Thursday, April 15


I am two lessons away from being done with my silly TESOL (teaching english as a second language) class. Praise the Lord Almighty! My goal is to be done this weekend. In the past weeks, I have completed one lesson on Saturday and one on Sunday. And then I shall wipe by hands clean and say good riddance.

I'm already looking ahead to the next project, my thesis paper.

My thesis paper is going to be on Suffering: What does the Bible say? What does the "average" N. American Christian think? and how does suffering impact missions/missionaries?

Huge job ahead of me and I couldn't be more excited. (Well, actually I could. I would love to take a week off work near the beginning of this so that I can spend most the week reading and researching without work contending for my time. And maybe another half a week off midway to conduct interviews and such. But as of right now, I'll have to maintain the balancing act of work and school...such is life.)

So why did I choose this topic? Well from my limited understand (prior to in-depth research), it seems that Bible pretty much guarantees that if you are following Christ, you should expect suffering. And yet, the concepts of sacrificial living or suffering seem to be things that Christians shy away from as best as they can. Now, I understand that nobody wants to suffer. But when you think of the men and women who have shaped Christian missions, it was on the back of suffering. In fact, the Christian church started and grew because of persecution. Not to mention the underground church in China.

So it seems that God uses suffering to refine his Church and to make it stronger, healthy, and more reflective of Him. According to some American church statistics*, it has been reported:

· In America, 3500 – 4000 churches close their doors each year
· Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth
· Churches lose an estimated 2,765,000 people each year to nominalism and secularism

Is this stagnation and even church loss due to the fact that we, the Western church, has become too comfortable in our lives and resistant to living as Christ meant us to live, which includes suffering? Honestly, I don't know...these are just thoughts which I hope to flesh out a bit.

I'll probably share some of the journey with you on this blog. I look forward to whatever God wants to teach me through this.

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."  I Peter 2:21

*The statistic is from the Barna Group, which I've linked. However, I found the actual quote on another website.

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