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Loving others

About the author: Bill and Kwai Lin Stephens have served with OMF International in Mongolia since 1994. They have labored to evangelize, make disciples and work with Mongolian brothers and sisters to plant churches through English teaching, Bible college teaching, relief and development work, and through organizational consulting including nascent Mongolian mission agencies. Bill is pursuing a doctorate through Biola University, researching on Mongolian Christian nomadic herders. Kwai Lin, with Bill, leads OMF’s work to reach the Tibetan Buddhist world in Asia.

Today's Scripture: Luke 10:25-37

I was walking home to our apartment in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. A man walked out of a convenience store. Two men outside the store saw him and shoved him up against the window and started to punch him. I could see the fear in the eyes of the shopper up against the glass.

I was afraid to say or do anything. Mongolians are friendly and hospitable, but when they become angry, think Genghis Khan. Violence scares me. When I was in urban ministry living in a dangerous neighborhood in San Francisco in 1990, I was violently assaulted and robbed with a knife to my neck by two men with a skin color different than mine. 

So in front of the shop, it felt like I was staring at myself as I quickly walked toward the scuffle yelling in Mongolian “Khooye” or “Hey!” The two men turned around startled, taking their hands off their victim. “Russians are good. Ch*nks are bad” one of them said defensively to me. Ah, they think I am Russian, and Russian men have a reputation for being fierce. For this is the “Jukov District,” former home of WWII hero Soviet General Georgy Zhukov, and many Russians live here. The Chinese man saw an opening and ran. Then the two men quickly walked away.

At the core of Mongolian identity is not being Chinese. There is a long and complicated history of conflict between the two peoples. Latent grudges between peoples are not hard to find. Scottish people abhor being mistaken for English. Chinese and Koreans don’t like Japanese. Japanese are proud of their racial purity and despise Japanese marrying others. Canadians are offended if you call them American. My own forefathers were in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, taking a different position from the people of Canada.

See Luke 10:25-37. Jesus’ telling of the “Good Samaritan” story shakes the sensibilities. The lawyer could not get himself to reply “Samaritan” but instead answered, “The one who showed him mercy” (v. 37, ESV). Being far removed historically and culturally removed from the situation, it is hard for us to grasp why Jews despised Samaritans.

Samaritans were seen as being related to people who took away Israel’s land, who threatened Israel’s God given heritage. Remember, Israel was occupied by Rome, the globalists of their day. Israelites had not forgotten that back in their history, at the beginning of their exile, their land was being overrun with foreigners: “And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel” (2 Kings 17:24). The Samaritans came from these people.

Today, social and inter-ethnic conflict is on the rise in America. People cannot even agree on how to view America’s past, and have different visions for America’s future. In the midst of conflict, may we remember Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, then the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Christians may or may not like the direction America is going, but God still reigns. He calls for us to love others different from us, and may we worship him truly.


Lord God,
Help me to worship you in spirit and in truth. Forgive me for when I despise people different from me, people created in your image. Help me to love others, even people different from me. We do pray for peace in our nation, and in nations around the world, even as that peace will not be perfectly manifest until your son, the Prince of Peace returns.
In Jesus’ Name,

Posted by Bill Stephens with

What would you never give away?

About the author: Gretchen Tilly is a member of ZPC and is actively involved in missions. She has served on the Mission Commission twice and is part of the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) ministry. She has been greatly changed by visiting Egypt several times as well as Jordan, UAE, and Iraq. If you ask her why she loves the MENA region, she’ll tell you that after visiting, a huge part of her heart remains there—and she hopes to visit it as soon as she can!

Today's Scripture: Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

In my small, contemplative group, the author of the book we’re reading asks, “What is it that we would not give away no matter who needed it?” A little later, she makes this statement, “Whatever it is that we would not give away can tell us a great deal about ourselves.” (Ouch!)

What is it that you would never give away? Your career or a promotion? Your car? Or a hobby? Time? Your grandmother’s china?  
__________fill in the blank________________

Most of us know a number of Bible verses that speak to holding on to earthly possessions (Luke 12:34 and Matthew 6:21; Matthew 6:19; Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:33) and I get it, we’re not supposed to store up treasure on Earth. But to be honest, I have something that I treasure, that I’m deeply thankful for, that is a huge gift from God, and that I’m holding onto as tight as I can. Let me explain. 

I am one of the millions of workers without a job. It’s a scary time for me and countless others. I’m single and while I don’t have to worry about feeding and providing for a family, there’s no plan B, no spouse who might help with finances and moral support.  

So what does all that have to do with my prized possession? Not having a permanent job means no stable income which could lead to losing it at some point in the future. So what is IT? IT is my sweet, little, simple, lovely, wonderful, house. And why is it so important to me? It is my home, my casa, my base camp where I can return to each day. It represents permanence in this constantly changing world of unknowns, and it’s where I can just be.

I don’t know what is going to happen and how this chapter in my life will end, but I know that I have hope because:

  • The Lord will never leave me and never forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5b)
  • He has plans for me—to give me hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • When I trust in him with all my heart and acknowledge him in everything I do, he will make my paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5)
  • He lavishes his love on me! (1 John 3:1)

Knowing all this, my response is/should be/will try to be:

  • Offering my house to the Lord, acknowledging that it isn’t mine to begin with.
  • Loosely holding my house and thanking him for the gift that it is each day.
  • Trusting him to provide a new job.
  • Keeping my eyes open for what he wants to give me, knowing that I may need to let go of everything in order to grasp what he has for me. 

Today, please pray with me:

Dear Lord,
Thank you for all the things with which you have blessed me. Help me to never forget that everything I have comes from you. And now I offer back to you all that you have given me. Help me to remember that I am blessed to be a blessing, and may I be so. Please be with those who need your healing touch, your hope, and your love. In everything I say, do, and think, may I continually and always honor and glorify you.
In Jesus’ precious name I pray,

Posted by Gretchen Tilly with 1 Comments

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