Does Praying for Missionaries Make a Difference?

By Dr. Clark Armstrong

Does praying for missionaries make a difference?

There are always testimonies to support in some dynamic or dramatic way that, indeed, prayer does make a difference. But I want to testify today that it makes a daily, sustaining difference also. Our top daily prayer supporters are my wife, Connie’s, parents. But Hannah Babin, the little girl in this picture, was six when we came to her church in Baton Rouge on Home Assignment in April 2014 and now she is ten. She told us and her mother, Heidi, that she was going to pray every day for us and she has faithfully kept her promise.

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As we reflected on this past year, we are amazed that neither Connie nor I have needed to see a doctor other than for routine checkups. Nor have we been really sick. We are in our sixties and this is unusual among our peers.

We have driven (well, Connie is our main driver) in the worst traffic in the world in Manila, Philippines without any fender-benders or incidents. We have found every church building or location we needed to find over this time in places that have no addresses and where, therefore, GPS is almost useless.

We had a really tough time on one day in April, and we were tired and burdened and overloaded. We always know that God has Connie’s parents and a host of others who we may not know by name praying for us every day. But that night I said to Connie not to lose hope because a ten-year-old girl in Louisiana is praying for us today.

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If God could raise up a young prayer supporter like that, we should take courage that he will never leave us nor forsake us. How could he fail to answer the prayers of a sincere girl? Our hearts were strengthened, and I proceeded as professor to proofread the thesis that had to be done by morning. I finished at 5:00am and rose at 7:00am to live another ministry-packed day. I am convinced that that student graduated this year because of Hannah’s prayers.

I have no conclusion to arrive at other than daily prayers have been holding us up. Thank you, Mom and Pops, Hannah and the Babin family, and all our other prayer supporters. Anything that has been accomplished through our lives this year for Christ and his kingdom was made possible and is equal to the credit of your uplifting prayers. To God be the glory! We are a team and we could not do it without you all!

–Dr. Clark Armstrong is Professor in Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in Manila, Philippines.

Loss Felt by Global Family: BGS Statement on Cuba Tragedy

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The Board of General Superintendents, Church of the Nazarene, extends its heartfelt love, passionate prayers, and deepest condolences to the families of all affected by the Friday, May 18 plane crash in Havana, Cuba.

It was with heavy hearts we learned that 10 Nazarene pastoral couples were among the 100-plus people who lost their lives in this tragedy. They had just completed a national conference for the Cuba Nazarene Church.

“Sharon and I had the privilege of being at the Cuba East District Assembly in January,” said David W. Graves, jurisdictional general superintendent for the denomination’s Mesoamerica Region. “We were touched by their love and passion for Jesus and the Church of the Nazarene. Our hearts are heavy for the families, churches, and the district, and the loss is personally felt by our global family.”

We are comforted by the report from Rev. López, president of the Church of the Nazarene in Cuba, who said the couples were singing, praying, and testifying on their way to the airport. The promise of the resurrection assures us that we will be reunited in praising and worshiping God together.

We grieve with the families of those who lost their loved ones. We also grieve with Regional Director Rev. Carlos Sáenz, Rev. Leonel López, and East District Superintendent Rev. Luis Batista during this time. May the Lord carry the children of these mothers and fathers, surrounding them with His all-embracing peace and love that transcends our understanding.

To Nazarenes around the world, please continue to join us in prayer for all affected by this tragic loss. We embrace Christ’s mandate to console the grieving and care for the widows and orphans.

To Cuban Nazarenes, East District churches, and all hurting in that nation today, we love you. You are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ. We mourn with you, hurt with you, pray for you, and will continue to lift you up in prayer in the days, months, and years ahead.

Our prayer is that God’s peace will guard your hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7). May you hold on to the reality that God, our “Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). Our prayer is for the peace of Christ to be with the people of Cuba during this time of grief and pain.

We are grateful for and we remember their consecrated lives:

  • Mirza Rodríguez Rondón & Juan Luis Vega Velázquez
  • Luis Manuel Rojas Pérez & Maricela Peña
  • Norma Suárez Niles & Jesús Manuel García Oberto
  • María Virgen Filandez Rojas & Rafael Vega Velázquez
  • Ronni Alain Pupo Pupo & Yurisel Milagros Miranda Mulet (Nazarene Missions International district president)
  • Eloy Ortiz Abad & Elva María Mosqueda Legrá
  • Juan Carlos Nogueras Leyva & Noelbis Hernández Guerrero
  • Gelover Martín Pérez Avalo & Yoneisi Cordovez Rodríguez (pastor and district treasurer)
  • Manuel David Aguilar Saavedra & María Salomé Sánchez Arévalo (district secretary)
  • Grisell Filandes Clark & Lorenzo Boch Bring

This article was originally published at: nazarene.org

“Ascribe to the Lord”

Annual Report of Global Mission & Genesis

As Global Mission and GENESIS coordinators we have spent the last month remembering 2017.  One thing has been clear: God has done amazing things and will continue to do so!

Just a reminder: The Mesoamerica Global Mission ministry seeks to Discover, Develop, and Deploy missionaries from our region. GENESIS seeks to make Christlike disciples in the urban centers of Mesoamerica. Mobilizing our entire region to send missionaries, as well as focusing on the transformation of our cities has proven challenging and, at the same time, endlessly rewarding.

Here are a few of the exciting things that have occurred in the past year:

  1. In January and February 2017 the entire region dedicated the first 40 days to praying for the cities of Mesoamerica. This initiative has been launched again in 2018 and is proving highly effective.
  2. Three new Genesis missionaries were trained and deployed last year: Joselyn García was sent from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to Santiago, Dominican Republic and AJ and Chelsea Fry were sent from Florida, USA to become the Coordinators of construction of the new Center of Missionary Formation (CMF) in Los Alcarrizos, Dominican Republic.
  3. Current Genesis missionaries in Santiago (DR), Grenada, and Guadalajara (Mexico) have done a stellar job planting five churches, and encouraging dozens of other existing congregations. Their testimonies are amazing, but I lack the space to tell them all here; thus, seek them out on the new Genesis app available in the App Store on iTunes.
  4. Five Work and Witness teams have come already to better the seminary campus and prepare the land for the CMF, and fifteen more are scheduled for the coming year.
  5. Although for nine years we had published articles and reflections on culture, leadership, missions, and much more in the transformaelmundo.com blog, on April 9, 2017 we began to do so as well in English at transformtheglobe.com.
  6. In May of 2017 we launched the Worthless Servants Podcast in both Spanish and English. Each episode includes a conversation on missions, culture, the Church, or other topics, and we currently have hundreds of listeners through iTunes, WhatsApp, and other platforms.
  7. Created in 2016, the 10 Characteristics of a Genesis Church (i.e. healthy and missional) have been further developed and publicized throughout the region in district training events, on all social media, and through the podcast.
  8. Two promotional videos were created in Spanish and English to be used in promoting Genesis in the local churches and at District Assemblies throughout the region.
  9. At General Assembly in June 2017 we utilized this once-every-four-years platform in order to promote Genesis in the region and in our entire denomination. We literally came in contact with thousands of people, shared information more closely with hundreds, and recruited dozens of potential missionaries, prayer partners, Work and Witness teams, and donors.
  10. Ten Cross-Cultural Orientations were held across the region with a total of 181 youth and adults interested in missions attending. This includes the first-ever CCO in Haiti held in December 2017. God is truly raising up his church in missions-sending!
  11. A multitude of inter- and intra-field short-term trips have been offered with an estimate of a whopping 112 volunteer missionaries dedicating over 2,000 days in service to the mission-field! I should also note that an estimate of 2,500+ people have participated in Maximum Mission or similar trips in the past year.
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Cross-Cultural Orientation in Guatemala, 2017

Looking back has been encouraging, but we must also look forward with expectation.  What do we sense God calling us to do in these ministries in 2018?

Goals for 2018:

  1. Discover, develop and deploy 12 volunteer missionaries to 3 priority Genesis sites (Monterrey, Querétaro, and Panama City).
  2. Receive 15 teams in 2018 that participate in the refurbishing of the seminary and construction of the Center of Missionary Formation in the Dominican Republic.
  3. Acquire 7 new partnerships for Genesis development, 2018 priority Genesis sites, and the CMF.
  4. Utilize technology and creative strategies (podcast, social media, etc.) to promote dialogue regarding issues of urban mission, missiology, and the 10 Characteristics of a Genesis church.
  5. Create “Continuing Education” training classes for Genesis missionaries to participate in during their 2-year deployment.
  6. Offer 1 or more Cross Cultural Orientation and short-term missions experience in each field.
  7. Recruit and deploy at least 18 youth and adults in six different “Urban Immersion” programs according to field.
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Genesis missionary serving in Grenada

Please pray with us that these goals would become a reality!

As we evaluate 2017 and as we plan for 2018, we must proclaim with King David that any fruit we have seen or any positive things that will ever be done in our ministry are only due to God’s strong hand and his astounding grace.  We ascribe it all to him!

“Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:1-2)

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Youth in Mission serving in Haiti

Christmas Day 2017

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Here we are.

Christmas.

Lots of waiting for today, and now the hope is realized.

Little kids finally get to open those presents.

Busy workers finally get a day off.

Family members finally get to see each other.

Eat together.

Laugh together.

And each one of these “finallys” is an echo of that first Christmas day.

Estranged and lonely, we find we are – He is – family.

Exhausted and cynical, we find rest in Him.

The Great I Am takes our past, offers us a future, but most of all gives Himself to us as the ultimate present.

Jesus.

We are changed by Your arrival.

We receive You once again.

We need You this day,

this season,

always.

Come.

Learning from Mary

By Charles W. Christian

I once heard a Catholic priest tell a joke about a scene in Heaven. Jesus walks up to a Protestant and a Catholic and says to them, “I am glad to see you two getting along so well.” Then Jesus turns to the Protestant and says, “I would like to introduce you to my mother.  I don’t think you two have met!”

We Protestants in the crowd laughed, but it challenged me to take a closer look at what we as Christians – both Protestants and Catholics – can learn from Mary.

Based on the Gospels, here are a few lessons that come to mind:

  • We can be available for the work of God: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
  • We can allow faith in God to override our fears:  [Elizabeth said to her], “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her” (Luke 1:45).
  • We can embody thankfulness:  “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47).
  • We can allow God to use us to speak prophetically to a world in need of a Savior: “He [God] has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered the proud. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble” (Luke 1:51-52).
  • We can learn to treasure God’s gifts: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

There are many other lessons we can learn from Mary’s example.  During this season of Advent, may we, like Mary, approach the future with humility, faithfulness, and hope.

God has chosen His Church to be the bearers of the good news of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Let us adore Him, and let us share this good news by the power of the Holy Spirit as we journey together through Advent.

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Prayer for the week:

Teach us obedience, Lord
In every part of our lives
Ears to hear your word
Hands to do your work
Feet to walk your path
A heart for all your people
A mouth to shout your praise
A childlike faith
Humility
Confidence
That says
To the possible
And the impossible
I am the Lord’s servant
May it be to me as you have said.
Amen

(John Birch at faithandworship.com)

This article was originally published at: Holiness Today

 

2017 Thank Offering for the World Evangelism Fund

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We must fix our sights on places where the church is not yet, engaging in intercessory prayer, sacrificial giving, and physically going to and mobilizing others to go to these places. Each time you give to the World Evangelism Fund, you send the message of the gospel into areas where “the church is not yet.”

For more information and to download the resources visit the official website: nazarene.org/generosity

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Joseph of Arimathea

By Scott Armstrong

There are always those within any institution that, after the institution has become outdated and ineffective, choose a different path. They work within the establishment and respect all of its levels of hierarchy and protocol. However, they steadily clash with the great monolith in order to jumpstart a movement. They are often criticized for their positions.

And so we find Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Sanhedrin, offering to bury Jesus Christ, the very threat to the Jewish government.

On one occasion this Jesus had stood in the synagogue and read from the prophet: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” A lot of nodding heads that day, until the Proclaimer issued an audacious proclamation: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Joseph’s contemporaries went ballistic at that, and he was offended, too. But there was an almost-forgotten hope in Joseph that leapt up and took his breath away as well.

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There was something about how he gave dignity to women who had been forgotten, looking at them lovingly, with no agenda. There was something about the way he laughed with children that caused Joseph to think, “What if Yahweh is different from what I was always taught?”

Even when Jesus was lambasting Joseph’s own leadership council, there was something about his words that rang true to Joseph. Could he be the Messiah?

Thus, in the chaos of all that was happening in Jerusalem, this same Joseph obeyed the stirring in his heart after the crucifixion of Jesus and went boldly to Pilate to ask for the body. It takes courage to go to a corrupt ruler like Pilate and make any request, but especially for the corpse of the man who had caused the whole city to riot. And yet, Joseph’s boldness was even greater due to the barrage of hatred he was to receive from his own religious Council. His reputation in tatters, his influence called into question, tradition tells us he was later imprisoned and beaten for his actions.

Even as he perhaps foresaw the sacrifice his own decision would entail, the sacrifice of the man he started to lower from the tree began to weigh heavily on him. Jesus’ bloody feet and hands blotched Joseph’s comfortable clothing. Tearfully he cleaned the wounds and honored the deceased by wrapping him carefully in new, linen cloth. As hard as he tried, the fabric still stuck to the wounds, and the crimson stains soaked through the pure linen.

The emotions of the moment overwhelmed Joseph.

He had wanted to honor Jesus, and yet, for the first time in his illustrious life, he truly felt honored.

He had come to help, and yet, he had been helped.

He had longed in his sorrow to know the Christ, but he also ended up being known by the man of sorrows.

And as he mournfully hurried to prepare the body for burial before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea met Jesus of Nazareth for the first time.

There was no need for secrecy anymore. He who had removed Jesus from the cross decided to take up his own.