“There is such a way of living with, or in Christ, that watchfulness, prayer, devotion, patience, gentleness, meekness, become so many sweet and spontaneous impulses, instead of labored acquisitions, and this is true freedom.
The figure which Christ uses in John 15:4 illustrates this idea: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.” Now how does a branch bear fruit? Not by incessant effort for sunshine and air; not by vain struggles for those vivifying influences which give beauty to the blossom, and verdure to the leaf – it simply abides in the vine, in silent and undisturbed union; and the fruit and blossoms appear as of spontaneous growth.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Ray and Edith met at Park Street Church in Boston through a mutual friend and mentor, E. Joseph Evans, otherwise known as “Uncle Joe.” Prior to meeting they had each heard God’s still small voice calling them to serve in missions, specifically in South America. As they grew in love for each other, “They prayed together and agreed to separate for a time to test the sincerity of their love and to determine the will of God fully. By spring 1923, they were convinced it was God’s will for them to become engaged, to get married later and finally to serve together in South America.”(1)
Their mutual calling led them to the Quechua Indians in Ecuador. They were married, welcomed their first child, and things were looking bright. God was blessing their work, and they were developing good relationships with the Indians. Then suddenly, death was lurking on their doorstep. Through much prayer by many, Ray was healed and returned to the Lord’s work.
In his book They Found the Secret, Edman noticed a common pattern that is lived out by mature disciples of Jesus: “The pattern [today] seems to be self-centeredness, self-effort, increasing dissatisfaction and outer discouragement, a temptation to give it all up because there is no better way. Then finding the Spirit of God to be their strength, their guide, their confidence and companion—in a word, their life. The crisis of the deeper life is the key that unlocks the secret of their transformation. It is the beginning of the exchanged life. What is the exchanged life? Really it is not something; it is some One. It is the indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ made real and rewarding by the Holy Spirit.” (2)
(1) Earle Cairns, V. Raymond Edman: In the Presence of the King (Moody Press, 1972), 35.
(2) V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret, Zondervan Publishing, 1984, page 12.
You would realize from past blog posts that I am very concerned that we are not intentional about making disciples as they did in the Early Church. Back on February 14th I commented on Acts 14:21 and also noted that Timothy was a disciple that Paul took under his tutoring in Acts 16:1-3. Just yesterday I received the May/June issue of Mission Frontiers and immediately turned to the editorial by Rick Wood. Please note his concern regarding discipling as it relates to reaching every unreached people group. It mirrors my own concern.
“For if we simply go to every people and establish a church like many we have in the West, where believers are not equipped to go and make disciples and churches do not plant reproducing churches, than we will have established in every people a sterile form of the Christian faith that could inoculate those in need of the gospel against the powerful biblical faith of Scripture. Jesus has called all of us to go and make disciples who disciple others. Establishing a faulty form of doing church in every people group could prevent the creation of the thousands of discipleship movements that are essential to provide access to the gospel to every person.”
Let me put Rick’s comment another way. How sad it would be if we fail to disciple believers so they fail in discipling others because our form of discipling is empty of the Spirit’s power. We fall into this through lack of prayer and not being intentional about the biblical model.
Rick Wood, Mission Frontiers, May/June 2017, page 4.
“Joy comes through services. Most Christians are activists; they get caught up in some kind of church work. But not all of it is good. Not all of it is essential. Even missionaries find themselves tangled in lesser things than winning the lost. Unprayerful souls soon get diverted from the supreme task He appointed for them. This is why submission is also necessary.
The way to enjoy indestructible peace and joy is to determine:
1) To do whatever God commands, however difficult.
2) To endure whatever God appoints, however severe.
3) To obtain whatever God promises, however seemingly unattainable.
4) To die daily, however costly the crucifixion.
5) To love my “enemies,” however misunderstood in this.
6) To pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks.”
Revival God’s Way, A Message for the Church, Bethany House, 2006, page 18.
“PERSECUTION” – “SCATTERED” – “BURIAL OF A FAITHFUL MAN”
These do not seem like words that inspire joy. Yet, in the Early Church, these things happened and the disciples did not fight against what God was allowing. Instead, “those who were scattered went about preaching the word. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:4–8).
Notice what happens when our attention remains on what God is doing, not the opposition: “preaching the word… they heard him and saw… there was much joy”! When we follow where God is sending and leading us, and willingly join Him in the work He has prepared for us, there will be no limit to the joy He will direct our way!
IS GOD DIRECTING YOUR LIFE? WHAT ABOUT YOUR JOY?
One of the things I look for in Christians and any church I go to, is joy. I am not referring to a surface happiness in conversation after the service is over, but the joy that springs from deep appreciation for the truth in God’s Word and the understanding we are given by the Holy Spirit. As Jesus finished His last instructions to His disciples just before His arrest and crucifixion, He said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:20–22).
Leonard Ravenhill says, “Joy is not created by possessions, or by positions, but by a Person (Jesus). Joy is maintained by abiding in Him, by believing in Him, by obeying Him.”(1) Perhaps your present circumstances are hindering you from having this kind of joy. As Jesus illustrates through a woman giving birth, so Jesus Himself purposely set joy before Himself and “endured the cross, despising the shame” because in a few short days He would be “seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). If you abide with Jesus through any conditions, His joy will remain anchored in your soul and no one and nothing will be able to steal it from you.
(1) Revival God’s Way, A Message for the Church, Bethany House, 2006, page 18-19.
Nepal: Number of People Groups: 250 (28,743,000 people)
Unreached People Groups: 242 (28,487,000 people)
As you can see from the Joshua Project numbers, over 99% of Nepalese do not know our Lord. The focus of this entire trip is the Nepalese people…those who live in Nepal and those who live in the northern state of Punjab. May God’s Spirit blow upon these people!
April 20-22: Fly from JFK to DEL (Delhi, India). Please pray that Randy’s health is strong and he will have good preparation for the ministry in Nepal & India.
April 23-27: On Sunday, April 23, Randy will meet Pastor “K” with whom he worked before. They will fly to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh in India, then travel by car for 4-5 hours. During these days, they will train around 40-50 pastors and leaders who take the gospel to unreached peoples.
Please pray for these brave men and women who serve our Lord in very difficult places. One report said that the small band of Christians are really uniting in the face of persecution. Let us pray for peace and protection, and that the Holy Spirit will empower them to reach the people in the Himalaya Mountains and beyond. Pray that God’s Word would equip these saints for rapid church planting movements like we read about in Acts.
April 28-30: On these days, Pastor “K” and Randy return to Punjab to minister with his church in Ludhiana. This town is one of the places “Praying John Hyde” worked and in modern-day Pakistan (1892-1914). He discovered this truth: “There is only one path to spiritual revival – prayer”.
Please pray that God’s Spirit will kindle a fire of prayer in His people. Nepal and India need a fresh wind to blow upon it, like He did in 1904 in answer to Hyde’s intercession.
May 1-2: During these two days, Pastor “K” and Randy will launch God’s Plan for His Church among the Nepalese who live in Ludhiana. Many have left their country to find work in Punjab, India.
Please pray for the leaders of people who have fled difficult places in Nepal. Ask God to plant His vision for His church in them. Also pray that Pastor “K” and Randy will know God’s Plan to follow-up with the Nepalese leaders.
May 2-3: Praise the Lord for the trip home! As mentioned before, please pray for health as I head back.
It is mission trips like this that remind us of the deep feelings Paul had for certain church plants. Read these words carefully; “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). This “divine jealousy” is growing in our hearts.
Tim will be away for five weeks. At our stage of life, long times away take a toll on our bodies and it is not easy to be apart from our wives. Please pray for these training events using God’s Plan for His church (GPHC) as follows:
Myanmar (Burma): April 23 - May 13, GTP Training using the Burmese and Chin manual, (GPHC) with 25 spiritually hungry young people. During three weeks, they will complete all 63 lessons and develop their personal strategy for evangelism, and planting new churches on a biblical foundation.
Northern Thailand: May 15 – 19, KBC Training using the Karen manual (GPHC) is a follow-up with about 20 leaders from each of the Karen Baptist Districts in Thailand. The goal of the Karen is to use GPHC to train all their leaders throughout Thailand.
Chiang Mai: May 22-25 Karen Baptist Global meeting to present the Karen GPHC to world leaders. Pray for the Spirit to open hearts.
Pray that each of these events will be God’s “effective door” to further His work among every people group. Tim will be home by May 26th.
We have a strong sense that God is moving in our day like never before. This has a double edge to it. On one edge, there is the exhilaration of being involved in His work; seeing hearts returning to the Scriptures to establish a biblical foundation for all the church does. On the other edge, we are greatly humbled and realize more and more the critical need of following the Spirit’s leadership in all we do. That was the sole means by which the Early Church grew and expanded so rapidly. Please pray that we never proceed without first receiving His direction!
Randy’s Report on Africa - March 11 – April 3, 2017
LIBERIA: In a land that was racked with Ebola, God is raising leaders who have seen His grace in the most horrible of situations. Working with Brother A., 43 pastors and leaders were trained to reach West Africa. Lord-willing, we will follow up in Liberia and launch “God’s Plan for His Church” in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast before this year ends.
KENYA: Brother H. from Zambia joined me in working with 8 key leaders, exploring in depth the spontaneous expansion of the church in Acts and leadership development in Paul’s epistles. Two pastors completed “God’s Plan for His Church,” and by God’s grace we will encourage these leaders again in September.
UGANDA: H. and I launched God’s Plan for His Church to 12 leaders, concluding with prayer commissioning them to reach their country for Christ.
Where do we go from here? Pray with us that in September God will open the doors to Rwanda, Burundi and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. By God’s grace, we can spread God’s Plan for His Church in every country in Africa! Let us pray…and go.
Randy’s Report on Africa - March 11 – April 3, 2017
As I reflect on my 3 ½ weeks in Africa, it is as if the worship service in heaven becomes clearer and louder in my mind. Revelation 5:9-10 reveals the song of the ages:
“Worthy are you (Jesus) to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and by your blood you ransomed people for God from EVERY TRIBE and LANGUAGE and PEOPLE and NATION, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
“Africa has 3000 distinct ethnic groups, 2000 languages, home to the most genetically diverse people on Earth. So diverse that two Africans are more genetically different from each other than a Chinese and a European are from each other. Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent.”
God is giving us a huge vision for ALL 54 countries of Africa! As I pray for God’s work in Africa, I envision training key leaders in EVERY African nation in 5 years. Can this be done? Only by God’s grace and power.
Back to Revelation 5 – In this heavenly worship service, John sees the twenty-four elders holding “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). As I see it, this universal plan of Christ can only be fulfilled as we pray and go. All of us can pray, and some of us can go; but together we push ahead with God’s Plan for His World.
Christ has died for ALL PEOPLE and EVERY PEOPLE GROUP, and His passion is to have EVERY TRIBE, LANGUAGE, PEOPLE and NATION worship Him. This coincides with Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the WHOLE WORLD as a testimony to ALL NATIONS (ethnos in Greek, “all ethnic groups”), and then the end will come.”
What is God calling us to do in these days before Christ returns? Take this gospel to all people groups by planting strong, self-sustaining, reproducing churches in their cultures. Who can do this best, but those who live near them? That is why we must train leaders who can multiply the gospel and churches throughout Africa.
And we have already begun!
Link To Our Old Blog: