Sunday, February 10, 2013

Window of Opportunity

A famous preacher once said, “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.”

His name was William Carey, and he is known as the father of modern Protestant missions. Carey’s work in India in the early 19th century is foundational for the practices and philosophies of virtually every missions organization formed since.

Open a map of the world and look at the Eastern Hemisphere, then chart the region between 10 and 40 degrees north of the Equator. This is the 10/40 Window, and this geographic region is quite possibly the greatest challenge, but also the greatest opportunity, we face as supporters of world missions.

The Window is home to roughly two thirds of the world’s population, more than four billion people, as well as the poorest of the world’s poor; 85% of people in the Window live on less than two dollars a day.

The region also encompasses locations central to the world’s major religions: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Many nations within the 10/40 Window are, officially or unofficially, resistant or even hostile toward Christians, the Bible, and Christian literature and teachings.

Ninety percent of the population of the 10/40 Window is unevangelized, meaning they have not heard the Gospel even once. Many cultures within the Window have few to no Christians; therefore they have no context for a Christian movement.

 If all of this weren’t enough of a challenge, of the 55 least evangelized countries in the world, 97% of their population lives within the 10/40 Window, yet only 10% of the global missionary force is working there.

But there is good news. Unreached does not equal unreachable. For example, according to a 2008 study, in 1989 there were only four known Christians living in Mongolia. That country now has an estimated 40,000 indigenous believers.

The efforts of missionaries and native believers in this country reflect another insight credited to William Carey: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” We can be certain that God is at work in the 10/40 Window, and nothing is impossible for Him!

Last summer, I visited a country in the 10/40 Window: Azerbaijan. This culturally Muslim nation sandwiched between Russia and Iran still bears the scars of Soviet-era oppression and a bloody revolution fought in the early 1990s.

Like many 10/40 nations, Azerbaijan outlaws any evangelism or public expression of Christianity. The missionaries I worked with there use creative access to reach people with the Gospel, through a business they have established in a local community. Even in countries that have restricted and outlawed Christianity, Jesus is still being preached!

If you’re interested in learning more about the 10/40 Window, visit this page for an explanation by missions strategist Luis Bush, who first coined the term and the concept, or The Joshua Project, a world missions initiative to bring Scripture and the Gospel to every people group on earth. Or click here for a short video.

Of his evangelistic work in the 10/40 nation of India, William Carey once said, “I will go down, if you will hold the ropes.” Let’s “hold the ropes” for those God has called to the farthest corners of the unreached world: Pray for the 10/40 Window. Pray for the missionaries serving there, that God would guide and protect them as they advance His Kingdom.

And most of all, pray for the people of this region, that God would break down barriers and open hearts so the lost may experience His love and grace.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Because He Cares

At the end of last month, I had the privilege of attending the World Missions Summit in Fort Worth, Texas, a gathering of over 4500 college students, campus ministers, young adult leaders, missionaries and pastors.

For three days I and my fellow attendees were able to experience international worship, messages from veteran world missionaries, workshops to learn about missions issues and opportunities, and “Windows to the World,” interactive exhibits that let participants explore the global regions where real missionaries are at work.

When asked about half-way through the Summit to describe my experience at TWMS so far, I responded, “It’s like Disneyland for people who love Missions!”

And it was. The elements of this Summit could have convinced even skeptics of the value of supporting missions and missionaries who travel to the ends of the earth to spread the Gospel.

The theme of this Summit was “Because I Care,” an appeal to our compassion to follow God’s call and reach the unreached with His tangible love. This passion for world evangelization was evident in over 900 college students who committed to give a year to serve in World or U.S. Missions after graduation.

But an even deeper overarching theme gradually developed throughout the workshops and messages: the vitality of keeping Jesus central to our lives, our work, and our ministry.

Jesus is the One who calls us to join Him in His mission to bring God’s Kingdom on earth, and this call must be our motivation for all that we do. Though this mission often positions us to help meet the physical needs of others, the fulfillment of those needs cannot be what drives us.

On the first night of the Summit, a missionary to the Sudan named Dick Brogden gave a message on abiding in Jesus, during which he made this eye-opening statement: “Disabuse yourself of the notion that God needs you… We are not needed, but we are invited.”

God can use anyone, or no one, to accomplish His mission; He is God and all things are possible for Him. But He chooses us and invites us to join Him.

Brogden went on to point out that “sin is the universal malady; not all are poor, not all are hungry, not all are sick, not all are trafficked, not all lack clean water or education, but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

As we strive to live missionally, we must remember that the meeting of physical needs must be accompanied by the communication of the Gospel, or our mission is incomplete. The work of Jesus, on the cross and in our hearts, is what must drive us to reach out to those in need.

In a generation deeply concerned with social justice, we must remember that the greatest injustice is that people die without ever hearing the name of Jesus, the One who can save them from their sin.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

You Were Here (revised)

You were here
one night, in a stable
dressed in rags and
the Glory of Heaven
You came
to dress us in your righteousness; amid
the thickness of life, the heady scent
of sheep and cattle
in the dirt and dark
You were light
among kings and common men
You were Lord and Servant
and all bowed

You were here
You were visible, the image
of the invisible God
the life of stars and hallelujahs
grace of galaxies in the unfurling rose
You were the vastness of the universe
cradled in a mother's arms
You were, and are, the song of angels
the quiet hope of longing hearts
the long-awaited culmination
of all of history
until the moment You were born

You were here
on earth, physical and tangible
the breath of the world in Your human lungs
and the breath of God in Your infant's cry
a human child, the Son of Man
the Living God with a tiny heartbeat
and tiny hands and feet
that would be pierced for our transgressions
the soft downy head of a baby
that would one day wear a crown of thorns
the little chubby arms
that would one day spread wide on a cross
to save the world

You were here
You came
and even if the stars shone brighter
or the roses smelled sweeter
or the bright air was thicker and more humming with life
on the night You came
the world held no beauty but this:

You were here

Missions Connection, Volume IV

 (From Thursday, December 13)

Can you believe there are less than two weeks until Christmas?

If you’re anything like me, you especially enjoy observing children at this time of year. There is something about the way children experience Christmas, the music and decorations, the traditions, and especially when you know a child understands the true meaning of the holiday, that makes the season richer and more wonderful.

As Charles Dickens wrote in his classic novel, A Christmas Carol, “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”

It is this time when our Lord was a child that we think most about reaching those children who may not have experienced the unfathomable love that Jesus became a baby so He could show us. Children in Africa are among poorest in the world, with the most limited access to education, food, clean water, and health care. Out of every 10 children in the world living with AIDS, nine live in Africa. This is an area of the world that desperately needs the hope and love of Jesus.

Solid Rock supports two missionary families who work specifically with children and children’s workers in Africa.

Chris and Heidi Ness, along with their children, will begin a new missionary term in Ethiopia in July of next year. This is a nation that has been greatly affected by famines, wars and oppressive regimes in recent decades.

It has begun to recover in recent years, and Christianity flourishes where the seed is planted, but Sunday School teachers and Children’s Ministers have little or no resources to work with. The Nesses have a strong passion to not only train Sunday School teachers and Children’s Ministers, but to provide them with resources in their native language. Visit to learn more about the Nesses and their work.

Doug and Tasha Myers are another missionary family working in Africa. Currently on furlough, they will return to Swaziland in October of next year. Swaziland is struggling with the highest HIV rate in the world, which has resulted in the largest percentage of orphans per population of any country in the world.

Doug and Tasha have a passion for underprivileged children and have been training children's workers in churches throughout the nation. Their mission is to empower the local church in Swaziland to be the hands of Christ extended to their communities. Go to to find out more about their mission work.

One of the most effective ways to help a child in need and break the cycle of poverty is child sponsorship. Compassion International is an organization that has been at the forefront of child sponsorship since 1952. Compassion exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

When you choose to sponsor a child, you ensure that that child will have ongoing Christian training, educational opportunities, access to health care, development of self-confidence and social skills, and education in key life skills and vocational programs. You can also specify the age, gender, and region of the world, such as Africa, even to the specific country, as well as other factors that affect your sponsored child.

You may think, “But with so many children in the world who are in need, what difference will my sponsoring one child make?” It may not seem like it means much to help one child in the world, but to that one child, it means the world.

Visit to learn more about sponsorship and their other programs, as well as other ways that you can help children in need all over the world. You can also visit the Guest Services table in the foyer on Sunday to pick up a child sponsorship brochure.

Child sponsorship would make a great Christmas gift for anyone, especially your own children. As we celebrate the birth of one Child, you can be a part of giving the greatest Christmas gifts any child could ever receive—the gift of the Gospel for the sponsored child, and the gift of giving for your own.

May the Word of Christ dwell in you richly and may your life have the greatest possible impact on Eternity, and Merry Christmas!

In Christ,

Rhonda Watts
Missions Coordinator
Solid Rock Community Church

Monday, October 01, 2012

Changing the Map

 When you look at a map of the world, what do you see? 

The political borders drawn by rulers and governments, by wars and treaties? The physical barriers of rivers and mountains, deserts and oceans? Or the histories and diversity of ethnicities and cultures represented by the names of nations?

The global map is a visual record of all these things today, but a thousand years ago, we would have seen it differently. We would have seen not only the world’s physical terrain, but its spiritual geography.

A medieval mappa mundi (Latin for “map of the world”) typically depicted the three continents of the known world, Europe, Africa and Asia, arranged around a central point: the city of Jerusalem. This placement of what, to the medieval mind, was considered the City of God, was symbolic of God’s rightful centrality in the world, and in each person’s life.

Ebstorfer Mappa Mundi, c. 1234

When medieval Europeans looked at maps, they were reminded that this is our Father’s world, and while He plans to one day establish His physical Kingdom here, His spiritual Kingdom is already present.

In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis compares the Christian to an exile living in enemy territory. He writes of God’s “invasion” of earth through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and through our own lives when we allow Him to live in us, as a reclaiming of what is already God’s.

The God Who created the world wants it back, and He wants to use us to change the map, to reconcile the earth to Himself. He wants to use us, His followers, to bring His Kingdom to those who have never heard His name, to bring hope and healing to a dying world.

Looking at a map of the world and thinking of the great size, the sheer numbers of people yet to be helped, yet to be reached with the Gospel, our task can seem daunting. Yet when we read the words of Jesus to His disciples in Acts 1:8, we notice that He tells them to begin their ministry in Jerusalem, in their own community.

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

When we let God use us to reach our world, whether by serving in our church; volunteering for a local charity; praying and caring for a sick neighbor; giving to missions; or even intentionally forming a new, Christ-centered friendship, we are helping reclaim the world. We are advancing God’s Kingdom on earth.

We are changing the map.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Missions Connection, Volume 1

This is the first of a series of monthly messages I'll be sending to my church. I think it's pretty self-explanatory?

Good morning, Church Family!

I hope you are having a great week!

In my new role as Missions Coordinator for Solid Rock, I am so excited about what God is doing through our church for our world!

Did you know that we as a church give $1500 every month to local and world missions? Your faithful and consistent giving allows us to support missionaries around the globe.

Here are just a few other facts about our missions giving:

  • We give $100 a month each to 15 missionary families.
  • Our missionaries are located all over the world, from Ecuador, to Scotland, to the Philippines, to right here in Washington state.
  • We support several missionaries who serve in restricted or hostile nations, where it is dangerous or even illegal to gather with other Christians, talk about the Christian faith, or even own a Bible.
  • While our financial support is of great value and very much appreciated, what missionaries request most is prayer for their families and ministries. There are no limits to what the power of God can do through prayer!

Jesus’ last words to His followers on earth were to spread the Gospel throughout the whole world. While we’re not all called to be overseas missionaries, we are all called to live missionally, and we are all able to support the efforts of those who are bringing the Good News to the ends of the earth!

If you don’t already, I encourage you to pray for our missionaries and to prayerfully consider giving to missions at Solid Rock. If you would like more information about giving to missions or the missionaries we support, please reply to this email.

In the coming months, I will be profiling some of the individual missionaries we support and highlighting the diverse and creative ways they are sharing the Gospel. I’ll also be sharing information about some mission trips we’ll have in the works for you to take part in.

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for the Missions Table, coming soon to the foyer on Sunday mornings!

I pray that the word of Christ would dwell in you richly and your life on earth would have the greatest possible impact on eternity.

In Christ,

Rhonda Watts
Missions Coordinator
Solid Rock Community Church

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Which is the Heroine?"

Do not be in a hurry to marry
but neither dismiss the state;
your words and your kindnesses will have their weight
whatever name you bear

Speak softly in the morning,
but when evening feathers the trees,
look up to the sky with an eye for music
and shout your joy
while stars and streaming faithfulness
gather in your hands

Find an occupation
to busy your hands and your mind and your heart:
the care of a child or the care of a country;
both will do their part to improve the world

Tread gently on winter afternoons
when grey light splinters the snow,
but in summer, drink in the sun through your fingertips
and leap through silver streams
while Providence and darting minnows
rush over your feet

Friday, June 22, 2012

Love is Pain

(a poem for Good Friday)

You on a dark
long road
the black hanging shapes
of clouds and branches before you
the stones beneath your
feet pressing into your flesh
night and desperation thundering in
your ears and

The burden splintering
burying itself in your shoulders
leaving red tracks in the gathering

          A tree planted in the earth
          gives life:

          Dead limbs
          with nails hold
          living limbs

You on a dark
heavy cross
the black hanging shapes of
fear and death
collecting blood in the dirt under
your pierced feet
love and desperation rising from
your mouth and

The sun shattering
burying itself in the ground
leaving red streaks in the brightening