How we thank God for His grace during this last trip. Before Pat and Randy left for Burkina Faso, they knew this trip would have some challenges and some breakthroughs. In times like these, we rejoice that you stand with us in prayer! Together our God reveals His Glory and His Grace.
Pat summarized our trip well: “Randy and I were blessed to spend time in Burkina Faso with EMS missionary pastors in Ouagadougou. We spent the first three days training around 18 leaders in Ouagadougou with Stephen and Victoria, Nigerian missionaries to BF with EMS. We then traveled to Fada on Monday to work with Emmanuel, the regional coordinator for Eglise Evangelique/SIM. Emmanuel is an amazing servant-leader who is doing a wonderful work mentoring and encouraging pastors in the Eastern BF, and 45 pastors and leaders joined our three-day training.”
Victoria & Stephen served in South Sudan before accepting this very challenging mission in Ouagadougou. Chris, our interpreter, did a great job crossing cultural and language barriers as we taught GPHD & GPHC. You know someone hungers for God’s Word when he opens three Bibles to do his study! Such was the hunger we observed in Ouagadougou. When we learned that these servants face many spiritual battles with occult and spiritual darkness, we came to appreciate more their passion to know God’s Word. Please pray for them as they are with Emmanuel in Fada, fulfilling Paul’s command in 2 Timothy 2:2. The result? Indigenous leaders training their own.
As this work is multiplied into forty-five leaders who can train others, we are witnessing the beginnings of a movement. It is our intention to return in June or July for their graduation. Much has happened in the short time since our time with these leaders. Randy tested positive for covid and quarantined in Ouagadougou until he could get a negative test required to fly home. By God’s grace, this happened just a week before a military coup shut down the borders and grounded the flights out. Let us pray for those who remain in Burkina Faso with a new normal of curfews and school shutdowns. Thank you for standing with us so faithfully. Our partnership is bearing fruit!
As we are watching the spontaneous expansion and growth of disciple-making in Ecuador among the Quechua churches, my mind goes back to readings in Roland Allen’s book, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, and the Causes which Hinder It.”
“Paul does not repeatedly exhort his churches to subscribe to money for the propagation of the Faith, he is far more concerned to explain to them what the Faith is, and how they ought to practice it and to keep it. What we read in the New Testament is no anxious appeal to Christians to spread the Gospel, but a note here and there which suggests how the Gospel was being spread abroad: "so the Churches were strengthened in the Faith, and they increased in number daily" (Acts 16:5), "your faith in God has gone forth everywhere so that we need not say anything" (1 Thessalonians 1:8); or as a result of a persecution: "Now those who were scattered went about preaching the Word” (Acts 8:4). (pg. 4).
In some real way, this is exactly what we are seeing with the Quechua. I have included a picture of what is taking place with these churches. Near the end of February, two of our team will be going to El Salvador to introduce God’s Plan for His Disciples. Join us in praying that God will cause this same spontaneous expansion and establishing believers will happen there as well.
“But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So, the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:32–34).
What was this food that Jesus ate? It was not physical food. It was the habit of His heart and soul to do the will of God anywhere, anytime and under any circumstances. In Jesus’ example, this habit required at times going without physical food to touch lives with the message of eternal life. In His human side, Jesus was “weary…from His journey” (6), but that never took Him away from pursuing the will of God. That was His food!
Notice also the ripple effect of doing God’s will by evangelizing this woman. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony…and many more believed because of His word”(39, 41). What if Jesus had been more concerned about His appetite than meeting the needs of a sinful woman? There would not have been souls saved in Sychar! The “harvest” was right there in this town.
May we not miss what God is doing because we are more concerned about satisfying our sensual desire and even legitimate needs rather than laboring with the Lord where He is at work. It will involve two things: 1) spiritual eyesight, and 2) personal sacrifice.
When we are not actively involved in what the Lord is doing, we will misinterpret events in the same way the disciples questioned Jesus about speaking with this woman. We see in John 4:27-30 that the disciples were preoccupied with material wants and needs while Jesus was concerned about the eternal need of a woman with a sordid background.
The proof of what was happening in her heart because of her conversation with Jesus is seen in her actions; she “left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (28-29). There are several changes taking place in this woman that are evidence of regeneration.
This woman experienced a new life that the disciples were not familiar with yet. It would require the indwelling Spirit to make this clear to them. Then the “harvest” right before their eyes would become clear to them. Is it clear to us?
It was at least two years ago that Randy visited a church and seminary in Malaysia and during that visit he introduced God’s Plan for His Church. Without knowing any details about the results of that trip, Randy is suddenly hearing from them and having Zoom meetings with these leaders, plus working through the book of Galatians to reinforce their foundation in the gospel of grace.
Randy also learned that they are “bursting with new church plants” because of the GPHC training. From this news he has worked out a plan to return in March of this year to strengthen, encourage, and build up their commitment to follow the biblical example of the Early Church and Paul’s method of church planting.
Paul really understood the importance of strengthening, encouraging, and building up. In the West, we are fixated on conferences and seminars that draw leaders away from their flocks. From our experience it is far more effective to visit churches face-to-face and demonstrate a personal interest in what God is doing with them and make further investments in their spiritual growth (see Acts 14:21-23). Each place has its unique challenges, and we need to learn how to discern what they are so the believers can be equipped to spread the gospel in their own culture.
The richness of reading John 3:22-36 is far beyond what I am able to describe in words. I observed one of the principles that the Jews in that day and those without the Spirit cannot grasp is the origin of what has come from heaven. The incarnation of Jesus into manhood was beyond human ability to understand. In the same way, Nicodemus could not understand the concept of new birth. “Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”” (John 3:9).
Paul clarifies this problem when he writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
John the Baptist understood that it is only through the Holy Spirit that we comprehend heavenly things, for “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him (her) from heaven” (John 3:27). Jesus was sent from heaven to “utter the words of God” and also “give the Spirit without measure” (34). When we receive the Spirit, there is no limit to what He will give us.
John (the Gospel writer) makes a wonderful statement at the end of his first letter. “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20). If you are “in Him who is true,” you have God’s Spirit who gives understanding.
We were just in Ecuador in December introducing God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD) to Quechua pastors we had not met before. Through them and other Quechua churches who are studying GPHD, many want to become established in the Scriptures for a better understanding of their salvation. News of the training has spread to other parts of Ecuador and is stirring hearts.
The last printing of the Spanish GPHD (2,000) was only a couple months ago. They have run out already! This means that we are having to print more; this time we are printing 5,000 copies.
What an exciting problem to have! It is not the printing that is so exciting, but the fact that there are thousands of hungry souls who want to study and understand God’s Word so they can be better witnesses for Jesus and make Him known to others who have not heard.
First, please pray for this movement of God that nothing will hinder what the Spirit of God is doing. If the Lord is moving your heart to be involved in some way, please let us know.
Any discussion about “love” is incomplete without including the aspect of sacrifice. The very meaning of “agape” love is expressed in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” Jesus made sure the disciples had a clear understanding of this kind of love as He spoke to them the night before His death.
““This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12–13).
John seemed to get this point when he wrote his first letter. “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16).
The standard is always the Lord Jesus! We often look for excuses NOT to love someone to this degree, until we ask the question; was there ANYTHING in me for God to love? The answer is “NO!” Why do we try to find some ‘human’ reason to love others instead of loving them because that is Christ in me? If the Spirit of God dwells in us, He is also the Spirit who has “poured into our hearts” God’s love (Romans 5:5). Would our refusal to love another brother or sister to the point of “laying down our lives” “grieve” the Spirit (Ephesians 5:30)?
I appreciate the way that Oswald Sanders describes this aspect of love in his book, Enjoying Intimacy with God (page 86). “Mutual love is the essence of intimacy. Where there is no love, there is no intimacy.” Because “God is love” (1 John 4:8), it is natural for any relationship with Him to also desire intimacy with those who are His children.
Sanders goes on to say, “Love is grounded in the nature of God and is the highest expression of character. Love is more than sentiment; it is an activity. It is essentially unselfish and outgoing.”
As I am typing these words, they are speaking a challenge to my own heart, motives and attitude. This brings me back to 1 John 4:11; “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” No matter how we look at relationships with others, if they are not forged first in our love for God and intimacy with Him, we cannot expect relationships to develop and become intimate with others God has put in our lives.
This issue also affects our witness to the world with the gospel. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Are we really His disciples?
As I have said before, it is almost daily that we receive news from various locations around the world of how God is using our resources to inspire indigenous Christians to RETURN TO SCRIPTURE and establish their faith on a solid biblical foundation. We have always felt this was the universal need, but it was God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD) that put this movement into high gear.
The pictures I have added to this blog are from Guaranda, Ecuador. The Quechua churches realize that no one cared enough to help get them firmly established on this foundation. It was all arranged by the Lord! From the moment we introduced GPHD to the first pastor, the training has spread faster than we can keep up with the demand.
Please pray with us that we can meet the printing needs and follow up visits. Illness has prevented our next trip that was going to be January 26th to February 2nd. God is always in control and His plans will NOT FAIL! Tomorrow I will share what is taking place in Myanmar (Burma).
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