Poisoned! I sat eating my breakfast glued to the TV as the news erupted that Britain was pulling their ambassadors from Russia (as America has now done). It was unnerving because of the atrocities. I was in Moscow preparing to speak to Christian leaders that morning.
I had been to Russia doing media training in the early years after Communism had fallen. The country was rebuilding and in turmoil and it was a bleak time. I remember carrying dollar bills in my pocket and slipping them into elderly people's hands who were standing in freezing cold weather selling their clothes. In those days a dollar would buy three days of food. So, when I got the chance to return this past March I was anxious to see how the country had changed and thrilled to see how God was moving in a wonderful church there, Word of Life Church Moscow. The congregation is thriving and the many pastors, workers, and volunteers that we were able to teach and train was exhaustingly energizing and very special.
The Lord has blessed my husband, Phil Cooke, and I over the past few years to be able to travel globally and work with leaders who are impacting the Kingdom with God's redemptive story. It's humbling to see how ministry leaders "count it all joy" to work in difficult conditions suffering without complaint to bring Jesus to the places where they serve. I'm honored to hear and see the blessing of God's hand of grace and mercy as they work with refugees, the sexually abused, children who are ill or who have been abandoned and in so many impoverished situations with passion, creativity and God's grace.
With the recent passing of Billy Graham, we have all been reminded of his selfless passion to tell others about Jesus. In our culture consumed with selfies, social media, and celebrities, his comment to his personal pastor, Don Wilton, says it all, "His entire life was in pursuit that he would decrease so that Christ would increase."
This recent trip may have been my last opportunity to ever get back into Russia for a long time as diplomatic doors seem to have now shut and Christians are being persecuted. But our dear brothers and sisters in Christ will still be there working and needing our support and prayers as so many others do all over the globe. Next month we're off to Australia and New Zealand with more trips to come to India and Asia. It's easy to get distracted in our own everyday world not thinking about the global Church at large. So take a moment.
When and where will you go? God's given each of us talents and gifts. In John 21: 15-17, Jesus asked Peter three times, Do you love me? Then feed my sheep. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) hasn't changed. You may not be able to travel the globe but you can change a life with the story of Jesus. It can be as simple as starting a conversation with your next door neighbor, helping the homeless on the street, or stopping at a local Salvation Army corps office to see how you might help or give.
Often at speaking events, I'm asked about media projects our company, Cooke Pictures, has been able to produce and places I have been able to film and how rewarding it must be. But I like, Mr. Graham and another great saint of the Church before him, Paul the apostle, said, "... I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord..." Philippians 3:8 (NIV).
Our nonprofit, The Influence Lab, was able to take a team this past Fall to Egypt to train three groups of media teams, (one came from Iran doing underground media ministry). As we were packing up on the last day, one of our team members who had worked in the secular media marketplace his entire career doing financially successful television work told me, "being here working and teaching these teams this week has been the most rewarding experience of my entire life and the most meaningful thing I have ever done."
Are you feeling worthless and unfulfilled? Want to change a life?
Go! Just Go!
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