We are very excited with what appears to be new doors God is opening in the vast country of India. This short report is the first in a couple that cover Tim’s trip to India, Thailand and Vietnam. He arrived in Delhi and had a day of prayer and fasting before meeting with three brothers who were introduced to us through a Christian printer. “I spent a couple hours in the evening presenting GPHC overview which went well. J…seemed to catch the vision and got very excited about teaching this to hundreds of leaders and churches in India. He is definitely a key leader with opportunities to train other key leaders who are representing over 20,000 churches. J…wants GPHC translated and printed into the Hindi and Oriya language as soon as possible and will start all of his leaders on the lessons immediately. He has assured me that they will complete the lessons and wants the teaching just like we did in Vietnam.”
These are just a few reasons to pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit to ignite a spiritual revival in these places. We are very conscious that we cannot create this. It must be the work of God. “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—” (Colossians 4:3).
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!
As we look ahead to the next event the Lord has put on our calendar to spread the gospel and build the church on a biblical foundation we are amazed at how God plans our path in this endeavor. So we share below the itinerary and prayer requests for the next trip from February 16 to March 18th.
We want to assure you that God is working. In fact, we sense that He is doing more in us than what He is doing through us. If that were not true, we would have good reason for great concern. These frail, human vessels can only be used by God as they are molded in the character of Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. This is our first prayer request - that we become more and more like Christ and tuned to the voice and leading of His Spirit.
We thank the Lord for giving Tim Bunn a profitable CPM Launch in Nepal and Orissa, India during the early part of June. Even though the Church Planting Manual did not get printed in the Oriya language prior to the workshop, the attendees spoke/read English or Hindi so that the conference went forward. The conference in Nepal may have opened a door of opportunity in the refugee camps of Tibet and a return to Bhutan. Each of these conferences cause us to call out to the Lord that the Spirit would work in establishing biblical principles in those who attend. If He does not work, the conferences are just another event on the calendar. Please pray for God's work to follow quickly, and that hunger for God's Word will increase, spreading as it did in the Book of Acts. We are very grateful for His mercy to Tim as he developed appendicitis shortly after his return and had to have emergency surgery. He has recovered well and thankful that this did not happen while he was away.
The next event the Lord has placed on our calendar is Ecuador. I (Sherman) will be there from August 19th to the 26th. Since this is my first trip to Ecuador, the main purpose is to build our relationship with a dear brother there and seek the Lord 's guidance regarding other contacts that may open opportunities throughout Central and South America. Please pray for divine guidance. We don't take lightly our responsibility to sense what God is doing and join Him in His work, not promote our own agenda!
We cannot tell you how valuable your prayers are. In addition to the above, we ask for your fervent prayers on a couple of immediate needs in various areas below.
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