My oldest daughter, Alex, is currently playing basketball for Pekin Middle School. As a father who enjoyed basketball as a kid, it is simultaneously fun and frustrating to watch. It takes a great deal of self-control not to make a fool out of myself while watching and “encouraging” my daughter. My wife may argue that I fail at this more than I succeed.

One aspect of basketball that can be frustrating for parents, and coaches alike, is the absence of total commitment. Too often you see players merely go through the motions. To correct this halfhearted behavior, a coach my yell “Leave it all on the Court!” The idea behind this phrase is that players should not hold anything back. They should use all their heart, mind, and strength to win the game; being willing to sprint back on defense, dive on the floor for loose balls, and mix it up in the paint…blood, sweat, and tears.

The reason behind this reckless behavior is the desire to accomplish the primary goal, to win the game. Interestingly, being a Christian is not terribly different.  

When Christ came in the flesh, he came for one purpose, to save sinners. He didn’t come to go through motions. He didn’t come to build wealth. He didn’t come to climb the corporate ladder. He didn’t come to create a Pinterest life. Jesus took on flesh, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to achieve the goal of seeking and saving the lost. As disciples of Christ, our purpose is not different. You can see this in the calling of the first disciples.  In Luke 5:4-11 we read these words:

“[W]hen he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”

In verse 10 we see Jesus tell his disciples that they will be catching men.  This was their new purpose as followers of Jesus, to look out upon the sea of faces in this world and throw out the net of the gospel and draw men to Jesus. Peter, James, and John are the first Christians, and in their calling, we are given the first example of what it means to follow Christ, to partner with Him to seek and save the lost.

But how do we do this? It begins with a commitment to leave everything on the court. Notice verse 11, “And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” Let that sink in…they left everything…everything; their boat, their source of income, their dreams, and even their dad. At this moment they were giving it their all, literally.  

Now…it is time for some self-evaluation. How do you stack up? Do you view yourself as a Christian, as a disciple, as a follower of Christ? Has Jesus called you to be catchers of men? Have you accepted that call? Have you committed yourself to the primary mission of seeking and saving the lost? Have you given it your all? Have you left it all on the Court? Or are you going through the motions?

Remember, when Christ calls you, it is not into passivity, but activity, and it is an activity of total abandonment. Later in the Gospel of Luke Jesus says these words, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33).

Christ calls us to leave it all on the court, to give everything we have, blood, sweat, and tears to the God glorifying, eternal, gospel centered mission of saving sinners.

Paul, as an Apostle of Christ, was instrumental in establishing the early Church. He did this by the grace of God and instruction of the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite verses is found in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Despite Paul’s God given grace and work ethic, Paul was still a man. He was limited by space and time. He was limited. He needed help, and help he had. Paul was almost always in a group. Very rarely do we see Paul alone in ministry. Some of the men that were a part of Paul’s ministry were Timothy, Luke, Mark, Barnabas, Silas, and Titus. However, even this group was limited. As the gospel spread through Judea, Samaria, and the Ends of the Earth, this band of brothers just wasn’t enough. Similar to Paul, they couldn’t be everywhere at all times. So what was the solution? Pastors.

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—”Titus 1:5

The Apostle Paul commissions Titus to appoint elders. Elder is just another name for Pastor. For the early Church, Pastors were crucial in the expansion of the Kingdom both in depth and in breadth. Over the years, nothing has changed. It is still God’s desire to have Elders in every town, including the towns in India.

This is one of the goals of Epaphroditus and Grace Christian Ministry (GCM), to have Pastors in every town in the nation of India. Having said that, this is easier said than done, for a Pastor is more than a warm body, despite what you might see in American pulpits today. Titus 1:9 tells us that a Pastor “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”.

Pastors must be trained up to know and to teach sound Biblical doctrine, and this is one of the primary focuses of GCM, to train up Pastors to instruct and rebuke. GCM achieves this is two primary ways, a Bible College and Learning Centers. It has been GCM’s past practice to not charge a tuition for their college or their classes so as not to put an obstacle in the way of men who feel lead to become a pastor.

And this is where you come in. Epaphroditus exists to act as a messenger between GCM and the Church in America. It is our purpose to present needs that exist on the front lines of gospel ministry in the nation of India, and then allow God to move in hearts as He wills. One of the primary needs in India is financial support for training up Pastors. It takes only $30/month to support one Bible college student. If God is calling you to support this endeavor, please partner with us to provide an elder in every town in the nation of India.

Grace Christian Discipleship Training Center — Bihar, India

We exist to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:19-20

Continue reading “GCM Missions Report (July 2018)”

We are continuing our Get to Know India campaign and are focusing today on Christianity in India. As we have stated in previous posts, Christianity is the third largest religion in India with approximately 26 million adherents. This number seems large until you compare it to the national population of 1.3 billion. This equates to only two percent of the population identifying as Christians.

The 26 million Christians in India are located in Christian pockets. Some city blocks, towns, and even some States within India are considered Christian. Generally speaking, many of those Christian pockets are located in Southern India, while the Northern States tend to be more anti-Christian and adversarial.

Continue reading “Christianity in India”

As Jared mentioned in the previous post’s overview of India, the population of India is 1.3 billion, making it the second largest population in the world. With so many people you would anticipate a diversity of cultures. It is estimated that within India there are 2,550 People Groups.

It is claimed that the Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions; namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.

Continue reading “Main Religions in India”

For the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living. – Revelation 18:8

It is day two of our trip to India. The route that we have always taken leads through Dubai. There is no place like Dubai. If there is one word for it, it is luxurious. It is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. The goal of Dubai is to become the center of the world. As I sit in the airport, it appears that they are doing very well reaching their goal.

As I walked through the mall of the Dubai airport I pass people from many nations coming and going. As we walk we are surrounded by extravagance: fine wine, cigars, sushi bars, jewelry, expensive coffee, you name it.

Continue reading “Babylon”

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20

I love how God works. I have needed to write a blog post for Epaphroditus for some time. I have put it off for weeks. However, the verse above was a part of my Bible study that I was preparing for today, and God has laid it on my heart to stop procrastinating.

The guy who wrote 2 Corinthians 5:20 is my hero. His name is Paul. We don’t know a lot about Paul’s appearance except people said that “his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” (2 Corinthians 10:10). Paul referred to himself as a jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). Tradition says that he was a small man, bald, bow-legged, a long nose, and eyebrows that met.

Continue reading “Ambassadors for Christ”

I love how God works. Today we left India and I was sitting in the India airport reading 2 Corinthians 8. If you have a minute or two, take a look. To sum it up, Paul was telling the Church in Corinth that they have been blessed and that they should give out of their abundance. Specifically, they needed to give to other churches that were in need.

The verse hits like a hammer seeing and hearing about the churches in India. They have next to nothing and American Churches have so much. We spend money of things that they can’t even dream of. They are struggling to pay pastors $25/month, and we might spend $25/month on coffee.

Continue reading “Out of Abundance”

As I write this blog I am sitting in the Dubai airport heading home. It is a bittersweet moment. Our hearts feel like they are in two places. We long to get home to see our family, but our goodbyes with our brothers and sisters in Christ was difficult.

At about 11:00 p.m. last night we were standing in Babu’s living room singing a Malayalam Hymn, followed by prayer, and then followed by tears. Yes, we only spent a week with these people, but there is a deepness to our bond. One that can only be explained by the Holy Spirit. Through the blood of Jesus Christ we are adopted into the same family of God, and therefore we love our family.

It is with this love that we desire to help our brothers and sisters. Before we left our team set some goals for each of us to strive for. The first is to be committed to pray daily for GCM. Second, we are committed to personally assist financially with GCM. Third, we are going to reach out to friends, family, churches, and communities to encourage them to consider sponsoring a pastor for five years. The cost to sponsor a pastor and his family is $50/month. Currently there are 35 pastors that need sponsoring. Fourth, we are going to attempt to speak at churches regularly to introduce them to GCM and the gospel opportunities that are available.

We would ask anyone who has been reading about our trip to prayerfully consider partnering with us, and partnering with GCM. If God directs your heart to help, please contact us on our website or via facebook.