54:01 · May 2, 2023
Join Jim Lovelady as he speaks with Emily Shrader, a Serge mobilization recruiter, who served overseas for over a decade. Emily shares what it was like to be on the field during the global pandemic, how Jesus uses disruptions in our lives to draw us out of our comfort zones, and how His epic authority empowers us to take risks in advancing His kingdom both near and far.
Join Jim Lovelady as he speaks with Emily Shrader, a Serge mobilization recruiter, who served overseas for over a decade. Emily shares what it was like to be on the field during the global pandemic, how Jesus uses disruptions in our lives to draw us out of our comfort zones, and how His epic authority empowers us to take risks in advancing His kingdom both near and far.
Thank you for listening! If you found this conversation encouraging or helpful, please share this episode with your friends and loved ones. Or please leave us a review—it really helps!
Our guest for this episode was Emily Shrader. This episode was hosted by Jim Lovelady. Production by Anna Madsen and Sunny Chi. Music by Tommy Leahy.
𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒚 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 is produced by SERGE, an international missions agency that sends and cares for missionaries and develops gospel-centered programs and resources for ongoing spiritual renewal. Learn more and get involved at serge.org.
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Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the Grace at the Fray—a podcast that explores the many dimensions of God’s grace that we find at the frayed edges of life. Come explore how God’s grace works to renew your life and send you on mission in His Kingdom.
Jim Lovelady 00:24 Hello, beloved! Welcome to Episode 9 of Grace at the Fray, where we explore God’s grace in the frayed edges of life. Well, today, my guest is Emily Shrader. She and her family served with Serge overseas for over a decade. And Emily is now a recruiter with Serge’s mobilization team.
Okay, let me give you a fair warning. If you’ve been feeling God’s call to mission work, and you’ve been ignoring that call, do not, I repeat, do not listen to this episode. This may be the moment when the Holy Spirit grabs you by the scruff of the neck and compels you to go to serge.org/go and begin a fantastic adventure.
Or maybe you want more out of life because you’ve been longing to be plucked out from under the pile of your existential crisis. And maybe you’re drowning in the cultural malaise, the crisis of authority, governments, and religion, and all the institutions that have been letting us down since the pandemic revealed that nothing is what we thought it was. If you want more out of life, keep listening. Because we’re going to look at that good old fashioned Great Commission and see how Jesus’s authority reframes all of these existential crises, the malaise or whatever meaninglessness you may be struggling with.
Emily’s a mover, and she wants to connect you with what God is doing in His Kingdom. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Jim Lovelady 01:53 I really should have worn different contacts because…
Emily Shrader 01:56 Do you want me to read it?
Jim Lovelady 01:57 No. I mean, I don’t know. We’ll see. But it is funny because that’s what I do now. At my house, I have a little nook, my little chair with all the books around it and everything. And I was sitting there and had a book three inches from my face. Lori walks through the living room; she’s like, “Look at yourself.” And I was like, “What? Oh…”
Emily Shrader 02:22 Readers down on your nose, you know?
Jim Lovelady 02:24 Great. Great. It’s time for that.
Emily Shrader 02:28 For me, too. For me, too.
Jim Lovelady 02:29 Oh, well. So who are you? And where are you from? What’s going on? We’re going to talk about the Great Commission, but I suppose you should introduce yourself first.
Emily Shrader 02:38 Yeah, my name is Emily Shrader, and I am currently working with our organization as a recruiter and in our Renewal department. But before that, my husband and I were fielded in a secure location for a long time—a few terms. We just came back to the States recently, and now we are living in North Carolina, where my husband is a chaplain for the Air Force. And I continue to work with Serge remotely, but I love it when I get to come up here. So that’s it.
Jim Lovelady 03:19 Yeah. Yeah. How long have you been a recruiter?
Emily Shrader 03:25 Just two years.
Jim Lovelady 03:26 Okay. But I love that when we start talking about these things, you get that look in your eye where I know why you’re a recruiter. So I’m looking forward to this conversation. I am a little bit scared that you might recruit me.
Emily Shrader 03:40 It’s a possibility.
Jim Lovelady 03:41 It’s a possibility.
Emily Shrader 03:42 Yeah. So buckle up.
Jim Lovelady 03:43 Right.
Emily Shrader 03:44 Sorry, Lori, wherever you are.
Jim Lovelady 03:46 Wherever we’re going to end up—it’s probably all the places we swore we would never go.
Emily Shrader 03:51 Well, yes, that happened to me. So there you go.
Jim Lovelady 03:54 Yeah. So what’s your story?
Emily Shrader 03:56 Well, our story is, we got married; we were both ministry-minded. My husband’s an ordained pastor. We did some inner city church ministry when we were first married. While he was in seminary, he was really moved towards international mission. And I had always kind of just grown up in the church with a heart for mission. But it was a bumpy road all along the way. We thought maybe we’d go to Southeast Asia, and we went and visited. He loved it, and I hated it. So we went to marriage counseling, which is what a lot of people do. And then we decided to chill for a bit, and then I actually took a course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.
Jim Lovelady 04:40 Yeah. Been there and done that.
Emily Shrader 04:41 Yeah. And that wrecked me.
Jim Lovelady 04:43 What was it that wrecked you about it?
Emily Shrader 04:45 Statistics. One in three people in the world are Muslim, and one in 12 missionaries go to Muslims. And I was like, “Hm. That doesn’t seem right.” I think there’s a whole bunch of reasons, and if we were talking about a theology of mission and missiology, we could go down that road. But the fact is, God used that class at that time to really move my heart. And my husband was just like, “Sweet!” when I came home and said, “It’s time to go.” And his response was, “Yes, finally.” So he got online and looked for reformed sending agencies and found World Harvest Mission. And he looked at the book list, and he loved the book list. We called and had a conversation with my colleague, Dan Macha, who I get to work with now as a recruiter, but this was years ago, like, a really long time ago. So fun. And then, God just kind of took us from there. But for me, my heart attitude was, “Alright, Lord. You’re calling me to go to the Muslim world. But I’m not going to a Muslim country because that would be irresponsible to raise children in a Muslim country.” I mean, so ridiculous.
Jim Lovelady 05:54 Here’s the deal. Here’s the deal, God.
Emily Shrader 05:57 I’ll go this far, but no further. And so we did a site visit to a field that was working in Europe with immigrants. And we went there, we thought, “Yeah, we could totally do this.” And then we went to the actual country of the immigrants they were working with. And immediately, when I stepped off the transportation, I was like, “There’s no way I can do this.”
Jim Lovelady 06:21 Oh, really?
Emily Shrader 06:22 Yes. And then, after being there for five days, the thing that really moved us both was we did a homestay with a family. And we were just like, “Why would we go there when we could be here? Why would we go there to pound the pavement when we could be here and just be among these people?”
Jim Lovelady 06:43 So you stepped off the taxi, or whatever it was, and you’re like, “There’s no way I could do this.” You stepped back on the taxi, and you’re like, “There’s no way I cannot do this.”
Emily Shrader 06:51 That’s exactly it. That was exactly it. It was really kind of crazy. The first time, when we were looking at going to Southeast Asia, it was a train wreck. So when we started looking again, there was a little bit of hesitancy.
Jim Lovelady 07:03 Gun-shy.
Emily Shrader 07:04 In our marriage, even. When some people asked, “What do you want us to pray for?” our response was, “Just pray for unity. Don’t pray about where we’re going to come or go; just pray that we agree on whatever it is.” The Lord totally answered that prayer. We both came to the realization that—it was here—separately. And then when we sat down together with the people who ended up being our teammates and precious friends, at that moment, it was like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, you too?” And then the rest was history.
Jim Lovelady 07:36 So tell me about what it was like being over there during the pandemic. You quarantined in country?
Emily Shrader 07:44 Yeah. We quarantined in country. And you know, nobody really knew what was coming. Right? Like, you’re getting news from China, and then you’re getting news like, “Oh, Italy is a real hotspot.”
Jim Lovelady 07:55 And we’re going to cancel school for a couple of weeks.
Emily Shrader 07:56 Yeah, right, right. Yeah. Like, “Oh, this could really be a little bit disruptive.” And for us, I think the way that kind of manifested was—because we were in a country where schooling options got more and more limited as our kids progressed—we chose the boarding school option for high school. And so our oldest was actually in boarding school.
Jim Lovelady 08:17 Far, far away in boarding school.
Emily Shrader 08:19 Well, a flight away. But it was always, for me, there was always a little bit of reassurance that she was only a flight away. And so it was coming up, you know, it was like March, right? So it’s coming up on spring break. And our team leader called us and said, “Hey, we think you need to get your daughter home to country before things close down.” We were like, “Okay,” and so we called her. And she’s older, high school age, so we called her and talked to her about it. We said, “Hey, this could be a couple of weeks.”
Jim Lovelady 08:49 Right? I have a friend who is a nurse. In January, we were hanging out, and he said, “This is going to change the world.” And I was like, “Whatever, whatever.” Everybody around him was like, “Oh, my gosh, conspiracy theory.”
Emily Shrader 09:06 No, we didn’t see her again till July.
Jim Lovelady 09:08 Oh, my goodness.
Emily Shrader 09:09 Yeah. So I mean, that’s a long time to be separated from your adolescent kid. It was not of the deal; making all these deals with God, that was not part of the deal. And not to mention, just seeing things happen around us that were tragic and really hard, and people were suffering. I hate to say this, but it’s true, and it’s something that has always stuck with me as someone who was in the field in a hard place that your blue passport can get you out of there.
Jim Lovelady 09:39 Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Emily Shrader 09:40 Like if things get really rough, there’s always the eject button. You can always, there’s always that option, whereas, for people who live there, that’s not an option. And then, all of a sudden, that option was taken away.
Jim Lovelady 09:56 Ooh, that’s interesting. Now we’re all really the same.
Emily Shrader 10:00 Now we are all really the same. Now I am truly in His hand.
Jim Lovelady 10:06 We’re in it with you guys.
Emly Shrader 10:07 There’s no like, “I’m just going to go back to America and ride this out.” Nope. Not happening.
Jim Lovelady 10:13 I’ve seen a lot of people be resentful of missionaries because they’ll hold really tightly to that as their security, as their hope.
Emily Shrader 10:23 That’s not the hope.
Jim Lovelady 10:24 Yeah. And so for the Lord to go, “Hey, let’s remove that because that’s preventing a certain kind of intimacy.” Well, you know, not necessarily in your story, but, in general, this thing where an American can have an eject button. We’re in it with you.
Emily Shrader 10:45 We’re here.
Jim Lovelady 10:46 So what did that do?
Emily Shrader 10:48 Well, like I said, it made me more of a praying person, especially for my daughter. Like there’s this real kind of release of any sense of control, and it’s really kind of a fluke anyway, like, we’re not really in control. But we have these ideas that we’re in control, and that helps us to function. And so that was taken away. And so it was like, “Oh no, really, I am entrusting my daughter to you, Lord, no matter what happens.” That was super hard. The other thing was that we celebrated Easter that year. And Easter is by far one of my favorite—it’s my favorite time of year. And it’s my favorite holiday.
Jim Lovelady 11:31 Happy Easter, by the way.
Emily Shrader 11:33 Yeah, He’s risen.
Jim Lovelady 11:34 Truly.
Emily Shrader 11:34 Right? Fifty days of celebrating Easter. I’m glad we get to do that. That makes me so happy. So yeah, Easter rolls around, and we’re all in lockdown. And Serge put together an Easter service that we all got to watch together. And I will tell you what – we watched it and wept. My kids, gosh, how old were they then? My ten-year-old and my 15-year-old—all of us were just weeping. We were just really touched by the hope that was put out in that presentation. I got to see Scotty Smith, actually, who was one of the speakers in that. He’s a pastor down in Nashville. I got to go up to him and just be like, “You just have no idea the impact that whole service had on me.” He had all sorts of musicians coming on, like Andrew Peterson, and they would all say, “Hey, Serge!” Andrew Peterson, my son loves his Wingfeather Saga, and he said, “Hey, Serge, I’m just letting you know I’m with you.” And my son was like, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe he knows we’re here!” It was really special. I think there was just this sense of clinging to Jesus that we hadn’t experienced before that, and needing to hope in something, like, “Is this ever going to stop? Are the borders ever going to open up again to bring our daughter back to the country?” Bringing our daughter back to our country—there was a point where we could do that, but it would have meant that she would have had to quarantine in a hotel that the government assigned to her, by herself, as a 16-year-old.
Jim Lovelady 13:11 Oh, wow.
Emily Shrader 13:12 And we were like, “Absolutely not.” It’s too risky. So she ended up coming back to the States sooner than us. And then eventually, the day before the borders opened up, we flew back to reunite as a family. It was a miracle.
Jim Lovelady 13:29 Wow. So in that context, and out of that, you became a recruiter?
Emily Shrader 13:35 Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. As we’ve been talking about all this calling business, I’ve been thinking and reflecting on my own story and what the pandemic did for many of us. We got kind of put in a global timeout. That’s what I like to say. It was like, “Everybody stay in and think about your life.” Only one person can leave, you know, all that business.
Jim Lovelady 14:00 It was crazy.
Emily Shrader 14:01 It was. It was crazy. The one thing that was interesting—I will tell the story quickly—one thing that was interesting was you weren’t really allowed out and about unless you were shopping. And so what you could do is you could put some bread in a bag and put it on your bike handle. And my husband, who was a pastor, would go do pastoral visits, and people would just think he was going…
Jim Lovelady 14:25 Buying bread
Emily Shrader 14:26 Buying bread. But some serious crises went on while we were there. And he was able to go and visit people.
Jim Lovelady 14:35 That was his ticket.
Emily Shrader 14:36 That was his ticket: the bread in the shopping bag on the bike handle. Nobody stopped him. “Oh, he’s getting bread. That’s legit.”
Jim Lovelady 14:45 Crazy. So it’s a global timeout. Everybody has to reevaluate.
Emily Shrader 14:50 Disruption leads to reevaluating. And our reevaluation… We were coming up on the cusp of a decision of whether or not to stay. Staying would have meant recommitting to building something new. And it would have meant another long-term stay. And our parents are aging, and our kids are starting college. And my husband had this opportunity to pursue the chaplaincy. And I’ve always actually—I’ve always had a heart for recruiting. It’s kind of like in my DNA.
Jim Lovelady 15:22 Oh, yeah. You start talking about it. I can’t wait for this. It’s already starting, that twinkle in your eye.
Emily Shrader 15:28 I mean, I’ve done some things with our company before, even when we were on the field, and it’s just like, yeah, let me talk to people about this. I really love it.
Jim Lovelady 15.39 So, recruit me.
Emily Shrader 15:44 Well, how was the pandemic for you?
Jim Lovelady 15:48 Well, interestingly enough, I was the worship director at a church. And so I had a blast making… I learned how to film and use cameras and all that stuff. So it was a huge time of creativity for me. Do you know how people talk about flow? I was in a flow state that year, in the zone making worship accessible to my people. It was really good.
Emily Shrader 16:25 I mean, I think it’s a great example of taking the thing that happened during the pandemic to you as an individual and saying, “Okay, now, which way am I going to go? What’s my direction now? Like, I’ve learned some things.” And, I think that if we sit and really think about it, everybody learned some things during the lockdown. And some things we learned were really helpful and have given us some things like, “Oh, man, I’m afraid of dying.” Right? Like fear of mortality. Huge. It really kicked in, didn’t it? Or, “I actually do like being around people.” Like the people who are sworn introverts are like, “Oh, no, wait, no. I could use some people in my life right now.” There are some different things that we learned about ourselves. And this was interesting: during the pandemic, our Go Forms, which is the form that people who are interested in… what’s the word I’m looking for?
Jim Lovelady 17:28 Exploring.
Emily Shrader 17:29 Yes, thank you, exploring going with Serge somewhere. They get online, and they fill out this Go Form. And it’s just very basic: What’s your name? Where are you from? And what’s your interest? What are you thinking about? And those went way up during the pandemic, especially with long-term recruiting. Now, we have different levels of recruiting: we have short-term teams; we have shorter-term experiences that come alongside teams; and then we have our long-term career missionaries. There are not as many people that are saying, “Oh, yes, sign me up to pack up my life and family to move to another country,” until God says, “Come, do something else.” But those went up, and it was really amazing. But our numbers didn’t go up.
Jim Lovelady 18:25 Yeah. When this moment that starts to cause everyone to rethink their lives happens, it’s not like everyone in the world went searching for the Go Form. But there are certain people, and there were a lot of people filling that thing out.
Emily Shrader 18:45 More than usual.
Jim Lovelady 18:46 Let’s sit back and just observe that. If I were talking to that person, I would say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Did you notice that you did that? Did you notice that a lot of people didn’t feel that that was where the Lord was calling them in this moment where we’re all reevaluating our lives? What am I doing with my life?” So many people shifted. So, so, so many people. Like, “I don’t have to do this anymore.” The great resignation wasn’t a great resignation. It was a great realization, where potential people who want to go on the field are like, “Well, maybe that little voice somewhere back there, maybe I should pay attention to that a little bit more.” So they go fill out a Go Form because they’re not comfortable, because they’re not… whatever it is.
Emily Shrader 19:39 Whatever it is, because God is calling them. But here’s the thing. Here’s the thing about it: the floodgates open. And in come people; in come appointments; in come work schedules; and in come—all the things that were taken away from us for this substantial amount of time come flooding back in. And they interrupted whatever it was that was happening. And that, for me, is so sad. What is it that’s keeping us from that curiosity that was piqued during that time of forced introspection or whatever it is? It’s getting… we’re losing it. We’re losing the window. And I’m like, “Let’s not lose the window. Let’s stop and think about this.” And one of the ways I think we can do that is by actually looking at the Great Commission.
Jim Lovelady 20:30 Yeah, I was thinking about how the curiosity would have needed to turn into courage. There is a moment when courage kicks in. “I didn’t have to anymore because things are opening up again.” Well, that courage comes from somewhere. Alright, enter in the authority of Christ and the Great Commission. So what does that look like?
Emily Shrader 21:07 Well, it’s funny because as a recruiter, we think a lot (as recruiters in general) about… And actually, I like also to say that we’re mobilizers. We’re not just recruiters.
Jim Lovelady 21:20 It’s not the recruiting team. It’s the mobilization team.
Emily Shrader 21:22 It is the mobilization team. And so, as I’ve been thinking about that, one of the things we talked about was who are we recruiting or mobilizing and how? How do we do that? And how do we connect with people? And so, there’s a lot of talk about Gen Z, millennials, Gen Z. This is the demographic we’re working with now. And so one of the assignments or one of the ideas that went out there was, “Hey, somebody rewrite the Great Commission for Gen Z.” And I was like, “Alright, well, I’ll take a stab at it.”
Jim Lovelady 21:56 Did you ask ChatGPT to do that?
Emily Shrader 21:58 No, no.
Jim Lovelady 21:59 We should totally ask ChatGPT to do that. Yeah. Continue.
Emily Shrader 22:03 So I sit down, and I’m thinking, because we’ve done a lot of reading, we’ve done a lot of talking and listening about who Gen Z is, and what motivates them and, you know, mentoring and all these sorts of things. And I’m like, “Okay. Rewrite the Great Commission.” And so I’m reading the Great Commission and reading it in different versions, like all this kind of stuff, and it just kind of hit me. You can’t rewrite the Great Commission. It kind of says what it says. But you can think about it, and you can interpret it, and you can apply it to your life today.
Jim Lovelady 22:44 Yeah. So that’s the big question. How do you apply the Great Commission to a post-pandemic world?
Emily Shrader 22:50 Yes, yes. How do you do that? Because I think that the switch that happened when everything started opening up again is that people became more risk-averse. It’s like a baby, right? You have this baby. And this baby is out of its swaddle, and it’s just kind of kicking. And it’s looking around. And then all of a sudden, the swaddle comes back, and you pop a pacifier in, and it’s like, “Oh, yeah, I’m comfy. I like this.” But maybe he doesn’t learn to crawl as fast or turn over as soon as he can. There’s this idea of “No. Let’s try not to let go of what was happening in our hearts. Let’s not be lulled back into this sense of security and comfort that comes from what we know. And let’s remember that God was doing something in my heart and my mind, but what He was doing, it’s risky.” And it’s the risk part that I think I really love to talk about. And I think the Great Commission helps us understand the risk more, informs us, and gives us faith to take the risk. Here’s the real thing about the Great Commission: People think it’s for everyone else. That’s a hard one. This wasn’t like Jesus with the three. This wasn’t Jesus huddled up with His best buds saying, “Hey, guys,”
Jim Lovelady 24:30 Here’s a little secret. Keep this hush-hush.
Emily Shrader 24:32 It wasn’t even with the 12. This was the last thing He said before He ascended to heaven. So that in and of itself is like, “Well, maybe we should pay attention to this thing.” This is what He left us with when He finished His earthly time. Okay. Let’s look at it. Let’s think about it.
Jim Lovelady 24:59 Well, I want to read Eugene Peterson, his version of this. I want you to tell me what you think about all this.
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave His charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (The Message, Matthew 28:18-20)
Emily Shrader 25:32 Drop the mic. Jesus drops the mic, and there He goes, right? And we’re all like, “Okay, what does that mean?” And here’s the thing: I was looking at a bunch of different translations of the Great Commission. And, The Message one did stand out to me because I think it took it and made it feel a little bit more accessible today because I think we’ve read it so many times in the more traditional translations.
Jim Lovelady 26:02 Yeah, like what I just did from memory.
Emily Shrader 26:04 Yeah, exactly. Everyone says, “Oh, yeah, I know what the Great Commission is.” But Eugene Peterson’s translation kind of puts some caveats in, and maybe we wouldn’t think about them if we just read it the other way. The first thing about it that I think is really important, it’s important in my life daily, actually, is to remember the actual authority of Jesus and what that is. And I think sometimes we skip ahead to the command before looking at what Jesus says about Himself before He gives the command. Right? And so there’s this idea: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” That’s what He says. And He doesn’t say, “Well, I’ve been given authority today to talk to you about this thing.” Or He doesn’t say, “I’ve been given some authority in the realm of this, this, and this.” He says, “No. All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” And then I start thinking about things like, “Okay, well, what is His authority? What does that mean?” Because I think that you can miss the richness of what he’s saying if you don’t reflect on what just happened over the past three years before His ascension. What are some of the things that He showed His authority over? I mean, I love it. I love the gospel of Mark. It’s just all about Jesus’s authority. And it starts out with His authority over nature, His authority over demons, and His authority over nature and creation. When He’s calming storms, He says, “Peace; be still.” Or His authority over death, sickness, and healing, just like this amazing authority that He had when He was here on Earth, is mind-blowing. It’s not like the authority that your principal has.
Jim Lovelady 28:07 So what are the implications of that for going? Because He starts with “All authority.”
Emily Shrader 28:14 Yeah, the implications are like, the first question is, “Have you given Him authority?”
Jim Lovelady 28:20 Yeah, nice. Yeah.
Emily Shrader 28:22 I mean, I think that in my own…
Jim Lovelady 28:24 Are we recognizing that authority? Nature does.
Emily Shrader 28:27 Right. The demons do. So who has authority in my life? And how do I even feel about authority? Maybe we have a chip on our shoulder about authority?
Jim Lovelady 28:40 Yeah. Oh, man. Well, it is another thing that the pandemic did: put us in a crisis of authority…
Emily Shrader 28:46 You can’t tell me what to do!
Jim Lovelady 28:48 Exactly. We really are left to fend for ourselves when it comes to authority nowadays. The way that the secular world offers good news—this is their good news—they say, “Hey, you are your own authority. Isn’t that cool?” And everyone’s like, initially, I mean, even my own heart goes, “That is the best.”
Emily Shrader 29:10 I’m awesome.
Jim Lovelady 29:11 Yeah. I’m awesome. Yeah, all authority is mine. And then moments later, when I have to figure that out, when I have to actually bring goodness and mercy into the world—if all authority was given to me—we’re just living in a world where we’re trying to figure that out. I don’t know what to do. And so it’s actually not good news…
Emily Shrader 29:36 It’s not.
Jim Lovelady 29:37 …that we are our own authority. It’s not good news that we are in a crisis of authority. But at the same time, we don’t want to acknowledge that Jesus has all authority over nature, over demons, and over our own hearts, because we’re afraid of being duped. Because we’ve been duped everywhere.
Emily Shrader 29:56 Well, that’s just it. There’s a double-edged sword because it’s like us being the boss, right? Well, that doesn’t work. But if we put our hope and faith in earthly authorities, they’re abusive. Not all; I mean, there’s a system of authority that God’s put in place, like parents over children. They’re good, but they are broken.
Jim Lovelady 30:17 And our suspicion is off the charts nowadays. Absolutely.
Emily Shrader 30:20 But Jesus, His authority is perfect and powerful and epic. That’s the word I like to talk about. That’s the word I use when I talk about Jesus because it’s epic authority. This is not an authority that… like it’s above and beyond everything else that you would even think about. And so the real question I ask as I’ve been thinking about this is, “Do I submit myself to the epic authority of Jesus?” So if I do submit myself to that, then I go on to what He says: all authority has been given. So there’s this command that follows that, right? And what’s the command? Go. Go out. Not “stay in.” And this is the one that I think is hilarious, and maybe I’m dating myself. But I have kids, and I do love a good kids’ movie, and there’s a movie, Home. You know Steve Martin? Is he not brilliant in that?
Jim Lovelady 31:18 He’s a genius.
Emily Shrader 31:19 But there’s a scene where Oh is in the freezer of like a 7-Eleven. And Tip, the little girl, has him locked in there because she’s terrified. And they’re talking to each other, and he says to her, “Can I come into the out now?” And she says, “No.” But it always cracks me up like, “Can I come into the out now?”
Jim Lovelady31:40 Going into the out.
Emily Shrader 31:41 Yeah, going into the out. Now, I think that is a really great picture of what Jesus is saying in this Great Commission.
Jim Lovelady 31:49 Get outside of yourself. Go into the out.
Emily Shrader 31:52 Yes. Go into the out. And what does that mean? And this is where I say, “Okay; if you ask me what that means, I might be compelled to say, ‘Well, there’s a media center working in Europe right now that is developing all sorts of things for the Muslim world. And so they’re working with and interviewing actual Muslim background believers. They’re creating content that’s really effective in bringing people to Christ. And they could really use someone with your skills, Jim…’”
Jim Lovelady 32:28 Oh, interesting.
Emily Shrader 32:30 …to do that.” They could! It could be like… you could just go and visit and see what they’re doing, and see if there’s any way that your experience with all of this production and things—if you could help with that. And maybe to go back and forth a bit. Or maybe you could just go there. I don’t know, but what might God be doing? Now, I’m going to get in trouble because Serge has asked you to do this podcast.
Jim Lovelady 32:56 Well, what prevents me from doing the podcast over there?
Emily Shrader 33:01 Right. Well, we can thank the pandemic for that, too, right? Because I work in North Carolina now.
Jim Lovelady 33:05 Exactly.
Emily Shrader 33:06 There are a lot of good things.
Jim Lovelady 33:08 And that’s one of a thousand opportunities you get to see. And so mobilizing means you see a need, you see an opportunity, and you see someone who has gotten the nudge. And, because the authority of Christ has given enough courage to follow Him into the next step of “Hey, so what could that look like? Oh, I’m scared…” But scared and courage kind of go together.
Emily Shrader 33:44 Well, yeah, I mean, you can’t have one without the other. Why do you need courage when something’s not scary? Or, if something’s not risky, you wouldn’t need courage. There’s this idea, as you keep reading the Great Commission, He says to go out. For some of us, that might mean going out into the world, like to the nations. For some people, it might mean, “Go out of your dorm room,” or “Go out of your office,” or “Go out of your front door.”
Jim Lovelady 34:18 Yeah, go out of your phone.
Emily Shrader 34:20 Go. Now you’re meddling.
Emily Shrader 34:25 Yeah, okay. No, I’m serious. Absolutely. Go out of your phone. But move! Move with the intent of bringing the light of Jesus with you wherever you’re going. And, he’s specific to say it’s baptizing and it’s teaching people His way. And so just to say that’s the command, and that is to go and be an ambassador for Jesus. But this authority piece, we have to come back around to it because here’s the kicker: how does He end His command? He says, “I’ll be with you.”
Jim Lovelady 35:05 Right. I’ll be with you as you do this day after day after day.
Emily Shrader 35:09 Yeah, right?
Jim Lovelady 35:11 So good.
Emily Shrader 35:12 It is so good. Like, this isn’t just a command for one big… it’s not an epic command for an epic moment. It’s an epic authority. But it’s an everyday command for every day.
Jim Lovelady 35:24 And this is participation. This is, “Come do this with me. And be with me.”
Emily Shrader 35:30 Here’s the way I like to think about that. My daughter, when we were living overseas, was in the local school system. For internationals, there was just not as much opportunity to do some things. And so when we came back to the States, one of the things that she did was she joined the basketball team. She’d never played basketball in her life, but she started playing. And she really hated games because games were just so stressful. She’d go out there, she didn’t really know all the rules super well, and all these people were watching. She would get the basketball and throw it really fast again; she would get it and pass it right away. But she always loved practice. She would come home from practice and say, “You know what I love about practice is that our coaches play with us. Our coaches are on the floor and on the court with us. And they’re playing with us. And they’re teaching us as they go, they’re shooting, and they’re passing. It’s so fun instead of having the coach on the sideline yelling things with all this pressure.”
Jim Lovelady 36:33 Oh, that’s so good.
Emily Shrader 36:36 She said, “It’s so much more enjoyable for me and learning this game and taking this risk.” But she did it. And she was like, “That’s the most fun for me.” And I thought about that. I thought, “Man, isn’t that just what Jesus is doing?” He says he’s inviting us like, “Come on. Let’s go. Let’s get in the game here. I’m not going to stand on the sidelines yelling at you, like, ‘You should have cut this way. Make the shot next time.’”
Jim Lovelady 37:00 This is a totally different game. Okay. It’s Easter. And Christ is risen. And that changed the game. So what life is like is like that practice. But that’s the game. The game is we are with Him day after day after day. Life is play now because He has risen indeed. Life is play.
Emily Shrader 37:26 And this idea, too—that our coach is our advocate. Our commander is our advocate, our defender. And that Jesus has the authority to forgive us because of what he’s done. And now, we don’t have to go in with this fear of failure because we have Jesus. He’s made a way for us. And even when we stumble, there’s this song by Need to Breathe that says, Just ’cause you’re guided by the light don’t mean you’ll make it every time, or something like that. We can look it up. But it’s this idea that we don’t have to be perfect or perform in a perfect way. No. Jesus is with us. And His authority, His epic authority, is what gives us the courage to move forward because he’s not there waiting to come down with a hammer…
Jim Lovelady 38:21 Absolutely.
Emily Shrader 38:21 …the minute we misstep, doubt, fear, or anything. No, he’s right there like, “Alright. Let’s move this way. Let’s do this.” And it’s like, “Oh…that’s different.”
Jim Lovelady 38:33 His authority is so victorious that it’s victorious even over every mess up, even over every Go Form that got filled out, and nothing happened after that. God’s grace is sufficient for those things. And His joy is undaunted, and His Kingdom is moving forward regardless. Don’t you want to participate with a God like that? So what are some of the opportunities that you see?
Emily Shrader 39:03 For us? With us?
Jim Lovelady 39:04 Yeah, with Serge. What are some of the things that you see? I mean, you already said what’s happening in Europe with a media team, which, you just went like bink, and you just threw that out there.
Emily Shrader 39:15 Well, you told me to recruit you.
Jim Lovelady 39:17 Well, you’re doing a good job.
Emily Shrader 39:18 Thank you.
Jim Lovelady 39:20 But what are some of the other opportunities? Some of those Go Forms—those people might be listening or watching, and it may just be like a quick reminder, “Hey, here’s an opportunity.” What’s happening? What’s the state of the world right now?
Emily Shrader 39:36 That’s a great question. And it’s an important question because we’re going to come full circle now back to the pandemic. Because what we’ve realized, and statistics speak to my heart, and numbers really can move people, but the reality is the poorer got poorer because of the pandemic. And so basically, the poorest parts of the world are within the 10/40 window, which is also the most unreached part of the world. They are really needy right now. Physically needy. The daily wage earners during the pandemic couldn’t leave their homes to go to work, no longer got paid, and couldn’t pay for food, medical, or things. I mean, people face that in America, too, so I don’t want to be painting this grim picture. But there is a reality that they didn’t have the same kind of relief that was offered or the same kind of systems.
Jim Lovelady 40:38 And you’re just showing all the other outs that people could go out to.
Emily Shrader 40:43 That’s right. So I think that one mistake people make is thinking they don’t have what it takes to be a missionary. So they’re not like doctors, missionaries, pastors, counselors, or things like that. But one of the things that is so exciting, especially when you’re talking about secure fields, which is what I, in particular, do the mobilization for, is that there are a lot of creative things going on. There are a lot of creative access businesses, and entrepreneurial kinds of things. A lot of people assume that there has to be this amazing giftedness that puts them there, whereas sometimes we just need hands and feet to come and help and work alongside people. We’ve got cafes all around the world doing amazing things to bring people, specifically women, sometimes children, out of the sex trade. And we teach them a skill: how to bake and make pastries and coffee. And so there’s this whole platform, but we still need people to help run the coffee shops. There’s an element of both: you’re doing discipleship, but you’re also sweeping the floor. So that’s one thing I would say is really important to remember: if you feel led in your heart to go to the nations, there’s a place for you.
Jim Lovelady 42:12 Yeah. And it’s funny because we do have this expectation. When I went on the field, I had that very expectation that it was just the next level in my professional super Christian development. And it’s like, “No, that is just not how this works.”
Emily Shrader 42:32 It keeps so many people from stepping out and being light in places that really just need transformative lives living among them. It’s pretty amazing what your influence as just a believer can do. You need to think about some of these places. I used to think about this where I lived that, you know, you go into a neighborhood and be like, “I wonder if anyone has ever prayed in the name of Jesus on the street before? We’re going to do it right now.”
Jim Lovelady 43:06 Absolutely.
Emily Shrader 43:07 You know, we’re going to pray in the name of Jesus and then we won’t have to wonder.
Jim Lovelady 43:11 Yeah, yeah. Thinking about “going into the out,” for me, it’s about living in suburban Philadelphia. My son’s on a soccer team. Has anyone ever prayed for those people on that soccer team? Has anyone ever prayed for the people in my daughter’s gymnastics coaching staff? What priestly role that functions and what the Lord chooses to do with that is not up to me. All I see is, here’s an opportunity. I’m in someone’s life. They’re in my life. Well, I’m going to offer them up to Jesus. And I’m going to say, “Let your Kingdom come here.” And, in His authority, He chooses to do whatever it is that He wants to do with it. But if I’m not trying to go out of myself, then I’m missing out on participating.
Emily Shrader 44:13 And the going out, I mean, the going out—the action, like you just said in your example of praying for people—what happens to your heart when you start praying for people? Well, you start loving those people. You know, God changes you by His Spirit. And He changes the way you see people when you start inviting him. Because that’s what we’re doing, right? We’re inviting Him into this relationship when we start praying. That’s what it is. And so you’re like, “Oh, yeah.” You’re not just looking at the soccer team like Jim sees the soccer team. Now you’re looking at the soccer team like God sees that soccer team. And that’s going to change your view of the soccer team. Right? It’s going to give you hopefully a level of compassion and heart to actually now move even from prayer to doing something, moving towards something, like inviting somebody out for a beer or going and hosting the party at your house. All of sudden, you’re doing things that maybe wouldn’t have even crossed your mind.
Jim Lovelady 45:16 And it’s funny because those little things, they do take courage. They do take faith.
Emily Shrader 45:21 Absolutely. It would be easy to stay in but not very fun. And that could be the extrovert in me saying that. But I think just in general, at this point in time, God has been so good and so gracious to us that we see the benefits of going into the out—not just for the soccer team or for the nations, but what going into the out does to us.
Jim Lovelady 45:49 Absolutely.
Emily Shrader 45:50 His economy is not limited. One of the things that I would say is, He called us to the field, right? And I was like, “Oh, yeah! We’re going to this field. We’re going to do great things for the Kingdom. This is going to be awesome.” And then I had no idea He was taking me there for that place and those people to change me.
Jim Lovelady 46:09 To work on you.
Emily Shrader 46:10 And He changed me. And now, I’m here. And I’m in a place that’s familiar yet not. And it thinks it’s familiar with me, but it’s not. Because I’m not the same person I was when I left to go to the mission field. Now I’m here, and there’s a whole new interaction that needs to take place. There’s a whole new mobilization that needs to happen in my life back on the ground.
Jim Lovelady 46:36 All the while, Jesus’s authority remains epic and the invitation to participate in that is constant and joyful. That’s why I think you’re so good at this.
Emily Shrader 46:49 Well, I appreciate it. You’re kind to say that. And, yeah, I think that the epic authority—just thinking about Him returning, it’s not going to be on a donkey. There is an element of awe, wonder, and power that’s going to be displayed. But even still, then just to sit–just like sitting face to face with Him at the same time. Then there’s this epicness and then this personalness about Him that He is on the field with me, on the court with me, however we want to say it. It’s beautiful.
Jim Lovelady 47:30 My pastoral mentor used to imagine Jesus grabbing him by the temples—grabbing him and pulling him nose to nose, forehead to forehead; that kind of intimacy. We’re in this together. Don’t forget. All authority has been given to Me. But we’re in this together. Okay. Are you ready to go do something crazy with Me? The world thinks this is crazy. But you’re with Me. Let’s go.
Emily Shrader 48:01 Yeah. Oh, for sure. Yeah.
Jim Lovelady 48:03 Anyway.
Emily Shrader 48:04 That’s great.
Jim Lovelady 48:05 I feel like maybe you should give one last pitch to all those folks who filled out a Go Form. What’s the nudge? You don’t have to look directly into the camera like an Uncle Sam.
Emily Shrader 48:20 We want you!
Jim Lovelady 48:21 It’s not that because Jesus doesn’t do that. No. He grabs you by the head, and He pulls you forehead to forehead. And He goes, “I want you to come with Me here,” wherever it is.
Emily Shrader 48:36 I think the encouragement would be if there was a rumble, if there was something that was happening during the pandemic, during that season, that caused you to ask some “what if” kinds of questions, and if you stopped asking those questions, “Why?” And maybe start taking a look at: did you become distracted? Or did you get some closure on them? Maybe you got an answer, and that’s okay. What if we moved to Europe and started working with immigrants? What would that look like? Is that a possibility? And maybe something happened or came along that was more like, “No, actually, not right now.” But if you didn’t get that kind of closure, and it just got pushed or squeezed out, I would say stand firm. Repent. Turn around and go back to that question. Don’t ignore it because I believe that God is still working and moving in the hearts of people. I don’t think we even can begin to know the ramifications of that season—the global pandemic—the ramifications of that for individuals, for the church, and the world. I mean, they’re big. And so I think my exhortation would be: turn back to that “what if” and make sure it’s resolved. And if it’s not, call me.
Jim Lovelady 50:11 Yeah, that’s so good. The Lord bless you and your mobilizing.
Emily Shrader 50:13 Oh, thanks so much, Jim.
Jim Lovelady 50:15 Thank you so much for coming by.
Emily Shrader 50:16 Yeah, it was good to talk.
Jim Lovelady 50:19 Alright. ChatGPT. We’re going to do a Gen Z version of Matthew 28:18-20. “Yo Fam, listen up. Jesus came through with some fire words before He bounced up to heaven. He said I got mad clout in heaven and on earth.”
Emily Shrader 50:40 What? Go and make homies?
Jim Lovelady 50:42 “So I’m passing the torch to y’all. Go and make homies from all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach them to keep it 100.” I don’t know what that one is. My daughter needs to teach me that one. I don’t know that one. “Keep it 100 with everything I’ve taught you. And don’t even trip because I’ll be with you every step of the way, even if you can’t see me. So go out there and spread love and truth. And let’s change the game together.” Yeah, it’s glorious. No cap.
Jim Lovelady 51:20 Okay, okay. Look, whatever translation you use for the Great Commission, it hasn’t changed. Jesus has called for us to make disciples as we go out into the world is as real as ever. But Christ’s authority over the entire endeavor is more, in Emily’s words, epic than you realize.
So, if you feel a nudge from the Holy Spirit, don’t ignore that. Follow it. And if that nudge leads you to explore all the incredible ways the Lord is moving in His Kingdom, to explore all the ways you can participate with Him in bringing His grace to the frayed edges of life, go to serge.org/go and fill out that Go Form.
Maybe for the second time, and then lean into whatever God has for you.
But if you’re listening, and you’re saying, “I have gone. I’m in the middle of the going and making disciples part of the Great Commission, and I’m exhausted.” If that describes you, you’re ready for Sonship Week. It’s a week-long retreat designed to help you restore to you the joy of your salvation. Because going is not easy. Taking up your cross daily and following Jesus into the frayed edges of life requires gospel renewal. So I hope you’ll join us this October at Park Road Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, Florida. Oh, by the way, Emily will be one of the speakers. And I know you’ll leave this retreat feeling liberated, spiritually renewed, and ready to go into the out once more. So for more information, go to serge.org/renewal.
And wherever you are on your journey, I hope your main takeaway is this really, really good news:
Jesus has all authority. And when Jesus says that he’s with you day after day after day, that’s a promise from the one who holds all authority in heaven and on earth, the one who conquered death and invites you into His blessing.
So receive this blessing as you go into the out: May the Lord bless you and keep you make His face to smile down on you. And the Lord be gracious to you and turn His bright eyes to you and give you His peace. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, life everlasting. Amen.
Emily is a Mobilizer and Mentoring Specialist for Serge. She and her family served with Serge overseas for more than a decade. She currently resides in NC, where her husband David serves as a Chaplain in the USAF.
Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician, and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori, and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram, and Talitha. He is passionate about the ministry of liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel.
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