One of the privileges of my role as Global Executive of NAMS is to visit NAMS Companions around the world. I get to see and hear first hand what God is doing through them; to be part of retreats and meetings with Companions, and to lead and share at NAMS training events (often with other Companions) as we seek to teach and envision our friends, partners and other Christians in the places we have work in, to join in the mission of Jesus to redeem a lost world.
In the last three weeks, I have been first to USA and then to Chile, two of our most representative Mission Regions. It was a joy to see and hear what God is doing in both these continents.
The NAMS USA gathering was at a picturesque Christian centre called The Close near Lexington, Kentucky. From Thursday 30 November to Saturday 2 December, 10 of us (pictured below left), including NAMS Servant General Jon Shuler, gathered for retreat. Companions of NAMS commit to take personal days of retreat every quarter year as part of our Rule of Life, and once a year together as part of our region.
We shared meals, Scriptures and stories, prayed Morning and Evening Prayer together in the ‘Chapel of the Broken Vessel’, had quiet times of reflection, as well as discussed, prayed and planned together for the work God is giving us to pursue in North America.
We all felt encouraged and strengthened afresh to press on with the vision to make disciple-making disciples, raise up disciple-making leaders and plant disciple-making communities. We agreed on new ways to support each other and to become more interconnected and intentional in our work of reaching the lost in the mission field that is North America today.
Soon after, I journeyed to Temuco, Chile, where our NAMS base community there (Comunidad Cristiana ALP) is located.
There, the 30 or so people who make up the community, were busy preparing for the NAMS Latin America meetings from Thursday 7 Dec – Sunday 10 December. We soon swelled up to more than 50 in number, including people from 7 nations, including 9 Cuban pastors and leaders. The presence of the Cubans was a miraculous answer to prayer as it was unheard of in Chile to have such a large group of Cubans be given permission to come.
We met at the SIM Koyamentu Retreat center, in a very scenic location in the countryside. In the course of the few days together, we heard amazing testimonies of God’s work across the Latin continent, prayed for each other, fellowshipped over delicious food and sang lustily in Spanish (which NAMS Regional Team Leader Andres says is the ‘language of heaven.’).
I spoke on the NAMS story and aspects of our church-planting work, including the process of making multiplying disciples and how we pioneer new communities of faith. NAMS Companion Clay Hamrick, who lives in Florida, USA, was ‘skyped-in’ for a session of how to share the Gospel with your neighbors, which was very well received.
At the end of the meetings, three new NAMS base communities were proposed, including one in Cuba. Many of the participants said they finally understood the vision and work of NAMS, while a working partnership between NAMS in Chile and Campus Crusade Chile to reach university students was agreed upon.
One of the highlights of the Latin America meetings was the marriage proposal of NAMS Companion Felipe Casanueva to his girlfriend Cami after one of the afternoon talks, in front of everyone. Thankfully Cami said ‘yes’! We were also serenaded in the evening by music from Kyrios, probably the premier Christian band in Chile.
Returning across the globe to my family in Thailand chalked up more hours in the air than I had ever spent consecutively on a plane. I write this jet-lagged and tired from the journey but I thank God for the wonderful joy it was to see the vision God gave to us in NAMS coming to fruition in the Americas. Thank you for praying and supporting us to do this. To God be the glory!