Director's Update - Aug 2017

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Pack wisely

Our journey with Jesus is a marathon testing us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We need to check our baggage every day to maximise our resources. Obviously, we need life’s necessities, but when these cares dominate our thinking, our progress suffers. Paul challenged the Colossians (3:1, 2 NIV) to “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

In a marathon, preservation of energy is crucial, so what we bring along or leave behind can determine our success. Here are three things to get rid of without deliberation:

Resentment and jealousy. All of us experience hurt, misunderstanding, revenge and worse. Do not let the past squander the future. Letting go becomes an opportunity to learn and start again. We must decide that our future is of greater value than any incident in the past. In my early OM days, I twice volunteered for certain positions and twice was turned down. I therefore determined to never ask for a role but to accept whatever was asked of me. This freed me to work hard, proud not of my accomplishments but of the privilege to serve.

Unwarranted fear. We were raised to respect authority and laws; in this respect, fear is useful and healthy. Fear also keeps us from tempting the laws of nature. However, fear of potential danger can cripple us when it becomes bigger to us than God. Considering a change in by-laws, a board member objected, “If we do this, I could land in jail.” I asked him, “In 60 years, how many OM board members have gone to jail?” (Zero) This is unhealthy and harmful to the race we must run.

Pride of self. Wanting to receive glory or acknowledgement for your acts or reputation is dangerous and addictive. None of us are bulletproof. Pride is destructive because it covers over the example of Christ and elevates man to the centre. Pride blurs the horizon and will eventually disqualify us from the race.

Instead, here are three essential things for the journey:

A servant heart. Paul challenged believers to imitate him as he imitated Christ, focusing on the servant heart of Jesus (Phil. 2: 6–8). To all leaders (especially in OM), I remind you that pure hands and minds stem from our attitude. A servant leader will never hold Jesus for ransom (I’ll do this job, provided that…; otherwise I am out.) Trust God to place you where you can best contribute. We are called to the Master’s bidding; nothing more should be expected.

A sureness of purpose. Though the sun may not shine, I know that what I am doing is from God and I seek His pleasure, no one else’s. The day is approaching when I will step down from my position, but Lawrence Tong will carry on with whatever God instructs. Marathoners have the big picture.

Restoration. Marathon runners are proactive in maintaining energy levels, hydration, watching for cramps and more. Jesus would often seclude himself with His Father to recharge and refocus. Are we not in greater need? These breaks are for prayer, processing and relaxation (not email) and should never be a burden: “It’s my day off, but I probably should go to the prayer meeting.” Go if you like…or not. Restoration includes healing of damaged relationships that will infuse you with reclaimed energy for the race.

Regardless of where you are on the journey, consider the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before you (Heb. 12:1 NIV), cheering you on. The finish line is closer than ever!
 

HAJJ PRAYER

We encourage you to mark August 30 to September 1 on your prayer calendars to pray for the Muslim world as they go to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on the Hajj (pilgrimage)—one event in Islam when Muslims believe that their sins can be forgiven. Hajj Prayer has created a three-day prayer focus for these days. This information is free and can be shared in your own prayer letters and information. 

There is a video on YouTube: Hajj 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01wVFer3oHo

PDFs are available in A4 and US Letter sizes: http://www.pray-ap.info/hajj.html

 

EVANGELISM

RUSSIA: WHAT NOW?

Asel*, an ethnic Tuvan—one of the least-reached people groups—studies at OM’s Discipleship Centre. Every week, people from different Asian nationalities gather for a service that unites Korean, Tuvan, Uzbek and other believers as they worship God and listen to preaching.

Dina* was a student from a small town with a rich Buddhist history. She grew up in Buddhist culture and considered herself a Buddhist, yet enjoyed this new experience. Afterward, Asel talked with Dina in their native language and asked if she had heard about God. Dina answered: “No, I am a Buddhist; I guessed that it was a Christian meeting”. She added: “What shall I do with Buddha now?”

Because Asel’s family practiced Buddhism and worshipped idols, it was easy to share her experience in finding the truth of the gospel: Jesus is the Lord for Russians, Tuvans and all others. Dina listened carefully and asked questions. They prayed together and Dina trusted Christ. Asel continues to communicate with Dina and hopes to involve her in a Bible Study group. Pray for Dina as she learns to follow Christ.

 

RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT

JAMAICA: STOPPING THE SPIRAL

Montego Bay residents may live in a port city with easier access to literature than their rural neighbours, but according to local Youth with a Mission (YWAM) campus directors John and Danya Hess, many in the community are illiterate. “Some are unemployed because they have no skills or literacy,” said Danya, “and this high unemployment rate causes a lot of poverty.”

YWAM’s goal is to “inspire hope in local communities through skills training programmes”, which aligns with Logos Hope’s goal of bringing knowledge to communities through supplying literature. OM and YWAM partnered during the ship’s visit to launch a literacy programme on YWAM’s campus. “Our library project opens up our campus so that people from our local community can learn to read and write,” said John. “Our team is small, so the extra hands of Logos Hope volunteers to help with the project moved this literacy programme from a wish to becoming a reality.”

Ship teams cleaned and painted a room for the new library, while others built and fitted bookshelves. Logos Hope also donated 300 books for various reading levels, on a variety of subjects. According to Danya, having a library where local people can access books free of charge opens doors not normally open to those who cannot afford quality literature. “Not being able to read is a shame-based thing,” said Danya, “but because people here have a relationship with us and trust us, they feel comfortable using our library and learning to read.”

John and Danya are delighted with the new library and the launch of the literacy programme, and very thankful for OM’s partnership and the crew’s labour. They believe the new initiative will help meet an important need in Montego Bay.

 

NAMIBIA: A BETTER WAY

Subsistence farming—growing crops only for daily family living—remains the norm for the developing world and Namibia is no exception. With only three inhabitants per sq. km, an every-man-for-himself attitude may seem more practical but, in larger villages and towns, denser populations offer more opportunities. One pastor in Katima Mulilo hopes to change the mindset in his community. Itii has come alongside four locals in a joint venture to break the mold and foster an improved way of life.

While sectioning just one area for their chickens, rather than four separate locations, their enclosure will consist of various coops for chickens in different stages of growth.

The first order of business is to establish a growing flock; the more hens they have, the more chicks will be born, multiplying their brood. Only when everything is in order, he says, will they begin to look at alternative ways to grow the business.

Itii works closely with Katima-based OM missionary Linda Taljaard, and his goal is not only to train men in business (a new concept to most rural Namibians) but to disciple them in life skills to bring the gospel to a central focus in every aspect of life. The property that will serve as their coop is large enough to expand as their numbers grow. While Itii joins the men only as a mentor, not as a business partner, he is working with Linda and OM to help open up opportunities for development both in business and in the men’s personal lives.

 

CHURCH PLANTING

ZIMBABWE: NO CHURCH? GROW ONE

When OMer Paul* first moved to Domboshava, he was simply looking for land to build a house for his family. More than 50 km from his church in Harare, his family needed a church in the area. Domboshava is a melting pot of town and country, wealth and poverty. Sex work, drugs and alcohol abuse are in plain sight.

As Paul searched, he was confronted with an opposite picture. “I knew God had not just given us a home in Domboshava for mere enjoyment. But I didn’t think He had given us a flock to shepherd either”. Paul then used his OM training and his passion for the lost to plant a church which already has twelve committed members and two cell groups in other locations. The church has also made inroads into reaching youths and elderly in the area.

“Our vision is to be a mission-minded church that will overflow in love and character to impact the community”, Paul said. “First, we need to empower our members with Bibles and other materials for them to mature. Then we want to empower our members and the community at large with life skills training to enable them to make a life for themselves and others.” Pray for continued growth and maturity of the new believers in the new church and cell groups.

 

JUSTICE

HUNGARY: STARTING OVER

A team member writes,
Some time ago, I spent time with OM’s Bus4Life which travels around Central and Eastern Europe to bring Christian literature and a space for outreach and conversation. We spent four nights ministering to sex workers in a red-light district. One night, we had a deep conversation with two women on board the Bus4Life. We were able to share the gospel with them as they told us stories about their lives and desires. We also had opportunity to share our testimonies.

One girl didn’t want to take a Bible, but later returned; upon leaving, she asked for a Bible…and a blessing. I told her that the Bible is perfect; a blessing from me couldn’t be better than that, but I would pray for her.

The other girl was very open in talking. She wanted to leave this ‘profession’, but has a 5-year-old daughter to provide for. While on the bus, she received a call from her pimp, who was very angry because she was not in the street for business. We prayed, and the girl went out.

Later she called us in tears because her pimp had beaten her. She made the decision to get away from him immediately. We helped her move to a temporary place for one night, and the next day to a safe place that provides care and support. Here, she will be a part of a program for ex-sex workers and can start to live a new, free life. May God give her strength and love to live a good life according to biblical values.

 

MENTORING & DISCIPLESHIP

NEAR EAST: TRAINED FOR TOUGH PLACES

OM continues to prepare Arab missionaries for the least-reached areas through its church planting school in the region. “We have a region [where people] have the vision to serve Christ, to give their lives to Christ more than ever before. But we have places that are needy like never before,” Azzam*, administrator of the school explained. Of Iraq’s 18 provinces, only six are believed to have any churches. One province has a population of two million people, but only one church with approximately 40 believers, according to Azzam.

OM’s church planting school prepares Arabs to go into the least-reached areas of Iraq for the purpose of developing new vibrant communities of Jesus followers. Training focuses on bridging cultural differences, opening conversations about religion and working in teams. The first three months are classroom-based, with morning lectures and afternoon trips into the local area to make relationships with people and talk about Jesus. The students also take trips to Syrian refugee camps to gain a deeper understanding of culture shock. Iraq is 95 per cent Muslim and less than one per cent evangelical Christian, according to Operation World, so understanding how to operate in such an environment is essential for the students’ training, say the leaders.

Students also learn to work as church planting ministry teams. “[They learn] how to resolve conflict, how we care for ourselves, and how we work on a team,” Azzam said. After three months, students take a short exposure trip to Iraq to implement their knowledge into their daily operations before heading to Iraq for four years.

“The Iraqi church wants to do what they can to make way for other Arab [ministry workers] to come,” Azzam said. “Many people in this area have never heard the gospel; through the school, there has been much more outreach on a wider scale.” said Nadir*, a leader in the school. Pray for the students, some of whom have given up good jobs and left their families for the sake of the gospel. Ask God to provide visas for long-term residency for church planters in Iraq.

 

Thank you for your prayers and support of all OM ministries worldwide.

Lawrence Tong

 

* name changed

Credit: OM International · © 2017 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

OM’s role in the Church is to mobilise people to share the knowledge of Jesus and His love with every generation in every nation. OM pioneers and leads initiatives to redeem lives, rebuild communities and restore hope in over 110 countries.

About Director’s Update

lawrence

OM's International Director, Lawrence Tong,  highlights important issues, developments in ministry and concerns for prayer and response worldwide. This monthly report is issued digitally.

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