Missions, Hunger, and Summer Houses

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Ogren Mission to Uganda

On October 6 the Deacon Council approved a request from Glenn Ogren to take a six-week leave of absence to go to Uganda with Mission: Moving Mountains. He will be gone from about November 8 through December 20 of this year. This is a relatively new mission (founded in 1979) which combines health and social service ministries with evangelism and discipleship. Glenn will be doing some needs assessments for the mission, and will have an opportunity to survey the tragic situation in Uganda. Glenn will be receiving half-salary from Bethlehem while on his mission and we will look forward to a firsthand report from a land which has scarcely recovered from the reign of Idi Amin. We will be having a commissioning service for Glenn like the one that sent Tom and Rollin and me to Seattle.

Skip a Lunch, Feed a Bunch

Many of you took home a little black lunch pail on Sunday. This is part of our yearly effort to collect money to fight world hunger. If you didn’t get a lunch pail why not pick up a rice bowl at church (which we used last year) and use it instead? Here’s the plan: on November 28 we will collect the lunch pails and rice bowls in the evening service. That gives us seven weeks to fill them. The suggestion is that you skip a lunch once a week and put the cost of a lunch in the lunch pail. Use the lunch time for prayer and meditation over the book of Amos. If 300 of our people did this not only would we collect over $4,000 for World Relief but the spiritual impact of this prayer and fasting would stir us up to much love and many good deeds. The money will be channeled to World Relief through our Baptist General Conference. Also the World Relief portion of our mission budget would be covered by this collection. Surely once a year is not too often to direct our attention to one of the most appalling miseries of the world, and do at least something to try to give relief.

Summer Houses?

Last Sunday I read Amos 3:15 as part of the divine judgment coming upon Israel: “I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end.” At Popcorn With the Pastor Marlene Johnson asked whether I thought it is wrong to have a summer cabin. My answer is: maybe and maybe not. Amos was sure mad at the wealthy people of Israel for having winter and summer houses. In Amos’ day this was a sign of addiction to comfort and love of luxury, which for him were incompatible with sensitive compassion for the poor.

So the question for us is: what are our summer houses a sign of? What do they signify to the world and to our young people? What do they communicate about our values and what do they show about our aims in life? It is not my job as a pastor to make your real estate decisions for you. My job is to preach the whole counsel of God, including Amos 3:15. Does it make us feel uneasy? So be it. “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!” (6:1). Shall we have a summer house and a winter house? My pastoral aim is not to answer that question, but to help you “be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the will of God.” It is not easy. We are in it together. Peace to all. Thanks, Marlene.

With growing love,

Pastor John