Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Post from Jake

Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." For two months, God has shown me this again and again. Every step we took this summer was directed by God. He began by orchestrating our teams, and placed all of us exactly where He wanted us. Every Bible study happened because He planned it. All summer God has given us the words to speak. Despite all of our planning for Bible studies, the Holy Spirit always communicated His own message, rather than ours. That is awesome! We don't have to worry about our plans because God has His.

One night I had a dream about Romans 10, a message of salvation to all people. I woke up and read it. I had drawn a star in my Bible next to verse 9.
"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10:9
I talked to everyone on my team about it and asked what they thought it meant. I already had a Bible study planned for that afternoon, so I just assumed that God wanted me to use that verse in my Bible study.

While I was talking about the dream with our translator, Luigi, a woman came to our door. Luigi told me that I should share my dream with her, so I asked her to come inside. She came in and I shared what I had dreamed. Luigi then explained how Jesus is the only way back to God. The woman began to cry and then she accepted Christ!

If I had used my plan, I would have just shared the dream at my Bible study, and that woman wouldn't have a relationship with Christ. God used the dream He gave me. He is directing my steps and I praise Him for that! His plans are so much better than mine anyway.

what i love about nt & p52

I have been living in the Philippines for almost two years now, and have been helping coordinate the Project 52 and Nehemiah Teams. I return to the States in two day, so call me sentimental but I wanted to share with you why, I love NT. (And P52, too.)  

I'll let you guess which one is me. 
The time commitment. Nehemiah Teams is a mission sending organization that takes full advantage of the summer and ask students to commit 2 months to going and living on the mission field. One of things I heard again and again was “Yes I have been overseas before but never for this long.” The time commitment allows young people to get a glimpse of a career missionary life and the (very real) need for long-term commitments to finish the Great Commission. 
Discipleship. NT has quiet times, memory verses, and Bible studies for the team to work through together while they are on the field. It is amazing how much difference they make in the team’s effectiveness, unity, and general attitude. The teams who focus only on the work or ministry easily lose sight of what is important while the teams who continue through the discipleship materials grow together and work better as a team, spiritually mature while on the field, and are easily able to apply scripture to real life situations that they face. Missions is a lifestyle that cannot be lived out in human strength, the purpose of the NT discipleship materials is to feed and challenge the students while they are ministering. What I love most about the discipleship that takes place in NT is that it is truly iron sharpening iron; often teams are in remote places with little Christian fellowship outside of their team. It is those teams who know each other's faults and failures AND still maintain team unity that have truly experienced the love of the family of God.
Team building time during orientation!
Responsibility. NT is not an experience it is missions. NT does not cater to volunteers in hopes of making it a pleasant or enjoyable time for them. If being holy and living a godly Christian life is difficult in America then why should be bother pretending it will be a piece of cake while on the field? Missions is realizing your responsibility to pick up the cross, follow Jesus, and go tell others to come along no matter the cost or sacrifice. NT’s goal is to help the young people of this generation do just that –realize others’ need for Christ, go proclaim the gospel, and share in the harvest!
It is not just Americans. Sometimes people think of missions as Americans going out to the ends of the earth, but thankfully God is not limited to what wethink He can do or is doing. God is sending Filipinos out all over the world and evenwithin the Philippines. It was such a fun blessing for me to get to see my Fil friends in actions sharing the gospel. Baptizing Filipinos. And planting churches in the unreached and hard to reach places in the Philippines!
Local partners. NT partners with missionaries all over the world and works within their strategy (that they already have set in place). NT is not a cookie cutter there are medical, basketball, evangelism, and nanny teams (to name a few). The type of group is limited only to the creativity of the local partner. The partner is able to give them strategy, direction, and guidance without having to babysit them. Although we want to work inside the existing missionary's strategy we in no way want to cripple them with constant supervision need. We believe that college students are adults and capable of ministering as such. God has used young people to do great things and we have the faith that He will continue to do just that!
Sharing the gospel!
Orientation. So many (not just young) people are afraid to commit to missions or ministries because of fears or feelings of inadequacy. NT uses the orientation time as a time to introduce the country, language, and ministry they will be serving in while while also training students for the field. The gospel is defined, different methods of sharing are taught, and time is given to practice the different ways of sharing.
 The Challenge. NT and P52 challenges participants to take home a lit fire, to keep it burning, and cast a vision that lights up a nation. The summer is not about self-improvement but the reality of the life changing God. NT's intention is not to at the completion of NT to send home better Christians but students who understand the the command of the Great Commission and are willing to submit themselves to God whether that mean in the middle of the rainforest, in a busy public market, or on their college campus. 
Originally posted on The Same Plate 

Friday, July 27, 2012

God Is Not Finished

This final week in Brooklyn has been amazing...We had a team from Kentucky who did an awesome job with the daily Kids Clubs.  The theme was "Sky High" and the kids learned Bible stories and Bible verses about trusting God no matter what.  
We prayed with lots of people through the homeless ministry each day and the prayer stations.  Friday we had a Flea Flea Jubilee (free flea market at the church) and our weekly cookout.  The Kentucky Team's praise band performed a worship concert for the church and the community which had a great turnout.  Ten people received Christ as their Savior and Lord!  Praise God!  
That night we could all feel the Spirit moving in that place.  Though the Kentucky Team leaves Saturday morning and Jordan and I leave Monday morning, 


Visit to Times Square with the Kentucky Team
Kids on an Adventure
The KY mission team takes the ferry to...
The statue of Liberty! (Kelly and Kerston)
Kelly and Ashley at Kids Club
Charlie and his friend!  

The worship concert

Brenda accepted Christ Friday night!  Praise God!

Picture Update

Dressing Up

Picture of Grace

This week at girl's bible study, we decided to switch things up. Being that we only have one more week left with them, we transitioned from leading, to training some of the girls to lead, in hopes that they will fill our positions when we leave them. Christina, one of the high school Karenni girls stepped up and offered to lead this week. She did an amazing job, and discussed with the girls the passage in Luke on the good samaritan. 

After the Bible study, we invited all of the girls to spend the night at our house and have a henna party. There is a story from creation to Christ that is drawn into the henna designs. 

Some of the girls got really artistic, and it was a great time to hang out and bond with the girls. 

These were some of our favorite phrases :)

Some of the American girls got involved that live here and can continue to invest in the teens when we leave. 

Christina, the girl who led that night, and is hoping to lead the girls after we leave shared some henna with us. This one says, "Trust God" in Karenni. 

Please pray for these young ladies that the older girls will really step up and be leaders. Pray that God would continue to help them grow in the word and in their walk with Him. Pray that God would guide these girls in what He has for them, as many are going to graduate soon, and a few are interested in mission work. Pray that God will use them to reach other Karenni girls across America that do not have a church, or a Christian group like these girls do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sahel Prayer Requests

Prayer Requests:

·       Ramadan: We have gotten to see the beginning of Ramadan but will miss some of the larger events, such as the “Night of Power” (when Muslims are taught to pray as much as possible for a night) and the “Breaking the Fast” celebration (which will include singing and dancing, buying new clothes, and eating special treats). Pray that as their traditions continue, the people will feel an overwhelming void in their souls and that His Spirit will lead them to the cross, where that void can be filled.    
·       Our ministry: As we approach our last week in the bush, we are making plans for our return trip to the States. Pray that our ministry here would end well, that we would finish strong, and that we would remain faithful to this people group in prayer even thousands of miles away.  
·       Cameron’s health: The medicine that she was given apparently has some unpleasant side effects that have proven even worse than the original sickness.  Pray that she gets better quickly so that her ministry may continue strongly.

Thanks for praying! Read our update!

Chaos and Sovereign Grace, Sahel Update

    In his book, Spiritual Warfare, Timothy Warner says regarding the crucifixion of Christ, “God used that event to demonstrate that He is able to take the worst Satan can do and turn it into victory. The Cross was supposed to be a victory for Satan and a defeat for God.”  Instead, as Paul states in Colossians 2:15, “having disarmed the powers and authorities, [God] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” 

   To put it plainly, nothing this week has gone according to our plan. 

   Monday, Olivia and I were going to ride out to see a different village with Emily*, the career missionary who serves there.  Alas, it had rained too much Sunday night and Monday morning for us to drive anywhere. 

   Tuesday through Friday nights, we were planning to show the Jesus film in our village.  We had all the equipment, including a brand new generator and large projector screen.  The first night was a success despite a few technical difficulties during setup.  Though they were outnumbered by bugs and frogs, there was a good crowd of around 70 people who came out and watched the film.  

   The next night, Olivia and I set up all the equipment ourselves, as Cameron was feeling sickly and stayed in the hut to rest.  This went off without a hitch, and the crowd numbered around seventy again.  All was going just fine…until about halfway through the movie, at which point the generator died. 

    No attempt to restart the engine would work, so the forty-or-so people who were really devoted to seeing the end of the film crowded around the portable DVD player we had been using. 

    Early the following morning, Emily brought the instruction manual and toolkit out to the bush to help us with the generator, but still no problem or solution could be found.  She took it back into town and we went back to bed.  A few hours later, however, we saw her again when she came to pick up Cameron, whose stomach was feeling even worse than the night before.  

    They left us with Cameron’s portable DVD player to show the movie in our compound that night, a list of numbers to call in case of emergency, and instructions to be back home by 6:30 on Friday evening.  For the first time all summer, we were completely on our own! 

    Thursday afternoon proceeded as usual: Olivia and I went out together and then split apart to go share the Good News in various compounds.  We were set up and ready to play the film on Cameron’s portable DVD player at around 7:45 that night.  We turned it on…and it turned itself off.  Though it was supposed to be fully charged, the battery died within seconds.  At that point, there was only a handful of kids from our compound gathered for the show, so we simply pulled out some Fulfulde worship music and sat with them.  

   Then a woman that neither of us recognized came up, asking about the video.  We apologetically explained that the battery on the player had no charge and that there would be no video that night.  She told us that she had come alone from a village beyond “B” to see the film, so we quickly saw the opportunity to share the Gospel with her, even if it was not in the form she was expecting.  It worked out beautifully that we got to share the Good News tracks with her and several of the kids who had been sitting with us before!

     Friday was fairly routine as well – as much as anything is ever routine in the bush.  It was the first day of Ramadan, the month of fasting observed by followers of Islam.  (We actually did not realize that it had started until after we had given one of our friends some food which she held in her hand, refusing to eat!  Oops!)  Islam teaches that the Qur’an was first revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan. 

    During this time, in addition to fasting, many devote themselves more fully to the practices of Islam such as offering up more prayers to Allah, reading more of the Qur’an, showing more kindness to one another and increasing their almsgiving.  As a result of the fasting, many of the people literally sit around all day, not wanting to exert energy and cause any extra hunger or thirst.  This creates a good environment for us to go visiting and sharing the Gospel!  
    After doing just that for most of the day, we left the village and headed back home.  Sadly, Cameron was feeling no better when we got back.

    Saturday morning, we got up early to ride into “M” with Emily to get her oil changed, go shopping and to the bank, and eat lunch and use the wireless Internet at the Guest House in town.  The sky was eerily dark where we were driving to, but we continued.  As it turns out, a pretty significant storm was blowing, so that eliminated the chances of getting Emily’s oil changed, which would have to be done outside.  There was also a problem at the bank and a meeting in session in the Guest House restaurant.  It looked like we would get to accomplish about a fourth of the things on our to-do list for the day.  

     However, after a lot of extra driving around, the bank’s issues were resolved, and the Guest House let us into one of their extra rooms to sit and order.  We would have gotten to actually eat there too if it hadn’t worked out perfectly that the English-speaking doctor that all the missionaries go to was in town and willing to see Cameron as soon as possible!  We got our food to go, and she got an overall clean bill of health with a prescription to help her tummy. 

     So the lesson we learned this week is that even when things don’t go according to our plan, God has a plan that will not fail and will not lead to anything less than His name being glorified and our needs being met.  And even those things that appear to be “a victory for Satan and a defeat for God,” the Lord will turn into an overwhelming triumph for Himself! 

*Career missionary’s name has been changed for security purposes


Last Minute Updates

The end is here. With only two days left in our villages, there is a mood of stillness and hearts that are somber. The ministry we have been committed to is coming to an end, but it won't end. We have wonderful people who will follow up with the ministry and make sure those who were reached are discipled for some time. And we have an incredible God who has planted Himself in the lives of many, and He won't let go.

So, as we are preparing to leave, what has God done recently in some of the villages?

Lamosig: Cade, Kayla, Kelsey, and Meagan have been involved in the construction of a small church in their village. Blessed with supplies and land to build a church, they have cheerfully walked up the side of a steep hill to cut bamboo and nail it into place. They have even held worship several times in the nearly completed church. The young pastor, Angelo, and his wife are pouring their hearts out to the people of this area and want to see more make the hike to worship God every week on the side of the mountain. The team have been a great encouragement and tool for Angelo and his ministry. Now he is left with many contacts, a new gathering place for worship, and people who are ready to worship and give themselves to the ministry of Christ.

Kelsey has also been discipling a 13-year old girl in the community and encouraging her to study and memorize scripture. It's truly beautiful to see a team member making such a great effort to teach the people they are living with. The young girl continues to show up at the house where the team is staying and desires to learn and hear more from Kelsey.

Tud-Ol: Greg, Kate, Molly, and Lauren have won this village in complete love. As I entered the village with the team after team break, village residents came from their homes to welcome the team back and to deliver sweet hugs and kisses to each member as they made their way to their home. It was an incredible moment to witness—to see how much God has worked in this village, opened hearts, and lavished these people with love. They knew each other by name and no one was a stranger.

Greg and Vonn have been working with a young man in the community, to understand the importance of baptism and reason why Christ provided the best example of baptism. Just before I left on Sunday, a young mother began inquiring about baptism and had questions of her own. People are right there. They're at the door and they're knocking. Pray they will overcome these challenges of baptism and realize the truth of it all.

The team is continuing their evening bible story time, where they teach parables and Old Testament stories to the entire community in their meeting area. This has been one of the most exciting ministries because without ceasing people show up in the common area of the village in time for the stories. As they gather they all start asking about "story time" and soon the team starts and shares the next story. Asking questions as they go, they make sure people are listening and comprehending. One of the best responses Greg told me about was when they share about heaven and hell and clarified that purgatory was not biblical and the village priest admitted that it was only a way for the Catholic church to make money.

As the time comes to depart, we hand the baton back to the Filipinos who are working in these areas. Hopefully we are leaving them with cultivated ground, with areas to build even more ministry, with people to baptize, with people to educate and disciple, and with many people to love. We know we did not labor in vain. And we don't take any of the glory, but all is offered to our glorious Lord in Heaven. To Him be the glory. Amen!

Cooking Out at Park Slope

Photos from last week’s Community Cookout at Park Slope Community Church:

Kelly and sweet Meghan, who is a part of our Kids Club!

Our neighbors Nydia and Shadow!
Cookie and Kelly

Becca, Cookie, and their friends