Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

  1. Mid-Term Field Report: “Because Jesus Is Worth It”

    Posted on September 24th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    Have you ever been “missing in action” when a loved one needed you? Karina has. And from her critter-infested home in Thailand, she can testify to the pain it causes . . . but she can also testify to the joy of loving and obeying Christ.

    Karina was sent out by The Church at Brook Hills to serve mid-term (anywhere between two months and two years), teaching English to kindergarteners. We hope that her example will encourage and challenge you to love Jesus far more than anything else. According to Karina, even though such love is sometimes hard, “Jesus is worth it.”

    Here’s what Karina had to say . . .

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    What has been the most surprising aspect about serving in this new context?

    It never fails to surprise me just how many other creatures I share a home with. We’ve had infestations of ants, termites, geckos, mosquitos, roaches, tokays, snakes, lizards, spiders (anywhere from really small to as big as my face), snails and rats.

    What has been the most difficult part of your time there?

    The most difficult part is managing my classes. I teach anywhere from 27-39 students. That’s 39 three-year-olds. So to keep them all focused and on task is a bit challenging, to say the least.

    Can you give us your highlight of the trip?

    In April my mom and good friend were able to visit me. We were able to celebrate Songkran (the water throwing festival). It’s basically the ice bucket challenge all day for three days, and everyone plays. It’s the best festival ever.

    What advice would you give to people considering going mid-term?

    Go. And try to learn as much language beforehand.

    What advice would you give to friends, family, and church members in terms of how they can support workers like you?

    Please pray for us daily. I can’t say it enough. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. Also, little notes of encouragement are great too. It can get pretty lonely overseas, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to find a personal email waiting for you in your inbox.

    What is one big takeaway that the the Father has taught you in your experience as a mid-term worker?

    Luke 14:26 has really taken on a new meaning to me since being here. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” I only thought I knew what that meant, but now I know what that means. Being a disciple of Jesus means missing weddings and baby showers of my dearest and oldest friends. It means being away from family in illness. It means missing birthdays, graduations, and other celebrations. It means people may not think you love them because you are away when they “need” you the most. And it’s hard. Especially on the rough days, and the enemy tempts you to think it’s not worth it. But it is worth it, because Jesus is worth it.

    What is one thing you have learned from the national brothers and sisters that you are partnering with?

    They are so selfless, generous, and some of the most joyous people I have ever met.  They don’t let their circumstances dictate their emotions. They may not have much, but they will sacrifice for you.

  2. John Piper Interviews David Platt

    Posted on September 18th, 2014 by Jonathan

    Several years ago, John Piper sat down with David Platt to ask him some questions about missions and his heart for the unreached. This 30 minute video gives a great glimpse into who David is and what he’s about.

    (HT: Desiring God)

  3. Mid-Term Field Report: “Utilize The Time”

    Posted on September 17th, 2014 by Jonathan

    As many of us are leaving summer behind to return to school or get back into a regular routine at work, Matt is doing no such thing. Life is different for him. Matt lives in Central Asia and was sent out to serve mid-term by The Church at Brook Hill. Mid-term is described as a period of anywhere between two months and two years. For him, school looks more like learning a foreign language, and monotonous routine . . . well, there’s not much of that.

    We asked Matt some questions about his life in Central Asia. Our hope is that his words might challenge those of us tempted to simply survive the next test or deadline. Our lives are intended for more than intention-less routines driven by purposeless attitudes. When we realize that God desires to use us to bring the nations to Himself, and when we hear of brothers and sisters whose devotion to Christ means harsh persecution, we see everything differently. The reality is, we have so much more to live for than the weekend.

    Here’s what Matt had to say . . .

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    What has been the most surprising aspect about serving in this new context?

    Time and time again, my team and I have been surprised at how quickly God answers the prayers of us and our supporters back home, and His answers to these prayers are often even better than we knew to ask for! We shouldn’t be afraid to ask Him to act in big ways to help us reach lost people. He desires and is worthy of the worship of all peoples and is actively working in hearts and lives all across the world.

    What has been the most difficult part of your time there?

    It has been difficult being part of a new team re-engaging a minority people group that has not been worked with for several years. Due to the difficulty of gaining access to our people’s homeland, we are in the process of establishing a business in a nearby country where there is a significant population of our people. This poses many challenges such as learning a minority language with few immersion experiences, balancing business and ministry responsibilities, and justifying to the community why we as Western businessmen spend so much time with this minority people and are learning their language.

    Can you give us your highlight of the trip?

    One of the biggest highlights so far has been growing closer as a team and becoming more like a family.  Being part of such a small team, we spend a lot of time together, and the Lord has used that in teaching us more of what it means to be the body of Christ. Praying, worshiping, and having fun together, holding one another accountable, and being united in a common vision has helped us to encourage one another during the difficult times and overall thrive in our first year on the field.

    What advice would you give to people considering going mid-term?

    Utilize the time before you leave the U.S. to establish routines of engaging lost people where you are currently. Often times, we get caught up in enjoying the benefits of Christian community so much that we rarely put ourselves in places where we are surrounded by the lost. Going mid-term is a weird balance between a sprint and a marathon; the routines you are able to establish before arriving on the field will help you to make the most of the time you have in your new context.

    What advice would you give to friends, family, and church members in terms of how they can support workers like you?

    The way that is most obvious and yet often over-looked is to actively pray for that person, their ministry, and their people. Be proactive in asking for ways to pray for that person and in regularly praying for their boldness and evangelism opportunities. Also, we love hearing from friends, family, and supporters about what is happening back home and how we can be praying for them.

    What is one big takeaway that the the Father has taught you in your experience as a mid-term worker?

    I often feel like I am sitting on the front row watching Him prepare the harvest of these people in a way in which only the Creator of the universe is able! In our first month on the field, He answered our prayers by providing a language teacher, national believer, and friend all with a single person whom He had burdened to return to his family and country (at the risk of his life) to help reach his people with the gospel of Christ. The things we’ve seen happen over the past year are more than coincidences; no doubt the Lord is doing the same type of things in unreached people groups all across the world!

    What is one thing you have learned from the national brothers and sisters that you are partnering with?

    Extreme persecution is normal, expected, and worth the risk for the believers in this part of the world. Coming from a place, like the U.S, where it is “safe” to be a Christian, it is still difficult to fully understand what these national brothers and sisters experience everyday in living and dying for Christ. That being said, the Lord is using these terrible acts to bring others to faith, grow the church, and advance the gospel of Christ to the most difficult to reach people and places in the world.

  4. David Platt’s Personal Testimony

    Posted on September 1st, 2014 by Jonathan

    In Ephesians, Paul tells us that “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:5). Going from death to life is at the core of every conversion story, and in the sense that there is certainly no such thing as a boring resurrection, no one has a boring testimony. Still, some transformations are more dramatic than others. And while it can easily seem that God’s grace is more profound in the saving of a Paul-former-Saul than it is in the saving of a scripturally-reared-Timothy (2 Tim 3:15), this is not the case. Boring testimonies are boring because God’s graciously made them that way (so they aren’t really boring at all).

    In the video below, David Platt describes the amazing grace of such a testimony as he gives glory to God for a family and church that led him to Christ as a child.

  5. 2 Comments

    Conversion, Evangelism, and the Sovereignty of God

    Posted on August 18th, 2014 by Jonathan

    This past June, Ed Stetzer sat down with David Platt, Trevin Wax, and Frank Page to talk about election, human responsibility, and God’s sovereignty. The panel participants hold a range of beliefs on these issues, which made for an interesting (and often entertaining) discussion.

    It is evident from this panel that there are real and important theological differences among Christians who hold the Bible in high esteem. At the same time though, it is also clear that, regardless of where someone stands on issues like election and free will, there is a deeper bond of unity among Christians and a more central purpose for their lives. The focus for much of the conversation was on what the panelists agree to be more important than their differences: proclaiming the gospel to the lost.

    Click HERE for the audio, and be challenged and encouraged as you listen and learn.

    For more, Ed Stetzer and Trevin Wax have posted some thoughts about the panel on their blogs.

  6. Mack Stiles is a businessman who also leads a student ministry in the United Arab Emirates. He’s currently an elder at Redeemer Church of Dubai, and he spent many years previous as a church planter. David Platt, who had the honor of writing the forward for Stiles’ recent book, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus, said: “I truly cannot think of anyone better to write a book not just on cultivating the discipline of evangelism as a Christian, but on creating a culture of evangelism in the church.”

    He was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us on this topic . . .

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    Mack, you define evangelism as “teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.” Why do you put it this way, and how is this a corrective to many of the evangelistic constructs in our church culture today?

    I love this question, because it’s really one of the critical heartbeats of the book.

    When I look out at the evangelical community, be it church, or individual believers, or evangelistic outreach ministries, or even missionary efforts, there are so many ideas about evangelism.  Most all of them, at least the ones I know, want to be rooted in the scriptures, most all of them are good hearted, nobody wants to offend non-Christians, all of them want to see fruit, but more often it seems that good hearted people don’t always have the big picture view about sharing our faith, and consequently they can spin into error by over or under emphasizing one part of evangelism over another.

    The reason I’ve found this definition so helpful is that it’s really a boiled down, biblically rooted summary of the big picture concerning evangelism.  So, it focuses on what we share (the gospel) and how we share (teach), the way we share (our aim), and the goal for sharing (persuade), such that each word in the definition is important.

    It’s not a perfect protection, but it guards us against sharing other things besides the gospel, sometimes the way testimonies are given for instance.  Sometimes I’ll hear a “testimony” and it has everything to do with how greatly they sinned, and almost nothing to do with the gospel.  We want to share such that anyone has the information they need to come to Christ.

    There’s so many things a big picture view guards us from . . . it guards us from manipulative methods that have more to do with sales techniques, or forgetting that evangelism is not only about numbers . . .  that is our aim is to persuade, but God is the one, the only one, who can actually convert someone.

    My only disappointment with this definition is that it took decades for me to put it together. :)

    The second chapter of your book talks about what a “culture of evangelism” looks like. What does that mean and why is it significant?

    A culture of evangelism is really about everyone working together to “teach the gospel with the aim to convert.” There is great joy to be a part of a community that is “on game” for a common goal of sharing the faith.  A culture of evangelism is really an intuitive concept; ultimately it’s about the church focusing on being a healthy gospel centered, church, while supporting a culture of people who are sharing their faith.  So it’s not the professional pastor, or the evangelism specialist, or those with the gift of evangelism, but the whole church speaking about Jesus.

    It’s important to note that biggest danger to a true culture of evangelism is the evangelistic program.  It’s similar to a culture of evangelism (or another way to say it is that it mimics a culture of evangelism) in a way because the entire community pitches in together for a program, but it’s not everyone sharing their faith.  Just for the record, I participate in occasional evangelistic programs, but the best evangelism is when the church is filled with people all sharing their faith.  The way I say it is that programs are to evangelism as sugar is to nutrition: small amounts are okay, too much will kill you. The big danger about sugar is that you can eat it and think you’ve eaten, but you haven’t had a real meal; the same is true about evangelistic programs, you can do one, but it doesn’t mean that you’ve really shared the gospel yourself.

    Could there exist a culture of evangelism apart from the local church? Why is the local church so important when it comes to evangelism?

    I think any ministry can have a culture of evangelism.  Campus ministries should, mission agencies should, social programs should . . . but the best culture of evangelism is in the church.  We need to remember that Jesus didn’t forget the gospel when he built the church.  The gospel is inherent in what we do as church, at least in a biblical church: the gospel is in our songs, in our prayers, in the sermon, in the practice of baptism and communion . . . it’s all there.  And primarily there in how we love one another.  Think about it – Jesus says the love we have for one another in the church is a statement that we are truly converted. And when we are unified in the church, we show to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. Love confirms our discipleship. Unity confirms Christ’s deity (Jn 13:35, Jn 17:20-21). That’s a powerful witness that best happens in a convented  community called the church.

    How would you encourage someone who wants to become better at sharing Christ with people?

    This may be the easiest question.  And as tempted as I am to say that the way to become better in evangelism is to read my book, really the way to be better in evangelism is to do it.  We need practice.  It’s like marriage.  For all the books written about marriage, the best way to learn about marriage is to get married.

    The second thing is to risk.  Everywhere I go people want to know why they aren’t having opportunities to share their faith, and my answer in most situations is that they take more risks.  Talk to the mom next to you at soccer practice, let people know at work about your Christian life, get your courage up at school and see if a friend would read the gospel of Mark with you.  It’s no good waiting around until the culture gets easier . . . it’s not going to anytime soon.  And it gets harder in life, too.  But God rewards risk.  It’s really tied up in faith.  I tell people that if you can’t risk you better find another god to love besides Jesus.   If you think about it, we are really risking our life that the message of the gospel is true.  And if it’s true, it’s worth risking what others think about us to share that truth.

  7. Conversation with David Platt on Global Persecution

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 by Jonathan

    Dan Darling (of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) talks with David Platt about the persecution of Christians worldwide.

  8. Jon Akin Interviews David Platt

    Posted on July 24th, 2014 by Jonathan

    Jon Akin of Baptist21 interviewed David Platt on a variety of topics last month at the SBC Annual Meeting.

    For your convenience, here are some time markers for when each of the topics was covered:

    0:16 – prosperity, radical giving, and the gospel
    2:32 – the gospel and social action
    5:58 – addressing both physical and spiritual need
    7:33 – global missions vs. local ministry?
    10:44 – being part of the SBC
    13:10 – should we re-structure missions/funding models?

  9. Persecution: The Basics

    Posted on July 21st, 2014 by Jonathan

    Every once in a while, it’s good to get a refresher on concepts we generally think we understand. When’s the last time you’ve heard a good explanation of persecution?

    Below, you can listen to a good overview of what persecution is, how it may look, and why it occurs from Jonathan, the (well-traveled) Pastor of Global Disciple-Making at The Church at Brook Hills.



    When it comes to the persecution of Christians, Open Doors is also a great resource. They have a good general overview of persecution as well as country-specific information.

    ~ The goal of persecution is to silence witness. ~

  10. 11985443013_235166ccd4Lora Lynn Fanning is a wife, a mother of seven, and a member of The Church at Brook Hills, where her husband, Andrew, serves as an elder. She home-schools the children, and in her “free time” blogs at Vitafamilae

    With Mother’s Day around the corner, we asked her to answer some questions for us about life as a Christ-follower and a mother …

    What does a typical weekday look like for you?

    I get up just early enough to sneak in some Bible reading before the kids get up. Then we hit the ground running with chores and breakfast. We do school together until lunch, then I take some time to exercise and deal with my to-do list while my kids do independent schoolwork and the babies nap. We all convene again for snack (and more coffee for me) before the dinner time rush and pre-bedtime routines – AKA “the witching hour.” We do family worship right before the kids go to bed and then, depending on the kind of day we had, I either collapse into my bed and eat chocolate or head to my desk to write.

    Given your busy schedule, how do you find time for fellowship and spiritual growth?

    Coffee makes our world go round these days, so my husband and I use our twice daily coffee break as our time to sit on the porch and talk about that morning’s Bible reading or to ponder parenting. I like to read blog posts (because they’re short) and he reads books, so we swap anecdotes from our reading and challenge each other to hold everything up to the Truth.

    The magic of the Internet means I can communicate with my friends on a daily basis via text, social media, and phone. We see each other “in real life” when we can, but being able to touch base with my heart friends, no matter how far away they are, is a huge help when I’m craving adult conversation.

    Our little circus isn’t the easiest to take on the road, so we try to make our house a place where folks want to congregate. We host our small group and we also put a small ballet studio in our basement so we can host a young ballet class. The mamas congregate upstairs around the coffeemaker and I’m pretty sure the only reason any of our daughters are still taking ballet is because we mamas love our coffee talk so much.

    Scripture calls us to honor our mothers. When do you feel particularly honored by your children?

    Is “when they let me sleep in” a valid answer?

    Honestly, I wish I had a deep spiritual answer for you, but what comes to mind are the moments when my children see me as a person: when they belly laugh at my jokes, when they pat me on my shoulder while I cry, when they get excited to give me a gift because they know how much I’ll like it. I love being Mommy. But it’s nice when they see me as a human, too.

    Which is, in truth, the complete opposite of what parenting is all about. See next question…

    What’s the most frustrating aspect of motherhood? How does the gospel speak into this?

    Frustration comes from my own selfishness. I want mothering to be about ME, what I want for me and for my babies. But Jesus… He selflessly poured himself out, He sacrificed His wants, His preferences and said, “Not my will, but YOURS, Father.” He endured unspeakable affliction–much worse than my complaints of bodily fluids and missing shoes–and He was content, even JOYFUL about washing some guy’s feet because He loved his disciple, but even more so … He wanted the will of His Father more than He wanted his own way.

    This parenting gig is all about making us more like Christ. Every nose I wipe and every midnight puke-fest refines me a little more. And as He makes me more like Him, I learn to want what He wants–for myself and for my children. I am learning to want holiness for my babies over their safety or sleeping through the night. All my worries and fears as a mom fade in the face of my desire for my kids to love Jesus: To know how selfless and good He is, how much better at loving their every breath He is than their weak mama.

    What a gift to be able to trust God that much, with my most precious loves, because I know He loves them so much better than I do!