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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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)

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 )

Meaning What You Say. (by Jon Shuler)

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us that we are to let our “Yes be yes” and our “No be no.” A disciple walks in the light of His teaching. How are we doing in this area as followers of Jesus? With regularity over the past few years I have discovered that many in the church are guilty of extreme neglect of this clear word of God. Are we too?

How is this so? Let me cite a few examples.

The first that comes to my mind focuses on the promises that were made at my baptism. I was then charged to never “be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner, against sin, the world, and the devil.”

What then if I meet every week with other Christians, but do not follow Christ in my daily walk? What if I am swept up in behavior Monday to Saturday that is no different from the non believers around me? What if I am either ignorant of, or glibly disobedient to, the clear teaching of Jesus? I said “Yes” to being His follower, but am I following?

In the Anglican world, globally, it is normal to have a service of Confirmation for anyone who is prepared to make their own public Profession of Faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and who was baptized as a child owing to the faith of their parents. In that service, the promises of baptism are renewed and confirmed. Thus we promised: “I will follow Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior”. We accepted the promises made on our behalf. Now we commit to obey Jesus and prove to be a true disciple.

What then if most of my time, treasure, and talents are devoted to following something (or someone) else? What if I am caught up in the cares and concerns of this world, and they regularly get my very best, and I prove to be “ineffective and unfruitful” as a disciple of Jesus? (See II Peter 1:8) I said “Yes” to being His follower, and he clearly commands me to be effective and fruitful, but I am not.

In the local congregation there is always a body, or board, that shares in the governance of the local church. Often their deliberations are far removed from the things of God. Due consideration for temporal matters must of course be given, it is good administration, and that is a gift God from God. It is also part of good stewardship. But the people on such a board have a responsibility to God for their faithfulness to Jesus Christ and His teaching as primary. They are to be faithful to the trust given them.

What then if the discussions at their meetings revolve about old wounds, grievances, disappointments, and unmet expectations. With no clear reference, much of the time, to obeying the clear teaching of Jesus? What if personal agendas, attitudes, and fears dominate the meetings. What if they constrain the godly leadership of the church? They are in office to follow Christ Jesus and help the local body do the same. They said “Yes” to following Him, but often He is not the center of their meetings or lives.

Are we meaning what we say? All the time?

Meaning What You Say. (by Jon Shuler)

Who’ s Coming after You? — part 2. (By Manik Corea)

Last week, we began to look at a few passages from the Old Testament narratives of the journey of the people of Israel under Moses to the Promised Land on how Joshua was being prepared as leader after Moses. Today, we look at the last quality that Joshua needed and indeed, came to display – great faith.

Faith is the currency of the Kingdom of God. With faith, all things are possible. Without faith, it is impossible to please God or even to do the works He calls us to do by His name and power. Faith is the exercise of trust and obedience to enact divine transactions on earth for the purposes and glory of God.

We see that Joshua had developed a great faith in God from the third passage we looked at in that devotional time we once shared at a NAMS meeting (see last week’s blog).

  1. Numbers 14:6-9 – Faith in God

We read in Numbers 13 of the account of the spies sent out into the promise land. When they returned, the majority of the spies spread a bad report and discouraged the people, saying there were giants in the land and there was no way to they could take over (verses 26-29 and 32-33). Only Caleb and Joshua spoke in faith that God was going to give them the land (verses 30-31 and Numbers 14:6-9). Their faith was not in what they saw and faced but in Whom they had heard and trusted.

How did Joshua come to have such a great faith? Clearly, by walking closely to Moses as his aide, he would have learned and seen time and time again how faithful God was in the midst of all the challenges, opposition and trying times Moses faced as leader of such a rebellious people. He would have witnessed the same miracles that the people saw for themselves, as God constantly provided and protected them. But whilst Joshua kept and exercised his faith in God, the people of Israel choose instead to place their faith in their circumstances and the plans of men.

Joshua’s faith was therefore developing and growing by experience in the school of wilderness testings. Faith, like muscles, can only be grown and strengthened through its exercise.

As a result, Joshua and Caleb became the only two people out of a million or so of the first generation of Israelites who were allowed into the promise land. Faith in God gains us entrance into the land of His promise.

If we are to raise the next generation of leaders who will go further than us to take possessions of lands that we, like Moses, may only glimpse from a distance, then we must do all we can to encourage and help them grow in faith.

Encouragement and exhortations are in order. We see this in God’s instructions to Moses at the edge of the Promised Land, where Moses is instructed in Deuteronomy 3:28 to ‘charge and encourage and strengthen’ Joshua as the new leader. Moses is told by God to make an effort to do all he can to prepare his successor. Eventually, in Numbers 27:16-23, God instructs Moses, in the sight of all Israel, to lay hands on Joshua and to commission him. Joshua is described in verse 18 as ‘a man in whom is the Spirit’.

Finally, in Joshua 1:1-9, God Himself gives Joshua great encouragement and promise as he steps up to being the leader. God reminded him that if he kept on trusting God and remembering His Word, then he would surely be successful in all he was called to do.

Joshua’s relationship to God was enhanced and developed through his relationship with Moses his leader. Because of Moses, Joshua knew what it was to fight and overcome the enemy; he knew what it was to pursue intimacy and closeness with God and he knew to trust what God said over and above what he saw.

Those of us in leadership of God’s mission and Church anywhere in the world need to ask some important questions in the light of all these: Who are you preparing to take over the work God has given you for now? Who is your Joshua? And how well are you preparing him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’ s Coming after You? — part 2. (By Manik Corea)

Seeking People of Peace for the Kingdom (by Ivan Ruiz Escalona)

Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him….Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” – Luke 10:5-6; 9

During our recent NAMS trip to Kenya, East Africa, we experienced in a very palpable way several aspects of the truth of Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 10:1-9, as he sent his disciples out to announce the Kingdom of God. Undoubtedly, Jesus knew what would happen and what they would need when they went and announced the message of salvation. His instructions and promises to them remain true in our day. And we can testify to them from our trip!

Jesus told his disciples that the harvest is great but the workers are few (verse 2). Certainly as we looked upon the mission field of Kenya and saw that so many people were in need of the Gospel and that there were few workers, we were reminded that Jesus told us to respond with desperate prayer to his Father, the Lord of the Harvest, that he would send more laborers out.

And as part of NAMS’ response to that prayer and vision, we arrived in Kenya. We came with the mission of helping our brothers and sisters there, to look for new opportunities for service and to find men and women of peace whom the Lord was already preparing for the work of discipleship.

The first man of peace (see verse 6) we encountered was a dear man and brother called Timothy, who had left his native land of Rwanda as a refugee to move to Kenya. He now works to share the gospel and make disciples of others. He and his family offered us their home and served us and our needs. As Jesus instructed, we prayed for new workers, and God has answered our prayers by giving us not only a son of peace but a new Companion-in-the-making for the harvest. When we obey Jesus’ instructions in our missionary call, he commits to provide the results.

On this trip, there was Mary from the USA, Ivan from Chile and Tamer from Egypt. Timothy and wife Rachel from Rwanda/Kenya and their wonderful family provided our daily support. From there, together we started to do the work as God opened doors. We looked for new opportunities to serve as we connected with various people while traveling within the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa. We encouraged pastors in the Lord who serve among the poorest of the poor, reminding them that their faith, put to the test in the midst of their difficulties, is more precious that gold. We shared meals, prayed for the sick, and announced the Good News, just as the Lord commands.

However, the words of Jesus are also clear when he says that he sends his disciples on mission in the midst of wolves (verse 3). In each work of God, the enemy is prowling about, as the Scriptures say, like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. We also met people who did not seek the glory of the Kingdom and put obstacles in the way of the Gospel. Our brother Timothy was even laid low with malaria, yet in spite of that, God was glorified, and in a few days the effects of this disease in him began to subside. Although at times we thought about quitting, God strengthened our hearts, and we were able to finish our work with wonderful results. The faithful prayers of our NAMS brothers and sisters around the globe were heard. Glory to God!

The result of our brief time in Kenya has been further work towards the establishment of a base for NAMS under the leadership of our brother Timothy and his family. We built on existing contact and founded new ones. They were numerous opportunities to make disciples who make disciples. This specifically included four young people who were encouraged and mentored in sports ministry by NAMS Companion Tamer and will continue to be accompanied by Timothy in Kenya. There are exciting opportunities for new ministries among the poor and the beginning stages of a plan to train disciples to be sent from Kenya to various neighboring countries including Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi – just some of the places God has shown us.

We thank God our trip to Kenya. To God be all the glory.

 

— (by Ivan Ruiz Escalona, NAMS Companion)

 

 

Seeking People of Peace for the Kingdom (by Ivan Ruiz Escalona)

A New Season for Europe (By Rt Revd Josep Rosello)

+Josep and Patrice“Will you come?” This was the phrase that started an unexpected journey. A friend had asked me if I would consider moving from Brazil to England. He saw an urgent need for England to be reached with the Gospel. My immediate answer was, “I will, if it is God’s call.”

A few months later, Patrice and I had the assurance of the Holy Spirit that it was indeed the right decision and that it was time to start preparing to move to England. But why should I leave the amazing work that God lead me to start in Brazil and, then, Venezuela –one that I had invested so much tears, prayers and time into?

Indeed, praise be to God that after nine years of hard-work, from the few people we started out with, we now have 25 missional communities in these 2 countries, and almost 900 people participating. This had all followed from focused seasons of one-on-one discipleship and the raising up and equipping of young leaders to serve the Lord, as was my heart’s desire.

I believe the answer to “why leave now?” is because God had been preparing me all these years to do this next thing.

Now, I am not thinking or saying for a moment that I have all together or, even that I have all the answers. In fact, the opposite is true. It seems that God used our brokenness to teach us His ways, and His Spirit leads us to teach and train others in God’s way from that same place.

As a NAMS Companion, I share a willingness and desire to teach and preach Jesus Christ to all, at any given time, wherever we are. That Christ was crucified, and that He is the risen Lord, is to be proclaimed by His people to all peoples

As I look England and Europe, I see and hear a Macedonian call like Paul did. A voice calling for help, “will you come?” There is no good reason for me to say ‘no.’

We go wherever the Lord opens a door. I will step out and trust the Lord. It will be one small step of faith after another – plant a seed that God will raise to be a new missional community of faith; then, another and another, spreading with the wind that carries the good news of Jesus Christ from England to all over Europe.

I know I am totally incapable of doing what God has called me to do on my own. But God calls us to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is a step of faith that starts His disciples on the journey to make other disciples and share life together. Making disciples is about giving ourselves to others, as we teach the Scripture and learn to follow the Way of the Lord. It is not simply about being members of a church, but it is about following Christ together, as a family.

As I prepare to move my family across the ocean, I sense an urgency to call upon His name and to give myself totally to the Lord. I will be satisfied when I make a disciple who makes another disciple, and raise a leader that makes another leader, and plant a church that plants another church. And never to break God’s word as I do it.

After all, isn’t that what it means to be a NAMS Companion?

A New Season for Europe (By Rt Revd Josep Rosello)