For sixteen years, Melody Downey has been working behind the scenes at WMA, taking care of associate missionaries, dealing with their finances, encouraging them, praying for them, and using her mission’s expertise to be a blessing to people all over the world. We are so thankful for Melody and the blessing she is to the Bozarth family, World Missions Advance, and ministers and missionaries everywhere! This is a portion of her story:
When I started Bible college in 1985, I had no intention of going on the mission field. I had a heart for the poor and for teenagers, and worked with the youth at my church, but the mission field was not on the radar at that time. When mission outreaches were announced in my first semester at Christ For The Nations in the Fall of 1985, the Lord spoke to my heart to go! I applied for the outreach to Russia; over 100 students applied and 15 were chosen. It was at that time God began to place Eastern Europe on my heart and I had this burden and knew I had to go. Due to Chernobyl in 1986, the Russia outreach had to be tweaked and we ended up spending most of the outreach in Poland; communism was alive and well. The next year, outreaches were announced and I signed up for England/Scotland. Both of these outreaches in 1986 and 1987 served as a catalyst for my mission’s calling and adventures.
In the Spring of 1987, I knew I wanted to serve in Eastern Europe but didn’t know how or where. A couple of opportunities were presented, but God closed the doors. I began to pray God would show me a family on the mission field that I could serve and gain experience. Shortly afterward, a couple on the mission field in Austria who worked in Eastern Europe, came to CFNI to recruit graduates to come and serve alongside them. This was my first “long-term” assignment. I served with this family for one year. After this commitment, I returned to Dallas and 2 ½ years later, the Lord opened the door for me to serve the Eastern European Director of a women’s ministry who lived in Berlin, Germany. We helped pastors and their wives begin women’s ministry in the churches and conduct women’s conferences at the time when the Berlin Wall came down, communism was falling, and doors for ministry were opening all over Eastern Europe. I ministered in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Romania, Czech Republic and many other places. At the end of the three years, I became engaged to a wonderful Canadian who pursued me in Berlin and was married shortly thereafter.
I knew I wanted to continue to be involved in missions and several years later, the Lord opened the door at World Missions Advance! I have been so blessed to be able to serve some of the best missionaries in the world and participate in short-term mission outreaches through WMA and actually serve beside some of these missionaries where they serve.
This June marks sixteen years I have served with WMA and I am so blessed and thankful!
The intensity of the warfare Christians are facing is increasing exponentially. The assignments that God has given us individually may look quite different, but the one thing that is in common for us all, is opposition. The relentless hostility is not only regarding our foundational beliefs, but the opposition we endure, challenges our very right to have those beliefs. And thus, the battle rages…
Our foundation in the Word of God is the sustaining power that we must exhibit, day by day, hour by hour. I’ve said it before but will say it again, the Bible does not need to be ‘tweaked.’ Too many, I am afraid, have entered the muddy waters of trying to be relevant to a confused culture while abandoning the relevancy of the Word of God, and by doing so, have become totally irrelevant to the Kingdom!
There is no program, strategy, plan, policy, or tactic that will ever be sufficient to be a substitute for the enduring Word of God. One of the first scriptures I memorized as a new believer was, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)
I remember vividly the account that Randy gave after he returned from his first trip to Russia right after Eastern Europe had opened up to visitors. He and a team went for several weeks with suitcases filled with Bibles to distribute to the newly liberated Russians. He said that as they stood on the steps in front of an imposing building in downtown Moscow, the people clamored for the Bibles that were being dispersed. Their hunger for the Word of God was palpable.
Let us all, once again, treasure the Word that has so freely been given to us and study it diligently, for within the covers of the Bible are not only the words of eternal life, but daily direction for our path.
"Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling." (Psalm 119:105, The Living Bible)
"For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock."
"The foundation of all ministry is a love for the Lord and a desire to spread his glory. This is the only motivation that will keep the missionary going for the distance.” -Thomas Hale & Gene Daniels
I’ve been reading a book by long time missionaries Thomas Hale & Gene Daniels called, “On Being a Missionary.” It is absolutely excellent. Thomas and his wife Cynthia are both physicians and have served as medical missionaries in Nepal since 1970. Gene and his family spent twelve years living among unreached Muslim people groups in Central Asia. So, needless to say, these guys know what they’re talking about when it comes to ministry and missions. One thing they said struck me in particular, “The foundation of all ministry is a love for the Lord and a desire to spread his glory. This is the only motivation that will keep the missionary going for the distance.” These guys have gone the distance, so something like this hits home harder for me than just some random quote from social media.
“Going the distance.” Isn’t that what we all want to do? Don’t we all want to hear those beautiful words one day? “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Systems and strategies, and statistics to back up those systems and strategies, abound. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with systems and strategies. We need them! Thank God for them! But it is the motivations of our hearts that, by God’s grace, enable us to run that extra mile, smile that extra smile, spend that extra hour, and give that extra dollar.
What is your motivation? What is mine? It must be our love for the Lord and the desire to make His Name famous all over the earth. It is in Him and for Him we live, and move, and have our being.
Lord, may you change our hearts and give us the motivations of Your heart so that we can run well, and finish the race you have set before us. May we fulfill our destinies. May we go the distance.
“Hosanna!” They said.
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” They said.
“Crucify him!” They said.
Humans…people…we sure are a mercurial lot. A lot of sinners to put it bluntly. Especially when things don’t happen according to our expectations. Have you ever praised God on Sunday only to curse Him on Monday? I know you would never curse Him out loud, most of you anyway, but perhaps in your heart? If not outright cursing, for sure we are tempted, and often fall into some form of unbelief or another. Worry, fear, anxiety, frustration, attack us on all fronts bidding us to give up, give in, and lose our faith.
Oh, yes, we can turn on a dime when things don’t go our way; When our hope is dashed; When what we thought would be isn’t to be. We can go from saint to sinner in less time than it takes to boil water when our expectations aren’t met.
The people of Jerusalem, some of them anyway, saw Jesus riding in on a donkey. They had seen his miracles. They felt hope. For the first time in a long time. They were suppressed, depressed, and oppressed. They said, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” They thought the Kingdom had come. They thought the Messiah had arrived. And The Kingdom had come. The Messiah had arrived. But not in the way they were expecting.
What do you do when God answers your prayers, but the answer doesn’t look like you thought it would…or should? Have you ever questioned God? Have you ever had faith on Sunday, only to lose it by Friday?
Jesus came to bring His Kingdom. The Kingdom. The Suffering Servant. The Creator of everything came to earth to save His people. Not from Roman oppression, as I’m sure this Jewish crowd was hoping…expecting. No, he came to save His people from themselves.
Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, died and rose again so that all who believe might be saved. Perhaps you’ve been looking for salvation in all the wrong places. Perhaps it won’t look like what you thought it would. Maybe you have cursed and rejected God because He didn’t save you in the way you thought He should. Expectations can be dangerous things.
But "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Repent and believe. The message of the resurrection is hope for humanity. It is hope for you…your only hope. THE ONLY HOPE.
A life that is not reflected upon isn’t worth living. It belongs to the essence of being human that we contemplate our life, think about it, discuss it, evaluate it, and form opinions about it. Half of living is reflecting on what is being lived.
I have discovered through the years that one of the strategies of the devil is to try to isolate us in the midst of our struggles by telling us that we are the only ones feeling the way we are feeling. The lie continues by suggesting that not only are we the only ones that are feeling this way but there must be something inherently wrong with us for having these problems. Shame and guilt act as walls around us to keep us from reaching out and discovering the truth that our battles are not ours alone. What a comfort to discover that others have walked and overcome the path that you now walk, and will, in Christ, overcome!
Reflecting on the past and dealing with it changes us for the future. A person who has come through the battles of life and reflected upon those battles does not remain the same…something foundational changes! I look at things in a different way now. I have more mercy and compassion to offer others. Nothing tastes sweeter nor adds to our strength like overcoming and surviving the assaults of life. Once you face the “Goliath” in your life and survive, you generally find out that you are stronger and more courageous than you thought you were. The reality is that “Goliath” has brothers…big brothers; more battles are likely to come. This thought has bolstered my resolve to stand in the midst of trials…if God brought me through ‘that’ then He will get me through ‘this.’ As over-comers, we have reestablished our foundation in a trustworthy God and indeed can stand, “in the world with head erect, solidly rooted in the knowledge of who we are…” -H.N.
When Corrie Ten Boom, the well-known Holocaust survivor, was a little girl, her father would take her on train trips to Amsterdam. One night, Corrie was sharing her concerns with her dad regarding something she was afraid of. Her dad asked her the question, “Corrie, when we go on the train to Amsterdam when do I give you your ticket?” She responded, “Right before I get on the train.” Her dad said, “That is right and God will give you the ‘ticket’ you need right before you face whatever you fear.” I have drawn on the simple truth of that story many times as I surrendered by faith to the unknown, trusting God to give me what I needed just in time!
Many years ago, I hurt my foot while I was goofing around. After a while, and the prodding of some of the nurses at work, I finally gave in and went to the foot doctor. He threw my foot under an X-Ray and there it was, a broken bone in all its glorious splendor. I had to put my foot in a boot, and for the next few weeks, I moseyed around on crutches and a boot. Eventually, after some time, my bone healed. It took some time, but it healed.
The other day I was walking around and felt a faint tinge in my right foot. My foot is healed, but it still hurts sometimes. Unless, for some miraculous reason, your name happens to be Superman, you are not impervious to the pains and trials life throws at you. It doesn’t take living too long before you realize that this world is not perfect and the other folks God has surrounded us with are not either. Day after day goes by, and like a hail storm, we are bombarded with this hurt or that, emotional, psychological, or maybe even physical. And then one day you meet Jesus, and you hear about the One Whom they call Healer. Hopeful, you cast your cares on Him. You are healed. Joy and excitement fill your heart, the solution to your pain and problems has been found! A few days, weeks, or even years go by, and something happens. It can be scary because old feelings, old lusts, old hurts that you thought were healed and gone suddenly begin to creep back in. You start to question your conversion or maybe even God Himself. You wonder if you really were healed. Fear, doubt, and questioning become your daily norm and the fear of losing what you thought you had gained haunts your every move. Don’t worry, you’re normal.
You see, just because you were healed doesn’t mean you still won’t hurt sometimes. Jesus, our Salvation, the One Who died so that we could be healed, even today bears the scars of His crucifixion in His hands. The scars are proof of the healing…proof of the salvation that was purchased. Your scars, those phantom pains, are not signs of a lack of healing. My pain is a reminder that I am healed. Just because you’re healed doesn’t mean you won’t hurt sometimes. May your scars be a reminder of His scars.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..." -Philippians 2:5
My wife and I were in a little marriage class at our church the other night. The speaker was talking about different lenses we sometimes use when looking at our spouses. Some are selfish, others self-righteous, and others conditional and performance based. He exhorted us instead to have grace-based lenses. That got me thinking about the lenses and filters we use in our day to day lives. Are we seeing people, situations, world events, with the eyes of Jesus? Are we zooming in on insignificant things to the neglect of the significant? Are we seeing a speck in our neighbor’s eye when we have a log sticking out of our own? What a challenge for us all...to see like Jesus.
I’m reminded of the words of the old hymn, “turn your
eyes upon Jesus...” But as we look out into the world
and deal with our day to day lives—we’re not monks in
a desert monastery after all—let us seek to see others
the way Jesus sees them. This is no easy task and is
impossible in our own strength, but the Holy Spirit will
help us, if we but ask Him.
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with
compassion...” -Matthew 9:36
2021 was a wonderful year for us as a family and for the ministry. Angela and I were blessed with a baby boy this last December. WMA continues to expand with new missionaries who are reaching people all over the world with the love of Jesus.
Paul exhorts us with these words in Philippians, "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
It can be so difficult to forget the past. It’s tempting to revel in our victories and wallow in our defeats. But Paul tells us to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead.
What should you be forgetting? Are you straining toward God’s call on your life? What a challenge for us all!
Thank you so much for your support in 2021. We love and appreciate all of you!
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” -Isaiah 9:6
“The Bible is full of contradictions” we hear the skeptics say. Perhaps I agree with them, although not in the way they mean. The Bible IS filled with ironies, absurdities, and paradoxes. For, only in our wildest dreams could we imagine a Man walking on water, or a blind man receiving his sight, or the many being fed with the little.
But the greatest paradoxes, these we find in the Christmas story. We see a virgin giving birth and God becoming a Man. In his book “Miracles,” C.S. Lewis writes, “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.” The Incarnation is the core tenet of our faith. It cannot be put aside. Our hope rests on the great bookends of the Incarnation and resurrection of Jesus. A Christianity without miracles is no Christianity at all.
Again, to quote C.S. Lewis, “A ‘liberal’ Christianity which considers itself free to alter the faith whenever the faith looks perplexing or repellent must be completely stagnant.” And to that I say “amen.” In this world of scientific pursuit and a constant attempt to explain away the miracles of the Bible, I am renewed and refreshed in my pursuit of the God of miracles. We serve the One Who calmed the sea, parted the waters, came to earth as a baby, and died and rose again so that we might live. Our faith is filled with ironies, absurdities, and paradoxes…and the greatest of these mean LIFE for all who believe.
Expectations: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
How difficult and distressing when reality does not live up to our expectations…what we think ‘should’ happen.
I have talked/counseled/encouraged/rebuked and listened to hundreds of people through the 51 years I have been a Christian. There are those that seem to have unshakable faith and those that struggle almost daily, and many that are somewhere in between. What makes the difference? I don’t have a deep theological answer to this question just some thoughts from years of experience. My somewhat simplistic observation, I can’t help myself, that’s what I do, look for the simplest answer possible, is disillusioned, unmet expectations. People have wrong thinking and wrong expectations because they have wrong thinking and wrong expectations about people and most assuredly about God.
He/she should’ve or he/she could’ve or why did they not respond in a way I ‘expected?’ It gets even weightier when we pummel God in the same way; God should’ve or certainly He could’ve. We, in essence, take God to court and put Him on the witness stand as we throw questions, and yes, sometimes even accusations. I’m glad God does not get nervous over our tantrums!
Only time and experience equip a person with the ability to maintain a certain amount of peace and trust in the midst of life’s unruly situations. You must, and you will, learn the benefit of the words of the Apostle James:
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
Nothing tests our faith like unmet expectations. Of course, we can assuredly ‘expect’ God to move in our situations…the key is to trust His ways and not our ways. Isaiah reminds us of this timeless truth: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord."
Our steady foundation must rest, not on expectations from people, because they will surely disappoint, but on expectancy that God works in His way and in His time!