Saturday, July 14, 2012

Smiles, Pancakes, and Service

The Love the Children Team made pancakes for the kids! 

An Update from James

This week has flown by. As I try to wrap my head around it and write something interesting I feel humbled like I have many other times during this week.

There were several occasions where I just held my head between my hands and tried to comprehend the goodness of Father. Who am I that he has chosen me to bear the message of his son. Not only that, but he gives the Spirit to work in me? O what wonder is this!?

Even as I write I feel the quiet call of my lover drawing me deeper. O He is Good. His Mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.

Prior to this week, I had been feeling a little worn. I was tired of sharing a life changing message and seeing incongruity in the response of those who heard. Should not a life changing message produce life change? Is not Father worthy of total surrender? He is faithful. Always faithful.
This week I went to a more rural area than I've been to. As I looked at the hunts and felt a sense of hesitancy rise up within me, I also heard Father say, "Isn't this what you asked for." I tried to quiet my anxieties and asked Father for peace.

I was slightly discouraged because I first came to a believer. If you are thinking that I was wrong to be discouraged, you are right. I was quickly made aware of my wrong and the Spirit corrected me. I trained that man to grow and share. Then his daughter came home and my interpreter for the day told me that I would share with her.

As I unfolded the message before her, she showed little sign of response. I asked that Father would not allow my heart to grow dull from giving the news so many times. He responded powerfully. I felt the power of God overtake me and I found myself completely broken for this woman and for all who have no idea of His goodness.

I began to cry as I told her that I bear a heavy burden on my back for those who don't know him. I hear their cries ringing in my ears. I told her that I wanted so desperately to experience the life and heart change that I had. She told me that was what she wanted as well.

We prayed and cried out to God in desperation. As I finished I looked at her. She was wiping tears from her eyes. We saw God in one another as I thanked her for listening and she thanked me. She was dunked the next day and inexpressible joy was manifested on her face. O sing Praise to Father! He is Faithful indeed!

What else is there? What else could I live for? To quote Peter, "where else would we go, you have the words of life!"


How to pray for the Kingdom Builders Team

Pray for us as we finish out our time here and that we would use it to glorify God.

Pray for our national partners as they minister in their communities.

Pray for the people who have already accepted Christ and that they would grow in their faith!

Pray for the UPG's that our national partners are ministering too.

Thanks for your prayers!

An Update from Hannah

He who hath led will lead, All through the wilderness.
He who hath fed will surely feed. He who hath heard thy cry will never close his ear.
He who hath marked thy faintest sigh, Will not forget thy tear.
He loveth always, faileth never, So rest on him today-forever.
-by Amy Carmichael

Whenever I get the chance I love to read missionary biographies. The real life accounts of how our God has used men and women who are surrendered to him are convicting and inspiring. Currently I am reading A Chance to Die, which is a biography of Amy Carmichael written by Elliot.

The stories of her boldness, passion, and honesty about struggles are very encouraging to me. This poem she wrote stood out to me because it shows how dependent we must be on our LORD. I have learned the importance of daily crying out to God, asking him to give me strength to follow him wherever he leads. Through whispers He reminds me that He has never left my side. In the wilderness of my struggles I choose Christ as my guide.

I had the opportunity to participate in a CMI monthly training. As a small group of normal people gathered I witnessed the most beautiful picture of what it looks like to not only hear the call of Christ but to surrender all and obey it. One afternoon they began sharing stories of death threats, imprisonments, and hardships that they had encountered because of their love for the Savior.

Never did I hear any of any regrets or complaints. Their heart for the lost people around them was evident. They have a grasp on what Amy Carmichael was feeling when she wrote about resting on Christ only. The men and women I was privileged to meet were living out the Great Commission, they picked up their cross and surrendered their lives. I pray that God would continue to break me so that I will be a usable vessel. Like Amy Carmichael I must learn to rely on my Father and rest in his love and provision for each day.

An Update from Levi

God is good. That is one of the things that God has just been bringing up in my mind over and over again this summer. The other day we were up early enough to see the sunrise and it was breath taking. It made me think of God's faithfulness to us as believers.

He is even more faithful to us than the sun rising everyday. Then this just brought Isaiah 55:11 to mind " so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.".

Our part in the growing process is sowing seeds. If we dont sow the seeds the whole process breaks down. We must be faithful to sow the seeds and wait for our faithful God to grow them. Mark 4:27 "... the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how." We have no idea how God works so we just have to be faithful in sowing the seeds. God has just allowed us to see so much fruit this summer we have seen over 30 people baptized and many more have heard the Gospel. One of the ladies I shared with shared with her daughter and led her to Christ! God is moving in a few people and I know He will use them long after we are gone.

These things have not come from us as God's children but only from God. Without Christ we are nothing and totally lost. We must completely rely on God as we share the Gospel and minister. I have just been striving to cling to the cross daily and trying to rely on Christ's strength rather than mine. God is good and I know that His plan for us as His children is good, we must simply trust in Him!

An Update from Ashley

I didn't know exactly what to expect this summer but God has exceeded all things even imagined. He has been faithful through the little and big things and I'm thankful to be called His servant.

For I am not worthy to share the gospel, but it is through God smothering me with grace that it is even possible. It is through His grace that he has showed me many things this summer. One important thing He has showed me is to keep my heart open.

When I came here, I had an idea what I wanted to do with my life but God wanted to change it. He desires "loyalty not sacrifice" (Hos. 6:6) and when I sacrificed my summer God really wanted my whole life. Through this He has changed my small worldview focus to a bigger worldview focus. God is a multicultural multi lingunstic God and every nation will be before Him someday.

There is harvest waiting for the Truth and it is our job to go. It got real for me this summer when a lady said she was thankful that someone came and explained the gospel to her and her family. After seeing God work this summer as he transformed many lives it only makes sense to surrender my whole life fully to Him.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Conversation about Goals

Me, Amanda, and Kynsleigh with some students at lunch
Recently, I met a guy named "Ah Heng".  He asked me, “Do you believe in Philosophy?” I said, "Well, I took a class in university, but what do you mean? Do YOU believe in it?” 

He responded with, “Yes, I have learned about it, and I have understood that we live as humans to set a goal and achieve it. Then set another one until we are ready for another one.” 

I asked, “So what is your goal for your life?” with a confused look, he said “I don’t know. I don’t have one."  

“Can I share my goal with you?” I eagerly said. “Yes," he said with a smile.  
So then I began to explain to him that my goal in life is to represent God since He is the Lord of my life. Because I have a relationship with Him, one day I will be taken out of this earth to be with Him. No sacrifice could measure up to how great the sacrifice He gave for me. 

The man was astounded at my passion. He asked me, “Why are you so sure that is the right goal for you?” I poured out my heart about many scriptures that confirm God’s love, sacrifice, mercy, and promises of all! 

    I asked him, “So, can I ask you something again, just to clarify?” 
    “Sure,” he said. “What do you want your goal to be for your life?” He said the most hurtful, lonely sounding words I had ever heard in my life, “That I will have God in my heart, and be with Him in Heaven.” I could do nothing other then to shed tears knowing that God was calling on his name saying, “Child, come home! Child, come home!” 

    And He used me to show His love. I shared with Him the way to salvation through scripture. I told him of the simple prayer I said many years ago when I asked God into my heart, and I explained that once you're saved, you are always sealed with the spirit of God that no evil can take away. 
I asked after those moments, "Is this something you would like to do now? It says in the word, 'For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you."' I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.” God is waiting for you to accept Him into your heart and even if you choose to not follow Him today or tomorrow or until next week or many years to come, know that God is awaiting your return to Him. 

(2 Timothy 2:13)

    He said with a gentle smile, “Maybe, I don’t know.” (inside I was screaming AHHHH! Maybe. maybe. maybe. MAYBE!) I had never wanted to not hear that word more than in that moment. 
I wanted him to fall on his knees and call upon the Name of the Lord. I wanted him to confess he believed, but then I was quickly reminded it is not about me. It is about him and God. The seed has been planted. He agreed to meet tomorrow and receive a bible from me.  I pray that he reads the verses I have highlighted for him.  I pray that he will be willing to listen to God speaking truth in his life.


   Just like this story, we encounter these questions everyday at the three colleges we focus on, it has been great whether we are in the classrooms teaching about American life and how we live or in the cafeteria (“Kantine”) striking up new conversations about their lives finding some way to connect. 

    Even though we only have less than two weeks, and home seems so close, the duty her is not finished and we can still see the Holy Spirit stirring up new and old hearts in them and us! We can’t leave here thinking we could have done more, so we will do all we can! I pray that in the moments of a heart being softened by the love of God that I don’t get selfish in wanting a heart to be converted so bad that I forget the hearts condition. 

   This is not a game, and it never was. It's not a race to see who can convert the most, but merely a calling that I have graciously been given the honor of choosing to accept. I am a soldier to God’s army, built with the armor of God to sustain His Kingdom. For if I rely on the armor of God, nothing can destroy it. Praise God for His Power…Pray for Ah Heng… and Pray for us!

In love,

“Not Just a Café”

          Acts 16 describes Paul and Silas’s journey to Macedonia, the place the Lord had called them. When they arrived they found a place of prayer by the river where they went often. They encountered many ministry opportunities there and saw God work in mighty ways. Well, our team found such a place near the shore recently called Just Caffe. 

     It was started by two local young men, Josh and Kelvin, who both received word from the Lord to open up a coffee shop and café in order to minister to those who walk through their doors. The name comes from the word “justice” which is something they are very passionate about and a goal as they show Christ’s love to their customers. I was very encouraged as I heard their story and was able to affirm them as I saw their heart behind the ministry.

            The location of Just Caffe is not an accident, either. It lies directly across the street from one of the colleges we have been reaching out to each week. We have been able to meet students at and around the café and invite them to join us. Although Just Caffe has only been open for about two weeks, it has already attracted many students and workers, and our team has been there many times as well. A few of the city’s government buildings lie on the same road as well as several businesses, so we can really see God’s hand in providing for the café and its new ministry. They strive to create a loving, Godly atmosphere for those who walk in, and that is exactly what they are doing.

            Four floors above Just Caffe is a branch of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) that is led by Josh and Kelvin as well. We had the opportunity to join them for their weekly time of prayer this week to intercede on behalf of this city and the people we have met. Four college students joined us, including two non-believers. We were able to share the gospel with them as well as have meaningful conversation and discipleship with the two students who are believers.

Weekly House of Prayer service that our team attended
            If we have learned anything this summer it has been that God can do amazing things in a short amount of time, and Just Caffe is proof of that. 
     Please join us in praying for the ministry opportunities that are there, and that they could develop some of the relationships we have formed with students after we leave in just two short weeks. 

Pray Requests

  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
1 Timothy 2: 5

     I just wanted you to know how grateful I am to those who sent money for the socks. I will have plenty of money to buy the socks and toothbrushes for the dorm kids, as well as socks for the students at the school.

    One of the teachers at our school, P A, seems close to accepting Christ. The fact that her family and culture is Buddhist is the only thing standing in her way. Hunter and I have been talking to her about Jesus Christ since we got here. She is asking questions, and wants to know more. She says she believes and even prays to Jesus, but struggles to put Buddhism behind her.

     Pray that all idols will be removed from here path that it might be a clear path to Jesus. She is a leader in the public high school, and could be a great a great force for the kingdom of God. Please pray that she comes to have a personal relationship with Christ, also that Jesus would show His mighty power through giving her a baby.

      Pray also for the girl we met at the coffee shop, Jang. She said she liked to read about other religions, and gratefully we were able to give her a New Testament, which she said she would read. One of the things she asked us to pray about was her coffee shop for it makes no money during rainy season, because no one comes in the rain. Last Wednesday it was raining and we were able to show her that Jesus comes rain or shine.

     Pray also pray for P Bum, the teacher we went to her house for dinner. That God would shake that hose hold, and tare down the idols that they might see the truth that is found in Jesus alone.

      Pray for my safety as I am going to a Hmong village this weekend to stay with on of the dorm girls and meet her family. They are one of the few Christian families. I pray that I can share Christ with the others in the village, and be a great encouragement to them.

       Pray for Hunter as he teaches English to the high school students that come to our dorm this Friday. We gave them a New Testament last week and we pray that they have been reading it and have been opened up to the gospel.

      PRAISE!!! AJohn Ma Nit the dorm grandfather as been home from he hospital for a while and is up walking with a walker! Praise the lord. Pray for continued healing. The night before he left the hospital Hunter and I actually got to prayer walk in the hospital and pray individually for many of the sick and give them tracks. Pray that God has done a mighty healing work there.

So many thins to say.  I have been so busy. But I know that God is doing great and awesome things. Jesus is Lord even in Thailand, even amongst those who do not believe.

We leave Mae Charim in less than 2 weeks, but I think part of my heart will stay here forever. God has been an amazing blessing this whole summer, again and again doing miracles, and providing opportunities. I await the day I will get to go to a place and pour out His love, and never leave.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Look, Live, Listen

For more posts on the Sahel Team click here!

We have had the opportunity to share the Look, Live, Listen recordings and books with several compounds over the course of the week.  Included in those listening were the chief of village “B” and the president of the village.  (We are all still trying to figure out the difference in these two offices, but suffice it to say that they are the two most important men in our area.)  There are also several children who listen to both the LLL recordings and the Fulfulde worship music we have.  
Cameron noted one night that as the children were blasting Jesus music, several men were in the distance doing their nightly prayers to Allah.  In that, we are so thankful for the general openness of the community! 
 We are praying, though, that the people would see that the way of Jesus and the way of Muhammad are markedly different and that a person must choose to follow one or the other.  As we begin our next week and split off from our supervisor to cover more ground, we are praying that more would be willing to listen and that they would hear, truly understand, and be willing to abandon the way of their upbringing.       
Another issue we have been confronted with and are continually seeking wisdom in is cargoism. This term was mentioned in our required readings this week and is described as the pre-occupation of many tribal peoples with white people’s material possessions.  
 We certainly do not want to be stingy but also do not want the people here to miss out on the more important thing that we are here to offer: Living Water, the Bread of Life, and the chance to have a permanently clean soul.  
Though there is much for which we are praying, there is also much for which we are rejoicing!  Our first rain in the bush occurred Wednesday night.  First, we are thankful that the people in our compound shooed us back into our hut at midnight before the dust cloud that preceded the rain overtook us.  Secondly, we are thrilled to see green fields where the landscape was solid brown only a week ago!  The Lord is providing for His beloved people, and we are thankful to be able to witness that and excited to see what His continued work will look like!   

Prayer request:

  • Relationships: That we would be able to continually make friendships here that would open doors for us to share the Gospel
  • Fruit: That the work and fields of the people would prove fruitful and that our work in the spiritual field would be fruitful
  • Cargoism:  That we would have wisdom to handle the requests of the people without clouding the Gospel
  • Purpose and selflessness:  That as our privacy is invaded and as we are sweating profusely and as we are courteously drinking that lovely chutum, we would never cease to love the Lord and the people to whom He has sent us and to desire the spread of His glory above all else

Sahel Update

Our first full week in the bush has now concluded.  We made the long but enjoyable trek out to village “B” on Monday, loaded down with about 20 pounds each of clothes, toiletries, food, and water.  Olivia and I spent almost the entire two-hours practicing memory verses and praying, so we were there before we knew it.  As we entered our hut to begin unloading our things and setting up our cots, seven children from our and the surrounding compounds followed us in, curiously grabbing anything we pulled out of our bags.  
We discovered very quickly that this lack of privacy was not the exception because we had just arrived, rather it is the norm.  This works to our advantage in some ways, because it means that the people are incredibly hospitable and are almost always willing to have guests in their compounds/huts.  That gives us more opportunities to build relationships and share the Gospel with the people.  However, it also means that we had to really fight to find quiet time alone with the Lord.  It’s interesting how such things become more valuable as they are not readily available.  
Another difference that we noticed between our culture and the culture of the people in the bush village is how they spend their time.  Literally every moment between 4:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. is spent working.  The women wake up before the sun is even considering rising and immediately begin pounding millet with a mortar and pestle.  They then go out to the ngessa (field) to work until around lunchtime.  At that point, any combination of cooking, going to draw water from the bundu (well), cleaning, and more pounding begin and continue until the sun sets.  Happily, on several occasions during the week, we got to work alongside the women in the village, cultivating the fields with a jalo (a little hoe-like tool), yanking a rubber skin full of water up from the depths of the well, and pounding (or attempting to pound) millet.  Most of this work was done after much objection from the local women; they see us anasara (white people) as generally weaker and more fragile than they are.  Truly, we are still working toward being able to carry the 30-pound containers full of water back from the well on our heads.  
As we admiringly observe how incredibly hard the people here work, we are reminded of the lost condition of their souls, stuck in a cycle of trying to obtain some divine favor by working hard enough and being good enough.  Thus, we are praying that the Lord would open their eyes to the Truth that His Son has paid the final sacrifice – that “It is finished.”

Prayer Request;
  • Relationships: That we would be able to continually make friendships here that would open doors for us to share the Gospel
  • Fruit: That the work and fields of the people would prove fruitful and that our work in the spiritual field would be fruitful
  • Purpose and selflessness:  That as our privacy is invaded and as we are sweating profusely and as we are courteously drinking that lovely chutum, we would never cease to love the Lord and the people to whom He has sent us and to desire the spread of His glory above all else

Grow up in every way into Him.

I (Media Mary) have spent an awful lot of time with babies recently. It has been wonderful and messy and rewarding, but mostly the Lord has used it to remind me how important it is to grow up.

When we first become Christians, we are babies in the faith. We drink spiritual milk, as Paul put it. And at first, that's appropriate. None of the nannies complains that an 18-month-old is still wearing diapers or spilling their soup, because developmentally that's where they should be. But if that baby still struggled to feed themselves as an 8-year-old, it would be another matter. In fact, this summer I have seen several older children who, because of disabilities beyond their control, are physically and mentally still on the level of a 2-year-old. It's heartbreaking.

Spiritually, it's much the same. That's why discipleship is so important: without that growth and discipline, we would all still be baby Christians, stuck in a stage of life that we should have long outgrown. The Lord is mighty and sovereign, but He can't use a stagnant, immature Christian the way He can one who earnestly seeks growth and maturity. It is good and right that we should constantly be growing in Christ.
And it is good and right that our evangelism should always be followed by discipleship. We may not always be able to do the discipling ourselves, but we have a responsibility to our new brothers and sisters to find someone to help them grow in Spirit and in truth. The goal of Nehemiah Teams is not to make "converts," nor to perform a lot of baptisms, but to lead people to the truth of salvation and equip them to grow into mature, committed Christ followers who will, in turn, make more disciples.

So as you pray for all who will come to know Jesus Christ this summer through God's work in Nehemiah Teams, don't forget to pray for their growth and discipleship.
As my professor likes to say, "Mature believers act like mature believers, and mature believers help produce mature believers." May we all grow up in every way into Christ so that we may no longer be children!
"And he (Christ) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
- Ephesians 4.11-16

Josie's Angels: prayer update

(An excerpt from Ashley on the Josie's Angels nanny team)

"Remember A? She would not open up to anyone about her story, so I prayed over her last week to be able to trust someone with it. Well, tonight she sat me down. She told me her story. She told me about how the only time she ever felt loved by her father was when he took her to Manila and held her up to see the lights of the city. She told me about how much he hurt her. She told me that every time she goes out in public, she is terrified that he will find her and hurt her more.

Of course, by this time, I was sobbing. I told her my story I shower her my favorite verse - Ephesians 1:5. I told her that before she even existed God loved her. I told her that He loved her so much that He would adopt her and that even where her dad failed, where he hurt her, God healed. He loves, He rescues, He pursues her. I prayed for her, to be able to forgive, for her dad to come to know the Lord, for her to be and feel safe.

God has managed to continually give me chill bumps in the hottest place I have ever been."

As the nannies get to know each Angel personally, they are hearing more stories like A's. They have continued one-on-one dates with each girl, which is a great opportunity to pour out His love and speak truth into a specific situation. Please pray that the Lord would use that time for His glory! Pray that the nannies would constantly seek God's will in how they respond to every story and situation. Pray that the Angels would begin to find healing in their Father, and that their faith in Him would be genuine, not dependent on circumstances.

Worth 1,000 Words

The week at Ruel Foundation in pictures.

[Lauren reads to M]

[playtime in the sandbox outside]


[Ate swings with R]

[snack time!]

[Cat entertains J & A]

[D loved Lizzie's camera!]

[D and Jeannel, one of the caregivers and the team's good friend]

[D, Jeannel, Megan and A]

[Megan loves to make A laugh!]

[meet J!]

[a baby in a basket]

[going for an afternoon walk]

[and in case you wondered what the media girl does all I am]

"We were delighted to share with you"

One of the most unique things about the Ruel nanny team is their relationship with the Filipino caregivers. In the few short days I (Media Mary) spent with them, I was able to see the Lord truly at work! There are about 18 other caregivers, three of whom are Christians. Most of them are young, so Megan, Cat and Lauren have a lot in common with them.
"These young women are now our best friends here, and I go to the orphanage on my time off to see them as much as to see the kids. We took the time to build relationships with them through going to church, swimming, the movies, singing, and anything else we could think of." - Megan
The team rotates through 8-hour shifts at Ruel Foundation, working with several of the Filipino caregivers each time. They began having their team Bible study time during the evening shift, and several of the caregivers came in to listen. They now lead a Bible study every night with those Filipino friends.

It is such a blessing to see the trust and love between the nanny team and the Filipino caregivers! As Megan said, the Lord has put this team's main mission field inside their own gate. Jeannel, Tin Tin and Helen are the three Christians of the group, but many of the others come and listen to the Bible study every night.
"This has been an awesome opportunity to not only share the gospel, but to also disciple and encourage the Christians here to continue the Bible studies once we're gone. We're only here for two months, but our Filipino friends have the chance to keep sharing the gospel and do it in such a way so that it will be easily received by other Filipinos." - Cat
[Cat and Jeannel enjoy a post-movie McFloat]

[Tin Tin and Megan]

Prayer for Bible Study:
  • Pray that God strengthens their Filipino Sisters to continue testifying to the gospel of grace after the nanny team is gone. Pray that they will grow in Him and be a living testimony to everyone they meet.
  • Pray for the Filipinos to take on a leadership role in the Bible study, and for the nanny team to equip them to lead the study on their own.
  • Pray for understanding and language/cultural barriers, so that the truth of Scripture shines through in every study.
  • Pray for God's presence and wisdom, and for the Spirit to move and draw hearts.
  • Pray that the nanny team would approach the study in prayer and humility, relying on the Lord.
The Ruel team wants to share their theme verse for the summer:
"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had became so dear to us." - 1 Thess. 2:8

P52 Nashville: "Strategy, Water, and Connections"

Well, the time is here. The summer is half over. Wow. It's crazy, it feels like we have only been here for a week, but also for our whole lives. We have met so many people, and we are only half done. On Thursday of this week, my team and I just sat down with our supervisor and worked on strategy. With only one month left, it's time to get down to business.  We placed everyone we have met in the "4 Fields", which is a tool that is used to determine where someone is in the process of salvation and evangelism. For more information on the Four fields, check out this link.

After placing everyone in the 4 Fields, we created a detailed list of each person/family unit and how we can bring them to the next spot. Right now we are working on connecting each person/family unit to someone in the Church who can continue to build relationships and share Jesus with them after we are gone. We leave August 1st, and if we don't build that network before we are gone, our ministry this summer will mean nothing. Strategy is daunting: with over 50 people to connect to the local church, scheduling and planning is hard, but it's what God has called us to. We have to build lasting relationships with these people. We are not the end of this ministry; Project 52 is not the end goal. We are here to empower the local church to take up the mission of reaching the Lost from across the globe here in Nashville. Please pray for us as we work on strategy and connecting people this last month.
This Saturday we attended a Burmese Buddhist Water Festival. This is a festival that celebrates the New Year, and you splash people with water to symbolize spiritual refreshment and cleansing. We went to build relationships with the Burmese people... and to splash each other with water! It was a great time, especially with the kids. I couldn't help but think while I was there about what it means to be cleansed from sin. I'm glad that our cleansing doesn't come from other sinful, dirty people, but from the One who never needed cleansing. "He became sin who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." We are cleansed not with water, but with blood. It is the blood of the Lamb that makes us spotless in the sight of a just and holy God. Thanks be to God.

Well, this week is going to be exciting! We have some meetings scheduled with members of local churches with some of the people we have met, and we are seeking to build connections that will endure after we are gone. Please pray for the church to take the command of Christ and follow in obedience; we need them to carry on our work after we have gone. The Lord has done too much for us to let these people fall to the wayside. There is a lot of work left, and only 4 weeks to do it all, but the Lord is God over time, and He can do an incredible work even in the remaining 4 weeks.

Please pray with boldness this week for us in these specific ways:
  1. Pray for our strategic planning, that we would make the most out of our time to create a lasting impact here in Nashville that would ripple out and affect nations and people across the globe.
  2. Pray for the local church, that they would have hearts for the nations here in Nashville and be willing to follow us and build lasting relationships with our friends that we have made this summer.
  3. Pray for the interactions we will have with all of our contacts this week. Pray for salvation of families, tribes, and nations. It's not too big for God.

All Creation Declares Your Glory

The past few weeks, we have had the privilege of leading a girls bible study for the middle school and high school aged Karenni girls. They have never before had a specialized outreach to their age group, especially specifically the girls. Many only know the basics of Christianity and have had little to no discipleship. One of the concepts that we introduced to them was quiet time. They have never been taught about the benefits of doing a daily quiet time with God. The idea of a personal daily relationship with God was brand new to most. 

We got the chance this past week to take the girls to the mountains. The goal was to have some fun with them, and also show them an example of what a quiet time looks like. Meeting on the side of the mountain, we opened the word, sat in silence, and prayed together. We hoped that being surrounded by the beautiful landscape showed them how God created everything, and even cares for the smallest leaves in the mountains

We wanted them to walk away realizing how much God loves us, that even in the midst of caring for all of nature, He still takes the time to meet with each one of us personally, and desires time with us daily. 

Pictures from that day: 
Pretty sure they are part monkey. 
Breanna and I with Christina. 
Emma and Say Wah playing in the water. 
Christina is one of the leaders in the youth girls, and plays guitar for New Start. 

Say Wah was the only one who could stand right in the waterfall and still look this put together. 
True Karenni style: hiking barefoot and all. 
Shar Tway and Theh Mar Htoo taking a turn rowing on the lake! 
-The Nepalese families here were previously having to walk about an hour on Sunday mornings to go to church. We were praying for a closer church to open up for them to meet at. This week we found out that they can begin meeting at Calvary Baptist, which is only a 5-10 minute walk from their homes! 
-We had a girl in the youth named Christina that spoke with us about maybe leading the Karenni girls in Bible study when we leave, and is also looking at mission work!

*Prayer Requests: 
-Karenni VBS is this week, please pray that the kids would get a lot out of this week, and would see that God is a personal God who desires a relationship with each of them. 
-Community Serve is this week, so we will be doing many things with New Start to reach out to the  community through music, and volunteer work. Pray God's love and hope would be shown through the work done this week. 
-Pray for leaders to step up in the Nepalese, and Karenni groups for the youth girls, boys, and the kids. Also pray for a pastor to be brought forward in the Nepalese group. 

As always we greatly appreciate your prayers! Without God nothing is possible. On our own we would just be on a vacation out here, but He makes it a mission

Village Ministries

Finally spent time with two of the four teams I haven't spent much time with all summer. I ventured out to their villages, experienced their ministry, participated and helped lead, and also encouraged as I saw God making specific details clear and their mission being increased. Let me provide a quick overview of what's occurring in each of these two villages and the ministries they are leading.

Consorcia: Team members—Ross, Loren, Rachel and Melissa. As soon I showed up to their place of residence and area of ministry, they quickly filled me on what what God was doing with their team. The most exciting ministry they were all gleaming about is their children ministry. They noticed the large amounts of kids hanging around the medical clinic where the team spent much of their time. Immediately, they realized what God was placing before them—a great opportunity to share the love of God with children.

The next market day, or day spent in the city, Rachel purchased a kids book with 100 Bible stories. So, as they returned, they began inviting the kids to come to the clinic in the evening and listen to the stories. The kids showed up! And not just a few, but around 15 or more were in attendance and continue to attend. They sing songs before they get started and every child sings and does the motions. It's quite inspiring to see their excitement and joy for the bible story time. They even laughed at me as I danced along with them.

With their attention focused and lips sealed, they listen to every word of the story, in English first and then translated into Cebuano. Arlin, one of the team translators, does a wonderful job of translating the story so it's exciting, humorous and serious for the kids. They love listening to her.

I told the team I was greatly encouraged by the ministry and they should be as well. If all they are able to do this summer in Consorcia is build the kids ministry, then it's been worth it for sure.

E.G. Montilla: Team members—Nate, Markie, Amy and Debra. One of the first things brought to my attention when I arrived here was the possibility of building a church for the believers of the community. Nate mentioned how a man in the village was willing to donate land for a church to be built, so it was only a matter of time and prayer for the church building to be constructed. 

It seems as if there are several believers here in the village already, but the main problem is organization and gathering. They don't have a good central place to gather and worship, and they aren't getting organized as the body of Christ to develop a place to gather. So, the team is focusing on getting those believers together, discussing their possibilities and helping them to get a location for worship.

In just the few days I was there, God answered prayers. The last night I was there, Mom Arlin, the sweet lady who has adopted the team as her own children, mentioned that land had already been donated for a church and now it is a matter of time until they build the church. God is moving and being faithful to those who are asking for things to happen in His will. So, it seems that God desperately wants these people to have a place to gather and worship His name.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58