Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Adventure of Saying Yes


You have to be some sort of brave to say yes to God. After all, He rarely outlines His plan and all the details in advance. The key to this type of adventure is faith.

Trusting God has it all together when you can't see how the pieces fit. After all, adventures aren't always fun. Sometimes they are hard and exhausting. Your purpose in adventuring determines whether or not you keep going. 

In this missionary journey, the purpose is to share the story of Jesus. I've learned a lot on this adventure- hard to believe there is only a week more on this bit of earth before the journey back to the states. But I have a feeling this adventure will linger. I've learned much about myself and my Jesus that I cannot wait to share, but there is also a fire deep in my heart that cannot be quenched. I need to talk about the hope and love and grace and greatness of my Jesus. Like a fish needs water. I'm not especially brave nor do I have much faith. More often than not the "Oh you of little faith..." statements of Jesus prick this doubting heart... 

But I've learned the secret- just say yes

Saying yes brought me to the Philippines- the opposite side of the world from where I thought I would be. Saying yes brought several new brothers and sisters in Christ and many new friends.
Saying yes brought laughter and joy and countless new experiences with a team that God designed. 
Saying yes put me waaaay out of my comfort zone and made me fall only on God. 
Saying yes brought struggles and sickness and tears and scraped knees and exhaustion.
Saying yes brought chipped toenail polish from kneeling on cement praying fervently for His kingdom to come, His will to be done.
 

My prayer is to never stop saying yes to God. The day I stop is the day I have forgotten what is truly important, and I might as well stop wasting oxygen. 

My prayer for you, right now reading this? That somehow, someway, you see Jesus in these words and realize that saying "Yes Lord, your will be done in my life, yes Lord I will go, yes Lord I will speak, yes Lord"... is the only way to truly live because He alone knows all you are capable of accomplishing in Him. Be brave because He is worth it all, and walking with Jesus is the best kind of adventure.
be brave

-Amanda

Friday, August 1, 2014

NT House Band

2014 Nehemiah Teams house band. 
Loved serving with these guys.

Dying so others can live

This group of incredible people died just a few hours ago so that others can have a chance to live. 

They committed to do their part in fulfilling the Great Commission in their "wherever." I can't begin to put into words how overwhelmed with gratitude I have been this summer to take even the smallest and insignificant part in something so much bigger than me. 

I was honored just to be able to unite in prayer for these selfless students as they traveled over the summer to their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the Earth to give of themselves so that others can come to know Christ. I was able to sit in on some of their orientation meetings, worship sessions, and hear some of their testimonies. 

I have been challenged. 
I have been convicted. 
I have been inspired. 
I have been touched. 

Congratulations to Nehemiah Teams 2014! Thank you for your sacrifice. However, this is only the beginning of your journey!

-Jason B
Sylvania, AL

Thursday, July 31, 2014

PacRim Ag Pics



Daily work crew



It's really hard to say goodbye. It's better to say "see you later". Welcome and send everyone in prayer.

PacRim Ag guys with local supervisors


What Next?

As students have their last day of debrief today, please be praying for the final commitment service tonight. Students will have an opportunity to act on what they've heard... read... discussed... & lived all summer long. It's not our desire that this be an emotional time but rather just a personal act of obedience. Pray that students will be sensitive & obedient to the Lord's leading.

Workers Needed!



We received this email from the local supervisor of the P52 Detroit team. Please pray for more workers!
 
Dear partners in ministry,

We had the blessing of having 3 ladies (Maria, Anna and Emily) for the past 52 days who came to minister among the Muslim community through ESL tutoring relationships.  During this time they shared the gospel stories with the women and families they met in Dearborn.  We know and are thankful that as God's word is shared that it will not return void.  Please pray for the families that they ministered to, that the seed of the gospel which was planted will take root and be fruitful.

Yesterday the summer Nehemiah Team (Project 52, see Nehemiah 6:15) left back for home leaving a void for needed continued ministry.  We need others who will continue to water. Before the ladies left, they asked if they could send friends to continue to meet with them, four of the families said "yes!" 

I pray that God would raise up a handful of Christ-following women who would be willing to continue to water the seed that was planted.  Please pray with me and consider how the Lord may be speaking to you regarding this.

I have had the privilege of meeting with one of these women's husbands, Ameer. He is open to learning English and also discussing the stories of Christ.  Pray for him to be saved!  Pray for his family and pray also for the husbands of the other women who are open to meet!

Please contact me if you feel the Lord speaking to you about being involved in this ministry opportunity.
 
-David

Share the news!



Our time here in the Philippines is coming to a close. My team and I are so very thankful for each and everyone of you and for all the prayers that you have sent on our behalf. 
We arrived in Cebu City yesterday (Saturday) from Bohol, the island we transferred to a few weeks ago. We are getting on a plane and flying to Tacloban today around 2pm to meet up with the other teams that are serving in this area. Over the next two days we will have a time of sharing and debrief with the local missionaries before we head back to Alabama for a few more days of debrief.  
This summer has been a blessing and I am excited to share with you the experiences that I have had during this short period of time. Please pray for traveling mercies as we leave this place that has been our "home" for the past two months. Also pray that God would raise up people and families to go and stand in the gap on behalf of the Lord in the cities around the world where missionaries are coming back to the States. 
People are dying every minute around the world without ever hearing the name of Jesus, and they face a Christ-less eternity. We know the "Lord of the Harvest" and He is our friend. So pray that He would raise up believers to go and be a light in this dark world, and when we pray, let us be open to those that God is calling to the nations-- it might be your friend, your son or daughter, your grandson or granddaughter, or it might be you! 
We have the greatest news on the plant, The Good News of the Gospel, and God has commanded, not suggested, his children to tell others about the Gift that He so graciously has given us. Tell somebody today that God loves them and He sent his Son Jesus to die the death that we so rightly deserved. Be encouraged, the Lord is working in Cebu, Philippines, and He is working in Batesville, MS or wherever you are. The God who spoke the World into creation fights for you!
Matthew 9:37-38
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
See you soon,
-Reid

Physical birth

Photo thanks to team leader, Amanda Gaster
We recently were able to share with a man in our village who had been seriously injured in an accident and the Lord used it to bring him to salvation. (see former post) The very pregnant wife of this man has become very special to our team. We've been going every other day or so to monitor her and check on her little family. Yesterday, the young woman told us that she was feeling a lot of pressure and felt the baby would arrive within the week.  So, Sunday morning as we were preparing to leave for church, the pregnant woman’s child ran to our home to let us know that the baby was coming — and the village midwife could not make it.  On our walk to church, we stopped by the woman’s home, and the wife of our host family “rolled up her church skirt, squatted on the floor, and delivered the baby” while I held the mother’s hand — and witnessed wide-eyed the entire birth which only lasted about 15 minutes. I was amazed at some of their procedures/practices... but the baby was born! I laughed that while the newborn was lying on the dirt floor, the brother and sister were already running around the house and then through the village calling out with glee that they had a new brother. What a great way to start a Sunday!

Pray for this young family. 
Pray for good health for the new child and mother. 
Pray for spiritual growth for these new believers.

-Grace

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pics from debrief (Tuesday)

So tired..... jet lag is wicked
Arrival... almost half of the group had arrived by lunch time
Tuesday evening worship... only about half of the group had arrived by this time
Tuesday evening worship

Not goodbye, but... See ya later!

My goodbye to my sweet friend Jeje was tough. Jeje cried the most in our little farewell ceremony earlier that afternoon and I think whenever anyone on my team so much as glanced at her, our hearts instantly broke and tears came to our eyes. Jeje is the cutest and most precious person I’ve ever met. She is so dedicated to her studies and yet so adorable and needs so much care because I think her heart is just broken in a lot of different ways. In the little bit of time that we actually got to talk to Jeje’s sister (who speaks English fluently) we came to understand that Jeje has only been in SK for a little longer than we have (after leaving her home country, she lived a long time in China) and she has been having a lot of problems adjusting. We’re the first Americans she ever really met and the first real friends she’s had. It was so hard for us to say goodbye to each other, I’ve gotten so attached to sweet Jeje, I love spending time with her, even if it’s just practicing her English words.

Nisheeka and I have has some awesome opportunities to share with her who God is, and what He’s done for her. I gave her a gift of a Korean-English Bible with specially marked passages and she cried while she opened it. I told her to use it to practice her English and to read the things I had highlighted. Jeje said, “I will study.” and I just said “Yes, please study this... this is the most important thing to study.” 

Jeje studies the most and the hardest out of anyone I’ve seen at the school and I hope she uses that study power for something other than vocabulary words.  Our goodbye to her was so hard on me and Nisheeka in particular and we knew we just needed to end it before we all spent the night at the school crying over everything. I just made sure she knew how much we all loved her and that for us, as another sweet friend likes to say, “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later!” I really hope that’s true for us! “I love you, my sister, Jeje!”

While we’ve been here we’ve faced a lot of different kinds of problems, frustrations, etc. Getting used to a culture that is so opposite of your own is difficult no matter what. But what makes all of these hard and frustrating things worth it is relationships like the ones we have with Annie, Ethan, and Jeje. These students light up our life whenever we walk through the doors of our school. It is the hardest thing thinking about being separated from many of them, since we’ve spent so much time and poured so much into them. It honestly reminds me of Paul and the Ephesians, whom we’ve read about this summer in our study of Acts. Paul had some tearful goodbyes to his dear friends in the church at Ephesus and Acts 20:32 says "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." I think this is how most of us are feeling now, we’ll be gone but we commit them to God and pray that He will still grow them in our absence, like only He can.

-Karima

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Today is the day of salvation

We met a man who had been in a horrible altercation, and as a result had been left with life-threatening machete wounds to his head and face. When he was taken to the hospital, he was so near death that the medical staff chose not to repair his wounds and informed his wife that he would surely die.  As he lay dying, the man held his wife's hand and told her that they needed to turn to God.

And now the good news!  God was not ready for this man to leave this world — He, obviously, had other plans for him!  Three days later when the man had not yet passed, the medical staff decided they would address his wounds and mangled face.  He survived with major deformities-- his nose and one ear partly gone, front teeth missing, one eye drooping, and a large triangular skin graft on his face.  And when he was eventually released from care, he and his wife showed up on the doorstep of the house where our team was staying, asking to hear The Good News!  Incredibly, Jenky, our Filipino team mate, was especially able to relate to this little family’s situation because when she was three years old, her own father had suffered similar injuries from a machete fight — he survived, but was never able to speak again, however her family came to know the Lord because of that life-altering event.  This man wanted the same for his entire family (very pregnant wife and 2 young children.)  The man shared that on at least two previous occasions in his life, he had nearly met with death, but it took this tragic near-death experience for God to finally get his attention.  We were able to share the wonderful plan of salvation with him and his wife, and he accepted Christ into his heart!  God's love and mercy is infinite!

-Grace

Final Fun


Tonight, after our last church service here, Blair and I went with a few of our students to a bathhouse/sauna. It was so fun and relaxing and just a fun way to end a long week and a long summer. We sat in hot rooms, drank rice tea, cracked eggs on each other’s heads, and took more crazy pictures. It was so fun to do something like this with them that’s so different and so Korean.

-Karima

On their way!

One flight enroute. Others are lined up.
The finish line for Nehemiah Teams is in sight.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Real Enemy

I didn’t know disgust until I looked into the eyes of one of my friends’ “customers”.
I didn’t know hate until I was with one of my prostitute friends, and I watched in horror as a man purchased her for the evening and led her away from me mid-conversation. 
I didn’t know disappointment until I sat down on the dirty sidewalk to chat with one of our beggar friends knowing he is hungry, while men are paying to use human beings right. next. door.
I didn’t know shock until I realized the real enemy is not what I thought.

These scenarios put fury in your hearts…I hope.
Witnessing them has put me in a speechless state over and over again.

But I didn’t realize until getting dinner with a prostitute and one of these men that he isn’t the enemy, all of these men are not the enemy.

If I am being honest, I wanted to hate him.
And if I am being even more honest, I have hated some of them.
I have snarled and commented and all but killed some of these men with my eyes. And I regret to say that it wasn’t until two days ago that I really understood the battle God has been fighting alongside us all along. 

You see, the enemy is one you hate with your whole being. He’s the one you despise to your very core…
Who knew that at the end of dinner with one of these perceived enemies, I would be smiling at the very one I wanted so badly to hate? 
I couldn’t even look at him at first.
The very example of the type of person I had been hating for two months.
And instead of a frown or a roll of my eyes, I couldn’t even look at him.

I didn’t want to know he was a human being.

But God had a funny way of changing all of our hearts the other night as we talked with this man over Thai barbeque and chatted over politics and religion and everyday, normal things.

He is just lost. He is just in need of salvation. He is just searching for love.

Just like I did before I met the Father. 

That night my hate was directed more appropriately.
It’s satan.
He is the real enemy.
And he is the only enemy. 

That was our last night to walk down Loi Kroh, and for the very first time, I saw that road very differently.

I saw poor, lost women…and instead of seeing the monsters I had been accustomed to seeing, I saw poor, lost men.
I felt a new urgency to look them in the eyes. To know that they are not the enemy. To know that this battle I have been fighting hasn’t been about them at all. And to know above everything else, this victory is won.

The prostitutes we made relationships with this summer—their stories are far from over. And I can say with full confidence, and now with hope, that these men’s stories are far from over.

Because love has won this battle.


-Ashley

Unfinished

There is immense gratification in seeing a job all the way through, start to finish. To step back and survey your work. To determine that there is nothing left to be done; to have closure.

That is not really the feeling that I have as this summer ends and we head home. Our 52 day assignment is over. God has done mighty things in those 52 days, yes, and we will testify to how we've seen Him work. But the work is not done. We didn't start it, and we sure haven't seen it through to the end.




We leave behind some unfinished conversations, some unanswered questions, some baby Christians, the beginnings of local bodies of believers. We leave the rivers and there are yet people who haven't heard the Gospel.

Please PRAY...
--with us in thanksgiving at God's goodness and faithfulness and the amazing work He's done this summer among the Waray-Waray
--for us as we head back to the States; for traveling mercies, but also that we will know how to walk forward in the newness of all that God has revealed to us in these two months.
--for the Waray-Waray. For all the seeds that were sown, all the friends we leave behind, all the Bibles we left in the hands of new Christians. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully. Pray for missionaries who will go behind and follow-up on the rivers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Leaving

Two months ago, I walked down a strange, dark street for the first time. The people were all just unknown faces, the bars and massage parlors looming and unfamiliar. I heard a foreign tongue calling out to customers, and music blared, adding to the confusion and overstimulation. The evil on the street was felt, overwhelmingly.

This week, I walked down that street again, each pothole and curb familiar now. Every few feet, I would stop at a familiar shop to hug a friend at a massage parlor or chat with someone I had shared with in one of the bars. I passed by disappointed when some of the girls I met were not there, wishing I had been able to see them one last time. The darkness was still there, but somehow, it did not feel as strong.


This summer, much prayer has been poured out on that street and over the people who live there. Friendships were formed, connections were made, but most importantly, the gospel was shared. I think that's why the darkness seemed a little less. Light had come into the darkness. Truth and love had been shared. And try as it might, the darkness cannot overpower it.

Leaving is always painful. We see the lostness, the souls still in need of saving, but we have to leave. We have shared with so many that are close to salvation but who we did not see respond. And we may never know this side of heaven whether or not they accept God's gift of salvation. All we can do is pray and trust they are in the hands of the Father. 


This last week has been a reminder to me that that is really all we can do. We can be obedient to share, but we do not bring anyone to salvation. But The Lord was here long before we were. He was working in hearts and preparing encounters for us to share and to draw people to himself before I ever considered coming to Thailand. Then, He was with us as we walked the streets and shared. He put people in our paths, He helped us to share, and He moved in people's hearts. Best of all, He will not leave Chiang Mai when we do. He will still be here, seeing all the pain, the injustice, the bondage, the sin, and the shame. Hearing every cry and prayer, loving every broken heart and searching soul. Reaching out to all who seek Him, and drawing lost souls to salvation. I leave knowing that the work is not finished but it is in the hands of the One who will bring it to completion. Is it easy? No. But I believe God is still working here, and I look forward to seeing (even in heaven) the ways He used this summer for His glory.
 

Please pray for our team for safe travel home and for us as we personally process all we have seen and heard.
Please continue lifting up the women we have shared with. Their stories are not over yet, thanks be to God!
 

Sawadeekha
-Taylor

Moments Like These

We've been having nightly Bible Studies for the believers in the barangays with each team for the past three weeks. They're always set for 7pm which means that, according to FST (Filipino Standard Time), without fail we were starting sometime between 7:30 and 8:30. I may have said this before, but out here 8 o'clock is the new midnight. Our days start so early, and mindless tasks that take a fraction of a second at home and only require the turning of a knob or the pulling of a lever entail long minutes of labor in the draining sun out here. Not always, but often. No complaints--I think it's a beautiful way to live, and I actually love it. But at the end of a day (or sometimes the middle, depending on cloud cover and amount of laundry), I am spent.

It's much harder out here to live life past nightfall. Most places lack good lighting, and "brown-outs" (power outages) are so common. Cooking, using the toilet, washing dishes, reading--everything is harder by flashlight. At at a late Bible Study one night during a brown-out, I was sitting on the stairs overlooking the group, just beat. It was after 8, and people were still just trickling in. In the weakness of my flesh I did not want for there to even be a study that night. I felt it was just too late. My woven grass sleeping mat was calling out to me from through the ceiling. I wrote in my journal next to the date and time, "When I feel like Filipino time will be the death of me.. Give me perspective."

Not 15 minutes later I looked up at the Bible Study that had finally started. This is what I saw:

Nine brand-new baby Christians hunched over their new Bibles, hungry to learn more about this great God who had only just become real and personal to them, pouring over every word in flickering candlelight. At that moment, in the appalling weakness of my flesh, my eyes were opened to see the beauty of the work that was happening before my very eyes. By grace, he sent his Son Jesus to make it reconciliation possible. By grace irresistible, he drew my heart to himself. By grace I am here on this island, by grace I get to be a part of life-changing work and by grace in my moments of weakness and struggling I am given eyes to see.

Pray that these new believers on the Dolores River will continue to meet together faithfully to spur each other on. 
Pray that the Holy Spirit would be powerfully present and active in their midst.

NT/P52 Debrief Schedule

We are so thankful that you are praying for the students are they prepare to travel back to the US for their final days of debrief. We hope you are using the previous blog to pray specifically for them as they leave their countries. While students will be arriving throughout the day on Tuesday, July 29th.... debrief will not be over until 9PM (CST) on Thursday.

Just like orientation, debrief is "closed" to the public so the students can focus on the training that will be going on. It is a very full few days. Students have been challenged throughout the summer through what they have been doing, reading, discussing, feeling, and experiencing. It's important that they have an opportunity to bring all of these things to a close & see what the Lord may be saying about future steps. We would like to ask that family & friends respect the schedule and not come to "visit" and "say Hey!" during these days. We will be more than happy to throw open the doors at 9PM (CST) on Thursday and let your student run into your arms!

Students will receive their personal phones back after the final session on July 31st. Feel free to call the church office (256-638-8787) if you need to get a message to your student. Please email us if you need additional information about the debrief location.

For students with flights home on Aug. 1st, local churches will be providing transportation to the airport (ATL & BHM) for them to catch their flights. There will also be vehicles taking students to Memphis, TN & Charlotte, NC. Those who are driving or getting picked up are able to leave after 9PM (CST) on July 31st. We ask that all students be picked up by 9AM (CST) on Aug. 1st.