Coming to Christ (by Revd. Clay Hamrick)

From time to time we wrestle with the question, how to people come to Christ? Every disciple and preacher asks this question. My Grandpa preached on this topic in 1966. He addressed it from the grace of and drawing power of God. When you are regularly sharing or preaching the gospel you tend to want people to come to Christ more than they do.  Your heart aches for them.

This desire can cause you to question the person yourself or even God. Why don’t they get it? Was I not clear enough? Argh! Has that happened to you? It will if you are engaged in regular gospel conversations. When it does happen, I turn to the Scriptures and talk to Jesus. In John 3, a man named Nicodemus inquires of Jesus. He is being stirred by the things he has seen and the teachings that he has heard.

Jesus tells him that you are not going to get this unless you are born again. Unless the Spirit does a work in you, belief is impossible. When you hear the gospel and the spirit turns the light on in you then belief happens. It is the mystery of faith. Jesus speaks of this again in John 6, as the drawing power of God.

A difficult saying, no man may come to me unless the Father draws him. God prepares the heart to receive the truth. He also prepares the meeting. For Satan tries to veil our spiritual eyes from this truth. God clears the way. Often the Holy Spirit uses us like John the Baptist, by preparing the way for Jesus’ coming into someone’s life. The message itself is perfect in converting the soul says the psalmist. (19:7) Paul reiterates that the law acts as a tutor to bring us to Christ. (Gal.3:24)

The gospel addresses the reality of our need of a savior. Jesus states in the the sermon on the mount that we are blessed when our spirit is brought low and we mourn over our sin. (Mat.5:3-4) We are called Blessed because our hearts are now prepared to receive. We have only to turn and put our trust in him for what he has done on our behalf. The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are His forever.

When you share your faith and become frustrated talk to God about it. Read the Scriptures. Be at peace that God desires for people to come into a saving relationship with him. Then pray for those that you are sharing with. Be patient. Watch and see God do the miraculous.

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Coming to Christ (by Revd. Clay Hamrick)

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.

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)

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 )

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)

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.