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May the Great Commission never be something you only read about

Saturday, April 12, 2014

God Stories among Burmese Refugees


Here's a recent (last 2 weeks) report from one of our Church Planters who works with several Burmese people groups in Clarkston:

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I am awestruck at what God has done this week.  On Friday, 4 Karenni children came to know the Lord after a follow-up visit with the family.  The family had recently watched a Jesus film DVD we had given them earlier in the week.  On Saturday, KM's whole family - mom, dad, sister, brother - came to trust Christ as Savior.  Also, HM's whole family came to know the Lord - dad, mom, three brothers and grandmother.  Here's how it happened ...

I woke up Friday night around 3:00 AM and was burdened to pray for the 2 families mentioned above.  It was a set up!  God let me participate in praying for what He was doing.  When I walked in to the first home, KM's mom was so sad because she had a bad dream and was ready to trust Jesus to save her.  

The next home I entered, I found HM's dad and mom were also sad, and both broke down in tears over the pain the dad had been suffering from many years.  He said that when we prayed, the things that were bothering him completely left him.  He and his whole family came to know Christ that night.  He burned the family's statue of Buddha in the parking lot and threw the rest of the idol paraphernalia in the dumpster!

These families and individuals have recently been baptized and are gathering to meet in their homes as new churches.  Already, there have been some difficulties as well as some spiritual growth.  Life transformation is being seen as they are following Jesus and sharing the good news of Jesus with others around them.

That's not all!  Just a few days ago my roommate noticed a couple of Burmese teenagers hanging out in the parking lot and looking suspicious.  When they noticed him, they quickly ducked down, ran away and hid.  He quickly called me and shared what had happened.  I asked him to pray for me as I went to talk with them.  After pointing me in the general direction they had run, he followed behind in my search.

We quickly found them and began talking to them.  I felt compelled to share with them about Jesus.  Both my roommate and I shared our testimonies, and God began convicting them of sin.  After several minutes of some focused spiritual conversation, a larger group of Burmese teens joined us.  We preached the gospel to them, and when it was all said and done, 3 of them (including the original 2) surrendered their lives to follow Jesus!  I'm not sure what they were looking for in the parking lot, but what they found instead was much greater.

Please pray for all of these new believers, as well as those who we have been discipling for several months.  Also, pray for the house churches that are being planted, as the enemy is quick to bring an attack.  Praise God for what He is doing!

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Join with me in praise to God and prayer for these workers as they make disciples among the Burmese.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quick Update: March Madness


  • New Neighborhood - So, we've moved into a new home.  This one is an actual house that we are renting.  We've been in a couple different apartment complexes over the past 2 years and have only been in our new place for a little over a week, but already we have noticed two huge differences:  1.We've got a lot more room.  Instead of being on top of each other, we now have to call and search for one another through the house or in the backyard.  2.It's been very difficult to get to know our neighbors.  1 week into our stay in our last apartment, we had met dozens of neighbors and even enjoyed a few meals in their homes.  1 week in this new house, we've barely seen anyone.  Pray for us as we initiate new relationships in our new neighborhood.
  • Training - The past few weeks have been heavy with lots of training activities.  Nathan recently began partnering with Reach the Nations Community Church by leading some training for their short term mission teams, as well as their emerging leaders.  Last week, a group of college students from Oral Roberts University came to Clarkston for some cross-cultural experience and training.  This week, we are receiving some great training in church planting from Brian Hogan.  If you are interested in checking out the training Global Frontier Missions offers, go to the new gogfm.org website and click on "Missionary Training".  Plus, check out the brand new missionarytrainingschool.com and try out the free sample course.
  • Baby, Baby! - Andrew Ray Harper will soon make his arrival ... scheduled for April 3.  Nathan was hoping for a 4/4/14 birthday (to go with Chrisley's 6/11/06 and Jude's 9/25/09), but Rachel is fine with a day earlier!  Please pray for good health for mom and baby, as well as adjustment to a little one by big sister and brother.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back To God's Village (A Guest Post from HonorShame.com)

By: Jason Borges

Our friend, Jason Borges, is the creator of the website honorshame.com.  He is missiologist-in-residence for Encompass World Partners.  He is also a partner in ministry in Clarkston, GA.  Before Jason, Angie, and their three daughters moved to Atlanta, they served for almost a decade in Central Asia, among Muslim, honor-shame oriented peoples.  His work toward developing a theology/missiology for honor-shame cultures is extremely helpful.  Please check out the website and read some of the articles linked below.

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HonorShame.com


Back to God's Village
People repeatedly want to better understand the gospel for HonorShame contexts.  So I designed this short video to visually portray that message for one particular HonorShame culture.  I figured cartoons are funnier than articles!



About this story ... it was fashioned about 6 years ago as an attempt to contextualize the gospel.  At first I just rewrote the 4 spiritual laws with HonorShame language.  Then, it seemed better to present it as a village-based narrative.  It was shared in person and orally, most often in segments during a conversation.

Here is the full text (contextualized for Central Asia) and a general summary of salvation-history in HonorShame terms.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Just a Little Rant - Giving and the Great Commission

I'm a little hesitant as I write this.  Not because I'm afraid to share my real thoughts and feelings, I'm not.  Only, I'm not sure if sharing what is on my mind and heart will actually bear fruit or do any good.  I'm afraid to cause hurt.  So, please note this, as you read, that my intention is to actually CHANGE the situation, not just to complain about it.

What situation, you ask? ...

Well, it has to do with money (or a lack of it) getting to the mission field where it is most needed.  Be forewarned, it may get a little deep, so if you stop reading now, I'll understand.  But, what I say needs to be said - and listened to.  So, here goes ...

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Right now, I personally know more than a dozen missionaries with a God-given call to the mission field who cannot get there because of a lack of financial resources.  Let's break down that statement:

  • Right now - I say right now, because a few years ago there were a few more friends who were either in the mission field or preparing to go, but their financial support dried up or just never came in, and they had to walk away from that mission field.  I also say right now, because unless the financial situation changes for those currently waiting, then they too will have to walk away from their call.  And, unless the situation changes, there will be a dozen more in the near future.  In fact, nearly 15% of all mission workers never reach the mission field because of a lack of financial support.
  • I personally know more than a dozen missionaries ... - These are wonderful, fully-devoted followers of Jesus who are ready to make an impact on the world.  Not only are they ready, but they are trained and equipped as well.  Some are called to reach Muslims in Central Asia.  Some desire to share the good news with Hindus in South Asia.  Some have been called to North Africa or the Middle East, a few more to other parts of the 10/40 Window, all to reach the unreached.  These are men and women who are seeking to be obedient to God's call on their lives by following Him to some of the hardest places on earth...simply to make Him known to those who have not yet heard.  They are compelled because of their passion for God's glory.  They are held back because some refuse to share their blessings.
  • ... who cannot get there - There are many reasons why people who feel called to the mission field never get there.  Some simply refuse to obey God's call.  Others, with obedient hearts, find that there are many obstacles standing in their way - from a need for training, language learning, and spiritual preparation, to convincing family members to give their blessing.  Most of these obstacles must be overcome one by one.  Unfortunately, one of the most common obstacles that I have seen, and one that can be crippling to a missionary - even to the point of keeping them from the mission field - is the lack of a sending church.  More accurately, it is the lack of a church that sends.  It has been estimated that "90% of Western churches have NO direct engagement with a missionary." (Patrick Johnstone)  My heart breaks when I read Romans 10:14-15; believing that for every local church which fails to send, then there is a person, a family, a village, a nation who fails to hear.
  • because of a lack of financial resources - George Verwer once said, "lack of finance is a major factor in holding up the work of God."  If Matthew 6:21 is any indication, that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," then most of our hearts are not beating for what God's beats for - namely, His glory made known among the nations.  The ugly truth is that most church members don't have God's heart on their hearts.  When not much more than a penny from every $100 put in churches' offering plates is actually given to missions work among the unreached, then it's not surprising to see fully equipped mission workers sitting on the sidelines wondering what went wrong.  One missionary said, "God has all the money you need to serve in missions, but sadly it's in other people's wallets and many of them forgot to have their wallets baptized."  

None of this is a reference to myself or any of our support team.  We are blessed to have some wonderful and generous family members and friends who are committed to pray for us and financially support us...most of them do so at a great sacrifice!  Of course we do have our own share of financial obstacles.  Even now we are living/serving on 60% of our budget, but so far God has been faithful in providing for our needs and allowing us to remain and serve in our mission field.  We are trusting in Christ as our daily bread.  And we are so thankful for God's provision being shared with us through God's people.

But the reality for far too many missionaries is that God's people are withholding God's provision.  The money is there, but it's going to lots of other things first, until there is nothing but "crumbs" for the missionaries to beg for.  When every year, more money is embezzled from American churches than is given to overseas missionaries, something has to change.

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So, where am I going with all of this?  I'm not sure - it's just a rant.

But, it looks like it is turning into more ... hopefully, anyway.  So be on the look out for follow up posts, where I will try to show you just where your offering money is going, and I hope to give you some practical steps toward changing the current situation.  Thanks for sticking with it this far.

Let's make a CHANGE!


Monday, March 3, 2014

New, Free, Must-Read E-book: Get Yours Now


J.D. Payne, over on his blog, is offering a free e-book.  It's called "Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Places".


Just CLICK HERE and get started reading today!


From J.D.'s blog:  "Unreached Peoples, Least Reached Places is written to cast a vision of reality in the United States, and to offer some practical steps to move us along in disciple making and church multiplication.  We know much about lostness in other parts of the world; we know little about it in our backyard."  

This is an excellent book, no matter if you are new to the idea of backyard (diaspora) missions, or a current practitioner.  If you are a pastor or ministry leader, consider this a must-read!  After you read it - don't worry, it's only about 50 pages - then share it with others.  Let's engage the lost and reach the unreached in America!  

Read it.  Share it.  Engage!