No Fuel Required: A Means to Empower Pastors

Over the past several years, I have come to enjoy cycling as a hobby, a great cardio workout, and a wonderful way to spend time with people and with God. As my interest in cycling has increased so has my awareness of cycling around the world in all types of communities, people groups, and economic situations. People in Europe may cycle because of eco-friendly ideologies, people in Asia’s megacities may cycle because of urban mobility, and others may cycle for the freedom that cycling offers. But for many people trapped in poverty, cycling is the only means of affordable transportation, and even then, a bike may be too costly for them to own.

Recently while in Burundi, I was talking to a group of pastors who were discussing church planting in surrounding villages. They spoke about how they would walk 10 miles to a remote village to preach and then would travel another 10 miles to preach again at another location. These arduous weekly journeys required an enormous amount of time and multiple days away from their families, especially if a crisis demanded extended attention. As I listened to these mostly elderly men, I saw their faithfulness to the gospel and their commitment to “the least of these” in their nation. 

You may be wondering if they need a car or a motorcycle? But if they were to own a car, would they be able to afford the petrol, the insurance, and the maintenance? Burundi is one of Africa’s poorest countries with 80% of its people living in poverty. The average salary for a Burundian is only $343 per year, and there are only six vehicles per 1000 people. Therefore, a car or motorcycle for these men would be a burdensome and unrealistic responsibility.

As we continued to talk, the use of bicycles became the most realistic and empowering option— no fuel was required, and the low-cost of maintenance was feasible.  But at the cost of $150 per bicycle, this still remained a half year’s salary and an unreachable luxury. At that moment, my enthusiasm for cycling became a means to empower pastors to reach their communities and beyond. Since returning from Burundi, we have purchased two bicycles raised the funds for several more.

Recently, SpiritLife Ministries discovered that pastors in Cuba are also in need of bicycles for transportation which can be purchased for $150.

Will you help us empower these pastors to do the work of the kingdom? Will you give $150 to purchase a bike for a well deserving pastor?

So the next time you jump on a bike for a leisurely ride around the neighborhood, thank God for the blessings He has given us and please say a prayer for these pastors laboring faithfully for His kingdom.

The Lenses We Wear

From exploring distant galaxies to studying molecular structures to improving our personal eyesight, lenses are invaluable in our attempt to understand the complex and diverse universe around us. Without lenses, our knowledge of our world would be limited, distorted, or simply based on conjecture. Our world and our reality would consist only of what we could see with our unassisted vision.

In much the same way, our perception of ideas, values, and concepts are shaped and viewed by the cultural, sociological, historical, and religious lenses we wear. These lenses, known as worldviews, tell us what to wear, how to greet friends, or even if we need to buy the latest Apple iPhone. While our own worldview creates boundaries and cultural norms for us to successfully navigate the perils of community, it can also limit our ability to understand and communicate with others outside our culture. If we are to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ in a relevant and receivable manner, we must look beyond our own worldview and put on new lenses—God lenses—to view the rarely seen world outside our own culture.

So how do we rightfully view our world in order to effectively and successfully communicate the truth of Jesus Christ cross-culturally?

First, we need to take a look at our own lenses to see if we are perceiving correctly. Have you ever driven down the road and thought, “It sure is getting dark early; there must be a storm brewing,” only to realize later that you were wearing sunglasses.  The darkened lenses made you perceive reality incorrectly. In America, nationalism and patriotism are powerful lenses which convey that America is the greatest and the most powerful nation on earth and that how we think and live must also be the greatest. Therefore, from our viewpoint American culture is right and all other cultures are wrong. Our music is best, our clothes are best, and our ideas and opinions are best. This is our perceived reality. And because other views are not simply different but are wrong, we attempt to destroy or replace opposing cultures. The darkened lenses of ethnocentrism have distorted our perception which has led to an attitude of superiority and unnecessary conflict and hostility with outside cultures.

These darkened lenses of nationalism are so powerful that they continually attempt to shape and define American Christianity. These lenses say that Americans have greater value, that immigrants are not welcome, and all Muslims are our enemy. But these ideas are anti-Christian. Are we not to humble ourselves, take care of the stranger, and love our neighbors? But the American worldview has superseded the Christian worldview. In fact, sometimes I wonder, because of our darkened lenses, if the church is no more than worship of America and American values. If Christians are going to become authentic followers of Jesus, then we must force ourselves to take off the darkened lenses of nationalism and ask God to help us see the world through His lenses.

Secondly, we need to attempt to understand the lenses others wear. By viewing the world through a Muslim’s or an African’s lens we may be surprised at the injustices they endure or the hospitality they display to strangers even when at a financial disadvantage. We may also see their perception of Americans as crusaders, colonialists, or even allies. Remember because of the cultural, sociological, historical, and religious lenses they wear this is their perceived reality. Attempting to understand their worldview helps us to empathize and have compassion for their culture while also helping to correct misperceptions they have about our culture. Only as we begin to understand the different lenses we wear and find solutions to perceive reality successfully, will we be able to communicate the truth of Jesus Christ effectively and accurately.

Lastly, we need to understand that our goal is not to communicate Americanism, democracy or capitalism, but Jesus Christ as the Savior of all the world. Our goal is not to destroy or replace cultures, but position Jesus Christ at the center of all cultures. By doing so, we put on the lenses of God and begin to perceive reality based on truth. We begin to understand misplaced values in our own culture that must be challenged and renounced; we begin to see how Christ-centered values supersede norms of the outside culture, and we begin to love and appreciate one another because of our mutual desire to see our cultures in the light of truth.

So I challenge you, take a look at the lenses you are wearing, attempt to see the world through the lenses of others, and correctly position Jesus Christ at the center of all cultures including your own. By doing so, we will begin to break down the obstacles of communication that have separated us, and we will be empowered to effectively and accurately share the good news of Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

Merry Christmas – Noel Songs They Sing

Bennett Family

Noel Songs They Sing

Jesus the Christ lowly came,

Heaven forsook, and man became.

Shepherds inquired with exuberant joy,

In the city of David, the birthplace of God’s salvation ploy.

Magi embarked with treasure laden,

Followed the star the Advent had awakened.

Joseph and Mary, weary from sin’s cursed labor,

Unknowingly held God’s Son and man’s Savior.

Men today, noel songs they sing,

But the babe in the manger have they made Him their King?

-Matt Bennett


As Christmas becomes increasingly more commercialized around the world, the holiday is celebrated with beautifully decorated trees, Santa bringing gifts, and songs of the Savior’s birth. But have we put the coming of the Messiah, the most significant event in history, into the category of myth and fable?  Do we as Christians celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us, or are we simply following religious and cultural traditions void of meaning and significance?

Today, let us focus our attention on Jesus Christ the Messiah—Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace! Let our message to the world not just be “holiday cheer,” but a proclamation of salvation and redemption through the babe born in Bethlehem!

During this Christmas season, may you receive the blessings of Christ’s kingdom—righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

In Need of a Moravian Pentecost: Herrnhut to the World

Moravian Church, Herrnhut

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Herrnhut, Germany, while attending the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. It was a humbling and inspiring experience that has left an indelible impression on my view of God’s destiny and how He moves in our lives to accomplish His purposes. Let me explain.

Nestled in the quaint German countryside, Herrnhut could be easily overlooked in regards to its significance in the development of the modern missionary movement and its impact on Western society. However, it was here on June 17, 1722, that God orchestrated a story that continues to unfold even today! It was on this day that a small group of refugees from Moravia (the modern day Czech Republic) asked permission from Count Zinzendorf to settle on his land. He agreed, and the community was given the name Herrnhut, meaning “the Lord’s covering.” The settlement quickly became a community of religious outcasts and exiles from across Europe. However, these pietist Christians weren’t without their disagreements and conflicts, soon major factions developed. Concerned about the situation, Count Zinzendorf returned to Herrnhut and worked feverishly to bring unity among the community by going home to home praying and conducting Bible studies. On August 13, 1727, a dramatic transformation occurred as they “learned to love one another” when they experienced a special visitation of the Holy Spirit known as the Moravian Pentecost. The fractured church was miraculously set on fire for the kingdom; a continuous prayer watch began which went uninterrupted, 24 hours a day, for 100 years; and missionaries were sent throughout the world, beginning the first Protestant missionary movement. Among other great accomplishments, their ministry would have a significant impact on the life of John Wesley! 

It is almost unfathomable how God used a rejected, exiled, and divided people to rekindle the flames of Pentecost and propel His church once again into mission. This renewed fervor took the Moravians, even at great personal sacrifice, to the ends of the earth preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Almost 300 years later, the church, for the sake of the world, again stands in need of a “Moravian Pentecost.”  Sadly, the 21st century church is fractured and at odds, self-absorbed in personal kingdom building, and withdrawn from the world due to ethnocentrism clothed in national patriotism.  But God’s purposes are not thwarted. His mission has not changed! In fact, He is looking for a people to accomplish His purposes and proclaim the love and salvation of Jesus Christ to the nations.

So what can learn from the Moravian Pentecost?

God is looking for leaders to bring reconciliation and unity to the body. When disagreements and conflicts arose, Count Zinzendorf returned to the disciplines of Bible study and prayer. However, he did not simply mandate these directives but personally modeled his desired actions.

God is looking for a broken and repentant people. The Moravians and the citizens of Herrnhut were refugees who were running for their lives. They had lost everything except their passion and zeal for God. And in their brokenness and hopelessness, they found not only a refuge but the Lord’s covering. They found a place in which they hungered for spiritual things demonstrated by an unquenchable prayer life.

God is looking a people who have learned to love one another. When the Moravian Pentecost occurred, it was not just a temporal manifestation, but it was a special visitation of God that empowered them with an unconditional love for one another and emboldened them to share that love with a hostile and often adversarial world.

God is looking for a people on whom He can once again pour out His fire.

God is looking for a people in need of a Moravian Pentecost!

Why Do We Go to the Unreached?

Nepail Women

Janese and I began our missions journey in 1993 as we traveled to London, England, to begin our first assignment at the Centre for International Christian Ministries.  It was here that we committed our lives to share the salvation of Jesus Christ with those who have never been given the opportunity to hear the gospel. These people are the unreached and they live in the most hostile and resistant areas of our world.

From that time in London until now, people have repeatedly asked, “Why do you go to people who hate us? Why bother? What are you trying to accomplish? Aren’t devout Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhist going to heaven anyway?” And so I quickly discovered that it was critically important to not only understand the mission but the “why” behind the mission. If we don’t understand the “why” then we can easily become distracted and even consumed with the “doing” while the original intent of going gets lost in all of our busyness. And when tough times occur—and they always do—then the failures of our “doing” gives us nothing in which to cling.  Therefore, to understand “why we go” is not only important to help us stay focused on the goal, but it also serves as a “battle cry” when we face opposition or even failures. The “why” energizes us, retools us, and propels us back into the fray of world evangelization.

So why is it important for Christians to be intentional in going to those that have never heard?

1. The unreached, as is the case for all people, are the object of God’s love.  Salvation thru the death and resurrection of Christ was offered not only to Americans or the Western World or to only sub-Sahara Africa, or to the coastal areas of Asia but God, as an expression of His expansive love, gave His Son as a sacrifice to all peoples in every generation. Therefore, in no way are the unreached, whether Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or animist, under some special condemnation that places them beyond the reach of that love. 

      For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”John 3:16-17

2. The expanse and depth of Christ’s love for the unreached must find its expression in us. We no longer live for ourselves but as Christ’s ambassadors to those living in spiritual darkness. If Christ loved us so much to take upon Himself the humiliation and horror of the cross, and if that love now abides in us as His followers, then this amazing love becomes our compelling motivation in witness. 

“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”- II Corinthians 5:14-15

3. Our obedience to the Great Commission is not optional but mandatory. Jesus commands us that while going to proclaim the gospel to every ethne, we are to make disciples. This directive to be missional is a call to be Christ’s witnesses simultaneously locally, nationally, and even to the world’s most remote regions. Resistance and hostility to the message do not relieve us of this responsibility. 

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Amen.”- Matthew 28:18-20

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”- Acts 1: 8

4. In Christ, God has provided everything necessary for man’s salvation; apart from Him, the unreached are without hope.  If we truly believe this statement then it will radically transform how we live our lives and exponentially fuel our missional fervor. Dr. David Shibley once stated, “Our passion for world evangelization is in direct proportion to our belief in hell.” Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice that all should have eternal life in God’s presence. The horrifying alternative should unconditionally motivate us to reach our closest loved ones as well our most feared enemies.

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’”- Acts 4:11-12

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”- Romans 1:16

5. The unreached serve false religions, power structures, and philosophies which promote wrong conceptions of God and of the Gospel, robbing Christ of His rightful position and providing a false sense of security through self-righteousness. Most of these people have been born into a world of darkness never having had the opportunity to hear the truth of Jesus Christ. We, therefore, are obligated to declare the majesty of God and the good news of salvation thru Jesus Christ.

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”  – II Corinthians 4:3-4

Evangelizing the unreached is not an easy task. It is complicated, difficult, and filled with challenges and resistance, but we press ahead into a world that so desperately needs Christ. So when we want to quit, or hide ourselves in daily routines, or simply ignore the needs of our world, let us sound the “battle cry!” We go not because it’s a job, it’s adventurous, or it’s to fulfill some work of self-righteousness or self-gratification, but we go because God so loved the whole world!