Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tropical Fishermen

Our primary focus is college students. We are teaching conversational English at local universities and trying to build relationships with our students so that we can witness to them. The primary religion here is Catholicism, but most people are open to hearing what we have to say about having a personal relationship with Jesus. 

Our local supervisors, Kennet and Emely, are members at a house church called Connect, which is the church Kim and Jeff planted when they first lived here. Kennet and Emely are training us in evangelism strategy, culture and language. We try to build relationships with students and invite them to Bible studies we have at our house. At the Bible studies we do vision casting, which is essentially teaching them how to share what they have learned. Before they have confessed or been baptized, we teach them the importance of evangelism. 

Over the past two weeks I have been challenged to view evangelism and the Christian life very differently than I have in the past. The Christian life as we so often live it--focued on our own personal growth and being satisfied with inviting someone to church once a year as our contribution to evangelism--is no Christian life at all. We are teaching new believers that being a follower of Christ and an evangelist go hand in hand. Our culture and language training has been so helpful in getting through culture shock.We have learned a few Tagalog words (Tagalog, pronounced tah-gah-lo, is the national language and is not to be confused with Tag-along, the popular Girl Scout cookie) and are beginning to learn the cultural do's and don'ts. 

Although we face language and cultural barriors and sometimes we feel homesick, it is so amazing to see how God is working here. Being in the Philippines is such a blessing and I can't wait to see what the next five weeks hold. Every day we see God's grace and faithfulness as we live and witness.

Please continue to pray for open doors and boldness to share our faith. I am quickly falling in love with the people of Batangas and I look forward to giving you more details in the weeks to come. Thank you so much for your support and prayers during this exciting adventure! 

By Him and for Him, 
Caroline 

Nehemiah Teams/P52 June Prayer Guide

 
Click on the link above to download a prayer guide to use in praying for teams this summer.



The First Time

I must be honest. As I read over the Nehemiah Team posts, I am convicted with how little the Nashville Project 52 team has been verbally sharing the Gospel. While we are living it and building relationships, we are struggling with actually sharing with these precious people. After an intense team meeting, I decided I would not go another day without sharing my beliefs. 

For the past two weeks, my heart has been drawn to a Kurdish woman... we'll call her Z. As some of you may know, yesterday was the first day of Ramadan. MaryRuth and I had the privilege of breaking the fast with Z and her family. After we finished, Z and I began to discuss the differences and similarities of Christianity and Islam. While she has family members who are Christian and has personally read the Bible, she is very set on Islam. While she still struggles with English, her ability to speak it has increased greatly (I believe this is completely due to God's grace over me since I have been discouraged by the language barrier). As she told me her beliefs, I prayed God would speak through me and I did my best to show her His truth. She asked many questions I had no answer to, and in those moments I felt like the worst defender of Christianity, but I must remember that it is the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts the heart. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness to open doors (literally) and encourage our hearts.
  • Please pray that P52 Nashville will become increasingly more intentional in sharing God's truth. 
  • Pray the He will reveal himself to the Muslims that are seeking during this time of fasting. 
  • Pray that He will seek through me in future conversations with Z.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Roses of the North

"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14 

A lot of people believe that they have been given a certain karma and that is what ultimately decides what their job will be. So, if girls are pretty, they can use their beauty and sell themselves to make money for their family. If they are not pretty, they can sell or distribute drugs. If they have money, they can go to school. Other times, girls get into relationships and do things out of "love":  being a drug mule. 

One of the main ministries we are participating in is prevention of the growth of the red light. A way that we do that is by going to villages and getting involved. We teach English, have Bible studies, and play games with the kids in one village. In another village, we have worship with the adults there. It is not elaborate... It is literally just gathering together. We sit in the living room of one of the women's home and worship and learn. Purely glorifying the Lord. 
Teaching English and Bible in a village.
Although sharing God's word is our main focus, we also share things like the "Priceless Cube". This is a method of educating the adults of villages in the dangers of letting strangers, friends, or even family members take the young children in to the city for a "better life". The cube helps them to know what situations are safe and what are not. 
Some of the ladies from church in the village.
Another prevention ministry we partake in is going to the girls' juvenile detention center twice a week. Some of these girls are here for drug trafficking, and some are in for gang related murder. Both of these have a maximum 5 year sentence. The government holds them equally as immoral. When we go there we play games, teach English, dance, worship, and share Bible stories. Right now we are putting on a skit! Not all of the girls are believers; about half of them have been baptized. This is prevention because our hope is that they will have a strong foundation in Christ when they leave and they will not get back into the red light.
Teaching English at the prison.
Please pray...
  • That the prison girls will find the love and forgiveness they need in God. Pray that God will restore their hearts.
  • That the girls in the villages living in poverty will come to know God and trust in Him to provide. 
  • That God will protect these beautiful roses of Northern Thailand from the darkness that many of the other girls have already found themselves in. 
-B and Kat


Sharing Through Singing

The first week we were in SEA, we has the pleasure of meeting an English teacher at the beach. Team Leader L began to talk to him and get to know him. He invited us to meet with his class and help them with their English. He also offered to take us to a festival that only happens once a year. We gladly accepted in hopes to share the good news. 

After several days, he picked us up and we were headed an hour into the mountains. As the radio was playing, Team Leader L asked the teacher to translate the song but he wasn't able to. We asked him if we could sing a song instead and he happily agreed. 

As we sang "This Little Light of Mine," he listened intently and then asked what the song meant. One of us told him that the song meant we had the Light of Jesus in our hearts and that we cannot hide the beautiful light. He didn't seek to know more at the moment and we were almost at the festival. 

We spent the morning with him as he showed us the traditional contests such as fruit carvings and flower decorating. After lunch, we left the festival and headed to his English class where we spent several hours doing activities with the kids as we taught English and they helped us with our language skills. 

The class ended and all six of us and the teacher packed into the car to come home. On the way, we asked him if we could sing another song. He gladly accepted. We sang the commonly known children song that goes, "I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart...." Afterwards we took turns explaining what it meant and how the joy of JC makes us happy. 

We continued singing How He Loves, Amazing Grace, and Holy Spirit. After each song, we had the opportunity to share what it meant and present the Good News. Driving slowly he intently listened to us and shared his beliefs as well. Where he could have driven 40 kph, he drove only 20 kph because he was listening to Truth.  
Lift up to the Father that this teacher would continue to hear Truth, and that he would seek to know who the Father is! Lift up that he knows the Father will be the only one to give him true JOY.

This is only one of the opportunities the Lord has created for us to share the Good News! All glory and praise to Him!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ever Given a Gift at the Gift Shop?

Hello from Southeast Asia Adventure girls!

The mornings have been so nice here. As we seek out the Father, He fills us. As we cast our burdens on Him, He continually sustains us. His words are oh so vibrant to me here in this place.

There is darkness here, and brokenness in the hearts of the people, yet there is hope and we are carriers of the light in this place! How wonderful that our Father would choose to use us!  He has a plan for these people, may our hearts rejoice!

Last week, we met three new friends who all work in a local gift shop. (Great for us, since we are three as well!) We were able to begin getting to know them, learn about them and the culture here. 

These girls do not know Jesus. I could tell in their eyes that while sharing about who He is with them, they hadn’t ever heard this before. So we stayed for about an hour in this little store that day learning from them as they were listening to us and so eager to hear more. We shared the good news, we shared about what grace means and they were so happy that we had come and that we wanted to befriend them!

As we left that day, one of the girls told me that she “had an experience” in her heart that she hadn’t had before. I knew that this was because of the Spirit, and not anything that I said or did. 

Just yesterday, we were able to go back and visit our friends, bringing them drinks and snacks for sharing while we chatted, and they had gotten snacks to share too! We told them stories about Jesus from the word! And they were so excited to hear. 

When it was time for us to leave, they were pulled out their calendars and filled all their free time and off days with spending time with us while we are here. We are so overjoyed to be able to be friends with these three girls from the gift shop.

Please remember to lift these girls up. Lift up us and our friends of faith here as we are getting to share the good news and the love of the Father here in Southeast Asia where knowledge of who He truly is, is very scarce. 

He is worth it!

The Village Idiots

If you have ever been to a different country, with different culture and beliefs everywhere around you, you have probably experienced being a village idiot. In the past two weeks our team has been considered village idiots quite often. 
  • Team Leader L fell out of her chair in the middle of a restaurant, crashed into two tables only yelling, "I am sorry, I am sorry!", while laughing.  
  • Team Member SY swung her book bag on in a restaurant only to brake a bottle sitting on the table behind her.  
  • Team Member B rode her bike on the wrong side of the rode almost getting hit by a car and motor bike at the same time.  
  • Team Member SR is still working on figuring out the currency. She doesn't know if she spends $5 or $50 at one time.  
  • Team Member K is having difficulties learning the language. One night she said something while playing cards with local friends when she actually meant to say the exact opposite. Needless to say, she got funny looks from all of us.  
  • And I, as a left handed person, have found it quite difficult only eating with my right hand which is the culturally "right" hand to use when doing anything.
Also, all six of us girls together make a very loud group in a very quiet culture. Lastly you would think that within six girls, one of us could fearlessly kill massive cock roaches...You would be wrong..

Even though we may be clumsy, scared of bugs, and way too loud, the Lord is continually using us to reach others. He is so good when there is nothing good in us. Pray that He continues to use us on a daily basis!

The Little Family of Great Faith

There once was a family of great faith that thirsted for God’s Word. There had come a group of foreigners spreading news about the man, Jesus Christ, and they craved to hear more. Unfortunately time passed too quickly and the foreigners had to leave and take their knowledge with them. Still though, even with no Bible of their own, this family came together in daily prayer and the mother would borrow the Bible of other families whenever she could. Reading it in between working the fields and tending her crops; she would bring the stories she read back to tell her children. One day the peace was broken, and a great tragedy struck their home. 

Typhoon Ruby blew in from the East. It’s furious winds destroying all in its path. But still the family kept their faith and the mother offered up a fervent prayer. “Lord if our home is to be destroyed let it be so, just keep my family safe.” And as a reward for her faith and obedience God spared the family’s home and the lives of all those that lived there.

Life returned to it’s same routines until one day the mother’s eldest daughter came running back home from the riverside with news that the foreigners had returned. They waited three days, knowing surely that God would bring these people back to their home, until finally they came to their village. Barley able to contain their excitement, the sisters asked their mother if they should retrieve the foreigners but the mother told them to have patience and wait.

At the end of that day the foreigners finally entered their home and were received warmly by the beautiful family. The mother told them of the family’s story and, greatly moved, and blessed to hear such faith, the foreigners gave them a Bible of their own that they could read every night with no great hassle. They had a Bible study right then and there and promised to be back within two days for another.


The Princess Hidden in the Mountains

There once was a beautiful princess that lived in a humble village hidden deep within the mountains surrounded by a dense forest. She lived a simple life with her beloved and two small children and thought nothing of the outside world.

That is, until one day, strangers appeared from a far away land.

She was hit by the strongest curiosity for why the strangers might be in such a hidden place and insisted that her husband accompany her to hear what they might have to say.

The strangers spoke of the man Jesus Christ, which many in the village had heard of from roaming priests. But this time it was different. They spoke of redemption and forgiveness and a close, personal relationship that this Lord Christ desired with each of His children.

Something deep within the princess’s heart throbbed and after hearing these things she ached for what these strangers spoke of. It felt like a piece of her life that had always been missing was about to be fulfilled and she was hooked; there was no going back.

A great many of the village followed her and her husband’s lead and they were baptized. The strangers stayed for a time and discipled the villagers before regretfully having to leave.

The princess was not sad though, because she now had that missing part of her life and believed that, with the Bible the strangers had left her, nothing could truly disturb the peace of the village and her family’s home.

Her hopeful heart was to be woefully brought down though in the year to come.

Typhoon Ruby’s hand had stretched far and its shadow covered even the hidden village. Blessedly though, the mountains stood as strong sentinels and the damage done was harsh but not total destruction. Still though, the villagers began to lose faith.

One by one they fell to the Enemy’s planted seeds of doubt and worry, until eventually, only the princess remained strong in her faith. Only the princess.

Her beloved husband had fallen to doubt and turned to the same ridicule and persecution the villagers heaped on her shoulders for her continued faith. Fight after fight the family endured and still she never gave up. Ensuring that her children heard the truth of God’s Word every night despite her husband’s increasing scorn.

And one day an unexpected blessing came to the family in the form of a third child. The beautiful woman struggled to keep up with her daily work while with child but she still perseveres.

Still the princess faces mockery…

…and still she remains strong.


Please be praying for "the princess", her family and village, and the health of her unborn child.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mountains

"I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made the heaven
and earth!"  Psalm 121:1-2

Here in Northern Thailand we are surrounded by beautiful mountains - verses like the one above have a whole new meaning in my eyes, seeing these mountains formed by God's Hand. They are unlike the ones I've seen in the US - unique and somehow comforting.  Living in Ohio, I don't see many mountains - we've been here almost 2 weeks and each time I look at these mountains it's as if I was seeing them for the first time.  What an truly wonderful, loving, creator and Father we serve.

"For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals His thoughts to mankind." Amos 4:13

We have been teaching in the schools for a little over a week now - we are getting into the routine and flow of things, continually learning ourselves as we try our best each day to shine the love of God and teach English to the children and help the teachers practice speaking it.

I love being able to see the mountains through the windows of the schools where we teach. They serve as a constant reminder to me as to who formed those mountains, His power that I have in me through the Holy Spirit, and it also reminds me why we are here.  I pray for my students as I teach - I pray for their salvation, I pray for their future, and the future of Thailand.  I pray these students will one day rise up with us as we are trying to - "to lead students to finish the Great Commission in this generation."

"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine." Isaiah 9:2

Some things we would appreciate more prayers for as we head into the rest of this week: 
  • For us to be "present" here - we want to be more focused (not distracted by homesickness, future plans, or worries, etc.)  
  • Wisdom with planning lessons and working with the Thai teachers
  • Please especially pray we can build relationships with the kids here at the dorm we are staying at - pray for the Lord to open doors for us to connect with them and get past language barriers.
-Alyssa






And He said to the people, “Go forward."


Joshua and the Israelites marched around the walls of Jericho for seven days, and on the seventh day the walls fell. As the Lord did in that city, we prayed that he would do the same in B.

We went prayer walking this past week, starting at a church in B and walking to a church plant in A.

As we begin walking, I soon realized my eyes were not prepared for what I would see, my heart wasn’t prepared for the break it would feel, and my feet were not prepared to go into the streets where we went. There are no words adequate enough to describe the brokenness that I saw and the oppression that I felt. It was very, very dark, and the many physical and spiritual needs of the people were obvious.

We prayed for different things as we walked—that witchdoctors would have no power, that demons would flee, and that the Holy Spirit would call sinners to Christ.

We were overwhelmed at the poverty—the physical and the spiritual—of those who worship spirits, Allah, and other false gods.

When we reached the church plant in A, we went into a member’s house and began to praise the Lord like Joshua and the Israelites did.

We want the Lord to tear down the walls of Abidjan, one neighborhood at a time, and to rebuild it for his glory and his glory alone. Pray for this end.

-Carley

Filipino Nehemiah Teams: NT Quezon Video

 
See what the Lord did through team members from NT Quezon.

Let the little children come

I really had hoped to work with children this summer... but came to the field not expecting to. The reality... I get to teach English to little children. 

We walked around the town handing out fliers for people to come learn English. We heard many small voices coming from up high yelling "Hello!!" We looked up & saw around 5 children in one house trying to get our attention. We asked them to come, and they grabbed our hands and walked with us. They have not missed a lesson yet! 

The group we are working with and teaching English in does not want our classes to be about the Book. This was hard to hear. He said he doesn't want people to feel pressured but wanted us to make a relationships with them first. 

It has been about two weeks and we have not gotten to share what we believe... not even once... to a non-believer. We have been praying a lot for opportunities. 

Today in my children's class, I talked about creation. Gabby came up with this idea. At first I was not going to talk about Him, but I asked the class, "What is creation?" I used the example of a house... Someone built the house, they created it. "Who created us? Who created your parents, humans?" The children were so interested. I answered & said it was "the Father." 

Through this, He allowed us to share the story of Adam and Eve. It was so cool to see the children's faces!! All but one of them did not know the story. The last thing I told them was how Adam and Eve did a bad thing... sinned... and no longer had a relationship with their Father. I told them the next time we will see what happens next in the story! They were all cheering and excited. (Thursday is a holiday so we don't have class.)

  • Please pray for the children and for the Father to speak through the lessons.
  • Pray that He will tell us what to share and when to do it. We do not want to get in the way for His great Word. 

Hearing the Word, Crayons in Hand

On Saturday morning, we met with teenagers in the village of Koumassi. They teach children at Bible Camp each week, where most of them were once students.

Ten of them and two of us packed into a tiny house at the back of the village—the home of Mama Giselle. She started the ministry in the village eighteen years ago.

The teenagers spoke little English; we spoke even less French. Thankfully, Bamba, a local, was with us to translate.

We spent the morning singing, praying and reviewing the lesson for the afternoon's meeting. They were teaching about Jesus washing the disciples' feet from John 13. One by one, they each practiced telling the story, receiving feedback from the others afterwards.

At one point, they sang a song about the Lord redeeming and using young people. When they finished, I asked if I could share a verse with them. They grabbed their Bibles and someone brought out a pack of crayons.

I began reading 1 Timothy 4:12. They leaned in to listen, crayons in hand:

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

I encouraged them to continue to glorify God with their lives as they teach the young children each week.

Pray for this ministry in K. Pray that these children’s parents will be open to hearing about the gospel and that they will come to know Christ through the ministry of these teenagers. 
Pray also that the Lord continues to use these youth for His glory in K!

-Hannah

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Praise God for the Unexpected


I thought I was going to be working in the city and working with college students. To be honest, I did not want to come. I hate large cities, and I really wanted to be working with children. Another fear of mine was not working out on a regular basis. Since I play volleyball at my college, the fear of not being ready for next season was hard and I didn't want to disappoint my non-believing coaches.
Praise God! First off, the city is nothing like what I expected. It is run down. We drive on mostly dirt roads or run down pavement. There is no western toilet or hot water, we sleep on the floor, and there is no air conditioning. This is awesome!!! We get to live with 2 college students that cook for us every night. They hardly know English, but we already love each other. We all speak through many smiles and laughter. They are also sisters of ours!! 

Pray that we will be faithful to look for opportunities to develop
relationships in our area.