Devotion from Caroline Powell, The Warehouse, South Africa

It is impossible to be a faithful student of the Bible, and miss the idea of Sabbath. It is introduced right up front in the creation story, it is written into the ancient laws applied to both people and land, practiced by the people of God in the old and new testaments, spoken of throughout the prophets and referenced regularly in the life of Jesus. Across the globe and even in societies that are mostly non-religious, a day of rest in the week is still common practice, a nod to the inherent knowledge that as humans, no matter how driven we are, we know that we cannot work without ceasing and remain healthy.

But how well do we actually understand the concept of Sabbath rest? How well have we grasped the spirit of Sabbath and not just the law or habit of Sabbath?

In the first version of the creation story, each time a new part of the earth came into being, it is followed by this phrase: “And God saw that it was good.”

The account of the completion of creation is this: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.(Genesis 1:31-2:3)

It could be easy to read these words and interpret that God rested, because God was tired. Tired, fatigued, and overworked, from all that creating! However, a Judeo-Christian understanding of God as all-powerful cannot faithfully imagine an overworked, burnt-out God. Could it not be that instead of understanding that God rested after creating, we understand that God rested in creation? Resting in the goodness of the creation work. Resting in the beauty.  Resting in the completion.

How often do we only stop working because we have to? Because we were so extremely tired we just stop and flop? Is this the image we get of the creator of the universe? Rather, if we are to understand the use of the word rest in the Hebrew it means “ceased to work”. Everything  complete, finished, whole. Good. Very Good.

God is continually creating and redeeming and restoring and making new. While we in our human understanding of tasks and the world barely ever get to stop and say it is complete, we do partner with this creator who completes things.

Should we then not treat Sabbath that way - a chance to look upon the mission of God in the world and the small section of work that God has provided for us to do in it and say: “it is good”? A chance to stop and say, that the author and perfecter of our faith, the one who will bring every good work to completion, who is in the process of completing a redeeming work in the world through us, invites us to stop on a regular basis, perhaps even during the day and appreciate and affirm the work.

As we respond to the calling to integral mission, are often captured by the truths and challenges of Isaiah 58 that asks: “what does true fasting require?” But do we stop reading after the list that tells us to: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, set the prisoner free, rebuild the ancient ruins? In addition to all the hard work of honouring Gods justice in those essential ways, it is also advises to “call the Sabbath a delight”. A day when we delight in ceasing from work.  A day to lift our eyes from the strategic planning, ministry opportunities, sermon rounds, workshops, writing and work of rebuilding the ancient ruins and restoring the streets that have long lay in waste... and just affirm that despite the many deep injustices and the many not-yet-good things of this world, we can also look upon the work of our hands, in partnership with creator God and say “it is good”.

Theme Focus: Leadership

Thank you Lord:

• For each person who follows you, who has faith in Jesus Christ
• For the fruit the Gospel is bearing all over the world
• For the powerful and liberating truth of the Good News of Jesus

We realise that sometimes we forget the amazing reality of the new life you bring us each day – and we want to take time to stand in awe and thankfulness for your grace and mercy given to us.

Lord, fill us with the knowledge of your will in order that we may live a life worthy of you in every way. We pray that our lives may bear fruit in every good work and that we will continue to grow in your ways day by day.

Jesus’ Leadership example
Jesus is the exact representation of God. (Hebrews 1:3)

• Everything we see Jesus do – this is how God is.
• Everything we hear Jesus say – this is what God says.

Can we, as leaders, say “everything I do and everything I say reflects who Jesus is and hence demonstrates God to my family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, society and even those who hate me?”

Lord help us to lead by example

Jesus is Love

We cannot love in the abstract. Love cannot be just a theory. Love is not simply a feeling. Love is only love when it is lived out with others. Love is an action. Love is a commitment worked out moment by moment, day by day. It is incarnational – in other words – to love one needs to be present with others.

Lord, may we learn this type of love and be at rest and at peace in your love so we can love those around us.

Leadership is about modelling what we want others to do – the most powerful and authentic message we convey about integral mission is the testimony of our lives, the way our organisations and churches live it out in community.

Member Focus: Ecuador

The Republic of Ecuador sits on the west coast of South America, north of Peru and south of Colombia. Ecuador is well known for its rich Inca history and its diverse geographical highlights including the Andean Peaks, tropical Amazon rain forests, and just off the coast the infamous Galapagos Islands which impacted much of Charles Darwin’s thinking on evolution. The potential of Ecuador is astounding, with significant oil reserves, mining and is known for the world’s main banana exporter! One of the main struggles faced by Ecuador is the high turnover of leaders.

Ecuador gained independence from Spain in 1830 and the struggle to demonstrate true reform has led to unrest and a rapid change of leaders. The population of Ecuador stands around 15 million. Spanish is the official language, with 24 other indigenous languages used around the country, bringing challenges for integration amongst the various groups.

Lord, thank you for the beauty and diversity seen in Ecuador. For the fertility of the soil that gives so many Ecuadorians their daily need.

Leadership:  After a rapid succession leaders, many not last more than 18 months,  the current President has just won a 3rd term from February 2013

President: Rafael Correa – first elected in November 2006, promising to rewrite the constitution and to prioritise social reform to benefit the poor.  The new constitution was approved in September 2008. Interestingly, written into this was the law that he could stand for further elections, which he has done so successfully in April 2009 and February 2013. It is not so clear what impact he has had on reducing poverty.

Economy: Looking at the exports and resources, it is concerning that the level of poverty experienced in Ecuador still exists. The profits go to a small minority, though the government has started nationalising oil sites with the argument that more Ecuadorians would benefit. However, Ecuador experiences a deep recession and has defaulted on its international loans.

Social: The higher levels of poverty in Ecuador impact the indigenous, mixed-race and rural populations. The government has attempted to address this through a support plan that is given only if families ensure their children attend school and have regular medical check-ups. The history of an unstable government led to a significant migration of Ecuadorians with a current estimate of over 3 million living abroad. The recession in Europe and the USA has placed incredible pressure on these families as jobs have dissolved. Interestingly, Ecuador is the top recipient of refuges in Latin American, with a significant number of Colombia refugees now residing in Ecuador.

Faith: Ecuador has been strongly influenced by Catholicism, with about 73% of the population professing affiliation. There is freedom of religion though from time to time some out bursts of anger at evangelicals occurs. Rural populations are not as receptive to change and most church growth is in the cities. One of the major needs in the cities are the large number of slums. Over 60% of Guayaquil’s population live in poverty in the slums.

Micah Network Members: currently we have 2 members in Ecuador

MAP International – Ecuador: MAP International (head office in Atlanta, (USA), has a country office in Ecuador, through which they promote “Total Health” for people living in the poorest communities.

Paz y Esperanza – Ecuador: the country director is Loida Carriel, who is also a member of the Micah Network International Board. Paz y Esperanza focuses of women and children and issues of concern around justice and poverty. A number of consultations and activities have been held by Micah Network in Ecuador, thanks to the amazing effort of Loida and her team, see for example
a. Guayaquil Declaration on Integral Mission
b. Gender based Violence Consultation, 2010: material resources

Praying for Ecuador

Political: Lord, thank you for the recent stability of government which has helped facilitate growth in Ecuador. We raise our concern about the attempts to silence the media and transparency and ask that you raise up journalists who report the truth, Lord raise up your church to have a prophetic voice in this country. We pray for Rafael Correa, that you would help him to bring in the reforms that would help the poor and share the wealth of the country more equally.

Economic: Lord we ask that you would open doors for fair trade to be experienced and that profits would impact infrastructure and essential services. Thank you Lord for opportunities the land gives, but we also cry out to you for jobs to be created for all those who live in the cities and are trapped in poverty. We especially remember Ecuadorians who have migrated to other countries and are struggling in the recession – Lord, bring your people alongside them to be a support.

Social: Lord, we pray for greater understanding and integration of the diverse people groups living in Ecuador. We particular focus on the many refugees uprooted from their own countries and now in Ecuador – Lord we pray for an on-going spirit of hospitality and support for these people. Lord we pray a blessing on Ecuador for being so open and willing to help refugees.

Integral Mission:  Lord we ask that you would raise up leaders in your church that would live lives of integrity and mirror your character in their communities.  We pray for the Bible Colleges and training centres to be strengthened and to have opportunities to touch many lives with good foundations teaching to strengthen all those in the faith.

Thank you Lord for the faithfulness of organisations such as MAP and Paz y Esperanza – we pray that you would strengthen their hands and that their work would bear good fruit as they work to see transformation in their country.

Prayer Points in Brief

Ghana – Accra: Holistic Responses: an integral mission conversation: 24th to 25th July 2013. Please pray for this meeting as we gather together in Accra this month. We already have over 70 participants registered and long to see God guide us through an exciting and challenging time together. Pray especially for David Botchway, our hosting member who has been working on the logistics of this.

Abidjan – Côte d’Ivoire: Integral Mission and the Community: partnering for transformation Francophone Consultation: 29th July to 2nd August 2013. Please stand with us in solidarity and cover this meeting with your prayer. We have participants coming from DRC, Rwanda, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire so far, but long to see many more from around Francophone Africa to join us. Please pray for Chantal Tehe-Yoa and her colleagues as they work together to cover all the planning and logistics.

Siguatepeque - Honduras: Transforming Young Hondurans: 24th to 28th July 2013. Please pray for all those involved in this camp young people are encouraged to live out their faith. Please pray for Ruth Alvarado, our Latin America coordinator, as she travels to work with the team facilitating this meeting.

Uttarakhand – India: EFICOR have been responding to the serious floods that have affected this area in India, where landslides, burst river banks and heavy rain have destroyed homes, livelihoods and at present it is estimated that over 1,000 people have lost their lives. Please pray for the EFICOR team as they respond.

Quetta Balochistan – Pakistan: members working here have asked us to stand with them in prayer as they face the daily threat and persecution in their work. Please pray for their protection, strengthen and courage and that God would reveal himself to the communities in this area.

Let us also continue to intercede for Egypt as it goes through the turmoil of government change and violent protests.

Leaders – be the prayer engine in your organisation

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