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Acts of Kindness

About the Author: Rev. Dan McNerney is an associate director for Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship, a mission support group of the Presbyterian Church worldwide. He joined FF in 1996. He and his wife, Sharon, live with their five children in Winnetka, IL. Dan’s primary areas of responsibility are in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and the United States. For the past 18 years, Dan has become heavily involved with mission work among Muslims, including forging interfaith dialogues and relationships with local Muslim communities in the United States.

Dan is a graduate of Yale University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Since 2002, Dan has led numerous vision trips to Egypt, Turkey, and the Arabian Peninsula. He is also helping the underground Church in Iran. For several years, Dan has led a fruitful partnership with his church, the Village Presbyterian Church in Northbrook, IL, and a local Bosnian mosque. Dan now helps churches across America to build bridges of friendship and witness opportunities with local Muslim communities.

What the McNerney family has been up to during this time: My family and I have become puzzle freaks while at home here in the Chicago area during this pandemic. We used to be content with 500 piece puzzles; now 1000 pieces are not enough. Our three college aged children have turned our house into a college dorm; and Sharon and I are loving every second. We have learned more about Netflix and Spotify than we ever dreamed. We even took in a stray student from the University of Illinois who could not get back home in time to join his family in Australia. His wonderful humor has laced our nightly family meals, taught us Australian customs, all of which have filled our house with laughter and fun, despite the hardships we face every day which surround us.

Today's Scripture: Acts 2:42-45

For the past few weeks, I have been on Zoom calls with my Egyptian friends in Cairo. They have been sharing with me how difficult the slow down of their economy has been on the millions of families who rely on daily income to survive. Starvation has become a real issue for many of these families. Numerous Presbyterian churches in Egypt have mobilized themselves to raise money to put together boxes of food to deliver to their neighbors most adversely affected by the coronavirus. Some of these church leaders and lay people have gone so far as to scrub the floors of churches and even local mosques in order to keep the virus from spreading in their neighborhoods. The Egyptian Muslims, who are now celebrating Ramadan, have been greatly touched by these acts of kindness by their Christian neighbors. Their country is in crisis, and neighbors are helping neighbors in most touching ways, regardless of religious background.

Acts of kindness are happening like this all over the world. In the world today, there is new spirit at work in people wanting to share their resources with one another, no matter how few items they may have to offer. The same kind of spirit was present at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the new believing community in Jerusalem. Once the Holy Spirit had entered into people's hearts, there was a sudden surge of generosity and kindness among the members of this fledgling Christian community. I believe the pandemic today is causing people to reach out to God in new ways, and the Holy Spirit is moving mightily among them to make each person more sensitive to their neighbor's needs.

As you ready yourselves for celebrating Pentecost in just a few weeks on May 31, ask God to help you extend even greater help, prayers, and love to your neighbors who might be in greater physical and financial strain than you are.

Let us remember the following words from Scripture:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.
Acts 2:42-45

Prayer:

Lord,
This pandemic has caused all of us to slow down and become more humble in our fears, not knowing how our futures will unfold. So many things of normal, earthly comfort are being stripped away from us. We are being asked by you to trust primarily in what you call the ultimate comforter, namely your Holy Spirit. We need the help, love, encouragement of your Holy Spirit in our lives as never before. Please fill us with your grace so that we can be empowered to love our neighbors as ourselves. Lead us to help the people most in need in our midst. We ask these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Posted by Rev. Dan McNerney with

Making the best use of time

About the author: Mark and his wife Ruth focus on reaching over 80,000 poor people who live within a mile of the OMF Mission Home in urban Manila. Because few of these people would attend a worship service, they focus on bringing the gospel message to them by doing fun and meaningful events. Their goal is to glorify God by making disciples and planting churches.

Today's Scripture: EPHESIANS 5:15-17

I was thinking about Ephesians 5:16 today "... making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."

I remember being a new missionary going through culture shock. You know about it, you feel it, but you can't seem to just snap out of it. It is a hard and low time in the lives of many missionaries. We just had to make the best use of our time until we worked through it and adjusted to a new normal.

I find myself needing to go back to some of the same disciplines that helped me back then, as we adjust again to a new normal.

Today we have 4 young pastors living with us at the church. One has his own family. I am the point person on the team. These young guys are looking up to me for guidance. Just like them, I am trying to figure out the new rules of life and ministry and I don't have all the answers. So what we do is get up early and exercise. We study theology together, then do construction work and cleaning at the church until noon. We eat and take a break. The average high temperature here is well over 100° everyday. We meet up again together at 3 pm for 1 hour of prayer. At 4 pm we shoot our daily Bible teaching video for the church. After that we minister to our neighbors with food distribution and various other social distancing ministries like flying kites, and tossing mangoes from our mango tree to our neighbors on their roofs. In the evening we come together and sing and praise the Lord for what he did that day. Sometimes we fellowship and eat together in the evenings. 

Just like Paul said..."making the best use of our time... if you feel like it or not...that's how we made it through culture shock and that's how we are finding our new normal today. 

Glory to God forever and ever! He alone gives us grace and strength to keep pressing on!

In Christ, Mark

Prayer:

Dear Lord,
Thank you for this day. May we find your heart, may that be our goal to love you and to know you, and Lord, may you fill us with that love to share with others that we come in contact with today. In Your name we pray Jesus.
Amen.

Posted by Mark McDowell with

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