Tag Archives: service

Take Heart

Stay Encouraged - KP Yohannan Books

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Although God is able to take the plans of the enemy and use them for our good, we must also see these as the spiritual attacks that they are. Therefore, we must keep our mind and heart in gear, ready to stand against our adversary and receive the promises of God.

I want to share a few thoughts on things that have helped me in times of struggle and discouragement. God has given us focus in the battle and weapons to fight with.

First, no matter the reason for the discouragement, think about the Lord. Hebrews 12:1–3 says,

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

It is when we look horizontally that we get discouraged. When we let what people say or think and the expectations people have of us to influence us, then discouragement sets in. When we look to men (horizontal) rather than to God (vertical), we easily become weary.

These verses say, “Look unto Jesus” and “consider Him.” It is in bringing our lives before the Lord that we find encouragement. All our troubles and all our reasons for discouragement fade away when we look up and see Him.

When we do this, we realize that the difficulties we face are just another way for us to identify with His sufferings (see Philippians 3:10). He is able to turn them around into a means through which we become more Christlike. Discouragement simply becomes a way for His treasure to shine out through the broken clay vessels that we are (see 2 Corinthians 4:7). In our weakness, He is made strong. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

Second, think about the good things in life. Come before the Lord in praise. Philippians 4:8 tells us,

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Let us not make a list of all the reasons why we are in trouble or to stay discouraged. Don’t think about the negative. Scripture says to think about things that are lovely and wholesome and of good report. Think on these things.

One of the reasons why people become cold and cynical is because they forget the place from where the Lord has brought them. They forget His goodness toward them in times past. They forget that He is faithful.

That is why throughout the Old Testament, God seemed to continually remind His people saying, “Don’t forget. Celebrate the Passover year after year. This will remind you of Egypt and how I brought you out to freedom” (paraphrase, see Exodus 13:6–8). “Collect a jar of manna and save it to remember how I fed you in the wilderness” (paraphrase, see Exodus 16:32–33). “Take twelve stones out of the Jordan and make a place of remembrance. Then someday you can explain to others what I did for you” (paraphrase, see Joshua 4:5–7).

Likewise, we must keep ourselves in remembrance.

I encourage you to take some time now to write out a list of all the good things God has brought into your life. There are so many reasons to thank Him, and there is power and victory when we praise Him.

Consider this remarkable story of one man who chose to see the good things in his life rather than the bad.

As a recently retired man was sitting on his porch down in Kentucky, his Social Security check was delivered. He went to the mailbox to retrieve it and thought to himself, Is this all my life is going to be from this time on? Just sitting on the porch waiting for my next Social Security check to arrive? It was a discouraging thought.

So he took a legal pad and began to write down all the gifts, all the blessings, all the talents, and everything that he had going for him. He listed them all, even small things. For example, he included the fact that he was the only one in the world who knew his mother’s recipe for fried chicken in which she used eleven different herbs and spices.

He went down to the local restaurant, and asked if he could get a job cooking their chicken. Very soon the chicken became the most popular item on the menu. He opened his own restaurant in Kentucky. Then he opened a string of restaurants and eventually sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise to a national organization for millions of dollars. He became their public representative and continued in that role until his death.1

Third, pray. Come before the Lord in prayer. You do not have because you do not ask. You do not find because you do not seek. The door doesn’t open because you don’t knock (see Matthew 7:7–8). Please pray. God really answers prayer. Please believe me. He does! It is a great encouragement to see God work in answer to prayer.

Remember 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

When we pray, our attitude is transformed. It is through prayer that the Lord changes our hearts and His peace is able to enter in, lifting us above the circumstances we may be facing.

Fourth, remember the Lord has good plans for you. He is faithful to you no matter what. We must remind ourselves of this truth continually, especially when things become difficult and unclear. Remind yourself and say, “God loves me. He called me for a purpose. He is always good, always faithful. I can trust Him.” It is because of the assurance of who He is that we are able to continue on, never turning back or walking away from Him.

Fifth, live by faith, not by sight or feelings. Faith, by nature, is based upon what we cannot see. Things happen and we can’t understand why. But we can believe that God will work it out for the best. We can cling to Him in depression, hurt or sorrow, knowing that these things are for a reason and that He is strong enough to carry us through.

Only by faith can we look to the Lord in every situation. We may not know the solution yet, but He can give us peace as we trust Him to work all things together for our good. By faith we come to Him with whatever life brings—joys and sorrows—knowing that He is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Listen to this cry of faith in Habakkuk 3:17–19:

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls—

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The LORD God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Sixth, know that no matter what, you are forgiven. Sometimes that is the hardest thing to believe. All the sins you have ever committed, all the sins you are committing now and all the sins you will ever commit until the last second of your life are forgiven. They have all been taken care of. All you need to do is acknowledge that work of God and live by it. Don’t hold things against yourself. Live with forgiveness for yourself and others on a constant basis. Because of the blood of Jesus, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Finally, have patience with yourself. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (emphasis added).
Sometimes we get so discouraged and so impatient with ourselves. We can’t see any good fruit being produced in our lives, and it tempts us to just give up. But we must remember that it takes time to be molded into the image of Christ.

Godliness, maturity and spiritual depth do not come through reading books and acquiring information. Often our problem is that we know so much. We know about what it means to be a good husband, a good father and a hard worker in the ministry. We know about being burdened by the Lord and about humility and brokenness. I know so many things in my head, yet still I long in many areas of my life to be the message I am preaching.

Rather, it is God working in us that brings maturity. The problem is in here, on the inside. I need to let the Lord work on me. I cannot do it, but God has a plan and a perfect way. He is the potter; I am the clay. With this understanding, I don’t have to get all bent out of shape and be unforgiving with myself. I can know the Lord is working with me.

Keep in mind how Jesus responded to Peter after he denied Him. Jesus did not focus on Peter’s mistake, but He saw beyond that, knowing what He was going to make him. Jesus was patient with Peter.

And just as God has patience with us, we must have patience with ourselves. We need to be objective and honest about our real condition, dismal as it may be. Yet we also must be willing to live with that truth and accept God’s grace to change us instead of trying to correct ourselves (see Isaiah 45:9).

© 2004 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

Concluding Remarks – That They May All be One by K.P. Yohannan

That They May All Be One - KP Yohannan Books

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Please let us not get stuck on the problems, doctrines, or differences that are bound to occur in living and serving with people. Instead, choose to get stuck on love, extending grace and compassion to your brother or sister, praying for them and loving them with the love of Christ. Remember Matthew 25:40: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

You are part of the family of God—not fragmented, not divided—but with one heart, one soul and one mind. You are called to live together, strive together, pray together, suffer together, agonize together—and if need be die together—with your brothers and sisters for the sake of a world that has never heard the name of the Lord Jesus. This is our privilege and this is our calling.

Let us all then love and live in unity as one Body, one in Him.

Prayer
We pray, O Lord, that You would continue to bind us together with love—love that covers a multitude of sins, love that is so patient, gentle, forgiving and caring. Love that does not go around finding people’s faults and criticizing others but love that always gives in. Help us to be humble and broken and to consider others as better than ourselves. Make us more like You, Jesus.

Next time we will begin K.P.’s book called Stay Encouraged.  It will bless you!

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

Watch the Lamb

That They May All Be One - KP Yohannan Books

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Philippians 2:5–9 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”

When Jesus humbled Himself in the last unequaled step of humility and love by dying on the cross, Scripture says that, “Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him.” Love and humility is the road that leads us to unity and oneness, and it is the same road Christ walked while on this earth. When we see Him and the extent of His love and humility, choosing the low road, we begin to understand the power of humbling ourselves before our brothers and sisters, just as Jesus did. Consider the words written by the prophet Isaiah about our Lord, the Lamb of God:

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:3, 6–7, NIV, emphasis mine).

Think about the magnitude of these verses. The Son of God, who was there when the heavens and earth were first formed, chose to come to this earth not as an esteemed and highly respected man, but as a helpless baby born in a dirty stable to a poor, unwed mother. To take it further, He died the death of a lawbreaker. The only perfect man ever to live without sin on this earth died on a cross between two thieves. Even with 12 legions of angels at His disposal (see Matthew 26:53) ready and able to stop this great injustice from happening, Jesus chose to remain there—to be broken and humbled and to die. If ever there were a man with the right to fight for himself and against the wrong done to him, it would have been Jesus. But He did not. He never opened His mouth against His accusers or in His own defense, but only said, “Father, forgive them . . . ” (Luke 23:34).

Only when I compare myself with Christ am I able to humble myself with all of my heart. What breaks relationships and sows disunity is my thinking I am better than somebody else, that my way is right or that my conviction is better than another’s. But when I compare myself with Christ, who am I? Who am I to say, “I am right”? Who am I to stand up for the way I think things should be? Scripture says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:5–7).

It is when we choose to have “this mind in us,” to see Jesus and follow Him in our relationships, that He will be exalted in our lives, in our brother’s life, in the Church and throughout the nations. Is this not our ultimate goal, to exalt and bring honor to the name of Christ? When we choose to walk in love and humility toward one another as He did—even to the very ones who crucified Him—we will see Him exalted. The world will know we are His disciples by our love for each other, and they will come to bow before Him because of this love.

Recently a brother who serves with our movement came to me upset about a particular situation involving some of the people he works with. When he came to talk to me about it, I knew from the moment he entered the room how upset he was.

“Please! I did not come to argue with you, Brother K.P.,” he said. “You are my leader. I will do anything you tell me to do. Just let me tell you the facts.” And so—one, two, three, four, five—he laid out for me the whole story, explaining all that had happened and how he was right. Then he raised his voice a little, and I could hear the pain in it as he said, “Brother K.P., tell me, am I wrong?”

I had to calm down because I didn’t want to raise my voice as well. I said, “You know, you are absolutely right.” I think he was expecting that I would argue with him or point out something wrong. But I said, “You are perfectly right.” And he was. But my question to him was this: “Was your attitude in the situation Christlike? Was your response Christlike? Did they hear the mercy and love of Jesus in your voice? Did they see in you His grace and forgiveness?”

There was silence, and then the conversation continued. I said, “Even though you are correct, would you still ask others to forgive you for your lack of love in handling the situation? Would you bend and break even when you are right?” Jesus did. He could have come down from the cross and proven He was God. But Jesus didn’t do it this way. And by the grace of God, neither did this brother. The next day, even though he was right and the facts were in his favor, he went and asked the others involved in the situation to forgive him.

It is this kind of submission and humility that binds us together and through which Christ is exalted in our lives and on the earth. What I am finding out about myself in dealing with people is that the problem is not outside. It is not the people who keep coming to me, pestering me, beating me, calling me names and telling me how to do things. The problem is that my own heart doesn’t want to bend and break and respond as Christ would, in genuine love and humility.

Let us strive toward this end. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1–2).

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

The Bond of Perfection

That They May All Be One - KP Yohannan Books

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Have you ever seen a boxing match between a left arm and a right arm of the same person? Does your little finger purposely scratch and hurt your ring finger? If you are cold, does one of your feet try to block out the other foot to get closer to the heater? No, of course not. To even speak of such things seems absolutely ridiculous. But, I tell you, this sort of ridiculous fighting goes on in the Body of Christ all too often.

One of the things I fear most in ministry of any kind is the disunity that the devil is able to create. When disunity prevails, the work of the Lord is destroyed. Satan knows very well that “any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17, NIV).

And seeing how Satan cringes at the thought of the kingdom of God advancing, he does not want the house of the Lord to stand. So he takes those differences that were meant to complete us and uses them as the very thing to divide us. Whether it is differences in theology and doctrine or styles of worship and prayer—any difference you can imagine—Satan will use them to sow seeds of strife and disunity.

This is the reason why God so justly and immediately dealt with anything that hindered the unity of the children of Israel throughout the Old Testament. Whenever God asked His people to go forward, He would first weed out whatever held them back from moving ahead united in heart and mind. In Numbers 16, we read the story of Korah, the man whom the ground opened up and swallowed after he refused to acknowledge Moses as God’s appointed leader. In Numbers 12, God punished the fractionating spirit of Miriam and Aaron. When the 12 spies came back with divided reports about the prospects of taking over the Promised Land, God punished the dissenting 10 spies who had not trusted Him (see Numbers 14).

What (or Who) is the Problem?

When I was 18, I traveled throughout India as part of an Operation Mobilization evangelistic team. We would share the Gospel with people in different towns and villages, selling tracts and other Christian literature at a very low price. With the money we made selling the literature, we bought food to eat and keep us alive.

Our team was made up of all Indian brothers except for our team leader, Brother William. He was a tall Englishman, 6 foot 2 inches or so, who previously studied as a medical student but walked away from it all so that he could reach the lost in Asia. He was always a very nice and gentle man. As our team leader, Brother William was responsible for making decisions in the group. I served alongside him as the assistant team leader, and was expected to take care of the problems of the Indians on the team.

After working with Brother William for a couple of weeks, it was obvious to me that everything he did was simply done in the wrong way. He didn’t understand the culture or do things the Indian way. It got so bad that I was afraid the team wouldn’t survive with him in charge. He was never very concerned about washing his clothes or keeping clean. When he would get ready for bed at night, his trousers were so stiff with dirt and grime that they almost stood up on their own. And he stunk too. On top of all that, we could never sell enough books, and so we were half-starving. He would take us from one street vendor to the next, asking, “Chapati, how much it cost?” (Chapati is similar to a tortilla.) Then he would ask, “Dal free?” (Dal is like a lentil soup.) In some places, if you buy enough chapatis, the dal is free. Wherever the dal was free, we would buy the chapati and eat. But not very many places gave free dal. So in the horrible heat we would follow this white man, going from one vendor to the next, trying to find a place to eat for as little money as possible. We were half-starving, dirty, sick and selling very few books.

I must honestly confess, although Brother William was from England and was older than I was, I knew I could manage the team better than he. Many of the decisions he made seemed totally off the wall. Our ministry was ineffective. There was no unity on the team at all. Nothing was working.

One day I just couldn’t take it anymore. When the team gathered for our prayer meeting in the morning, I declared a boycott. I said, “Brother William, you cannot be the leader! You just are not able. You are an English man. You don’t understand Indian ways. You take us like beggars looking for food. You stink. The literature is not being sold. You are not a good example for us, and you don’t care about us. Whoever made you our leader made a big mistake. We cannot cooperate with you anymore.” Everyone was on my side.

I still remember that day. I can see Brother William’s face so clearly. He didn’t say one word. He simply sat there and cried. That’s all he did. Tears poured down his face, and all of us Indians on the team, including me, sat there and didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden, it was like the Lord walked right into my heart and convicted me, “You are sinning against Me. You are rebelling.”

I broke down weeping, realizing the magnitude of what I had just done. I cried, “Brother William, please forgive me. Look, I touch your feet. I will be your servant. Even if you starve me to death, even if you want me to work all day and all night long, I will obey you as long as you are my leader. I will never fight with you or against you again.” I turned to my Indian brothers as well and said, “I have done wrong. Please forgive me.”

That day I saw the hand of God holding Brother William. I saw the man’s weaknesses and his struggles. When he first came to India, he was tall and well-built, with his muscles bulging out. In a few months’ time, he was all skin and bones because he lived just like us. He lived on the streets, ate simple food, suffered from diarrhea and had all the other problems we had. For the first time I saw Brother William’s sacrifice. And I saw God using him to take me from where I was to a much higher place—to a place of humility and genuine love for my brother.

After this incident, things went along so smoothly. Our team life was wonderful. I loved Brother William like my own life. I have wonderful memories of those times. He never changed. He didn’t start washing his trousers or getting us more food. But I changed. We never had disunity or problems after that because God had dealt with the problem—with me. I, the one who “knew” how things should run, had been the cause of the disunity all along.

Put on Love

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection ” (Colossians 3:12–14).

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8).

All disunity begins with a lack of genuine, godly love for one another. That’s where it all starts. When Satan gets in and stirs up strife and hurt, love dries up and things go downhill from there. This is also when the work we are doing for God comes to a standstill. As long as disunity abounds, all ministry will be tainted and ineffective. But when our hearts are cleansed and changed, softened and broken, ministry becomes a simple overflow of a heart filled with love from Christ for all men.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

Vital Differences

That They May All Be One - KP Yohannan Books

Click the image to download your free copy.

Look at your body and you will see a left leg and a right leg, a nose and two eyes. We were all given two feet and two hands. Both hands are complete with five fingers—nothing is missing. And because nothing is missing, you are able to write with your hand and feed yourself as well. You can see with your eyes and walk with your feet, doing all the things your brain tells you to do.

Imagine now if some parts of your body were missing or were sick and not working. Have you ever seen someone try to walk without their big toe? We typically consider a missing leg or missing arm a big deal—and it is. Yet how many times have you considered the importance of your big toe? This one little body part may seem insignificant and not all that impressive or important, but it establishes the balance for the entire body, keeping you steady and able to walk. You wouldn’t even be able to stand without it! How crucial this small, seemingly insignificant member really is.

Just like the toe or the leg, the arm or the nose, each one of us represents a different, unique and valuable part of the Body of Christ. Each part is needed so that the Body is complete, able to do whatever is required.
The Bible speaks of the importance of each member, big or small, known or unknown, honored or not, in 2 Corinthians. In writing to the believers there, Paul reminds them how each individual is vital and contributes to the health of the whole:

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, ‘I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,’ that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye,’ would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye—then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything?

But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you. . . . ’

This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it (1 Corinthians 12:14–21, 25–27, NLT).

Just as the Lord has done everything so perfectly with our physical bodies, He also has done with us, His Body.

I have traveled to numerous places and have seen many different groups of believers. There are differences in each fellowship, and the meshing of these differences is what makes the Body of Christ so beautiful.

The first place that comes to mind is Gospel for Asia’s international headquarters in the United States and the group of people the Lord has brought together to serve there. He brings the young and the old, the strong and the weak, the slow and the eager. There are people from different places, backgrounds and experiences, yet each one is greatly needed and fits together in the service of the Lord. No one is perfect alone, but each person’s skills, abilities, talents, giftings and temperaments make the ministry whole and complete.

A Blessing in the Difference

In the illustration of the parts of the body all being important, unity seems to be an obvious element, easily attained. But as you and I both know, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

Differences are just that—they separate and distinguish one from another. And unless we put forth an effort to live in unity, our differences can be used to divide us, causing great chasms and hurts.

I have had many personal experiences with both knowing the pain and the beautiful purpose of differences. Back in the early days of the ministry, when Gospel for Asia (GFA) was just starting out, a brother named Fred came to work with us. I had the hardest time working with this man. He was just so different from me. We were complete opposites—I was night; he was day. His skin is clean white; mine is dark brown. That is what you’d see on the surface, but the differences ran much deeper than that. We had different personalities and different ways of doing things; everything you can possibly imagine, we were different in. We just couldn’t seem to get along. It was absolutely awful.

There were many times when I went through such agony working with Fred. Being the leader of GFA, I thought I could just ask him to leave. “I cannot live with him anymore. He just does not understand!” We obviously could not get along and because this was causing so much added tension to my days, I decided Fred must go.

The day before I was going to call it quits with him, God, in His mercy and grace, intervened. In the evening when I was all alone, God began to speak to me about the struggles I had with Fred. Surely He knew of my agony with this man and would agree with me about the pain this situation was causing me. Or so I thought. I didn’t expect to hear God say, “The problem is not Fred. It’s you.” This shocked me! “What?” I said, “Me, the problem? God, You know how I’ve been living with all these issues with this man!” He said, “Yes, I know, but it’s you that is the problem.”

Later the next day, God continued to speak to me and said, “I have a plan and you never understood it. You only looked at the work. You only looked at what you could get out of Fred. You only looked at how fast he could run. You only looked at how well he spoke and what he did to see if it met your qualifications. You only looked at how he could perform from your perspective, with you as his judge. You never understood Me.”

I broke down and cried. God was right. The problem was with me.

This incident was a major turning point in my life. I never did fire Fred; instead, I asked him to forgive me. Although Fred’s temperament never changed and neither did mine, my heart changed inside that day.

I can honestly tell you, since that day I have never had anger, unforgiveness or an unloving heart toward my brother Fred. As a matter of fact, I cannot imagine life at GFA without him. One of my greatest joys is that Fred and I—two entirely different people—work in the same kingdom’s work, fighting side by side, both taking orders from Him who is our head. He has faithfully labored right alongside me for 22 years now. This is the kind of perfect and beautiful work God does to unify His Body.
In hindsight, I see how wonderful this situation was. God puts us with other people to show us how we need them and they need us, and together we grow and mature and do the part God created each of us to do.
As long as we human beings live together on this earth, there will be differences. We come from so many different backgrounds—family backgrounds, Christian backgrounds, educational backgrounds and cultural backgrounds. We differ in age, race, income and marital status. We must not concentrate on the differences as “negatives” but rather see them as good, bringing balance and fullness to our lives and to the rest of the Body. Yet it is only as we look to Christ that we can have the perspective of seeing our differences as blessings.

Recognize the Value

The Body of Christ is complete only because of differences.
Think about that statement for a moment. Consider how many different people, ministries, churches and mission organizations there are. Each has been given a particular assignment from God and carries with it different strengths and weaknesses. Whether we realize it or not, we all need each other. We cannot stand alone.
GFA’s approach to ministry focuses on preaching the Gospel first and foremost. But recently, a doctor who heads up a large medical mission organization came to visit GFA to talk to us about the importance of hospital ministry—how Jesus healed people, and through that healing He brought them to eternal salvation.
For a long time I sat with this man and listened to what he was sharing. He had many good things to say. By the time the meeting drew to a close, I saw the enormous potential God has given their ministry. The opportunities are endless, especially in Asian nations where illness and disease are so widespread. They could minister in places like Orissa, where the medical needs were so overwhelming after the devastating cyclone hit in 2001. Millions of people would turn to Christ through the compassion shown them in treating their sicknesses and in healing their diseases.
When he had finished talking, I said, “You are absolutely right. What you are saying works beautifully if the preaching of the Gospel is not compromised.”
Ten years ago, I never would have responded so well; in fact, I would not have even considered this kind of ministry. If someone had come and talked to me like that doctor did, I would have said, “Yeah, okay. That is all very nice, but I will see you later. Here at GFA we preach the Gospel. I don’t have room for anything that is less important.”
Of course preaching the Gospel must always be the priority. But at the same time, Jesus still fed the hungry and healed the sick. If we, Christ’s Body, are to function like He did, we have to accept the value of each and every individual part. If GFA didn’t accept the ministry of this medical mission, valuing the role it plays, then the work of both groups would be compromised.
Wherever you are and with whomever the Lord has joined you together, remember that you and your brother or sister have each been given a particular part to play. As we recognize our part, our gifts and our lack, we can complement each others’ lives and experience the harmony of the fullness of Christ. Every individual that the Lord has brought into your life, especially in the service of the Lord, is uniquely placed to somehow complement your lack in the Body and you, theirs. In accepting and valuing each person and who they are, the whole Body functions smoothly.

Unseen Yet Needed

Just as there are different organs in your human body that you have never seen yet are vital to your existence, so there are members in the Body of Christ. Perhaps you or someone around you is rarely noticed, always working behind the scenes, not given much honor or fame. Remember that “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). And “he who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).
Although you can’t see your heart, your kidneys or your stomach, if one of these hidden members stops functioning properly, you would certainly know. You would be very sick and possibly in the hospital.

The same is true concerning the Body of Christ. The healthy functioning of every part is critical. When each member is healthy and rightly connected to the rest of the Body, all is well. But when one member of the Body is no longer connected to the whole, that member is in danger of dying. And it is not just that part that suffers, but the whole Body is also affected.
United like this, we realize we are linked to each other, walking side by side, feeling each other’s victories as well as each other’s hurts. It is like when I stub my toe—ouch!—my whole body feels it! I hop around on the other foot and hold my toe with my hand. Maybe a little tear runs down my cheek because it hurts so badly. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Romans 12:15–16 (NIV) says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” That means if my brother is sad, I am sad too. If my sister is sick, I feel her sickness.
In 1994 a terrible butchering happened in the African nation of Rwanda. In the span of just a few months, more than 700,000 people were killed in a conflict between neighboring tribes, the Hutus and the Tutsis. After hearing reports of this tragedy, can you remember what happened in your church service the following Sunday? In the church I attended, absolutely nothing was different. Everything continued as normal, as if this slaughtering of thousands never even happened. There were no tears, no hurt, no pain, no sharing—nothing.

This concerns me. Much of Christendom has come to focus its effort on sustaining its own emotional health, strength and comfort. Lukewarm Christianity watches those who share in the pain of the suffering and says, “That is fanaticism! That is flesh! It’s all emotion!” Lukewarm Christianity won’t let its heart be broken for the hurt and dying. But biblical Christianity sees the tragedy and is moved by the pain and suffering, weeping just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem (see Luke 19:41).
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the proper religious people left the wounded man to die on the road. Only the man from Samaria had compassion and shared the pain, helping his brother who was in need (see Luke 10).
We cannot generate Christlike compassion or godly emotions any more than we can save ourselves. But we can be obedient to pray for and receive His burden, even if it means processing painful things. I am not saying this to make you feel like you’re not praying enough or not doing enough or not feeling enough of the burden. All I want is for us to take His yoke and share with Him in “the fellowship of His sufferings” (see Philippians 3:10).
And just as we share in the sufferings, we also share in the victories and joys. If there is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents, then there should be rejoicing on earth too! In Luke 10, we find the story of Jesus sending out the disciples two by two to heal the sick. Luke 10:17 says, “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ ” Seeing how excited His disciples were at the power of God, Jesus rejoiced with them. Luke 10:21 says, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.’ ”
Let us then imitate Jesus, rejoice in our differences and make the effort to see the value and gifts each of us brings to the whole. In this appreciation of each other and how the Lord has made us, He will be glorified.

© 2003  by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

Fitted Together

That They May All Be One - KP Yohannan Books

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In 1 Kings 18:31, when the prophet Elijah repaired the broken altar, we are told he used 12 stones, “according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come . . .” This is an interesting statement, because at the time of this account the children of Israel were splintered into various groups, fragmented and backslidden in heart. Yet despite their condition, God still referred to them as one, together chosen as His children. It was on that restored altar, with the stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel, that God made His great power known by defeating the prophets of Baal.

But consider this: Would that altar have been complete with only 11 of the stones or 8 of the stones representing the tribes of Israel? No, it would not have been. It was all 12 stones that were recognized by God and all 12 through which He made His power known.

We can learn a lot from this Old Testament example. Another beautiful illustration of how we are to be united as one is found in the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem. It is said that each stone used in its building was chipped at and carved away until it fit perfectly with the stones around it—so perfectly that no mortar was even needed to hold them together. Each individual stone fit perfectly with the others, becoming one beautiful temple for the Lord. This is what the Lord desires for us today.

You see, rather than dwelling in a temple made with human hands as in the days of old, God has now chosen instead to dwell within us, His temple made with living stones—you and I (see 1 Peter 2:5). Like the stones used to build the temple, God desires His living stones to fit together perfectly by the unity of His Spirit and the bond of love.

The kingdom of God is a relational kingdom. Think about it; Jesus didn’t ask us to only pray alone. He said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20, emphasis mine). Neither did He send out the disciples individually but rather two by two (see Mark 6). His purpose in doing things this way was so that they would be able to minister to each other and support one another as they reached out to the lost around them, and so that the world, by observing the disciples’ love for one another, would know the love of God.

During Jesus’ last few moments before going to the cross, He left His disciples not with a series of steps on how to reach the lost. He did not sit them down with notebooks and pens or have them memorize certain methods, techniques or anything else. To prepare them for the enormous task ahead, He simply left this powerful statement: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV, emphasis mine).

What is disunity except the lack of love? When we recognize the importance that Jesus placed upon loving one another above all else, and we begin to walk in obedience to His command, nothing will be able to hinder us from seeing the kingdom of God come in our generation!

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

That They All May Be One

“That they all may be one,as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You;that they also may be one in Us,that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21

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One of my all-time favorite books is The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. This book was written in the context of a group of missionaries working and experiencing a time of revival together. In the introduction of the book, Norman P. Grubb writes,

We [the group of missionaries] are beginning to learn, as a company of Christ’s witnesses, that the rivers of life to the world do not flow out in their fullness through one man, but through the body, the team. Our brokenness and openness must be two-way, horizontal as well as vertical, with one another as with God. We are just beginning to experience in our own ranks that team work in the Spirit is one of the keys to revival, and that we have to learn and practice the laws of a living fellowship.1

It is my prayer that the Lord would give us an understanding of true unity and help us to put into practice the “laws of a living fellowship.” We were not called to be individuals doing our own thing. We were called into the family of God, to oneness and unity with Him and with our fellowman.
May we strive to maintain this unity, each day linking arms with our brothers and sisters, genuinely loving each other and laboring together to see the kingdom of God come.

Notes: 1 Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (London: Christian Literature Crusade, 1950),
pp. 8–9.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

Conclusion – Principles in Maintaining a Godly Organization by K.P. Yohannan

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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Perhaps, as you’ve read through this booklet, you can identify with what I’ve shared. You recall the vibrancy and passion you shared with your fellow workers to reach the lost. You remember your enthusiasm to serve one another, the love and family atmosphere you enjoyed and the unity you experienced. But all those blessings you once enjoyed are now just a memory.

Is there hope for your church, your organization? Absolutely. You can return to the original vision of your ministry. You can once again experience life and joy between you and your coworkers.

I encourage you to determine in your heart to seek the Lord and listen for His voice. It is His life that will restore your ministry. It is His vision that will guide and direct you.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

 

Practical Steps Toward Restoration

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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The simplest way to bring about change, as I mentioned in Chapter 3, is to start with yourself. If I demand or expect change from others but refuse to do so myself, I will never see any difference. I must take the initiative and lead by my example. This works in a family, in an organization and in a society.

Let us take a look at some practical, “hands-on” ways through which we can maintain and renew the freshness and life within the ministry where we serve.

Radical Living Restored through Abandonment

Genuine revival comes from a personal, intimate encounter with the living God, not with the rules and regulations of an organization. How can I be a servant? When I know the one who is a servant of all. How can I be broken? When I meet with the one who was broken for the world. To be radical means you must be inwardly motivated.

Take time to think deeply, to pray sincerely and ask the Lord to renew, within your own heart, the vision of your ministry. Translate that vision into your specific area within the ministry. Search for unique ways that you can share and spread this vision within your own personal sphere of influence—your supporters and supporting churches, members of your local church, even believers you meet through your everyday activities. One longtime, faithful volunteer at our ministry originally started serving here because of her contact with a staff member in the laundry room of their apartment complex. The possibilities are virtually unlimited, but you can only access them when you have allowed the Lord to do the work in your heart.

Regularly review your mission statement†, your vision†† and your core values†††. Talk with leaders and others who have been with your ministry a while to learn what it was like in the early days.

To be radical, you must deliberately choose to do things that would help develop and cultivate your heart. It will not happen on its own. Take stock of your spiritual condition; face yourself honestly. Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth—don’t shift the blame to others or to circumstances for your failures, shortcomings or stagnancy.

† A mission statement outlines the direction for your life/organization—the compass that keeps you going in the right direction.
†† The vision fulfills the mission statement with the actual steps—the map you use to get to your destination.
††† The core values are the principles and standards with which you fulfill your mission statement.

Transformational Living Restored through Decontrol

Think of all the people within your church or organization with whom you have influence—large or small, directly or indirectly. It may be an “official” position in which you have responsibility over them, or it may simply be that you share a bond because you live nearby, share similar tastes or have children who play together. Whatever the case, you can begin to think about those people: their potential, their giftings, their backgrounds, their testimonies, their character and their dreams. As you begin to do so, you will find within yourself a growing appreciation for each one of their lives. Begin to pray specifically for each individual.

The life of Jesus, in its finest manifestation, was all about caring for others. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Let us be continually thinking of how we can bless and encourage others. Those who are in responsible positions within the organization need to be considering how to continually build up and “recharge” those who are under their authority and how to develop each one based on his or her abilities and giftings. What matters is not so much money, housing or things. People matter most.

Motivate others, not through power and heavy-handed techniques or through benefits, false hopes or manipulations but through love, grace, encouragement, approval, forgiveness, correction, challenge and integrity—and in some cases prayer and fasting. Do what it takes, as the Lord gives you the grace, to work toward really becoming one. We are not one just because we work together—it is because we genuinely care for one another.

I can testify that nearly every miracle that happened in our ministry came about not just as a result of my efforts or prayers, but also because a few individuals prayed, fasted, believed and stuck together. It had nothing to do with position or power. God’s only method for getting things done, moving His kingdom forward and doing miracles is men and women. The work comes only secondary to the people who do the work.

Relational Living Restored through Empowerment

When you have influence over someone, whether it is a position of authority or simply the advantage of experience through having served a longer period of time in your ministry, you should never use that influence to get things done or make things happen. Force, veiled threats or intimidation, even when spiritually disguised, are never a substitute for love, mercy and grace.

Make sure that you place a higher value, above anything else, on a person’s inner reality, character, humility, and brokenness and on a heart that seeks no glory or ambition. Acts 6 tells how the Lord directed the apostles to select men for service.

Ask the Lord to show you a handful of people within that circle of influence, one or two perhaps, in whom you can invest your life and share your vision. If you have responsibility over them at the office, begin to train them to do your job. Be open and honest with them, even at the risk of rejection or unresponsiveness.

I would highly recommend that you regularly read—perhaps every three months or so—Gayle Erwin’s The Jesus Style1 and study through the book Humility2 by Andrew Murray.

The disciples stuck with Jesus for no other reason than love. And it is crucial that we understand this as we relate to one another.

Notes:

1Erwin, The Jesus Style.
2Andrew Murray, Humility (Pittsburgh, PA: Whitaker House, 1982).

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

What Must We Do?

Principles of Maintaining a Godly Organization - KP Yohannan Books

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Karl Marx said, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world differently. The point is to change it.”1 You can have all the ideas, dreams and desires for change in the world, but that will not make one ounce of change.

So, how do I effect change in the people around me—or in an entire society? It has to do with a deliberate decision on my part, as an individual, to change. Thinking about change only produces new philosophies, as Marx observed; it is only changed people who will see progress in others’ lives around them.

If we stray away, how do we recover God’s original plan for us? How do we change? What must we do?

Abandonment

If our radical lives have become conventional, the way out is to start over. If we have come to the place at which we have accepted the means to the end as the end in itself, it is time for us to leave that all behind. Begin to work with the end in mind. We should no longer ask how we are going to get things done. That will automatically be answered if we concentrate on what we must do to change and move forward.

We must pray for the Holy Spirit to give us a fresh vision of hell, of the lost world and of revival. Abandonment means going back to the original vision and passion for which the Lord called us (Revelation 2:4–5). It means we are no longer motivated to serve because of structure or because of a leader who is over us; now we are gripped with the vision we have received.

Abandonment always causes people to become more innovative at what they do. They take ownership of the tasks they’ve been given. They now have freedom to make decisions—and the mistakes that naturally accompany those decisions.

In no way am I saying that we should abandon structure altogether. A train can’t run without its rails, and neither can an organization move forward without structure and leadership. But if there is no fire, no steam, no fuel, the train will go nowhere. What we must do is pray that God will protect us from stagnancy and a conventional life; and we must be willing to abandon whatever is holding us back from the radical edge (Philippians 3:13–15).

Decontrol

If you have raised or are raising children, you are aware of the delicate balance there is between freedom and accountability. As they grow physically, you slowly allow them to grow in areas of taking responsibility and making their own decisions.

As Jesus was leaving the disciples to return to heaven, He did not present them with a carefully planned agenda and schedule for world evangelism. Instead, what Jesus gave them was a passion and a vision that drove them to the ends of the earth and filled them with a willingness to lay down their lives for His sake. They never walked away from their calling, because they were following Jesus out of love and freedom.

That same balance between accountability and freedom must exist in an organization. When Jacob worked 14 long, hard years of anguish to win Rachel’s hand in marriage, the Scripture says it was like a few days because of his love for her (Genesis 29:20). No one forced him into it. He simply loved her. In the same way, within the context of accountability and submission to spiritual authority, we must have freedom to serve our Lord with love and joy, not because of some demands that are made of us.

My philosophy has always been that if the Lord called someone, then I will see the fruit of that calling in their confession, their circumstances, their maturity, their faithfulness and their trustworthiness. I don’t ever want to come to a place where I demand respect and hold a heavy hand over my brothers and sisters.

Let us not end up with a life filled with heaviness, control and calculation. If an individual has been entrusted with a particular responsibility within the ministry, let us regard him as our leader with regard to that responsibility. Let us give each other freedom to make mistakes, and then we will grow as an organization. If we don’t, we will die from within.

Empowerment

What do we do when our relationship-oriented ministry has become more focused on ability rather than servanthood? We must come to the place at which we let go of our controls and give freedom to one another. Empowerment happens when we can say to a brother or sister, “By the grace of God, I just want to trust you. Do the best you can—dream the best you can—and let us continue moving forward.”

Empowerment happens when we give freedom to faith and potential in our dealings with people. Those who are in a position of responsibility over others should be discipling at least one person to take their place (2 Timothy 2:2).

I believe that the best is yet to come. Nearly 3 billion people are waiting to hear the Gospel; the Lord has committed this burden to the Body of Christ and will continue to work in us. We have the opportunity to change our generation! And I believe that the Lord will continue to bless the Church with growth to accomplish His task—through many means such as increasing staff, expanding physical facilities and raising needed finances.

One of the greatest blessings God raises up within an organization is the leadership. The responsibility for a ministry rests not upon one man, but upon a group of leaders. I am committed to the leaders in our organization, so much so that if their consensus is different than my own plan, I am willing to change. I have no desire to have my own way in anything.

No matter how the size of an organization increases, it is important to continue to maintain unique love, fellowship and excitement about what the organization does. Let us continue to develop a culture within our organizations in which individuals have the freedom to do their best and grow personally, without compulsion, restrictions, rules or regulations; but with the perspective of submission and reasonable structure. Let us keep the freedom the Lord has given us and never lose the original vision He has set before us.

There is a balance that is absolutely important when it comes to freedom. Consider this example:

Birds have two wings, and the only way they can fly straight is if both wings are healthy, functioning normally and operating simultaneously.

As people grow together in any ministry, two things must happen simultaneously. One is this whole concept of continually renewing and maintaining freedom and freshness, both individually and as a ministry. The other wing of the bird is a framework of accountability and submission to leadership. It is absolutely vital if we are to continue moving forward and to find ourselves equipped to do the work the Lord has given us to do. It is within this context that freedom, trust and empowerment actually work best.

You need to have the freedom to take ownership of your God-given responsibilities. So, as you look at the specific tasks that He has set before you in your ministry, take the freedom to pray, dream and imagine what He can do through you to reach the lost world!

We will discuss some very practical ways to implement these three steps in the next chapter.

Notes:

1 Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories (Tennessee: W Publishing Group, 1988), p. 622.

© 2003 by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.