Mission Field at the Y (by Revd Dave Kulchar )

With an increasingly post-Christian culture in North America even some of our expressly Christian organization have lost their focus. One example is the “Young Men Christian Association” or “YMCA”. In recent years it has grown to be seen as just another athletic club. In Indianapolis, USA, however, the Lord has raised up some leaders who want to reestablish it’s Christian mission to strengthen people in body, mind and spirit.

Early last year I am looking for a place that our new church might meet on Sundays. A friend suggested I look at the local YMCA. Recently the 15 area facilities have been entering into partnership with churches who use there multipurpose rooms on Sunday mornings for a worship gathering space. As I inquired about this partnership I learned of a volunteer chaplain program they have instituted. Area pastors can volunteer a minimum of 4 hours a week to “care, love and serve” staff and members at area YMCA facilities.

After a background check and training program by their Regional Director of Spiritual Emphasis, I started volunteering at the Pike YMCA a 15 minute drive from our home. My initial stage of work has been as a “Spiritual Greeter”. I welcome people to the Y in the front lobby simply making my presence know as a chaplain who desires to listen to peoples stories, make new friends, and talk about spiritual things if they show interest. Sometime I even pray with people over concerns that are on their hearts.

We live in a very diverse neighborhood. We have many international people who come through our doors from various faith backgrounds: Muslim, Hindu and non-religious.   Though there are many strong Christians at the YMCA, including many of the staff, there is also many opportunities to meet and befriend many pre-Christians.   I have had staff ask me to pray with them about their job, family and illness. I have had others share with me how they met Jesus, while others share why the have left the faith. One member and I are going to read a book on small group development called “Making Cell Groups Work”.

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I wear my clerical collar, tennis shoes and a name tag that makes it easy for others to identify me as a chaplain in a place where they do not usually expect a pastor.   I am strategically trying to visit the YMCA at different times of the day and days of the week in order to meet new people.

Last spring we hosted a prayer gathering on the National Day of Prayer where we prayed in a circle in the middle of the YMCA lobby. We have recently formed a Christian Emphasis Committee to organize a “Grief Recovery Class” and second offering called “Getting Through the Holidays”.

If discipleship is about helping move people closer to Jesus, I would suggest finding a place to be consistently present and available like a local YMCA sets one up nicely to be a disciple maker in a post-Christian world.

 

Dave Kulchar is a NAMS Companion, Canon for Church Planting in Diocese of the Great Lakes and All Souls Anglican Missionary Priest.

 

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Mission Field at the Y (by Revd Dave Kulchar )

Who’ s Coming after You? — part 2. (By Manik Corea)

Last week, we began to look at a few passages from the Old Testament narratives of the journey of the people of Israel under Moses to the Promised Land on how Joshua was being prepared as leader after Moses. Today, we look at the last quality that Joshua needed and indeed, came to display – great faith.

Faith is the currency of the Kingdom of God. With faith, all things are possible. Without faith, it is impossible to please God or even to do the works He calls us to do by His name and power. Faith is the exercise of trust and obedience to enact divine transactions on earth for the purposes and glory of God.

We see that Joshua had developed a great faith in God from the third passage we looked at in that devotional time we once shared at a NAMS meeting (see last week’s blog).

  1. Numbers 14:6-9 – Faith in God

We read in Numbers 13 of the account of the spies sent out into the promise land. When they returned, the majority of the spies spread a bad report and discouraged the people, saying there were giants in the land and there was no way to they could take over (verses 26-29 and 32-33). Only Caleb and Joshua spoke in faith that God was going to give them the land (verses 30-31 and Numbers 14:6-9). Their faith was not in what they saw and faced but in Whom they had heard and trusted.

How did Joshua come to have such a great faith? Clearly, by walking closely to Moses as his aide, he would have learned and seen time and time again how faithful God was in the midst of all the challenges, opposition and trying times Moses faced as leader of such a rebellious people. He would have witnessed the same miracles that the people saw for themselves, as God constantly provided and protected them. But whilst Joshua kept and exercised his faith in God, the people of Israel choose instead to place their faith in their circumstances and the plans of men.

Joshua’s faith was therefore developing and growing by experience in the school of wilderness testings. Faith, like muscles, can only be grown and strengthened through its exercise.

As a result, Joshua and Caleb became the only two people out of a million or so of the first generation of Israelites who were allowed into the promise land. Faith in God gains us entrance into the land of His promise.

If we are to raise the next generation of leaders who will go further than us to take possessions of lands that we, like Moses, may only glimpse from a distance, then we must do all we can to encourage and help them grow in faith.

Encouragement and exhortations are in order. We see this in God’s instructions to Moses at the edge of the Promised Land, where Moses is instructed in Deuteronomy 3:28 to ‘charge and encourage and strengthen’ Joshua as the new leader. Moses is told by God to make an effort to do all he can to prepare his successor. Eventually, in Numbers 27:16-23, God instructs Moses, in the sight of all Israel, to lay hands on Joshua and to commission him. Joshua is described in verse 18 as ‘a man in whom is the Spirit’.

Finally, in Joshua 1:1-9, God Himself gives Joshua great encouragement and promise as he steps up to being the leader. God reminded him that if he kept on trusting God and remembering His Word, then he would surely be successful in all he was called to do.

Joshua’s relationship to God was enhanced and developed through his relationship with Moses his leader. Because of Moses, Joshua knew what it was to fight and overcome the enemy; he knew what it was to pursue intimacy and closeness with God and he knew to trust what God said over and above what he saw.

Those of us in leadership of God’s mission and Church anywhere in the world need to ask some important questions in the light of all these: Who are you preparing to take over the work God has given you for now? Who is your Joshua? And how well are you preparing him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’ s Coming after You? — part 2. (By Manik Corea)

Seeking People of Peace for the Kingdom (by Ivan Ruiz Escalona)

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him….Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” – Luke 10:5-6; 9

During our recent NAMS trip to Kenya, East Africa, we experienced in a very palpable way several aspects of the truth of Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 10:1-9, as he sent his disciples out to announce the Kingdom of God. Undoubtedly, Jesus knew what would happen and what they would need when they went and announced the message of salvation. His instructions and promises to them remain true in our day. And we can testify to them from our trip!

Jesus told his disciples that the harvest is great but the workers are few (verse 2). Certainly as we looked upon the mission field of Kenya and saw that so many people were in need of the Gospel and that there were few workers, we were reminded that Jesus told us to respond with desperate prayer to his Father, the Lord of the Harvest, that he would send more laborers out.

And as part of NAMS’ response to that prayer and vision, we arrived in Kenya. We came with the mission of helping our brothers and sisters there, to look for new opportunities for service and to find men and women of peace whom the Lord was already preparing for the work of discipleship.

The first man of peace (see verse 6) we encountered was a dear man and brother called Timothy, who had left his native land of Rwanda as a refugee to move to Kenya. He now works to share the gospel and make disciples of others. He and his family offered us their home and served us and our needs. As Jesus instructed, we prayed for new workers, and God has answered our prayers by giving us not only a son of peace but a new Companion-in-the-making for the harvest. When we obey Jesus’ instructions in our missionary call, he commits to provide the results.

On this trip, there was Mary from the USA, Ivan from Chile and Tamer from Egypt. Timothy and wife Rachel from Rwanda/Kenya and their wonderful family provided our daily support. From there, together we started to do the work as God opened doors. We looked for new opportunities to serve as we connected with various people while traveling within the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa. We encouraged pastors in the Lord who serve among the poorest of the poor, reminding them that their faith, put to the test in the midst of their difficulties, is more precious that gold. We shared meals, prayed for the sick, and announced the Good News, just as the Lord commands.

However, the words of Jesus are also clear when he says that he sends his disciples on mission in the midst of wolves (verse 3). In each work of God, the enemy is prowling about, as the Scriptures say, like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. We also met people who did not seek the glory of the Kingdom and put obstacles in the way of the Gospel. Our brother Timothy was even laid low with malaria, yet in spite of that, God was glorified, and in a few days the effects of this disease in him began to subside. Although at times we thought about quitting, God strengthened our hearts, and we were able to finish our work with wonderful results. The faithful prayers of our NAMS brothers and sisters around the globe were heard. Glory to God!

The result of our brief time in Kenya has been further work towards the establishment of a base for NAMS under the leadership of our brother Timothy and his family. We built on existing contact and founded new ones. They were numerous opportunities to make disciples who make disciples. This specifically included four young people who were encouraged and mentored in sports ministry by NAMS Companion Tamer and will continue to be accompanied by Timothy in Kenya. There are exciting opportunities for new ministries among the poor and the beginning stages of a plan to train disciples to be sent from Kenya to various neighboring countries including Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi – just some of the places God has shown us.

We thank God our trip to Kenya. To God be all the glory.

 

— (by Ivan Ruiz Escalona, NAMS Companion)

 

 

Seeking People of Peace for the Kingdom (by Ivan Ruiz Escalona)

A New Season for Europe (By Rt Revd Josep Rosello)

+Josep and Patrice“Will you come?” This was the phrase that started an unexpected journey. A friend had asked me if I would consider moving from Brazil to England. He saw an urgent need for England to be reached with the Gospel. My immediate answer was, “I will, if it is God’s call.”

A few months later, Patrice and I had the assurance of the Holy Spirit that it was indeed the right decision and that it was time to start preparing to move to England. But why should I leave the amazing work that God lead me to start in Brazil and, then, Venezuela –one that I had invested so much tears, prayers and time into?

Indeed, praise be to God that after nine years of hard-work, from the few people we started out with, we now have 25 missional communities in these 2 countries, and almost 900 people participating. This had all followed from focused seasons of one-on-one discipleship and the raising up and equipping of young leaders to serve the Lord, as was my heart’s desire.

I believe the answer to “why leave now?” is because God had been preparing me all these years to do this next thing.

Now, I am not thinking or saying for a moment that I have all together or, even that I have all the answers. In fact, the opposite is true. It seems that God used our brokenness to teach us His ways, and His Spirit leads us to teach and train others in God’s way from that same place.

As a NAMS Companion, I share a willingness and desire to teach and preach Jesus Christ to all, at any given time, wherever we are. That Christ was crucified, and that He is the risen Lord, is to be proclaimed by His people to all peoples

As I look England and Europe, I see and hear a Macedonian call like Paul did. A voice calling for help, “will you come?” There is no good reason for me to say ‘no.’

We go wherever the Lord opens a door. I will step out and trust the Lord. It will be one small step of faith after another – plant a seed that God will raise to be a new missional community of faith; then, another and another, spreading with the wind that carries the good news of Jesus Christ from England to all over Europe.

I know I am totally incapable of doing what God has called me to do on my own. But God calls us to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is a step of faith that starts His disciples on the journey to make other disciples and share life together. Making disciples is about giving ourselves to others, as we teach the Scripture and learn to follow the Way of the Lord. It is not simply about being members of a church, but it is about following Christ together, as a family.

As I prepare to move my family across the ocean, I sense an urgency to call upon His name and to give myself totally to the Lord. I will be satisfied when I make a disciple who makes another disciple, and raise a leader that makes another leader, and plant a church that plants another church. And never to break God’s word as I do it.

After all, isn’t that what it means to be a NAMS Companion?

A New Season for Europe (By Rt Revd Josep Rosello)

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 2) — By Revd Manik Corea

Strange as it may sound, I was first discipled as a teenager in a Sunday School class! The young man, Daniel who taught us was preparing with his wife, to be missionaries of our local church to Papua New Guinea. The 2 years he spent teaching our weekly small class had a profound effect on my life.

Daniel the missionary shared and opened up his life to us – testimonies, answered prayers, struggles, lessons learned, etc., such that we saw a model of what a true obedient disciple of Jesus looked like at close hand. But he also actively encouraged, challenged and pushed us out to be and become the same – disciples who would trust and obey Jesus with our lives. In many ways, I realize now that Daniel was doing what His Lord did with the first disciples.

Disciple-making is preparation for the future but it engages and involves us in where we are in the present. Last week, we saw that Jesus 1) invited/selected a few to disciple and 2) modeled a way of life and ministry for them to imitate and follow. Here are 3 more things he did to ready them for their life’s work.

Train — Jesus did not only appoint and give a select group to have a first-hand look at his life and ministry; but He actively prepared and trained them to do the same work. (Mark 3:14-15; Luke 9:1-2 and Matthew 10:1 compare with Matthew 4:23 and John 14:12.)

In fact, most of Jesus’ time spent in the Gospels was not simply on doing ministry, but time actually spent developing his disciples to take on the work once He ascended into heaven. It was a practical development and training, with assignments. This was all part of their original calling – ‘so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.’ (Mark 3:14).

He involved them in ministry (Luke 9:12-17; 22:8-13) and allowed them to grow in faith by experience (Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 14:28-29). He sent them out on short-term training assignments (see Matthew 10:5-15, Mark 6:7-11). He invested time and energy to instruct and explain to them his teaching and ways (Mark 4:34).

Making disciples is not simply teaching theory or about completing a short course of instruction or class. It is apprenticing alongside, life-on-life, with another disciple so that we/they start to do what God wants us in our lives.

Authorize — When Jesus sent the twelve out on mission in Matthew 10:5-15 and Mark 6:7-11, as well as with the larger group of disciples – the 72 of Luke 10:1-11, they were expected to announce the coming of the kingdom, heal the sick and cast out evil spirits. He gave specific instructions and authority to do the same thing He did. And this is exactly what happened, which they were joyfully were able to report on their return (Luke 9:6; 10:17 and Mark 6:13.)

Finally, in Matthew 28:18-20, in his final command to the disciples, the risen Jesus authorizes them, on the basis of being Lord of Heaven and Earth to ‘make disciples’ of all peoples.

The making of disciples is the high calling and work that Jesus has authorized us to do in His name and by His power. This is not the job of a few ‘professional’ Christian pastors and missionary, but the work of every disciple. So, we must teach and show disciples that they are likewise authorized by Heaven’s King for service and mission in the world.

Release/Send — Finally, Jesus commissioned them in what we in NAMS call the ‘final command’ of Matthew 28:18-20 to reach all peoples of every ethnic group. Before he left them, Jesus promised that they will receive the Holy Spirit to empower them for this witness, and that through Him, Jesus himself will be with us till the ends of the earth and the end of time.

There will come a moment, as with Jesus and Paul (see Acts 14:23; 20:17-38) when we must release disciples that we have made to become disciple-makers in their own right with others. This is a principle Paul establishes for Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2.

As we have been discipled, so we must now pass on to others what we received, by making other disciples. We are taken captive by Christ in other to be released to mission in the world. We commend them in prayer to God and move on ourselves to make more disciples.

This is how Jesus begun a world-movement from simply focusing on a few. The ball is now firmly in our court!

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 2) — By Revd Manik Corea

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 1) — by Manik Corea

No one made disciples like Jesus!

Incredibly, Jesus, who never traveled more than 200 miles from where He was born, launched a global movement from scratch that has no equal in history. And He did it without writing a book, founding a school or university or conquering with an army.

How? He chose twelve men and concentrated most of His time and focus on them.[1] Rather than leveraging the crowds that flocked to Him or taking political advantage of His popularity and the ferment of national aspirations, He refused to bring God’s rule in by force or pander to anything but a heavenly perspective (see Matthew 16:23).

Jesus was instead looking to make disciples and subjects of His one-of-a-kind Kingdom, not raise up a rebel army to fight those of the earth. He was the Suffering Servant come to save us from our sins, not an all-conquering ruler coming to re-assert God’s rightful reign on the earth – that is reserved for His return.

Consider the men He picked – they were not from the high echelons of their society – the ‘Who’s Who?’ of their day. He chose in effect, nobodies – the ‘who?’ of common stock.

Among the twelve were wet, clueless fishermen, a few political zealots and the odd tax collector. They ‘smelled of fish and revolution’ as one writer put it.

Yes, Jesus chose them and gave them front-row seats and back-stage passes for the 3 or so years of His ministry.

In doing so, he gave us principles and a pattern for continuing the same task he now calls us to – of making of disciples after Him.

As I considered the Gospel accounts of Jesus and his method of preparing and raising disciples, 5 things that Jesus did consistently stand out. If we are to make disciples with the same goals, means and mettle as Jesus, then let us consider and imitate how he did it, so that we can do the same.

1) Invitation – at the heart of God’s Gospel to us is an invitation and a call to ‘come to Him’ for salvation: forgiveness, hope and healing. But discipleship is also a call to follow. When Jesus begun His earthy ministry, after a night of prayer, He chose the twelve from among an already a larger group of disciples. In fact, He appointed them to be with Him (see Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1 and Luke 6:12-16).

Likewise, we need to be actively and prayerfully seeking people that we can reach out to and disciple (as well as those who may disciple us). To be a disciple who makes other disciples, you have to be actively looking for someone else to walk with. Invite them to meet and journey with you – once a week at the least, but regularly and as consistently as possible- to pray, read the Word and help each other be and make disciples of others.

I have found in my own life that if I’m not active in finding and meeting with others to disciple, I begin, by default and sinful bent, to stall in my walk with the Lord and to begin to pander to my own needs and desires.

Model – Jesus spent countless days and nights with this group of 12 throughout their apprenticeship. They got to see, hear and experience close up what many of us can only dream of or imagine. Jesus taught by repetition, remark and revelation, through the situations they encountered and amidst challenges that arose. He told unforgettable stories; he demanded their obedience and trust, and he left an indelible pattern on their minds and hearts.

But most of all, he showed them how He wanted them to live, by his life and example. And most people need to be shown, not just to be told. That’s why true discipleship is always a ‘show and tell’ endeavor in the Scriptures.

We are all likewise called to live like Jesus, to model a way of life to those we lead and are discipling. ‘Follow me, as I follow Christ’ was how Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 11:1.

As I have learnt, you can teach all you know, but you will reproduce who you are, whether in your child/ren or in those you disciple. More is caught than taught. So, like Jesus, we make disciples best by modelling and living out what we teach and proclaim.

As John Maxwell said, a true leader knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.

Next week, we will explore the next 3 disciple-making principles Jesus consistently followed.

 


[1] While the Gospels are mostly selective accounts excepted out of the life and ministry of Jesus during his adult life, more than 60% of the Gospel of Mark is the record of Jesus being alone with his disciples.

Making Disciples the Jesus way (Part 1) — by Manik Corea

No Equal

In Jesus’ name, we have authority over the devil and all his forces. My family story is a testimony of this!

Pankaj

Almost 26 years ago now, a team from Campus Crusade came to share the gospel in Ammerbasti village of Kanchanpur, Nepal – my home village. One day my father went to watch the Jesus film. He was moved by it, and spoke to the team members. They shared the Gospel with him. After that, he began to attend a church in another village. Those were difficult days to become a Christian, as we were in a Hindu village. Soon, a rumor started spreading that my father was now a Christian. He was now facing persecution – and when the situation worsened, my father fled to India, leaving behind his pregnant wife (my mother), who was not a believer at that time.

A few months later, I was born. A week after my birth, our house was tragically burnt up in a fire. Our relatives and other villages blamed my father was causing the fire because the gods and evil spirits (the chief spirit of which was called Vir) were angry and had cursed our family.

Life became very difficult for my mother. Eventually, my father secretly returned to our village and took us away to live with him in Punjab, India. There, a Christian man from Kerala called Dr. Thomas who was studying there, started discipling my father. My father began to gather with other people to read the Scriptures and prayer. Sometime later, my mother also became a believer and was baptized.

Five years later, because the situation was improving back in Nepal , we moved back to our original village. We shared a house with my extended family – my grandfather and uncles. It was a two-story house and my family lived on the upper level of the house. My grandfather and uncles continued to worship the spirits. In fact, my grandfather could call on the spirits through black magic.

However, he realized that after my family moved back, he could not summon the spirits anymore. He asked my father if he did anything to the Vir (or chief spirit). My father told him that because of God’s Spirit in them, no other spirit could bother them. He told my grandfather that the Holy Spirit is the God of the universe.

The next day, my grandfather confessed that he tried to call on the Vir to return to their house but it was to no avail. He realized that the Holy Spirit must be stronger than the Vir, so they should follow and worship Him. At that point, my father gave him a New Testament.

My grandfather began to read. He read in Mark’s Gospel (11:12-25) where Jesus cursed a fig tree. He told my father that if your God is the real God, then let him also dry the big tree that was in front of their house. As we prayed, God did a great miracle and within a month, the tree in front of our house had dried up and died.

As a result my grandparents, uncles and all their families believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and were baptized. Our Lord Jesus has no equal, as my family have come to learn. All glory to God.

Today, Pankaj pastors a church in Kathmandu, Nepal and is a NAMS Global Apprentice with 2 others young adults. God is using them to bring the Gospel and making disciples in Nepal in a new generation. Will you support our GAP program by praying for us and giving towards the support and raising up of new Global Apprentices like Pankaj?

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No Equal