Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Living as an Ambassador

Leslie Basham: What would it look like for every neighborhood around the world to have homes that functioned as an embassy of the King of heaven? Here’s Barbara Rainey.

Barbara Rainey: If we are living intentionally as His chosen ambassadors—which is what He tells us that we are—that’s going to make a difference in this world!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for September 13, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We have a guest with us today who is no stranger to our Revive Our Hearts audience, my longtime friend, Barbara Rainey. Barbara, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Barbara: Thanks, Nancy, it’s a delight to be here!

Nancy: I always love the opportunity to be with you, to have conversation with you, to hear what you’re thinking of, what you’re dreaming of, and what you’re talking about, because it’s always interesting and things that I know that are of significance to our listeners.

I love when we get in the studio and talk about some of these big ideas that help moms, grandmoms, women to live out our faith in ways that are compelling to those that around us. You sparked an idea for this program some time ago when you and Dennis . . .

For those who may not be aware, Barbara and Dennis Rainey are the cofounders of FamilyLife, which is kind of the parent ministry that started Revive Our Hearts. You guys were kind of the “midwives” of Revive Our Hearts. We’ll always be grateful for that!

One day when you and Dennis were visiting Robert and me in our home, you brought us a gift. It’s a plaque. I’m looking at it right now. It says, “Welcome to the Embassy of the King.” It’s got a crown on there, the crown has a cross on it.

You explained to us the concept behind our homes being an embassy for Christ the King. It struck a chord with me, and I asked if we could come in the studio today and talk about making our homes an embassy that represents Christ. So share with us just how that idea first took hold in your heart.

Barbara: Someone sent a link to a short little video (I don’t remember now how that all happened). I remember getting on my laptop and clicking on this little video. The video is about a woman named Ludmilla. She’s Eastern European, lives in a country in Eastern Europe, and she’s probably in her eighties.

There’s something so endearing about people that age. She was in her little dress, and they showed her leaving her house and going to the market.

Nancy: And she’s a widow, right?

Barbara: She’s a widow. One section of the video showed a picture of her husband in a frame on the wall. But it shows her going to the market and buying some things at the market and putting them in her little basket and then going back to her home. And she climbs the stairs and goes into the door of her home.

The video shows that next to her front door, there’s this brass plaque on the wall of her little apartment, and it said, “Embassy of the King of Heaven.” The story went on to explain how Ludmilla then went into her house, and a few minutes later she welcomed a woman whose heart was broken about something. She had a need.

Nancy: She just stopped by.

Barbara: She had stopped by, because everyone (I think) in that little town knows that they can go talk to Ludmilla about anything, and she will pray with them. And so, the video shows these two women sitting in her kitchen with a cup of tea.

Ludmilla is encouraging her and listening to her, and then it shows them praying together. Then the woman leaves, and you see again that plaque next to the door.

Nancy: “Embassy of the King of Heaven”

Barbara: “Embassy of the King of Heaven”

Nancy: And that’s a pretty, highfalutin thing to have next to your door! It sounds like a pretty important place.

Barbara: I know. I would love to know more of her story. Like, why did she decide to do that? Has it been there for years and years and years? Was it always that way when her husband was alive? I don’t know any of those pieces of the story.

I do know that she said, “God wants my home to be His embassy. He wants me to be His ambassador, and I want to welcome anyone who wants to come learn about the King of heaven. I want them to feel peace and warmth and welcome when they come in my front door.”

After finished watching it, it just got my heart. I just thought, I want my home to be like that! I want a plaque on my door that says “Embassy of the King.” I want people to feel that kind of peace and warmth and welcome when they come into my house, too.

Nancy: In many countries, including our own, you can go to a place in the capital city, and it might be called Embassy Row. There are a lot of countries that have embassies, and ambassadors in those embassies, that represent each country.

So in Washington, D.C. the ambassador in each embassy and their staff represent whatever country they come from to the United States of America. We have ambassadors who go to other countries, and they live in an embassy, and they represent the U.S. to those other countries.

So that’s where she apparently got this concept: My home is an outpost, and it signifies that this earth is not my ultimate home. We’re strangers here, and pilgrims, the Scripture says. But also, we’re representing Someone other than ourselves, wherever we live!

Barbara: That’s right, yes. And what I loved about her story is . . . We all know the verse (or most of us do) in 2 Corinthians where “we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). So we’ve understood at one level that we are called to be ambassadors, and that means we represent Jesus wherever we go.

But I don’t think very many of us, at least I know I hadn’t, have taken it to the next step, to think that if I’m an ambassador, therefore that means that where I live is His embassy. And that’s what this woman in Eastern Europe did.

She took it to the next step. She declared her home to be an embassy of the King. She got a plaque made, and she put it on her door, that said: “This is the embassy of the King of heaven.” I loved that idea, and so that’s why we created this plaque that we gave we you and Robert.

I think, as believers, seeing something visual like that in our homes or on our front doors, helps us remember what God has called us to do. He has saved us; He’s redeemed us; we are His. But He’s left us here so that we might reach others, so that we might be His ambassador and reach other people who don’t know Him.

That’s a part of what ambassadors do in foreign countries. So the U.S. ambassador, say in Italy for instance, represents the United States to the Italian government. But the embassy also takes people in refuge.

So if someone wants to escape persecution, for instance, in some country, they go to the embassy and they seek refuge. Well, that’s a perfect picture of what Jesus wants us to do. He wants us, as His ambassadors, to be a place of refuge to those who don’t know Jesus, to those who have needs only He can meet. So it’s a picture.

Understanding the concept of the embassy, understanding what ambassadors on this planet do, helps us understand, as believers in Christ, what God wants us to do as His ambassadors on this earth.

Nancy: You’ve produced a little booklet that talks about this concept, and it’s called Your Home, His Embassy. And in that book you quote Pastor Tim Keller, who says there are basically three kinds of people on this earth. Can you remind us of what that is?

Barbara: Yes. He talked in a sermon about there are three kinds of people, as you just said: one’s a tourist, one’s an immigrant, and the the third is an ambassador.

The first one is a tourist, which all of us can understand. We’ve traveled; even if you’ve just traveled to a state park. You’re there; you’re taking pictures; you’re seeing the sights that are different from your home, from your backyard. And especially international tourists do all kinds of souvenir shopping, and you visit places that you would never see in your home country. But you leave and come back home. It’s just a trip; it’s just a visit.

An immigrant, however, usually goes to another country to live and to put down roots and to become a permanent part of that place. They may have left their country of origin, their country of birth, because they didn’t have economic opportunity, or they may have left their country of birth because of persecution.

They came to another country. They went to a place that was better. They put down roots, and many of them study and become citizens of that country.

Nancy: They learn the language; they learn the customs, the culture. They become assimilated, hopefully, into that country.

Barbara: Correct. They become completely immersed in that culture and in that country.

An ambassador, however, is neither of those. An ambassador may live in a country, but not become a part of that country.

So, as we were saying a minute ago, the United States has embassies in countries all around the world. The ambassador and his staff live in that country. They learn the language so they can communicate well with the people. They represent the United States well, but they don’t put down roots and become a part of that country. They’re representing their own country.

It’s a great picture of what God has called us to do. He wants us to learn the language. He wants us to know the customs of the place where He has put us to live—whether it’s in the United States or whether you’re living in England or some other country around the world. He wants us to be there and know the people, but He doesn’t want us to put in roots and sink our lives into the culture, because we belong to another place.

Nancy: I think a lot of us as Christians become, so to speak, “tourists” or “immigrants” when it comes to our role here on this earth. As tourists, we isolate ourselves from the world in which we live, or as immigrants, we assimilate into the world in which we live and we become just like the world around us.

But we’re called as ambassadors—not to become isolated and not to become assimilated—but to be different and to represent the King of heaven and His reign and rule here on this earth. That’s the role of an ambassador.

Barbara: Exactly! I think it’s such a good reminder for us, because we forget what God has called us to do, that it, we are His representative. We forget, and we think that we’re our own representative, or we’re about our own agenda, or I want to do what makes me happy.

But God hasn’t saved us so that we can live a happy life the way we want to. He’s saved us to live for Him, to belong to Him, to represent Him. I think it’s C. S. Lewis who said we should all be “little Christs.” We should all be like Jesus.

We are His representatives, and so people who don’t know Him should be able to look at us and say, “There’s something different about that person. I don’t what it is, but I want to get to know that person so I can discover what’s different!”

We should be different than anyone else who doesn’t know Jesus, so that they can look at us and see something that’s different about us and want to know Him. That’s what it means to be an ambassador.

The apostle Paul talks about how everywhere we go we’re spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ (see 2 Cor. 2:14–15). I think sometimes we just tend to separate, categorize, our Christian faith. That’s what we do when we’re at church, or in small group, or when we’re with other Christians.

But then there’s our whole work life, our recreational life, the time we spend at the gym, the time we spend in school. These things we keep separate from our faith. But an ambassador in a foreign country is always an ambassador, he’s always on the job.

People are looking at him, and they’re thinking of the country he represents. However he behaves, however he talks—if he has a temper, if he mouths off, if he’s dishonest or unkind or corrupt—that reflects on his home country. He’s always, always representing his home country. And this is what Paul says is to be true of us as ambassadors of Christ.

Barbara: Exactly! I think it’s a message that’s needed for the church. I think it’s also needed for families, because I think it’s so easy to, as we were saying earlier, assimilate. So when our children go to school, have you been talking to them about the fact that they, too, are ambassadors if they know Jesus?

When they go to school, are they thinking about the other children that they know? Are they thinking about their needs? Are they aware of situations going on that God might want them to speak into? Have they ever thought about praying with a friend on the playground? Do they understand how to apply forgiveness in their relationships with friends at school?

I think, if we can begin to make that mental switch, and we can teach our children that they’re ambassadors (and of course, we have to remind ourselves that we are, too, as adults and that we’re modeling that for our children), that’s how we’re going to make a difference in this world—if we are living intentionally as His chosen ambassadors, which is what He tells us that we are.

Nancy: And it’s a mindset—for adults and children. Every mom knows what it’s like when your twelve-year-old comes home from school and is crying because he or she didn’t fit in—somebody didn’t like them, somebody didn’t treat them well.

As a Christian mom, you’re wanting to train your children, not just to fit into this culture, but to help them realize that as a child of God, they really are different! This world is not their home; they really don’t fit in.

So how can they go into that school environment or that work environment as they get older and be kind and engaging and welcoming and sharing Christ, but not trying to assimilate into the culture or be just like it? That’s a challenge!

Barbara: Yes, it is a challenge, but I think if parents can begin to understand that, when your kids are smaller, I think it will just make the journey easier. Now, it’s not going to make it stress-free or problem-free. But I just really believe it’s a protection for our children, for them to begin to understand, “I don’t belong here. It’s okay if I’m not the most popular. It’s okay if I’m not on the team, if I wasn’t chosen. This isn’t my home.”

It’s just a gift to our children for them to understand that, “I belong to Someone else. God is in control of my life, and He is orchestrating a plan for me that may not look like everybody else’s. In fact, it probably won’t look like everybody else’s, but that’s good, and that’s because He loves me and He has a plan for my life.”

So thinking of your family as a collection of ambassadors, as a team of ambassadors, and your home as the embassy is a really healthy perspective as you raise your children to be someday independent and on their own.

And hopefully, they will carry that idea of being an ambassador for Christ with them when they leave your home at eighteen, or whatever age, and go out on their own. Because that’s the whole goal of parenting, to raise your kids to be independent of you but dependent on Christ.

Nancy: I’m sitting here listening to you, thinking about what a great job my parents did. They didn’t know these terms, “ambassador” and “embassy.” They didn’t put it in those terms. But they really brought us up to realize that we were different.

We didn’t belong to everybody, so if we said, “But everybody else’s kids do this.” The mindset was, “You don’t belong to everybody else. You belong to Jesus! And it’s not a bad thing to be different.”

Now, you don’t want to be different because you’re ornery or you’re cantankerous or you’re hard to live with. But we were to go into our world and reflect the beauty of Christ and His ways. Our home, which was a beautiful home, it had plenty of space in it, but the mindset was, “This is not first and foremost for us. This is a place (they could have used the word “embassy) where we want people to feel welcome and loved, where people can come, they can get to know Jesus!”

At many, many, many meals, we had other people at the table with us. My parents were inviting people into our home. There were staff members of local Christian ministries who would come and hang out in our home. Some of those became my friends as I was growing up, so there were role models for us.

There were missionaries who were welcome and other Christian workers and people who didn’t know Jesus. In fact, I was telling my husband recently that (it’s hard to imagine today, because smoking has become not so popular) . . . We didn’t smoke in our home, but my parents had ashtrays in the living area so that if people did come into the home and that was their practice, they could smoke in the house.

I can imagine now, because it’s so unpopular in many circles, that I would think, I don’t want somebody smoking in my house! Who wants that scent? But my parents cared more about reaching the hearts of people than they cared about the smell of smoke getting in their home, because it was an embassy. It was there for a purpose, and that was to make Christ known to people!

Barbara: You know, we didn’t have the term “embassy” either. Dennis and I, when we were raising our kids, we didn’t even talk to them much about being ambassadors, but we did a similar thing when our children were growing up.

We talked often to them about going to school and representing Christ, going to school and being aware of fellow students who might need to be encouraged, or being aware of someone who needs Jesus that maybe He might want you to talk to.

So having the idea of ambassador, understanding that concept,it just makes it an easier way to communicate to your children what this is all about that God has called us to do.

Nancy: I was on your website this morning looking up some of these concepts and how you’ve taught them. You’ve talked about five practical ways to make your home an embassy. I want to just mention those and maybe have you comment on them. The first is: love your neighbor.

Barbara: Yes, I think that it is so easy to be isolated in our culture today. There are neighborhoods that are behind fences with gates. We go into our doors, and we close the door. There’s a subtle beginning of pushing back against that in the younger generation, because I know young women who are talking about that.

But the idea is, leave your front door open or leave your garage door open or invite your neighbors over for a picnic. Let the neighborhood kids come over to play at your house. Make yourself available, make yourself known.

It’s easy to want to come in and close the door and kind of retreat and hide and hibernate, so to speak. I think a very easy way to be an ambassador and to make your home be an embassy is just to have an open-door policy as often as you can, based on your family size and your schedule and all of that.

Be aware of your neighbors and to pay attention if something is going on down the street or around the corner. Take the initiative to find out and to get to know who your neighbors actually are.

Nancy: You talk about another practical, related, idea. Have an open-door policy for anyone who needs a listening ear.

Barbara: Well, that came from our friend Ludmilla, from the Eastern European country. That’s what she does. I admire her faith so much!

She said, “I love the surprises that God brings! I love when someone comes and knocks on my door and I wasn’t expecting them, and I don’t even know who it is!”

I think we’re so fearful in America, and we’re so protective. I think we would be scared to death if someone came and knocked on our front door, to open the door and let them in. I’m not advocating that you not be safe, but I think we need to trust God more. We need to say, “Lord, who would You want me to talk to? Is there someone in my neighborhood who needs a listening ear?”

Be open to God bringing people into your yard, maybe, that are just walking down the sidewalk with a child, or whatever. God is big enough to orchestrate that. I think having a heart that is open to His leading is really the key, and trusting Him, that He will bring someone if He wants you to talk to someone.

Nancy: Those foreign embassies are places where people in distress or people in need can come and they can get aid, they can get help, they can get protection. How beautiful would it be if every neighborhood had Christian homes that really lived and functioned as an embassy of the King of heaven!

We’re going to pick up on this conversation again tomorrow. But I think it would be a great thing if each of our listeners would have this plaque somewhere in their home: “Welcome to the Embassy of the King.” And we’re going to make that available to our listeners who send a donation of any amount this week to Revive Our Hearts. We’ll send you this plaque.

It’s a beautiful piece. It says, “Welcome to the Embassy of the King.” And then it comes with this booklet that has a lot of practical ideas and conversations you can have as a family about how to make your home His embassy.

If you’d like your home to be an embassy of the King, then we want you to have this plaque and this booklet. And our prayer is that many, many homes—all around this country and wherever this program is listened to around the world—will become truly an embassy of the King.

And oh, Father, we just pray for that now. We ask that our homes—the Rainey home, the Wolgemuth home and the homes of our listeners . . . and more importantly our hearts—would become places where people can come, can share their needs and their burdens, can be safe, can be listened to, can be welcomed and warmly received in the name of Jesus.

May this start with the members of our own families. May they feel at home in our homes, and may they feel that there is where they can encounter and experience Jesus Christ in a way they might never experience Him anywhere else. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She’s been talking to Barbara Rainey about our calling to represent Jesus wherever we go. You can get the booklet and decorative plaque for your home that Nancy mentioned when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Just give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Ask for The Embassy of the King plaque and booklet when you call, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow we’ll hear the story of how a young man in Uganda narrowly escaped imprisonment after he was falsely accused of being a spy! Barbara Rainey returns to tell us the significance of that story. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants your home to be an embassy of the King. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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