Saturday, June 22, 2024
Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSPOTLIGHT ON MISSIONS: Michael & Laura Beth Strong • Minneapolis, Minn.

SPOTLIGHT ON MISSIONS: Michael & Laura Beth Strong • Minneapolis, Minn.

            “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman (tested by trial) who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15 AMP).

        Quite a bit has happened since I last wrote. I want to share some highlights with you.

            • God is forging our identity in Christ. I have been praying for our church plant in regard to God forming and shaping our people to be a holy people. As I have been praying for each individual member and visitor to our church plant each week, I have seen God present some difficulties and choices for those in our flock. I believe this is God’s answer to that prayer. He is faithful to lead us to a place where we are formed into Christlikeness, and that includes times we remain faithful under trial as well as times we don’t. He has a mysterious way that is above our normal way of thinking when it comes to humbling us and giving us an appreciation for grace and a hunger to be with Him over having anything else in all of creation. I want to share with you a few ways we have seen God do that in the month of August.

            • Our people are learning to be faithful. The idea of faithfulness seems to be praised and assaulted in almost the same sentence nowadays. On the one hand, the idea of being faithful is praised in the church. But on the other, when you talk about the actual things being faithful entails, you can be labeled a legalist or a pharisee. We want to be a faithful people the way the Bible speaks about faithfulness, and we are teaching and discipling to see that happen.

         This season has been busy. We have had all kinds of events in the particular recovery community most of our members are a part of. There have been softball games, recovery group campouts, conferences, concerts, the state fair and all kinds of unique individual circumstances that have popped up. Our people had to make some tough decisions on where to spend their time, their money, and use their gifts. I have been working diligently to teach the biblical truth of what meaningful membership is. I am hoping it will continue to take root.

            • Please pray for our people to see the good way God has made the church to function together as a single unit to advance His kingdom by making disciples together. One negative aspect about the recovery community, one which needs to be addressed, is the idea that the recovery community is supposed to be what the church is, and the church is merely a worship service or Bible study to go to for your spiritual checklist. Nothing outside of the church can ever take the place of the church. Unfortunately, not every member is aware of or understands that. This misinformed understanding leads to people who participate in subgroups (ethnicity, economic, hobby or interest, or any other group based on something in common) failing to become like Christ because they are never stretched by having to love others who are not like them.

        Only the church has the blood of Christ available, which is necessary to supply all that is needed for people to grow together in a way that is completely unlike the world. I have been showing our people that there is a commitment to your brothers and sisters in Christ in your specific local church that is biblically taught as priority over all other relationships except one’s personal relationship with God, a husband’s relationship with wife and parents’ relationships with their children. That means we invest our time, talent and treasure in each other as a single body over doing so anywhere else if there is limited margin.

            • Our people are learning to be prayerful. It has been a priority since before we launched to engrain in our people a dependency on God in all things. That is evident in the life of the church. You can tell which spirit is primarily at work in your people by examining their prayer life, whether it be a spirit of prideful independence or a spirit of humble dependence on God.

        I must admit I wish we were primarily marked by a spirit of humble dependence on God, but we are still in the early stages of seeing that become what it needs to be for our church to reach maturity. That is to be expected when almost 100% of the church is made up of new Christians. We will continue to teach and create opportunities for our people to gather together and pray about all things. Please pray for us as we show our people their need to put their whole trust in God by going to Him for all of their needs.

            • Our people are learning to be discerning. As you may know, I have been working through a sermon series about how important the Word of God has to be in our church plant. This led to teaching about the sufficiency of Scripture and its place as the sole authority of our lives. It also led to a series on passages of Scripture that have not been rightly taught and understood that are impacting our church day in and day out. Week after week, we have been “Untwisting Twisted Scriptures” to address the lies people use those Scriptures for and then give the true hope the passage was intended by God to give us.

        This series has primarily dealt with the lies of the Prosperity Gospel, but has been going deeper into addressing the heresies within the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movements. Both of these movements stand in opposition to the sufficiency of Scripture and its rightful place as the sole authority in the believer’s life for salvation, the hope of eternal life, and having all that is needed for training in righteousness to be able to accomplish all the good works God has for them.

        I don’t have the false hope that God will take our people out of the world, including the world that identifies as the church, because that is not what Jesus prayed for us in John 17. But I do pray and teach in such a way that our people can discern the lies they are given by learning how to rightly handle God’s Word. Their “Spidey sense” should go off when they hear some of the lies people spread on a large scale in the United States and in the recovery and reentry community here in Minneapolis. They should be able to handle the Word in such a way that they learn to give an argument for why they believe what they believe or don’t believe what they don’t. I have taught them that I am not the source of truth — God’s Word, the Bible, is the source of truth. It alone is the one they should trust and live by. I believe some of our people are exhibiting evidence that this is taking root. This is giving us a solid unity that is growing out of the foundation of Christ, the apostles and prophets. Only truth can bring about that true unity.

        Please pray for God to give our people a hunger to learn how to study, not just read, the Scriptures for themselves. Also pray that they will learn how to move beyond self-feeding to feeding others.

            Will you partner with us? God has given us a unique ministry. We serve in a hard part of a hard city. Overcoming the challenges of poverty, broken homes, incarceration, mental illness, physical illness and violent crime keeps some groups and individuals from coming to join us to serve here. I get that, but it doesn’t have to keep us from reaching the people of North Minneapolis together. With increased attacks by individuals who believe and teach the tenets, I am standing against in the NAR and Word of Faith movements, and the deceitful way they are operating — to do so, I need help.

        I need prayer support for the spiritual warfare that is ramping up again. I also need supplies and financial support to be free to evangelize the lost and disciple those who are coming to Christ. As many of you know, I have picked up two additional jobs to make ends meet. I would like to eliminate at least one of those jobs to reinvest the time in my personal devotional life and the lives of my family and church to remain spiritually healthy. If you would like to assist with this, you can join us by partnering financially. We also need financial partners to help us add some help with administration and childcare needs since many of our people are not legally allowed to serve in children’s ministry yet.

        We have other needs that range from transportation to interpretation for Spanish speakers. We may not have people yet that have those gifts or assets, but financial support could give us options to serve in these new and growing ways until ministers join us or are raised up through discipleship.

        You can send funds to assist through the church plant at Freedom Missionary Baptist Church, c/o Michael Strong, 1348 Sheridan Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minn. 55411. You can also donate through BMA Global Missions by visiting app.securegive.com/BMAMissions/main/donate/category, click “Show All,” scroll down, click the “+” next to “Michael Strong,” add your donation amount in the box and click “Next.”

        Thanks for your prayers and partnership. It is making an eternal difference.

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