"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4

The Gilland Family of 6!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why China? Why Now? by James Loftin

I’m linking up today with my daddy(aka James Loftin) who left early this morning for China with 14 other friends/leaders from 6 churches in TX, AL, TN, GA & FL.  In China they will be hosted and led by Chinese believers, different people on different days but young **“Runner” will be traveling with the team the whole time.

** Runner is a 24-year-old Chinese Christian brother. He was a successful sprinter in college, and when he decided to trust Christ, he chose the English name Runner. “I am running with Jesus in his mission to the world.”  Runner feels called to be an evangelist.

I hope you will read Why China, Why Now and then print the prayer guide I’m including and join me in praying for these men and women and also for our brothers and sisters in China who know all to well what it means to “suffer for the sake of Christ”!  I am not including the exact dates and cities they will be in China for security reasons.  If you would like more information please contact me.

Why China? Why Now?  
by James Loftin

God does not love the Chinese any more than He loves the Russians or the Haitians, but China is not just another country. Throughout Christian history, God has chosen to boldly use specific nations or peoples at certain points in his ongoing global plan. It seems that the church in China now has God’s special anointing.

Unreached Population
There are more than 1.3 billion Chinese on the planet. Approximately one of every five people is Chinese. More than half have never heard the gospel; this is the largest unreached people group in the world.

China shares borders with 14 countries, whose residents comprise forty-five percent of the global population. Six are predominantly Islamic. Four are significantly Buddhist, and three are dominated by Atheistic Communism. Many authorities hold that North Korea is the single greatest nuclear threat in the world. Only China is positioned to have an effective spiritual and political impact on North Korea.

Global Leader
China’s economic, technological, and military power continues to grow, and China is becoming recognized as the single most influential country in the world. As more and more Chinese follow Christ, the values and culture of China will begin to shift. Today China stands at a crossroad. She is leaving her isolationist past in communist socialism, but her future posture is still undecided.

Harvest Time
When the Communists took over China in 1949, there were approximately one million Chinese Christians. Because of the persecution by the communists, the world Christian community thought Christianity would die in China. But God had other plans. The number of believers has grown to over 100 million — only seven percent of the population is Christian. The revival continues in China.

Vision of the Chinese Church
In the 1930s, the young church began to develop a back-to-Jerusalem vision as they saw themselves as the tool God would use to take the Gospel westward from China through the Muslim world and even to Israel. Although the political environment for Christians in China remains somewhat unpredictable, the church is beginning to send missionaries to areas where Western missionaries have had limited impact. In the near future, more missionaries may be sent out from China than from any other country.

Open Window
Even as the window to the West slowly opens, there are rising fears of how China’s economic and military strength could impact America. Fanned by the media, these fears may produce resistance to benevolence toward Chinese. However, the window of opportunity is open right now. Western Christians and churches are urgently invited to minister with our Chinese brothers and sisters in God’s miraculous work — today.

Pray for China
Written by James Loftin, Founder and President of FollowOne International
Learn more about this ministry by visiting www.followone.org


China Trip Prayer Itinerary May 2011-

The team includes 14 friends/leaders from 6 churches in TX, AL, TN, GA & FL. In China, we will be hosted and led by Chinese believers, different people on different days but young "Runner" will be with us throughout. Use your imagination to fill in some of the gaps in our very general descriptions below. At times the team will split into 2 or more subgroups per the ministry opportunities of the day.

Overall Prayer Request: Wisdom for James, Laura and Chinese partners as they make daily decisions about ministry & schedule options in light of the unusually tense security pressure on Christian activities right now.

Prayer Focus:

Scripture Reading:
Pray for the team to be mindful of all the preparation God has already done. Pray for favor at customs - regarding the requested resources & literature team members are carrying. Pray for team's sharpness mentally, physically and spiritually. Pray that they may be humble and without fear. Pray for James (Orlando) and Runner (Beijing) today.

Mark 1:1-3
Ephesians 2:10
Pray for focus. May nothing (jet lag, culture shock, etc.) distract the team from sensing the move of the Holy Spirit. May the team be open and responsive to what God would like them to do. May God to give them the strength and courage to say "Yes" to God's plans: May they be ready to be stretched. Pray for Don (Memphis).

1 Kings 3:12
Isaiah 55:8-9
Pray for the Holy Spirit to provide and bless divine conversations with new friends. May these future leaders of China to say "yes" to Jesus. Pray for the Spirit to intercede as the team visits Tiananmen Square. May they have strength as they struggle with jet lag and wisdom in sharing. Pray for Laura (Orlando).

Colossians 4:6
Esther 4:14
Pray for the church in China to be a blessing to the nations. Pray for the faithful Chinese Christian leaders. As the team makes new friends and encounters new things, may they acknowledge God in the midst of all the experiences. Pray for
Ben (Memphis, TN).

Habakkuk 3: 19
Psalm 96
Pray that the team will be reminded of God's amazing involvement in all the
beauty around them. As God works, may they be available for His use. Pray for
Chris (Thomasville, GA).

Psalm 78:1-7
Pray for the team as they serve with the gifts and talents God has given them for
His glory and for the expanding of His Kingdom. Pray for the Holy Spirit to
intercede for them. Pray for Abbye (Memphis, TN).

Romans 8:26-27
Pray for wisdom and boldness. Pray the team would catch a glimpse of God’s
sovereignty as they serve together. Pray that God would help them focus on Him
and rest in His presence. Pray for Nancy (Orlando, FL).

James 1: 5-6
Acts 28:31
Pray for God to grant the team a better understanding of "The Great Commission"
as a representation of God's heart toward the whole world. Pray for the team, that
they may be able to see more clearly the call on their lives. Pray for Kathy
(Tuscaloosa, AL).

Acts 2:38-39
Pray for those sharing His love on university campuses in China. May they be encouraged and strengthened. Pray for new relationships between seeking scholars and Chinese believers. Pray for strength for the team. In the Spirit's power, may they finish strong. Pray for Todd (Dallas, TX).

Mark 6:31-32
Isaiah 40:29-31
Pray for the team to be encouraged by how God is working around the world.
May the team be mindful of how they are all connected to the Kingdom. Pray for
divine appointments. Pray for Jeanene and Joy (Thomasville, GA).

Acts 9:31
Romans 10:9-15
Pray for the team to have sensitive spirits as they worship with fellow believers.
Pray that God would meet the spiritual needs of the Chinese churches. Pray for
Bill and Liz (Suwanee, GA).

John 7:37-38
Pray that the new connections and relationships made during the trip will bear great fruit. Pray for team members as they begin to share their experiences in
China with their home churches, friends and family. For God's glory!

John 15:16
Colossians 1:10

At different seasons in our lives God calls us to different things.  Sometimes it is to GO.  Sometimes it is to GIVE.  If unable to go or give, we are always able and called to PRAY!  I am dying to go to China!!!  The time has not yet come when I have been able to go, primarily because I've either been pregnant or nursing a baby for the past 6 years! :)  But I know my time is coming.  Until then I'll focus on my ministry as momma to these 4 blessings and count it joy to lift up my brothers and sisters on the other side of the world!!!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Past...

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.” Joel 2:25

I really have no idea who reads my blog!  I’m sure some are people in my life now, some are people from my past and some are people I’ve never met.   I feel like I need to acknowledge my past for those of you that knew me many years ago when I was not walking with the Lord.  So I’m going to write down for the first time my testimony…God’s amazing story of redemption in my life. 

My parents tell me as very little girl I loved to pray.  They say that as early as 2 years old I was praying very deeply for things other than my toys and my dog.  At 2.5 I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart.  But on December 30, 1987 while at Break Thru, a youth retreat my dad was a part of, I understood my sin and my need for a savior…Jesus.  That night I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart, to forgive me of my sins and to be Lord of my life.  My spiritual birthday is also my momma’s birthday.  You can imagine what a joy that must have been for her to experience.  There is no greater gift that my children could give me than to know we will worship God together for eternity! 

I really need to back up and give you some important details.   I am PK, a preacher’s kid.   I was born in Lexington, KY on March 20, 1979.  I grew up in Memphis, TN with my family which consisted of my momma and daddy, a brother 4 years younger and a sister 11 years younger.  My parents have always been in ministry.  My mom has always been involved in ministry with my dad.  They are amazing role models for me! 

So needless to say, I grew up in the church.  We were always there.  If the doors were open or something was going on we were there.  I loved the church!  I loved being a pk!  I loved that everyone knew me and spoke to me!  I was happy to share my parents with so many!  That all seemed to change when I got older…

Earlier I said that I loved being a pk, well I did up until high school!  Then the fun was over!   I felt like I lived in a fish bowl, like I was always being watched.   I was making foolish choices and was getting caught!  Because of my own insecurity and desire to be liked by all, I rebelled against my parents and God.  I resented having to share my parents with so many.   I resented being known and watched.   I hated the choices I was making.  I hated the way I felt.  I hated the distance I had created between Jesus and me.  Yet I continued on the same road.  Romans 7:15 says, “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” This verse totally sums up how I felt for sooo long!   I would tell myself that my sin was no worse than anybody else’s and that it was just for a time.  I want to be clear about this…… God was always there!  He was constantly pursuing me, loving me, wooing me, putting people in my path to point me back to Him.  I was choosing to not walk with the King.  I was choosing to walk in darkness and not in the light I had been exposed to.  I was choosing things of this world and things of the flesh.  Looking back I can see that He was always there protecting me, although I still had to suffer the consequences of my choices.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I know now that during those years I was living a “luke warm” life.  I shudder when I read in Revelation 3:15-16: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are luke warm – neither hot nor cold I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Oh how thankful I am for the mercy of God…..that He didn’t spit me out, but rather continued to love me and call me to repentance.  During those “luke-warm” years I would say that I was a Christian and that I loved God…..but there was no fruit in my life and I certainly wasn’t growing in my faith.

After I married Doug (who grew up in a Christian family and has a similar faith story) we immediately moved to Atlanta.  We knew no one except each other.   This was our fresh start, our new beginning!  I was so excited to be somewhere new.  None of these people knew the “old Ashley”.  I finally felt free to pursue what had become a deep desire of my heart…..to be the woman that God had created and called me to be!  But how did I do that?  And what did that woman even look like?  I knew many women that I admired, who loved Jesus deeply and walked hand in hand with him. They were intimately acquainted with the Lord.  I wanted to be a woman of God, who knew His word, spoke His truth and lived completely for His glory.  I remember talking with my momma about this.  She is a woman of God.  She knows His word and she speaks truth and wisdom.   I trust her completely.   Her answer was very clear and direct.  “Get in the word of God….it will CHANGE your life; start having a daily quiet time, surround yourself with like-minded people who are living out the gospel, get involved in a church,  and begin praying for God to reveal himself to me and to change me into the woman He created me to be.”  Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I had a hard time believing God could or would use me because of my past.  I struggled with forgiving myself and truly believing that God had forgiven me.  I continued to ask Him to forgive me time and again for the mistakes and choices of my past.  Someone gave me a wonderful illustration about asking repeatedly for forgiveness.  She said when you ask God to forgive sins you’ve previously asked forgiveness for; picture God speaking this to you, “Precious child, I have no idea what you are talking about!  Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Oh, that was so HUGE for me to hear!  They were gone…forgiven and forgotten.  I finally came to a place of forgiveness for myself.  God taught me through this time that regardless of where I had been or what I had done HE would use it for HIS GLORY!!! 

God is the one who has transformed my heart.  It’s all about Him.  He is the one who initiates anything good in me.  There is nothing good in me apart from the Lord.  When I look back over the past years from where I was to where I am now…I stand amazed at the faithfulness of God! Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

I wish I could say that since I began seeking the Lord with all my heart life has been great.  But that would not be the truth.  The truth is that we live in an imperfect, fallen world.  Life truly is a roller coaster ride!  We have good times and bad times, easy times and hard times.  But, with Jesus this is the ABUNDANT life!!  No matter what season we find ourselves in, my husband and I have committed that we will seek Jesus and His perfect will for our lives.  Darkness cannot hide Him and we rejoice that by His light…..we can walk in the light too!!  If you haven’t said yes to Jesus, to His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness…..I pray you will consider this an invitation to do so.  I promise……you will never regret it!