Global Stories: A Fugitive No More – Shaun’s story

‘I have to leave. Please look after my family.’ Tears rolled down his face as Shaun* told me his decision to run away. Agents from his country were after him. They had twice tried to kidnap him.

As a refugee in Bangkok, Thailand, Shaun was ostensibly under the protection of the United Nations, but they could afford him little help. So he turned to us for help – to All Nations, the NAMS base in Bangkok that he was a part of. He entrusted the well-being of his family to the only community he could trust.

Persecuted because he belonged to a minority people group in a country where a bloody civil war had raged, Shaun once spent 21 months in jail where he was regularly interrogated in what was tantamount to torture. Though the courts cleared him of any wrongdoing and he was finally released, he faced continued harassments and threats. In 2011, he escaped to Bangkok with his family.

He had become a believer in prison through reading a Bible his father had given to him. Shaun subsequently joined us and became a key leader working among asylum seekers and refugees from his nation, seeking to help them become disciples of Jesus, as he had.

But now, the threat of forced repatriation to his country had put all of this in jeopardy. We wondered how his family would cope if he left them, and so we pleaded with him to re-consider while looking desperately for another way out for them. But a week later, Shaun was gone.

I would hear from him sporadically through short e-mails and even once through a Skype call with him from an internet café in an unknown city. We prayed desperately and provided as best we could for his terrified family over seemingly endless months.

Finally, in 2016, after a long journey involving cross-continental travel and people smuggling, I heard afresh from him. By God’s grace, Shaun had been received as a bona fide refugee into a country in Europe.

With the help of All Nations, his family was soon accepted by the same country and reunited with him, where they are now happily settled and thriving. I keep in touch with him and have been encouraging him to continue on as a disciple of Jesus to do all he learned from us.

This is the on-going work of all base communities, companions, and frankly, faithful Christians everywhere. To seek to bless, help and support those in and outside our communities who are lost, hopeless and helpless without our Saviour and Lord Jesus, so that the Kingdom of God may come in their lives. Through it all, we seek to make disciples made who can likewise make disciples themselves, as Shaun is doing.

* Shaun is not his real name.

Shaun - fugutive no more
Shaun (extreme right – face obscured) with NAMS Companions Manik Corea and Isaac Lasky in Bangkok in 2013.

Global Stories: A Fugitive No More – Shaun’s story

NAMS Novena 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The general outline of the event will look like this:

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

All- day

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

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

Wednesday 26th April Remaining executive team and companions depart Bangkok

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

Thank you for your continued support.

 

NAMS Novena 2017

NAMS GLOBAL STORIES: Hopeless no more – Testimony of Mercy Carbonelle

For fifty years I lived in Cuba, the land of my birth. During that time, no one spoke to me about God or spiritual things.

In 2006, I moved to Temuco, Chile, to join my son who was already living there. My heart was empty and without direction, and my home seemed to be filled with hopelessness and anguish. I searched desperately for answers.

One day, I met a man called Andrés in the neighborhood. He greeted me and we chatted. This man, Andrés*, turned out to be a man of God who, with patience, listened to my desperate questions. One evening, he told me something that unlocked the door of my heart to God: ‘Mercy, till now, you have only demonstrated your inability to manage your life. Why don’t you give your heavy backpack of concerns to God?’

Three day later, I was born again as a child of God, and everything in the world seemed different. I was ready to give my life to God.

Back in Cuba, I started sharing and talking about my newfound happiness and faith with my family and friends. Some didn’t believe me; others questioned whether I had changed (since outwardly I look the same). But I knew that everything had changed for me since I met Jesus.

Some of them soon discovered that God could change them too. It did not surprise me since I have learned in my own experience what God our Father is capable of doing in his sovereignty!

Life in La Habana, Cuba is not easy and many problems remain. The sun burns hard sometimes but our strength through Christ grows more than ever. Today, I meet with Christians of different denominations and l am able to love and serve together with them despite our differences. The influence of the NAMS base community in Temuco, called ALP (The Light of the Word), is great and deep in me. The truth of God’s word has brought light and life, and our prayers are heard!

When I was a new believer, I used to ask more than I thanked God for. Now, I thank him everyday and ask what He wants for me to do and how He wants me to live. Thank you Father God, for your love and life, for laughter and tears and for making me into someone you could use for your glory.

(* Andrés Casanueva is the NAMS team leader of ALP base community in Temuco, Chile. He is also the regional leader of NAMS for all of Latin America. )

Mercy Carbonelle divides her time between Cuba and Chile. She has been trained as a NAMS leader and with her husband Richard, are helping to plant and lead a small NAMS community in Cuba.

mercy-and-husband

NAMS GLOBAL STORIES: Hopeless no more – Testimony of Mercy Carbonelle

Good news this Christmas – Nepal 2016.

NAMS was founded to call Christians everywhere to obey the final command of Jesus: to make disciples by going to all nations, baptizing and teaching them to obey all Jesus commanded.

NAMS companions seek to do this, starting wherever God’s placed them. One example of this happened over the Christmas season just past in Nepal. Our NAMS leader for the Himalayan/Tibetan Peoples, Pastor Tek Prasad Rijal, with substantial help from NAMS supporters, was able to help Christians and churches in Nepal organize country-wide Christmas events.

Over the Christmas period he worked with local churches, schools and orphanages to help them demonstrate practically the love of Christ. Teams of local Christians blessed schools, churches, and orphanages with sports equipment, Christmas cards, warm clothes, educational materials, first-aid boxes, diaries and calendars for teachers, and a Christmas meal. They also performed skits, dances, and songs which told the Christmas story. In some schools and orphanages they were even allowed to give short messages and invite those present to join the local church Christmas services – an invitation that many accepted! This program has led to open doors into schools and orphanages.

Life at the moment is by no means easy for Nepali Christians. Proselytizing people of other religions is now illegal under Nepal’s new constitution. Hindu nationalist groups are beginning to prosecute and attack Christians as they try to combat the explosive growth of the church in Nepal. However, no law can legislate against the saving love of God from being shared and told!

NAMS, through Pastor Tek and the regional church co-ordinators he works with, is helping and calling the Nepali Church to remain faithful to the One who has ultimate authority over Nepal and all nations. Their 2016 Christmas program is one example of how they are seeking to reach and make disciples of all people in their communities.

Please pray for us and pastor Tek that together, we may continue to make disciples, raise up leaders and send church-planters out to other unreached regions in Nepal and other nations in their region.

Good news this Christmas – Nepal 2016.

Co-workers at Year End

Christmas and its special solemnity is over (though the Twelve Days are not) and in the West there is a moment of calm. Almost everyone is taking a few days off their normal patterns to see to year end business, both for their family and friends, and also for their annual bookkeeping.

Many of us write a few last checks at this time, and favorite charities generally depend on us. The work of non-profits is not simple, nor easy, and the place of individual donors is critical to their effective service. Never more than at year end. This is most especially true of those ministries that seek to serve the Lord all over the globe. It is not easy to find those motivated to support the work of the kingdom far from home. It is this work that are most beloved co-workers do. Will you pray about being one of them this year?

Cynthia and I learned to tithe when we were down to our last $700 in this world. We had two small children, I was a graduate student in England, and we could not see how to survive for the rest of the year. At that very moment God placed on our hearts that we were to tithe that money. By his grace we did. We wrote a $70 check and placed it in the offering basket at our parish church the following Sunday. From that day to this, we have been on the journey of learning to be generous with all we have. Now that I do not have responsibility for a parish church, we tithe to NAMS. We give offerings beyond our tithe, of course, but we believe NAMS is to be the recipient of our principle giving. As NAMS Companions, we see the hand of God using our offerings to spread the kingdom throughout the world, and it gives us great joy to participate in this mission.

It is our smallest givers who may in fact be upholding NAMS before the throne of grace, however. We can never forget the lesson of the Poor Widow (Lk 21:3). St. Paul taught clearly that we are to give according to our means, as we have prospered, and this by implication means to us that we are to give by percentage, not amount. A $25 per month gift to NAMS may mean more in heaven than Jon & Cynthia’s tithe.

Some years ago I was visiting a dear friend who was responsible for a great Christian institution. At that time the annual budget of the school was $30 million. The campus was large and the students many, and after an impressive day of being together I commented: “You must have a large endowment here.” He smiled as he asked me to guess the amount. “$100 million?, “ I said. With great joy he smiled even wider and said “Nothing!” I was astonished. He then said: “Our average donor is a widow in Iowa who sends $35 a month. It keeps us close to the Lord.”

I have never forgotten that day, nor that statement. May God give us such donors.

Will you be one of them this year end? Perhaps you can be generous from much or from little, but if you can help us to spread this glorious gospel, we will thank God for you. Especially if you could remember us monthly. We are in his service only.

— Jon Shuler

Co-workers at Year End

Global Mission Stories (IV)  —The Challenge of France

When I first met Matt, I asked him where he thought God wanted him to serve, and he said France. That was nearly ten years ago. I believed him almost instantly, and began to pray with him for the day to come when he would move to France with his wife Katie and family to spread the gospel of Jesus, again, in one of the hardest places on earth.

Apprenticing in a small startup church in the panhandle of Florida was God’s training ground for Matt. He showed the stamina, the grit, the evangelistic heart, and the tenacity that it would take to move his young family overseas to a land that thinks it has no need of God.

We tried for several years to find official church partners in the Anglican Family who would help support them, but failed. Eventually a partnership between the French Reformed Church, a Presbyterian missionary alliance on America’s West Coast, a small handful of churches and supporters, and NAMS, was formed to send the Rileys to France. Our role may have seemed small—prayer and regular coaching—but our heart to see them succeed was great.

Placed in a small town in the heart of a terribly ravaged (by WWI) corner of France near Verdun, they dug in and served for three years. Learning the language, adjusting to the culture, and preaching the gospel of grace in Jesus. Their little family grew. There are now six Rileys where there were only four. And the fellowship of believers grew as well. Especially touching was their impact on the lives of Muslim immigrants from North Africa.

When they were asked by the French Reformed Church to pray about relocating to an area of France without any Protestant Church, Matt & Katie came to believe it was the Lord, and so they relocated their family to Brittany this past July. They are in a completely unreached section of the country, and have a charge to evangelize a sizable region and plant new churches as God opens the doors. If God gives favor, they will serve as a NAMS Base Community in time, for new church planting throughout France and Europe.

A small NAMS team will join them for three months in 2017, to assist in the early work of finding those God is calling to join them. They have already been approached to work in partnership with the Roman Catholic church and Alpha/France, and there is a sizable year-round English speaking community along the coast of Brittany that seems open to as well.

If we had fifty couples like the Rileys, we would still have more places in the world crying out for them to “come over and help us.” We pray every day for God to raise up laborers like them, to go where the fields are ripe for the harvest but the laborers are few. Will you help us? Can you pray and give a monthly amount to spread the kingdom of God in partnership with people like the Rileys? In France or elsewhere?

Global Mission Stories (IV)  —The Challenge of France

Global Mission Stories (III)  — Horn of Africa.

Sometimes the work that God needs done in a region of the world requires a servant who does not live there. Iván has such a call.

A citizen of Chile, he has a God-given heart for the nations. A servant’s heart. A heart especially for the Horn of Africa.

As a single man, for years he was someone that the Lord could call to help at any time and in any place. He would stop what he was doing, raise support, and fly to the need the Lord had placed on his heart. It was almost always after a disaster of great proportion, or some major cataclysm. The Tsunami in Japan. The Civil War in Sudan. The Arab Spring in the Middle East. A terrible drought in Burkina Faso.

Again and again, the Lord has placed an immediate need on his heart and Iván has gone. To serve the Lord’s people in need, or just to serve those in need.

Iván is a NAMS Companion. We have no one like him. He is our global emergency specialist. And now he is married.

Iván and Mary Garrison Ruiz have been serving in Africa for the last four months on a short-term assignment. We are praying to support them and their unique calling in Christ Jesus. Although God has given them a heart for the Horn of Africa region, they will soon return to their NAMS Base Community in Temuco, Chile.

Shortly after, they will relocate to South Florida. There they will continue their ministry with NAMS, while they continue to establish the long-term foundation for the global ministry God has called them to. Mary will teach school and Iván will work in the construction industry while learning English to equip himself for the global work God has given him. But their ministry to the world will not stop.

They will reach out to the nations in South Florida, using their mastery of Spanish. They will befriend those whom the Lord calls into their life, and from there Iván will travel to the Horn of Africa on a regular basis. Iván exemplifies the truth of the saying: “God will raise up his servants from anywhere and send them anywhere he needs them.”

Will you help NAMS support pioneering missionaries like Iván & Mary? Not everyone is called to go far from their home, but some are. Those who love the Lord are called to help them.

Can you make a regular monthly gift to NAMS to help spread the kingdom?

Global Mission Stories (III)  — Horn of Africa.