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?

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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)

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.

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)

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.

 

Tamer & Adidas (by Jon Shuler)