Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cat's Camera

Pray for the Banjar of Indonesia

Population: 4,168,000

Language: Banjar

Religion: Islam

% Christianity: 0%

% Evangelical: 0%

Information found on Joshua Project.

Introduction / History
The southern and eastern coast of Kalimantan is home to the Banjar people, who live along the rivers from the interior rainforest to the coastal cities. The majority of Banjar live in Southern Kalimantan, but there are also significant Banjar populations in East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Malaysia and Riau Province. The Banjar language and speech is difficult for other Indonesians to understand. However, a person can quickly learn the marketplace language because it is always used in daily life in Southern and Eastern Kalimantan. Although they are devout Muslims and known for their strong and proud Muslim identity, the Banjar proudly trace their origins to a Hindu kingdom, the Nagara Dipa. Contemporary ethnic cultural traditions developed from a combination of Java, Malay and Dayak cultures. Buddhism, then Hinduism and finally Islam were introduced from Java into South Kalimantan. In 1526, Banjar Prince Samudera accepted Islam and took the name of Sultan Suriansyah as a condition of receiving help from a Javanese army in overthrowing his uncle.
What are their lives like?
Banjarmasin, the capital city of South Kalimantan, is located 22 kilometers from the Java Sea. Since portions of the city are below sea level, the city rises and falls with the tides. Lanting (houses on stilts) line the multiple waterways, which crisscross the city. Taking a small klotok (motorized boat) around the rivers and canals shows a wide variety of activity: people bathing, washing laundry, gossiping and buying fruit, vegetables and fish from female vendors in small canoes. The Banjar people seldom move to other areas of Indonesia. They tend to marry and settle near their parents or other relatives in Kalimantan. Most find their livelihood through farming or plantation work near the rivers. Trade, transport and mining are also prominent occupations. Many Banjar work in traditional manual sawmills, but are reluctant to work in plywood factories because of the unhealthy conditions.

What are their beliefs?
The pervasiveness of Islam in Banjar society influences every aspect of individual and family life. Religion is the primary force in controlling crime, such as thievery and gambling. Banjar identity is inseparable from the Islamic religion. At the same time, traditional animistic beliefs prevail. These beliefs teach that certain supernatural powers reside in objects such as stones, trees and mountains. The Islamic celebrations and month-long fast of Ramadan are rigorously observed. The most famous building in Banjarmasin is the Agung Sabilal Muthadin Mosque, located in the center of the city. Since the period of Dutch colonialism, the Banjar have looked suspiciously on government schools as attempting to secularize their children. Modern Islamic schools claiming identity as government schools have been developed since independence.

What are their needs?
The Banjar do not look positively on modern methods and technologies nor do they mix much with other groups. This isolation has limited their development of education, health care and water purification. In the interior, villages have a limited infrastructure for distribution of crops and goods. The proliferation of coal, diamond and gold mines has also created tension throughout Kalimantan.

Open Doors

In the past three weeks our team has seen more open doors than we could have imagined. We know that this is only possible by the grace of God working in our favor through the lives of many college students around us. God has been teaching me personally during the short time we have been here, "I will open doors that you would have never expected. Don't be afraid to walk through them."

We have had the opportunity to speak in classrooms to large groups of students as well as one-on-one EV and discipleship. A unique opportunity we have at one of the local colleges is to set up a bracelet making booth in the main lobby. We were told, "Sit at the booth and they will come." And come they did. We had students from many different backgrounds and areas of study who were glad to make bracelets with us, and we were glad to sit and talk with them. This has been an open door for conversation and for sharing the gospel. This past week we used colored beads to tell the story of God's love and Jesus' sacrifice. We have made many contacts with these students and have invited them to Bible study at our apartment on Thursday nights. We know that we are responsible to plant seeds in their hearts, and it is our prayer that God would make them grow.

Our team making bracelets with students

Another interesting opportunity we had recently was to visit a meeting of the Baha'i, one of the many religious groups here. This place is such a cultural and religious melting pot that most of us knew nothing about their beliefs prior to attending the meeting. We walked into the house where it was held and were warmly welcomed. One of the first things we did was enter into a time of individual prayer where I simply repeated the words, "Come, Lord Jesus, come," over and over to myself. It was a slightly uncomfortable and unfamiliar setting for all of us, and it wasn't hard to sense the spiritual warfare as soon as we walked into the room. After a couple of songs were played and prayers were offered, they read a passage out loud that explained the fundamentals of their beliefs. It didn't take long before we realized that their agenda was to educate and hopefully persuade us on those teachings, while we had the goal of speaking the truth in love and hopefully planting more seeds.

We then went into a time of "refreshment" where their leader encouraged more personal conversation to take place between our team members and their group. I had many questions of my own and was extremely burdened for the people in the room. I felt led to speak to a woman who was holding a baby and a girl who looked like a student sitting beside her. After introducing myself, I quickly identified myself as a Christian to both of them, who politely acted like they knew as much. I asked them if I could share my testimony with them, and they readily agreed to listen. The Holy Spirit filled me with words as I was able to share with them with great joy in my heart. I began to ask them a few questions about their beliefs when the lady's husband walked up. We will call him Gene.  He quickly took over conversation and welcomed all my questions. God opened a door for me to share my beliefs with him as well, and although he was well-versed in Christianity, my prayer is that the love of Christ was evident in my life through the things that I shared with him. 

I learned through my conversation with Gene that the followers of Baha'i believe that there are a series of spiritual cycles that have taken place through the course of history and that Jesus is not the Son of God, but is a prophet of one of those cycles. Other prophets of other cycles include Moses, Muhammad, and Baha'u'llah. The goal of their religion is that all humans under every race and religion be unified as one and that we all live in harmony. There is much lack of truth in their teaching and my heart was greatly burdened for them. My prayer is that they would come to know the truth about Jesus, and that the truth would set them free.

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sounds doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."  2 Timothy 4:3-5

Please pray for the people of the Baha'i faith and for Gene and his family.
Please pray for the college students we meet that are surrounded by such darkness every day.
Please pray for words to be given to us by the Spirit so that we may proclaim the gospel even when we are in unfamiliar settings.
Please pray that God would grow the seeds that have been planted and that more doors would open to plant more seeds.

Grace and Peace,

Friday, June 29, 2012

New Faith Family

 An Alabamian’s perspective on life in Malaybalay, Bukidnon

 The Philippines is absolutely nothing like what I pictured a typical Asian country would be like. There are a lot of cultural differences here that I did not anticipate. For instance, the pace of life is much slower and lower key than my life in America. Also, when I changed my money at the airport in Manila, I quickly realized that since I’m awful at math, counting pesos is going to be a challenge for me. Dinnertime is not a problem for me. Our cook is great, and I have fully embraced Filipino culture by eating with my hands (My mother would love it…not)! 
     There are twenty-five children living here at the home, each with their own unique personality. The name, New Faith Family Children's Home given to the home suits this place because it truly is a family, and it is the only one that some of these children have ever known. Many of the house parents are still in their twenties, and I greatly admire them for it because this is a full time job! I have already become “Ate” (big sister) Katie to the children here, and my heart melts every time I hear it. 
    My team and I spend our time here loving on the kids and finding ways to lend a hand however we can, whether it’s scraping paint off a wall, painting, or washing dishes. There is no such thing as a typical day here! We are learning to roll with the punches and be faithful to the Lord even in the small things.  
      Please pray for the children, that they would come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, which is the ultimate goal of this ministry. Many of these kids already understand what it means to follow Jesus. It is so convicting to see how many Bible verses they know by memory! 
     The Lord is already teaching me so much about what it means to love like Jesus loves through these beautiful children. They have stolen my heart, and I fully believe that God has a wonderful plan for each of their precious lives.
Love in Christ,

A Post from Joe

God has definitely gone ahead of us into each barangay to prepare the hearts of the people. Mark 3:27 says, "But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house." God has answered prayers and has restrained Satan. Many people have given their lives to Christ and have been eager to hear the Word of God!

A vast majority of the people here are Roman Catholic and know very little of the Bible. The good news is that they believe the Bible is true, and once we teach them they are willing to accept truth. They see that their idols and traditions are sinful and powerless, and most are willing to acknowledge their sin and are happy to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. Our translator Luigi tells us that the two villages we have been to have been more receptive to the gospel than any of the villages that were visited last summer. We know from Romans 9:16 that this does not depend on us at all, but on God's mercy. So please keep praying! It has been clear that God has been hearing and faithfully answering all prayers!

Personally, I have become more aware and sensitive to the work and voice of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit I have been given boldness, words to speak, and seen answers to prayer in different situations. There have been multiple times when I have read a passage of scripture that was a perfect answer to a question later that day. In one instance, I was given boldness to speak the truth in a Bible study with the village witch doctor. I was able to show him that what he was doing wasn't right according to the Word of God. One time, a woman shared with us that her husband was unwilling to come to the Bible study and had issues with anger and abuse. We prayed, and the next night he came to the Bible study and accepted Christ as his Savior and Redeemer! Praise God! I am confident that all these things have come by the Spirit working through my weakness, as it says in Romans 8:26.

I come to see more and more each day how powerful prayer is, and how essential it is to our mission, and to every mission. We have seen evidence of prayer and work of the Holy Spirit in both of the barangays we have visited so far. We have seen it in continued team unity, safety, health, and most importantly, in receptiveness to the gospel and the name of Jesus.

I pray and have faith that God will water, grow, and multiply every seed that has been planted. I pray, and urgently ask for you to continue to pray, that more and more people will come to know the greatest thing they could ever know - Christ Jesus their Lord!

P52 Nashville NAME: City Stories- Lao Buddhist Tmple

Yesterday was our first day taking our Project52 team into the southeast Nashville community for gospel ministry. Although it was not on our “agenda,” we stopped by the Laotian Buddhist temple in the Woodbine community.

We were so grateful for the Buddhist monk who showed us all around the inside of his temple. We learned that these beds are for spirits who need a place to rest and refresh themselves as they wander through the world.

Our team had a great time learning from the monk about Buddhism. People were bringing in food for the spirits and gods there, and we had an opportunity to pray for the monk in Jesus’ name. But that could not have prepared us for what happened next.

As we were leaving the temple, we met a man standing outside named Khambang. He is from Laos and a true, biblical person of peace. We shared the gospel with him and gave him a Creation to Christ gospel tract and Jesus film. He invited us back next week to a huge Laotian community event, and he invited us to share Bible stories and Jesus films with people during the all day event next Saturday!

We were so overwhelmed by God’s love for us and grateful for the open doors to share Jesus with even more Buddhists in our Nashville community.

- James Harvey (our supervisor)

Here are some links to resources that the church I'm working with has put out. They are training and mobilizing church planting movements in Nashville, and across the US, maybe one day the globe. Check it out.


Pray for:
  1. Salvation on Saturday the 23rd as we bring the gospel to the whole Buddhist Laotian community.
  2. Salvation for Khambang and his family particularly, as he is a "gatekeeper" to his community.
  3. The prince of Laos, as he will be attending. Pray for his salvation and the gospel movement in his country
  4. Pray Big.
In Christ,
Matt Bentley

June Birthday Party!

We celebrated 4 of our Karenni friends' birthdays this week! Ree Meh, Lee Reh, Bu Reh, and Da Meh all had birthdays in the month of June so we had a big party to celebrate them! Since they do not celebrate birthdays, we think this was a first experience for them. We were informed by one of them that this was the first birthday he had ever had! It was a great time of fun with the kids, and we got to pray over each of them for their upcoming year! 

We had tons of food both American and Asian, as well as a big birthday cake! We even got each of them presents so they could experience a real American birthday party!

The guys decided to do Justin's hair like theirs! 

He fit right in!! 

Building Houses, Building Relationships

 I (Trent, Healthcare media guy) was able to travel to the Habitat team with Jess and meet with the guys. Received great words and stories from them that I want to share.

First, let me give you a general overview of what's taking place. The 4 man team—Matt, Will, David and Bryce—are staying in a dorm beside their work site where they help build houses for families who were displaced because of a massive flood last year.

The dorm wasn't their original destination, but God orchestrated a plan for them to end up at the dorm, to do Habitat work and ministry with the kids of the dorm. The dorm is in existence due to a wonderful pastor and missionary from Korea who has a heart for children to get an education and receive spiritual guidance. The dorm holds approximately 80 kids so, the team is staying among several kids, and able to  minister to them in the evening through games, tutoring and English lessons. Will even mentioned how he helps the older students with Physics because he enjoys the subject himself.

Since the team is at the dorm they have two ministries—one with the Habitat houses and the workers, and then with the kids at the dorm who are mainly Muslim. They had no idea about the dorm and staying with kids, but every team member is joyful because of the time with the kids and being able to share Christ's love to those who need it most. Sounds like God wanted this team to do more than Habitat work. He wanted them to encourage and inspire these children to become part of God's family through Christ's love. God works in mysterious ways but He always works for His glory, and we have to be obedient.
Please pray that their health remains well and they are able to complete the task they have been given this summer. Also, pray for the right words for each member as they interact with workers on the houses and as they teach and share with the kids of the dorm. May the team not lose hope but be enthusiastic and excited to teach all they meet about Christ's love. Pray for the kids of the dorm, that they would see something different in the lives of the 4 team members and the owner of the dorm. May they question and seek after God, and may they make commitments to serve the Lord for the rest of their life.

Keep up the prayers and support.  Everyone here is feeling the love from you, even though we are thousands of miles away. Thanks for being the true body of Christ!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making Disciples

Our purpose in this place is to share the love of Christ with a people who haven't experienced it. We are here as teachers of the Bible to a people who haven't heard what it says. We find joy in seeing the Lord move, and are humbled to be used for His Kingdom.
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." 
1 Corinthians 3:6-7
The Spirit is moving amongst these people in an obvious way. Never could we have expected people to be so receptive to the gospel or hungry for God's Word. The Lord is drawing people to Himself and changing their hearts. They are learning how to be obedient, and are making decisions based on their faith apart from our leadership.
"And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 
1 Corinthians 2:1-2
As we present the gospel, teach Bible studies, and answer questions, we find comfort in knowing that the salvation of others doesn't depend on our words. Language barriers and noisy roosters and spiritual darkness await us at every turn, but nothing can stop us from testifying to the cross. 
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." 
Matthew 28:19-20
One man made the decision to follow Jesus, and started leading others to do the same within a matter of days! One girl took the scripture that was explained to her, and used it to lead her grandparents to pray to receive Christ! God is moving in a mighty way. He is ready to use us. All we have to do is obey.

Luigi, Makenzie, and Joe teach a group of kids how to use their hands to illustrate the gospel message, so that they can tell others what Jesus has done for them. 


A Post from Ashlee

I was reading my Bible one day when I saw a dog that had been hanging around the village. This dog was absolutely repulsive. He was skinny, had pink bald spots all over him, and if you touched him, he'd yelp in pain. If you got too close, he'd limp away, terrified.

Sitting next to that mangy, awful looking dog, I realized that's me: dying, gross, and undesirable in my sin, until Jesus touched me and healed me.

Father, thank you for reminding me of my desperate need for You. Clean me! I am a dirty mangy mutt. I need you to make me whole. Let the gospel be very real to me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Break me of my sin; show me the depth of it. Then break my heart for others.

The people in these barangays are sick in their sin, just like I was. They need Christ to touch them and heal them just as I do. Psalm 130 is my prayer; that the people will cry out to the Lord from the depths of their sin.
"Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentiveto the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities." 
Psalm 130 

A Post from Makenzie

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is running from Jezebel, who is furious because the prophets of Baal had been slaughtered. In the depths of his discouragement, Elijah is comforted by the Lord through an angel. Elijah is then led to a mountain, and commanded to "go out and stand on (it) before the Lord." 

"And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper." 

Just like God comforted Elijah, God has given me comfort as well. In a place where people always stare at me, where I do not know the language, and where my feet never get clean, God soothes me. In a place where everything is foreign, God shows me familiarity through the studying of His Word. In the midst of inconveniences,  God has humbled me through His refreshingly loving Spirit. And in the presence of pain, God continues to excite me with His beautiful presence. As a Christian, I must listen for God's low whisper.

"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken." Psalm 62:1-2

Worth 1,000 Words

The week at Gentle Hands in pictures.

[teaching Bible stories to the GH kids using a story cloth]

[Rachel and T walking to a nearby park]

[bath time! Chylsea stays busy keeping these babies clean]

[Hannah (working a shift in the nursery) with a happy, clean baby S]

[Ate Charity gives medical treatment and advice in the Malabon community where GH does outreach each week]

[Chelsea, a friend and visitor at Gentle Hands]

[the Gentle Hands logo painted on a building in Malabon]

[craft time in Malabon - Philippians 4:13]

[singing praise to God in Malabon!!]

[a little friend in Malabon was curious about Rachel's Bible]

"For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel declares, "I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered."
Isaiah 56.7-8

Gentle Hands: learning, loving, serving

I (Media Mary speaking) just spent 5 days with the nanny team at Gentle Hands. What a blessing and challenge that time was!

For their mamas: this nanny team is alive and well - and busy! Gentle Hands describes itself as an agency "meant to be on the front lines of rescue and rehabilitation of the needs of at-risk children and youth, working towards improving human community life through the love of Jesus and family-centered care." Currently, GH is home to over 50 children and 30+ staff members. I want to describe it as full of "life," which is especially significant because many children arrive at Gentle Hands on the brink of death.

I've been told that writing blogs about nanny work is a challenge because the work is not especially thrilling. It's true that changing poopy diapers and helping with math homework is not breaking news, but this week at Gentle Hands has taught me some important lessons about true service and love.

[sometimes service looks like this - donated clothes, sorted by size]

[Rachel, Maegan and Hannah taking the toddlers for a walk]

  • Service doesn't always make for great stories. Sometimes the Lord calls us not to preach or plant churches, but to bathe an elderly woman who is unable to get out of bed. Sometimes it's not a matter of blazing a new trail but of obediently submitting to an authority. These nannies probably don't have a passion for cleaning oatmeal out of a squirming toddler's hair, but that is the service that the Lord has set in front of them for the summer. And as such, it is a vital part of the Kingdom story.
  • "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward." (Col. 3:22) The test of a true heart for service is how you respond when no one notices. Sometimes I think I want to serve when really I want the assurance that my service is appreciated.
  • God loves the unlovely and calls us to do the same. In most of my pictures the babies are sweet and smiling. But those babies also cry. They scream, in fact. They dump water on you at 5 AM; they poop in the bathtub; they refuse your outstretched arms. If you love them less in those moments, you don't really love them at all. If you do not love the troubled teenager or stubborn six-year-old as you do the cooing toddler, you don't love as God does. As my friend Lizzie reminded me, as ambassadors for Christ we cannot be selfish with our love. It's not ours to keep and give as we please. We, too, are often unlovely.
  • God loves the unlovely, but He doesn't leave them there. His love is the kind that transforms. It redeems. It disciplines.
Pray for the Gentle Hands nannies, that the Lord would continue to give them hearts of true service. Pray that they would "put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Pray that through this team, the children would know they are loved uniquely and individually by their Father.
Pray that all glory would be His.
- Media Mary

P52 Nashville: These Are Not Our Enemies

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

     When you hear the words "Muslim" or "Islam", what thoughts come to your mind? For many of us, we may have never had a Muslim friend or acquaintance; the most we have heard of these people have been news reports of violence and hatred.

     The past two weeks, I have been in training for leadership and evangelism to Muslim people groups in Nashville. My team's focus is on North African and Middle Eastern people groups, specifically the Kurds and Somali Bantu. Our mission is to bring the light of the gospel to these unreached people groups and empower the local church to take up this mission and actively seek to evangelize and plant churches among these peoples in the Nashville area.

     Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend a service at the local mosque. We did not participate, but we were able to observe from the back of the room as the people worshiped their god. I have never known anyone who was Muslim, and like many of you, I have been very detached from these people. As I attended this service what I realized was that these people are just like us: sinners in desperate need of the gospel of Christ.  They have shown me incredible hospitality, often more than I would expect from the most hospitable of Southern people.

     I was struck by the devotion that these people showed to their god. These people desperately want to please their god, but have been deceived by the lies of the evil one. Pray against the powers of darkness and pray that the Spirit would come and illuminate the lies and shine the truth of the gospel of Christ through His Church.

"Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." Ephesians 3:7-10

Here's how you can pray:
  1. Pray for wisdom/discernment as my team seeks to effectively bring the gospel to the Kurdish and Somali Bantu.
  2. Pray for visions and dreams for the Muslims here in Nashville (85% of converted Muslims had a dream or vision of Christ before conversion).
  3. Pray for the local church to have the heart and eyes of Christ: to love and see the nations as God does.
  4. Pray for refugees to be open to hearing the gospel and studying the Bible in their homes.
  5. Pray for a house church movement to begin in Nashville that would impact the globe.
  6. Pray for God to do things that only He can do. Pray big.

In Christ,

For the First Time

Kynsleigh and Amanda at Farlim Night Market with
 local students Ker Xin, Mandee, Kim, Big May, and Little May

   Three weeks ago, I got on an air plane for the first time.  Three weeks ago, I set foot on foreign soil for the first time.  And three weeks ago, I heard the speakers broadcast the call to prayer high in the air for the first time.  It's hard to know where to begin except with that our God is a God of new beginnings.  
    I've seen evidence of this in just three weeks.  He gave our new sister in Christ a new beginning through His saving grace, and everyday He has given me a new beginning to proclaim His glorious name in this nation.  It's been three weeks, but everyday I still wake up in amazement.  Amazed that I'm here.  In a different nation.  Ultimately my only purpose is to declare the name of Jesus.  It's been three years since I first felt God calling me to serve Him and love His people in a different nation.  Now that I'm here, it is so evident that our God keeps His promises and gives us the desires of our hearts.  That nothing we pray for is ever too big for Him.  And I pray for big things.  In these students.  In these campuses.  In this nation.
   On a normal day, we will enter a classroom, introduce ourselves, play a few games, and then get to know the students.  Last Monday, in one of these classrooms, I met a group of five girls that stole my heart.  Just like I would with my friends back home, we laughed, talked, and joked around with one another.  They couldn't wait to hang out and "take photo". During this time in class we had together, I found out that one was a Christian, three were Buddhist, and one was a "half and half" as they like to say.  The Holy Spirit has never made it more obvious to me before on a group of girls that I was called to pour into before.  
    My heart broke for theses girls who did not know the love of my Savior.  I knew it was my job to show them His love. To be His hands, His feet, His instrument.  Wednesday night they invited me to go the night market with them.  So of course, I willingly went.  They wanted me to try all of the local food.  So out of politeness, I did. Probably not the best decision. They would buy food after food for me to try.  And a night of eating chicken gizzards and who knows what else was more than enough Asian food for me.  But I would do it all again for the chance to show these girls the love of Christ.  At the end of the night, I knew that at least a seed was planted in their hearts.  I invited them to Bible study the next night, and two came which is so encouraging.  I know that my time is short here, but I plan to love these girls in Christ with all that I have.  To boast in Him.  To be ever joyful in Him.  I pray that God would do big things in their lives. 
  • That the spirit would begin to move in these girls hearts. 
  • That our Thursday night Bible study would be an open door for nonbelievers to hear and experience the love of Christ.
  • That God would burden our hearts with certain people to focus on.
  • That the time we spend hanging out with the students would be intentional.
"For Jesus. Every word, every breath is for you."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prayer for Gentle Hands

While these are only a few examples of the prayer needs at Gentle Hands, I wanted you to see faces and know stories. Please know that each face represents a dozen more whose needs are just as great.

L (at right) is a new resident at Gentle Hope, though she has been a friend of Ate C's for a while. She is 95 and has tuberculosis and a dislocated hip, among other things. L cannot walk or get out of bed. She knows the Lord. She sings worship songs and talks to the many children and visitors that stop by to say hi. She speaks Tagalog, but she sings Oh Come Let Us Adore Him with her friend Rachel. It is beautiful.
Pray that L will know that she is loved and valued at Gentle Hands, and that she understands that Christ loves her even more. Pray that she would not be lonely. Pray for physical healing and relief of pain. And praise God that she will have eternal life with him! She is a blessing to everyone she meets.

Meet baby P, who came to Gentle Hands 3 weeks ago from the squatter area of Malabon. P is about 1.5 years old. She had worms, tuberculosis, and was malnourished. She is now being treated for TB and the malnutrition - the worms have all come out now. P has parents who love her, but were unable to provide or care for her physically. P is one of the smartest and sassiest babies you will meet!
Pray for P's physical recovery. TB medications are very hard on babies, especially when they're underweight. Pray that the Lord would strengthen her little body and restore her health. Pray that the Lord would use her time at Gentle Hands to draw her parents, and that her family would know Jesus! Pray also for J, who takes care of her at Gentle Hands, for peace and wisdom.

  • Pray for the squatters in Malabon, where the Gentle Hands team goes each week to visit, provide medical treatment, lead the children in worship and crafts and provide a meal. God has a plan for this place. Pray that these small, tangible acts of love would point to the gospel. The gospel is hope; Malabon needs hope.
  • Pray for the children at Gentle Hands. They have suffered in ways most of us can't even imagine. But they are precious to the Lord who made them, and they are precious to the people at GH. They are each unique, with their own story, their own needs. Pray for their physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Pray that they would know the love of a Father who will never leave them. Pray that families would find them!
  • Pray for Ate C as she fights for these children.
  • And pray for the parents - the ones who did the leaving. It would be easy to despise them after seeing the way they treated their children. But who knows what they, too, have gone through? Who knows what abuse they suffered as adults, as children? Pray that the Lord would fill us all with compassion for the parents. Pray that they would call on the name of Jesus and find salvation. Pray that they would understand the value of human life and would stop the abusive cycle. Pray that the Lord would begin a work of radical transformation in them. They are thirsty. May they drink Living Water.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Better Than Ours

Breanna and I woke up Sunday morning this week with a pretty boring day planned. We were really excited, because Jillian was getting to share her testimony at the Hispanic church, but other than that, our day looked pretty bland. Basically we were going to be filling out paperwork and working on writing some skits. Good thing we are not in charge of the universe, and God's plans are always so much better than the things we come up with.

I happened to see a friend of ours named Maw Reh while visiting apartments that let me know there was going to be a meeting at his house, and he wanted Breanna and I to come. At first all I could think was, "Great a business meeting!" (super sarcastically) Not to mention the fact that most likely it would be completely in Karenni and we would just sit there not understanding a word said. Wanting to show the elders of the community respect and love, we decided to go

Upon arriving we realized that this was not just a meeting, but a service to inform a small group of the Karenni people about becoming Christians! They were all interested in getting baptized, having been to church they knew some about God, but had never made professions of faith, and they wanted to learn more! We felt so blessed to even be able to join the meeting, but yet again God had different plans. The Karenni people do not have the old testament in their language, so they asked Breanna and I to explain what the Bible says about being a Christian, starting at creation! We then had the opportunity to share with them creation to Christ, what happened to man, why we need a savior, who Jesus is, and what it means to be a Christian, what baptism is, and even what God calls us to do after salvation. We got to explain to all of the elders on the consul why we are here in North Carolina, why we want to spend time with the Karenni people, and how they can be missionaries too. Maw Reh translated everything for us, and they asked us to speak with all of the new believers!

Leaving there we planned to attend a Nepalese bible study. There are about 5 Nepalese families here we are trying to reach out to. We figured we would go, and not really understand anything, but at least get to meet a few people. Upon arrival they told us there was no bible study. Confused, we stuck around to find out more, because we had been told that there was. What we found out was that they have no bible study, no pastor, no leaders, and have just been going to church on Sundays which two teenage boys have been leading. When we mentioned the bible study they said, "No we do not have a Bible study, but we would love to do one if you will help us start one." Of course we wanted to! Because of the confusion we have now established a Bible study with them every Sunday at 7pm that we will be leading. One of the older women even offered to translate for us, because many of the adults do not speak English. They are so excited to learn about God, and we are excited to share with them. 

When we arrived home we couldn't believe all of the doors God had opened that day for us just hanging out at the apartment complex during the day. Sometimes we feel like God has nothing for us to do, but if we start to serve Him in the small things, just by visiting people, or showing up to love on someone He shows us even greater opportunities. God's plans: I'll exchange mine for them any day!

*Prayer Requests:

1. Karenni VBS
2. Wisdom in investing in families, and individuals
3. Karenni Girls Bible Study
4. Nepalese Bible Study 
5. Guidance in how to spend our time wisely 
6. Being spirit-led 
7. God's will to be done here with the Karenni, Karen, and Nepalese people
8. Leaders to step up in all 3 people groups 

Update from Mary Kate

Here is an update from Mary Kate that she send out about a week ago:

Hello Friends and Family, 

Yesterday, I was teaching my students about descriptions, and we talked about how we describe things based on our five senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and touching. I wanted to teach them how to communicate what a person or object is like. On my way home later that day, I thought about how much I have had to adjust my senses since being in New York City. I have seen things that I have never seen before: temples, sky scrapers, people from every nation, train, things pleasant and things utterly disgusting and wicked. I seem to have inhaled the dirtiness of the city from the crammed transportation, yet I have breathed in the aroma of new foods and my favorite, Chai.  

There are so many sounds that I hear every day: people yelling at each other, different languages being spoken, the traffic, the subway, the bus, the sirens, the rain, etc. I don't think people ever have one moment of quiet.

However, last night I heard the most beautiful sound, placing my feet on higher ground. I heard the richness of people from Muslim backgrounds, praying to God the Father in different languages and with different accents. I attended a prayer meeting at a church that partners with the ministry I work with, and I was so encouraged to see them praying and to get to know some of the members in the congregation.

During the week, I work at both Metropolitan Baptist Church and at the South Asian Center of Urban Impact. 
Tuesdays through Thursdays I work all day at the South Asian Center and my focus is Bangladeshi Muslims. I teach English classes and do personal tutoring and eat in restaurants and shop in local neighborhood stores to form relationships. I also work with weekly high school and college teams who come to volunteer with us.

I think I have bored you enough for now with so many details.  Although, I have not begun to scratch the surface of all that has happened here. I want to express my gratitude for your prayers. I am fully aware of them! I have to enter into places of much spiritual warfare: the Sikh temple, mosques, etc. Just yesterday, I took a high school team into a Hindu store full of idols, incense, and books of religion. Sometimes, the darkness just seems overwhelming.  Please pray for strength during these times. All we want is to bring light to the darkness. 

Please pray:
  • That people would be open to the gospel and that I would have the boldness to share (2 Tim. 4:5).
  • For intimate time with God and for increased wisdom in love (Philip. 1:9-11, Col. 1:10).
  • For new relationships and friendships and for more understanding of the Bangladeshi people
  • For the women whom live with: that they would know Christ and the power of the cross.
  • For encouragement and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to endure suffering and to preach the gospel.
  • For unity with my teammates: that we would glorify God.
Much love,

Mary Kate

Knock, and it will be open

They were about wash their dishes after dinner. It was already dark out and they were preparing to have a devotional time before bed when they heard a knock on their door. They opened the door and there stood several, young Filipinos. They started saying "BP...BP," which means they wanted their blood pressure taken. They proceeded to take their blood pressure, but they quickly learned the Filipinos weren't there for blood pressure. No, God had orchestrated a perfect plan to bring Filipinos straight to their door for the gospel.
Through Vonn's translation and understanding, the young Filipinos had practiced their English before approaching the house, because they wanted to be ready before they spoke to Americans for the first time. So they sat and listened to the team as they shared their testimonies and spoke the gospel to them, and before the night was over, 6 of the Filipinos accepted Christ. Can you believe it? The team didn't even leave the confines of their small house. God brought the broken and thirsty to their doorstep, and tested the team to see if they were faithful. Well, they were and Christ received all the glory. From an interest in Americans, to sharing testimonies, to saving grace—people are changed for eternity. The team is going to continue bible studies with the group, so the relationship doesn't end.

Please pray for these new believers as they learn to walk with God and share their few found faith with their friends and family.

Where you go, I'll go

Quick video with clips and photos from the past week here in the Butuan area with the Healthcare team. The work here is unbelievable, the people are hospitable beyond belief and God has made a family out of our group. We love reuniting after going out to our villages. Continue to pray for our work, for encouragement, for those those who are lost and depressed, and for truth to be revealed at all times. God loves these people, and so do we.

Testimony from Ross

I know many people hear wonderful things about mission trips and I completely agree that there are amazing blessings. Surprisingly doing God's work everyday does not mean one feels Spirit-led everyday. Let's be honest, and reveal some truth. The adjustment to a new culture is hardly the hardest part. Spiritual warfare remains strong. Satan does not like what we are doing one bit. He would love to have us think that God has abandoned us. He wants us to question our beliefs. He also wants to distract us from achieving our goal. Simply put, he wants us discouraged and less powerful. I have even wondered how I could stand to do this again. I cannot! Only the Holy Spirit can compel us to stick out the persecution, discern the tricks of the devil and allow us to rejoice in our heavenly Father.


New Sister in Christ!

 PRAISE GOD! Tonight by God's Grace, Grace (a girl who came to Bible study the last two weeks) accepted and Confessed Jesus Christ is her savior and Lord!! we are only here for a period of time and so the two of us are going to be meeting and studying God's word and hopefully she will be comforted by the time that we leave in knowing that when she search's God He will reveal Himself to her and she doesn't need us that we are only a vessel :) 

Please pray for me as I disciple her that I will only speak the words that God has for her and what she needs to hear not what I want her to hear.
Pray for our team as we began to disciple these new believers.
Pray for protection from spiritual warfare that we have already felt here heavily and for Grace as satan will try and stray her.
I am overjoyed with honor that God is using us here to fill His kingdom, and I can't wait to begin discipling her tomorrow and many more days to come.

Lovingly praying,

N Thai Update

"Wherever I go, the King goes. Wherever the King goes, 
His Kingdom comes. 
Wherever His kingdom comes, the powers to be must submit!"

                Last Tuesday we moved into our second host home. The family here is really so sweet and they say that we are just like their own kids. They have two children Ulm, their 17 year old daughter, and Nai their son. Ulm has begun to call us her sisters which is so great! She is truly such a blessing to us. One of the first things that we did in this home was pray over it. It was definitely a moving experience. God taught me through this experience that He fills the heavens and the earth-He most certainly can fill these host homes. We have been praying desperately for this family's hearts to be opened. 

               God has truly been at work this week. We were invited to our first birthday party last week for a girl named Giv-she turned 13. She is actually one of our English students. Her family let us pray over her and then we all joined around to eat cake and mango. In Thailand the day simply is not complete without mango. It was truly an honor that we were invited to the party. 

           On the way back from visiting one of the local schools we noticed a ceremony (funeral) going on and Ulm took us up to it. The man that the ceremony was for was in his late 30s and passed away because of an auto accident. It really began to hit home with me that this was a man in my village, though I had never met him. He never came to know Jesus as far as we all know. This was a Buddhist ceremony that we were at. There was a monk inside the home reading sutras while people were burning incense. We did all that we could do by helping the family with food preparation. Every day is a day that we could be sharing the gospel. We do not know God's timing on anything or any life in this village. This has created a greater passion within me to be intentional each day with sharing God with this community, and we only have one week left in this specific village.

          God has truly been at work this week. Rung's dad said he has begun to take notice of  how we are living and how different we are from the village. This is progress and I loved hearing that maybe something is changing within him. We went to borrow a Thai Christian film on Thursday and put it in Kari's (the team leader) purse. That night some of the girls from the neighboring Catholic home joined with our host family to learn to make bracelets. This movie sparked the interest in Nai and he asked to watch the Jesus film. We showed that Saturday night and the gospel was shared with our host family the same night. I have to admit that I was a little sad that nothing miraculous came out of the family watching the movie, but God has His own timing through everything. We walked in Sunday to find Nai watching the Jesus film on his own. I really do believe that the hearts of Ulm and Nai are being opened.

          Friday we went to Ulm's high school for half of the day. We went to class and participated in a teacher english camp.  Absolutely every student wanted to say hello. This means kids shouting hello over balconies, out windows, down stairs, and in the hallways. We were even surrounded by a whole group of girls for the entire day. We had the amazing chance to be able to pass out tracts and simply speak to a bunch of students. I loved being able to go to their school. 

        We had 17 kids in english class this week! I had four girls in my group this week and I love simply being able to practice conversation with them. Ulm even came to english class with us and was in my class! I hope to go through salvation colors with them next week. 

I hope you all have a great week!

   Love in Christ,


Monday, June 25, 2012

Team Korea Update

“Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work 
of the Lord, knowing that your toil 
is not in vain in the Lord.” 
1 Corinthians 15:58

Team Korea is settled in and doing well! Our lives have been full since landing in Seoul. We moved into apartments with students and house parents, took a field trip with the students, and began teaching our English classes. Living with the students has been encouraging, challenging, and an enormous blessing. 
We have learned to communicate without words and found that hand gestures can be more effective than we might have thought. We have also learned a lot about loving people through our actions. Because of the language barrier, many of us cannot verbally communicate the gospel or talk about God’s love to our students. So we have had to get creative and be the hands and feet of Jesus’ love in the form of hugs, washing dishes, tutoring in English, holding hands, and any other way we can come up with. 
It is challenging to have such a large communication barrier, but through our weaknesses Jesus is faithfully strong. Last night one of the teachers talked about how important she felt Nehemiah teams were to the students. She said the teachers have verbally shared the gospel with them many times, but it is often a struggle for them to take time to just love on the students in the midst of all of their other responsibilities. She said that she thinks the students can feel God’s love in a different way when we are here. God is faithful. Through all of our inabilities to speak Korean, the love of Jesus is being communicated.
             Today we had an opportunity to lead chapel and two of our team members gave their testimonies. Please pray that through their stories of redemption that Jesus would work in the hearts of the students and draw them to Himself. Continue to pray for our relationships with the students in our homes and our classrooms. Pray that God’s love would pour out of us in a sacrificial way that draws the students to the Lord. Pray that our team would grow in unity and that we would daily die to ourselves and serve the Lord with every ounce of energy we can muster. Also pray that God would protect the health of our team and give us grace to endure any sicknesses and exhaustion we might face. Thank you all for your prayers. We have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in tangible ways and we are excited to see the work He is going to do.