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.  

 

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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 )

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)

No Equal

In Jesus’ name, we have authority over the devil and all his forces. My family story is a testimony of this!

Pankaj

Almost 26 years ago now, a team from Campus Crusade came to share the gospel in Ammerbasti village of Kanchanpur, Nepal – my home village. One day my father went to watch the Jesus film. He was moved by it, and spoke to the team members. They shared the Gospel with him. After that, he began to attend a church in another village. Those were difficult days to become a Christian, as we were in a Hindu village. Soon, a rumor started spreading that my father was now a Christian. He was now facing persecution – and when the situation worsened, my father fled to India, leaving behind his pregnant wife (my mother), who was not a believer at that time.

A few months later, I was born. A week after my birth, our house was tragically burnt up in a fire. Our relatives and other villages blamed my father was causing the fire because the gods and evil spirits (the chief spirit of which was called Vir) were angry and had cursed our family.

Life became very difficult for my mother. Eventually, my father secretly returned to our village and took us away to live with him in Punjab, India. There, a Christian man from Kerala called Dr. Thomas who was studying there, started discipling my father. My father began to gather with other people to read the Scriptures and prayer. Sometime later, my mother also became a believer and was baptized.

Five years later, because the situation was improving back in Nepal , we moved back to our original village. We shared a house with my extended family – my grandfather and uncles. It was a two-story house and my family lived on the upper level of the house. My grandfather and uncles continued to worship the spirits. In fact, my grandfather could call on the spirits through black magic.

However, he realized that after my family moved back, he could not summon the spirits anymore. He asked my father if he did anything to the Vir (or chief spirit). My father told him that because of God’s Spirit in them, no other spirit could bother them. He told my grandfather that the Holy Spirit is the God of the universe.

The next day, my grandfather confessed that he tried to call on the Vir to return to their house but it was to no avail. He realized that the Holy Spirit must be stronger than the Vir, so they should follow and worship Him. At that point, my father gave him a New Testament.

My grandfather began to read. He read in Mark’s Gospel (11:12-25) where Jesus cursed a fig tree. He told my father that if your God is the real God, then let him also dry the big tree that was in front of their house. As we prayed, God did a great miracle and within a month, the tree in front of our house had dried up and died.

As a result my grandparents, uncles and all their families believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and were baptized. Our Lord Jesus has no equal, as my family have come to learn. All glory to God.

Today, Pankaj pastors a church in Kathmandu, Nepal and is a NAMS Global Apprentice with 2 others young adults. God is using them to bring the Gospel and making disciples in Nepal in a new generation. Will you support our GAP program by praying for us and giving towards the support and raising up of new Global Apprentices like Pankaj?

Donate Now!

No Equal

Help us bring a new NAMS Global Apprentice from India to Bangkok, Thailand

Help us bring a new NAMS Global Apprentice from India to Bangkok, Thailand

The NAMS Global Apprenticeship Program (GAP) exists to raise up the next generation of disciple-making leaders. Global apprentices live on site, train and grow in faith, experience and knowledge within the stimulating environments of one of our NAMS base communities.

John Gansalves is a young leader in India that we have identified would greatly benefit from being part of this program. God is calling him to serve at our base community in Bangkok, Thailand for a one year period. During his time with us, John will gain experience in cross cultural mission and ministry, be trained and equipped to be a disciple-making leader and serve the base community here through his many gifts and talents and the experience he brings of children and youth ministry in India.

During his exploratory trip to Bangkok in August 2017 it became very clear how the Lord could use John in the unique context we have to evangelise and disciple students, migrants and refugees.

Please pray for John and NAMS GAP as we seek to raise the $12,000 required for him to be a Global Apprentice in Bangkok, Thailand for the next twelve months.

If you would like to give towards his support, please go to the link below.

DONATE NOW!

Help us bring a new NAMS Global Apprentice from India to Bangkok, Thailand

Listen Slowly (by Revd Manik Corea)

How good are you at listening to your Lord?

Writer and pastor Chuck Swindoll tells of a particularly frantic time in his life when he was flustered and hurried by many appointments and commitments. He was gulping down his food at family meal-times, being short-tempted and irritated with his family and getting annoyed by unplanned interruptions. His family members began to get affected by his increased stress.

One evening, his youngest daughter said she wanted to tell him about something that happened at school that day, but said she would tell him ‘really fast.’ Realizing her frustration, he calmed her down and said, ‘Honey, you don’t have to rush. You can say it slowly.’ Swindoll says he’ll never forget her retort: ‘Then listen slowly.”

Are we listening ‘slowly’ to God?

Being a disciple of Jesus involves developing a keen sense of hearing – giving our undivided attention to the voice of God.

The listening ear is a door for faith to enter.

Thus Paul wrote ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). The Gospel must first be told us and heard and understood, to have effect.

But listening to God in Scripture must be a precursor to actual obedience and submission, or we will be condemned as many a Scripture warns (see Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46; John 14:24; James 2:26; etc). Thus hearing and obedience are intimately linked in the Scripture.

I was surprised to learn recently that there is no Hebrew word that translates directly to the English word ‘obey’. The Hebrew word that most often equates to our English ‘obey’ is the word ‘shema’ which literally means to ‘hear’. However, this means more than just audibly receiving communication, but most often carries the meaning of ‘paying attention to’ and especially, ‘responding to what is heard.’[1]

Hebrew words typically stress concrete action, as opposed to Greek works which are more abstract. Thus, we understand ‘hearing’ as understanding or receiving a communication, whereas the Hebrews immediately made the link to obedience and action.

In a similar way, when a mother says to her child ‘You’re not really listening!’ she typically doesn’t mean her child has not heard her, but has not obeyed her.

To Jesus and then Jews, having ears is not simply a matter of being able to hear. It is a matter of being able to also understand and obey what is heard. Hence, Jesus so very often ended his sermons with the Hebraism, ‘to him who has ears, let him hear.’[2] He was looking for a right response.

As James so clearly and pithily instructs in James 1:22, ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.’

And so, a simple definition of discipleship could be as follows: ‘A disciple is one who seeks everyday of his life to hear and obey Jesus’ words.’

To do what Jesus wants, we must truly ‘shema’ His Words.

Often. Carefully. Slowly.

 


[1] See this enlightening Word Study video on the word ‘Shema’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=190&v=6KQLOuIKaRA

[2] Matthew 11:5; 13:9,43; Mark 4:9,23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35 cf Deuteronomy 29:4; Ezekiel 12:2).

Listen Slowly (by Revd Manik Corea)

Mending our Nets (by Pastor Prince Thomas)

Recently, the Lord has been teaching me some lessons from Luke Chapter 5:1-11, about ‘net breaking blessings’. In this passage, we read the very interesting story of Peter working hard and fishing all night but catching nothing. Although he would have been very discouraged and upset, we read in verse 2 that he and the other fishermen were nevertheless still washing and mending their nets for another try. What are some lessons?

Firstly He was mending his net. After fishing all night, Peter’s net might have been torn or damaged. Fishermen need to repair their nets before they go to their work again. If there is big hole in the net, the fish may easily escape after being caught. One of the questions I felt the Lord ask me was “If there is a big hole in the net, would Peter have received his big miracle from God?” Even if God should grant, as He did, a big catch, the fish would not be free. God is waiting for us to mend our nets before He performs miracles in our lives.

Peter mended his broken net. This is the basic requirement for a divine breakthrough. Many of us want God to use us or bless us. But do we take the time to examine or check ourselves to see if we need repairs done in areas of our walk and relationship with God, with family, leaders, the church or anyone else?

It is sad in our day to hear preachers interpret the Word according to popular fads and lifestyle.  There is an abundance of people-pleasing sermons where themes like sin, judgment, forgiveness and the righteousness of God are not heard. They are not popular messages compared to topics like blessings and breakthrough. But we must preach the Gospel and the message of salvation inside and outside our churches.

David prayed in Psalms 26:2, ‘Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.’ (KJV)

When prodigal son returned to father in Jesus’ parable in Luke 15:21, he confessed his sins to his father. Forgiveness always brings Transformation.

Second we see Peter obeyed what Jesus asked him to do. Though he knew very well that there were few or no fish to be caught by that sea shore, he did not argue. Instead he simply obeyed what Jesus asked of him. And he found the net was full of fishes. Obedience is better than sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22).

A net breaking blessing is awaiting us if we are able mend our nets (i.e. examine ourselves, repent) and obey the word of Jesus. May the Lord help us to do both and be blessed of Him.

 

— Prince Thomas is a NAMS Companion serving in Haryana, North India.
He has been involved in starting and leading an a vibrant church-planting movement there for the last 20 years. He is originally from Kerala, South India.

Mending our Nets (by Pastor Prince Thomas)