A Harvest Amidst Difficulties (By Rev. Andres Casanueva)

Last year in September, just before I was due to board my flight to Cuba on a visit to the brothers there, the airline suddenly cancelled its flight. Hurricane Irma was due to hit the island. It eventually destroyed much of the island’s fragile infrastructure. The very next month, I was finally able to visit the country. It was an important visit.

At the end of 2017, we had planned to hold a NAMS Latin America-wide retreat in Chile. We invited 9 church-planters and leaders to attend from Cuba, but encountered great difficulty in securing visas for them to travel. However, once more, the Lord intervened, in answer to our prayers. Only 4 days before the Retreat, everyone was granted visas to travel!

After they begged us to come over to help them, we planned a follow-up retreat in Cuba for 2018. However, 3 times, we had to change our planned dates because of various difficulties. Finally, I traveled alone to the island in October to make a final attempt to coordinate one, which will now take take place in December of this year.

During this trip, I was able to visit our NAMS connections in Havana – and to meet many new brothers and sisters there for the first time. I also connected with the leaders we knew in Cienfuegos.

And although we still face many difficulties (lack of resources, visa requirements, lack of places to meet, etc.), we believe that with our brothers and sisters, a new pioneering community has been birthed under NAMS in Cuba for the glory of God.

All this reminds me of the longing of the apostle Paul, writing his letter to the Romans 1:13, where Paul expresses his strong desire to see them soon. Paul planned his trips, but there were difficulties that were beyond his control. And still, the work went on. And finally Paul managed to visit them and encourage them in their faith.

Twenty centuries later, we also continue to trust that the many difficulties we face will not stop the work of God, and we can be sure that our plans will be fulfilled in the perfect time. We have no doubt that the Lord will provide the visas for the 3 brothers on the NAMS team travelling from Chile, as well as every dollar that is required for transportation, lodging and food for the Cuban brothers to host us and others.

We believe this retreat will greatly strengthen the faith of our Cuban brothers and that we will receive into full communion with us, the community gathered in Ciefuegos. Please pray and partner with us in this great adventure of faith into Cuba in the midst of a great challenges.

 

Revd. Andrés Cananueva is our NAMS Regional Team Leader for Latin America. He leads our NAMS Base Community in Temuco, Chile.

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A Harvest Amidst Difficulties (By Rev. Andres Casanueva)

God is on the move in Bangkok! (by Isaac Lasky)

NAMS Bangkok base community is in an exciting new season. NAMS has been invited to work with the Student Christian Center (SCC) in making disciple-making disciples and raising disciple-making leaders. SCC is a dormitory for university students and despite its name only 30% of the residents are Christians.

Base community leaders Isaac & Patchara Lasky are leading this new work and for the past eight months have lived onsite, whilst All Nations (Bangkok base community’s international church) has started meeting in their house. Find out more about how God is working in this interview:

What does a regular week look like for you?

Every week looks different but we are intentional about having as much contact time with the students as possible. For this reason, Patchara works in the SCC coffee shop four days a week to build relationship with students, other baristas and international workers in the area. We also meet one-on-one every week with students we are discipling. Every Friday we run a conversational ‘english club’ as a relationship building outreach event. Sunday morning we have our All Nations worship service and then eat lunch together.

What is God teaching you through this work?

God has taught us about the power of hospitality, opening our home and looking for every opportunity to build relationship. When we first arrived it took us a while to earn the student’s trust and this was reflected in them being reluctant to join our English club or Sunday worship.

God spoke to us that we needed to be more intentional in building those relationships. So we started playing basketball & board games with the students. During the recent FIFA world cup we had 15-20 students in our apartment every evening to watch the games. This had a dramatic effect and soon that same crowd was at English club every week and the vast majority of them joining us on a Sunday morning.

As NAMS companions we take quarterly retreats and these have also been crucial for hearing from the Lord what he wants us to focus on next.

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?

We are making disciple-making disciples through our one-to-one discipleship. Praise the Lord that one of Pat’s disciples is in the early stages of discipling another. We are raising disciple-making leaders through giving the students opportunity to lead in our Sunday service & English club whilst also taking them with us as we minister in other areas.

One of the biggest challenges, opportunities, with working with students is that they always leave, are sent out. Although we are in the early stages of planting this disciple-making church we believe that the students, whether they return home or move to work elsewhere, will be instrumental in planting disciple-making churches wherever God sends them.

How can we pray for you?

  • Pray that John Gansalves would be able to join us as a NAMS Global Apprentice to strengthen us and help us lead as the work multiplies
  • Pray for other team members to raise up to support us in this work
  • Pray for God’s provision for us personally and as a community

 

 

God is on the move in Bangkok! (by Isaac Lasky)

A handful of rice (by NAMS Global Executive Manik Corea)

The Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB) is an indigenous missionary society in India. Today, it has more than 1,500 missionaries working throughout India. But their beginnings were small and almost insignificant – starting from a small prayer group of university students in the late 1960s in the South of India.

At a Faith2Share Leadership Consultation* in Ethiopia in 2014, we heard the leader of FMPB tell of the early days in their missionary endeavor. Women from their supporting churches decided to pray and to give towards the work of the fledgling group of missionaries. But they did not have money to give.

Each day however, as they cooked their staple diet of rice for their families, they would set aside one cup of rice in a separate cloth – it was ‘for the missionaries.’ Once a week, all the ladies would pool together and collect the rice they had set aside in their cloth packs and then distribute it to the missionaries as part of their support.

This is a wonderful illustration of the principle of intentional, regular investment of our resources into kingdom work that is purposeful – what Paul referred to as a ‘partnership in the Gospel’ (Philippians 1:5). Paul and his team were being helped by the Christians in Philippi to there to take the Gospel to the surrounding nations. Who are you partnering with for the Gospel to go to the nations?

NAMS is growing. We currently have NAMS Companions in at least 13 countries on 5 continents, and doors are opening up at present in at least another 6 or so countries, with more on the horizon. We need desperately to fund our NAMS Base Communities (i.e. at least two or three NAMS Companions on mission in one location) and Global Apprentices in our GAP program (www.namsgap.com), some in places where resources are scarce.

Our primary work is in these NAMS Base Communities (NBC) is to make disciples who make disciples, raise leaders who make disciples and plant disciple-making churches. The contexts we work in are varied and different.

For example, in December later this year, two of our Latin American leaders will lead a team to the impoverished nation of Cuba where a small community of believers led by a couple trained at our NBC in Chile, have begun meeting in the capital and a group of pastors from another city have asked us to work to have a NAMS base there.

Last week, two of our NAMS Companion leaders in India and their wives have just led training for about 40 women from the State of Orissa in how to be disciple-making leaders. The women have set themselves the goal of making one other disciple of Jesus each in the next year.

We are working in partnership with the Anglican Church in Mandalay, Myanmar, to establish a NAMS base that will help them plant churches among their many unreached people-groups. A Covenant of Partnership is being drawn up.

We are working with the Presbyterian (uniting) Church of Christ in Thailand to reach university students at their main Student Center in Bangkok.

We are also working with Christians and churches to make disciples and plant churches in Nepal, India, Kenya, Egypt, DRC, USA and the UK, among other nations.

We are looking for people ready to give us a ‘handful of rice’ set aside for global mission and to support us in the work God has called us to.

Will you pray for us? Will you give towards our projects – which we would love to give you more details about ? Or give a one-off gift? Will you partner with us for the Gospel? If so, click below to ‘Donate’

Write to us at info@namsnetwork.com to ask to join our global intercessors group or to learn more about our work.

* Faith2Share is a network of global mission agencies and mission movements collaborating together for discipleship and mission, that NAMS is a member of. http://www.faith2share.net

 

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A handful of rice (by NAMS Global Executive Manik Corea)

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.

 

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

A Drop in the Ocean (By Manik Corea)

In a few days time, my family and I leave Bangkok, Thailand, where we’ve been for the last 10 years, to go on a 3-month sabbatical to the United States. Most of it will be spent in South Carolina, some of it we hope in rest, lazing on the warm beaches of the Atlantic. There will no doubt be time to reflect back on all that we have experienced and seen in the last decade.

As I look back over the years of our time here in Thailand, the last six of which have been as planter and team leader of All Nations, our NAMS Base Community in the city, I am sure there will be sadness and regret for how I often let my human weakness and sinfulness get in the way of being a faithful and fruitful disciple, husband, father and leader. I certainly wish we had been more urgent and passionate to reach the lost.

Sure, over the years, we at All Nations have reached a few peoples, discipled refugees and expats from many nations, even baptized a couple, shared the Gospel to many others including neighbors and friends, and generally tried to be a blessing to those we met. However, in real terms, the impact of All Nations in so big a city has been minimal, like a drop in the ocean.

Bangkok is home to some 12 million people, a million or so whom are undocumented. The majority of Thai people here are Buddhist who have never heard the name of Jesus or understand really what He is. There are people from countless nations, some bordering Thailand, who live and work in the city. Most may never meet a Christian.

However, one thing I can say with all confidence is that we are in a new season of the work here in Thailand.

About a year ago, the Lord began to open a door for work in a Christian university student center and hostel. All the students there are Thai, the majority are unbelievers. Our new leader of All Nations, Isaac, with his wife Pat, are now renting an apartment on the grounds of this center. We call it our Mission House. Already students are coming over to watch football (or soccer) matches and to cook and eat together. Or they play basketball with other students regularly now.

We believe God is calling us to reach, make disciples, raise up Christ-devoted leaders and, along with our on-going work with people of different nations, plant in time a worshiping community/service meeting on a different day to when we meet on Sunday, to reach many more. It is what all NAMS base-communities (and the churches we plant) are called to do.

Isaac and Pat have already started an English Club meeting every Friday. They have begun to meet with some of the Christians students one-on-one and in small group meetings to make disciples among them. We are hoping that John Gansalves from India can complete raising funds to join us as a Global Apprentice to help this work. Others are praying about coming to join our team as well, but we hope to be raising disciple-making leaders from those God has already brought to us.

It is a vital work. It is the work of a NAMS Companion. We have the privilege to be called by God to live, pray, reflect and study God’s Word, give towards our work globally and locally, and to make disciples of our families and of people around us, with the goal of helping to plant new communities of faithful men and women of God.

Thank God that He is ever faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13). But His desire is that we will be truly faithful as salt and light in the world, to make a difference to those around us.

Please pray that All Nations in Bangkok will be found faithful in all God’s called us to be and do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Drop in the Ocean (By Manik Corea)

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)

Who’s Coming after You? — part 1 (By Manik Corea)

“If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.” So goes an old folk saying.

If leadership as defined by Jesus as the art of modelling obedience to Him and serving, sharing with and influencing others so that they are led to do the same[1], then biblical leadership implicitly affirms the need to raise up other leaders for the work and ministries of the Kingdom of God.

NAMS is in a season of transition as leadership moves from our founder and Servant General Jon Shuler to a succession team of leaders with various roles and levels of responsibility.

I remember one morning a few years ago when we first began the process of praying and talking about this. Jon, another NAMS leader and I were contemplating a few passages in the Pentateuch that described or inferred how Moses, the leader of the people of Israel in their wilderness journeys, was already preparing Joshua, his young aide, to succeed him way in advance. We looked in particular at three passages that illustrated succession preparation in action. I would like to share them in this and next week’s blog.

  1. Exodus 17:8-15 – Trust God to defeat your enemies

This passage records the first recorded battle that Israel ever fought as a nation. Moses was on the mountain with Aaron and Hur, and it was Joshua who was fighting on the ground – and God gave them a wonderful victory. Clearly, this experience was a foretaste of military leadership that Joshua would later use to good effect when leading Israel into the Promised Land.

In verse 14 following the victory, the Lord instructs Moses to write a memorial in the book about His verdict that He will completely remove the Amalek people, their enemy, from under heaven. Interestingly, he also tells Moses to ‘recite it in the ears of Joshua.’ It was important that Joshua remembered and learns that God guarantees victory for them over their enemies. God himself was in on the preparation of Joshua as the next leader.

The same lesson on God’s promise to defeat their enemies is echoed and confirmed after the later defeats of King Sihon and King Og in Deuteronomy 2 and 3, when the Lord instructs Moses to remind Joshua that, as the Lord did to those two kings, so will he do to all the kingdoms in the land they are going in to possess. Joshua is commanded, ‘You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord you God who fights for you.’ (Deuteronomy 3:22).

  1. Exodus 33:11 – Prioritize Intimacy with God

‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.”

Joshua learned early on to keep the main thing the main thing. By being often with Moses as his assistant, he no doubt learned to make time with God a priority. He was with Moses when they went up the mountain to for 40 days to receive the commandments of God (Exodus 24:1-18). We see in this passage (Exodus 33:11) how Joshua had developed a familiarity and kept a close proximity to the one place in the camp of Israel where the visible presence of God was to be found – the Tabernacle. It would stand him in good stead for the future when he could confidently declare, ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’ (Joshua 24:15).

It is so important for those we are raising up to see and learn from us how to make time with God a priority – an everyday norm. I have been privileged to see in Jon and other influential leaders in my life this same passionate desire for intimacy and practice of the holy habits of prayer, the reading and obedient response to Scripture and a lifestyle of worship.

They taught me well by the example and their exhortation.

Are you doing the same with someone who is walking beside or behind you?

 


[1] Todd Egstrom, well known pastor helpfully describes biblical leadership as ‘meeting someone where they are, and taking them where Jesus wants them to go’. http://toddengstrom.com/2013/11/11/what-is-biblical-leadership/

Who’s Coming after You? — part 1 (By Manik Corea)