Discipleship is a process….Not a program (By Prince Thomas).

We have been given a clear mandate – to make disciples (Matt 28:19). The original mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus by creating intimate, relational environments of multiplication and transformation. Churches and missions who are focused on discipleship grow and multiply quickly. Discipleship is the process by which we maximize the potential of our people and equip them for reaching their communities and the Nations.

Ravi Kumar, a young man from the North Indian state of Punjab heard me preaching in the streets about Jesus 4 years ago. He approached me after the meeting with several questions – it was an opportunity for me to share with him and to clear his doubts. Soon, Ravi accepted the Lord and I started a ‘new believers training program’ for him. Later as he grew in faith, he began to spend a week with me every month. It was an excellent opportunity not only to teach him but to take him along with me whenever I went in various mission fields to preach and teach. I gave him opportunities to share his testimony, preach and pray for the sick. He was so excited to go through the journey of discipleship and decided to go back to his own state and start a ministry there. He started the ministry one year before in Punjab which is the birth place of the Sikh religion.

It was not easy as the opposition in his region was so severe. His own family members hated him and opposed him as he preached about Jesus. He applied some of the teachings I taught him like surveying the village, prayer walking, finding the person of peace, initiating new believers training and discipleship programs etc.

Slowly he began to see the results. He just followed the simple teachings we gave him and he began to see souls saved as well as villages open up for the gospel. Some very influential people joined his church recently. There is now a wider path opening up in this state. I am still discipling Ravi and we spent time together regularly. And as I do with him, Ravi is also regularly discipling his own people in the same way.

Prince & Ravi ministering togetherBelievers in Punjab

I have been in the full time ministry for almost 23 years now. At the beginning of my ministry, I thought discipleship was always a program. But I realized later that discipleship was actually a process. It begins in relationship, it continues with intentionality and finally results in transformation as disciples start to reach others. This is a key part of our calling as NAMS Companions. May the Lord continue to help us to be disciples who make disciples.

— Prince Thomas is a NAMS Companion serving in Haryana, North India.
He has been involved in starting and leading an a vibrant church-planting movement there for the last 20 years. He is originally from Kerala, South India.

 

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Discipleship is a process….Not a program (By Prince Thomas).

More than just a job (by Mary Garrison)

Back to school is a hectic time of year for everyone, not the least of which are teachers like me – I’m now entering my 12th year in public education. But besides getting my classroom organized and lesson plans finalized, a still small voice inside of me is reminding me to get my heart right too because I’m preparing to go on the mission field.

I didn’t always feel this way. When I started my teaching career, I had a pretty clear sense of my profession.   I enjoyed my content area, was intrigued by the strategies involved in breaking down a concept, and rather quickly came to appreciate the relationships I formed with my students and colleagues. Teaching satisfied my professional ambitions, I thought that would be enough…but it wasn’t.

My Christian life has always been an important part of me, but without clearly realizing it at the time, I checked my faith at school doors each morning and picked it up again on my way out. This was not something I did intentionally, but that’s indeed the point: I wasn’t intentional at all. Apart from a few token gestures and general politeness, this huge part of me—my faith—was largely absent from my daily work. I become les satisfied, and after four or five years in, I started asking the Lord, “Is this all there is? Show me what it is I cannot see.”

And what He showed me changed me.

After his crucifixion and resurrection, just before he ascended to heaven, Jesus gave his followers their marching orders: if you really believe all you have seen, and if you really have a transformed life, then “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:16-20). To me, these words were always either hypothetical or meant for another race of “Super-Christians,” like missionaries who would travel around the world or pastors who were paid to do this type of thing, not plain old “normal Christians” like me who work full-time secular jobs.

But the Lord opened my heart and mind to understand that every Christian shares in this missional calling to make disciples because we are all Christ’s followers. His final command wasn’t just for one group of men; it was for all men and women who would come to follow him. There were indeed disciple-making opportunities all around me, starting with my work—that place I spend 40+ hours a week.

More than a career, I realized that I have a calling – to go to school and share the light of Jesus Christ with every student, colleague, or administrator with whom I interact. Yes, I am a public school teacher, which of course does limit my words to a certain extent, but armed with an understanding of my higher calling, I am intentional now in an entirely new way. Like many teachers, I spend a great deal of time preparing my lesson plans and grading papers, but now my challenge each day is to spend time with the Lord to prepare my heart before I enter my workplace, i.e., the mission field. I’ve got to pray for my students and colleagues with a genuine heart for their salvation; I’ve got to seek wisdom for boldness to know when to speak and prudence for when to stay silent; I’ve got to ask for a caring heart to earn the right to be heard; I’ve got to pray for opportunities outside of the classroom to further deepen these relationships.

I am certainly not perfect in that daily preparation? Sometimes that sneaky alarm clock seems to snooze itself, but the Lord doesn’t usually let me get to far without reminding me of the need to be more intentional in preparation and prayer.

Dear believer, if you call yourself a follower of Christ, your calling is the same as mine, and it’s the most important thing we will ever do. How does your career empower you in that calling? Do you work construction? Are you working in an office or restaurant? Are you lawyer, doctor, merchant, or chef? The essential truth here has nothing to do with the career itself. The truth is that every Bible-believing Christian is a missionary wherever he or she goes, and I write today to encourage you to step into that calling, to ask the Lord to strengthen you in your resolve to be intentional in prayer and service to those you work with each day. So that today, or tomorrow, or the next day when a colleague or client may ask you about the hope you seem to have and that you would be prepared to give account of how the Lord has transformed your life.

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Mary Garrison is a NAMS Companion in Florida. She is also the NAMS Global Prayer/Intercessors Coordinator, as well as supporting her husband Ivan in giving supervision to the Horn of Africa region for NAMS.  

 

More than just a job (by Mary Garrison)

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.

 

Mission Field at the Y (by Revd Dave Kulchar )

Stranger on the bus – Interview with NAMS Regional Team Leader Pranab Kishor Kumar.

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One day in 1992 as Pranab was traveling on a bus to his college in India, he began a conversation with a stranger. Pranab felt prompted to ask him if he knew about Jesus. The man replied that he had never heard the name of Jesus. This was a life-changing moment for Pranab, as he realised then that there were many people in India like that man on the bus. That was also the moment God began to stir in Pranab’s heart that he was to give his life to trying to reach and make disciples of people in his home state of Orissa and beyond. In a few years time, Pranab crossed paths with NAMS, and has been a part of leading our work in India since. We find out more about him in this interview.

  1. Tell us a little about your background and family. How did you become a follower of Jesus?

I am the eldest son in my family. I am married to Malarani Kumar and we have a son John Daniel Rajkumar. We live in a village in the Balagir District of Orissa, India.

I grew up in a Christian family that faithfully attended church, prayed and read the Bible. As a teenager, I attended an Evangelical Union camp in Balangir and decided to becoming a follower of Jesus. From that day, I began to witness for Christ in and around my village and joined the local Bhorpada congregation of the Church of North India (CNI).

In September 1997, I was moved to begin New Life For India, an organisation committed to send missionaries to plant churches in the unreached villages and districts in the State of Orissa and beyond.

  1. How did you come to be involved with NAMS?

I first met Revd Manik Corea (now NAMS Global Executive) at a Faith2Share Leadership Consultation in 2013. In August 2015, he invited me to come to Bangkok for a NAMS Regional Asia Leaders meeting, and I heard Revd Dr Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General, share about the vision and call of NAMS. His teaching and life impressed me much. Their training added fuel to my desire to want to be and make disciples who made other disciples. We had been trying to live this since 2005 but not is as organised a way. So I decided then that God was calling me to be a part of this missionary order. Since then Manik has visited me in Orissa with NAMS teams a number of times. In 2017, I was appointed Regional Team Leader for South Asia.

  1. How have you been challenged and grown since becoming a NAMS Companion?

It has been quite a journey. Through my interactions with NAMS leaders, I have learned that making disciples is the seed of planting healthy, multiplying churches and of reaching communities for Christ. It is Jesus’ final command (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). I have started to teach and train the same things of my co-workers.

Being a Companion means I have to make a determined plan for a disciplined daily life of reading the Scriptures, seeking to obey Him, praying and giving for global mission. I am reminded also through the 10.02 call to pray for labourers regularly for the regions of the world. It is not easy but I am growing. I have begun to take a retreat every quarter of the year a priority for me and my wife as Companions.

  1. What is your vision as a NAMS Regional Team Leader for South Asia region that you lead?

We currently have two NAMS Companion couples working in India – ourselves in Orissa, and in the North of India (Prince Matthew). I am praying that doors will open in other countries in the region, for example Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I visited Sri Lanka in 2017 and found that many church leaders were asking for help to learn how to make disciples and start churches. God has also given me a heart for Bangladesh. We need to find partners and contacts in these places, some of who will become Companions to help us plant Base Communities in those countries.

Additionally, I would like to increase the number of Companions in India. I am currently working with two leaders who are very interested. We also need to reach and raise Companion leaders among the ladies. (We will be having a Woman Leaders Seminar in September this year).

  1. Finally, NAMS Companions are called to 3 things in particular – make disciple-making disciples, raise disciple-making leaders and plant disciple-making churches. How are you doing this?

I am meeting regularly with and discipling 4 men who are themselves making disciples. We already have new disciple-making cells in 4 places as well.

In addition, I am walking purposefully with 2 other disciple-making leaders. Please pray for us.

 

Pranab and the NAMS South Asia Region need your prayer and partnership. If you would like to give specifically towards our work in the NAMS South Asia region, please write to us at infor@namsnetwork.com or click the ‘DONATE’ button below to seed funds.

 

Stranger on the bus – Interview with NAMS Regional Team Leader Pranab Kishor Kumar.

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)

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