Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lazarus, Come Forth!

At Park Slope Community Church, on Wednesday's Kids Club, the children learned the story "Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead."  This story is from John 11 ( We did an activity where the children got to wrap each other up like Lazarus when he was in the tomb.  The kids are having a great time playing and more importantly, learning the Bible stories.

*For the Community Dinner on Friday night.  This week is "Spaghetti Splash"
*For the children and their parents, Pastor Kevin, and Pastor Charlie
*For mission teams arriving this Saturday and Monday
*For the Russian Congregation and Pastor Kim
*For opportunities to share the Gospel


The Missionary Song

Many of the members of the New Start group were either born, or spent most of their lives in the refugee camps of Thailand. There they had very minimal schools with no textbooks or paper. When they learned something they had to memorize it. They sang many songs there in the camps, one of which they call "The Missionary Song". This song describes how people came to them as missionaries to tell them about God, and now it is their turn to tell other people. It encourages the listener to stop putting off their responsibility as a Christian to share God with other people. They not only want to tell people about God but encourage Karenni believers to do the same. 

Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
    proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 
1 Chronicles 16: 23-24

Keeping Up With the Kids

At Park Slope Community Church in Brooklyn, Jordan and I are trying to keep up with the children at Kids Club!  They are so active and eager to learn. This week we have studied the Bible stories of Abraham and Isaac and the Birth of Jesus, and today we will talk about Jesus Raising Lazarus.

Showing off piano skills before Bible time at Kids Club
Balloon games in the Gym
Joshua chases Jordan and wins!
Middle school girls chatting
Prayer Requests:
*Pray for wisdom for me (Kelly) when teaching the middle school girls...

*Pray that God would open the hearts and minds to the truth.

*Pray for the children that come to Kids Club and their parents.  Pray for Jordan, Pastor Kevin, and church members Patricia, Willy, and Lily as they lead Kids Club.

*Pray for Orlando, a homeless man who accepted Christ this week.

*Pray for a mission team staying at our church.  They are called Word of Life, and they are doing evangelism through painting huge pictures.  Jordan and I will be shadowing them on Thursday morning.

Thank you for joining us in prayer!

A Song in My Heart


Someone once said, " A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." Just like the bird, here in the Philippines every one of these children come from different walks of life and have many questions with no answers, but they sing their hearts out with thanksgiving for the Lord. Music has been the heart of this past week here in the Philippines. It has been apart of every story, memory, and emotion. This week singing has brought tears to my eyes and joy to my face.       
Tuesday we had our second outreach event You Got Served. I got to cook my first Filipino meal with the help of some natives. I can't wait to come back home and cook some new delicious treats! We spent the afternoon fellowshipping with the children and adults in the village. Later that day we played sports with the kids, and ended our day gathered around at the gazebo singing songs of worship for hours until we all almost crashed in the arms of one another. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

5 Ways to Pray for NT participants.

1. DEPENDENCE ON GOD. Pray that the team remains dependent on God for their strength and effectiveness. Ask God to remind them of His truth and to encourage them with reminders of His love and His presence.

2. RESIST TEMPTATION. Intercede on the behalf of the NT participants- that they can remain strong in resisting temptation that could hurt their witness in the community.

3. PRAISE GOD. Pray that the teams do not get puffed up by the success of their ministries rather that in humility they give God the praise that is due Him. And continue to serve humbly.

4. OPEN DOORS. Pray and ask God for open doors and opportunities to make friends in the community the NT participants are serving in.

5. OPEN HEARTS. Pray for the listeners who are hearing the Word of God, ask God for open hearts that respond to their need for salvation. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When love says "no."

As a nanny team working with preteen and teenage girls, the New Faith Family crew has a truly unique opportunity. Short-term mission teams and sponsors frequent the JAZ home, so the girls are accustomed to people coming and going. But this nanny team gets to stay. Two months is short (and grower shorter every day), but it was long enough for Nehemiah to rebuild the city gates, and it is long enough to develop genuine, trusting relationships with the Angels. We are all learning an unexpected lesson about the Angels: sometimes love says "no." At first the girls were all beautiful, sweet, and we bent over backward to keep them happy. Two weeks later, they are still beautiful and sweet, but "yes" is not always best for them. Part of the nannies' relationship with the Angels will involve discipline - teaching them to wait, to do their own long-division problems, to set healthy boundaries. Not as parents, but as caregivers and mentors and women of God who dearly love them.

If you love someone, you don't feed them ice cream for every meal just because they ask. There have to be some vegetables involved.

And we pray that we would be ever mindful of the why of discipline, of "no," of "wait" - God disciplines us, his children. He does it for our good. He does it out of love. He grows us slowly, patiently, and wisely. He waits out our whining when we are toddlers in the faith so that one day we will be mature sons and daughters.

Proverbs 3.12 - "the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he received."

Hebrews 12.11 - "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Our prayer is we would take the Lord's discipline seriously and delight that He grows us in love - that it would produce righteous fruit in the lives of all who spend time at the JAZ home, and that the Angels would learn to accept and love His discipline in the same way. Pray that they would grow to be mature women of God, lacking nothing!

Respuesta a la Oracion: An Answer to Prayer

This morning, in our devotion with Pastor Kim, I prayed that God would give us opportunities to share the gospel even in our everyday activities like feeding the homeless and Kids Club.  

Today, Jordan and I went out to feed the homeless with Pastor Charlie, a family of four, and our Spanish friend Lisa.  Usually after our first stop, we just walk past the park.  However, Lisa saw one of our homeless friends, Orlando, sitting on a bench, and went to go talk to him.  Jordan and I followed behind with a lunch and water bottle.  When we arrived, I could tell from the little Spanish I know that Lisa was sharing the Gospel with Orlando.

Sure enough, in a few minutes, Lisa called Pastor Charlie over saying, “This man wants to accept Jesus,” and asking Pastor Charlie to pray with him.

Pastor Charlie prayed in English, Lisa translated in Spanish, and Orlando, in a whisper, repeated the words.  Lisa had talked so much, but Orlando had been very quiet and I wondered if he was sincere about wanting to turn from his sin and become a Christian.

But as they finished praying, Orlando began to break down and cry.  Jordan and I were touched; we knew that the Holy Spirit was really working in Orlando’s life.

The Pastor and Lisa spoke to Orlando some more, encouraging him to come to church, then we gave him the lunch.  As we left and said, “Dios te bendiga, mi hermano” (God bless you, my brother), Orlando smiled a huge grin.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sahel Update

Every Sunday in “GR”, basically everyone in the town and from the surrounding villages gathers for market.  What that means for us is that there are thousands of people in a concentrated area to greet and build relationships with as we restock our cabinets.  Last Sunday, Olivia and I (Anna) had not had any language study, so going to market consisted of us standing by and listening to Cameron speak to the dozens of people who greeted her.  
We just finished a week of language study.  Monday through Friday was spent learning Fulfulde, which is what we will be speaking while in village “B”.  Saturday consisted of Hausa study, as that is the primary trade language in “GR”.  Hopefully, our new knowledge of these languages will be put into good practice for the glory of God as we venture to market for the second time this Sunday! 
Our language study has actually served a larger purpose than just teaching us the language.  Zakari, our teacher, is a follower of Islam.  We were learning religious terms on Thursday when he excused himself around 7 p.m. to go to prayer like he does every day. When he came back, we started a conversation with him about what he believed in relation to what we believe.  We learned that he does, in fact, have a Bible that he reads and compares to the Qur’an.  We are so thankful that he is inquisitive and are praying for his eyes to be opened to the Truth!

In addition to Zakari, we have been able to build several other relationships with Fulani families both in “GR” and in village “B”.  We have visited some families of believers in town simply to sit and talk with them.  One of those families has a brand new baby that we are hopeful will be raised in the way of the Lord!  On Wednesday, we walked out to the bush for a beke, a baby naming ceremony.  Again, we got to meet a ton of people with whom we will hopefully be able to share the Gospel over the course of our time here. 

This Monday marks the beginning of our living in the bush during the week.  With a new knowledge of the language, several new friends in the village, and new African outfits (which we got Friday and are SO excited about!!), we are eager to begin a new portion of ministry here!  At the same time, we know that this also marks new challenges.  In our house in “GR”, there is running water, air-conditioner and electric light (most of the time at least), and privacy.  Not so in the bush. 

Please join us in praying for:
·       Language development.  Though our formal Fulfulde language study is over, we are about to be immersed in the language and will need to persist in our learning and studying so that we can build and maintain friendships and share the Gospel effectively. 
·        Zakari and his family.  Zakari and his wife are expecting their first child in around three months.  Though we will not be here when the baby is born, we are praying for health and salvation for Zakari’s entire household.  
·       Other locals who are being exposed to the Gospel.  Several of the people in “GR” that we have visited lately have one believer in their family.  Pray for boldness for those believers to share with their families and that the ears and hearts of their family members will be open to hear the Good News. 
·         Personal strength.  As we move to the bush full-time, all three of us will need strength and endurance to handle the climate and to meet the needs of the many people around us.  More than ever, we will need to be in the Word and with the Lord as much as possible. 

On our way to the beke Wednesday, we saw many people planting crops in preparation for the rainy season, including these men, who use a camel to pull their plow.  We’re praying that in addition to providing for their spiritual needs, God will meet the physical needs of the people here.   

An Update

During our first night in Niamey, we were greeted by beggars wanting money.  Cameron, our supervisor, told us that many of these beggars see their begging as giving others opportunity to give their tithes to Allah, as that is one of the required five pillars of Islam.  She said that some mothers will even mutilate their children so that they can be more effective beggars and, thus, help more people be obedient to Allah.

While in Niamey, we were also able to go fabric shopping for our first African outfits!  There were so many styles and designs of fabrics, it was overwhelming!  Within the next few days, we are hoping to go to the tailor and get our outfits actually made!

Today, Saturday, June 9, we went to village “B” to see our hut, set up some supplies – like our water filter and cots – and meet some of the people we’ll be working with.  We meet the chief, who will serve as our fatherly protector while we are here this summer.  We were able to meet most of the kids and women at the compounds.  We didn’t see a lot of men because they are out planting in preparation for the rainy season.  The women and children gave us Fulani names.  Anna is “Hadiza” and I (Olivia) am “Chima”.  These are both names of older women in the village.  One of the women let us go into her hut and gave us “chutum” which is a drink made from millet, sour milk, and water.  

New Start

This week Breanna and I had the opportunity to travel to Greeley, Colorado and work alongside the New Start group from North Carolina. New Start is a group of about 30 teenage Karenni refugees from Winston-Salem. They travel the country visiting cities where large groups of Karenni refugees are living to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ and what they have learned about God since being in America. They explained that the name "New Start" was chosen because God has given them a new start in life by bringing them to America away from the refugee camps where they had no school, barely enough food to eat, and no freedom. Their name also reflects on the new start God has given them spiritually by making them new creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17) They share with these groups of refugees through singing, preaching, VBS, health and wellness classes, and sports. They also hand out Karenni Bibles and pray with them. 

It was inspiring to spend the week with kids who are so young and have a huge heart for the Lord. They are incredibly hospitable,gracious, and hardworking people, and are willing to truly sacrifice in order to share Jesus Christ with other Karenni people across America. Many of them have hopes of returning to refugee camps in Thailand to help the people that are still there learn about God. If anything, Breanna and I both felt that they were ministering to us, and teaching us what it really means to serve others. 

The pictures below are just some of the ways they used their talents and interests to share Jesus with others: 
Maw Reh used his ability to play guitar as a huge ministry in Colorado. 
Breanna got to spend time with many of the children that came to VBS. 
Maw Meh read with some of the younger kids.  
Lee Reh got really attached to this little girl named Alea. 
These were my two special friends Glenda and Paw Meh. Each of us got 1 or 2
special friends for VBS that we prayed for daily.
New Start sang many songs in English and in Karenni to share with others about Jesus. 
Day Reh got to do crafts with some of the kids.
Yei Min Oo got to bond with some of the teenage Karennis
when we did paint tattoos one day at VBS. 
Christina Htoo went door to door in apartments where many Karenni people
live to invite them to VBS and church.
John and Brooke Bryant spoke with many of the adults that did not speak English.
They are the ones that translated the Bible into Karenni so they speak the language fluently.
Tim and his wife Jody are like parents to the New Start kids and make it possible
for them to tell other people about Jesus by travelling with them.
I hope reading through what this group of teenagers is doing with their time has touched your heart and inspired you the same way it did me! With God all things are possible, no matter what language, age, or financial barrier there may be! These refugees have truly proven that and live as a testimony to God's power. 

*Prayer Requests: 
          ~Many of the refugees are being targeted by other religious leaders. Because of their limited understanding of English, and the word of God (they have only had the Bible in their language for 2 years now) they are very confused by the contradictions between religions in America. Please pray God will protect their hearts and show them the truth of His word alone. 
          ~This week we will be doing VBS here in Winston-Salem, and have another VBS coming up specifically for the Karenni children, so pray that me and Breanna would be spirit led in everything we attempt to do during these meetings. 
          ~We will be visiting many Karenni families at their apartments this week, pray for understanding and God to overcome the language barrier as many of the families do not speak English. Pray His love would be shown through our kindness and for people of peace. 

           ~One of the teenage Karenni girls in Colorado decided to invite Jesus into her heart this week after talking with a friend in the New Start group she had not seen since leaving the refugee camp! 
           ~There are about 70 Karenni families in Colorado. They had no church to go to, so about 16 of these families that were Christian were meeting in one small apartment once a week for church. Before leaving Colorado God moved in the hearts of a local church to allow the Karenni people to use their building every week to have a Karenni church service there! 
           ~God has formed friendships between Breanna and I and the members of New Start in a way that is amazing in light of the language barriers.Most of them speak English well enough that we can communicate with them. We are praying some of these new brothers and sisters can help us in reaching out to the parents who know little to no English. 
Thank you for your support and prayers! 

A first for many

I had no idea circumcision was going to be a part of my summer, but it is. On Friday, we conducted a free medical clinic for young boys in the area who weren't circumcised. It's a matter of helping people live better, cleaner lives with improved hygiene. So we set out to meet physical needs here in Butuan.

Here are a few photos from our clinic.

"No" becomes "Yes"

We made the split into our 4 small team for an overnight visitation of churches in villages. Each team getting off the jeepney at different moments to go and share the love of God. As we departed, we encouraged one another and cheered for the mission. The scene was a reminder of stories from Acts. As the apostles and followers continued their service in different areas in small groups, so did we.
I (the media guy, Trent) happened to be with Greg, Molly, Lauren, and Kate for this short stay. As soon as we arrived in our designated area, the pastor wanted us to go door to door and evangelize. Vonn, our translator, said the pastor had an incredible passion for door to door evangelism in his area and wanted us to join. So we did.

Our first stop was with a man by the name Nonoy. He was a gentle man, with a white beard and a kind laugh. He was quite interested in our journey here in the Philippines and asked about our purpose. He complimented us for taking interest in his people and thanked us for coming. You could see his thanks in his eyes. Nonoy couldn't believe Americans had come and was perplexed that we were going to stay in some of the most rural tribes. After small talk and breaking the ice, we asked if we could share a bible story with him.

His response wasn't a firm "no," but he used the excuse of his wife not being present and he wanted her to be around when we shared. We agreed not to tell the story...for the moment. We continued sharing about our lives, and soon we started sharing bits and pieces of our testimony. And little did we know, God was ushering us into the door to present the gospel just as we had planned. Soon enough, we asked Nonoy if we could share a bible story, and he agreed without hesitation.

See, a "no" for us may be the end of a moment. It may be what hurts our ministry and turns us away from opening up, but for God it's a time to work miracles. It's a time to test the patience of His people. And it's a time for Him to get the glory and not us.

We all realized what happened. God was in the middle of the entire situation and knew Nonoy needed encouragement and prayer. And here we were to offer the best encouragement. All we had to do was wait and let God turn a "no" into a "yes."

Always wait for God to act, because He will. And it's best in His time.

Reaching the Waray-Waray

Just as the word "waray" translates to mean "nothing," the Waray-Waray people of Eastern Samar have nothing. They are poorer than the poorest, lower than the lowest class of people in the Philippines.

They are an animistic people with a Roman Catholic facade. They readily admit that there is one God, and they respect the Bible as His Word, but lesser spirits continue to be feared. Practicing witch doctors reside in each barangay, and they, as well as priests, are sought after when conflict arises. Superstition affects many aspects of life in the barangay, one of the most evident being a talisman worn around the neck. Despite the spiritual barriers that result from these practices, this belief system allows for much work to be done on our part.

We openly travel to each barangay to teach the Bible. Our skin color opens doors and draws crowds. Much of our time consists of showing up at someone's home, sharing our stories, and preaching the gospel, and the people are largely receptive.

We've also found other ways to connect with the people. We use Plaza Presentations to introduce ourselves to each barangay as a whole, we play games and tell Bible stories to the kids, with hopes that their enthusiasm will spread to their parents, and we play basketball with some of the men in order to gain their respect.

We have traveled an incredible distance to reach this place. God's plan is greater than we can understand, but we know His love and He has given us a beautiful opportunity to share it with a people who haven't heard.

A Post from Edgar

It has been a little over a week since we first landed here in the Philippines, and less than a week here at our first barangay. We have had many opportunities to share the gospel with the Waray-Waray people.

A big thing that really spoke to me was when we were given the chance to lead a funeral service at one of the homes. When we got to the house, the men were still building the casket. As we did the service and the men kept building, Acts 20:24 came to my mind.

"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

What if the boy who died didn't know who Jesus was? What about all the other people we won't be able to reach? This gave me more of a push and a reminder of why we are here - to spread the good news of Jesus! I know we may not be able to see or speak to all of the people in this barangay, but I can spread His gospel to those who we meet.

My prayer is that the Lord would keep opening doors for our team, and that we may stay strong through all the trials that are to come.

Prayer Requests for the Riverboat Teams

Pray that those who have made an outward profession of their faith would grow to know God's love. Pray that their hearts would not be like the rocky soil in Mark 4. They have received the Word immediately with joy, but pray that they won't fall away when trials come.

Pray for Ate L, a new believer whose spirit has changed in an evident way. She accepted Christ with tears in her eyes, and thanked us for coming to tell her the Good News. Now she must have faith as she raises her eight children. Her husband, Kuya R, is a man with many vices. Pray that she would be strengthened and eager to lead her family to love the Lord.

Pray for Naynay F, who hosted us as we gathered for house church outside her home on Sunday morning. Pray for a group of believers to continue meeting each week after we leave, to study the Word and encourage each other. Pray that Ate V, whose passion for the Word is evident, would grow in her faith and become a leader for her family and others.

Pray for Kuya J, one of several men we've been playing basketball with every day. He told us that he has a Waray Bible that he reads early each morning before he goes to work. Pray that he would lead other men to love the Word and devote themselves to study.

Pray that the gospel would be evident in our words and actions.

Pray for our team to be unified and in-tune with the Spirit.

Pray for perseverance. We go to bed exhausted every day. Pray that the Lord would be our strength and that we would remain eager to serve.

A Funeral and an Opportunity

The death of a local family member brought us an opportunity to share the love of Christ in a time of mourning. They invited us to lead a funeral service at their home as the men of the family worked to construct the casket. We sang a song in Waray about God being our refuge, and shared the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

Just as the noise of handsaws and makeshift hammers made it difficult to hear the words that were being preached, the cultural traditions that dominate the way of life in this place can threaten to drown out the Truth of the gospel.

Pray for our love for the Waray-Waray people to grow, and for the love of Christ to be reflected in us. Pray for discernment as we speak and seek to bless these families.

Prayer Walking

One of our main jobs with Urban Impact is to lead mission teams that come in for a week at a time during the summer to teach ESL, do maintenance work, and work with children at the different immigrant centers.

Often, we take the teams on prayer walks through the neighborhoods in which our centers are located.  In the photos, we're taking a team through Queens, praying for the ministry of our South Asian Center.

Please, pray:
  • that God would use our prayer in the streets to humble us, showing us our constant dependence on Him.
  • that God would save the souls of the students and their families from the center.
  • that God would bless the mission teams' time in NYC and use it for His kingdom even after they go home.
In Christ,


A Post from Matt

We have been in our first barangay for about six days now, and it has been really exciting! We have met some people who're interested in studying the Bible and getting to know God. We are building relationships and we are hopeful for progress when people come to follow up. I have a positive feeling for the way our first barangay is going, but it didn't really start out that way for me.

Once we got off the river we had a Bible study with a group of people almost immediately. Taylor shared his testimony and told the story of the prodigal son, and our translators Mic-Mic and Mac-Mac translated for him. They went on to explain the gospel message even further, and answered some questions. This was great, but I quickly became discouraged. It seemed like it would make a lot more sense if there were seven Filipinos here who could understand the language. I felt like I couldn't be used as much because I couldn't understand everything that was being said. I felt like I could have been used more elsewhere.

My feelings quickly changed after we visited our first couple of houses. One of the first houses that we visited was Ate L. She and her husband, Kuya R, have several kids. Andrew shared his testimony and the gospel message. She started crying as we were talking to her. She said that nobody had ever come to tell her this before. She was amazed that we came all the way from America just to share about Jesus. As we left, she said, "Thank you very big."

I may not be able to answer questions directly or add a lot to the discussion, but the fact that I am here and that a group of us came from so far away to tell one important message could make a difference in somebody's life. God can use me in even the most insignificant ways to plant His seeds so that He can grow them. I'm really excited to see what God does through us for the rest of the summer.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How did it go?

After your conducting your first circumcision procedure, how did it go?