The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step - Lao Tzu

The month of July is an Anniversary month. I rejoice in being re-appointed to serve as the Lead Pastor for Rome First. This year begins a seventh year of shared ministry. I am thankful for the privilege and joy to serve among the caring, compassionate, innovative and thoughtful people of Rome First. This Year holds much promise and possibility as together we seek to follow God’s Lead and lead others to follow God’s by Loving God, Loving People and Serving the World.

This year also marks 30 years of wedded bliss to my lovely, talented and amazing bride, Denise Cheek Brown. She is my most ardent cheerleader, confidant, process consultant, fact checker, proof reader, truth teller, and Best Friend. Every day, I offer a prayer of thanksgiving for her. I have been changed for the better because I know her. She knows me better than I know myself and she STILL Loves me! :) Denise, I Love you more than Yesterday – But, Not as Much as Tomorrow! Happy Anniversary to the Love of my Life – My Angel of Music!

Anniversaries can be joyous, evoking great memories of love and happy times, and others auspiciously notable, evoking sorrow and tears. Tiananmen Square consists of 109 acres in the heart of Beijing, China. Ironically, the name means “Gate of Heavenly Peace.” First constructed in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, it was the entrance to the Imperial City and the Forbidden City (the homes of emperors and their households for almost five hundred years).

Thirty Years ago in 1989, weeks of pro-democracy protests led to demonstrations by more than a million people in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese government ordered its military to reclaim the area. Troops reached the square around 1 a.m., leading to hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests. An official death toll has never been released. Several dozen people were later executed for their parts in the demonstrations. Mention of the massacre is banned in China still today. Yet, the incident in Tiananmen Square was the catalyst for the great awakening of the hearts and souls of the Chinese people.

I mention the anniversary of Tiananmen Square to frame a paradigm and to pose a question. The powers of this world seek to “control and direct” the minds and actions of people using coercion, force and threats of death. Yet, the hearts and souls of the Chinese people yearn for the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Chinese Christianity experienced “spectacular growth” over the thirty years after Tiananmen and report that “there could be well over 100 million Chinese Christians.” It is believed that China could have nearly 250 million Christians by 2030. By contrast, the Communist Party numbers ninety million.

Love Wins…Force fails! The Love of God invites us to pray for the persecuted church! As we remember the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, let’s focus on the spiritual war being waged for the souls of more than a billion Chinese people. Just as we are to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), so we are to pray for those who are being persecuted (Hebrews 13:3).

Please pray for persecuted Chinese believers to be protected and sustained by God (Psalm 46:1). Pray for them to experience “the hope to which he has called you [and] the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18) We pray for one another, for our Sisters and Brothers in China. We join our prayers with believers all around the World seeking the Kingdom of God to be established in the hearts and lives of ALL people.

Anniversaries mark special places in time and provide an opportunity to reflect and remember, as well as a look forward to consider all the promise and possibility the future holds. What dreams have we yet to realize? What goals have we yet to set and achieve? What new ways will we seek and implement to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Thirty Years from now how will the members of Rome First view the work we have done to build a Christian Community? In July of 2020 what milestones will we celebrate?

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.” ~ Lao Tzu

Let’s dream BIG and trust that as we seek to follow God’s Lead in Loving ALL as Children of God and as Brothers and Sisters of Christ, we will seek to lead others to Follow God by Loving God, Loving People and Serving the World.

Robert ><>