As Randy and Pat head out in a world that is still shaking from Covid challenges and terrorist threats, we so thank you for joining them in praying for Burkina Faso (January 5th to 16th). As the “Prayercast” has detailed (see below), the needs in this country are great, and we fully believe God will work even more as we commit to working with the leaders there.
Prayer Points for the country from Prayercast.com:
“Almost eighty ethnic groups embrace countless religious practices, including earth priests, fortune tellers, healers, witchcraft, and animal sacrifice…The nation is one of the world's poorest, with almost half of the seventeen million Burkinabe below the poverty line and an unemployment rate hovering at 77%...The median age is 16.9 years, and literacy stands at an abysmal 22%, one of the lowest in the world…Extreme poverty has led to massive migration of workers to Cote d'Ivoire for seasonal work, where the majority convert to Islam. Approximately half the population is Muslim, and the remainder is equally divided among Christians and ethnic religions. The church has not escaped the challenges facing the Burkinabe. There is great need for leadership, mentoring… and a willingness to evangelize the unreached.” Taken from Prayercast.com/Burkind-Faso.html
“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
My reflection over the last few days has caused me to feel more and more thankful for those associated with New Foundations International. I listed the general categories two days ago, but some really understand our philosophy of ministry have been the backbone of this work.
There was no other church like Philippi that was started by Paul and Silas after a night in jail. From that small beginning, Paul had a partner in them in the gospel. As he closes his letter to the Philippians, Paul reveals his heart. “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only” (Philippians 4:14–15).
Let me mention the special partnership we have with Fellowship Bible Church among many others. I must also include Tim, Randy, Terry, Jonathan, Tom, and most recently Pat. These are men who stand on the authority of God’s Word and work to help others build on a biblical foundation. This ministry would not exist without them. I am so grateful and honored to work alongside them. Will you join me in praying for their physical and spiritual preservation?
This is not a question. This is a statement of absolute certainty! As we look back on this year, it is amazing what God has done despite COVID 19 and all the restrictions that came with it. Some we work with in Vietnam and Ecuador turned to using Zoom to continue training through God’s Plan for His Disciples(GPHD). Using this tool has gained benefits by reducing travel costs and time.
Even with the violence and danger in Myanmar, our “Timothy” there has continued training small groups where possible. This has strengthened believers and encouraged them to persevere even in the adverse conditions. It has also helped them become strong in their faith and able to share the gospel with others with increased boldness.
We are witnessing the spontaneous expansion of God’s work in places like Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. These are places where hunger for God’s Word has grown without any promotion on our part. For all these examples we are deeply grateful and thank the Lord for what He has done.
As the days of 2021 come to a close, my thoughts travel back over all that God has done this year and the many persons He has used in some way through NFI. At the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he takes 16 verses to recount many who were special to him and what they did to contribute toward Paul and his ministry.
I am doing the same. Though I cannot list their names here, each one is of special value to what has been accomplished. From those who daily pray for this ministry to many who contribute toward printing and the expenses of training, each one causes us great thanksgiving to the Lord. Then there are the indigenous leaders who have completed our training and are faithfully continuing to train their own people.
In addition, there are so many translators who give time and dedication to translate our material or translate the training sessions when we are present. Words cannot express our deep gratitude for their commitment to accuracy, so students gain the best through their study of God’s Word.
We say with Paul, “to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen!” (Romans 16:27). The reward for each person will be the fruit that is eternal.
One of the exciting things that is happening in Quito, Ecuador is the planting of house churches. Since the introduction of God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD) and God’s Plan for His Church, 5 house churches have been planted and 40 disciples are actively working through GPHD. This development has been a result of using Zoom meetings for training, encouragement, and fellowship. The process is just in the beginning stages.
Paul was a master church builder. Yet he says, “So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7). In the same way, we feel that our work is merely planting seeds and watching the Holy Spirit take the Word which is planted and making it fruitful. It is a joy for us to be involved in this eternal work.
Paul gives us one of the most striking expressions about the coming of Jesus into manhood. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4–5). He includes the birth of Jesus as well as the purpose of His death, burial, and resurrection.
This “fullness of time” was set by God the Father. We cannot fathom or understand why God waited for this moment in history. It could have been earlier or later. It was the perfect time for the eternal Son to be born and provide the only means for mankind to be brought into a right relationship with God.
Hebrews expresses this event in a different way. “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). We might ask why the Scriptures refer to the coming of Jesus as the “fullness of time” or “the end of the ages”? There have been over 2,000 years since the incarnation. How can we understand these statements?
As far as God is concerned, the work of redemption was complete at the coming of Jesus the first time. Nothing more was needed to be done to resolve the issue of sin and restore us into a relationship with God as “sons.” The remainder of time is just for the propagation of the gospel and completing God’s work in us. Judgment of all evil will close the pages of history.
There is plenty of evidence throughout Scripture that heaven is always engaged in what God is doing here on earth. From recent reading I have done, I want to draw from three occasions where the angels and heaven responded to events taking place here.
When the angel appeared to the shepherds at the birth of Jesus, “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and sayings glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:13-14a). It was as if heaven could not restrain itself at such a momentous event.
Jesus opens the window into heaven for the Pharisees when he tells the parable of the lost sheep being found. “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Think for a moment of all those saved by Jesus on a daily basis; heaven is in continual joy and celebration.
As history is drawn to a close, heaven is ecstatic with praise as noted in this verse; “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” (Revelation 19:1). Oh that our hearts were more tuned to heaven, our lives would be so different!
“And again, when He brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all God’s angels worship Him”” (Hebrews 1:6).
““Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him”” (Matthew 2:2).
Have you included worship of our Savior Jesus in your celebration this Christmas? He is worthy! Take time with your family and friends to exalt the Lord Jesus and renew a commitment to put Him first in everything.
We are literally hours away from the day that is celebrated as “Christmas” around the world. Many anticipate this day by weeks or even months of preparation. They shop, decorate, cook, and travel to be with family and friends. Perhaps they will sing Christmas carols at gatherings and listen to some part of the Christmas story, but the major emphasis is placed on presents and food.
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:25–26).
This story may be pushed aside as just a small part of the coming of Jesus into this world but overlook the reason why Simeon is part of this great event. Before the birth of Jesus, this man was living each day with the witness from the Holy Spirit that he would not die until his eyes rested on God’s salvation in the person of Jesus. He lived for nothing else.
What really matters to us and what are we living for? Does everything else in life take meaning from the one thing that has extreme value to us? We will influence the values of others to the degree they see what we esteem as the greatest importance.
Going back in my mind to conversations with individuals in Ecuador, I am remembering some very special interactions. As I stood outside the home of our brother in Puyo which he built himself, he shared his heart for the area. There were six churches represented at this graduation who are all going through God’s Plan for His Church together. This was only the beginning of his vision.
His deep desire is to use God’s Plan for His Disciples and God’s Plan for His Church as a tool to bring down walls that separated Christians for centuries. He believes, as we do, that “there is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4–6). We will think and act according to how we see the Church Jesus promised to build (Matthew 16:18).
Unity is never gained by enforcing man-made traditions and forms. It is gained through acknowledging the authority and power of the Holy Spirit. Just before the verses quoted above, Paul insists that we be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). This is the passion of our brother in Puyo, and it should be ours. The more we make way for the control and authority of the Spirit, the more we will see Him bring about unity among believers.
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