Editor’s Note: WitnessSF.org is honored to feature stories from local ministries. re:ACTS Ministries is based in the SF Bay Area and supports local ministries in impoverished nations around the world. Here is co-founder Cliff’s story. We hope you are encouraged by how God’s love is transforming lives and will be moved to be a part of this important work wherever you are.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:16-17)
I thought I understood this verse. I thought I was living it out, but God is funny and perfect at the same time, especially in His timing to teach me and shatter my view and perspective on things.
In 2009, I was 33. I had a wife, a good paying job, and my first daughter had just turned one. I had just spent the last 10 years of my life mentoring youth at my church. I was a worship leader and the choir director. I was extremely content with my life and where I was. I can also honestly say that I had grown the most and learned more about God’s word in those past few years than at any other time in my life. What’s the problem, you ask? Everything was going according to plan, yeah? Well, that’s the problem – the plan. Whose plan was this? It was mine and God was about the turn that plan upside down and make it His.
My friend had just come back from a short term mission trip in Thailand. I felt bad because even though he had given me a support letter, I just totally forgot about it. I thought the least I could do was see how it went. So when he got back, I called and asked him about the trip. We spent at least two hours talking – about how God was working in the church in Thailand, things they did to help, and how he saw God moving. He shared about the need for Christ’s message of redemption and hope for the people of Thailand. I felt excited as he was talking, but more so, I felt scared.
I told myself this was not the right time to go. My daughter had just turned one. There was so much I had to do at work and for the ministry at church. In truth, the timing couldn’t be worse. Nobody would blame me if I delayed going, but as we all know, God voice doesn’t simply go away. Each time I prayed, I felt God calling me to go to Thailand because there was something He wanted me to see and something He wanted me to learn. Long story short, I decided to listen to God. I decided to go despite the many people, Christians included, who were telling me not go because God wouldn’t want me to leave my family for two weeks. They kept trying to convince me that it wasn’t safe and how I should wait and be a responsible father. However, the more I looked into God’s word, the clearer and clearer it became that God doesn’t wait for our lives to become void of responsibility before He calls. He works on His own timing and I had to trust Him.
I was kind of kicking and screaming, but I went. I cried on the phone with my wife when I was at the airport, telling her that I wanted to come home and be with her and my daughter. She told me to stop being a baby and to man up. OK, maybe not in those words, but that’s what I heard.
What I had experienced and saw on that trip is hard to explain in these few paragraphs. I could probably write 50 pages on what I learned. I saw kids in Thailand who were being discipled by elders and who worshiped God with every ounce of their being. I saw kids who were madly in love with God and I saw this because of the work of the church there.
I also saw extreme hurt and suffering. I saw how kids were being sold into slavery because their families didn’t have money. I saw conditions and poverty I had never seen before and it began to break my heart. Not only did the kids have no money, they needed hope: a hope for salvation that only Christ could bring. God had brought me to Thailand to show me this and to ask myself some hard questions: Did I really love God like I professed? If I really loved God, how would I respond to this?
I came home as a changed man. God had taught me and showed me so much, but what was I going to do with all of this? I was at a loss for what to do next. I was just one person. I shared my feelings with another member of the Thailand mission team. A few of us decided to meet and talk about what God was placing on our hearts.
There were four of us there and little did I know that God was working in them the same way He was working in me. We all agreed that this was something God wanted us to take on, but what do we do? How do we start? All we knew was that the population of Thailand was less than one percent Christian and that so many kids there were suffering from things that no one should ever suffer. That night, God gave us the idea to start re:ACTS Ministries. Our group met every other week, prayed and prayed, and planned and planned. And by the grace of God, we are now a recognized charitable organization.
So what is re:ACTS Ministries and what do we do? We believe that the local church is the key to spreading the gospel. They are the ones doing the preaching of God’s word. They are the ones building up the next generation of disciples. re:ACTS exists to partner with local churches and orphanages in Southeast Asia. We raise funds to provide food, education, and shelter so they can focus on making disciples. We want to love these kids the way Jesus would – to clothe them, feed them, and just love them. We send teams throughout the year to encourage and help with discipleship. We want to let the kids know that we aren’t sending money to ease our own consciences, but that we truly love them because Christ loved us first.
Imagine these South East Asian young people with a passion to serve our Lord with their hearts alive and on fire to do His will and preach the good news of Jesus’ redemption and salvation. They are sent back to their home villages. They themselves become the missionaries. They begin to plant churches in their villages, build Christian schools and orphanages, and become Christian leaders in their workplace, where they preach the message of grace and forgiveness to all those around them. This is the multiplying effect that we are so fervently praying for. This is the vision that God has placed in our hearts. We know that this is not a small task, but we serve a big and mighty God.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:16-17)
To find out more about re:ACTS ministries, visit their website at http://www.reactsministries.org/