I do not know even where to begin in updating you on everything that is happening all over the world. Reports of God using God's Plan for Church Planting (GPCP) come in weekly, oftentimes daily! Just the other day it was reported that after our meeting in Turkey, the leaders from Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon had gone back to their respective countries to commence applying these simple biblical principles. As a result of that, we are hearing that the disciples and churches are multiplying in these Islamic countries. Here are a couple of testimonies: “The conference and the manual opened our eyes to the bitter reality that today's church and even our local churches are out of sync with the Biblical model. We learned to let the Bible talk about the issue of church planting, and to be more submissive to its authority and guidance. It was an eye opening event for me.” ~ Church Planter, Algeria “The Church Planting Conference in Turkey was one of the best I have ever attended on the topic. It was a solid teaching built on the book of Acts and the principles used by the Apostle Paul. The sessions and discussions gave me new perspectives and approaches in the area of evangelism and how to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.” Seminary Professor, Lebanon We have been receiving requests from several other Islamic countries for this tool. The same thing can be said of many other places around the world but it is particularly exciting to hear that His Church can grow and multiply in these "dark" Muslim countries where there is persecution and where many of the resources that we take for granted are not available.
GPCP Translations: In addition to almost 30 translations, we have the languages of Chin in Burma, Thai in Thailand, Oriya in India and Bisa/Lala in Zambia in the process of being translated and printed. It continues to amaze me to watch the Lord at work building His Church, in His time, by His Power through His indigenous people. It is almost as if the more we get out of the way, particularly as Westerners, the greater the work of the Spirit is. But, regardless, God is God and He can do whatever He wants, with whomever He wants and wherever He wants; we just need to make ourselves available.
Middle East and North Africa: The Lord has opened some encouraging and exciting doors among the Seminaries of the Middle East and North Africa. One of the attendees at our Turkey meeting was a key professor of a seminary in Lebanon, who saw the value of equipping graduating seminary students with GPCP. This would provide them with a tool to plant and grow His Church without money and buildings, since these items are diminishing in that part of the world. Therefore, we are working with these seminaries to provide GPCP in a format that will meet the standards of this venue. Please pray for the Lord to grant Sherman and me wisdom and time to assist them with providing this tool. This is a big project, and the possible impact for our Lord in these strategic Islamic locations is priceless.
God's Plan for Church Renewal (GPCR): Another thing we have been lead to do is to totally revise the GPCP manual, making it more user friendly, more easily grasped and flexible so that we can teach it to different academic levels in an easily understood story form with illustrations. Although this has been on our hearts for years, it was only on our last trip to Northern Thailand that we saw the need to teach leaders who had not attained a high academic level but were filled with the Holy Spirit and had hungry hearts for Christ. The more I work on this total revision, the more I believe it will be more useful to all of us and will open up a whole new world of opportunities for us not only now but in the future. I believe in the near future, we in the US will see the need to get back to a more Biblical model of church. We hope to have this new tool available in a couple of months or sooner.
Thailand Training Center: On a final note, please pray as we sense the Lord shifting us from training in other countries to bringing the key leaders to a neutral, economical, centrally located and easily accessible area, such as Thailand. This type of training offers many advantages. It will enable us to train the "key leaders" in a more focused and uninterrupted environment. Many times, we have found that when leaders are being trained in their own countries, the key leaders are distracted with managing the conference, their own ministries, telephones, etc. It also saves us traveling to other countries and it will help keep our teaching and ministry more indigenous since a white Westerner doesn’t have to go into other cultures giving the impression he is the “expert teacher.” Another important key is that this type training allows us to build deeper relationships with the leaders on a one-on-one basis. The meeting in Turkey was great in that it supported this type of training where key leaders were pulled out of North Africa and the Middle East for an intensive one-on-one relational teaching time together. This enabled them to build relationships and to dig deeply into the Scriptures without interruptions. In addition to providing training for overseas missions, it will provide us with a place to train and come alongside leaders who travel with us from the US as we serve and travel together. One last advantage. the area that is the cheapest, Chiang Mai, is the same area the Lord has opened a wide door for us to serve the Karen on the Thai and Burma border.
March 2012 Mission Trip: One last thing, looking back, the February-March trip was one of the most fruitful trips I have ever made among the Karen and Chin, both in Burma and Thailand. The miraculous door the Lord opened with the Burmese Brother from Australia proved to be fruitful and has opened up many new opportunities of partnership in Myanmar. We also had a great time of fellowship and encouragement in India at the IMD International meeting with our key teachers and trainers. We were all challenged to live and minister "post-Pentecostal" and not "pre-Pentecostal. Please pray for the training needs to be met in Thailand as this type training will actually be less expensive than traveling into various countries but still God’s provision is necessary.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Opportunity: The best way to describe the upcoming God's Plan for Church Planting (GPCP) meeting in Turkey is like flinging Brer Rabbit into "dat brier-patch." As you know, the manual thrives in a persecuted environment because it teaches a biblical model that enables the church to grow and expand in the midst of persecution, opposition and poverty. What does Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Algeria have in common? The church in these countries is faced with Islamic persecution and opposition. Therefore, this meeting provides a very strategic opportunity.
Praise: Praise our Lord for my dear brother and friend Hanna for completing the publishing of the Arabic GPCP, fully funded, and for organizing this meeting, not yet fully funded. I am also thankful for his leadership in encouraging these key leaders from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Algeria to read and complete the manual. Lord willing, these leaders who have worked diligently for many hours will be ready for the workshop in Istanbul, Turkey, December 5 - 10, 2011 (See Hanna's Email Below). This is one of the GREATEST opportunities we have ever had.
Prayer: Please pray for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully and for our Savior and Head to be honored and glorified in His Bride in the Middle East and North Africa through these indigenous leaders. Concerning the Arabic GPCP meeting in Turkey, Hanna and I are looking to the Lord to supply the necessary funds for their room, board and travel. While this is quite costly, it is still much more economical and practical than me personally traveling into these countries. Please pray for this provision.
Manual Need: Also pray for our Lord to replenish the Burmese and Khmer manuals, #1000 Burmese (Myanmar) and #3000 Khmer (Cambodia). The cost is $1300 and $3000 respectively. In both of these countries, God is using this tool to grow and expand His Church (see attached pictures from Burma). Incidentally, I could almost daily send out reports of God using this tool (GPCP) to grow and expand His Church throughout the world through indigenous leaders, without our presence. As I ponder these needs, the Turkey workshop and manuals, I am reminded of Paul's words in Philippians: "Not that I seek the gift but I seek the fruit that increase to your credit."
Hanna's Email: The venue is at a hotel about 50 klm from Istanbul. I will send further details in the next few days once we have the final tally. The countries represented will be Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Morocco and Algeria. We will meet from 9 AM every morning till about 1 PM, break for lunch then meet again at 3 Pm until 6 or 7 PM and break for the evening. We will do that Monday through Friday. Because we will be far from the city, we will not leave time for shopping. I look to you to lead our sessions. I will co-chair it with you and help with translation etc. By the way, I just learned that we have another 35 ministers and our volunteer staff in Egypt who have either completed the study of the CPM or are completing it. But we will not invite this huge number to Turkey. We will conduct a separate seminar for them in Egypt sometime next year, Lord willing. God is at work and will be glorified in His church even in the Middle East Hanna "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever Amen" Tim
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