“So that they (all believers) may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me.” – John 17:23
Everyone is talking about this “new normal” season that we are entering, from a history changing pandemic. It can be a very exciting time, while at the same time, a very complex and challenging time. I know in the church and ministry world, the “new normal” is going to look very different. Many ministries and churches have not survived the pandemic, and if they have, they are all looking at very different ways of doing ministry. Needless to say, we are all in this significant transition season to a “new normal”. And wherever you are in your life right now as a single person, family member, employee or employer – you are for sure adjusting to a “new normal”. And Jesus gives us the mix, to make it. Read on!
After the first Easter, Jesus knew that the world would be adjusting to a “new normal”. He knew there would be so much to process after His death, resurrection, and eventual return to being with God the Father. He knew His death and resurrection would also be a history-changing event that would require something special for people to keep going. In John 17, Jesus offers up a prayer for the “new normal”, especially for the disciples and all believers to come. Jesus opens by praying for Himself, that God the Father would be glorified as Jesus finished the work the Father had sent Him to do. Jesus then prays for the disciples that they would be filled with one thing, after the “new normal’ sets in. He prays for JOY . Jesus prays for joy, even in the midst of radical trials, and that joy would carry them through the “new normal” of Jesus being resurrected and taken from their presence.
The second thing Jesus prays for all believers to have in their “new normal” of a resurrected relationship with God the Father – is UNITY. But the unity Jesus is talking about here is not a unity among people, it is the unity of the relationship Jesus had with His Father. That we would have a depth of unity with God our Father like Jesus had with the Father. And then Jesus goes on to say that if we have this same depth of unity with the Father – that the world will know about our God, because of that unity. Wow, let us all press into that same unity with our Father, that Jesus had, so that the world will know!
As we all enter this next season, whatever it brings, Jesus’ prayer for post Easter and this “new normal” season is critically dependent on two things: JOY and UNITY!
At River of Life Mission, as many of you know, we are in a very transitional season. It is truly a “new normal”, and we couldn’t be more joy filled. And it has all started with a heart to have a renewed unity with Jesus and His mission to help people in need. We have been praying that in all we do, we would first and foremost, be unified with Jesus in this season, in a way that the world would know Him.
I am so proud to tell you that as I write this, we are only two weeks into a “new normal” season of ministry here at The Mission. Our mission has never changed – to extend Jesus to all. Our new approach to ministry is a broader attempt to honor our name, and to be true rivers of life around Oahu. Again, we have not moved, we are just going mobile, so we can do more and grow. We are also trying to do ministry into smaller contexts (around 50 people at a time), so that we can have more intimate conversations that lead to salvation and transition.
In the last two weeks, we have seen six people accept Jesus as Lord and Savior for the first time, we have seen four men placed into housing, two women placed into housing, one young man went into a one year discipleship home (more below), one man got a new job, and we have gone fully mobile with our number of meals being distributed – already growing. Take just a moment and read this again at the start of this paragraph, just a few lines up, and reflect on the mighty miracles that have already happened in just two weeks. Wow, God is so good! And through a whole lot of prayer, and a team of staff and volunteers that have been focused on UNITY with Jesus, and going out full of JOY – Jesus has been glorified in ways we would have never imagined.
And as you know, I do love a great story, so I want to share at least one with you briefly. Clouds is a young man from Canada. He had come to Hawaii to see one of his favorite bands that creates music for his favorite video game. He also came to see and stay with friends. But his housing with friends fell through and at 26 years young, he found himself out on the streets with nowhere to go. We met Clouds the first day of our mobile ministry and started to sit with him and have conversations about Jesus and the living God of the Bible. Clouds, through a young life journey in many religions, believed in a higher power, but not the one true God of the Bible. After four days, and eight hours of conversations with staff and volunteers, Clouds put his faith and trust in the true and living God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus! It was a glorious day and we are still celebrating this fine young man being plucked from the precipice of going chronically homeless, to being saved by a loving Father and His Son Jesus. We are so blessed to tell you that Clouds is now in a one year discipleship home, just for men, here on Oahu. And if you would like to hear more, we will post a video with Clouds, on our Facebook page the day you receive this letter. Check out facebook.com/riveroflifehawaii for all the latest and a super special video from Clouds.
From all of us at River of Life Mission, we want to again express our gratitude for everyone who has continued to support The Mission in this new season of our “new normal”. God is so so good, and we are chasing after unity with our Father and His Son Jesus, and going out with great joy – to see all God has ahead. And we are praying the same for you. Go in unity, and go in joy – see what He can do.
Pastor Paul Gates