Thursday, May 23, 2024
Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSPOTLIGHT ON MISSIONS: Michael & Laura Beth Strong • Minneapolis, Minn.

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

      It’s a new year, and we are in a time of assessment and planning. I am seeking the Lord as to how He desires to accomplish the work He has for us.

         • Ending (And Beginning) On A High Note — We ended the year celebrating the coming of Christ through the incarnation, and we are beginning the year planning in light of His second coming. He has guaranteed success in reaching all His lost sheep with the gospel (Acts 1:8; Revelation 7). That is a truth I hold dear, a truth I have learned to live clinging to each day. It is the promise that empowers our ministry the most in the hard times, the slow times and the days of trouble.

      With each passing month in church planting, I have become more sober-minded about the work and what it means to walk by faith in completing it. I sit at my computer today with a peculiar stillness at work in my heart. I am not distraught because I know success is guaranteed — not by me or my efforts, but by King Jesus who has promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18). I’m similarly void of being overjoyed because I have felt the pain the work includes and know, with each passing season, there are hard things that are ahead of us, things God will use for my good, despite some being meant by others (human or spiritual) for evil (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28). So, by God’s grace, I woke up and spent time talking and listening to God, and He reminded me it is not an “off” day. It’s another day to take up my cross and follow King Jesus.

         • Will you pray for us? — Would you please pray for us to make connections? Would you also pray for the Lord to lead us into effective gospel conversations where His Spirit will be at work bringing about salvation and new birth? Would you pray for each person who goes out to have confidence in our Lord and His Word? We desperately need the prayers of the saints on our behalf. It is very dark in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities metro. Thank you for praying for us.

         • A Major Opportunity: Good Friday Service — I left the prayer request above the same as last month. I see no need to change it. We still need connections, gospel conversations, boldness and confidence to share the hope we have in Jesus, and, on top of that, a growing desire to be “All In” with King Jesus at all times. But I would like to add a praise and another prayer request. We have been asked by the church that lets us use their building, along with the other church plants and ministries that also meet there, to oversee this year’s joint Good Friday Service. It is an awesome responsibility and one I do not take lightly. I usually attend and serve however we may be called to in these services but have not sought to be the lead on one.

      Worship is very important to me, and I have some culturally counterproductive views on how that worship should be administered based on the Word. To accomplish this goal, I will be asking the other groups to embrace a longer sermon, a breakout group Bible study at the end of the service, and a mostly more hymn-based music selection. I do not desire to stand in the way of anyone worshipping God with all they are. At the same time, I want to honor God and lead the sheep He has given me to serve in a way that elevates the Word to what I believe is its rightful place.

      Each of the churches value the Word and care deeply about how worship is administered, and each of the churches loves Jesus and loves the other churches. My issue is less about what we are doing differently and more about feeling inadequate to serve everyone well. So, will you pray for my faith? Will you pray for my heart? I need to trust the Word that says it is Jesus, not me, that builds His church. I need to trust the Word when it says the Holy Spirit is not able to be controlled or summoned but is like the wind and comes from who knows where and falls on whomever He chooses. I need to believe the Holy Spirit convicts, renews, restores, gives life and heals, not me. I need to be free in my heart and mind to study the Word, be faithful in exegeting and preparing to teach it and leave the results to God and God alone. I need to seek God for love for those who will attend, but especially love for the God we gather together to worship and to focus on pleasing Him rather than trying to figure out how to get to a specific response or outcome.

      Thank you for your prayers.

      As I have been praying and seeking God for a text, I settled on John 17 — Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. This is the prayer He prayed before He went to the garden to pray and prepare for His betrayal, unrighteous trial and crucifixion. My prayer is each person will see the heart of King Jesus, our Perfect High Priest, as we unpack what was on His heart and mind at that time. More than just seeing His heart, my hope is all who hear will understand how wonderful He really is and love Him more after the service than when they arrived. Only God can accomplish that feat. Anything I write will feel like it is too weak, simple, wordy or confusing to accomplish it, so I need to really know He can do miracles with a sinful, weak, simple man’s work. He has done it before, and He will do it again. That is my hope.

      Here’s to a year of looking forward to watching God do more than we can ask or imagine.

         Thanks again for your prayers and financial support. We praise God for His care through you. And all the souls who now know Jesus because of your partnership in taking the gospel to Minnesota also thank you. 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. Thanks for considering partnering with us.