EXPANSION IN S. E. ASIA
Randy met Tim for fruitful training events in Vietnam. Tim led one group with young emerging leaders in a major city and Randy led one with twenty leaders of all ages in a nearby city. “As always, our key leaders “B” and “N” provided the vision for reaching their entire country with the gospel! It is a joy to work with them in this ever-expanding ministry.
It goes without saying, that your prayers are the powerhouse of this ministry. Fruitfulness for Christ’s kingdom is borne through humble people who bow in prayer, and rise from their knees to serve our amazing and awesome God. It is a joy and honor to humbly walk with God with you all.
Please keep praying! As Spurgeon used to say to his congregation: “Please let me know the day you quit praying for me, for that is the day I resign from my duties in this ministry.” How we so need your prayers. This new year is proving to be as challenging as the last year. Let’s continue on this journey together!” Randy
“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3).
SEEKING ABUNDANT FRUIT IN CAMBODIA
“Please take a moment to ponder the picture at the left of this report. In it, you will see our dear brother “L” who lives in Cambodia. He is holding to stalks of rice to picture an old Cambodian proverb: “The stalk with much fruit never stands tall.” It is an ancient saying reminding us that fruit in our lives comes from humility, not pride.
I am humbled by God’s amazing grace this past year. As I journey with the Lord here at home and abroad, He has taught me the value of humility, but how I want to know Him more and be like Him in every way! Truly, we find rest for our souls in the humility and gentleness of Jesus, as we allow His easy and light yoke to rest upon us (Matthew 11:28-30).
Rejoice with us in the great things our Lord did this past December. The trip began with mentoring ministry in Thailand, and continued with a God’s Plan for His Church graduation of SEVEN men and women who will take God’s Word to their country and beyond. Even before we finished the three day training, one of the leaders headed to another province to train 30-35 other leaders! God is multiplying His work throughout Cambodia by establishing strong, indigenous, self-sustaining, and reproducing churches!” Randy
“And He [Jesus] sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:2).
Perhaps the most helpful tool in testing our missions work is simply by understanding the word “nation” in Matthew 24:14 and 28:19. This word in Greek is ethnos which literally means, “a people group, a large group based on cultural, physical or geographic ties”.
As many missionary minded believers have wrestled with testing their work, a statement was issued in March 1982 by the Lausanne Strategy Working Group as follows:
A “people group” is “a significant large grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity for one another because of their shared language, religion, ethnicity, residence, occupation, class or caste, situation, etc. or combination of these…[It is] the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.”*
Why do I quote this here? As I posted yesterday, there are still about 6,693 people groups in the world that are unreached. If we truly understand why we have been left on earth, we should be strongly motivated to do all we can with God’s help to put the Gospel on a fast track for reaching those who have never heard. “Then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). That is what this ministry is about. Pray with us for effective work under the Spirit’s direction and power.
*Ralph Winter, Unreached Peoples, Recent Developments in the Concept, Mission Frontiers, (August/September 1989); page 18.
MEASURING OUR PROGRESS IN MISSIONS
From my personal reading of the New Testament and many books on missionary work, I believe there is confusion with some on where our energies should be concentrated. Before I explain what I mean, I will be quick to affirm that there are many missionaries God’s has used over the past two or three centuries who pushed the gospel into uncharted territory, i.e., “unreached people groups”. In this century, with modern technology at our finger tips and exceptional translating skills for Bibles to be in every language, you would think that the Great Commission would be just about complete. According to the statistics of the Joshua Project, there are still 6,693 unreached people groups, or 40.4% of the total people groups of the world (1).
Why are we falling behind in the command of Matthew 28:19-20? Could it be that we really don’t understand the process Jesus intended us to pursue? Tomorrow I want to dig into the definition of a “people group” from a biblical understanding with the hope that it will bring adjustment to our focus in missions.
Level 1 - Unreached = Less than 2% Evangelicals or less that 5% Professing Christians
Level 2 - Minimally reached = Less than 2% Evangelicals or 5% to 50% Professing Christians
Level 3 - Superficially reached = Less than 2% Evangelicals or more than 50% Professing Christians
Level 4 - Partially reached = More that 2% Evangelicals but less than 10%
Level 5 - Significantly reached = More that 10% Evangelicals
DID PAUL HAVE ADVANTAGES OVER US?
“It is argued that Paul was an exceptional man living in exceptional times, preaching under exceptional circumstances; that he enjoyed advantages in his birth, his education, his call, his mission, his relationship to his hearers, such as have been enjoyed by no other. To this I answer:
1) Paul’s missionary method was not peculiar to Paul. He was not the only missionary who went about establishing churches in those early days. The method Paul used was followed by his disciples (Timothy, Titus, Silvanus, etc.), and they were not men of exceptional genius. It is only because Paul was a supreme example of the spirit and power with which it can be used, that we can properly call the method “Paul’s Missionary Method”.
2) We possess today an advantage of inestimable importance in that we have the printing press and the whole of the New Testament where Paul had only the Old Testament in Greek.
3) However highly we esteem Paul’s personal advantages or the assistance which the conditions of his age afforded, they cannot be so great as to rob his example of all value for us.”
I will add to the list that we have the same Holy Spirit; the unchanging God. Nothing about Him has or will ever change. In addition, there are present day witnesses of God using the same methods Paul used. If you are interested in learning how God is moving in the same way as He did through Paul, I suggest you read Church Planting Movements – How God is Redeeming a Lost World, by David Garrison.
Allen, Roland, Missionary Methods – St. Paul’s or Ours?, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1962, Page 4.
THE MISSIONARY ENTERPRISE
One of the joys of my personal time with the Lord is reading through the Old Testament and finding how it pointed to Christ and the work of the Spirit through the gospel in our day. Joel is no exception to this divine link. “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Joel 2:32). Paul knew the Old Testament Scriptures and quoted this verse in Romans 10:13 as he is proclaiming the simple gospel of grace; “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (10:9–10).
Paul then asks rhetorical questions; “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching” (10:14)? He asked the questions in reverse order to which they happen in a person who calls and is saved. John Piper says, “These are extremely important words relating to the necessity of the missionary enterprise.”* They are right in line with Jesus’ command to the disciples and us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
What is your role in fulfilling this command so that someone can hear, believe, and call on the Lord and be saved?
*Let the Nations be Glad, 2003, Page 142.
UNSTOPPABLE IN S. E. ASIA
There is so much more to thank God for! Every one of us on this team realizes that if we tried to carry out this ministry in our own way without God’s direction, we would accomplish nothing. We have come to appreciate and lean on the Lord as never before. Jesus was so right when He said, “For apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5d).
We are so thankful that God led us to a faithful “Timothy” in a S. E. Asian country. We often say that we want persons to learn the biblical principles and Paul’s method of church planting so they can be unstoppable--That describes this dear brother!!
Again he is asking to print 1,000 to 2,000 more manuals for 2017/2018 and has laid out a training plan in his country and neighboring nations.
Plan for the training courses in 2017:
1/ Highland: 300 students.
2/ The North: 220 students.
3/ The South: 280 students.
4/ The West: 150 students.
5/ The East: 160 students.
6/ Cambodia: 60 students.
7/ Laos: 20 students.
8/ Other: 40 students.
If this sparks your interest and you want to be part of what God is doing, please contact us. We need persons who will partner with us in prayer for specific areas of the world, or you may be interested in sponsoring the printing of manuals in one of more than thirty-five languages. There is nothing more rewarding than partnering with God in what He is doing at this hour.
Email address: email@example.com
FROM ECUADOR TO ZAMBIA
We are surprised at the sudden surge of the Lord's work in Puyo, Ecuador as they are working through the training manual, God’s Plan for His Church. In a statement from our “Timothy” there, he said, “Last night we started a new group with 14 students in a new church. It pushed me to follow in the harvest.” This is a perfect example of what Jesus told His disciples in John 4:35, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest.” It should be noted that the word “white” means “radiant or bright”. No wonder this dear brother is so excited to follow the Lord as this radiant harvest is taking place right where he lives.
“A young man is one of those who are enjoying the power of the Holy Spirit (Boom). Today he was convincing others how the manual helped to change his life and how God is using him in the church and outside the church. He is really excited to have the manual. We had to refer many of our discussions to the manual during our prayer and fasting today. We are really blessed when we looked at what happened at Pentecost.”
They are seeing the same Spirit at Pentecost work the same transformation in people today because they are RETURNING TO SCRIPTURE as their ONLY and FINAL AUTHORITY for faith and practice. We are praying that wherever this blog is read, the same spontaneous work of God will take place.
REVISIT - EQUIP - LEAVE
“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).
Considering the time-line presented in the last few days (six to seven months over two visits in each place), this seems impossible, if not irresponsible. How could you take new believers and place them in positions of leadership without a large amount of training? I am so glad you asked! Remember Paul’s method was:
If we follow this biblical model, it will be very evident who God has prepared for the role and responsibility of being an elder. This must take place in every church and every new church plant. Time is no obstacle to God. Our problem is following the model.
RETURN - STRENGTHEN - ENCOURAGE
It is amazing what a few verses in Luke’s record of the Early Church do to reshape our understanding of church planting. Many have called church planting as Paul did it, “the organic church”. I would prefer to call the method Paul used, “God’s Plan for Church Planting”. It is all about how God moved through the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel, transform lives, and establish a living representation of Christ that would perpetuate itself. Paul and Barnabas are merely working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit from their sending point, Antioch.
In Acts 14:21-22, we see some unique features of Paul’s method, or God’s method. After they had “preached the gospel…and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch (Pisidia), strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith.” The word “strengthening” (episterizo) means “to support so as to confirm”. Though the return visit to these newly planted churches was even shorter than the first visits, it was long enough for Paul and Barnabas to ‘come along side’ these new believers and ‘confirm’ the faith they had placed in the Lord Jesus. As they warned them that “through tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God”, so this “strengthening” was critical to their standing firm in the faith.
The word “encouraging” (parakalountes) has more to do with the way Paul and Barnabas gave their support so these new believers would be confirmed in their faith. They did it by “inviting them together in a beseeching manner” so they would continue as they had started in the faith.
What a powerful formula driven by the Holy Spirit. There is another element we will cover tomorrow, but this was most important in returning to these churches. There was no long, drawn out educational process that would take years to finish. Paul’s method is truly revolutionary when you think of the success rate he had compared to our day. What method would you rather follow?
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