Saturday, July 29, 2017

Final Days in the Philippines

As all the teams bring their ministry to a close, many of us are met with a feeling we can't shake. We are so eager to return home to our families, but we are also heart broken to leave the ones we have been discipling. The teams have been investing the time they have remaining in teaching new believers how to start and maintain a house church. We are very blessed God gave us the opportunity to fulfill the great commission, and have no regrets of the decision we have made to spend our summer. God has truly blessed us.

Please pray for safe travels home and the new believers we are leaving.

The Gospel Must Go!
-Sam Johnston


But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

Team of the Day: Bush Boys and Girls
Country of the Day: Botswana

Pray for the discipleship of new believers to continue even after team members have departed.

Crossing Cultures

Earlier this summer we met a group of men who were involved in homosexuality. They all played volleyball all day and every day. In fact, volleyball is how we met them. They are all around the age of 20, but some are younger and some are older. Two of the boys on our team (Joseph and Ben) asked them to come over for a Bible study. The leader of the team, J, texted us not long after meeting him. He even brought a few of his volleyball friends with him. We began doing Bible studies with them a few days every week. Each Bible study had a different group of guys that J had brought to us. 

One of the groups contained a man named T. T was a lot like J at first and kept coming back to hear more about God's word. One night we decided to have dinner with them. As always, T and J were there with a few new faces. After dinner J had a long conversation with our team leader Ben. Ben shared his testimony with him and was able to share more about his relationship with Jesus Christ. Meanwhile the other guys were talking to the rest of the team and some of the other Philippine Nehemiah Team members that live with us. T got to hear a testimony from one of our Philippine friends that completely changed his heart. He hadn't realized that what he was doing was wrong according to God's word, but it wasn't too late to fix it. 

Ever since that night T has been at our house and disciplining with us just about every night. In fact, he was even able to lead a Bible study with his friends at our house just the other night. His appearance, mannerisms, and heart for God have changed drastically. He goes to work and comes to our house every day leaving no room for him to be tempted by his past lifestyle. God is truly working in that man's life. J is still bringing more and more of his friends to our house for a Bible study every night and learning how to be more obedient to God. 

Through this group of men our team has been able to see what God can really do. All it took was Joseph and Ben being obedient to God. They heard him tugging on their hearts for these lost men. All the men on our team and on the Philippine Nehemiah Team have truly been amazing examples for the volleyball team on what godly men look like. Also, the girls at our house have played a great role at comforting them and showing them that they are capable of over coming their temptations with Jesus Christ fighting for them.

Please pray for T, J, and the rest of the volleyball team. 
Pray that after we leave they will continue to come back to the Philippine team members to learn more and more about God. 
Also, pray that they continue seeking others to disciple. Some of them are dealing with persecution at home, work, and from friends. Please pray that they will be able to have the strength to fight those persecuting them the righteous way.

Self-Defense Team

A New Creation in Christ

This past Friday we had the wonderful opportunity to meet with our new Brother in Christ, J. All week we were unsure as to whether or not we would be able to meet with him due to our schedule as well as other factors. However, God provided us a way so that we could meet with J and disciple him before we leave the island. Our intention was to see where he was on a spiritual level as well as teach him about his duties as a new believer.
The first thing that we planned on talking with him about was how he needed to seek out lost souls and share the good news with them. Before we bring it up in conversation, he was already trying to talk about all of the things that God was doing in his heart. He told about a young woman that he had recently met that once claimed to be Christian. Recently, she moved away from her family and converted to Islam. J recognized that her story was very similar to his since he also claimed to be a Christian who converted to Islam. J said that he would share his testimony with her the next time that they met and that he had already begun sharing about how incredible God is. In less than one week of his salvation, he was actively seeking out opportunities to tell others about our amazing God.
When my team and I heard this, we were not only extremely excited for him, but we were also highly encouraged by his level of faithfulness to the Lord. J recognizes that he will get persecuted on this island for his faith and that he may even be killed. He is being smart about how he shares with others, but he is also not afraid of the consequences that he may face as a Christ follower. His love for Jesus is far greater than any situation that he could ever face in this lifetime and he knows that Christ is worth suffering for.
After hearing about how he is relentlessly pursuing Christ in all of his ways, we wanted to make sure that he knew how to effectively share the Gospel with nonbelievers so that they would be without excuse on judgement day. Immediately he said, “God is with me wherever I go. He will guide me where I need to go and tell me what I need to say.” J meant what he said with his whole heart. He believed fully that the Spirit would help him in every situation. This was a beautiful response but we still wanted to see if he knew what needs to be shared in every Gospel conversation. J then began to share with us what he thought should be shared with every nonbeliever. After hearing his response, we were astounded at how well he shared the Good News with us. We believe with our whole hearts that God is going to use J to do wonderful things for the kingdom.
J has been such an inspiration to me and my team and we pray that one day we could develop a love for Christ as J has. We ask everyone back home to pray for our new brother in Christ, J. We ask not for protection from persecution, or for trials and tribulations to be removed. We pray that God would grant him boldness to speak without fear, without doubt, with power and with authority. We pray that God will surround him with a Christian community that will love and encourage him. J will be used to advance the kingdom of God and we have no doubt about it. However, he still needs our daily prayers in order to persevere through the trials that he will face.
I hope that J’s faith encourages each of you as it did for me and my team. J is willing to give up everything for the Lord. His family… his friends… his belongings… his life… Everything that we have both physical as well as spiritual was granted to us by God. We must cast everything that he has given to us back at his feet. We must give all that we have… all that we are to Christ. Jesus paid the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for us. He died so that we may live even though we are all so undeserving and unworthy. Should we not live entirely for him because of what he did for us. If we truly love Christ like we say we do, then why do we as Christians not live like it?
I pray that everyone back home, as well as me and my team live by this. God deserves everything that we have and nothing less. Let us give Him our hearts and surrender ourselves to him. We thank each and every one of you for your continued prayers for me and my team as we have been on this beautiful journey together. Today I ask that you don’t just pray for our team, or even the people that we come in contact with. I ask that you also pray for one another. That each and every one of us would surrender ourselves to God and allow him work through us. Together we will seek him, together we will praise him, and together we will do the work that God has placed before us.
Jeremiah 29:13 “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

-Caleb W

Friday, July 28, 2017

Enduring Discouragements-: Advance Team

It amazes me how William Carey endured six years to see a convert. Can you imagine the discouragements he took from his fellow believers and family? Not to mention the death of his son and later his wife. It also amazes me how Jim Elliot and four others faced their deaths from the people they want to share the Gospel to and not putting a fight. Acts 20:24 says”However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” These men considered their lives as Paul considered his.

What amazes me most was that Jesus Christ, a God, came down here to earth just to die a sinner’s death. Can you imagine the pain of the lashes He had to bear, the weight of the cross He had to carry and the mockery, scorn and the strife He had to take?

Many of us so become easily disappointed, discouraged when faced by trials of any kinds. Many of us go on default mode when confronted by opposition. When a person rejects to hear the gospel or doesn’t want to come to you for a Bible study how many of us persevere for that person? How many of us really share the love of God everyday intentionally rather than seeing it as an event once a month? How many of us get easily disappointed when we see few or no results? Many of us easily give up when an opposition arises.

If God just gave up on us what do you think would happen to us now?

I would like to quote what C.T. Studd said “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” If Jesus Christ, a God, who endured everything for us then, I believe, just as C.T. Studd said there can be sacrifice too great for me to take for Him. But saying it is a whole different level when we are actually doing it. Faith is seen by its work. As we believed and accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior then we should live our lives following what our “Lord” instructs us to. It may be illogical and hard but we can be rest assured that our Father who is in heaven knows best for His son.

A man once said to me “As we are filled with grace, when we are bumped, we should then spill grace.” We may get bumped by rejections, by persecutions, by discouragements, by disappointments and any other we should still spill grace, nothing else. God didn’t give up on us then how are we to give up on people that God wants them to hear and show His love for them.


Spiritual Victory

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

Team of the Day: P52 Toronto
Country of the Day: Canada

Pray for team members to seek daily spiritual victory through Christ who loves them.

Wonderful Time in Zimbabwe

Our time in Zimbabwe is quickly coming to an end; honestly this idea upsets me, but it is good to think back on our time in Zim. It has been a truly amazing summer full of so many wonderful things. Things haven't turned out exactly like we planned them, but the Lord has worked through all of that. It is good to think of all the opportunities that God has allowed us to be a part of in our time here. 

We have been able to work at orphanages, markets, schools, and soup kitchens, and we have had the opportunity to see some truly beautiful things the Lord has created such as Victoria Falls, the mountains of Zim, rocks at Matapos, and lots of wildlife. 

I think the best part of our time here has been the relationships that we have developed. People from the markets are so generous and kind, and their friendship and love means so much to me. The church we have been attending has been a wonderful church home here in Zim. They made us feel at home from the very beginning, and developing relationships with them has truly been great. I have especially enjoyed the fellowship with the young adults. I have talked with several of them about our lives and the fellowship that we have. 

In some ways we are very different, but in some ways there are things that unite us. Two such things are the Lord and food. There are things that I love about the life and people here that might not be so true about our lives in the states. I love how their focus is more on relationships and not time. Their joy and laughter is contagious to me, and I absolutely love to laugh with them. I will miss them, but I know that our relationships will continue even after we leave. God has also given us an opportunity to grow as a group. We barely knew each other when we arrived, but now we have a deeper friendship. This summer has been an incredible experience that I wouldn't change for anything.

Please pray that God would continue to work here in Zimbabwe, and we would continue to see the opportunities that God is giving us.


The Eternity of God

This summer, my teammates and I have been reading through The Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer. One of the chapters we read was on the eternity of God, which celebrates the everlastingness of the Lord.

This specific chapter explains that we are bound by time, but God is not. He has no beginning and no end. Tozer goes on to explain that being restricted by time is a source of frustration for mankind, whose hearts have been set on eternity:

I think…here sets forth both the glory and the misery of men. To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of huge proportions. All within us cries for life and permanence and everything around us reminds us of morality and change. Yet that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory and a prophecy yet to be fulfilled.”

Tozer references Psalm 90, the prayer of Moses. In this Psalm, Moses reflects on both his morality and the eternity of God. Moses cries “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

Moses recognized that his time on earth was short but that God is faithful to use earthly labors for eternal significance. Because God is eternal and we are limited by time, we can rejoice that He is able to redeem our efforts for eternal value. My teammates and I know we only have a short time in this city, and more and more we are reminded of how quickly this summer is coming to an end. However, we are trusting that God will establish the work we have committed to Him.

Our prayer for the rest of the summer is that the Lord would establish the work of our hands – that the work we have done, the conversations we have had, and the relationships we have built will outlast us far beyond what we can see or know for the glory of God. We ask that you join us in prayer that God would use our efforts for eternal value as we finish up our last week in the city.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Strong National Believers

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. Acts 16:5

Team of the Day: Mountain Harvesters
Country of the Day: Philippines

Pray for the strengthening of national believers in the areas where team members are ministering.

Whether Short or Long

This past week seemed to be packed full of important moments, and sped by as we just tried to keep up. We said goodby to our "Senegalese mom" as she headed out of the city, had long conversations with the students where we shared the Gospel, held  the last of our summer classes, and stayed up late one night to go listen to a student play jazz at a restaurant in town. Every day that goes by just seems to show us more and more how precious these people have become to us, and as our time to leave comes closer we are desperate to use every moment of every day. 

When talking to one student, he told me that he believed the Bible to be truth. He said that the Bible held the answers to how you should live your life, and I stood waiting for him to tell me that he had made a decision to follow Christ. That moment didn't come, though, and it seems to me that he and others here are stuck between understanding the importance of the Gospel but being unwilling to give up everything they would lose if they chose to follow Christ. 

The missionaries in this area have been ministering long and hard, waiting for there to be a response. Even in the short time we have been here our team has come to realize that as Paul says in Acts, "whether short or long" we only hope that the people we have come to care about will make that decision to surrender their lives to Christ. Whether it takes twenty days or twenty years, we pray that God would move in the hearts of these people. 

Prayer Requests:

  • Please pray for the missionaries here, that they would continue to minister even when there seems to be little response.
  • Please pray for the student mentioned above (M), that he would make the decision to give his life to Christ. 
-English in Africa

The Great Commission is even for home!

Man, this summer has been a blessing. God has been answering lots of prayers and has been working in people here on the island. We just want to take a moment to give praise God for being with us in our adventure here on this island. 

When we reflect on what God has done, we’ve come to realize how little faith I had in him back home. Because of what He has done for us, I am motivated to continue His work and take it seriously when we get back home. Sometimes, we fall into our responsibilities that we have in our lives by doing these things if we are certain that we are getting that. In reality, God has a plan, and our plan is way different than His. We need to come to terms that planning things is an ok thing to do, but God has a greater purpose for all of us to do and those things do not matter at all. 

What matters is going out to the nations and making disciples. However, you don’t need to go on a short-term mission trip and travel halfway around the world to fulfill the Great Commission. We are called to share the Gospel anywhere we are. Everything that we have learned on this trip will not be forgotten and we will bring it back home to share with our friends and families. Even though I miss my home, I rather sacrifice my own comfort and take action to do what God has called us. I ask that you pray for our team as we spend these last days here on the island and that God will continue to use us till the end.

-Johann M.