We Are Not Afraid

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”― William Wilberforce

There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear. I John 4:18

I know very little about refugees. I don’t have any friends that are refugees. Before Bill and I visited Jordan last January, I basically got my information about refugees from the media. I’d already made up my mind about how I felt about people immigrating to the US following the catastrophic attacks in Paris. I watched several news shows about the migration of Syrians to Europe and the tragic stories of families lost at sea running from the atrocious actions in their country.  I’ve traveled to the Middle East on numerous occasions. I love the people and the culture of the Holy Land but felt that the US needed be cautious about allowing large numbers of people into our country. The depth of my knowledge could’ve filled a thimble. 

While in Jordan working with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, I received an invitation to attend The GC2 Summit hosted by The Billy Graham Institute. The GC2 moniker is a symbol for The Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Both initiatives were entrusted to followers of Jesus Christ. I invited a few of our staff members to attend the conference with me. The general response was overwhelming. The organizers moved the conference venue to Community Christian Church in Naperville to accommodate those willing to take a full day to learn more about refugees and wrestle with how God may be calling the church to respond. You may watch video from that conference here.

Major Evangelical partners for the event included, The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism (BGCE), the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College (HDI), and LifeWay Research. The gathering on January 20, 2016, focused on equipping Christians and churches to connect with and serve refugees and refugee communities both domestically and internationally. This event featured top speakers like Rich Sterns (World Vision), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Community Church), Rick Warren (Saddleback Community Church), Christine Caine (A21), Stephan Bauman (World Relief) and many others who used biblical principles to help Christians and churches better understand their responsibility to show and share the love of Jesus Christ to refugees and their communities. On December 17, 2015, over 100 denominational, network, and non-profit leaders signed the Christian Declaration on Caring for Refugees: An Evangelical Response as a first step toward answering the call of Jesus Christ and this humanitarian disaster.

I felt Christ’s call to do something. It was His voice speaking to me as I listened to each speaker challenge me. My first priority is to learn the facts and then share them with others. I believe it is the Holy Spirit’s role to ignite a passion within you for lost people but you must decide for yourself to step up and do something. The July message series is titled 'We Are Not Afraid'. We will discover biblical refugee stories, learn more about refugees and pray about what we believe God is calling us to do in response to the refugee crisis. There are several events planned to help equip us during the sermon series. Wheatland has partnered with World Relief to offer two options to learn directly from the experts. Bring your favorite international dish to share with others at the forum where World Relief representative Keith Draper, our own Faith Promise partners from Jordan and our resident scholar/theologian Corey Ashley will be available so we can ask real questions and learn together. 

July 10, Oswego campus will host a World Relief Experience Day with Emily Gray, the Executive Director of World Relief. Invite friends to attend and learn with you. 

July 17, Naperville campus will host a World Relief Experience Day and International Potluck Forum with Keith Draper. Invite friends to attend and learn with you.

World maps will be present at both locations during the month of July. You can learn more about our Thumbprint Project here"It may be more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier.", UN Force Commander Major General Patrick Camembert. Learn more about women and children in crisis. 

Some people may question why we are venturing into such a controversial topic this summer. I believe it is God’s call for us to pay attention to our neighbors. After all, isn’t our Wheatland Salem vision statement to Love God, Love others, Change the world? See you Sunday as we kick-off our We Are Not Afraid month!


What has your attention?

Am I compelled by Jesus' mission?

Jesus entrusted his followers with a God-sized purpose. He promised to be with them and to develop the plan together. According to Matthew's account in chapter 28, Jesus gave a clear and concise command. He said, "therefore, go and make disciples." (Matthew 28:19a NIV) Jesus identified defining actions such as baptism and teaching others to obey his commands that would distinguish his community from the secular culture. Christ followers are called to take part in this mission and commanded to discover what Jesus meant for every age when he gave his instructions.

Consider all the ways you have made an impact in the lives of others for the Kingdom of God. Think about all the people that are influenced by your willingness to put aside your fears and focus on what Jesus Christ has trusted you to accomplish. You are carrying out his mission every time you encourage someone to follow Christ's command. The exhilaration of witnessing others fulfill God's greater plan rallies the community and builds momentum to reach out toward the greater needs of the lost and broken world.


Am I captivated by GC2?

The heart of Jesus’ message and the church’s calling is summarized in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. From the GC2, we derive the Core Values of Wheatland Salem Church: worship, relationships, personal transformation, missions, and future generations. Years ago, we may have heard the mantra "money follows vision.' I believe ministry is different today. There has to be more than a great idea to inspire people to get onboard with Jesus. "Money follows mission” is the paradigm for churches that are making an impact.* Evidence of a transformed life is crucial not only for individuals or the community but also to Jesus Christ. Jesus has skin in the game. He expects the same of his followers.

You don't have to be around long to figure out that reaching the world with the news of Jesus Christ is part of our DNA. Wheatland takes Jesus' command seriously by reaching people in far off places and in neighborhoods nearby. Wheatland is part of the on-going Christian transformation in countries such as Poland, Jordan, Haiti, Tanzania, India and China. Christ has also called us to make a difference in our local communities surrounding our campuses in Naperville and Oswego. One way you can respond to God's call to transform the world locally is to be part of Serve the Community Day May 7. Missions is our fourth Wheatland value. I am proud of what we have accomplished. I eagerly anticipate what we will accomplish in 2016-2017.

Sunday is Commitment Sunday. The pastors, staff, and leadership teams have been challenged to grow 10% in our personal giving. If you give $10/week--give $11. If you've not given financially to church, begin with small steps you can increase over time. Baby steps of faith make huge impacts for the Kingdom.


*So, what's the trend for United Methodist churches? Could we have greater impact?

Here is a link that will give you some statistics about the fastest growing UMCs. http://lenwilson.us/top-25-fastest-growing-large-umc-2016/

Here is a link that will give you some analysis of the data.https://tonymorganlive.com/2016/03/08/fast-growing-umc-churches-part-1/