I live in one of the most unchurched areas of the USA. According to a Gallup poll, here in Washington State, we are only 31% religious. I am in a youth group, a Bible study, and a Christian homeschool co-op, but I am still searching for deeper teaching aimed at students. I have gifted teachers and I learn from each of these groups, but the focus is often on outreach. I see events online, but it is really hard to find youth conferences or events in my area I can attend. A few months ago, our house church was looking for new ways we could help our community. We decided to do a symposium for teens and young adults. Symposium is a Greek word that means “a meeting or conference for the discussion of some subject, especially a meeting at which several speakers talk on or discuss a topic before an audience.”
We decided to talk about worldview because how you view the world shapes how you see everything. Everyone has a worldview, even if they don’t think about it much. After working on it for a while we only had one speaker, so we decided we needed to call it a workshop. Our speaker graduated from a Bible College, teaches high school, works in youth ministry, and he also leads the Bible study that meets at my house every week. He worked with our group to practice, get feedback, and make changes to his sessions. One night after we finished our Bible study, he asked if we wanted to bring another speaker in. He wanted to make sure everyone knew he didn’t have to be the only speaker. No one had anyone else in mind, the next day we went to Mission ConneXion.
At Mission ConneXion we met many amazing people. One of the first booths we went to was Global Radio Outreach, they are a ministry reaching Muslims through internet radio stations and networks, in their native languages, all around the world. We told them about this blog and the class I’m putting together, they suggested that we talk with a ministry that had a booth two over from them called Redeeming the Nations.
Redeeming the Nations is a ministry that broadcasts by satellites to Muslim nations in Arabic and many other languages. We talked with the man sitting at the booth and told him about this blog and the class about persecuted Christians and missions I want to put together. We asked him if he would consider speaking at the class, he said one of them would come. We learned much from him quickly and then he introduced us to the founder and president of Redeeming the Nations. They invited us to attend an “Intro to Islam” class he was teaching during the conference. I am glad I was able to go to that workshop, it was very interesting. I learned that the worldwide population of Muslims is about 1.6 billion, between 6-9 million in the USA, and 70-80,000 in the Portland area. He really stressed the need to reach out and love Muslims. We need to love Muslims because they are made in the image of God too and Christ died for all of us. He used an acronym:
He also pointed out that there is a mission field here, in our own cities and towns. There is a mission field wherever there are people. Don’t just take people to church, take church to them. I know this is repeated often in church, but be the church.
A few days later my mom had the idea of asking them to come speak at the symposium. She wasn’t sure because it would take the symposium in a new direction. After much prayer and discussion, she contacted them. They said they would, but their schedule was very full and the only time they had open was the morning of the symposium. We hadn’t been sure which date to choose and finally settled on that date, which turned out to be the only spot they had open. God had a plan.
We were having a hard time coming up with a name for the symposium. Actually weren’t sure exactly what any of it looked like: we didn’t know where to hold it, what to call it, how to advertise it or any of the details like music and food. We just knew that God wanted us to do it. The whole process was like peeling an onion with God only revealing one layer at a time to us .
The name we decided on is Truly Rooted Ministries which came from Jeremiah 1:4-12.
4 The Lord gave me this message: 5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” 11 Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?” And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.” 12 And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching,[c] and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”
Before she went to bed one night, my mom had been praying for God to show us the name. She woke up early in the morning with the clear thought to look at an online Christian news app on her phone. She went there and browsed the sections, unsure which to choose. She chose the culture section because that is what we were going to talk about. As she scrolled the articles one stood out, it referenced a scripture that wasn’t familiar to her- Jeremiah 1:4-12.
After she looked it up and read it she was really excited. She got up to see who was awake. I was and so we sat on my bed and my mom read me the passage. We discussed what we thought it meant, then we started brain storming ideas. The two main points that stood out to us were “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” because one of the main goals of the symposium was to show teens they are not too young for God to use them. The second was the almond branch, we immediately started thinking about trees and the idea of having deep roots in Christ, along with the idea of uprooting lies.
The names we came up with at first were really bad. We were trying to come up with a name that had to do with trees, roots, rooted, planted, rooted deep, almonds, branches, growth, ect. My mom finally suggested Truly Rooted, being rooted in truth and rooting out untruth. I loved it right away. I love to do Bible studies, my big Christmas present two years ago was a giant Strong’s Concordance. I looked up “almond tree” and read all the passages, then I looked it up in the Bible Dictionary my Grandma gave me and then I reread all the passages again. I found that “almond tree” in Hebrew means: wakeful, wakefulness, God executing His plan/purpose, and the fulfilling of God’s plan. We thought the name fit, so we presented it to our house church and it became our name.
We decided our ministry would be Truly Rooted Ministries so if we do other events we can use that name. We worked through all of the challenges of organizing an event like this and it finally all came together. God directed us each step of the way and many people helped. The symposium was last weekend. It went really well, we weren’t sure how many people would show up, we only had five people that registered who were not part of our house church. We knew people would come who did not register, so we planned seats and food for around sixty, and sixty people came.
The founder of Redeeming the Nations came and spoke about Islam. One thing he said that left an impression on me was that the problem is not with the people, the problem is with the spiritual blinders. There is a difference between culture, religion, and people. God showed us what he could do with a small group of people, He showed us what could happen when we trusted Him. We are talking about taking the symposium to other churches in the area, and maybe rotating between different themes. We are still discussing it. It was amazing to see all the pieces come together, to look back and see how God was preparing each one of us. A year ago, I would’ve never thought I would have a blog, or be in a house church helping plan a symposium for sixty people we weren’t sure were going to come. God has shown me what He can do with a few people who trust Him.
Around the world, people face persecution just for sharing about Jesus. Here, where God put me, I can speak out freely and share the love and hope of JESUS. I don’t ever want to take that freedom for granted.
Habakkuk 3:19 New International Version (NIV)
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.