Director's Update - Nov 2017

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True or false?

Although discerning truth from lies is difficult today, as followers of Jesus, “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6, NIV)—each of us is accountable for our thoughts and actions. Unaware, we can accept popular ‘truth’ as fact when it actually isn’t. However, we are obligated to know what we speak of. This is not new; the New Testament says that “the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11, NIV). Christians need discernment when exposed to ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative facts’: That 10,000 people on FaceBook believe something does not make it true! Christians risk their integrity and witness by not regularly examining what we hold to be true.

We also need to, once and for all, wash our hands of trading in gossip. Citing patriotism or doctrinal warfare changes nothing. I wonder whether some OMers actually have meaningful work, based on their FaceBook activity! When we hear falsehoods, distortions and slander, we should tactfully engage to challenge what is spoken—but social media is not the best place to do so.
 

Let’s make this personal

We easily accept something as true, when it may not be, leaving us defending lies. For example:

  1. God could never forgive that one sin of mine (or hers). God’s Word says otherwise, yet we can live under this lie for years. Either God speaks truth or we make Him out to be a liar (1 Jn. 1:8–10, NIV).
  2. God only uses the talented (not me). This destructive lie from Satan has kept millions from purposeful service in the kingdom. If God can use Balaam’s ass (Num. 22), then He can use anyone—including me and you! God is not biased toward intelligence or skill, but to total surrender and commitment.
  3. God needs our help. This is the basis of too many appeals for money or service. Jesus went to the cross alone, died for all of us alone, and rose from the dead without His disciples’ help. How could God lack in anything? This same Jesus could save the whole world with no help. Yet, mystery of mysteries, He has chosen to work through those He has redeemed.
     

Replace these false assumptions with irrefutable truths:

  1. God can exercise sovereignty in any situation. Nothing is off limits to God. I attest to this from a long history of seeing God intervening on my behalf. As a movement, we have seen God’s hand over six decades. God has all knowledge; nothing will ever happen to take God by surprise or find Him unprepared.
  2. Regardless of the past, anyone can have a better future in Christ. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is past, the new has come (2 Cor. 5: 17). We need to look past the labels we put on people and discover new brothers and sisters in the Lord. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16: 7). This is our message to a desperate world.
  3. How we treat others is our primary testimony to Jesus (Jn. 17: 21): This is a problem for me. Loving the Lord with all my heart and mind and soul and strength? He deserves that. He has never disappointed me or treated me badly. But loving others is a challenge, especially when others have actually hurt me. That takes huge doses of grace, humility and forgiveness.
     

God alone is the source of all truth. Why settle for less?

 

EVANGELISM

COSTA RICA: THE END OF THE ROAD

Five people trekked for several days through mountains to San José Cabécar: OMer Diego and local friends Angela, Enrique, Luis and Anthony. Each day, the team stopped along the way, greeting and praying with people, and sharing about their journey. On a previous trip, Diego had shared a Bible story with a couple in whose home he spent the night. On this trip, Diego shared more about Jesus. The husband had heard about Jesus from others, but never like Diego presented the message. The group ended the night with prayer together.

The leader of one community told Diego that, because he was not of the Cabecar or Bribri tribes he was not welcome. The second evening, the team stayed in a communal gathering space. The leader spoke further with Diego, leading to a new acceptance of his gringo (foreigner) friend and a new beginning for relationship.

Angela’s mother, Ermelinda, considered the most well-known witchdoctor in Talamanca, greeted the team and fed them. Diego asked if he could enter her home; she said that no non-indigenous person could, as it was a holy place. Later, she described having great pain in her body, and Angela offered that Diego could pray for her. She turned down this request. Enrique, a local Cabecar man, was sharing Christ with others in their native language. To Diego, this was very special to witness, as Enrique came to Christ and was mentored by OM workers.

Through these trips to remote places, OM hopes to start relationships with indigenous communities and see people from these tribes transformed by Jesus Christ and sharing the message of hope. Pray for God to reveal Himself to people who hear about Jesus from OM workers and believers passing through their communities.

 

KOSOVO: POWER TO BE FREE

Beni*, a young man from a small village, met OMer Peter* about two years ago. They became friends and had coffee together frequently, with several spiritual conversations over time. Yet only recently did Beni see how the gospel could make a difference in his own life.

One day, Beni talked about dark magic and the occult. Looking at his phone, he told Peter, “In my village is a man who will put a good or an evil curse on someone for you. That really frightens me; I fear for my family and what this person could do. What do you believe about good and evil spirits and curses?”

“Beni asked this with such curiosity and hope for an answer,” Peter recalled. “I told him that I believed in spiritual forces, good and evil, but that I have no fear.” When Beni asked him why, Peter opened a Bible app on his phone. Together, the two men read the story of Jesus healing the man with an unclean spirit in Mark 1:21-28.

“I’d never seen him so happy to talk about the gospel before; he was so thankful to know that Jesus had the power to cast out evil spirits!” Peter said, smiling. Beni wanted to know more, so they planned to meet a week later to look at more stories of Jesus and how the Kingdom of God will come to earth.

Pray for people in Kosovo to be freed from fear of evil spirits and magic through freedom in Christ. Pray that the OM teams would meet people whom God is working in and that they would see vibrant communities of Jesus followers created.

 

RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA: AFTER THE HURRICANE, HOPE

Logos Hope crewmembers have partnered with Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian aid agency, to help victims of Hurricane Irma on the Caribbean island of Barbuda where most of the buildings’ roofs were blown off and many homes were destroyed. “My lovely island has been torn apart like a bomb was dropped in the middle of it,” said Devon Desouza, a hospital worker. “But we are very thankful for Samaritan’s Purse and Logos Hope assisting us, showing there are people who care and want to help.” 

One hundred fifty crewmembers joined relief teams on shuttle flights from Antigua by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) or in the Samaritan’s Purse cargo plane. Samaritan’s Purse distributed small generators to households and provided a water filtration system, the island’s only source of drinking water. Logos Hope’s volunteers brought electrical and carpentry skills to the effort of reinforcing homes, clearing debris and listening to Barbudans putting their lives back together.

It’s not the first time a crewmember has seen widespread destruction. Johanna Silva (Sri Lanka) and her family helped people after a tsunami killed 150,000 people in her country in 2004. “Coming to Barbuda, I didn’t expect the devastation to be of almost that magnitude,” Johanna said as she stood in a street filled with rubble. “Everything that they had is gone. I was overwhelmed at first, but it’s so encouraging to work with a hardworking team to make a difference in a community that really needs it.”

For Samaritan’s Purse, the partnership with Logos Hope has been a blessing and morale boost, according to Mark Langham, the area coordinator. “The teams have been incredible,” he said, “They’ve worked tirelessly, had incredible attitudes, brought a joy and excitement that invigorates us every day. For me, that’s the Body of Christ, serving others and not expecting anything in return—a beautiful image of the Church at large, with so many countries represented.”

It’s estimated that Barbuda’s rebuild will take at least two years. Samaritan’s Purse is setting up a permanent presence on the island. Logos Hope held a special event on board in St John’s (Antigua) for displaced Barbudans. Shiraz Hopkins was one of the loudest voices singing and praising God, grateful for all that his family and his community have been brought through. “Possessions we can replace and they will come. We see that God has already sent Logos Hope and Samaritan’s Purse and He will send others, so we thank God for His goodness. He will raise Barbuda again,” Shiraz beamed.

 

CHURCH PLANTING

TANZANIA: ONE, ONE, ONE

Along the Serengeti corridor, a vast number of villages have no access to the gospel. The Taturu people hold fiercely to traditions of witchcraft and ancestral worship. In stepped Tukiko Omosso, a pastor and church planter who had completed OM’s Missions Discipleship Training years earlier in Zambia and developed a heart for the Taturu people. Upon his return, Tukiko and his wife set out into the African bush.

Now, Tukiko recalls God’s blessings. “When we came here five years ago to plant a church, there was no road,” he says. “It was difficult even to drive a motorbike. But after we started the church, the government built this nice road. That’s the way God works sometimes: You go to a remote place, and God has a purpose to glorify Himself there, so He makes a way.”

Tukiko and his church have planted five new churches, but the journey has not been easy one. After years of struggle, churches are growing, but slowly. The limited growth, Tukiko says, is due to the spiritual darkness that claims Taturuland.

“It’s difficult to bring Taturu people to Christ because of their traditions,” he says, referencing witchcraft and binding cultural practices. “But we are getting one, one, one.”

‘Getting one’ was the mantra of Tukiko and his wife when they decided to venture out with their church. “We said, ‘Whatever it costs, we want to see one person in Taturuland come to Christ,’” he says. “And we have seen God change more than one.”

Tukiko desires to add more churches; in addition to the five already planted, his own church is training six more men to be church planters.

“I want my church to be a model of missions,” he says. “Always sending. We can’t sit back while people are dying.”

 

JUSTICE

NEAR EAST: SCHOOL IMPACTS FAMILIES

Sixty-five refugee and displaced children, Christian and Muslim, attend an English-speaking kindergarten sponsored by a local church. Most had to flee ongoing conflict in Syria, Iraq, Jordan or Lebanon. Although the school charges a nominal fee, many parents cannot pay. OM committed to covering the kindergarten’s rent for one year, allowing the children to continue their education—and receive biblical input.

“This morning, I was so tired,” Karen* said, “but I am so happy because when the parents come to pay the fees, all say the same thing: Our child is changed, happy and wants to come [to school],” she observed. Since the children come from mixed religious backgrounds, “we teach them what is in the Bible and Christian songs. We talk about God, and it makes a difference in their families.” Parents tell Karen that the lessons learnt at school extend into their homes. “Some parents don’t know how to act with their children,” Karen said. Profanity and physical abuse are widespread in homes, she shared. “In this country, most families don’t use ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry,’” she added. At the kindergarten, students learn manners, polite speech and how not to retaliate physically when upset. Parents have told Karen, “Our child is changed at home. We see that they listen now.”

Pray for the kindergarten to receive sufficient funding to continue its ministry. Pray for the staff, the children and the parents. Visit www.om.org/en/give to donate to OM’s Syrian and Iraqi relief fund.

 

MENTORING & DISCIPLESHIP

CENTRAL ASIA: ROAD TESTING FAITH

When Baha* wanted to join the OM Ship ministry, he was required to participate in an OM Central Asian outreach. Starting out, Baha’s four-person team booked an eight-hour taxi ride to their destination. In the middle of the night, Baha woke up in the back of the taxi and heard his team leader praying aloud in the front. Alarmed, Baha then realised he and the taxi driver were praying. “This driver got saved!” he remembered.

Baha himself was still exploring Christianity: “I believed in God; I didn’t know Jesus. I never read the Bible at home. On Fridays, I went to the mosque; on Sunday, I went to church; at night, I was out on the streets.”

Therefore, the concept of evangelism terrified him. “I have to talk about God, but I don’t even know Him,” he thought. The outreach challenged Baha to grow closer to God. During the outreach, Baha also prayed for the first time. “This challenge—going into other countries for 12 days—is amazing,” he said.

 

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

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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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