The Gospel Of The Kingdom Remains Unhindered: Musings From Mark Fields
Mark Fields, Director of Vineyard Missions USA, reminds us that despite the challenges of this moment, the work of the Gospel remains unhindered, and shares some good news from others in our Vineyard Global Family!
Director of Global & Intercultural Ministry, Vineyard USA
[Original Post By Vineyard Missions USA]
God is still on the move even during the pandemic!
Yes… let me say that again… God is still at work in this challenging season.
I know it can be harder to see when we are faced with our limited human perspective, especially being restricted in our travel and normal activities – but I have had conversations with Vineyard leaders from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America in just the last week or so during our “staycation,” and while they have shared openly about the added struggles of this unique season, many have also shared stories of God at work. I have heard stories of congregations caring for their members as well as their surrounding communities, of food being miraculously multiplied (you can read about that here), of new disciples moving toward Jesus, and yes, even new groups of nascent followers of Jesus have been established during the pandemic in several nations.
Hearing these stories makes me think of the very last verse of the book of Acts. Paul was imprisoned in Rome, facing a very uncertain future, but still he “proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (Acts 28:31). The Gospel of the Kingdom remained unhindered though Paul himself certainly felt his limitations.
Just today I received pictures of food being distributed by one of the Vineyard churches in Nigeria. This was made possible through the generosity of the El Camino Vineyard Church in Northern California and the Iberian Partnership (thanks Randy et al). People have been amazingly generous during this season. The German-speaking Vineyard churches have raised more than $100,000 USD to send to those suffering during the global pandemic and many US Vineyard churches have given with sacrificial generosity to sisters and brothers in the nations where they have been working. We really are a global family!
Many of my friends have also reported that they are finding that God is doing a deeper work in them individually during this season of uncertainty and restraint. Perhaps the most consistent thing I have heard is a return to focusing on Jesus with lots of time being spent reading and praying in the Gospels. Interestingly, this was one of the characteristics I discovered a few years ago in my study of movements that are multiplying… a definite focus on Jesus and the Gospels. Folks are increasingly looking again to Jesus as the model for both ministry and life. In their study many are discovering new aspects of Jesus’ life to emulate, are recognizing the invitation of God to come deeper and closer in this season, and are responding.
Yes, these are challenging and difficult times. The uncertainty of when and how this pandemic will end is testing my resiliency. The ambiguity of what to expect in the “new normal” regularly generates anxiety, but…
God remains at work in the world as well as in my life. God continues to draw people. God is still on the move.
I choose to keep growing and learning in this season. I choose to look for what God is doing in both my own life and in the world, and to focus there — especially during my “staycation.”
Mark Fields currently serves as the Director of Global & Intercultural Ministry for Vineyard USA. Prior to assuming his current position, he was the Senior Pastor of the Vineyard Community Church in Pomona, California, for more than twenty years. Mark is a lifelong learner and attended Fuller Seminary as well as the London School of Theology. He has traveled and ministered extensively around the world. Mark and his wife Karen have been married for nearly forty years, are the parents of three adult children, have a growing number of grandchildren, and reside in Southern California.