Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Closing a chapter in Peru

This last campaign returning Huancayo, Peru was difficult for many reasons. For one, it was backed up to my campaign in India and I travelled directly from India, over the North Pole to Chicago, then to Miami before on down to Lima. Secondly, as the Lord has called us on to Asia, we have no idea when and if we’ll return. It was hard to see pastors and leaders we’ve taught, prayed with and walked alongside process the news we won’t be returning. Now of course the work there will continue. The work has been handed off to someone else who will help to equip and serve those brothers. But still, of all the South America, that is one of our favorite places.
As the Lord has changed and moved our focus after six years of using sports to build relationships, play ball and share Jesus it was a little sad to “officially” use sports for the last time. Oh, sports are still a great tool, and we’ll teach and use it in Thailand, but it won’t be our main focus. But God in His provision allowed one last opportunity for me. As I was travelling to each mission point checking on the work we visited the sports team over lunch. Noticing some young men shooting the ball around, a pickup game was started. Let me tell you, a full court game at 11, 000 will always take your breath away. But a good time to shooting, passing and laughing provided the opportunity for us to get to know these guys. After the game, over a 3 liter bottle of Coke, I told them of the story of Jesus. Where those guys were once strangers, just players on the court, they are now my new brothers in Christ. God is so cool to allow us to use our gifts and skills to further His Kingdom. Those six men are now being plugged into a local church where they can continue to learn, grow and maybe one day they’ll use a basketball game to win souls.
What a week to see 32 North American partner with 6 mother churches to start 6 new works and strengthen 2 others. Amazing to see 599 hear the Good News and 398 trusting in Jesus. Even more exciting was the focus on discipleship as 127 home follow up visits were made and 247 people came to evening cell group meetings. Oh what a privilege to see God at work.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Am Second in Peru

If you are on the web at all you may have heard of it Powered by e3 Partners, I am Second is a movement that is impacting lives around the world. Using an innovative marketing campaign promoting, visitors to the website are presented with inspirational videos and opportunities to learn about a relationship with Christ, grow in their spiritual walk and/or get involved in their local community. The I Am Second Expedition to Peru was about us as North American believers stepping out to take the Gospel to those who are still lost in their sin, encouraging Peruvian believers and putting Jesus first in our lives. Oh the lessons God had in store of us.
During the evening time of sharing stories from the day and during the morning team times, team member after team member came to the realization that they are nothing without Christ. That they can do nothing on their own. That even though they were believers, they still put their wants, their comforts, their plans above Jesus’. During this trip of seeing God move in mighty ways, even INSPITE of them, they realized that they are second, and Jesus is first in their lives.
So in the spirit of I Am Second where personal stories are key, check out this link where you can hear their stories, in their own words at

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pray for India

In wrapping up some of the highlights about the new work in India, let me just give all the glory to God for all the great things He has done. Even in the remotest of places He is building His church (Matt 16:18), calling people to Himself. What an incredible privilege to be a part of it. To see men stopping their work in a storefront, gathering around to hear the name of Jesus for the first time. To see them marvel at the Bible in their language as they take their first peek into His story. To see a young man run from that storefront to gather his family, bring them to the road and wait for us to pass by, gladly welcoming us in. To see a man from the Indian army walk out to greet us, buy us a soda then invite us to his home. All ready to hear the Good News. But also glory to God for the times we were rejected for His namesake, homes that closed their doors, the villages that said we were not welcome or the hostile crowd that threatened to beat our national workers. When serving our Lord it’s all good…the bumpy roads, the hard, the hot, the rejection, the rejoicing, the praying, the encouraging, the singing and laughing. All good. All for His glory.
Through your support and prayers, doors were opened for 1607 to hear the true story of Jesus Christ. 363 baby believers are now in the hands of local pastors and leaders. Pray for them as they develop deep roots and learn to obey the commands of Christ. Pray for what God is doing in the state of Assam for the unreached Hindus and Muslims. For the unreached tribals like the Boros, Karbis, Deori, Kocharis and Rabhas. Pray that a church planting movement would sweep through each of these people groups so that, as promised each tribe, tongue and nation will be represented before the throne, all for His glory.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Husbands, love your wives

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

At the end of a long day, a rain storm began to pound us with large, warm drops of rain. In order to find shelter we entered into the home of one of the local believers we’d been working with all day. As we settled in to wait out the storm I began speaking with the owner “John”. The Lord had blessed “John” with a good job, nice home and a wonderful wife and two daughters. However, you could see the burden he was carrying as he shared with us that even though he had been a Christ follower for four years, his wife was still a Hindu. He told us, how for all that time, he’d been praying that his wife would come to know Jesus. Praying for four years!Realizing that the Lord had placed us in the home for a purpose, I asked him to call his wife so two ladies on our team could share with her. It was a sweet time as the thunder crashed outside and rain thumped the metal roof, the Lord removed the blinders from his wife’s eyes and she prayed to receive Christ. Oh, I wish you could have seen “John’s” face as his smile beamed with joy. With his arm around his wife he said, “Before today we had two gods in our home, now we both serve one God.” As time came to leave I challenged him with the verses above, that his love for his wife would be a testimony in their village. After sharing their plans to seek baptism and destroy the idols in their home, they stood on the porch, waving goodbye, a changed family. A family united by God and saved by His redeeming grace.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

"We all have darkness in our hearts"

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Rom 2:14-16)

Why is it wrong to steal, lie, murder or the many other things we know are bad? Why do we have the innate knowledge of these things? Yes, of course, our parents (should) teach us these things but where do they come from? This is a very important question because as we share the Good News of Jesus, a major part of the “good” is that our sins can be forgiven. Ok, what is sin? Well, just the things I mentioned, those things that are wrong, and we know it. They are wrong because the offend God and His nature. This is the reason Jesus died on the cross, to pay the penalty for our sins. To truly understand the grace we have been given through Jesus, we have to understand that we have broken God’s laws and need forgiveness. Romans 2:15 tells us that God has written His law on our hearts, and when we do something that we know is not right…we get that little feeling inside that tells us this isn’t right. Ok, ok, enough of that, get on with the story.
Well, it was another hot, sunny and humid day as we approached an unreached village. Our presence in the village drew a large crowd right off the bat and we spread good seed while handing out many Bibles in their language. There seemed to be a potential here in the village but the doors weren’t quite open yet. As we walked deeper into the village, an older lady was sitting on a bench along the path, and she loudly slapped the wood and said sit down. “I want to hear why you are here.” She was an animated and boisterous woman who commanded the villagers’ attention. Two of the ladies in our group jumped at the chance to sit and share. The first shared her personal story and the other began to tell about Jesus. Now remember, this village is unreached, having never heard of Jesus or what sin is. As the story unfolded and the North American shared the “problem” that separates us from God, she brought up sin and what it meant. You could see this usually smiley and loud lady process the words she had just heard. As these words sank in she said, “Oh yes, everyone has darkness in their heart.” Exactly, because God had written His law upon her heart! Knowing her sin and the need for forgiveness she intently listened to the remainder of the story then in front of everyone confessed with her mouth that Jesus was Lord and her Savior. Amen. As that happened the key to that village was unlocked. We refer to what Jesus called the “person of peace” in Luke 10:1-6 as we instruct teams to pray before entering villages. The lady was open to the Gospel, had a reputation in the village, had a circle of influence and was helpful to open doors in the community. Once this woman came to Jesus, doors and hearts were open throughout the village resulting in many coming to Christ.
So, even in the remotest villages in the far corners of the world, over bumpy and dirty roads, down narrow paths, hearts are being prepared, fields are being plowed. They are ready to hear about the saving grace of Jesus. Will you go?

For more on the work God is doing in and through us check out

Friday, August 20, 2010

"I want to follow Jesus"

The state of Assam in northeast India is rural, humid and hot. Just as the weather climate is hot, so are the political and spiritual climates. Many different people groups are all vigorously fighting for their own rule and their own state. Deadly battles with police are daily occurrences. Persecution among the believers is also a large problem with converts from Islam and Hinduism being beaten or kicked out of their villages. But even in the midst of these tremulous times God is on the move in Assam.

In late July the team we took to India was focusing on reaching out into villages to share the Gospel of Christ. Many people had never heard of Jesus and were excited to hear of a God who came down to earth to save them. In one Muslim village a team member told the true story of Christ to a small crowd and while no one publically responded, in the crowd was a young man that felt God touch his heart. We’ll call him “David”.
Several months earlier another man in that same village had accepted Christ and had not hidden it from the villagers. “Jake” was a restaurant owner in the village and persecution had already begun through people no longer visiting his business. He remained strong in the faith as the only village believer. Knowing “Jake” was a believer; “David” visited him to seek counsel on how to respond to the Good News he had heard. They prayed together and decided to find the local pastor and North American team the next day.
After an exciting morning out in the villages we gathered as a team for lunch. Upon arriving I was informed that two men had walked five miles to find us and the pastor was speaking with them. After being brought up to speed I spent the next hour talking, discipling and praying with the men. What a special time as we discussed God’s faithfulness, our security in Christ and that He’d always be with us. As we concluded the time the pastor said he would follow-up with them in a couple days and they’d discuss baptism. Curious to know more, “David” asked how that works. After hearing he said, “I have made up my mind, I want to follow Jesus. I’d like to be baptized today!” Wow! How exciting….and actually a little bittersweet. In America when someone wants to be baptized to show obedience to Christ, it is an exciting time. Family and friends gather to celebrate the event. In persecuted countries like India, it is a celebration but at the same time it makes a HUGE statement. Once you are baptized that is the point of no return. Family will disown you, friends may beat you, neighbors will run you out of your home, jobs are lost, all they know can change. For what? For obedience to their Savior.
Now we Americans don’t really know how to process that, we are free to make choices and have rights and we’ve put those rights into our American Christianity so we can feel safe and comfortable. But the Bible never promised those things. This type of persecution is no surprise to Jesus. The Bible tells us that we will be persecuted, families will be divided, and we will be hated for His namesake. Are we willing to give up everything to follow Jesus? “David” knew all this and was ready to follow Christ no matter the cost.
We hopped in the vehicles and went to a local school where there was a concrete cistern. We used buckets from the local well to fill up the make-shift baptismal one gallon at a time. We climbed in as excitement built and after a few words I baptized my brother “David”. What a privilege to share the celebration and symbolism of new birth and then to challenge the local pastor and his friend “Jake” to help “David” become a disciple of Jesus, teaching him to obey the commands of Christ.
Throughout the rest of the week I was able to see and pray with these men several more times. As you can imagine their determined faces are etched in my mind and I continue to pray for them regularly. As I was leaving I told them that the Bible tells us we are a part of a family, the family of God. And if in God’s will we never see each other again on earth, we will rejoice the day we meet again in Heaven. What a cool day that will be.
Got a note from the local pastor just yesterday saying “Jake” now hosts a prayer and worship time in his small hut. “David” and “Jake’s” daughter also attend. Please pray for this small church that it would develop deep roots and change the entire village for Christ.

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