NAMS Novena 2017 Report – ‘If you say go…’

It was the launch of a new chapter for NAMS; a glorious deepening of bonds between global companions old, new and unfamiliar; a new exciting phase in the global work that God has called us to; a time that will live long in our memories….

NAMS Novena

There are many ways we can describe the NAMS Novena that took place from 19-26 April 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. What is certain was that it was a significant moment in our collective history, marked by laughter, joy and anointed times of worship, sharing, testimony and fellowship around tables and the Table of the Lord.

We were active participants, along with the congregation that met at Khlong Toey Church on 21st April evening, to the passing of the baton from founder/Servant General Jon Shuler to Manik Corea, the new NAMS Global Executive, and his team.

With one voice, 25 Companions and Spousal Companions, including 2 serving bishops, committed as to live and hold each other accountable to the NAMS Rule and Order, to work to fulfill Jesus’ final command (Matthew 28:19-20) by making disciples who make disciples, raising disciple-making leaders and planting disciple-making churches.

The retreat on the weekend of 22nd April, attended by 28 of us, was an exciting time of clarifying and agreeing to a revised Rule and Order, which outlines the principles governing our global order and their practical outworking around the world. We also had wonderful times of prayer, worship and fellowship over delicious Thai food. We were blessed by the serenity and beauty of the Garden of Gospel Peace, run by Franciscan Friars who looked after us with great care. Surrounded as we were by idyllic rice fields and fish ponds, we felt the sure presence of God’s Spirit calling us to venture further on to greater exploits, working with His faithful Church, till the earth is covered with the knowledge of the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14) .

All in all, 13 different nations represented by NAMS companions, spousal companions, 3 bishops, aspirants and friends as far afield as Chile, Congo DRC, Egypt, India, Taiwan and England were present. A number of our other companions and spousal companions were not able to be there and we dearly felt their absence. Still we look forward to the next one in 4 years or so.

We were grateful most of all for the prayers of our Global Prayer/Intercessory Team led by Mary Garisson-Ruiz, and by many of you reading this who thought and prayed for us during those days. We certainly felt their and your prayers.

If there was one song that captured the thrust of the Novena, it was the song ‘If you say go’ – taught to us by our worship leaders – companion Pete Matthews and our new NAMS friend, Susheel John (Manik’s cousin from Singapore). There words are an apt summary of what we pray God will help us do following this Novena:

‘If You say go, we will go.
If You say wait, we will wait.
If You say step out on the water,
And they say it can’t be done;

NAMS Novena sessions

NAMS Novena 2017 Report – ‘If you say go…’

NAMS Novena 2017

As many of you will be aware, from April 19th – April 26th 2017, we will be having a global gathering of NAMS companions, spousal companions, aspirants and bishop advocates in Bangkok, Thailand.

As you read this, about 32 companions and guests, including 3 serving Anglican bishops, are in or on their way to Bangkok. They will be coming from countries as far afield as Chile, USA, South Africa, Egypt, UAE, India and Singapore.

Since it’s founding in 1994 as the North American Missionary Society, NAMS has grown under God’s gracious hand, to become a global missionary community of global pioneering church planters and disciple-makers.

We are a band of brothers (and sisters), accountable to each other under the word of God and working to extend God’s kingdom to the ends of the earth. We are called to work in unity with God’s global and faithful Church and to help her be obedient to Jesus’ final command (Matthew 29:19).

The Novena is a once-every-4-year gathering. We will be missing quite a few other companions and supporters who cannot make it for one reason or another. Still, we expect this to be a significant moment in the history of NAMS as a missionary order in this Novena. (Note: ‘novena’ is simply the Latin word for the number 9, and we want the 9 days we spend together, including a day for travel, to be time well spent praying together, worshiping, sharing, encouraging and strategizing for the next season of our work).

During this Novena, we will also be having a special Commissioning service where NAMS Companions will commit under God to a common rule and a common work, globally dispersed.

Our acting Global Executive Officer (GEO) Revd. Manik Corea, will also officially be commissioned into the role of leading the day-to-day running of our work under our overall leader and Servant General, Canon Revd. Dr. Jon Shuler.

The general outline of the event will look like this:

Wednesday 19th April evening Arrive in Bangkok for dinner at SCC Guest House
Thursday 20th April

All- day

NAMS Open Day @ Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) Building: including worship and testimonies.
Friday 21st April Evening – Service of Commissioning of NAMS Global Executive and all new Companions (Khlong Toey Church, Bangkok).
Saturday 22nd April – Sunday 23rd April NAMS Companions/Spousal Companions/Bishop Advocates Retreat at Fransciscan Foundation of Thailand
Monday 24th April After breakfast, morning departure from retreat to onward journeys.

NAMS Global Executive Team NAMS Servant General. NAMS Board meets in the evening.

Wednesday 26th April Remaining executive team and companions depart Bangkok

We so covet your prayers for us during this time. If you would like to be an intercessor for us during the Novena, please will you send an e-mail to our NAMS Global Prayer Co-ordinator Mary at: maryalicegarrison@gmail.com

Thank you for your continued support.

 

NAMS Novena 2017

‘See how they love one another’. By Manik Corea.

The second factor common among rapidly-multiplying disciple-making movements around the world is authentic community founded and centered on Jesus.

A disciple made in the image of Jesus will also be joined to the community that follows Him. Jesus never called anyone to follow Him who he didn’t also call to into His Church, the body of His disciples who together constitute the living, walking tangible expression of His kingdom coming on earth.

Authentic Christian community (be it in the smallest possible unit of the church anywhere in the world—the two or three disciples gathered, or in her larger settings) is focused only on one thing: being truly aligned with the revealed will and heart of Jesus, her King and Lord.

Paul makes the point in 1 Corinthians 3:11 that there can be only one foundation for authentic Christian community: Jesus!

If the foundation of a building is weak, it is structurally unsound. It would then matter little if the building was a towering sky-scraper or a humble wooden hut. Both are in danger of spectacular falls in moments of great disaster. Discipleship, individually and corporately, must be rest on Jesus alone if it is to stand the test of time and tide.

The sign of such authentic Jesus-centered community is that we love one another.

In John 13:35, as NAMS Servant General Jon Shuler often points out, we have one of the few records in the Gospels where Jesus actually defines what his disciples will be or do. Here, Jesus states clearly that his disciples will love the community of faith they are planted in.

Indeed, Jesus goes on to say that all people will know we are Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another. I knew a Japanese Christian who came to faith in his home country when he happened to visit an Anglican church there and was struck by how much the Christians both welcomed him in and loved each other. It was only a matter of time before he became one of them.

The disciples’ love and loyalty to Jesus must be matched by an equally dedicated love for one another. At the NAMS Asia Regional Retreat this August past, I was meditating in a time of quiet reflection on 1 John 5. The first verse really convicted me: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of Him.” We cannot be born of God and not love God’s people. There are no exceptions to the “whoever” of verse 1.

What’s more, authentic community will hold firm the plumb line of God’s truth as reality-defining, refusing to bend and shift along to changing cultural mores, popular fads and the spirit of the age. At the same time, it will be a community of grace, stooping down to lift up the oppressed, the poor, the cast-away, and the unwanted—a friend of sinners like her Lord and a community like nothing earth can provide.

Wherever disciple-making disciples seek to spread the Gospel and the Kingdom you will also find such authentic Christian communities planted, watered, and multiplied.

— Manik Corea.

Missionary Presbyter,
All Nations Bangkok Team Leader,
NAMS South-East Asia

‘See how they love one another’. By Manik Corea.

Teach us to pray. By Manik Corea.

The first factor that fuels the growth of disciple-making movements around the world is passionate prayer.

Prayer and disciple-making are intimately linked. Prayer is one of God’s greatest gift to us. He gave it so that we would keep and be in indispensable spiritual communion with Him for all our lives. It is the vital artery of the Christian life. It is also a primary way we can love, support, and care for one another.

“Prayer is not learned in a classroom, but in the closet” (E. M. Bounds) and those who desire to be greatly used of God in the public arena had better be greatly known by God in the private hidden closet of prayer.

We have in the Scriptures the great examples left to us of God’s apostles and prophets, who were men of prayer. The apostolic letters bear witness to the prayers that Paul prayed in abundance for the disciples he made and mentored—and just as much he pleaded and entreated them to do the same for him (see Romans 1:9; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; cf Colossians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; Romans 15:30; Philippians 1:19).

He took his cue from the master disciple-maker, Jesus, who so modeled a life of prayer that the disciples were compelled to want to pray like him (Luke 11:1). Jesus spent a night in prayer for those he would turn into his apostles (Luke 6:12-13). More than that, he often wrestled in prayer for them (E.g. for Peter in Luke 22:32 and John 17:9).

In fact, John 17 in its entirety is a beautiful record of a prayer that Jesus prays on their behalf. He seeks the Father for a number of things for them and for the disciples who would come from them (see John 17:20). These include: that they may be united (vs 11), filled with great joy (vs 13), be protected from the evil one (vs 11 and 15), be sanctified by God’s word (vs 17), and be sent out into the world (vs 18).

We do well to pray the same things for those we are making disciples of.

Great pray-ers make for great disciple-makers. Joel Comiskey, a well-known consultant in cell group multiplication, reports from his extensive research that disciple-makers who regularly and intentionally pray for their disciples are more likely to see those cells multiply.

As a NAMS companion, I am aware how much I need to improve and grow in this area. But, I want to because I have a personal investment in the lives of those I am called to disciple, lead, and help to multiply. Thank God that He has not left us to struggle on our own, but has given us His Spirit to help us do just that (Romans 8:26-27)!

Brothers and sisters, let us pray.

— Manik Corea.

Missionary Presbyter,
All Nations Bangkok Team Leader,
NAMS South-East Asia

Teach us to pray. By Manik Corea.

A New Day of Growth. By Manik Corea.

The church of Jesus Christ is called to the double task of following Jesus and becoming fishers of people under His charge (Mark 1:17).

It is instructive to see the way that Peter, Andrew, James and John were so quick to change the direction of their lives in order to follow Jesus (Mark 1:18,20 c.f. Mark 10:28). For, as Jesus would later clearly teach, this is the pathway of all true disciples.

We are likewise called to leave home comforts, the allure of self-centered dreams, and the safety of the familiar for risk, suffering, and the inexpressible joy of being with Jesus on mission. A disciple is one who is ready to give up everything and do anything for Jesus.

In fact, we cannot be disciple-makers unless we ourselves are first disciples who have abandoned all for Jesus (Luke 14:33).

On the other hand, disciple-making is the holy task of every genuine disciple. A disciple who is not working to make another disciple or bring his or her family, neighbor, or friend to Jesus, is either living in ignorance or simply disobedient to Jesus.

Jesus desired his disciples both to be faithful and fruitful, leading to two outcomes: qualitative renewal in Christ, and quantitative growth of new disciples. Oswald Chambers echoes the same point: “We know from Scripture that God’s plan for
discipleship is two-fold: transformation into the likeness of Jesus, and reproduction (the principle of one teaching another).”

And throughout history, the mark of God’s kingdom coming in any place has been these two factors (a maturing and a multiplying church). Jesus promised that He Himself would build His church, and therefore it will prevail against all that hell can throw at it. The body of Christ is alive, growing, and thriving thanks to her connection to her head!

Anything that does not grow is therefore dead or dying.

We live in exciting and unprecedented days. The church of Jesus Christ is growing at rates never seen before! While we are used to hearing about the decline of Christianity in the West, in many parts of the world (in various places in China, India and continental Africa, for example) massive disciple-making movements under indigenous leadership are a wondrous reality. The list of unreached people groups, where there is little or no Christian witness, is declining by the year. As the days grow ever more evil and dark, God’s light reflected in the faces of his faithful people everywhere continues to defy and decry that evil. The advance of His kingdom cannot be stopped!

This is the work that God has called NAMS to—to be part of the global advance of God’s kingdom and His church. Are you called to join us? Are you called to support us and to pray for us?

Please contact us or send us an e-mail if so.
How to multiply disciples who make disciples

NAMS is called to the task of finding pioneering church-planters who can start disciple-making movements around the world.

We also call and aid the global church in being faithful to do the same. In fact, we believe that every believer is called to be part of healthy, growing, and multiplying churches. It is not just the task of the ‘professionals.’

However, God has called NAMS companions (which is what we called those who have accepted the call to be full members of the NAMS society) to intentionally and faithfully serve Jesus by seeking to plant (or be directly involved in the planting of) multiplying communities of disciples-making Christians.

We do this first by sending a Great Commission cell (a couple or team of disciples) to a new location to pray, seed, and grow new communities of disciple-making cells.

As we learned in biology class, the cell is the basic unit of life. In fact, the cell contains all things necessary for life (cytoplasm, protein, nuclei, etc). All living things are made up of either one or a multiplicity of cells. Healthy cells breed new ones.

The same is also true in the body of Christ.

The basic unit for new life anywhere on the planet is a faithful disciple-making cell—as few as two or three people who choose to obey Jesus and who help and hold each other accountable to do the same by prayer, study of the Scriptures and going on mission together.

What are the conditions that allow for healthy disciple-making cells to grow and multiply? In this next series of blogs, I will look at three factors I believe are critical for the growth and multiplication of disciple-making movements, as clearly evidenced in God’s word.

These are 1) passionate prayer, 2) authentic community, and 3) reproducing disciples.

May God help us and all believers to be both faithful and fruitful to His call and mission on earth.

— Manik Corea.

Missionary Presbyter,
All Nations Bangkok Team Leader,
NAMS South-East Asia

A New Day of Growth. By Manik Corea.

The Power of One. By Manik Corea.

You are a product of God’s multiplication system.

Once upon a time, and once every time—for it is the common story of all people everywhere—we started out life as a single cell. But we did not stay that way: the cell multiplied according to an incredible design, so that today you are a compendium of processes, energy and intelligence, a playground of life united within a coordinated body, a flourishing ecology of cells numbering in the trillions.

But you were one cell to begin with. It’s hard to imagine we were once so small and insignificant. Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made—His works are wonderful! (Psalm 139:13-16).

As well as being living examples of cells that multiply, we are also the result of a sacred act, two microscopic entities that collided in our mother’s womb.

I was surprised to learn a few months ago that the male fertilizing sperm is the smallest living cell in the human body—nothing more than a nucleus propelled by mitochondria (providing energy) and a tail. On the other hand, the largest cell in the human body is the egg cell or ovum produced in the female body.

The two cannot be more different. “Egg cell and sperm are each other’s opposite. Large versus small, round versus straight, cytoplasm versus nucleus. The differences are great, at the same time they belong together.” No life can reproduce except these two come together.

At the risk of sounding sacrilegious and trite, I believe the conception of life can be a pregnant metaphor (pardon the pun) for the work of making disciples that we are all called to.

A disciple-making cell of at least two or three disciples where Christ is present is a small thing compared to that which we are thrust into: the earth with her billions of people. But new life in Jesus can only happen as we go into that world to bring the good news of Jesus.

One cell of two or three
The number ‘two or three’ has always been significant in Scripture for establishing the legality of witness under Jewish Law in both Testaments (Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15, John 8:17, 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19).

In NAMS, we have taken this as conferring divine legitimacy on small gatherings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. A basic unit of a church could be reduced down to as few as two or three followers meeting anywhere in Christ for godly purposes. In fact, we know from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18:19-20 that He promises to grace with His presence even two or three of his disciples meeting in His name and to hear their united agreement.

Consequently, one cell of obedient disciples, as small as two or three, can go anywhere to begin a new work because Jesus goes with them. Even a single disciple in a community of unbelievers where there are no others can work to bring others to faith, using the person of peace principle (Luke 10:1-11). Then one small cell of new young believers can begin to be discipled so that in time, the cell multiplies its leader helps them reach and make other disciples.

This has been our experience time and time again. But it starts with one obedient disciple or couple—one disciple-making cell that God can multiply and give life to.

One seed that gives birth to many.

— Manik Corea.

Missionary Presbyter,
All Nations Bangkok Team Leader,
NAMS South-East Asia

The Power of One. By Manik Corea.

Exponentiality. By Manik Corea.

There is a story from India that revolves around the inventor of the game of chess. His new game so impressed the ruling emperor that he was offered any reward he could name.

The young man asked if a grain of rice could be added to the first square of his chessboard, doubled into two on the next square to it, then to four on the one after, and so on, till all the 64 squares were filled. He asked for the total grains of rice, doubled from each previous square, to be calculated and collected together as his reward.

‘Easily done’, thought the emperor and granted his request.

When the Emperor’s servants went to calculate and count out the amount of rice grains in total, they returned a couple of days later to say that the final amount of grains of rice exceeded all the available grains of rice in the world at that time, namely 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of rice. To put that in perspective, that is more than 1,000 times the rice that will be produced in the world this year.

Mathematicians will be quick to recognize what are called ‘exponential functions’ at work here, when repeated ‘doubling’ up of numbers quickly add up to astronomical amounts.

In fact, exponential functions happen around us everyday, whether in economics with compound interests on loans or with inflation, or in real life in the explosive population growth of rabbits or the spread of mold on bread, for example.

But exponential functions are also the way the kingdom of God grows and spreads (or is meant to) throughout the world. The church of Jesus Christ grows exponentially when God’s people are faithful to obey and live out their witness before the lost.

Let us apply this to the business of making disciples that Jesus enjoined us to. He told many parables that illustrated the exponential nature of kingdom growth (see the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9, particularly vs 9, parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31-32 and the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, e.g.).

If you simply made one other disciple in a year, you would be two disciples at the end of it. But if you continued to make one other new disciple each year, and every disciple you made did the same, no one in the chain breaking the norm of making one other new disciple each year, you would have an exponentially growing church that will look like this:

At the end of year 1, you would have two disciples.
At the end of year 2, you would have 4.
Year 3, 8.
Year 4, 16.
Year 5, 32.

So by the sixth year, you would have 64 disciples, a good-sized church community in many places of the world.

However, if disciple-making continues at this rate of one made per year by every disciple in the chain, by year 10 you would have 1024 disciples. 20 years on, this would become 1,048,576—more than a million disciples made! By year 30, you would have reached and discipled more than a billion people (i.e. the population of all India). A mere 4 years later (i.e. 34 years later) you would have made disciples of the entire population of the earth – reaching the world in one generation.

If every Christian simply made one other new disciple each year, taught and held them accountable to do the same for the rest of their lives, the world would be won for Christ.

Of course, the realist among us would argue that the above statement naively assumes 1) everyone continues to faithfully make one other disciple a year every year, 2) that all disciples stay faithful and do not fall away, and 3) that there isn’t attrition from other factors like heresy, spiritual warfare, worldliness, wars, natural disasters, disease and from failure and false teaching within the church.

But even Jesus experienced the falling away of many disciples (see John 6:66, for example). Nevertheless, Jesus concentrated his ministry on raising up a small group of disciples and then took gave them the earth-sized job of being witnesses and disciple-makers of all the peoples of the earth.

Today in our evangelistic methods, we try to reach many in order to win a few converts for Christ. Jesus on the other hand chose, modeled, trained and sent out a handful in order to win the world.

They did it by themselves discipling a few here and there, who understood that it was now their responsibility to do the same thing among their oikos or relational networks. As they did, the number of disciples of Jesus multiplied and spread quickly all over the known world.

We at NAMS do not believe that disciple-making is simply a numbers game. Nevertheless, as God’s desire is to fill the whole earth with His glory and Jesus said He would not return till the Gospel is heard everywhere, we can pray with faith and have great expectation in the exponential growth of the kingdom.

God is still looking to use faithful and fruitful disciples to be his agents of growth and multiplication.

Are you one of them?

— Manik Corea.

Missionary Presbyter,
All Nations Bangkok Team Leader,
NAMS South-East Asia

Exponentiality. By Manik Corea.