Please pray for the early state licensing we are allowed to print books GPHC in a Asia country.
1. On the approval permit printing and publishing books GPHC. An application to the state agency was sent for their approval for printing and distributing books GPHC nationwide last week. The State will accept and respond with a "Yes" or "No" on January 5, 2015.
2. Pray for 4 training courses; the location, training and number of participants pastors, leaders, deacons and members, of church attendance. (190 members).
3. Praying for God to open His doors so that we can work together to train 4 groups + 1 group of "Antioch" GPHC of leaders.
This opportunity has at it's heart the gospel reaching unengaged and unreached people groups in places that are experiencing persecution. Please be diligent in prayer!
Oct. 24, 2014: The next few days will be in summary with much less detail. The flight to Yangon was very good and time passed quickly as I got back into reading a book by Reg Reimer entitled “Vietnam’s Christians”. A weird thing happened at RGN as I was expecting Brother Mang or a young man to meet me at the airport since I had never stayed at the Bliss Hotel. After waiting a half hour, exchanging some money and being asked many times by one taxi drive in particular to take me where I wanted to go, I asked the taxi driver to call Mang’s cell number. We discovered it was no longer in service. After praying and asking the Lord he would be there, I gave another brother’s number and he answered. He gave the driver the location of the hotel and how much he should charge me (important if they think you are new to the country), I was off to another place for my two weeks temporary home.
Bliss Hotel indeed had my name and put me in a room on the third floor at the front overlooking the street. One of the first things I always do in a new location is check-out their Wi-Fi so I can get/send email and talk to Rosemary on Skype. It was so bad I went downstairs and told them how important this was to me that I get connected. Thankfully, they had the same room on the second floor and it was better; but only a little better. At least I could get email. Unfortunately, this proved to be a struggle for both Tim (after he arrived) and myself for the rest of our stay. While this is a modern crutch, it is vital to stay in touch with home as much as possible for many reasons.
Worried that Mang had gone to the airport and not found me, I walked four short blocks to their place on the top floor (eighth) of a corner business and residence building overlooking the Yangon River, to let them know I had arrived. It was a thrill to see them again. We discovered that the young man they sent to the airport arrived too early and left before I got to the lobby. We enjoyed dinner together with Mang, Ciin and Andrew from Australia who was there to teach the following week on Cell Church Ministry during the day, and Tim and I would train using God’s Plan for His Church in the evening. The schedule was not completely clear, but I usually figure the details as we go along.
After dinner, I walked back to the hotel to settle in for the night. Friday was largely a day of rest except that Michael wanted to have lunch with me. He arrived around 12:30 p.m. with a brother (Sun) and we walked up the street to a Mini-Mart which had a pastry shop on the third floor. Getting to know Sun’s story was fascinating. He is a truck driver (big rig) and for many years lived as an alcoholic which brought trouble to his marriage and family. After complaining to a friend about how bad things were, his friend gave him a Bible. Not knowing where to begin reading, he opened to the book of Proverbs and was drawn to the wisdom he had never heard of that answered so many of the problems he faced. After a time, he went back to his friend and asked where this wisdom came from? This was the open door of his heart that received the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ that delivered him from Buddhism and drinking. Because his wife is very ill, he has left his job and is now caring for her full time. What a marvelous story of grace! We cannot limit God and the ways He will use to bring a soul out of darkness into His light.
Saturday was the 25th Anniversary Celebration of God’s Trio Partners at the training center, beginning at 10 a.m. Arriving about 9:45, I found myself among two hundred or more and began to see a couple familiar faces, including Andrew from Melbourne, Australia, the three from England, and Moses who Tim and I trained in Chiang Mai. Trying to take a back seat didn’t work. So, along with others, we were asked to sit in the front with Mang and Ciin. Many church planters and pastors from all over Myanmar were there who had been trained by them over the years. The next three plus hours were filled with worship, testimonies, slide shows and singing by different ethnic groups. After the service there was a meal provided for all who had come. It was quite an event.
Mang asked me to attend their service the next day (Sunday) and serve Communion. This is usually a risky thing to do because there are so many denominational and cultural traditions and specific ways of doing this, but knowing Mang, I felt at home to help as the Lord led. They placed Communion in the middle of the service after worship and many testimonies, but before the sermon which was being given by Andrew. I took the liberty to explain how and why Jesus used the Passover as a transition element to introduce the Lord’s Supper and why it now holds such importance for the church. Many came up to me after to express appreciation for the way I had done this and what greater meaning it gave them every time it would be celebrated in the future until the Lord comes.
Tim was arriving from Chiang Mai in the afternoon, so I double checked with Mang to be sure that if someone was going to meet him, they had the correct time of arrival, and if necessary, I would go as well. Oh how I wanted to see him again. I was assured that Joe Lim would be the one to fetch Tim and bring him to the hotel. About 3:30 p.m., he arrived at the Bliss Hotel and we both had a moment of blissJ Now we were up to our old habits of walking the town to find a place for food and, yes, ice cream! Finding places to eat was no problem. Good ice cream took a back seat for one day.
Oct. 27-29. Since Andrew was continuing his teaching on the “Cell Church” until noon on Thursday, Mang asked Tim and me to take two hours in the evening (Monday through Wednesday) to begin the introduction of God’s Plan for His Church. This gave Tim and me the next three days to get into mischief during the day! Don’t ask for details!!
Michael had asked me through email and on Friday if I would speak to a group of church planters and pastors who gather regularly at his office for prayer and encouragement. When I made this arrangement with Michael, I did not tell him that Tim might be with us, so it was a joyous moment when He came around 10:30 a.m. with Sun and we headed to his office which is about ten minutes away. It was only a couple blocks away from our hotel that I noticed a new building that was near completion which had on the first floor a Swenson’s Ice Cream and it appeared open. I tucked that in my memory for later reference.
We arrived at Michael’s and were greeted by his wife Gulu. It was good to see her and Dal No who was the interpreter for Randy and me the last time we were here. Sitting at a long row of narrow tables were about fifteen men and women who were giving testimonies of what God was doing in their ministries and asking for specific prayer. About 11:30, Michael asked me to speak a word of encouragement to them before lunch was served. The Lord put on my heart to trace through Scripture those who had learned to live in a close relationship to God so they could hear Him speak to them. Beginning with Enoch, Noah and Moses, and then ending with those in the seven churches of Revelation 2 and3 who have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the church. Michael then asked Tim if he wanted to say anything. He concluded our time with how the importance of this truth affects our marriage, family, the church, and our testimony to the world. We then enjoyed a time of fellowship over lunch, learning what the Lord is doing with some of those present. I have not mentioned it each time it comes, but this is the rainy season and it is common once a day to have a heavy downpour. I was beginning to wonder if we would even be able to get into the car parked outside. It is also common that these storms do not last long and within a half hour it had almost stopped. Michael took us back to the hotel where we rested and prepared for the evening session.
Since Tim was leaving Saturday morning for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I deferred to him teaching as much as possible and prayed that this would set the stage for the ten days ahead. There is one thing in our favor and that is our dear Brother Mang who is truly like-minded with us in GPHC. Tim took extra time in Chapter One hoping to lay a firm foundation in the sixty or so present. On Tuesday, Tim and I decided to sit in on the Cell Church training just to see what it was like and how close the teaching was to what we were presenting. We both agreed that it was supportive of an Acts model and did not detract from our training. For this we are thankful!
Please Pray: (October 3 – November 10)
1) Teaching Church Leaders using the Burmese God’s Plan for His Church in Yangon – October 27- November 7
2) Launch the new Karen God’s Plan for His Church in Maw Day Musekee – October 17-19
3) Teaching Bethany College students God’s Plan for His Church in Chiang ai - October 13-24
4) Synergy Meeting with Vietnamese Leaders in Bangkok - October 6-10
5) Strategic Planning for the Khmer God’s Plan for His Church in training Cambodian Leaders – November 1-3
6) Launch the new Vietnamese God’s Plan for His Church in Saigon – October 13 – 24
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving, pray also for us, (Tim and Sherman):
1) That God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ Col 4:2-3
2) That words may be given to us in opening our mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel Eph 6:19
3) That the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored 2 Thess 3:1 (ESV)
4) That we may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding Col 1:9
5) That we be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might Col 1:11
Below is a testimony received from a group of Lahu disciples we trained last fall using illustrations from the new revised God's Plan for His Church.
Our teaching consisted of showing them how the Gospel spread from Jerusalem (Pentecost) to the world. This is what happens when disciples, with childlike faith, take seriously the Holy Spirit and Christ, the Living Word. We have seen this happen over and over again throughout the world.
“After teaching the book of Acts, the Pastors are so happy to go out to share the Good News with the people. We dedicated the 9th daughter church on March 15, 2014. Members of the new church are from Ah Kha tribe. Your teaching is so effective. Thank God for that.”
The students thank God so much for this church planting course. This is the great plan of God that they have never learned before. Actually, they all did not want to come back and wrap up after their internship because they thought they had finished their Bible school and all the seminary courses. However, when they started to learn GPHC (God’s Plan for His Church), they realized that this course was something new for them that they had never learned in seminary. In fact, before having this course, they did not know how they were going to start their ministries. This teaching is very essential for their future ministries and they are very thankful that God has revealed His plan and this valuable wisdom. Thank you very much.
This post will give you a slice of what God is doing in Thailand. “Timothy and I had a very fruitful time ministering the Word of God to 7 students. He knows the material and can communicate the biblical principles and connect these principles to their current and future ministries. He actually can communicate and teach much better than I can. What a blessed time we are having together!”
Tim and I are home and very thankful to see our wives and families. Picking up from our last letter, on May 14, we spent four days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia training a church planter among the Khmer people. He is unique as he seeks to following Paul's example of working to provide for his own needs. To accomplish this, several helped purchase a Tuk Tuk which he will use for income and transportation. His vision is to train other "Timothy's" with GPHC and help them start a business that will provide their income. He clearly has a heart for living and duplicating the Early Church model.
Tim and I left on the 19th; Tim to Laos to deliver Bibles which had been provided by Wake Christian Academy, Raleigh, NC and others here at home. I proceeded to Chiang Mai to start training a pastor from Pakistan. Tim arrived a few days later and we focused on one-on-one training him and then two other men from Myanmar for the next three weeks using God's Plan for His Church manual. We are convinced of the effectiveness of this method! The personal interaction, valuable discussion and fellowship over how the biblical principles work out in each culture brought inspiration and a fresh appreciation of Scripture in their setting. With a few, time was taken to complete the "pre-assigned" work, but these brothers were diligent and hard-working so that each one completed the final project, developing their own strategy for ministry in their setting with the principles they learned. These men represent the Karen, Chin, Katchin, Burmese, and Naga people groups of Myanmar and the Karen in Thailand. Translation work is already in progress for these languages.
Let me summarize how the Lord has led us to this point in our ministry. Having taught the manual in conferences for many years and seen little multiplication from this venue, we felt that Paul's method of mentoring Timothy was more effective and would multiply much faster. After much prayer and searching for about a year, Tim found a Christian couple in Chiang Mai who would rent us a four bedroom house with a kitchen and sitting area for a very reasonable price.
Paul said in I Corinthians 16:8 that he would “stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened for me.” God has opened many doors for us, but like Paul, we desired to enter this “effective” opened door. It allows us to train one-on-one, face-to-face, where persons are away from the responsibilities of ministry, culture and family in a quite neighborhood, yet within walking distance of village stores for food and necessities. The owners are convinced this is the purpose God has for this place and are fully behind us.
While we were there, God opened another door through the owners. Here is a comment from them: "A new teaching team from the United States viz., Pastors Tim Bunn and Sherman Driver of Go-Reconcile, will train our evangelists in August; and our regular mentor Rev. Dr. Tan Wai Choon in November." This training will be with the Lahu people group in Thailand.
We praise the Lord as we share this with you. Please continue to pray for us that we remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit for His "effective work", humble in spirit, and physically able to meet the demands. Also pray that God will raise up Timothy's who God will call to this work. Tim will be returning to Burma/Myanmar at the end of July for a conference in Yangon. From there, he will return to Chiang Mai, Thailand to train leaders from Africa and the Thailand Karen and Lahu. Pray that each of these open doors will turn out to be God's "effective work" for His glory!
One of the most fruitful meetings we have ever experienced took place in Turkey a couple of years ago with key leaders from the Middle East, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria. I believe a couple of factors were in play here which greatly enhanced the results. One was isolating the leaders from their busyness, cell phones and ministries. Secondly, was their diligent pre-meeting work in the manual in preparation for the meeting, therefore we are going to try the same method in Asia and see what happens. Also, there are several other benefits: it costs less for the indigenous leaders to travel to a neutral location and for us to travel to a location that is easily accessible and many times less dangerous. It sounds like a win win situation, but we will wait and see. Actually, there is another aspect of this new training. We are training one or two key leaders instead of holding a conference. Many times, we train leaders but the “key” leader is never really on board with the teaching which sometimes can create problems. By training the key leader one on one, he will then be able to go back and do a conference on his own hopefully without our presence, which is also a cost saving factor. We would appreciate your prayers for discernment and wisdom, but most of all, that we be filled with the Spirit and focused on our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It will also be our joy to deliver approximately 2,500 Bible to believers in Laos, a country where the Word of God is only in the hands of a few. Also, through the gifts of many, 1,000 Bibles are being given to the Karen Refugee Camp that burned down on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Please rejoice with us that God has provided these and pray that they will arrive safely without incident.
For a long time we have encouraged ministers of the gospel to be self-sustaining so they do not need outside support. We have the joy of helping a brother in Christ purchase a Tuk Tuk so he can provide for himself and use the profit to help others do the same. Following this model of Paul will accelerate the spread of the gospel and give a living proof of its life changing message. Please pray that this brother will become a model to many in his country and beyond.
To God be the Glory!
ITINERARY May 5 – 12 Key Karen Leader from Thailand: Will work through the manual, God’s Plan for His Church, completing the projects and developing a church renewal and church planting strategy for Karen Baptist of Thailand. Training will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
May 12 – 19 Key Leader from Cambodia: Will work through the manual, God’s Plan for His Church, completing the projects and developing a church renewal and church planting strategy for the Khmer of Cambodia and purchase Tuk-Tuk to help key leaders become self-sustaining. Training will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
May 19 -21 Distributing Bibles in Vientiane, Laos
May 19 – 26 Key leader from Pakistan: Will work through the manual, God’s Plan for His Church, completing the projects and developing a church renewal and church planting strategy for Pakistan. Training will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
May 19 – 26 Distributing Bibles and encouragement to the Karen refugee camp on the Burma/Thailand border which was burned to the ground.
May 26 – June 2 Key Burmese and Karen Leader from Burma: Will work through the manual, God’s Plan for His Church, completing the projects and developing a church renewal and church planting strategy. Training will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
June 2 – June 8 Key Chin Leader from Burma: Will work through the manual, God’s Plan for His Church, completing the projects and developing a church renewal and church planting strategy. Training will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
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!
The following comes from a brother in Myanmar and he relates how the Church Planting Manual (CPM) is having an impact on God's work there: “Thank you for the encouraging words and the supporting prayer for us. Yes, it gives us great joy to know that we are fellow workers in God's field. The CPM book is a great help for the ministers, evangelists and especially for the church planters. They come and take hold of the CPM book regularly at my office.”
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