Jan 9, 2016

Best Christian Apps - for Prayer, Bible Memory, and Missions

Below, I've described my favorite apps relating to prayer, missions and Scripture. The best part is—all these apps are absolutely free! Use them alongside the other apps on your phone, or use them to temporarily replace Instagram/Twitter/FaceBook as you take a social media fast. These are great options for using technology for the glory of God!

Pray Today - Voice of the Martyrs

One of my favorites! Everyday there's a new one sentence prayer request, focused on Christians are being persecuted and countries in need of religious freedom. Simple layout. Concise text. This app accessible and easy to use on a daily basis—no matter how busy you are. Prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters should be a priority, so get this app and set up the daily reminders so you remember to regularly pray for the persecuted Church.

IMB - Pray

Daily being updated with prayer needs, the IMP prayer app can be used to guide your missions focused prayers in multiple ways: First, you can check the daily feed for strategic prayer requests. The PrayerLine option offers a thematic prayer guide for three days a week. Or, you can check out the Pray Weekly section that provides four shortened prayer requests for quick reference. Finally, there are also video features, as well as unreached/unengaged people group focuses. You will never run out of ways to pray for the gospel work around the world with this app!

JP Unreached - Joshua Project

This is similar to the Operation World book, but in app form! And rather than a new country each day, this app provides information on an unreached people group—including demographic information, Bible translation status, ministry obstacles, outreach ideas, and more. I have found this to be the most comprehensive and detailed prayer app for missions while still presenting the information in a way that is quick and easy to reference. There's also an option to be daily notified to pray for the people group of the day.

Echo Prayer

As a customizable prayer app, you add your own personal prayer requests so they can be easily and quickly accessed at any time. This is the best way I've found to see a list of all my current prayer requests at once, and you can tap on each one to expand more details about a specific request. My favorite feature is the ability to set reminders for specific times about any request (so there's no more forgetting to pray for surgeries, tests, interviews, etc. at the time they're happening)! It's also a great way to keep track of all of your answered prayers—a wonderful reminder of God's goodness and faithfulness.


A Bible verse memorization app that allows you to create Bible flash cards from 12 different versions and translations. Once you add a verse or passage to your list, you can use various study modes to commit it to memory. Study options include flash cards, audio recordings, fill-in-the-blank activities, and verse-by-verse tests. Instead of using your down time (waiting in line, riding in the car, eating) to scroll endlessly through Twitter or Instagram, use that time to memorize God's Word!

The ESV Bible App

I love this Bible app so much better than the YouVersion app I used to use. It's prettier and simpler—just a more user-friendly and elegant design overall. And yes, there is an audio recording available for you to play anywhere and anytime. If ESV is the translation you use, I highly recommend this app for all your portable Bible needs!

Honorable mentions:
  • NAME People — Stories, prayer needs and videos all focused on the North Africa & Middle East people groups
  • OM - Operation Mobilization — news stories from OM missions to help guide your prayers for those who need Jesus
  • Voice Recorder — Not necessarily a Christian app; but recently I've been using it to record Scripture passages I'm memorizing. I play it in the car anytime I go anywhere (put it on repeat), and I'm memorizing whole chapters in no time!

Nov 17, 2015

Thoughts on the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

I didn't realize this could be such a dividing issue among Christians. Today, I've seen my Christian friends on social media take so many different stances on the "right" way to respond to the refugee crisis:

"We don't want Muslims infiltrating the U.S."
"It is wrong for us to turn away thousands of people in need."
"Our immigration policy must be based on more than an appeal to compassion." 
"There's at least 6 reasons why ending refugee resettlement in the U.S. is the wrong approach."
"If we let all these Muslims in, they'll change our country."
"Jesus has not called us to make safety our priority."

I don't claim to have solutions to this situation. I don't deny the complexities this crisis presents.

But I have been thinking.

I've been trying to view this situation Biblically, truthfully, and objectively. Because so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have been voicing their differing opinions on the topic, I've been wrestling with all sides of this crisis.

Ultimately, with much prayer, my thoughts on the subject boil down to this....

  1. We are all refugees who have been accepted and brought in by our gracious God.
  2. If I've been received and cared for by God, by faith tells me that what I've received for free I should give for free.
  3. I don't want to stand before Christ someday having to explain that I didn't support Syrian refugees because I was scared of what might happen to me.
  4. Regardless of what our immigration policy is, terrorism is inevitable. There's no way to absolutely prevent more attacks.
  5. Many of these refugees are Christians who are fleeing persecution. I know there's no way to really distinguish between the Christians and non-Christians. But who are we as the Body of Christ (who have enjoyed relatively safe and care-free lives) to turn them away?
  6. Currently, thousands of Muslims are turning to Christ because they're sick of Islam. Will the Church overlook this opportunity because of political and safety considerations?
  7. Turning away allies will make us less safe.
  8. Rather than fearing, we must trust God. Persecuted Christians around the world trust God on a daily basis more than many Westerners have ever had to trust God in their lifetime. There is a risk that comes with completely trusting God.
  9. When has following Christ ever involved looking out for our own safety?
  10. There was once a Middle Eastern family who were forced to walk across countries to escape a cruel tyrant, who were dirty and tried from their journey, who were unwanted and un-welcomed. This family was Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
  11. Jesus calls us to be Good Samaritans
  12. Let's not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS.

May 19, 2015

Fundraise for Your Church or Youth Group: Team 316

What if you had someone to guide you through a successful fundraising process?

That's what Team 316 is here for you to do.

Recently, I had the chance to talk with the guys behind Team 316. They've got a passion for ministry and have identified one of the biggest challenges in ministry: fundraising. They know from personal experience in ministry how difficult fundraising can be, and they've now designed a fundraising model for the purpose of helping out others in ministry.

If you're involved in a church or youth group, Team 316 can give you the tools that enable you to spend a total of 12 hours for a year's worth of fundraising! Using their model, you only need 100 partners to commit $3.16 a week, and you could raise up to $16,000 in a year!

As I was talking to the guys from Team 316, it became very clear that their model gives you all the materials you need, as well as step by step guidance to help you accomplish your fundraising goals. Whether you're raising money for a missions trip, a youth group, or a church, you should look into what Team 316 can do for you.

You've got nothing to lose by looking into this powerful opportunitycheck out Team 316!

May 13, 2015

12 Ways to be "Missions-Minded" in College

As a college student, it's often hard to see the value in education if you merely see it as the next step to fulfilling God's calling on your life. But college doesn't have to be an "obstacle" in the way of your Christian ministry. College is a unique experience and a short period of life where you will encounter opportunities you will never have again. And if you keep Christ as the focus of your education and college experience, college itself can be a ministry.

While God is preparing you for a lifetime of ministry in college, you can still be actively involved in missions. Here are twelve ways you can be a "missions-minded" college student:

1. Pray.
Pray for workers. Pray for people. Pray for missionaries. Prayer is so essential to any effective ministry, and as Oswald Chambers wrote, "Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work." Not only is prayer the entire foundation for missions, but prayer also fuels a passion for the Gospel and a heart for the unreached. This year I have been praying for one country every day through the Operation World book, and never have I felt such a burden for the peoples unreached for the Gospel. As well as partnering in the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the world through prayer, my passion for God's glory among the nations is being ignited.

Lifting up missionaries in prayer is vital, too. They can't assimilate to another culture, learn a language, build relationships, plant churches, or make disciples without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit or God's strength in their lives. Sometimes it's hard to know where to start, but here are some printable prayer guides to help you know how to pray for your missionaries and the spread of the Gospel: Seven Ways to Pray for Your Missionary, How to Pray for MissionariesPraying for Missions, Warfare Prayer, and A 6-Week Personal Prayer Guide.

2. Connect with International Students on Campus.
According to Intervarsity, over 800,000 international students come to the United States to study—many from countries that are closed to the Gospel. This may be the only chance they have to be exposed to the Gospel, and you have the opportunity to welcome them, befriend them, and serve them. Because full-time missions in another country should only be an extension of your ministry here and now, connecting with internationals is an opportunity begin a cross-cultural ministry... and to be involved in God's global work—without ever leaving your campus!

3. Sponsor a Child
You can actively influence a child's life for Christ across the world simply by sponsoring them on a monthly basis. Just browse some of the children waiting to be sponsored with Compassion or World Vision—your heart will break for them. Even as "poor" college students, God has blessed us immeasurably wealth and a comfortable lifestyle, as compared with the rest of the world. It IS possible to sponsor a child while paying for college, though it might require you getting a job or giving up your daily Starbucks drink (horror of horrors!).

There's definitely a lot to consider before sponsoring a child, and I believe that for certain people college isn't the right timing for donating $40 every month… But I would suggest carefully weighing your motives before you push the opportunity aside: If God has given you the resources to provide education, food, water, healthcare, and the hope of the Gospel to a child in need, what's holding you back?

4. Start a Prayer Group on Campus
During my freshman year, I happened to discover a group of students who met together once a week to pray for missionaries. They printed out the newsletter updates the missionaries would email out and then prayed specifically for their prayer requests. It has been so cool to be a part of such a likeminded group of students and know that we are actually impacting the work of those missionaries. It's also sparked a lot of good discussions about mission work and current global events, and it's given us plenty of opportunities to encourage and connect with real missionaries.

5. Go Short-Term
There's countless opportunities to serve on short-term missions over fall break or spring break. (Personally, I think summer break is best because I more time in my country of service for the amount of money it costs.) Go with a Christian college group, go with your church… If you desire to be more missions-minded, take the chance to spend some time actually serving on a cross-cultural mission field.

6. Encourage Missionaries You Know
What better way to familiarize yourself with the joys and struggles of day-to-day mission life than to be in direct contact with a mission team or family? You can usually get in contact with your church's missionaries through your church secretary or directory; or, if you know them personally, you can contact them through Facebook or email. Most missionaries today have some form of an e-newsletter, so don't be afraid to ask if you can join their mailing list. This provides a perfect opportunity to reply to emails and let them know you're praying for them.

7. Read
Immerse yourself in different cultures, experience the challenges of living in a foreign country, see firsthand the transformative power of the gospel—through books about missions or missionaries. Just a few of my favorites include, Bruchko by Bruce Olsen, Reckless Abandon by David Sitton, And the Word Came with Power by Joanne Shetler, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, and biographies about David Brainerd, C.T. Studd, Adoniram Judson, and Amy Carmichael. Other good books about missions include Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper and The Missionary Call by David M. Sills. What other books would you add? Leave a comment and let me know!

8. Raise Money to Give to Missions Organizations
For a couple years in college I was involved in a group that organized events and put on activities in order to raise money for a ministry that supported orphans in Sudan. It was a fun job—talent shows, bake sales, movie nights, even rubber duck races around the pond!—we organized and promoted events on campus that would generate some funds we could give to missions. Consider getting a small group of students together to do something similar: focus the mission of your group toward supporting one particular missions organization or cause, and then brainstorm ways you can raise money.

9. Give
Investing your own savings in missions is a sure way to be missions minded in college. When you give of your own money to support a missionary, you become a personal partner and team member with that missionary. Again, college students aren't known for having much surplus when it comes to finances. But don't discredit the impact a small commitment of $5 a month or a simple missions offering at church. While our current calling to be college students often limits what our financial contributions can be, what God really desires is our willingness and faithfulness in being disciple-makers, whether we send or go. Even in college, there are opportunities for us to give.

10. Educate Yourself
Do you stay up-to-date what is happening around the world, what believers are experiencing in other countries? In order to be missions-minded, it's important to familiarize yourself with world events and how they are affecting the state of the church and the spread of the gospel. One way you can become aware of world events is through Christian news publications such as World or Christian Post (you can sign up for e-updates as well). You can also to sign up to pray for persecuted believers around the world through Voice of the Martyrs. Lastly, one way that I educate myself about missions and world events is through Twitter—I follow feeds such as Gospel for Asia, Persecution.org, World Watch Monitor, Morning Star News, Mission News Network, and more. Educating yourself about believers and missionaries around the world helps to inform your prayers and to make you more united with your suffering brothers and sisters (Hebrews 13:3).

11. Attend a Missions Conference
Many local churches host missions conferences, which offer great opportunities for meeting missionaries your church supports. On a larger scale, there are student mission conferences such as Urbana or Cross where you can hear many well-known speakers, authors, pastors, and missionaries along with thousands of other missions-minded students. Sometimes large Christian universities will hold missions conferences as well, like Biola or Moody Bible Institute.

12. Start Preparing Now
There is no better time to get involved in missions than now. Are you called to go? Start reading books and articles, start researching sending agencies, making connections, talking to missionaries, grounding yourself in the gospel, and sharing the good news with those around you...now. Are you called to stay? Start supporting and encouraging those who are going, start sharing your faith, getting involved with a local church, praying intentionally, and giving generously. Whether you stay or go, use your money and resources wisely so you can use what God's given you to have the maximum impact they can on the kingdom.

College is not an excuse to put your responsibilities as a Christian on hold. It's important to view these 4+ years with an eternal perspective in mind: we are the body of Christ, we are his ambassadors, we are called to make disciples. While college is a time of preparation, it is also a time of unique ministry opportunity. So how will you be faithful to the Great Commission in college?

What others ideas do you have for being missions-minded as a college student? I'd love to hear your thoughts!