We so much appreciate your prayers, especially for the transition in the international leadership in our movement. Lawrence and Susan Tong are in Carlisle for a month of key meetings, and members of their leadership team are coming for periods of time. Pray for understanding as this new team appreciates the various services we offer to the movement. Pray for great relationships between the leadership team and our ICT leaders. There is an excellent sense of unity, but we know the evil one is always on the move.
I have just received tragic news from Africa. Priscilla, the wife of Lewis Musonda, one of our leaders at Lake Tanganyika, passed away from complications due to malaria and other issues related to pregnancy on 20 April. Lewis and Priscilla have a two-year-old daughter. Please ask the Lord for his amazing grace to be fully experienced at this time.
Significant change is ahead in Germany in the coming months, with one senior leader moving to new responsibilities within OM and a second to another mission group. A search committee is being formed to seek the next field leader as Tobias and Heike Shultz enter the final two years of their term. Pray for wisdom for this group. We have three ministry teams serving in Germany as well as the home office; a new leader to oversee these teams and plan future developments is being sought.
At Teen Street in July 3,500 participants (including staff) are expected. Please pray both for the programme and logistics team as final preparations are made.
Lawrence Tong writes,
As the International Executive prepared for the future, they discussed the best location for the Office of the International Director. In 2012, a working group began research and concluded to the IEC that it should be in Asia. Based on this and further prayer and research, we have decided that Singapore is our preferred location. An appointed group is investigating the ramifications.
No decisions have been made concerning who should be there, or what functions need to be transferred from Carlisle, which will be a significant hub for OM in the foreseeable future. Please continue to keep this as a matter for prayer. We want to move forward in the best way for all those impacted.
Susan and I appreciate your prayer, especially in these full and hectic months of transition. I have big shoes to fill!
Freedom Climb: 27 million people today live as slaves, trapped in bondage or abuse. From 9–25 April, 45 women from around the world attempted to climb to Everest Base Camp and summit neighbouring Kala Patthar peak as part of the Freedom Climb response, raising awareness and funds to help women and children to liberation through rescue and rehabilitation, development, and prevention.
The climb proved difficult when unexpected circumstances surfaced. The majority of the climbers became ill at the outset, forcing them to travel at a pace which meant no one would reach Everest Base Camp. Eventually, a group of women descended the mountain earlier to have more time to reach the bottom, while the other team summited Kala Patthar Peak. Despite the circumstances, the team glorified God:
“We started our journey with great difficulty, yet the Lord has prevailed and we are heading up the mountain. Trafficked children seldom have a choice in what transpires in their lives. In this climb, God will be glorified in helping to bring them the freedom to have those choices.” (Tina Yeager)
“The hike today was good; the scenery was very beautiful. We could see Mt. Everest again—how amazing the creation of God is. My favourite part of this hike has been to link my experience here with the people who are suffering.” (Gildelia Moromisato)
Ukraine: Pastoring a church in a town with close to 100% unemployment, Wayne Zschech, a Business for Transformation (B4T) representative with OM, had to address the practical needs of his church to make spiritual headway among the lost. “We had a vision for community transformation through Christian enterprise and workplace discipleship. Hundreds of locals were asking for employment,” Wayne said.
They now collect 20 tonnes of waste restaurant oil from which two reactors produce European spec biodiesel. They recently added two more workers to the payroll, bringing the total to nine, and plan to add more employees “By God’s favour,” Wayne said, “what started as an experiment in a bucket has now become one of Ukraine’s only operating biodiesel companies.” Wayne and his colleagues plan to restart a mushroom enterprise, creating their own compost from the biogas waste products, thereby developing a business that sustainably transforms lives and the community.
Russia: In only one country on Earth can you travel for 12 days in one direction by train. Seven young people from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Hong Kong, along with two teammates from Russia, rode the Trans-Siberian Railway from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok to share the good news of Jesus Christ with fellow travellers, and partner with local churches along the way by running children and youth programmes. Many travellers had never talked to a foreigner before.
Olga recalled: “We told them the Christmas story from the Bible. One German on the team had a Russian Bible, given by her grandmother for the trip. She gave it to one couple. They were very touched and moved almost to tears.”
“I felt God’s presence with us everywhere we went,” said Sophie (UK) after the trip. “It was surprising to find out that many Russians had never read the Bible and had no idea what the meaning of Christ really is, but it was amazing to see how open they were to hearing the Gospel.”
Greece: Approximately 20,000 women—1,000 aged 13–15—are caught in Greece’s lucrative sex industry. OM supports a local ministry, Nea Zoi (New Life), which reaches those involved in prostitution. Team member Rose* met Joy*, a woman smuggled from Nigeria and forced to work in brothels to pay back her traffickers. Learning that Joy’s bosses would be away during a specific period, the Nea Zoi team succeeded in getting her out of that situation. Rose took her to the International Organization for Migration and helped her through the process of reclaiming her life.
Rita* was also trafficked from Nigeria, with the promise she could work on obtaining her master’s degree in Athens. Instead, she found herself forced into prostitution and soon became pregnant. Once free, she hoped to get a passport for herself and her baby, so she could pursue studies in Belgium. With funds provided by the Freedom Climb project. OM partnered with a shelter, A21, and Nea Zoi to make Rita’s dream possible.
OM is also using funds from the Freedom Climb to partner with the Evangelical Church of Volos, renovating a building to serve as a shelter for abused women. Freedom Climb money channeled through OM Greece is also helping to fund a cloth bag-making project at Nea Zoi, which will generate income for the women.
Switzerland: Many immigrants in Zurich feel isolated due to language and culture barriers. “To help people form relationships with others and God, we invited them to a local café,” said one team member. “We teach Swiss German, offer support to immigrants, or give practical help in tasks.”
Recently, as OM workers passed out flyers for the café, an African woman observed them. “She was so happy that she was noticed and contacted by a Swiss,” said the team member. Please pray for connections between the Swiss and their immigrant neighbours.
Lifehope (UK): In 2007, Tami Zacharias was an adventurous 19-year-old working with OM doing door-to-door outreach. Walking down a street, she spied a man up a tree, trimming the branches. Tami asked him if he could come down, and when he did, she told him about Jesus and shared her story, inviting him to attend church the following Easter Sunday. Tami saw him at church, but they were not able to speak together. Little did Tami know that Steve was touched by her boldness and enthusiasm. He later said to her, “I remember how passionately you talked about Jesus.”
In fact, Steve continued to attend Christ Church, took the Alpha Course and accepted Christ. Hearing about how Steve came to faith, the folks at his church nicknamed him ‘Zacchaeus’. Like the well-known character in the Bible, Steve was called out of a tree and his life was changed. Steve grew in faith and volunteered two days a week at Lifehope, doing maintenance and giving driving lessons to new OMers. Four years later, Tami returned to Lifehope and learnt how God had used her to change Steve’s life. Steve taught Tami how to drive in the UK.
Door-to-door outreach is an important activity for the teams. Engaging a complete stranger in conversation can be daunting, and not many immediate results can be seen. However, stories like this are a reminder that God does marvellous things. Please pray for boldness for the outreach teams and divine opportunities with those open to hearing the Gospel.
Bus4Life: OM’s Bus4Life ministry begins its sixth tour, taking the Gospel to towns and remote villages across seven countries in Eastern and Central Europe over a ten-month period. Formerly a mobile library in Finland, the vehicle serves as a Christian bookstore, café and theatre for evangelism and outreach.
Driver Tuukka Linkopuu of Finland is hoping for good weather and few technical breakdowns—which are common since the bus is over 20 years old and has travelled 768,000 km. During last year’s tour, Tuukka, along with a team of local Ukrainians, had finished an outreach in a village and started back to town. It was past 22:00 when the accelerator stopped working. He halted the bus in the quiet countryside to decide his next move when a mechanic dressed in work clothes came by on his bicycle. The team translated between Tuukka and the mechanic to explain the problem, and this lone cyclist fixed the bus within 10 minutes.
The Bus4Life vehicle underwent inspection and extensive repairs in January, but OM Finland is looking for a newer vehicle to replace, or join, the current bus. Two vehicles would provide more opportunities for ministry. Pray for the Bus4Life ministry and for God to provide another vehicle.
Important job needs in North Africa
Hong Kong: Logos Hope’s ten-day visit over Easter was a great opportunity for crew members to explain to visitors the meaning and hope found in Christ’s life and sacrifice. Give thanks that Logos Hope entered dry dock on time. A main project is the five-year survey of the propeller shafts. Crew and engineers are overhauling several main cylinder heads as well as a long list of projects on the ship’s exterior and in the engine room. Pray for protection and safety.
During dry dock, 22 teams of crewmembers are serving in 10 countries, leading Vacation Bible Schools, supporting local churches, baking as ministry, showing God’s love to children in orphanages, sharing the Gospel and presenting the Ship Ministry. Pray for team unity, strength and renewed passion to serve God and others as crewmembers adapt to new and changing circumstances. Pray God works through them to reveal His character and great love for those they meet.
The ship is scheduled to complete dry dock and layup on 20 May, then calling at at San Fernando and Puerto Princesa, Philippines. Pray for good preparation for advance teams and blessing with permissions, publicity and port programmes.
El Salvador: Pastor Saul had led a church of 35 members in La Majadita for the past four years. A month before he was about to quit due to lack of support, he heard of an opportunity to receive an OM team to work with him, walking long distances through valleys and forests to share the Gospel.
In the afternoons they shared Bible lessons with 50 kids and organised a Dibujando Sonrisas (Drawing Smiles)festival—a party with piñatas and candies gifts for all. Many kids gave their hearts to Jesus.
Saul was encouraged, but his church members also got involved in the activities. At least 15 people gave their lives to Jesus. Saul won respect, confidence and involvement from his church. “I would be crazy to resign now,” he said. “God just showed me that He is my last option.”
Pakistan: OM’s annual pastors’ and church leaders’ conference took place before Easter, when 80 from a number of denominations and locations participated in a series of six sessions. The sessions reminded those present that people in the churches are looking for heroes, not superheroes. God desires men who care with His heart: in spite of failure and weakness, people who learn to return to God are built up by Him.
One pastor said, “Our personal life is one of the most sensible subjects to deal with as pastors. The most difficult person to lead is me. This helped me think and meditate carefully about my own life as a pastor, husband, father and leader. I need to stop, restore myself before God and adjust my ministry. Grace and forgiveness need be my personal experience in bringing the message of hope to seekers and life to believers.”
Bangladesh: Every year, the OM sports ministry holds a one-month discipleship programme for young men to grow in their knowledge of God’s Word and receive training to become football coaches.
Growing up, Kishor* had a close friend, Rana*. Kishor knew that Rana was different, but did not understand why. Rana read the Bible every day and knew that Jesus was the only giver of true peace. Before long, they were reading God’s Word together, and Kishor would accompany him to a small fellowship group that Rana led. Over time, as the questions in Kishor’s heart were answered, fear gave way to peace.
Never in his wildest dreams did Kishor think that his two passions—Jesus and football— would be met simultaneously…until he joined OM’s discipleship sports camp. He learnt to systematically study God’s Word each morning and join in the afternoon’s coach training. “My life has been radically changed by this camp. God is so real to me,” he beamed.
Turkey: Sema* sat down next to Mary* as she journaled. Sema poured coffee and opened a package of dark chocolate, offering some to Mary. From that point on, Mary and Sema became friends.
Sema told Mary that her sister had an Incil (New Testament), but Sema hadn’t read it. She was curious about how Christians worship in church and asked if she could go with Mary. Since then, she has been to church twice. During her first visit, Sema leaned over to Mary and said, “You worship out of love for God; we worship out of fear.”
The next day, Sema showed Mary pictures that her mother, a medium, had taken of spirits and shared memories of a past life that she had learnt from a medium. While Sema anxiously seeks Mary’s approval and craves light and truth, dark lies bind and blind her. Pray for protection and wisdom for Mary, and that God would open Sema’s eyes.
Once again, on behalf of all our workers representing over 100 nations in more than 110 countries, I thank you for your prayers and support.
Your brother in Christ,
* names changed for security reasons
• D A V I D G R E E N L E E •
Acts 5 relates the shocking story of Ananias and Sapphira’s failure in financial transparency. But was their deceit deserving of sudden death?
Not long before this, Jesus encountered show-off temple donors (Luke 21:1–4) known more for “blowing their own trumpet” (Matthew 6:2) than true generosity. The fraudulent couple’s attempt to do the same, using money to ‘steal the show,’ was not to be tolerated in the early Church.
The Eighth Commandment declares “Do not steal,” yet the Old Testament records Israel’s frequent failure to keep this law. Thieves were common as society fell apart (Hosea 7:1); Israel’s leaders were pictured by prophets as an oppressive, orphan-robbing den of robbers (Jeremiah 7:11, Isaiah 10:2).
Theft was rampant in Jesus’ day and a challenge for the early Church. Galileans vainly tried to protect their treasures (Matthew 6:19) while some Corinthian believers had once been thieves (1 Corinthians 6:1). Titus had to teach Christian slaves not to rob their masters (Titus 2:9, 10).
What, though, is the opposite of stealing? In Jesus, how does the eighth commandment become a promise? In stark contrast to the lazy fools and robbers often mentioned in Proverbs, the ideal woman worked hard not only to care for her family but her servants as well, while she “opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:15,20).
Paul went beyond a mere “Stop it!” concerning theft. Rather than taking what belongs to others, the call is to give away what belongs to us! “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28).
Some take advantage of generosity. Idle folks in the church at Thessalonica lived off the generosity of others (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Paul, though, gave an example and a rule: if you don’t work, you don’t eat! (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
Barnabas was part of a very diverse church. Some members were land owners with enough property to sell. There were widows (Acts 6) and people who owned or rented homes (Acts 2:46). There were former beggars, like the crippled man healed at the temple gates (Acts 3) and, eventually, a number of priests (Acts 6:7) as well as Levites like Barnabas. And there were people who would have been in need had not something been done to help them.
In that regard, the church in Jerusalem—as well as Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus—might not have been so different from the fellowships we are part of or are helping to plant. Teaching new believers to stop picking pockets or committing armed robbery appears straightforward. But when it comes to corruption, charging a fair price, or paying taxes, the answers may be more complex. When the economy is booming, it is easy to quote Paul’s letters and tell people to “get a job and be generous.” How does that work out in Spain, with 25% unemployment overall and far higher rates among young adults?
Although not used in the specific passages about Barnabas, his actions are described by the Greek word of generously supplying needs, epichoregeo (ἐπίχορηγέω). This word is rooted in Greek theatre where a chorus would echo lines or express surprise to back up the main characters. Dramas required a generous sponsor to pay for props and costumes. To honor the sponsor—and perhaps add a bit of pressure to give more—the sponsor was made honorary chorus leader. In Greek, the expression “You really led the chorus” (epi (ἐπί): over and above; choregeo (χορηγέω): lead the chorus) came into use and referred to someone who was truly generous.
Unlike the theatres of Athens, and distinct from the style of Ananias and Sapphira or the wealthy donors at the Jerusalem temple, Barnabas gave quietly. His giving style is coupled to his character by Luke in one brief sentence, embodied in the nickname by which we know him: Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36, 37).
Unlike Ananias and Sapphira, Barnabas never tried to steal the show. Instead, he really ‘led the chorus’ in all he did, a model of encouraging generosity worth following 21 centuries later.
Credit: OM International · © 2013 OM International
Our International Director, Peter Maiden, highlights important issues, developments in ministry and concerns for prayer and response worldwide. This monthly report is issued digitally.