Jesus has become this bloodthirsty tyrant to so many, that the true gospel of Christ has been lost in the shuffle of idolatry and war. He no longer is the loving, merciful God full of grace, but a man that has had so much blood shed because of His name. I don’t know how to put it in simpler terms other than this: The Jesus we know is not the Jesus the majority of Europeans know. At best He is a distant deity, at worst He’s a man that has been the cause of conflict ending in blood. So is it really any wonder they want nothing to do with Him?

Europe, the Missionary Grave Yard?

So why am I writing this?
Well, we, as a church have greatly forsaken Europe. Many look at Europe and see a warning, not a mission field. Before I went to France I was told it was “The missionary graveyard.”
I believe that is due, not just to the spiritual darkness there, but also because of the lack of support missionaries have when going to Europe. I, as well as many missionary friends, have been shot down and questioned when we tell people we are going to Europe as missionaries. Maybe it’s because we don’t have pictures of poverty and need, because you can’t always capture brokenness on camera.
There is such brokenness in Europe. Suicide, depression, broken families, broken homes, are so common there. But as I said, that can’t always be captured in pictures for me to show. All this to say: we need you church. I am pleading with you, to step up, and recognize that the lost are not just in Africa, Asia, and parts of South America, but they are in Europe, North America, Australia, they are everywhere.
They are not just the unreached, but they are those that have rejected God, they are those that have heard of Jesus, in passing, as a man that caused war and strife in their country’s past. I have had to fight to have this recognized, I have had to work hard to show people why I am going where God has called me, and I’m not complaining, because it has given me more passion, drive, and more of a heart for these people.
But I am saying this: stop making us fight for this!
We should not have to fight for your prayers, for your encouragement, for your spiritual support! God has called us to these amazing places, to these amazing people, not so we can be on vacation, or so we can “have it easy”, because being a missionary in Europe is not as easy as you might think it is, but because HE has a heart for these people. Because He has created them, He loves them, and He wants them to know that. His love and desire for them is no more, no less than the love He has for those who have not been “reached”.

My Challenge To You

So here is my challenge for you:
  • Start praying for missionaries in Europe.
  • Start talking to God about His heart for the people of Europe
  • Ask Him if there is anything He wants you to do for European missionaries.
If you feel the Lord lay it on your heart to write an encouraging note to a missionary there, do it! If you feel the Lord prompting your heart to pray or do something for a specific country, do it! Maybe you feel prompted to pray every day for a country in Europe: do it!
Whatever God prompts you to do, do it! Please do not forget us, do not forget what God is doing there, and recognize that as God moves through Europe He is raising up more missionaries to reach the unreached and the lost in this world. He loves them, and church, it’s time we stepped up and loved them too.
Blessings and Love,
Chrissy

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring has Sprung!

The snow has melted from last weekend's snow storm. The grass is green, the trees are blooming. Outside of our condo, there is a tree with white buds on it. Children are now playing outside in shorts and tee shirts. Yes, indeed, Spring has sprung!
Spring is not my favorite season. I'm more of a Fall or Winter gal myself. Yet, as I watch Colorado wake up from its sleepy state, I realize in a way, I'm waking up from my sleepy state, as well.
I've been struggling with a story for a long time, now. It's been tough for me to get in the minds of these characters. For some weird reason, they've shut me out. I can't get back in. So, I've set them aside, let them keep their silence for a bit, and began writing on a new story with new characters.
I'm excited to write this story. As I sat down with my laptop one night at Starbucks (my son was doing his homework next to me), the story took such a turn, I had to stop writing and breathe for a moment. It was a turn I hadn't expected. I've woken up from a long winter's nap, and I am so excited to finish this story.
Spring has sprung, not only in Colorado and the rest of the country, but in my writing life, as well. I thank God for the winter I have recently experienced in my writing. And I thank God for the fabulous spring in my life!
What about you? What has recently sprung out of the darkness in your life?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Change of Seasons

I have many friends who love spring and summer! Renewal of life, warmer weather, sunny days, playing outside. All good things to enjoy during these two seasons. My friends love to feel the rays of sun warming their faces, hearing the giggles of children as they play at the park. The earth comes back to life after a season of dormancy. Green grass, flowers blooming, birds singing a wake up tune every morning.
Yes, spring has sprung, even here in Colorado. Even though we've had a few snow storms since March began, the snow is gone, and warmer temperatures are to be felt this week.
But alas, I am not a spring lover. No, I am a lover of fall and winter. I enjoy the turning of the leaves, the numbers dipping into the 40's and even 30's. I love Jack Frost nipping at my nose. Give me a comfy sweatshirt and a pair of jeans any day over shorts and a t-shirt. I would love to stay bundled up in my house, a blanket wrapped around me, a great book in my hand, and a fire going in the fireplace.
However, we must go through each season. To have all summer and no spring doesn't seem right. If it were always cold, how could a person ever get warm? The sun needs to shine in all its brilliance. It's the way God created things here in Colorado.
We get all four seasons, and I love it. Yes, I do wish for more snow. Yes, I do wish for colder weather. But instead of dwelling on the change of seasons in a negative way, I choose to embrace them. I will embrace the seasons of the year.
It's like life, isn't it? We can wish for all the seasons in our life to remain the same. Summer seems to be a season of peace. Wouldn't we all love to live in that season of peace? Then we come to fall. Oh yes, fall. A season where change begins, and more often than not, leading to a place of death. Winter. The season when things die. This is the hardest place to be in. Winter. Death of a loved one, death of a relationship, death of a marriage. Death of what used to be and isn't anymore. But then we head into spring.  A place of renewal, rebirth, hope. We can't have one season with experiencing some of the others.
As we head into spring, may it be a season of rebirth for you. May you find hope. May you treasure this season. If you are in the other seasons, don't worry. You won't be stuck there for long. Keep looking at Jesus, who is walking through each season with you.