Tamer & Adidas (by Jon Shuler)

There was a lovely picture shared among some of us yesterday which showed our dear NAMS brother from Egypt, Tamer, with a group of young Kenyan children he organized to play soccer, while he was attending a NAMS training event in that country. Wonderful picture, wonderful children, wonderful ministry. Tamer uses soccer (football to most of the world) to share his faith in Jesus Christ, as the only hope of the world. That is his ministry in Egypt, and he exercised it while visiting Kenya. He is a fine brother and Companion. May his work flourish and grow, as one by one young men and women give their lives to Christ Jesus.

But something in the picture gave me chills, and raised a serious question in my heart. It was the presence of over a dozen Adidas jerseys.

My question is this: Why is a global seller of shoes “evangelizing” it’s brand so aggressively in the majority world, and the church of Jesus Christ in the West, and Westernized church world, is so unaware of what is happening? Do “they have eyes to see but see not?” The organized church in the West is barely noticing, let alone working with tenacity and courage to spread the glorious truth of the gospel of Jesus to all nations.

The marketing forces of the world are aggressively and effectively conveying to the children of the world that owning the right “stuff” is what makes life really satisfying. Indeed they have very successfully done the same with most of their elders. And that is not something that has happened just in the majority world, it has been very effectively accomplished in my own country (the USA). But this is not the gospel. It is a deception from the enemy of our souls. The good news is not that we can wear the right clothes, it is that we can be clothed for eternity, if we surrender our lives in to the hands of Jesus.

This is the heart of Tamer’s ministry, but is it ours?

Reading recently in I Peter, I have been struck by the clarity of his understanding that the church is a holy nation, made up of those who are truly “born anew” of the Spirit of God. Because this is so, they are lights in the world of untruth, and always living so as to be ‘a living testimony’ of another way. Indeed, they are also to be on alert – ready at all times – to give an account of the hope that is within them. It is not enough to live as a Christian, but they must be ready to speak up as a Christian.

In much of what was once called “the Christian world” the forces of darkness have made it more and more unacceptable to speak up for the truth as it is in Jesus. But we must not let this deter us! We are the called of God to speak of and bring light into the darkness. The forces of global marketing are very strong, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is stronger – for those who are the elect of God.

Pray with me for boldness to speak up where you live. Pray for the boldness to challenge your local church to be bold for the spread of the gospel to all nations. Pray that those who say they belong to Jesus may be as committed as Tamer is to sharing the glorious truth with those who have never heard.

 

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Tamer & Adidas (by Jon Shuler)

Listen Slowly (by Revd Manik Corea)

How good are you at listening to your Lord?

Writer and pastor Chuck Swindoll tells of a particularly frantic time in his life when he was flustered and hurried by many appointments and commitments. He was gulping down his food at family meal-times, being short-tempted and irritated with his family and getting annoyed by unplanned interruptions. His family members began to get affected by his increased stress.

One evening, his youngest daughter said she wanted to tell him about something that happened at school that day, but said she would tell him ‘really fast.’ Realizing her frustration, he calmed her down and said, ‘Honey, you don’t have to rush. You can say it slowly.’ Swindoll says he’ll never forget her retort: ‘Then listen slowly.”

Are we listening ‘slowly’ to God?

Being a disciple of Jesus involves developing a keen sense of hearing – giving our undivided attention to the voice of God.

The listening ear is a door for faith to enter.

Thus Paul wrote ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). The Gospel must first be told us and heard and understood, to have effect.

But listening to God in Scripture must be a precursor to actual obedience and submission, or we will be condemned as many a Scripture warns (see Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46; John 14:24; James 2:26; etc). Thus hearing and obedience are intimately linked in the Scripture.

I was surprised to learn recently that there is no Hebrew word that translates directly to the English word ‘obey’. The Hebrew word that most often equates to our English ‘obey’ is the word ‘shema’ which literally means to ‘hear’. However, this means more than just audibly receiving communication, but most often carries the meaning of ‘paying attention to’ and especially, ‘responding to what is heard.’[1]

Hebrew words typically stress concrete action, as opposed to Greek works which are more abstract. Thus, we understand ‘hearing’ as understanding or receiving a communication, whereas the Hebrews immediately made the link to obedience and action.

In a similar way, when a mother says to her child ‘You’re not really listening!’ she typically doesn’t mean her child has not heard her, but has not obeyed her.

To Jesus and then Jews, having ears is not simply a matter of being able to hear. It is a matter of being able to also understand and obey what is heard. Hence, Jesus so very often ended his sermons with the Hebraism, ‘to him who has ears, let him hear.’[2] He was looking for a right response.

As James so clearly and pithily instructs in James 1:22, ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.’

And so, a simple definition of discipleship could be as follows: ‘A disciple is one who seeks everyday of his life to hear and obey Jesus’ words.’

To do what Jesus wants, we must truly ‘shema’ His Words.

Often. Carefully. Slowly.

 


[1] See this enlightening Word Study video on the word ‘Shema’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=190&v=6KQLOuIKaRA

[2] Matthew 11:5; 13:9,43; Mark 4:9,23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35 cf Deuteronomy 29:4; Ezekiel 12:2).

Listen Slowly (by Revd Manik Corea)

NAMS Cuban Leadership training event

P and T are Cubans who have spent some time in our NAMS Base Community (NBC) in Temuco, Chile. There, they learned how to become disciple-making disciples. Now they are back in Cuba and have started reaching others. So far, they have gathered 17 people in their homes – people of different backgrounds, professions and ages, but all being drawn to the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

TheHabanaCuba
Base community in The Habana, Cuba

Consequently, at the end of September this year, 4 NAMS leaders from Chile will be in Cuba to offer further training to P and T, and to around 40 other local leaders and pastors, on how to effectively make disciples, raise leaders and plant fruitful churches.

The estimated total cost that for the 3-day training event in this impoverished nation totals US$7,800 which includes flights to take our team there, local transportation cost for participants (some will travel from a long way), food and accommodation for 3 days and video/materials to record training sessions and to continue to resource them.

PLEASE will you PRAY for this event AND consider GIVING specifically towards it. You will be partnering with us to invest in God’s mission in a very specific way this June in Cuba. We will be able to send you a follow-up report after the meetings to let you know how it went.

To join us in supporting this exciting event, click on this link

https://tithe.ly/pledge/#/campaign/313066

and you can indicate your gift. To send a check direct or make a bank transfer to our NAMS account (USA only), please contact us at info@namsnetwork.com for details.

You can also check the progress of this fundraising campaign at

https://tithe.ly/pledge/#/progress/313066

Thank you,
Rev Manik Corea
NAMS Global Executive

NAMS Cuban Leadership training event

SEEING THROUGH THE EYE OF “THE GREAT COMMISSION”: A FRESH REVELATION! (by Timothy Mazimpaka)

Are you ready for my discipleship confession: I am a slow learner.

I have known about the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20 for 20 years now. The first time I heard of it was in a Bible College. Looking back, it only went in skin-deep – my understanding of what it meant was purely on the level of theory in order to pass an exam.

When I took the step from training into vocation, the Lord led me into student ministry in colleges and universities. I loved the nine years of my time there. But as I look back, I can hardly find any link between what I was doing (fulfilling my ministry) and the need to make disciples (obeying His Great Commission).

Is knowing the difference between the two really that important? Undoubtedly yes! Serving God in whatever ministry He places you is certainly a good thing. But doing ministry from the framework of the Great Commission is simply the best. It is like the difference between adding and multiplying disciples.

The appointed day of revelation came in the month of August 2017, when a team from NAMS led a vision summit in Nairobi. That was my eureka moment! Through the summit, the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of my mind and I began to look at events and circumstances differently.

I crossed the bridge from on one side, simply seeking to serve God faithfully but without the mind-set of a disciple-maker at the heart of my ministry, to where making disciples is a lifestyle. I have more than one testimony to share in this regard but allow me to single out the first experience that happened immediately after the summit.

For a long time in the apartment where my family lives with many other families, children from our neighboring families have had a habit of coming to play in our house with our children (including children from other faith backgrounds). Prior to the NAMS summit, the presence of those children in our home was a matter of hospitality. But after the NAMS meetings, we felt that our hospitality was not enough. My eyes were opened to see that these children are good soil ready for Gospel seed. Before long, we began a bible discussion group in our home of which I am now the teacher.

God began to bless this initiative. Firstly, when children started attending the evening Bible study regularly, some of the children’s parents got to know about it and began to accompany them to our home. I saw this development as a blessing. Before long, a bible study fellowship for the grownups was launched in our house. Secondly, the children themselves have become mobilizers of other children. No one needs to remind them now about the Fridays Bible Study or to bring others with them.

We have begun to make disciples of those coming, and it has clearly been the work of the Holy Spirit through us!

What God has begun to do in me, He can do with you too.

 

— Timothy Mazimpaka is based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is leading a group working with NAMS to establish a base community in Kenya.

Pray for us that God will multiply the disciples Timothy and others are seeking to make in his home group and elsewhere. Pray also for us in NAMS as we work to walk with, and equip people like Timothy and other believers in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa, to become disciple-making disciples and leaders who can equip others for the same and help plant disciple-making churches.

SEEING THROUGH THE EYE OF “THE GREAT COMMISSION”: A FRESH REVELATION! (by Timothy Mazimpaka)

NAMS Blog – Sold out for Jesus (by Manik Corea)

Recently, when teaching in our NAMS Latin America meetings, I shared a cogent definition of discipleship by the late Dallas Willard:

“A disciple is a person who has decided that the most important thing in their life is to learn how to do what Jesus said to do.” [1]

The late, great Christian singer Keith Green likewise gave a simple and memorable description of a genuine Christian: ‘One who is bananas for Jesus’.

Both definitions were true to Jesus’ words (Luke 6:46, 14:25-33, Matthew 28:20).

The highest place in our lives must belong to Jesus. This means He gets the first and final call over what we do with our money, time, possession and energies and over every life critical issue, opportunity, relationship and circumstance that is ours.

He demands that all our dreams and ambitions be laid at His feet in total surrender. The call to discipleship is not, and has never been, a popular message. Sinners after all prefer their way to God’s, and sin is essentially civil war against the rule and reign of God over us.

What is truly heart-breaking, though, is how very few of us who call ourselves Christians are likewise willing to accede full control to Jesus in the same way. We want Him to save us from hell in the next world, but to pander and be subservient to our wants and desires in this. If you’re like me, we easily hold back the more precious parts of our lives from Him.

But we cannot have it both ways. Jesus didn’t come so the ‘faithful’ could simply be comfortable and fed.

There are so very many people – some live across your street, others across the oceans – that remain ignorant, apathetic or simply have no access to the message of God’s love and salvation in Christ Jesus.[ii]

John Wesley famously said, ‘the world is my parish.’ Today, for most faithful Christians, the parish has become their world.

Despite ostentatious talk about missions, many evangelical churches spend more money, time and effort on their own buildings, staff, programs and services to meet the needs of their members or attendees than they do on reaching the unreached, making disciples or helping to plant new mission-centered churches. Global mission is hardly a concern for the average Christian in most parts of the globe.

This is borne out by damning statistics like the following:

A meager 0.1% of the estimated US$53 trillion that Christians the world over will earn this year will be given towards Christian mission.[iii]

Christians make up 33% of the world’s population, receive 53% of the world’s annual income but spend 98% of it on themselves.[iv]

It is patently clear to us in NAMS that God has called us to play our part in awakening His sleeping Church to obedience to Jesus’ final command to make disciples of all nations.

To do that, we must ourselves be sold out to Jesus. There can be no compromise.

My prayer and passionate hope as Global Executive of NAMS is that every NAMS Companion will be a bona-fide all-out, disciple-making, Spirit-filled, Jesus-pleasing Word-abiding, rabid seeker of the lost, like our Master. And that we would find and raise others to be the same.

It is enough, as Jesus said, for the disciple to become like his master. (Matthew 10:25).

Will you pray, support and join us in this glorious, all-or-nothing endeavor?

 


[1] Dallas Willard, ‘Rethinking Evangelism’, Cutting Edge Magazine, Vol 5, No. 1 (Winter 2001)

[ii] Globally, it is estimated that a staggering 80% of all non-Christians (i.e. majority of which are Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims) in our world do not personally know another Christian. http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/1IBMR2015.pdf – see section on ‘Personal Contact’ for how this figure was derived.

[iii] https://factsandtrends.net/2016/12/12/10-key-trends-in-global-christianity-for-2017/ based on http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/documents/StatusofGlobalChristianity2017.pdf

[iv] David Barret and Todd Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30- AD 2200, (William Carey Library:Pasadena, 2001), 656.

 

 

 

 

NAMS Blog – Sold out for Jesus (by Manik Corea)

NAMS Blog – Stealing away with Jesus

To be much for God, we must be much with God…Quit playing, start praying. Quit feasting, start fasting. Talk less with men, talk more with God. Listen less to men, listen to the words of God. Skip travel, start travail.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

How often and regularly do you pray alone with God and with others?

Jesus not only taught the necessity of having a private prayer space with our Father God (Matthew 6:6), but he made private prayer times a noticeable practice of his ministry and of his life with his disciples (Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Matthew 14:23; Luke 9:18; Luke 11:1).

Not only that, but Jesus sought also to retreat from ministry and the crowds occasionally to have time to rest and no doubt, pray and be still in company with His Father. There are a few examples in the Gospels of Jesus doing this with His disciples (see for example Matthew 14:13, Mark 3:7 and especially Mark 6:31-32).

In the NAMS Rule of Life (http://www.namsnetwork.com/assets/namsrule.pdf) all Companions commit to taking 3 personal retreats with God and, once a year, to retreat, if possible, with other Companions in their nation or region.

Recently at our annual NAMS Asia Regional Retreat in Delhi, India, we began our time of prayerful retreat by reading about the magnificent start to Jesus’ ministry as recorded in Mark 1:32-39.

On the back of a wonderful day of miraculous healings and deliverances that multitudes saw and experienced – the effect was city-wide (vs 33) – Jesus went ‘MIA’ the very next day!

We read in verse 35 that He stole Himself away to a desolate place to pray.

Note that this was right in the midst of ministry, at the very onset of His life’s work.

This led to a frantic search by the disciples for Him. Miracle workers are always in demand and Peter told Jesus that all the people were looking for Him.

But Jesus already had a different plan and priority, perhaps out of His time of prayer with His Father that morning. Jesus announced, no doubt to some bewilderment and the consternation of his disciples, that He (with the disciples) was heading to other towns to preach, since this was why He came. And so it came to pass (see vs 39).

Popularity with the crowds meant little to Jesus and was never allowed to be the measure of His success. Taking the message of His Gospel all across Israel was.

He was never driven simply by the needs of those around Him, but was always led by the vision and mission His Father gave to Him. His agenda and message were the result of watching and hearing from His Father – John 5:19; 12:49-50. His times of regular prayer and occasional retreat kept Him a-tuned to His Father’s will.

In Delhi, we sought to follow our Master’s example. We deliberately made time and space to be quiet before the Lord, to listen and tune ourselves afresh to our God in silence and solitude. We also had times of communal prayer and worship and biblical reflection. We were reminded how important it was to seek God’s face and to be attentive to His voice.

It was a blessed time as we heard from the Lord about our personal and communal calling as NAMS missionary disciples and leaders.

This season of Lent, will you, like Jesus and us, seek to make regular prayer and occasional retreat with God a vital part of your walk as disciples of Jesus?

NAMS Blog – Stealing away with Jesus