WHY NOT? (by Jon Shuler)

There were 40 people in the classroom for the fifth and final session. There had been 40 in the room for the first one. It had never happened in my years as a leader before, the numbers never declined, and I took it as a good sign. But I was wrong.

 I was trying, again, to impart to a group of adult church goers that the number one responsibility of a Christian, who has grown up, is to be a disciple-maker. I had taught only the words of Jesus. Nothing else. No other books than the Holy Scriptures. No videos. No other program than the clear words of Jesus.

Three months later I returned to the parish, and found that 5 of the 40 had actually done “something” with the teaching. One was reading daily only from one of the four gospels – for the first time. A chapter a day. He was trying to learn to “abide in my word,” as Jesus said a true disciple would. Another was meditating on a small portion of the gospel each day. Two others had begun to disciple another person since the class. One had reoriented the emphasis of his weekly bible study group to being more focused on discipling than study. Five out of forty beginning to make a change. Five out of forty. Only 12 &1/2 %.

For those five my heart was glad.

The amazing thing was, all 40 said: “It was a great class.” Many of them said: “I really learned something.”

But what I found was 35 Christians who are – apparently – used to learning things, but doing nothing with the learning. Changing nothing. Hearing Jesus words, but NOT taking them as from the Lord to be obeyed. And I ask myself: “Why not?”

Since 1988 I have been trying to learn how to be a disciple-making disciple, and a disciple-making leader. I have grown much through these 30 years. I am grateful to God for all that he has shown me. But I find very few other ordained leaders who are engaged in the same quest. And I ask myself: Why not?”

I wonder if you who are reading this have ever asked this question? How is it that the church of Jesus Christ could be filled with people and leaders who have steadfastly ignored the Final Command, yet continue to think of themselves as good Christian people?

Today some you who are reading could make a decision to change how you use your time in obedience to the Lord, and do so. You could resolve to find someone to help you become a disciple-making disciple. But if you read this and do not, I ask you: “Why not?”

— Revd. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

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WHY NOT? (by Jon Shuler)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is borne out by damning statistics like the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

NAMS Blog – Stealing away with Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAMS Blog – Stealing away with Jesus

Raising up a new generation (By Isaac Lasky).

‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.’ So goes an old Chinese proverb.

Indeed, we were all once saplings that were cared for and invested in by godly people who by God’s grace helped us to become trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord (Isaiah 61:3). The NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program is our attempt to do the same for others, to raise up the next generation of pioneering disciple-making leaders for the particular work God has called us to. This calls for the investment of time, prayer and nurturing relationships.

A crucial component of the NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program (GAP) is the 6-monthly gathering of Global Apprentices (GA’s) and selected NAMS leaders on retreat. We do this to make space for prayer, worship, intensive training as well as for fun and fellowship with each other. It is also a time for us to be still[1]. Being on retreat together allows us an opportunity to reflect on what apprentices have been learning through the program.

It was with much joy and expectation that GAs and leaders from Nepal, Thailand and India descended on New Delhi, the capital of India, for a five day retreat from Monday 29 January to Friday 2 February 2018. It turned out to be a wonderful blessed time together. All who attended left challenged, encouraged and prepared for the next six months of the program. Here are a few of the highlights:

Prayer Retreat time

Apprentices were given resources to follow during their personal retreat time. God spoke clearly to the apprentices during this time.

‘I’d never prayed like that before. I will use these resources in my church.’ – One Nepali Global Apprentice

Preaching

English isn’t the mother tongue of any of our apprentices but they are encouraged to develop their English through GAP as a by-product. During the retreat, each of them led a morning devotion time in English. They all did an excellent job faithfully preaching the Scripture. There has been notable growth in their English proficiency.

Pankaj sharing a devotional
Pankaj sharing devotional

Training

We were blessed to have NAMS Companions Pastor Tek and Pastor Prince, from Nepal and India respectively, to be with us and to teach. Pastor Tek spoke on how discipleship and prayerfully engaging with needs in the local community has been a catalyst for God bringing transformation to the lives of many in Nepal. Pastor Prince taught on principles of effective discipleship and church planting, from his extensive experience of planting more than 300 churches in North India. He also shared some practical insights on avoiding and overcoming hindrances in the ministry God has called us to.

Prince teaching
Pastor Prince Teaching
Pastor Tek teaching
Pastor Tek Teaching

Review

Apprentices spoke about their progress in pioneering new mission work during the past six months. They are engaged in work with children, youth and university students in a multitude of ways. This includes running music workshops, doing sports ministry and leading youth conferences and discussion evenings.

There was space for NAMS leaders to pray, input and help the apprentices develop and nurture the new work they have started. Each apprentice also met with their NAMS Regional Team Leader and the global co-ordinator to discuss what they were learning through the program and how God is developing them.

GA_s sharing progress
Apprentices Sharing Progress
Coaching on how to develop ministry
Coaching How To Develop Ministry
six month evaluation with Kiran
6 Month Evaluation With Kiran

 

 

 

The Global Apprentices and Companions would like to give their heartfelt thanks to all who prayed and supported this event. It was a blessed time together. We are confident in the Lord that there will be much fruit in the coming months and years.

NAMS GAP Delhi 2017
NAMS Gap Delhi 2017

Do you know anybody who may be interested in being a Global Apprentice for 1-2 years at one of our base communities in Bangkok, Nepal, Chile or USA? Visit www.NAMSGAP.com to find out more.

[1] Psalm 46:10

 

— Isaac Lasky
NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program Co-ordinator

Raising up a new generation (By Isaac Lasky).

Provision Through Prayer (by Mary Garrison Ruiz)

In late July of 2016, I found myself sleeping on the floor of the airport in Madrid – uncertain of where to go and clearly not knowing what to do. Let me explain…

My husband Ivan and I were on a 6 month missionary journey with NAMS. We had spent a number of weeks in Spain attending meetings and then began moving through the southern part of the country looking for open doors to establish future ministry relationships. But just as we were preparing to move on to our presumably well-planned next destination in Africa, where we would spend 1-2 months, the door was quickly and unexpectedly shut. What were we to do? Go home? That’s certainly what my mind jumped to, but still there remained an unrest in our hearts… The Lord had called us to step out in faith; turning back didn’t seem the right response. We decided to pray and wait upon the Lord to answer, and in a word, he did: Cairo.

“But what will we do there?” I argued. “We haven’t made any plans for where to stay, who to meet with, or places to serve. We won’t have anything to do in Cairo.” Honest to goodness, with tears in his eyes, Ivan simply said: “We will be there, and we’ll pray.” Uff. I was speechless. I confess that while I could articulate the importance and power of prayer, I was so very weak in practice. It seemed somehow not enough to devote our time to prayer; I had another form of service in mind, with prayer a supplement, not the focus. But I couldn’t argue; Scripture is clear on the indisputable centrality of prayer in the Christian life, and in time it was also clear how much I needed to mature in that area.

So to Cairo we went, and we devoted ourselves to prayer in the morning and at night. During the day, we kept our eyes open and watched to see how God would answer. And answer he did. Within just a matter of weeks, God, in his Providence, provided more abundantly than we could have asked for or imagined. Among the beautiful fruit of that time of prayer and ministry in Cairo was the start of a new relationship with a dear brother and friend who soon became NAMS’s first Companion in Egypt.

I mention this story as a personal testimony of the power of prayer and its centrality to the pioneering ministry of NAMS. The leadership at NAMS have even come up with a practice that has been adopted by our Friends and Companions around the world. Everyday at 10:02 AM, no matter the time zone, we remember Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in Luke 10:2 to pray to God, the Lord of the Harvest, to raise up new laborers for ministry. Our Egyptian Companion is an answer to that prayer, but we believe there are more laborers to come.

Would you join our team of global intercessors in praying at 10:02 each day for the ministry of NAMS? If you would, we’d love to send you updates about NAMS ministries around the world and testimonies of answered prayers. To do so, just write to me, Mary Garrison Ruiz, at mary.garrison@namsnetwork.com, and I’ll add you to the prayer team email list. Once a month, I send out a prayer calendar to help you know how you can pray for specific regions around the world, and I also occasionally send out information in the case of urgent prayer needs. Come join us at 10:02. You are truly welcome and needed.

Provision Through Prayer (by Mary Garrison Ruiz)

God’s Results in 2018?

I am persuaded that all those who are used by God to accomplish His will pay attention to the outcome of their effort. They are focused on results. What did God ask me to do?What has come to pass because of my efforts? What is different because of last year’s ministry? Is anything improved because of my contribution? Did the outcome I worked for get achieved or not? Is the community I serve built up by my contribution? Are there any results evident because of my stewardship? Am I focused on the right things?

For those, like me, raised up in the old faithful church, a measure of our faithfulness to Jesus Christ is to be found in the results of our effort to spread the kingdom of God. Indeed the catechism of my youth taught me that I was to “work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.” To not do so was to fail in my Christian duty. But what if I worked, prayed, and gave last year, but there was no tangible evidence that the kingdom was spread? What if there were no real results?

You might say to me: “How can we know?” I would have to admit that many of the advances of the kingdom are hidden from our eyes. Only God sees them all. But God uses human beings to accomplish His will. In general, there is no human effort we ever engage in that cannot be measured. If we decide to lose weight this year, we will weigh ourselves regularly, and at the end of the year we will know if our resolve produced results. Results will mean we lost weight. If we set out to learn a new language, the year end will reveal our progress. We have learned to speak it, at least a little. What then are we to look for when we are thinking about the results that advance the kingdom? What are the results God is looking for?

For many years I was complicit in a great deal of organized church activity that did not even ask this question, but no longer. The Lord of the Church interrupted the path of my ministry career, in 1988, by challenging me to the primacy of making disciples. He showed me that there was one absolutely clear evidence of kingdom advance: you will see men and women you have poured your life into, those you have helped become faithful followers of Jesus, pouring their lives into others. You will see them reproducing new faithful followers of Jesus. This is the result that you are praying to see. These are the results that alone give you joy. This is what you are working for. This is the will of God for you.

In the Final Command of the Risen Lord the outcome is declared to be “disciples of all nations.” This is measurable. No vast amount of money in a church budget, no striking new buildings, no attractive new program, no fine preaching, no wonderful youth program, no great worship, no big conference, no wonderful music team, nothing can substitute for what God wants. The only result that matters is another disciple. Are you getting this result from your efforts? Is this not the result God wants?

As we begin this New Year, can we all pray to make this our desire. To want the results that God wants?

— Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

God’s Results in 2018?

What on Earth are You Doing? (By Manik Corea)

When Jesus gave his Final Command (Matthew 28:19-20) on a mountain top to eleven tired, partly-doubting deer-in-the-light disciples who were probably pinching themselves at His sight, Jesus enunciated their on-going work as that of ‘making disciples of all nations.’ This was to encompass all peoples and all times and so necessitated becoming the on-going task and focus of the Church called to walk on in the footsteps of those first Apostles.

The book of Acts, the sequel to the Gospel narratives, shows that the graduating class of disciples took Jesus’ final command seriously. They made the being and making of disciples the core concern, activity and thrust of their communal church life. Sure, they needed persecution to get them going on to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 8:1), but once those disciples of the original few got going, the Church became intentionally missionary for centuries. So much so that all twelve Apostles also left Jerusalem – church tradition has it that they all died outside of Israel.

How far have we come from those halcyon days when the world was turned upside down by missionary disciples of Jesus who shared the Gospel everywhere they went?

Tragically, in many places in the world, the witness of the church is placid, confused, compromised or dead. Cultural Christianity is the lethal order of the day. Sunday Christians whose behavior and desires on a Tuesday afternoon are no different from their un-believing colleagues at the office, or who don’t know and don’t care about their neighbors.

As Francis Chan laments, “(S)omehow many have come to believe that a person can be a “Christian” without being like Christ. A “follower” who doesn’t follow. How does that make any sense?”

Agreeing, the late Dallas Willard wrote: “The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner  of human existence.”

Therefore, in NAMS, a crucial question we ask of people who want to join us is: ‘Are you in a Great Commission Cell?’ (i.e. are you already making disciples or earnestly desiring to do so?). If so, we would love to work with you.

For this, we are certain of, is THE primary business of the Church: to join God in His mission to transform people, their families and communities, one disciple made at a time.

Who will follow you as you follow Christ this year?

What on Earth are You Doing? (By Manik Corea)