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This year, thousands of lives were transformed, millions of resources were distributed, and hundreds were given new hope—all because of the prayer and financial support of our partners. In this special blog series, we’ll share some of the core truths behind our mission to teach, reach, and rescue. To learn more about what we accomplished in 2013, click here.

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An expert in the Law of Moses once asked Jesus, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ response (found in Luke 10:25-37) has become one of His most recognizable teachings. Today, we understand “good Samaritans” to be people who show mercy in response to another’s distress. They’re people who rescue others. We celebrate and commend such individuals; as Christians, we strive to be among them, and rightly so.

Perhaps, however, so many generations from the time of its telling, we have missed what would have been obvious about this story to Jesus’ original audience. We understand the divine directive into compassion, but when the word Samaritan has a positive connotation, we may easily miss the point Jesus was making.

The hero in Jesus’ story was a man known to be outside of covenant with God. I believe this was intended to seem absurd. The point was that it is just as preposterous to think that someone could know God and not love his fellow men as it is to believe that we could care for each other—sacrificially and inexhaustibly—without first experiencing the infinite love of the Most High.

The apostle John wrote:

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. …We love each other because he loved us first. (1 John 4:10-11, 19 NLT)

Rescue is a big deal to us. This year we worked with on-site partners to rescue 223 women and children from slavery and arrest over 45 traffickers. Your prayers and financial support played a huge role in this work, and we will never have adequate words for the privilege of carrying God’s justice to the exploited and abused.

But in a generation tuned in to the idea of social justice, there’s something to keep in mind. God’s kind of justice—of compassion, of mercy—doesn’t flourish independently of the knowledge of His love. That idea, according to the logic of Luke 10, is absurd. So as people intent on bringing God’s justice to a world in desperate need of it, let’s make first things first.

There are millions of men, women, and children who need to be rescued, and it’s going to take real action and real involvement to see God’s will done on earth as in heaven. We won’t be passive bystanders who nod at the idea of justice and then let someone else do the heavy lifting. In the coming year, we will continue to rescue the oppressed, disempower darkness, and share the transforming truth of the gospel. But we can’t skip straight to the action and forget to know God’s love for ourselves. We can’t be so much about the doing for God that we neglect the knowing of Him.

As you consider the ways you can be part of rescue in 2014—whether by intervening in your immediate sphere or by partnering with us around the world—remember to get off on the right foot. You can start by saying this prayer:

Father, let my roots grow down into Your love and keep me strong. I ask for the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love is. I want to experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully, so that I can be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from You. I want to be a carrier of Your justice, and I want that justice to be the fruit of the revelation of Your love. I want to know You better so that I can better partner with You in bringing Your love to those in need. (Adapted from Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT)

To learn more about Rescue, the work accomplished in 2013, and how you can get involved, click here.

WE blog header

This year, thousands of lives were transformed, millions of resources were distributed, and hundreds were given new hope—all because of the prayer and financial support of our partners. In this special blog series, we’ll share some of the core truths behind our mission to teach, reach, and rescue. To learn more about what we accomplished in 2013, click here.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love
–“Joy to the World” (Isaac Watts)

I’ve sung “Joy to the World” countless times. In fact, when I was six, I had a burning desire to perform a rendition of this masterpiece before my fellow students. Thankfully, for the sake of my classmates, this desire was never indulged.

Just a few days ago I was singing this song with my son (who has yet to realize that his father isn’t the best singer in the world) when the above verse caught my attention. As I became aware of what I was singing, I wondered, What would it take for the nations to prove the glories of God’s righteousness and the wonders of His love? This idea is central to my life and to Messenger International’s mandate to reach the world. But how could it be accomplished? I was immediately reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV)

An ambassador is simply a person who represents someone else. God reminded me that we, as His Church, have been empowered by His Spirit to be His ambassadors on the earth, those who showcase His glory. In Christ, we received the gift of salvation and were declared righteous. This gift of righteousness (which cannot be earned) has power to transform our natures into the likeness of Christ, thus enabling us to be an expression of His truth and love on earth.

What does this mean practically? It means that quite possibly the only way that cashier is going to experience God’s love this season is if you take the time to show it to her. Slow down enough to remind her of her intrinsic value and the fact that God is crazy about her.

The problem that many of us face is we don’t believe we’re capable of becoming more than our failures and weaknesses. We therefore refuse to believe God’s Word and fully embrace a transformed life. But remember that God will transform you to the degree your faith allows. If you don’t yield to His life-changing power, you can never become an ambassador of His glory, one who displays the very expression of who He is.

I encourage you to embrace this truth: You are positioned to reveal the glory of God’s righteousness and the wonder of His love. By God’s grace and the guidance of His Spirit, you can become the light that this world so desperately needs.

To learn more about Reach, the work accomplished in 2013, and how you can get involved, click here.

 WE blog header

This year, thousands of lives were transformed, millions of resources were distributed, and hundreds were given new hope—all because of the prayer and financial support of our partners. In this special blog series, we’ll share some of the core truths behind our mission to teach, reach, and rescue. To learn more about what we accomplished in 2013, click here.

You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NLT)

This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture, a stunning encouragement to let the Word of God construct my life. I love the imagery of doors and gates marked with God’s Word, of His promises and commands wrapped to hands and anchored around His people’s minds. I love the picture of men and women whose language is shaped by what God has spoken, who raise children fluent in the articulations of heaven. I love the charge to speak the things of God everywhere and at all times.

There’s something else about this passage that I find amazing: its audience. When Moses shared these words, he wasn’t talking to the priests or the Levites or his closest friends. Deuteronomy 5:32 identifies his audience as simply the people. All the people. Young, old, men, women, leaders, followers—all were invited to speak of the things of God.

Throughout human history, we the people have done a good job of pushing God away. The Israelites were the first to say, “We don’t want to talk with God. Can’t someone else do that for us?” (see Exodus 20:18-19). But God has always been in the business of making the eternal available to us. Hundreds of years after Moses addressed the Israelites, Paul told the people of Athens that God had constructed the entire universe so that we could know Him (see Acts 17:26-27 in The Message version).

It’s one of the great wonders of our existence: that a perfect, eternal God would look on His fallen, flawed creations and entrust us with His faultless words. It sounds absurd. But He does.

This, ultimately, is the message of teach: God wants to share His Word—His heart, His very self—with you. It’s why we create resources. It’s why we support pastors and leaders. It’s why we invest in the local church. Because God is near, He can be known, and all His people can carry His Word. All the power and promise He has revealed by His Spirit can be known and received by the people. Including you. Young, old, man, woman, leader, follower—our prayer is that you would dive deep into the scriptures and declare, as the prophet Jeremiah did:

Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.
(Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

To learn more about Teach, the work accomplished in 2013, and how you can get involved, click here.