Oct. 23-26. Repacking after one night was easy and we headed to B’s for breakfast. Poor little M. did not want to say goodbye to G’Papa and walk to school, but we wiped the tears away and P drove her across the street instead of making her walk. Since my flight didn’t leave until 11:55 a.m., we lingered over breakfast and then P, T and B loaded me and my two bags into their car. What I did not realize was they were adding another hour so we could stop at a coffee shop near the airport and have some coffee or tea before I left. They secretly arranged for T-2 to also meet us there. Rosemary had asked if I could get some Vietnamese cinnamon which is supposedly some of the best in the world. I had failed, but T-2 was determined to find it, and find it she did! She located both hand ground and store bought. The aroma smelt so fresh and pungent. We had a delightful time together which made the next phase all the harder. Before leaving the restaurant, I asked each person to give me their most important prayer request. Each one had a very clear desire that God would lead them into a specific aspect of the Lord’s work that would accelerate the gospel and reach the unreached in Vietnam. It is rare to see such one-mindedness in the gospel. This was not rehearsed. It was on the spot! It was real!
Need I say that the airport drop was very difficult? P drove and could not linger at the curb, so he drove on, but T and B took me to security. Somehow B persuaded the guards that I needed an escort, so they allow him into the airport with me. I can’t put into words the loving, thoughtful care T provided while I was there. The tears for both of us told the story and the gratitude that went both ways. I turned to leave and could not look back until I was well past the security entrance where we waved to each other for one last time. B was so helpful at the ticket counter, making sure I would be cared for all the way to Yangon. We got within a few yards of the immigration line and B wanted one last picture of us together. He enlisted a willing stranger. The next moments were harder for him than for me because I had learned his heart, and was confident God is going to use him in a mighty way. By his own words, he felt he had gained two Paul’s in his life, and number two was now leaving. I had gained a Timothy! For those who have never been to Asian countries, please understand that it is uncommon and not part of this culture for a man to weep in public. But he held nothing back. I was thankful that security took me through the diplomat line so I would be out of sight as quickly as possible. Just as I went into the concourse, I turned to see B still peering through the glass to see me for one last time. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, that the bonds we have in Christ far surpass earthly ties!
Paul says about Timothy that "I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare" (Philippians 2:19). Is this the degree of our love and commitment to God's work in others?
"The trouble with the average church is that the cart is put before the horse and then the pastor is told to get on the seat and drive, and of course he finds the going hard. If only we would reverse the order and accept God's plan, we would get somewhere and the going would be easy. Seek first the extension of God's kingdom world-wide, and all things will be added. God's program never fails!"
By Oswald J. Smith (The Challenge of Missions, page 24).
A brother in Zambia who has completed the GPHC training reports:
"The leaders whom we have taught through this manual (God’s Plan for His Church) have come to consider the manual like a bible commentary. They understand the book of Acts and the letters of Paul. They say transformation is taking place in homes and in the churches."
This week (July 29th to August 3) there is a conference in Yangon, Myanmar. The initial report for the first two days is that there are "about 50 - 60 hungry souls" at the meeting and we are seeing "a real work of the Spirit".
These two things will always go together; hunger for God's Word and a work of the Spirit. Notice the example in the Book of Acts:
Acts 10:33, "Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord." There was a readiness to hear what God would say, which we receive primarily through His Word. This is followed a few verses later with Luke's record; "While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word" (verse 44).
If you want to see God's Spirit work in our day, promote a hunger for His Word, not yourself.
In all things, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).
In Jeremiah 18:1-10; Romans 9:19-24; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, God uses the analogy of clay in the Potter’s hand to illustrate how He wants to mold and shape us according to His design and purpose. One of the most importance elements in keeping the clay flexible in the Potter’s hand is water (the Holy Spirit). Without continual application of the Holy Spirit to our lives, we will become brittle and resist God’s shaping hand on us.
A lump of clay that refuses to be softened by water (the Holy Spirit) will become useless and perhaps even rejected as a vessel "honorable...set apart as holy, useful for the master" (2 Timothy 2:21). Read also 1 Corinthians 9:27.
My brother Tim gave me a quote from Thomas A. Kempis recently: “Use the temporal; desire the eternal”. Paul said, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself”. That is the temporal. Then he goes on to say, “if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” That is the eternal.
How do you measure your life alongside Paul’s?
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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