The First Call and the Final Command (by Manik Corea)

At the end of our global Novena gathering in April, a few of NAMS’ executive leaders debriefed in an air-conditioned room in Bangkok. We reflected on the all-encompassing nature of global mission given to Christians everywhere, for which NAMS as a missionary order was founded to serve and work towards.

At that point, reference was made to Genesis 12:1-3 – God’s purpose and promise made known to his servant, then still called Abram. We saw that morning that within the ‘first call’ to Abraham were already clear indications of God’s desire for the spread of his tent to cover all ‘families of the earth’.

God called Abraham to a walk of faith that would involve loss of family, and journey to a new unfamiliar land of both opportunity and challenge – some would curse him. Ultimately, God was going to bless him greatly, and that blessing was going to be contagious.

The blessing on the obedience of Abraham would be earth-sized – all families of the earth, all peoples – would be touched by his personal journey and obedience.

We see this in the strategic location of the promised land God gave to him in Canaan, which lies at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa, a narrow but fertile land bridge between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by arid desert. The nations would certainly pass through! And so the Israelites, the physical descendants of Abraham, were called to be a ‘kingdom of priests’ so that God might ultimately be known among the nations (Exodus 19:6; 2 Chronicles 6:32, 33; Psalm 22:27; Habakkuk 2:14, etc.)

In many ways, the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 – what we at NAMS call the ‘Final Command’ – mirrors the same themes of God’s desire for obedience in His people and for global blessing through them. Only now, in the full revelation of God in Christ, it requires a response of repentance and faith to the Gospel of Jesus and the being and making of faithful disciples.

Then, as now, it was meant to go from there to everywhere.

Therefore, of all peoples, Christians cannot afford to be ethno-centric in our thinking and focus – or worse, in our prejudices. We must see as God sees, so that we do as He wants.

Indeed, in the words of the late John Stott, ‘we must be global Christians with a global vision because we serve a global God.’ God’s desire from the start was that his family would be made up of people from all families of the earth. The Apostle John saw this in his end-time heavenly vision (Revelation 7:9). He saw a truly global worship service at the foot of God’s throne, for which – surely – all our other worship times on earth ought to be dress-rehearsals for.

Therefore, NAMS Companions are called not only to work and make disciples wherever God places them, but also to pray, work and give towards the global work of NAMS and other ministries as God blesses them. This should be true, too, of all true Christians.

After all, God told Israel through the prophet Isaiah that it was too small a thing that he should only restore Israel, since his desire was that they would be a light to the Gentiles (all other peoples) that ‘my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 49:6).

We live in days when God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled like never before in world history. It is too small a thing then that we should not likewise be passionately concerned to pray, give and work for the same?

— Rev. Manik Corea
NAMS Global Executive Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Call and the Final Command (by Manik Corea)

Church Planting in France

Those true Christians who have ever traveled in Europe will know that the evidence of past Christian faith is everywhere. Place names, existing buildings, and ruins—once symbolic of a lived faith, and used in direct support of that faith—are scattered all over the continent, but the living communities that built and named them are gone.

Here in France, about 1% of the population will attend a Christian service this Sunday, and only God know what percentage of that small number are truly his. To rekindle the faith in this land is a daunting challenge.

To this challenge, Matt & Katie Riley have given themselves. They are living, and raising their four children, in one of the most difficult places on the face of the earth to be boldly follow and serve Christ Jesus. Why?

The short answer is simple: they believe God has called them to do it. They would serve him wherever they lived, but they believe their Lord wants and needs them in France. He has work there for them to walk in. After nearly six years, they are well integrated into French life, are very fluent in the language, and have just taken possession of a new home in their assigned village. How do they do their work?

First, they build relationships with their neighbors. They are constantly open to the possibility that the next person may be a “person of peace.” They are building webs of relational connectivity – at the grocery store, the bank, the hardware store, and on the playground.

Second, they make opportunities to break bread with those they meet. Tomorrow night there is a concert in the square behind their home, and they are cooking out with a few of their newest acquaintances. They are trying to honestly and lovingly get to know them as people.

Third, they have established a simple entry path for those interested in exploring the Christian faith. They call it Discovery Bible Study. What does the bible really teach about God, about human beings, about the purpose and meaning of life? No one has to believe to participate, but the prayer of the Rileys is that—in time—some will.

Fourth, Katie has specifically begun to meet with other young mothers, to share the joys and challenges of motherhood. She is the gospel leaven in the lump.

To this date Matt has not begun regular public Sunday worship in Pontivy. That will be added when the time is right. But there is daily prayer that the kingdom will come in Pontivy, as it is in heaven.

Will you join them as intercessors for the arrival of that glorious day?

— Rev. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

 

Church Planting in France

Why Do We Disobey God?

Why Do We Disobey God?

“But I do not”, you might be saying. But I dare to challenge you.

As I write, Cynthia and I are just settling in to a small farmhouse in the Brittany peninsula of France. We have come for two months to help Matt & Katie Riley with their new work church planting in Pontivy. I will be directly working with Matt, and Cynthia will be painting – of course. We will also have a most needed and wonderful respite from the pace of life in the USA. Already, after only two days in France we are slowing down. There is a sublime quiet here, near the little town of Bannalec, which is intoxicating to us. We are anticipating daily times of silence with the Lord, regular bible study, regular sabbath, and the rhythm of occasional retreat. By God’s grace we hope to reclaim this pattern so we can reintroduce it to our life in the States. In the last year it has slipped away from us a bit.

I have often pondered the Sabbath command, and wondered at its beauty. From sundown on Friday till sundown on Saturday. Twenty-four hours with no work. And then, the evening of Saturday and another night’s rest. If we stopped work at 6:00 pm on Friday we would have 36 straight hours of rest and time with the Lord. If we subtract sleeping hours, 20 hours of undistracted time for God, our family, and our community of faith, as well as our own physical rest. How many of us are setting that much time apart in any given week? Why is it so easy for us to break the Sabbath? Is it different than the other nine commandments?

The early church clearly believed that the Sabbath command could now be moved to Sunday, because of the Resurrection. In the centuries of faith, the Christian community honored the Lord of the Sabbath with serious purpose and obedience. When and how did we decide that we were exempt in the 21st century? Is it alright to murder? To steal? To commit adultery? God forbid!

As an ordained clergyman, I know how easily the work of the church can become a seven-day tyranny. It ought not to be so. If we model breaking the commands of God, why should our people be any different?

The Sabbath was also to be given to those who labored for the People of God. All were to observe the day. Have you ever felt a twinge of guilt going out to eat after services on Sunday, and seeing all those who must work on the Lord’s Day so you can be served?

Might it be time for all of us to reconsider how we came to be caught up in a 24/7 cycle of life and work? How we have allowed the cares and concerns of this world to choke out of us time needed for the fruit bearing call of Jesus to be deeply planted in our hearts and lives?

Are we disobeying God?

— Rev. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

Why Do We Disobey God?

Going Places for the Kingdom with NAMS! (Interview with Isaac Lasky).

In this special interview, we speak to Isaac Lasky, who is the global coordinator of the new NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program (GAP). Having interned for 2 years at our NAMS base community in Bangkok from 2014-2016, Isaac has taken on the challenge of developing and managing a one – two years apprenticeship program for young people who want to learn to be disciple-making leaders at one of our NAMS bases. This will be a wonderful opportunity to get equipped and experienced in becoming a missionary disciple of Jesus. Please help us get the word out!

Isaac and Pat
Isaac and his fiancé, Pat

NAMS: Tell us a little about your background and journey to faith in Christ?

Isaac: I grew up in a Christian family in Colchester, England. I was part of a number of vibrant churches. My favorite memories from those times are of mission trips. I was baptized when I was 14 years old. I had some rough times when I was 16/17 years of age but came out of that season with a deeper ownership of my Christian faith. A big part of that was joining NAMS European partner church, DNA Networks, in Colchester.

When I was 18 I did a six month trip to Mumbai, India and that cemented in my heart a sense of call to the nations. I then gained a BTh Mission from Formission College through Reign Ministries, whilst I serve as a youth worker for DNA Networks for three years. It was soon after that I met Manik Corea and Jon Shuler and they invited me to be a NAMS apprentice in Bangkok for two years!

NAMS: What was the experience like serving as a NAMS apprentice/intern in Bangkok those 2 years? What was most difficult? What grew you the most? What did you enjoy? Please tell all the juicy bits!.

Isaac: It felt like a massive step of faith. Moving the other side of the world to work in a new country, culture and language was a big adjustment but through it I learnt to have a greater dependence on God and so many other things with it.

I would say that being away from friends and family was the most difficult part. But I have learnt that the Lord puts the lonely in families. Through this experience I have gained friends that have become like family and a fiancée that will! I really treasure those relationships.

In terms of growth I would say the amount of opportunities I was given was the key. I had a period of acclimation but I was quickly given opportunities to lead and develop new work. I didn’t always succeed, but the team supported me every step of the way and I have learnt so much about leading pioneering work, especially in a cross-cultural context.

I also really enjoyed supporting and teaching at NAMS conferences in Bangkok, Myanmar, Nepal and India. It was an opportunity to be part of what God is doing in different parts of the world, to learn from Christians in other cultures and to see that we are part of something much bigger!

NAMS: You are now the NAMS Global GAP coordinator. Tell us in a few words what it stands for, and what its main purpose is?

Isaac: The main purpose of NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program or GAP is to train and equip the next generation of pioneering disciple making church planters. We currently looking to have Global Apprentices at NAMS base communities in Thailand, Nepal, USA and Chile.

NAMS: What kind of people are we looking for to join NAMS GAP?

Isaac: We are looking for people who are teachable, adventurous, pioneering, have a heart for mission and are committed to following and obeying Jesus. This may be ideal for young people looking to do a gap year or for people in their 20s/30s (or older) who want to get their feet wet in global mission. If they want to become NAMS companions, this will be ideal preparation too.

NAMS: What will they receive from being an apprentice on this programme?

Isaac: Apprentices will hopefully attain the following things: they will be equipped and trained to be a disciple making leader anywhere in the world; they will receive hands on training and mentoring from established disciple making leaders; there will be opportunities to lead and pioneer new works; they will get to participate in NAMS projects, missions trips, conferences and retreats; and finally, they will experience serving Jesus in a cross-cultural or missional context.

NAMS: On the thorny issue of funding, how much is needed to join this programme? Will GAP participants have to raise their own support?

Isaac: The cost of the program is dependent of the location of the apprenticeship. An applicant needs to contact us to get a country-specific price. Apprentices will need to raise a certain percentage of support with the rest coming from NAMS Global and the hosting base community but that is tailored according to an applicant’s background and circumstances. There will always be a need for an apprentice to raise their own support. It’s an important step of faith, one that has greatly benefitted me personally.

NAMS: Whom should they contact or what should they do if they want to find out more or wish to apply?

Isaac: The first thing for them probably to do is visit our website at www.namsgap.com and register your interest! I can then answer your questions and give more information over email or Skype.

Going Places for the Kingdom with NAMS! (Interview with Isaac Lasky).

How to Pray for NAMS — part 3, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

Finally, dear friends, after sharing with you about sweet Audrey and talking a bit about why prayer is so transformative—for the pray-er and the circumstance—we come to the call for intercession.

What a blessing it is to be able to communicate with our God and to know that at any moment we can share with Him the concerns of our own lives. Even so, intercessory prayer is different. It is praying specifically for the concerns of others, pleading on their behalf.

The truth is, sometimes I find it difficult to pray for others with genuine fervency; I imagine this may be the case for many of us not yet accustomed to doing so. Recently I read a passage by Richard Foster in The Celebration of Discipline which struck me. He writes, “Usually, the courage actually to go and pray for a person is a sign of sufficient faith. Frequently our lack is not faith but compassion.” Those lines convicted me deeply: often it’s my lack of compassion for others that limits my prayers.

Faced with my own limitations, I cry out: How can anyone ever be compassionate “enough?” Seriously, with the news and internet at my fingertips and constant connectedness with family, friends, and acquaintances via technology and social media, there is no shortage of prayer needs. How is one ever to respond to all of them genuinely, and to pray for our leaders and the poor and fatherless as Scripture directs us? I’m overwhelmed from the get-go.

But, dear believers, ours is not the role to respond to all needs; only God can do that. Rather, our responsibility is to respond to where God calls us by putting compassion on our hearts. Foster goes on to remind the Christian that as God gives us compassion, we are moved to pray; and that for which we are not stirred to genuine compassion, we trust that God is moving another believer’s heart in such a way. Yet, as we are faithful by responding in prayer where He prompts us, He is in the work of transforming our hearts to be more sensitive to the needs of those whom we do not yet have eyes to see.

Here at NAMS the Lord has put a specific call on our hearts: to engage in pioneering global ministry to share the Gospel and build up communities of disciple-making disciples. Every global need is in fact someone’s local need, but when a local community does not know the message of hope found in Jesus Christ, we must pray for God to raise up men and women from other parts of the globe to go share that life-changing, community-changing, and world-changing news.

Prayer is such a vital step in this process that we cannot do it alone. When Jesus sent out seventy disciples two-by-two into the mission field, he told them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). We need more laborers to be part of bringing in the harvest. These laborers indeed include missionaries in the field, but they also include an arsenal of prayer support from across the globe.

For this reason, NAMS is working to expand its intercessory prayer efforts worldwide. To achieve this, we will be sending out monthly prayer updates as well as resources and strategies to help prayer groups and communities grow in prayer and connectedness with other communities around the world. To sign up for this newsletter and be part of this team, you can write to mary.garrison@namsnetwork.com.

To those who do not yet feel a burden to pray for the nations, we ask God to give a genuine compassion for the lost peoples. Then, we simply start to pray, trusting in His faithfulness to respond to that prayer which delights His heart.

— Mary Garrison-Ruiz
NAMS Global Prayer/Intercession Coordinator.

How to Pray for NAMS — part 3, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

How to Pray for NAMS — part 2, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

Last week I introduced you to my friend Audrey and her great reminder of the value of time spent with the Lord in intercessory prayer. But, deeper to the heart of the matter, why must we pray?

As faithful Christians, we seek to follow God’s will, and we know He is sovereign. Yet, in this so often we can be tempted to think: God’s plan will be done whether I pray for it or not. “I don’t really need to pray.” Or, perhaps we know “the churchy answer,” which is that, of course, we are supposed to pray, and so we will close our eyes and think good thoughts toward a person or some issue for a few minutes (or should I say seconds), and them we move on, patting ourselves on the back for sacrificing our time and energy to remember others.

Please don’t let my tone fool you; I write in incrimination of myself first and foremost. This is how I have thought and prayed for much of my life. The reality is that my prayer life modeled my spiritual life: immature on both accounts. But God can and will open our hearts and minds to grow and mature in these areas.

Does prayer “do anything”? I will write here unequivocally yes, but… Though there are countless testimonies of prayerful believers who can share their experiences of God’s answers to prayer, our faith to believe such accounts without our own personal experience is too often skeptical. Rather, let’s look back at the foundation of our beliefs in Scripture and build from there.

Prayer is communion with God, a time we share our hearts with him. (Remember Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his arrest.) But our sinful hearts are tricky and so often confusing; our desires and emotions change from one moment to the next. Yet the Holy Spirit is our constant companion, and in times of prayer, we quiet ourselves to listen to His divine direction. Indeed, Romans 8:26-27 states, “the Spirit also helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now [God] who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because [the Spirit] makes intercession for [believers] according to the will of God.”

Intercession is pleading in favor of others, and in the first place, the Holy Spirit intercedes for believers to God the Father. It’s while we are under the Holy Spirit’s divine direction that the desires of our hearts slowly but surely become transformed to God’s own desires. So, indeed, the first point of transformation with prayer is that of the pray-er, but, the transformation does not stop there.

Over time, we begin to see God’s will for others in the Spirit-led promptings of our own hearts. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:9 that we are “co-laborers” with God. All glory and power and sovereignty is His, but He gives us work to do—in prayer and response—to bring about His will. Is this because God could not do it himself? Of course not! But because He loves us, He invites us to be part of the process, because it is in the process of co-working with God that we see so clearly what He is capable of and learn to depend on him even more.

As the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, we can also intercede for others, trusting in the promise of John 15:7-8, which says, “If you remain in me and my works remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be disciples.” At NAMS we talk often about the marks of a disciple. Our conclusion is simply that a disciple is one who is dedicated to making other disciples. Praying and interceding on behalf of others is the work of a disciple-making disciple.

Prayer changes us and it can even change circumstances, according to God’s will. Next week I will talk more about how to intercede for others and how God is calling NAMS to grow through the establishment of an intercessory prayer teams. Might you grow with us in this process?

— Mary Garrison-Ruiz
NAMS Global Prayer/Intercession Coordinator.

How to Pray for NAMS — part 2, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

How to Pray for NAMS — part 1, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.

I want to share with you about a very special friend of mine named Audrey. I met “Aud” when I was living in Temuco, Chile, from 2014-2016 while serving in a NAMS Base Community. A native of Manchester, England, Aud came to Chol-Chol, Chile, as a 29-year-old missionary and 50+ years later, she was still there. In Audrey, I saw a joy for spending time with the Lord and meditating on Scripture like I had never seen before. The Holy Spirit drew me to want to spend more and more time with her, to listen to her speak and pray with deep passion, and to learn from her as much as I could.

When Audrey arrived in Chol-chol in the early 1960s, the town was like a scene from an old Hollywood Western film—horseback riding, cantinas, gunfights, and all. Listening to Audrey’s stories of running a school and boarding house for indigenous children without any funding, or fording a river on horseback during a raging storm to arrive at a prayer meeting, or navigating any number of social mores of the Chilean countryside were always greatly entertaining.

When I arrived in Chile, I was trying to figure out this whole “missionary thing” in an unfamiliar culture, and had all this time on my hands that I didn’t know what to do with. One day Aud—whose deteriorating health had by now made it nearly impossible for her to travel from her countryside home into the city, and who now spent most of her time alone—phoned to give me a bit of encouragement. “Mary,” she said, “any time you spend simply with the Lord in prayer is not time wasted.”

It’s so simple but so profound, so let me say it again: Any time spent simply with the Lord in prayer is not time wasted. These words were coming to me from a woman with such exciting life-stories to tell about how she surely had made such valuable use of her time and ministry, and in fact it was the authority of that experience which spoke to me. It still speaks to me now. From the sitting room where she is spending her twilight years, Audrey is deepening her understanding of the value of time and ministry to the Lord, through intercessory prayer.

We can fill our time with a million things to do, but if we are not engaged in what that the Lord has called us to do, and spending time with Him in that calling, we are wasting our time. What has the Lord called every one of us to do as Christians? For a start, we have all been called to pray. Over the course of the past three years, I made it a point to spent as much time with Audrey as possible, learning from her how to spend time with the Lord—not “doing for” God but simply being with Him in prayer. Over time, I learned how to talk with God and enter into communion with him. It’s only from that place of spiritual communion and humility that we can attempt to serve Him in any meaningful way.

At NAMS, our mission is to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in any part of the globe where God opens a door, and to plant communities of disciple-making disciples. To carry out this mission, we have a ministry model with action steps, executed by a Global Ministry Team consisting of Regional Team Leaders, led by our Servant General, and under him, a Global Executive and his various officers.

We have Base Communities, a Global Apprenticeship Program, supporting churches, friends of NAMS and the NAMS Centurion Project as well as global and regional training events and vision retreats. The list could go on, and for each of these aspects of the ministry of NAMS, I give thanks to God. But Audrey’s simple truth rings true within our operations as well: it’s time spent with the Lord in prayer that will make all the “goings on” of NAMS eternally valuable.

We as a NAMS community are establishing an intercessory prayer team so that we can grow in this area. Over the next few weeks, I will share more about this prayer team. My hope is that those reading this blog will be encouraged in their own prayer lives, and that some will decide to join us in making a commitment to pray regularly for the eternal value of NAMS’ ministry. I know Audrey will be praying for us from Chol-chol, Chile, and I pray you will too.

— Mary Garrison-Ruiz
NAMS Global Prayer/Intercession Coordinator.

 

How to Pray for NAMS — part 1, by Mary Garrison-Ruiz.