Is God Reaching The Ends Of The Earth |04.21.24| Doubting God pt.4
Erik Anderson   -  

All right, well, at this point, I wanna invite Mitch to come up.

Mitch has been around for a while. Many of you here in this service are new to new life. So you may recognize Mitch, or you may not recognize Mitch, but we’re gonna give him an opportunity to introduce himself here. But I don’t know if you are doing our 21 days of Bible reading challenge, but today we are reading John 14. And in John 14, Jesus is talking to the disciples and he talks about how he’s gonna go away for a while, and it’s kind of this confusing conversation he’s having with his disciples, and they feel some distress and some confusion. And he tells them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He says, “Believe in me, believe also in the Father who sent me.” He says, “Where I’m going, there’s plenty of space. I’m gonna build a room for you. And then I wanna come back and take you to myself. And you know the way.” And Thomas is like, “Excuse me, Jesus, you haven’t told us the way. What is the way?” And this is when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” And we know that there is only one way to eternal life. There is only one way to the new creation and the fullness and the restoration of all things that God has promised us. And that’s through Jesus Christ. And oftentimes for us, as we’re on this side of eternity, sometimes that one way feels like a tight rope walk. You know what I’m talking about? We’re like, not sure how it’s going. And sometimes we’re even like, am I even on the right way? You know, last week we talked about rules that we add to our faith that make us feel like we’re just not sure if we are on the right way. We’re not sure if we’re heading in the right direction. And this idea of there being one way can cause us some distress, can cause us some turmoil. But Jesus, when he said this to his disciples, it was a word of comfort to them. And the comfort for us too, is that this one way that we’re walking is not a tight rope walk, but this one way is a person. A person who we can talk to, who talks to us, who calls us and guides us through our life. And oftentimes you can find ourselves doubting ourselves and doubting God, because we feel like we’re on this tight rope walk. But today, Mitch is gonna talk to us a little bit about what it looks like to listen to Jesus, what it looks like to be called by God, to do something with our lives. And I think it’s gonna bring you a lot of hope, and it’s gonna bring you a lot of challenge and a lot of inspiration. So Mitch, thank you so much for joining us this morning. For those of you, for those in this room who don’t know you, can you maybe give us a rundown of who you are, what you’re about, why you’re here today?

Sure. So yeah, my name is Mitch Sade and my wife is Tui. She’s in the front row here, but I’m from Erie, Illinois originally, which is just down the road, about halfway between here and the Quad Cities.

And I was the youth pastor here at New Life from 2012 until 2017. And then towards the end of that time, the Lord began to call us as a church to be involved in global missions. And what that looked like was sending me to the nation of Vietnam to serve the Lord there. And so that’s a real brief, a little bit about me.

Great, great. So talk to us a little bit about how that call to serve the Lord happened in your life. I guess I’m kind of curious how you ended up feeling one call to ministry here, maybe at New Life, and then how you eventually felt called to ministry internationally.


So yeah, so I was a youth pastor in Peoria for three years, 2009 to 2012. And towards the end of that time, I received an email from Cheryl Van Holten, one of our own, and she said, “Hey, Mitch, “I’m part of a new church in Sterling, “and we’re looking to hire a youth director.” And so long story short, I came up here for the interview and was offered the job and began working.

So yeah, we could see God’s hand involved in that. And then when I was working here as the youth pastor, and I read a book called “Radical” by David Platt. And in that book talks about unreached people groups. And so unreached people groups, so basically the idea is that there’s a whole bunch of people around the world that are unreached, unreached by the gospel, unreached by Christianity, unreached by Christians. And so prior to reading that book, I had kind of just assumed that everyone on earth knew about Jesus and knew about Christianity, but simply chose not to believe, not to be a Christian. But what I learned was that basically, so like today there’s 8 billion people in the world. And so basically we can kind of divide the world into three groups of people. So the first one third of the year’s population, they claim Christianity as the religion. You know, maybe they’re Catholic or Protestant or Eastern Orthodox, but at least they claim Christianity as their religion. So about one third of the year’s population. The next third of the year’s population, they know about Christianity in churches and the Bible, but they’re not followers of Christ. So it could be our next door neighbor. It could be a Muslim person living in another country. It could be any number of people, but they know about Christianity, but they’re not believers. But then the other one third of the year’s population are the unreached people groups. So yeah, unreached by the gospel. They cannot get online and buy a Bible in their language from Amazon because there is no Bible in their language. They don’t drive by a church every day because there is no church where they live. And they can’t have a conversation with a believer because there are no believers where they live. So they’re unreached by Christianity. So when I learned about this,

yeah, I really kind of just maybe just think about the world in a whole new different light. And from that began to kind of be more interested in possibly serving the unreached. So yeah, that was the beginning of it.

Yeah, that’s great. And that’s a pretty, I mean, a pretty major call, right? To move halfway across the globe away from friends and family. But I’m guessing it didn’t start that way. So talk to us about maybe early on, tell us a story about one of the times you remember Jesus capturing your heart and maybe the how that’s kind of led you to where you are now.

Yeah, sure. So when I was a high school student, I was involved with FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. And so we had a leadership camp, an FCA leadership camp. I think it was in Indiana at the time. And so myself and maybe 200 other high school students, FCA leaders were at this camp. And one night we were gathered together in the chapel and singing worship songs and hearing the word preached. And we were singing the song, “Here I Am to Worship,” which was a newer song 20 plus years ago when I was a high school student. And yeah, so there’s a line in that song specifically that says, “I’ll never know how much it costs to see my sin upon that cross.” And so I just remember kind of in that moment and being with people and singing the song, but just having this realization that not only was Jesus’s death a historical fact, but it was a life transforming truth for me and for anyone who believes. And that truly my sin was given to Jesus when he was upon that cross. And it was something that the Holy Spirit, I think just kind of gripped my heart in that moment and brought me to a realization that as much as it is true, that yes, Jesus died for the billions and billions and billions of people who have ever lived in our living now, it’s equally true that he died for me. He died for you, right? It’s also an individual truth. And so yeah, I think that was a time when the Holy Spirit really kind of gripped my heart and it helped me realize what Jesus had done for me.

That’s great. And so being sent to proclaim that good news, there can be some awkwardness around that too, because here you are serving in a church and for many people you kind of represent Jesus to them. And then now you’re halfway across the globe and as you’re doing your work there, it’s the same kind of thing. You’re kind of representing Jesus to them. And I know that there are times in my life and my own ministry experience, and also outside, just out in the community with people that don’t know I’m a pastor. There’s a real sense of awkwardness or there’s a sense of disconnect where as I’m talking to someone, I’m like, oh man, like they probably know that I make this mistake. Maybe they know that I like to say these words too much. You know what I mean? There’s some awkwardness there with even having a spiritual conversation or talking about Jesus or talking about church, talking about how the Lord works in us. Is there even a moment where you felt like you weren’t good enough or you felt that awkwardness or anything like that? Is that something that you’ve experienced?

Yeah, so I think that what comes to mind is I know that in and of myself, I’m not good enough, right? I’m not good enough for God’s love. Nothing I have done or am doing now or will do will ever be enough to earn God’s love. God has never indebted to me to give me his love. And yet, he does. He does love me. He does love us. And so we cannot earn God’s love. We’re never good enough for God’s love. And yet God chooses to love us. God chooses to love us. And so I think that that’s God’s grace, right? So I look at grace and mercy as kind of like two sides of one coin. And so grace is receiving from God the good things we don’t deserve. But the mercy would be not receiving from God the bad things that we do deserve. And so I think of judgment and condemnation. I deserve judgment and condemnation because of my sin. But that judgment and condemnation was poured out on Christ on the cross for me. And so in God’s mercy, I don’t receive the bad things that I do deserve. But in God’s grace, I do receive the good things I don’t deserve. So God’s love and forgiveness. And so, yeah, so that is to say, I know that I’m not good enough for God’s love. And yet I have received or I have been brought into the righteousness of Christ. And therefore by identity, that’s who I am. Like I am good enough, not because of what I’ve done, but because of what’s been done to me, because of who Christ is and in his righteousness that God makes us good enough by his grace. And so we can do what he has called us to do from the overflow of his love and grace.

That’s really beautiful. Yeah, thank you for presenting that so clearly. It reminds me of a quote that I once heard that is the value of something is not inherent to it, but it’s the link at which the owner will go to possess it. So, I mean, you could attach that to anything for like, I don’t like baseball cards or something like that, right? That it’s a little piece of paper that, if I see a baseball card, I’m like, gosh, it’s a thing, you know what I mean? It’s like, it looks like it kind of, it’s like a piece of paper belongs in the trash. But if there are people who are willing to pay 100, 200, $1,000 for that card, that is its value. That’s what it’s worth because the person who owns it will go that far to possess it. That’s really what the Lord does for us. Now that’s beautiful, thank you. So talk to us then about your work in Vietnam. Have you had the experience where you’ve been able to, I guess maybe I should ask this way, the people that you’re interacting with and ministering to, do they sense that same thing of like, oh, I’m not good enough? And how does the gospel maybe interact with their own internal angst and disconnect?

Yeah, yeah, so that’s a hard question to answer because I think that for the average person living in the United States, compared to the average person living in Vietnam, the worldview is just entirely different. There’s a whole different set of assumptions that are kind of developed within us as we grow up. And so I think that as we have conversations with family or friends or coworkers, or even strangers in the US, everyone kind of has this knowledge of who God is, even if they don’t believe,

even if we said to an American atheist, what is the concept of God? They would still say, the concept of God is this all powerful being. And so we kind of have that built into us in our culture. But in Vietnam specifically, it’s a nation where most people are either Buddhist or atheist. And so, but even Buddhism is an atheist religion. So there is no God in Buddhism. So they’re not,

yeah, so the goal is to achieve the cessation of desire and the cessation of longing. And so there’s not this higher power that you’re aiming to please or so on. And so when I have conversations with people

in Vietnam that typically what I’ve kind of come to discover is there’s this sense of this feeling of like, I don’t really need forgiveness. Like, maybe I’ve sinned, maybe I’ve done some things wrong, but that’s gonna kind of work itself out in this life or when I’m reincarnated or there’s this, it’s a different world, right? It’s a different set of beliefs. And so, yeah, so it’s really, we have to really start at a very, very, very foundational level of explaining who God is and helping them realize that they need God’s love and God’s forgiveness. But the good thing isn’t that need. The good thing is that that need is met in and through the Son of God.

That’s great, that’s great. So as you are maybe experiencing having these conversations or stories that you’ve been hearing about how God’s love has broken through to people and has transformed their lives, can you maybe share a story or two

about that? Yep, so just so everyone knows, so Pastor Drew and I originally planned this sermon, but he’s a little busy right now. So for this question specifically, I wanna share the story of my wife, Thuy, and I have her blessing to do so. So yeah, so I’ll kind of share a little bit about Thuy’s story. So Thuy was born in the northern part of central Vietnam and kind of like a small coastal village

where there’s no churches whatsoever.

But when she was kind of at the end of her middle school years, she moved from her village down to Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City. And she did that because her mom’s cousin had her second child and her and her husband were still going to work and they needed some help raising their two small children. And so Thuy actually had to stop going to school for two years in between middle school and high school to help raise the children of her mom’s cousin and the big city in Ho Chi Minh City. And so after two years, then she was able to go back to high school and then went to university and then started working. And so while she was a university student, she was invited to go to a church and went there a few times and was at a like a special evangelistic service where there was a preaching the gospel and an altar call. And she, the Holy Spirit made her alive in Christ in that moment. And so she went up during the altar call and prayed the prayer and then joined the like the new believers class that culminated in baptism maybe a couple of months later. So yeah, so that’s just an example of what happened in Thuy’s life. And that church, the church building, it’s a Vietnamese church, but the building is also where the international congregation meets. And so that just happened to be the congregation where I was involved with. So yeah, so that’s a little bit about Thuy’s story. And I really hope and pray that everyone would have the opportunity either this time around or sometime in the future to meet Thuy and to spend time with her and to hear more of her life and her story, because it’s all pretty amazing.

Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. What I like about that story is that it’s very, it seems very mundane to invite somebody to church. You know what I mean? Like that’s kind of a, that can be a normal thing where the Lord’s calling you maybe to have a conversation or just to invite someone to come and see, come, you know, taste and see that the Lord is good. That’s something that any of us can do. You know, just inviting somebody to experience Jesus for the first time. Maybe that’s here, maybe that’s in a life group or maybe that’s some other events. But what are some ways maybe not only that, but what are some other ways that people can recognize where God is calling them and where God is sending them?

Yeah, so there’s a verse in the book of Acts chapter one, verse eight, where Jesus had been crucified and had risen again and had spent some time with his disciples. And so literally just moments before he ascends into heaven, he has his disciples with him and he says,

wait here in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit has come upon you with power. And then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. And so there’s a few ways of kind of understanding this verse and certainly the book of Acts unfolds with that progression, right? The church goes from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, to the ends of the earth, to the Roman, all throughout the Roman empire. And so, but I think that one of the ways that we can look at that today is from where Jesus was standing and speaking, Jerusalem. It doesn’t get much more ends of the earth than rural Illinois, right? Like we are at the ends of the earth. And so this is where God has planted most of us, is where we live and serve and go to church. So for the vast majority of us, this is the ends of the earth where God has called us to serve. Now, sometimes there are people that are called to go to another place that from their perspective is the ends of the earth. And that’s kind of what happened to me and to new life as we pursued occult emissions together. But yeah, so, but for us, for everyone gathered here today, like the good news is like, you’re already living at the ends of the earth. And so this is where God has called you to serve. And there might come a time where now or in the future where God calls another person or another family from new life to go to another place that’s considered from our vantage point to be the ends of the earth. And I’m sure that new life will pursue that call of missions together. But until then, like welcome to the ends of the earth. Like this is where God has planted us to live and to serve him and the people around us.

Yeah, that’s so good. That’s so good. So how can we, you know, we are your sending church. We have blessed you and sent you. We partnered with you financially. We partnered with you in prayer. We, our church does a lot of things, but what are some other ways that maybe the individuals here can partner with you in your ministry?

Yeah, and I think maybe before I answer that question, a real quick summary of what it means to be a sending church and how that came about. So I shared that in 2014, I read a book called “Radical” and that was kind of the beginning of understanding unreached people groups. And so when I read that book, I prayed a dangerous prayer that was, “Lord, what can I do to reach the unreached?” And I prayed that prayer for about two weeks. And then I was having lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings with some other local youth pastors. And one of them, Jason Borden, who’s now the senior pastor at Harvest Time Church in Rock Falls. But he said, “Hey guys, I just got some information about this trip to Vietnam. We’re gonna go to Ho Chi Minh City and teach house church pastors. Is anybody interested in going with me?” And I thought that that was like the answer to my prayer, right? Oh, okay, I’ll go on a 10 day mission trip. That’s the answer to my prayer. So Jason and I did that in 2014, but it was while we were there that the Lord began to do more work in my life. And so I came home from that trip and I sat down with Pastor Bill. And to Pastor Bill, I wonder if God is calling me to the mission field. And so we prayed about that for about two years. That continued working and serving here. And in 2016, then I sat down with the leadership team of New Life and explained what I felt God was calling us to as a church and what that would look like. And they were on board and affirmed that call that God was giving. And so in the book of Acts chapter 13, there’s a church in Antioch, which is a little bit north of Jerusalem. And at this point in time, that’s where Paul and Barnabas were both serving at this church in Antioch. And they were meeting together with the elders and the Holy Spirit spoke to the elders and said, “Set apart for me Paul and Barnabas for the work that I’m calling them to do around the world or around the Roman Empire.” And so I’m not Paul and I’m not Barnabas, but in a very real sense, for the past 2000 years, what the Holy Spirit has been doing is raising up people, members of local churches and calling them or the family or the individual and the church to work together to get the gospel to places and to people that it hasn’t gone to yet. And so by God’s grace and what God was doing in the midst of New Life and the leadership team and the staff that they were on board with being ascending church. So that is to say that we and I are our members here and this church is our home church whenever we’re home. And yeah, so what we do, what we get to do in Vietnam is really just an extension of what God is doing in and through this church. So by way of partnering with us, honestly the biggest thing is prayer. And so like I said this morning, if every member of New Life said, “You know what, we’re gonna pray for Mitch and Tweed daily until and unless God calls them back here or somewhere else, like as long as they’re on the mission field, we’re gonna pray for them every day. Like that would be the biggest way that we would desire to have partnership with you. But also a couple other things. So I send out a newsletter every other month and we just love to get that to you, whether it’s email or even in the mail, either way is great. And then just read that and that really gives an idea of what we’re doing and how to pray for us. And then even just kind of reply, if it’s the email, just replying to that email and saying, “Hey, Mitch and Tweed, we read your email, we prayed through it and God bless you.” So just something really simple is really encouraging for us just to know that people know what we’re doing and are praying for us is huge. And then also we’re hoping that in the next year or two that we can start doing more of a short-term mission trip with like a small team from New Life, whether that’s two people or four people or six people or whatever it is. And maybe one time every year or every other year and coming over and kind of being involved with what we’re doing there would be another way to partner with us, hopefully in the months and years ahead. So awesome. Yeah.

Well, hey, thank you, Mitch, appreciate you. Before I send you back, I do wanna take a moment to pray for Mitch. And so of course, Mitch and Tweed are gonna be here today and you’ll see them some Sundays as they are doing some traveling and that kind of stuff. But later on this summer, we will do a more formal reception and ascending as they prepare to go back to Vietnam. So this won’t be the last time you see Mitch, you’ll see him around and then we’ll have a more formal time with a date to be determined. But let me pray for you guys. Lord, I’m so grateful for Mitch and Tweed. And I think, thank you Lord for the many and the variety of gifts that you’ve given them and the passion that you’ve given them to serve your church and also to serve the people that are around them in Vietnam and Lord, we thank you for their willingness and the sacrifice that they make. So Lord, I pray that you would bless them and keep them, Lord, that you would look after them and empower them for service, Lord. And thank you that we get to partner with them as they serve Vietnam and beyond. And Lord, I pray that you would help us increase our support in whatever way that looks like. So Lord, we give you thanks and praise for their work and for the transformation that’s happening through them and to your people in Vietnam. Praise the Holy Jesus name, amen. Amen. Thank you. Thank you, brother. Let’s give Mitch a hand.

(Congregation Applauding)

And I do want to remind you all that as a church, we do support Mitch and Tweed, but financially as well as through prayer, but also they’re always looking for more support. So if you feel the Lord calling you, maybe even to financially support Mitch, he didn’t want to bring it up today. So I’m doing it for him. I’ll do it for him. If you feel the Lord’s prompting to use your generosity and use the gift of generosity in their direction, please talk to him and get that set up. Because if you don’t know, life in the mission field, you are at the mercy and the will of those who have sent you. And the Lord works through us to bless them, to bless all missionaries as they do their work, that we get to be the conduits of the Lord’s blessing to them and the Lord’s provision to them. And so every day, oftentimes we pray, give us this day our daily bread. And you know what? You get to be the answer to that prayer for some people. And it might be for Mitch and Tweed or for another missionary group or another ministry that you support. You get to be the answer to the prayer, give us today our daily bread. So please consider that.