Global vs Local
Churches face the often difficult decision of how much time, money and energy to devote to global missions vs local mission. That is always an interesting and important conversation, one that is and should be unique to each congregation.
At Mosaic that conversation takes a bit of a different twist. All of our global ministry opportunities have come from our local relationships. As I got know Moses Thang Hung, we became acquainted with his brother James’ ministry in Myanmar — there are now four “Mosaic Churches” in Myanmar that we encourage and support. Pastor Carlos is from Juarez, Mexico and has a relationship with Samuel Cordova who leads a dynamic network of churches and ministries in that region, I had the privilege of spending a few days with them in June. We are committed to stay connected and involved in that ministry. A couple of months ago I met Pastor Jemimah Ngatia a native of Kenya who has a ministry in our local community. We are exploring ways of working together (for the moment we’ll be working together with African refugees living in Aurora… but I know how things often evolve to a global scale).
There is an incredible amount of ministry that is needed in our local community, but here it is hard to keep that from expanding globally (and I have to admit, I’m not trying too hard to geographically limit our impact).
One of the interesting outcomes for us is that whenever we’ve had opportunities outside of our region, it seems to provide us with connections back to great ministry locally. We are praying for the right moment to launch a Burmese congregation in our community. Our Spanish language ministry and community influence is remarkable. We are developing quite a reputation in our local community for connections with ministry that impact refugees from Africa and Asia.
I don’t have a clear picture of all of our future ministry involvements. I do know that we will continue to prayerfully engage with God as He leads us and give us opportunities to expand His Kingdom.
Please pray for us.
A few days in Juarez
At the US – Mexico boarder with Abraham & Samuel
I was privileged to spend a few days in Juarez, Mexico. I was able to learn about a couple of incredible ministries and be a part of a graduation ceremony of five Worldwide Christian Chaplains.
I could talk for hours about the experience, but let me just share a few of my observations:
- The people and the church in Mexico seems to be less effected by the materialism and consumerism that is so pervasive in the US Church. In many cases they had very few resources, but without complaining or lamenting they simply leveraged everything that they have to do more ministry.
- There was a deep joy in the hearts of the people that I met. Even though I had very little to offer them, they seemed genuinely excited and happy that I had come to see them. Every place that I went there was contagious laughter… even though I didn’t understand, I found myself laughing with them.
- It gets really hot in Juarez.
- The church leaders that I spent time with have a passion for ministry that far exceeds much of what I observe in the US. The big time obstacles that our south of the border friends experience (poverty, spiritual opposition, violence, threats) seem to empower their passion even more to go more places and do more in the name of Jesus.
- Showing up is a big deal. Similar to my experience in Myanmar last September, the leaders seemed so pleased that I would take time, money and energy to come and spend time with them.
It was an honor to hang out with my new Mexican friends. I’m sure that I learned more from them that they did from me. I’m hoping that by showing up on their turf, by seeing and affirming their significant ministry that I was an encouragement to them.
Our neighbors in Aurora come from all over the globe. Please pray for us at Mosaic as we continue to understand and explore the ways that God is giving us natural opportunities to partner with Him all around the world.
God is at work
God is at work all around the world. That shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us… yet (as the saying goes) God works in mysterious ways.
In September I went o Myanmar to train pastors and to see the church and children’s home that had asked to “affiliate” with us. Based on a brief phone call (in which I apparently didn’t say “no”) the church changed their name to Mosaic Church of Myanmar. At Mosaic we had always talked about being a multiplying church, but this really came out of left field – way, way out of left field. It was inspiring to see those committed followers of Jesus doing what they sensed God was leading them to do in spite of all sorts of obstacles and with little or no infrastructure or funding.
So, I came home pretty excited about the fact that in a distant land, a dedicated group of believers in some way “affiliated” with us. I was surprised to get a message from Pastor James Mana Hung on January 20th saying that they had started another “Mosaic Church” about 15 miles away. The new church was/is lead by Pastor Myant Tun. But we are not done, yet. On February 16th in another message from Pastor James, I was informed that a third Mosaic Church had been launched in a remote area far away from the city of Yangoon. Pastor Nay Tun is the pastor of that group. So, right now I am counting three new Mosaic Churches in Myanmar since September, but that number could be inaccurate, I haven’t checked my messages for a few minutes.
I have to admit to being a bit embarrassed and really excited. I have been claiming to be a church planter… two church plants in 30 years. Pastor James and his team have three church plants in about five months! I have to “up my game” if I continue to hang out with these guys (imagine my embarrassment if I go back to see them next year with zero new church plants).
I am excited about the ways that God is at work around the world! I am excited and a bit challenged in seeing the ways that God is blessing those who step out in faith and follow Him in spite of hardships and obstacles. I’m excited to see clearly that God blesses commitment and obedience as much as or more than well put together business plans and funding strategies. I am excited and humbled to be on the same team as Pastor James, Pastor Myant & Pastor Nay.
Would you please pray for us? As you prayer, thank God for His amazing work around the world. Pray, too that God would bless and provide for the work in Myanmar and in Aurora and in every corner of this often dark world.
I am often asked, “How is the ministry at Mosaic going?”. It has been good for me to take some time and reflect on the answer to that question. Here are some of my responses:
I continue to marvel at the ways that God has blessed us with a couple of ministry building blocks that very few church plants enjoy. First, God has clearly answered my prayers and brought to us a diverse and incredibly talented group of leaders. I am so thrilled to be able to work with these committed, intelligent, gifted (and sometimes quirky) men and women. Second, we are so fortunate to own a building right in the precise place we want to be. There are hassles associated with ownership, but we are blessed.
There have been some “wins” for the Kingdom of God this year at Mosaic. Here are my top four:
1. The successful launch of Juwon Mosaic. We always expected that this Korean language congregation would launch out from us and while we will always be closely connected it is an independent church, having its own board and structure that work better for them. Its great to see them thrive in a location that is better for them and with additional scheduling flexibility.
2. The successful start of Iglesia Cristiana Mosaico. Spanish is the first language of about 60% of our neighbors, so it is essential that we serve those folks. Pastor Carlos Calandreli is doing an amazing job of leading our Spanish language ministries and the congregation that meets at 1pm on Sundays. I am expecting that one day this group will be the largest single gathering at Mosaic and they have built a great foundation for effective ministry well into the future.
3. We have made great connections with immigrant/refugee churches and pastors in our community. We have close relationships with groups right in our neighborhood that worship in Spanish, Burmese, Hindi, Napoli, French and English. God is providing us with the passion and the opportunity to partner with these outstanding churches and pastors in ways that will strengthen them and help us all advance God’s Kingdom. Our connection and ministry to and with these groups was enhanced by my trip to Myanmar in September. We are beginning to be known as the bridge to and from these groups to the community at large. Most of these congregations will never be officially connected with Mosaic, but they will be and in many cases have already been significantly benefited by our ministry.
4. We have begun a significant focus on leadership development. Its really clear to me that the only way that we will be able to minister to our need filled and diverse community is with a whole lot of caring, competent and Godly leaders in every sector (church, government, law enforcement, social services, non profits, education, business, etc). God is challenging us to accept the call to identify, equip and empower leaders. Its exciting to know that we don’t have to be experts in each of these areas, but we can still significantly impact our community through developing leaders in each of those areas.
As you would suspect, there are also some challenges at Mosaic.
- Focus. There are so many needs and so many opportunities to address those needs. We are realizing more each week that in order to make an important impact, we will have to say “no” to many of these opportunities in order to focus on the ones to which God has really equipped us and call us. Please pray that we will have the wisdom to make the right choices and the discipline to follow through on those choices.
- Finances. While we operate a very, very lean organization we have roughly $7000 a month in expenses (over 90% of that is my salary and our building costs). We take in about half of that each month in tithes and offerings. That means we are dependent on generous donors from all over the country to make up that difference. God has been amazingly faithful in laying our ministry on the hearts of incredibly generous people and we are grateful. But there is a great deal of time and effort spent and a great deal of stress and pressure felt to make that happen. Please pray that God will continue to provide.
I could tell you hundreds of stories, stories that start with pain, injustice and heartbreak. But its exciting to hear how a bunch of those stories are beginning to change… through the power of God new endings are being written. Endings that now feature the breaking of destructive cycles… stories of transformation… stories of hope. Let me tell you just one story…
It started out as a pretty simple and safe conversation. Pastor Moses Thang Hung and I were talking about ways that Mosaic and I could help equip and support local Immigrant and Refugee pastors. These dedicated men and women have fled the violence and pain of their home countries often spending years in inhuman refugee camps. They come to this country committed to tell their countrymen about the hope and healing that comes from the one true God.
I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how that innocent conversation about 5 months ago could have evolved into me spending eight days in Myanmar that had me as a guest professor in Theological Seminary, launching Mosaic Church of Myanmar (that includes an orphanage), baptizing eight new believers and strategizing with Christian leaders to impact the entire country with the gospel. But the story didn’t end when I left. Part of the conversation centered around ways that Pastor James and the church could leverage their new freedom to proclaim the gospel during the upcoming Christmas season. We prayed and dreamed. In the past few days I have learned that Pastor James and his little church that meets in his house did a community outreach that touched dozens, hosted a Christmas event in their home for 250 of mostly Buddhist neighbors and he was invited to preach the gospel at the home of the Vice President of Myanmar! That’s a pretty productive Christmas!
Thank you. Your support of Mosaic is having a impact in Aurora and around the world. Please pray that God will continue to bless and use us as we follow Him.
It wasn’t what I was expecting. When I was invited to take a look at Paul’s Children’s Home, the orphanage that Pastor James is running in Yangon, Myanmar, I was expecting a stereotypical orphanage. Knowing that we were in a developing country, I was afraid that I’d see one of those cold, sterile places where kids sat with blank faces staring off into the distance.
That’s not at all what I saw. I saw a family… a big 15 child, three parent unconventional family. I saw happy, well adjusted kids that had experienced incredible tragedy in their young lives. I saw kids playing, going to school, doing homework, practicing music, interacting with each other and their “parents”. The most remarkable thing that I saw was that I was unable to distinguish between the “orphans” and Pastor James’ biological children. I saw a family.
I noticed another thing. The children were naturally learning about a God that really cared about them. They seemed to be accepting God’s blessing of a safe, loving environment and not focused on the injustices that brought them to that place. It was an incredible honor to baptize a couple of the older “former orphans”. I’m deciding to call them former orphans… they have been generously incorporated into a loving earthly family and as a result they have now been united with their Heavenly Father (it just doesn’t seem right to identify them as “orphans”).
I know those kids are being well taken care of, but I cannot figure out how Pastor James and his family is able to make it happen. As I was leaving the country and asking what I could do to help, James asked me to pray for income to sustain the Children’s Home. I tried not to make promises when I was there, but in that moment I made two. I promised that I would pray and tell the story of that amazing place where God is turning something so broken into something so stunningly beautiful. I also promised that I would be the first person to commit to partnering with Paul’s Children’s Home by contributing the $30 a month to support one of those “former orphans”. We are still figuring out just how to handle the logistics of properly accounting for and getting the money to Pastor James each month, but if you want to be a part of this miracle, please let me know.
An odd thing happened in the Singapore airport (I may have spent a little too much time in that location – actually quite a few odd things happen in an international airport at 3am, but that’s not my point). A family came and sat next to me… they were speaking Spanish and it reminded me of home. I was a bit amused at my reaction and a bit pleased that I have gotten so comfortable in my neighborhood in North Aurora, Colorado that even though I didn’t understand much of what they were saying it felt and sounded a lot like home. When I tried to tell them that, they moved a few chairs away from me – I chose not to take it personally.
It reminded me how much my life has changed in the past few years. On my way to Myanmar, sitting in the Singapore airport, hearing a family communicate in Spanish reminded me of home.
It also reminded me of the importance of “home”. Physical and spiritually we look for, we long for “home”. A place that is comfortable and safe. A place where we are accepted and valued. A place where we can relax and be ourselves. The Bible says that God has prepared a place for us – “home”. We get imperfect glimpses of it here on earth… but some day, we get to go home.
The world is a big place. Seems like a fairly obvious statement. But watching the sun come up over the Singapore airport and having just sat in the airplane as we flew over the US, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, The Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar, knowing that just around the corner is India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Viet Nam, Thailand, Bangladesh – millions and millions of people, the world seemed to get bigger… right now the bigness of the world is a bit more personal.
The world is a strange place. When you get a few miles away from home you see people wearing strange clothes, eating strange food, speaking in strange ways (and I made all of those observations in San Francisco!). But even as the strangeness is gets more pronounced the farther you get from home… there really is a lot of sameness. Little kids in Singapore playing on the moving walkways, the familiar looks on people’s faces of worry, fear and happiness.
The world is our home. As pleased as I am to be an American, I see the how interconnected we are. I have devoted a lot of time and energy the past few years talking about our community… that our problems are community problems and that any real solutions must be collective, the community working together. I’ll admit that the world is certainly bigger, stranger and more complex than my Aurora, CO community – yet we are all in this together.
I’m not quite sure what to do with this “clearer than ever” thought. But I am thankful for the amazing opportunity see and experience this big, strange world. And I am really grateful to be called by God to represent Him, to be His feet, hands and voice wherever He might send me.
Unexpected & Unanticipated
The Lord leads in unexpected ways and in unanticipated directions. The truth of that thought certainly has b
een confirmed to me the last few weeks. I am about to jump on a plane that will eventually take me to Yangon, Myanmar. That is a direction that I did not anticipate. I am eager to find ways that I (and others) could encourage and equip immigrant and refugee
pastors that are so dedicated and working so hard right here in our community… but “right here in our community” was what I anticipated.
On Sunday the 18th in Yangon, I will be preaching at Mosaic Church of Myanmar, assisting Pastor James baptize eight believers and getting to know the dozen or so kids in their orphanage. Tuesday through Saturday, I will be training pastors. I will be preaching at another church
n Sunday the 25th before heading home on Monday. Those are all activities that were no where on my radar screen 60 days ago.
Another unexpected thing is happening. Our church, people in the community and a number of friends of mine have affirmed this venture in ways that have surprised me. I let people know that I’d be going on this trip and there were some expenses that needed to be met, but I really expected to self fund some or much of the trip. But with very little arm twisting my trip is fully funded and I even have enough after the expenses to give a cash gift to the orphanage. It seems as though God has placed this trip and our ministry on people’s hearts in unexpected ways. I’m happy about that, but also a little bit surprised. It has prompted me to b
e especially sensitive to God’s leadings and open doors, because he seems to be “up to something”.
I will be sending (via email) and posting (on Facebook) some pictures and observation. Keep on praying… God’s at work!
So, I will be traveling
God does work in mysterious ways.
I have intentionally developed relationships with immigrant and refugee pastors in our community. These pastors usually serve without pay and very little training. I have tried to offer them support and encouragement and have talked some about finding ways of providing more training for them. As I’ve prayed about finding better ways to support, encourage and train pastors, I’ve envisioned that taking place right here… in our building. It looks like God may have answered my prayer, but in a way that I didn’t anticipate (I have got to learn to be much more specific when I pray). The other day I was invited to come to Myanmar (the country formerly known as Burma) in September to train pastors in Theology and Preaching. The idea is that if those dedicated men and women who are sacrificially serving could do it with a bit more skill and knowledge the Kingdom of God would be greatly benefitted.
Another “coincidence”. I have gotten to know Moses pretty well, he is the pastor of a Burmese Church just a few blocks from us. As we have gotten to know each other he has told me about James, his brother who is doing ministry in Myanmar. James leads a small church and orphanage. The church he had been connected with does not believe that Jesus is equal with God the Father… kind of a big deal in Christianity. James informed me the other day that after talking to his brother about me and Mosaic, he has changed the name of his church to Mosaic Church of Myanmar and wants to affiliate with us. I don’t know what that means for sure, but I may have inadvertently launched Mosaic ministries in Myanmar!
So, I will be traveling to Myanmar September 15-27. Its going to be quite a trip. They have me scheduled to teach for 4 hours a day, do 2 hour services in homes in the evenings and preach in the Sunday morning service… all being translated from English to Burmese. I’m also planning to spend a couple days with Pastor James and the Mosaic Church of Myanmar (I’m starting to like the way that sounds).
In order to do this, I am going to need your help. Would you be willing to pray for me as I prepare and then go on this trip. I think it is an awesome opportunity, but quite a heavy responsibility. I need people praying that God would use me to strengthen His church in Myanmar. It is really important that those God has called will accurately and effectively teach his Word and lead His church.
Frankly, I also need your help with some of the costs of the trip. The church in Myanmar will be digging deep to take care of my expenses once I get there, but I need to come up with the $2000 its going to cost for airfare and misc expenses. Would you consider helping out?
Please let me know if you will be praying for me and this crazy trip. Please let me know if you will be able to help with some of the expenses of the trip. You can give online at www.MosaicofAurora.com or by sending a check to Mosaic Church 1445 Dayton Street Aurora, CO 80010. Make the check out to Mosaic Church so that you can properly claim the gift on your taxes.
Thank you so much!
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak
Psalm 41 1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. 2 The Lord protects and preserves them— they are counted among the blessed in the land— he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. 3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.
The words jumped off the page, “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak” (Psalm 41). I have a new and heightened understanding of the weak. In the past couple of years as I have been a part of planting Mosaic Church and living in Original Aurora, I have seen the weak in our society up close and personal. Many of my friends and neighbors have so few options and opportunities, they are ignored and practically invisible. Those who have the least influence, the least power, the weakest in our society are my neighbors… the poor, immigrants, single moms, refugees, the homeless, those with language barriers, the uneducated.
I am well aware of the Bible’s clear message that God cares about and cares for the “least”, the weak among us. But this morning as I read Psalm 41, I saw the clear truth that God blesses not just the weak, but also those who have regard for the weak. What an encouragement that God sees those of us who have chosen to work with the weak and vulnerable. God promises to bless, deliver, protect sustain and restore those who work with and minister to the weak. Wow, how blessed am I?! What an amazing thought that God pays special attention to not just the weak and vulnerable but also to those who care about and serve the weak and vulnerable.
My friend and neighbor “Cynthia” is weak. She has an ugly personal story of abuse and abandonment as a kid and young adult. She spent years living in a unbelievably destructive lifestyle that she is paying for now. Cynthia is estranged from her family, lives in a homeless shelter and has overwhelming physical and mental health challenges. Cynthia has so many pressing needs that its hard to know how to help. I often wonder whether my/our efforts are helping much. But here’s what I do know: Cynthia knows that there is a God who cares enough about her messed up life to send us to pray and give and encourage and try to help. Her problems are not solved, but she is a bit better off than she was a couple of months ago. I also know that God does really care about her. And now I know that God is and will continue to bless us because we “have regard” for her.
I am claiming a chunk of God’s special blessing for me personally as well as the team here at Mosaic. But now I also realize the Biblical truth that all of you that have helped and supported our work are also in line for God’s blessing for regarding the weak. I’m happy to share that blessing. I am so pleased to be partnering with you in the ministry here in Aurora… every day I am fully aware of the fact that I could not possibly do this without your help, prayer and finical support. It just wouldn’t be possible. I sometimes feel a bit guilty for suggesting to some of you that we continue to need your help and support. But it does take a bit of the sting away realizing that as you help us help the weak, the marginalized, the poor and disadvantaged that you step in line to receive even more of God’s blessings.
If this a moment that God prompts you to give and/or help in some other way, follow His instructions and get ready to be blessed.
Reid Hettich, Pastor Mosaic Church of Aurora 1445 Dayton Street Aurora, CO 80010 www.MosaicofAurora.com 303-870-6055