Living Behind a Mask
I recently uploaded a new picture to my iPhone home screen. It’s a picture of my two 11-year-old granddaughters who just had their faces painted at a family birthday party. With faces painted to their liking... I asked them to pose for a picture. I was welcomed with smiles from ear-to-ear and the picture is a keeper for sure. These two girls smile all the time... they both have such sweet spirits about them... yet, with painted faces, their smiles were even broader. The face painting didn’t fully cover up their beautiful smiles or hide any major facial features, but it did get me to thinking about how often in our Christian lives we work hard to cover up and put on our masks that hide who we really are “in Christ.”
Two of our granddaughters – Emma & Blake
It is interesting that Jesus took this word from the Greek and Roman theater and used it in such a way that people could understand perfectly what He was communicating. Today we define a hypocrite as “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.” A hypocrite was someone pretending to be what they were not. They were “stage-acting” in a spiritual sense. We know that in the case of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, they were portraying themselves to be super spiritually minded men... when in reality they were not spiritual at all. Seems when you read closely the gospel account, we come to find out that many of them were just putting on a show. They tended to sound spiritual on the outside and perhaps they even dressed like they were spiritual... but down deep... they were pretending... they were wearing a mask. Jesus had strong words for these “mask-wearers”! (Matthew 6:2,5,16; 7:5; 22:18; 23:15,23,25,27,29; 24:51; Mark 7:6; Luke 12:56; 13:15.) So, what is Jesus saying to us today about “pretending”? He is calling us to be H.O.T., (honest, open, and transparent) about our faith journey. He wants us to be real, to be sincere and to be true to who we are in Christ. Hebrews 4:13 is a great passage to embrace, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” There is nothing hidden from the Lord, He sees our heart and knows how to touch it... and one day we “will” give an account of our “mask-wearing.” May we all take off whatever “religious masks” we are wearing and come to reflect the image of Christ to a world that desperately needs Him.
Helping For Ukraine (Update)
We are grateful for the many who have contributed to our “Help for Ukraine” relief fund. This fund is set up to maintain the greatest flexibility for us as needs arise... from direct care for national leaders, for assistance with our ministry partners and for operating funds for current ministries in Ukraine. Our goal was updated to $30,000 in April and we are short only $5,000 to reach our goal! I thought I’d share a few of the ways that the Lord is using these funds to encourage global workers and provide care for those impacted by the war in Ukraine.
- The home of Artur and Larisa, a Ukrainian couple from the town of Bucha, whom we have a relationship with, is one that has been destroyed. Artur and Larisa are safe and sound but were forced to relocate outside of Ukraine. Funds have been sent to them to help provide needed housing as they consider options for a return to Ukraine.
- Our staff couple, The Warners, that live and minister in Irpin, have also experienced damage to the home they lease. Windows have been blown out and the house has been ransacked, leaving them with the reality that they need to start all over again if/when they return to Irpin.
- Barnabas has been able to provide financial assistance to our member care network in Romania that continues to provide needed care for refugees coming across the border from Ukraine into Romania. These Romanian caregivers have provided food and shelter to many while providing spiritual and emotional care. We have been able to help provide financial assistance directly to these caregivers who are also in need.
Thank you for your continued prayers for the people of Ukraine and the millions displaced by this horrible war. We count it a blessing that we can provide encouragement to them through tangible means. We will continue to steward well the resources the Lord has provided.
Barnabas Around the World
During the past 5 months our Barnabas staff have been able to travel and minister in the following countries:
Austria, Belize, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malawi, Nepal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom & Ukraine
…plus, many ministry opportunities here in the United States.
\With countries opening more and more to international travel and as Covid restrictions are lifted… our staff have embraced this opportunity to engage fully in global travel and international ministry with missionaries.
- We have been able to provide care at a conference to medical workers from around the world.
- We have offered debriefing to groups and teams in many of these countries, plus multiple opportunities to open God’s Word with front line workers.
- We have assisted with refugee ministries.
- We have provided pastoral and clinical counseling to hundreds of workers.
- We have presented at various member care conference in multiple locations and provided teaching to national church leaders through a local conference.
Another aspect of our global ministry relates specifically to the numerous requests that we receive through our website contacts for provisional pastoral care. We average nearly 15 requests each month and for the past 20 months, we have processed and provide cared for 265 inquiries related to personal care needs of global workers. I’m grateful for our Clinical Counseling Coordinator that helps us manage all of these needs and respond accordingly.
These various opportunities allow us to provide both in-person care and virtual care. We are grateful to the Lord for how He continues to open doors of ministry.