The Hard Question

Yesterday morning, we celebrated our global mission partners at McKinney. I've mentioned it before, but I don't think I've ever been a part of a church who is as serious about emphasizing global mission as McKinney. I don't think you could be at McKinney for a single Sunday and not hear something about what God is doing in the world and how you can be a part of it. It's definitely a part of our DNA. 

Greg Lillestrand was the guest speaker yesterday, and did an outstanding job. Greg and his wife Charmaine are the national directors for Campus Crusade for Christ in Italy. Kari and I got to meet the Lillestrands and their team last year in Italy, and it was obvious that they are up to something great in an extremely difficult environment. 

When you think about Western Europe, and Italy in particular, you think primarily about Christian influence. Rome oozes Christian symbolism, with almost as many cathedrals as New York City has Starbucks. Florence, where the Lillestrands are headquartered, is not a lot different. And yet, the average Italian has a general distaste for Christianity. They see it as a religion of abused power and corrupt leadership - not as a faith of sacrifice and servant leadership. Italians are Catholic because they're Italian, but are typically adverse to the idea that the religion is actually what they believe. 

In fact, if surveys are correct, there are less than 600,000 evangelical believers in the entire country. That means there are more believers per capita in China than in Italy. Italy has been classified as an "Unreached People Group," in the same category as Papua, New Guinea, and other third-world countries.

So Greg and Charmaine are up against it. 

That's why Greg's sermon from Mark 5:21-42 about Jairus' daughter was pretty encouraging. 

Jesus says in verse 36, "Don't be afraid; just believe." 

Greg reminded us that it is Jesus who defines reality. When everything else says something is impossible, it's not impossible until Jesus says it's impossible. 

He said, "The hard question isn't whether or not God can deliver on the hard things out there, in the lives of other people. The hard question is whether or not you believe He is willing to deliver on the hard things in here, in your every day life... when you realize that He is, that's when you start living at 100 percent." 

What an encouraging time yesterday. 

If you think about it today, pray for Greg and Charmaine. They head back to Florence this morning. Pray for them as they work with college students, and with a number of church planters throughout Italy who are trying to find a way to gain traction in a difficult place to plant churches.

And, if you're looking for a way to invest money in something much more stable than the stock market, consider supporting financially what God is doing through Greg and Charmaine.  You have my word that you will see an eternal return on your investment - can your 401k promise that?!