OC Director's Blog: June 2022 Dr. Craig Kraft
/ Monday, June 6, 2022
As I look across the landscape of Christianity in North America, I am confronted with images of a narcissistic interpretation of the gospel that seeks to make the message of God’s love and grace conform to our selfish and self-centered worldview. Yet, focusing on the love and grace components of the Christian faith while neglecting the need for confession and repentance falls short of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God indeed showers us with his love, and Jesus was the ultimate example of compassion and grace, but his acts of kindness are accompanied by his call to repent (Mt. 4:17, Lk. 5:31-32, Rev. 2:5, 3:3).
Repentance was a common theme in the Old Testament prophets (Jer. 15:19, Eze. 14:6, 18:30-32, Hos. 11:5, Micah 6:8). In the New Testament, Jesus began his ministry with a call to repentance (Mt. 4:17). The Greek word metanoia has two meanings, a “change of mind” or “regret”. Repentance is a condition for salvation. It indicates that a person has not only acknowledged or confessed their sin but also has experienced brokenness and acted to change their direction and behavior.
Being a follower of Jesus means just that. One changes the course of their life by following Jesus’ teaching and example. Paul and the other writers of the New Testament offer help for modern readers to understand what it looks like to follow Jesus.
I envision it like being on a highway, following Jesus. He is off in the distance, but we follow the path he set. There are a lot of us on this same highway, traveling at different speeds and our vehicles are very different. However, if we follow Jesus, we are headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, other roads lead in different directions. We can believe in God and Jesus but still be on the wrong highway, headed in the wrong direction (1 Jn. 1:5-10).
To be a faithful follower of Jesus, we must abandon the selfish freeway that caters to our comfort, desires, ideologies, and morality and merge onto the path that follows Jesus.
I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
Outreach Canada News
I serve as the moderator for our OC Global Alliance. On May 23-25, we hosted a three-day virtual conference with the representatives of our alliance and global leaders. We had close to fifty people each day from our fifteen mobilization centers worldwide. We spanned seventeen time zones which meant that I had to be at the office by 4 am each day.
We heard exciting reports and requests from our members to explore new ways to communicate our needs and share our resources. A highlight for me was the daily devotions led by our leaders in the Philippines, United Kingdom, and Colombia. From each of their unique perspectives, they touched on the theme of celebrating hope!
The pandemic hit us in different ways, but some areas suffered much worse than others.
- India reported that so many pastors died from COVID, now we are training their wives to take over the leadership of their churches.
- In another Muslim country, hundreds of Christian leaders died and have left an immeasurable gap.
- Harley, our leader in Colombia, described how most of the small churches in his country did not survive the pandemic. Buildings were lost when leases could not be paid, Pastors had to find other jobs, and virtual churches picked up new people, but there was no support for their missionaries without weekly offerings.
Challenges have hit all of our teams, but they show remarkable resilience. We have adapted well, and our ministry continues to grow.
Here in Canada, we are gearing up for a busy summer. Our MORE team (missionary member care) runs three ReBoot retreats for 18-25-year-old missionary kids and two Review retreats for missionary families. We appreciate your prayers for the leadership teams who will be serving these special people. Our MORE team also launched two brand new resources this past year: an online directory of Christian counselors across Canada (with experience dealing with cross-cultural issues and trauma) and a library of missionary member care resources. Our partners have embraced both, and they are already put to good use.
Our nest is finally empty. We helped Jon and Emilie move to Alberta last weekend, where they are looking for work, and Jon will be applying to medical schools. Please pray for them as they get settled, find jobs, and a new church community. Andrew is now working at the Nisan plant in Smyrna, TN, and he loves it. Matt and Biz enjoy having Andrew with them, and they are excited to start the summer with a newer boat this year. Joel and Melissa survived their first month as parents and celebrated their first anniversary. Little Bea continues to be just about perfect. (I think she is on her best behavior with Papa). Finally, Heather and I are looking forward to having some time to ourselves and exploring life as grandparents.
Dr. Craig Kraft is the Executive Director of Outreach Canada. After 15 years of pastoral ministry in western Canada, Craig, with his wife Heather, served with OC in southern Africa before returning to lead the ministry in Canada. Craig is a graduate of Northwest Baptist Seminary at ACTS and a graduate of Asia Graduate School of Theology with a Doctor of Intercultural Studies. His study has focused on diaspora missiology in Canada. His dissertation explores the potential for revitalizing Canadian churches through the practice of biblical hospitality with refugees and immigrants. Craig loves to watch sports, work in the yard & spend time in the woods.