Mission Canada is the national mission agency of the PAOC, which positions workers to serve as salt and light in our nation—in our urban centres, among Aboriginals, in Quebec and Francophone Canada, with cultural language groups and newcomers to Canada, and with our next generation of children, youth and campus students. Mission Canada also serves our Fellowship as a network, bringing together those who are special- ists in reaching into these priority areas. Discipleship, church multiplication and social responsibility are strategic actions that drive Mission Canada forward. Visit www.paoc.org/canada.
Are you a person who lives with purpose and a sense of God’s calling on your life? Do you awaken every day and spend time with the Lord, asking Him what He has in store for you for the day? Does your daily calendar allow you to be on mission for God, responding to the opportunities He may bring your way? Is your heart tuned to constantly follow His leading? How would you rate your obedience quotient?
2015 is now upon us, and we’re a few months into the calendar. There is nothing we can do to turn back time, or even to wish that we were 20 years younger. We age. Society changes. Culture shifts. And sadly, too often people wake up to realize that time has passed them by, faster than ever anticipated. The best God-made opportunities are but fleeting thoughts in the rear-view mirror of life.
As someone who has given my life to teaching children God’s ways, I often reflect on the best ways to instill into their young hearts and lives a sense of godly purpose for living. I don’t want them to live with regrets later on of how they lived life. As a PAOC family, we desire to be about Every Day Faith. We strengthen our personal walk with God through our desire and devotion to Read Every Day, Pray Every Day, Give Every Day, and Share Every Day. These are not just catch phrases that help us stay on track—they are life-giving opportunities, and not just for us, but for our family, our friends, our co-workers, and our students.
As I saw 2014 coming to a close, my challenge to my weekly Sunday school class of nine- to 11-year-olds was that we could encourage each other in the daily reading of God’s Word in 2015. A simple website made the challenge attractive and achievable. Check out www.HowLongDoesItTakeToReadTheBible.com. This site will give you an average daily reading time length based on what material from the Old and New Testaments you want to cover in a given time frame, and will set out a daily plan for you to begin right away. This simple strategy has made a love for God’s Word come alive in my group of students from week to week. On Sundays we come together to discuss the parts that may have been difficult to understand. Questions get answered. Certain passages, parables and lessons are re-read, unpacked, explained, challenged, and then taken to God in prayer, as we sincerely ask Him to shape our lives according to His plan and purpose.
I fondly recall the Sunday last fall when I challenged this same class to learn the books of the Bible in order, and the categories they are a part of. Every face around the table looked at me with unbelief that this task could even be possible. I knew it was, because when I was their age, I was challenged with the same opportunity. Knowing the structure of the Scriptures was one of the early steps that helped me develop a great love for God and His Word. A $5 reward promised to each child who took up the challenge added some excitement! In just a few short weeks, the majority of the class had completed the challenge with confidence, including all the categories of where the books were found. The class that really warmed my heart was the one that challenged me that they could not only recite all 66 books in order, but they could probably do them backwards as well, to which I replied, “I can’t even do that!” That was all they needed to hear, and off they went, reciting with great pleasure, “Revelation, Jude, 3rd John, 2ndJohn, 1st John, 2nd Peter, 1st Peter, James, Hebrews…” I was speechless.
We share stories about how we were led by the Spirit during the week and how we responded to His promptings. Sharing real-life scenarios and the ways we responded to them develops generosity of heart, a greater faith and trust in Jesus, and a boldness to share what we believe. As Christ-followers, we must all be having daily conversations with those who are young, helping them develop into unwavering disciples. Without a priority being placed on the next generation, our society and our nation is in trouble.
As a Fellowship, we have set a goal before us as we journey toward 2020. Our goal is big—it would mean greater growth than we have seen in years. 350,000 Christ-followers. 1,500 disciple-making communities. 1 per cent of all Canadians. In a recent meeting with district children’s ministries leadership, I asked a simple question. How many of the 350,000 people could be children? In reflective moments of silence, tears began to fill eyes, a breaking of hearts for the souls of the young. How many of the 350,000 will be children? What are you doing to reach the next generation with a message of God’s love for them? Are you opening Scriptures and unpacking the truth of God’s Word in ways they can understand? Are you asking God to inspire you with a new or unique way to reach them? Is He calling you to consider becoming a full-time worker to one of the missional gaps in our nation—the next generation? Ask Him what He desires of you. Listen to His response. Be obedient in your response. Watch what He chooses to unfold in front of you, for His kingdom purposes. We are called to make disciples, to raise a generation who thinks and lives with godly purpose. This doesn’t happen by accident. Faith communities don’t start without a plan. God-breathed initiatives don’t kick off without obedient hearts who respond to the call to carry out His work.
This April, the PAOC is focusing on an initiative called “4/14.” Visit www.paoc.org or read this issue’s International Missions article on page 20 to find out more. It has been recognized that children between the ages of 4 and 14 respond to the gospel more than at any other age. I don’t want to stand in the same place five or 10 or 20 years from now, asking myself where the time has gone, and what I did with the time and energy I was given. Do you?
Natalie Rogge serves at the PAOC International Office as the strategic manager for Mission Canada and the director of communications and strategic initiatives. For 23 years, she has served alongside her husband, Dan, in pastoring New Life Church in Milton, ON, reaching and discipling the next generation.