Reflections on Mission

Editor’s Note: Jacob Moorman is a member of River’s Edge Ministries, which regularly hosts and leads mission work locally in Maryland, through City Mission, and annually in other states through Cross Country Mission (CCM).

I am certainly no theologian, so I am merely sharing my reflections from our most recent venture into the mission field. I had the privilege of serving on a CCM trip this year after an F3 tornado left a miles long path of destruction through Clarksville, Tennessee, just a few weeks before Christmas 2023.

Friends from different denominations and different states joined us on the mission to Clarksville. And many people prayed for us from home. Saint Matthew’s Lutheran, a new mission partner from the Baltimore area, provided us with around 80 quilts which we were able to hand out to families. This often opened the door for more intentional conversation and prayer. Mission cannot be done without the support, prayer, and provision of the whole church. Mary and Ken Bates, leaders of the NALC Disaster Response team, paved the way for our ground crew. Members of The Way Baptist Church were gracious hosts, opening their doors to our group so we could serve more effectively.

And yet … despite my experience on other disaster response trips, the Lord taught me new things. I learned about humility (“ … judge not, lest ye be judged.” Matthew 7:1). I learned about His sovereignty (“ … not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9). And I learned about His love (“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34).

It can be easy to enter another person’s “mess” of life and assume you (I) can fix it. I think this is especially true in disaster zones. I am learning, but sometimes it is hard to admit that I cannot fix everything. The rebuilding process is done one house, one board, and one person at a time. This is often humbling. Even our experienced mission group could only do a minute amount of the work that needed to be accomplished in that hard hit area.

God Teaching Me: In disasters, the physical damage is only the beginning. Sometimes we have seen spiritual decay amidst the destruction, even neglect and pain that has clearly gone on for years … way before the hurricane, flood, or storm struck. It’s so easy to pre-judge when this occurs. But the Lord opened my eyes to a new reality this trip. I have often wondered, ‘Why do broken buildings, fallen trees, hard stories, and sorrowed people break my heart?’ I think the truth is … it is my story! I believe witnessing the physical brokenness after a disaster can reveal the spiritual brokenness in my own soul. Just like getting caught in a catastrophic storm, we are truly helpless in this world. We need help from outside ourselves. Perhaps that is why I feel mission is so important, it puts us in touch with Christ. We can begin to see with His eyes—not just the physical needs, but also the spiritual. External appearances do not guarantee that the soul has not experienced its own spiritual destruction.

Stories of His Love: While in Clarksville, we heard that a school had scheduled its Christmas program for Dec. 9th. It was to take place in a large auditorium which could hold 300+ people. However, the program was moved to an earlier day to accommodate some students who would be moving out of state. God’s sovereign grace was manifest when that very auditorium, which would have held dozens of families, was utterly destroyed when the tornado hit on the 9th of December. Amazing grace, indeed!  

I am astounded at the lovingkindness of our Lord. That despite the loss of material goods, He spared so many holy lives of people. What happened was a tragedy, but He worked it together for good and for life. We saw people with no hope, begin to find hope, as we shared our faith and the life of Christ with them. It’s amazing how acts of charity will show forth the love of Christ in a way that words cannot. “Serve one another … ” (Galatians 5:13) Perhaps, in this, we see the truth and power of the Word taking on flesh in our own lives. Christ entered into our messy and broken world—through His incarnation, death, and resurrection Jesus met us in our darkest hour, healed our souls, and fully revealed His marvelous light … the Way of Salvation.

His Mercy: I had the privilege of working on a house which still had a lot of debris in the backyard. In conversation with the owner, I learned that they were present as the tornado came through. The next-door neighbors were home as well. After receiving a tour of the sacred space where their neighbor had lived, I learned that the neighbor, with two other adults and a child, crowded into the bathroom for shelter … Looking at the house it was easy to see that the bathroom was the only room left standing—all others were torn off and even the roof was mostly blown apart! That family was spared. God’s mercy was truly prevalent.

When I see the path of destruction left in the wake of a tornado (or other ‘storms’), it reveals a greater truth. Homes in shambles. People in shock. Tragic death and loss of what was once good. There’s no way to go back, and perhaps that’s the hardest part of the suffering in this world. We must move on. This storm humbled me. Witnessing the vast devastation put me in touch with the devastation of my own soul. It made me realize how much I need Him. It brought to light the spiritual reality that Christ truly is the only One who can heal and restore. While the team worked, we also saw the Holy Spirit work in the lives of those we served. In this same serving, I believe He healed my own soul. Perhaps that is why St. Paul implores us, “Let us not grow weary of doing good…” (Galatians 6:9)

Christ certainly met us on the road to Clarksville this year. I hope that you have a similar opportunity to join in Christ’s sacrificial love by stepping into the brokenness of the world and sharing His Light with those you encounter. May our souls find greater healing as we dare to immerse our very lives in the mission field.

Photographs courtesy of Teresa Dubyoski.

Our Thursday Night Group: The Lord Can Do This Anywhere

Editor’s Note: Jacob Moorman is a student and a tax preparer with plans to attend seminary after graduation. This is his second article for CORE. Click here to read his first article.

Recently, I was honored to be asked to write about River’s Edge Ministries’ (REM) young adult Bible study and outreach group. I believe my generation is asking two questions: “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose?” Answering these questions together as a group has been key to our spiritual growth.

I decided to share the backstory of how we formed, what we do, how we have grown, and where we are headed. We began with God’s grace and promise, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20, RSV)

From a personal perspective, our “group” began over four years ago at a local IHOP restaurant. Fresh out of high school, my good friend Ben and I felt a little unsure of what to do next in our lives. During the summer of 2016 we both took jobs in construction and we both had friends heading off in various directions. Some moved and some, like us, stayed behind. We noticed a significant void in our lives and in the lives of many around us. We couldn’t find a strong young adult Bible study or community gathering taking place in our area. There were high school groups, but we had phased out of that. There were groups for couples, groups for the married, but the twenty to thirtyish age group seemed relatively overlooked, at least in our area. So the two of us decided to start meeting every Monday evening at IHOP. We resolved to study God’s Word together and be intentional in prayer. That first summer we read through the Book of Acts.

We met there so often we became regulars. We befriended the waiters and waitresses. It was a special time and a memory I hold dear. We began to talk about revival and envision what the Lord was doing and what He would do one day. Our yearning to see unity in the Body of Christ was a big part of those initial conversations. We then began to talk about reaching out to our peers who hail from many different denominations. The Lord lit a fire under us! He helped us lay a framework — what seemed to us to be a good model for study. I can remember one specific moment in the parking lot when Ben said something along the lines of “This is where revival begins.” He was right.

While Ben and I were meeting and talking about all these things, ironically my dad and younger brother also felt prompted by the Lord to launch a young adult group; they, too, saw that there was a great need for a post-high school group. So, together we officially launched the Bible study in 2017. My father was integral in its structure and form. Our goal was to be strongly grounded in the Word, Christ-centered, Kingdom-oriented, and mission-focused. Clearly, our backbone is Lutheran, but our young adults come from many different denominational backgrounds. We genuinely wanted to witness and experience “His Kingdom come, and His Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

REM was not designed to be a regular Sunday morning church. Part of our vision is calling the Church to be His Church for such a time as this, with a primary focus on discipling and equipping God’s people so they may be sent out into the world. We actively seek to work with other churches and reach across the denominational divide for the sake of the Kingdom, yet simultaneously retain our Lutheran identity and orthodoxy. We do our best to seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and strive for unity in Christ. It is time for the church to live out the prayer of John 17, when Christ prayed for us, His church, and His unblemished Bride:

“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20-23, RSV)

We need unity in these difficult, divided times. How can the church be effective in evangelism if it is just as divided as the world? Our group is a small scale “experiment” of this unity. We all come from very different backgrounds: Lutheran, Catholic, Nazarene, Baptist, Presbyterian, Non-denominational, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Anglican and others.

My dad helped design and establish our foundational studies. We began with a solid first course of study called Alpha. It was extremely helpful in grounding us in the basic tenets of our  faith while fostering an environment in which the Spirit can move easily. The first book we studied was Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If you’re familiar with Bonhoeffer, you will know he was very much about living in community but not in isolation as the Body of Christ. He faced great evil, like the evil we see today. In the midst of this, he remained steadfast. Life Together is a great study in how to be the Church. Next, we studied 1 and 2 Peter, then many other books/letters of the Bible.

Our typical Thursday night flow is fellowship, meal, worship and study. We always end in prayer. We ask for prayer requests. We encourage and pray for each other.

I am amazed to look back and see what the Lord did with such humble beginnings. The “Thursday Night Group” exists because of God’s sovereign leading — not our exceptionally great leadership or dynamic teaching. It’s not about being super high tech or having spectacular multi-media presentations, etc. In other words, the Lord can do this anywhere.

So, how did this happen? The Lord’s moving “in and through” the prayer and the fellowship of a few. The Lord gave us a vision. We wrote it down, as my father often quotes from Habakkuk, “And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it …” (RSV) Once the idea formed, we had to take action. Practically speaking, we had to start reaching out to people. We reached friends first. From there, it took patience, persistence, and perseverance. In our non-committal culture, it is too easy to avoid groups and events. Gathering this group together involved texting people individually (and consistently) many times. It took “in person” communication and phone conversations. It required countless group texts to even begin to build a base. People came and went, especially during the first two years, so I was constantly adapting. I learned that this is what it means to be organic and fluid in mission work.  

We currently average anywhere from 10 to 15 young adults every week. We’ve had over 30, maybe upwards of 40 young adults involved with the group over the span of 3 years. Prepare for the ‘ebb and flow’ of doing life together! We have experienced seasons of growth as well as decline … and then regrowth. In the beginning, there were many times we would only have 2 or 3 — discouraging! But we kept at it. We peaked one summer averaging 15-20, then our numbers dropped as people went back to school. When we went down to 5 or less, I was again discouraged. It was then that the Lord stirred me up with these words, “Why do you have this study?” The answer was to glorify and honor Him! Therefore, if He is present and He is glorified, then it is worth it — whether you have 3 or 300.

Oddly enough, we are currently about halfway through studying the Book of Acts again. This is incredibly helpful as we are facing difficult and disconcerting days. This time we have been very intentional in inviting many pastors/leaders from a variety of denominational backgrounds to guide us through the Book of Acts. I have worked directly with my dad in connecting with these invaluable missional partners and have had only positive experiences. It has taught all of us to respect and stand under the umbrella of the previous generations’ wisdom and teaching. The Holy Spirit has taught us a deeper love for His Kingdom and a greater appreciation for the larger Church by introducing us to the different strengths that come from a variety of denominations within the Body.

In years past, REM has done mission outreach to Baltimore and Frederick, Maryland. We’d like to do more of that, but we ran into some obstacles because of COVID lockdown measures. But over the winter we made blankets for the homeless. We also gathered some funds to purchase items from Childfund’s Real Gifts Catalog, an organization which provides families in need with farm animals and clean water. We recently connected with someone at the Frederick Rescue Mission who encouraged us with new ideas on how we can serve as we wait for things to reopen. We are excited about these possibilities and look forward to growing as a community of faith.

We also held a night of prayer and worship on the night of the presidential election. It was a powerful time of communal worship and coming together to seek the Lord’s face for the future of our nation. We are still praying and believe that revival is coming to America and that our nation will begin to seek the face of Christ, starting with individuals and small groups. We’ve been inspired as we read through the Book of Acts — for such a time as this — to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be the Church and to be the hands and feet of Christ. How can we actively make a difference during this time? How can we better be light and salt to those around us? These are challenging questions at any time, but especially now when tensions run high.

Our prayer as a young adult group is that we would have a clear vision of what God wants to do during this time. We pray for an extra measure of grace so that He would fill us with courage, passion, and humility so we can join Him where he is already working. Our hope is that we will see the Spirit move in a powerful way across denominational lines by bringing believers together from all types of backgrounds in His name.  May He call the remnant of His people to unite in America and the world.

I have discovered that it’s not easy to faithfully document a movement of God. I hope these words encourage you to simply step into it, however small that step may seem. Clearly, this movement is God’s not ours. Begin to gather with two or more around His Word and watch to see what God does. I sincerely believe that what we’ve done can be replicated around the nation. My prayer is the Church would arise. I pray each of us would “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5) where He leads … “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25) May the Peace of Christ rest on you as we share this life together. Amen.

This Crisis Calls for Unity in Christ

Editor’s Note: Jacob Moorman is 22 years old and hails from Mt. Airy, MD. Jacob is finishing a business management degree and plans to attend seminary. He is a member of the NALC’s River’s Edge Ministries pastored by K. Craig Moorman. We are delighted that one of our future seminarians is thinking and writing so passionately. We are honored to publish his reflections, and look forward to his faithful leadership in the Church for many years to come.

Just after the protesting and rioting began after the death of George Floyd, my father asked me, “Jacob, if you were to preach tomorrow, what would you say?” This is how I answered:

I would preach the Gospel. I would preach that we, apart from Christ, are indeed dead in sin. I would say Christ’s scandalous, unfathomable, incredible love is most evident when shown in situations like this. With death, riots, looting, violence, anger, and vehement hate; the only response we should have is that which Christ had. For Christ says ‘… love thine enemies. Pray for them.’ On the cross, His love was magnified as He said, ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do.’ He died for us while we were yet sinners. He died for us while we were His enemies. There’s talk of race war. There’s talk of division. It is a lie, or it ought to be [revealed as such] in the Church. It is a demonic onslaught meant to divide and divert from the true Gospel. We, as the Church, are bound up in Christ. We are One in and by His Spirit. We should pray for our enemies. We should love our enemies. But, above all else, we should preach the Good News unashamedly, boldly, unwaveringly, and continuously. The only division from God is the division of Good and evil, Light and dark. His word pierces as a sword through sinew. It cuts deeply and definitively. It separates. For God alone brings division – the division is a choice to die with Him or to die apart from Him. The difference between the two is the one who dies apart dies for good. The one who dies with Him rises with him. Seek first the Kingdom

Jacob Moorman


More recently I felt prompted to challenge the church in its response to this crisis, especially the leaders in the church: 

Our nation is in deep trouble. I fear we are ready to abandon Christ. We are a tattered flag only threads away from being loosed from our foundation, Jesus, the Living God. 

“Unity!” shout church leaders. “Stand together for the greater good.” What good is it to stand apart from Christ? We cannot shout for justice without holding the Word of God in its rightful place—Above all things.

Unity is only found in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We are living in the most dangerous time this country has ever seen, and potentially the world. The Lord is, and always will be, our only hope. Unity without Christ is folly. Justice without The Righteous Judge is futile. Peace without The Prince of Peace is chaos. Life without Christ is death. 

There is a ripe harvest. People are hurting. There is never a wrong time to preach the Gospel, and there is never a better time to preach the Gospel than now. (Matt. 9:35-38)

Political Stand

But I’ve seen more church leaders take a political stand than one that stands on the Word and proclaims the Gospel. A Gospel that calls out sin. One that calls for repentance. One that glorifies God.

We must not do what men desire us to do. (Gal. 1:10) Our reason, our motive matters. If we are seeking to be honored and applauded by men and women, we ought to fear the Living God and seek repentance. If we are seeking to honor our Heavenly Father, we have no need to fear. (1 Thess. 2:4) (Col. 3:23, 24)

No doubt racism is wicked. No doubt needless death is horrendous. At the same time, the burning of buildings is terrible. And killing more people is wrong. We cannot justify or condone or stand with these heinous acts. Evil cannot be answered by evil. (Romans 12:17) For that we cannot stand silent. We must address the sin behind these matters—any other response will be fruitless!

We are all sinners in desperate need of a Savior. Again, we cannot come together in unity without Jesus Christ at the center.

There is great evil shouting from the rooftops. Anger. Fear. Racism. Hate. Murder. Riots. Looting. There is a greater mind (Satan) behind this pandemic, this murder, this so-called race war, and the many responses thereafter. We must expose the darkness. Bring it to the Light … for everything brought to the Light is no longer darkness but light. (Eph. 5:11-14)

This push for “unity” is indeed demonic. It is one that pushes peace yet incites violence. One that says speak-up yet silences any alternative view. It is a move to push for unity without Christ. A destructive and dangerous plan by the enemy that I fear a lot of church leaders are falling in line with. They are deceived by the call for this false unity and fail to see or expose the evil behind it.

We must call out evil when we see it. We must count the cost of what it means to be a follower of Christ. We must be willing to take up our cross. We must be willing to die for Christ. We must be willing to speak the Gospel even if opposed and unpopular. We must give up all things to receive the one thing that matters … Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Jesus came so that we may have life. (John 10:10) We can be set free from sin! Lust, hate, sexual immorality, violence, anger, bitterness, licentiousness, debauchery, drunkenness—none of these have a place in the Kingdom. (Gal. 5:21) They were nailed to the cross and are dead in the grave for those alive in Christ. (Gal. 5:24)

When we die with Christ, we are dead to sin, wholly. No one who practices such as these will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Praise God He made a way. He is merciful and He is gracious. He is a loving Father. He died my death to give me life. He did the same for you. 

Time is growing short. Judgment will come when the Ancient of Days calls for the trumpets to sound. We will all answer to the one true Judge on that great and terrible and holy and marvelous day. But there is still time to proclaim the Gospel and heed the Good Shepherd’s call. The one who is marked by the blood of the Lamb will stand before him, guiltless. But the one who is marked by any other name, but that of Christ, will be cast out from His presence.

Yet, He is still loving. He is still gracious. He is mighty to save. He is the soon-coming King who is already on the throne. There is still time to proclaim the Gospel and heed the Good Shepherd’s call. God, the Holy One of Israel, came in the flesh and died so that we may walk in purity; that we may walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control … that we may walk by the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16, 25)

Now I must ask, if we as His people walk in such things, how can we stand in unity with sin and movements that condone and encourage sin? The only true unity that can come is that of and in the body of Christ. We cannot walk in unity with Christ and sin. We, the Church, cannot walk in unity with the world. We are in the world but not of it. Unity is only found in Christ Jesus our Lord. We should not be hoping for tomorrow on earth, we should be hoping for eternity in heaven. Our hope is in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and His coming again. Praise be to the One. Praise be the great I Am. All honor and glory belong to God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth. He will ever be glorified. May His peace be upon you.

One in Christ

“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:25-28)