Director's Update - Jan 2017

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Keeping going in the long run

All journeys begin with a first step, but the goal of any journey is a destination. For Christians, our destination is heaven, and our journey is the daily proclamation and demonstration of the love and power of God. Most of us start this journey with zeal and determination, but ‘life happens’ along the way and, too often, the endurance needed to enjoy and complete this marathon is missing.

There are a number of factors that can sap our strength and vision: unmet or unrealistic expectations, issues unresolved, thought patterns unexamined, sins unconfessed. We also need to turn away from any form of legalism and be more gracious to one another, to others…and ourselves.

How many of us secretly have a ‘Saviour complex’ wherein we carry the weight of the world, responsible for everything? It is soul-crushing to be burdened with a sense that bad things happen because of our own lack of faith or prayer. Even our passion for seeing the lost saved needs boundaries: We want to by all means save some, but we are not held responsible for the outcome of sharing Christ with people. We must by faith learn to place these burdens before the Lord; He alone can bear them.

People start off wanting to be in the lead, the most spiritual and successful. However, when we stop being competitors and become companions on the journey, completing our course is far likelier and far more motivating. Take Abraham, whose journey was long and often hard. He had his stumbles, yet he learnt to persevere by faith and God called him His friend—the God of Abraham. I doubt that many of us will face what he did. Prov.24:16 says, “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (NIV). This is our hope.

More of us need to learn to enjoy our relationship with God, as the Westminster Confession exhorts us “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” We honour God both when we are living simply and when enjoying blessings He gives, whether it is a great meal with friends or nature’s beauty. God likes to be celebrated!

Invest wisely now

Every Christian worker needs to look ahead and determine incremental goals for our personal development. Are we looking after our physical and spiritual health? There’s no point in setting lofty ministry goals if we are neglecting our bodies and minds. We will reap what we have sown. Here are steps to consider for the journey.

  • Constantly absorb the Word of God to maintain a healthy perspective and be encouraged. We are part of the greatest story ever told, and nothing could be more significant.
  • We need measureable input and output: good spiritual/physical/mental health and diet, evidenced by fruitful ministry.
  • Accept the need for coaches and accountability. Don’t journey alone in the crowd. This can keep us away from all sorts of temptation: abuse of money, power, people.
  • Say ‘No’ when limits are reached. As an Asian, that is not easy; instead, I ask for time to process the request, after which ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ will be clearer. Know your limitations; otherwise all your work will suffer. Besides, saying ‘No’ will open opportunities for others to grow.
  • Determine those tasks or responsibilities that use your gifts and energise you, and avoid things that weaken you. Unless we recognise positivity and negativity in how we are wired, we will sap the stamina and joy we need to keep going.
  • Sometimes, it is a question of timing. I have been offered a place to do a Ph.D. in a European university. I would love to do this, but I could not also fulfill my current responsibilities as a leader, so it will have to wait. We have to learn to prioritise.
  • Learn to laugh every day if possible—humour is healing from God. Relax. Exercise. Diversify your interests to learn something entirely unrelated to your work.
  • Learn to release your burdens to Jesus daily. He is able.

We owe it to God and to each other to finish well.

Lawrence Tong

 

EVANGELISM

ARABIAN PENINSULA: LET’S TALK

OM worker Craig* and his friend Logan* had two goals: Give away a Bible and sleep in a local house. For single men, overnight invitations from local families are rare. While at a shop, they chatted with a man in front who told the two about his home village. Logan said, “We should go to his village.” When they reached it, they parked near the sea and wandered onto a dock where a group of young men were scouring the rocks, looking for a dropped phone. The two chatted with them while hunting for the phone, picking out common interests and enjoying the conversation. Finally, with the search successful, the group invited Craig and Logan to visit a local attraction 45 minutes away.

Afterward, the young men dropped the two back at the dock, where they discovered their car closed behind a gate. They struck up a conversation with a man standing near their vehicle.

“Are you driving back tonight?” Abdullah* asked them. “Not yet. We’re trying to see the sights and spend the night here,” they replied. Abdullah invited them to walk to a hotel 40 minutes down the beach. Although he hesitated to engage spiritual topics in the beginning, he opened up. “For almost two hours, we were talking,” Craig said. “He was very interested in religion.” Back at the dock, the three joined a crowd of 15 men fishing for squid. They stayed until 02:00, talking and hanging out. “Part was spiritual, part just cars and guy chat,” Craig said.

Finally, Abdullah said, “You’re not going home tonight,” his way of inviting them to spend the night at his home. Following local custom, they refused his offer a couple of times before eventually accepting. Craig stayed up with their host until 04:00, reading Qu’ran surahs and discussing religion.

Preparing to leave, having accomplished one of two goals, they told the family, “We have a Bible we’d like to leave with you.” In return, Abdullah offered Craig a book covering questions about Islam and Christianity.

“All this happened in 22 hours,” Craig recounted. “Almost everybody we met, we had the opportunity to share. I know God sent us. They now have the Word and have heard the gospel, and God will continue to work.”

Pray for God to appear to locals in visions and dreams, and pray for believers to find creative ways to access these areas.

 

RELIEF & DEVELOPMENT

CAPE VERDE ISLANDS: JOINING HANDS AT WORK AND REST

A team of Logos Hope volunteers was asked by Pastor Idrissa Gomes of Praia’s Nazarene Church to spend the day sanding and painting the two classrooms of the São Martinho Grande – Lêm Dias preschool. The crewmembers were joined by men from the local area and worked from morning to late afternoon to finish the project. The team also sat with a group of men, women and children on the street to talk about concerns in the community. The adults asked for prayer about three needs: quality teachers for the school, a closer medical clinic, and relief from the drug and alcohol addictions plaguing many in the community. Team translator Miguel Amaro (Brazil) assigned one point to each crewmember and asked everyone to pray. “That is the only thing it is okay to be addicted to: prayer!” said one man, which elicited a laugh.

When the pastor returned to collect the team, he found everyone singing in Portuguese, with Miguel on the guitar. As he entered the pre-school, he struggled to contain his excitement. “This is amazing!” he said, repeating the praise over and over again as he walked around. “This is a transformation that could only have been done through God!” One of the men working alongside the team from start to finish also voiced his surprise at the outcome. He expected to be one of only two local men working with the crewmembers; instead, he witnessed a transformation in the attitudes of his neighbours and saw their apathy change to action. As the pre-school children’s fathers saw the ship volunteers working to improve the facilities, they were motivated to do the same. By the end of the day, many other men had made themselves available to help with the work. Through the teamwork, the project was completed more quickly and led to more personal connections between crewmembers and the men of the community.

 

CHURCH PLANTING

MONTENEGRO: CHANGED LIVES SPEAK

The seaside at Bar is normally for sunbathing and watersports. But one day, God answered the prayer of many in a very special gathering on the beach.

The young but growing Mozaik church pioneered by OM met to baptise seven new believers, and hearts were full as they celebrated together. The people in the water came from various backgrounds, reflecting the Mozaik church’s name: a woman bursting with the joy of her testimony shared a song she had written, while her atheist husband looked on, not quite knowing what to think. A teenage boy, wrestling through owning his faith and not relying on his parents’, found new maturity in the Lord to fully embrace his beliefs. A couple from Ukraine finally understood the truth of the gospel. Another woman was eager to show others how God had changed her life.

Lastly, the mother of another church member, touched by the positive change she’d seen in her son over the past three years, excitedly allowed her son to immerse her in the sea, rising up as a picture of the resurrection God had brought to her own heart.

The people that day were varied, but were united by this truth: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6, NIV).

 

JUSTICE

GHANA: NOW YOU KNOW

Educating students on the global problem of human trafficking was the assignment for a team of Logos Hope crewmembers sent to Adiembra Senior Secondary School (ADISEC) in Sekondi-Takoradi.

Ghana is known to be a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficked persons, and the more than 2,000 students who attend ADISEC could be particularly at risk for exploitation, according to their headmaster. Ebenezer Nelson explained to the ship’s team that the majority of his students come from low-income families that struggle to afford school fees, making them more likely to agree to a suspicious proposition without recognising the offer may be too good to be true.

Using a simulation to expose that vulnerability, Logos Hope’s team offered two students a once-in-a-lifetime chance to study internationally, all-expenses-paid. When the teenagers jumped at the opportunity and were ready to leave immediately with people they had only just met, the crewmembers stopped the pretence. The pupils had been shown in a memorable way just how easily they could fall victim to the tricks of human traffickers.

“Did you think we were bad people?” asked Frieda Neumann (Germany). “No, we look like normal people.” The team explained that anyone can fall victim to these schemes—young or old, educated or uneducated—because traffickers look like anyone else and are good at telling people what they want to hear. The students were encouraged to use their eyes, ears, mouth and mind to look for clues, gather information, and recognise suspicious situations. “This has application for everyone,” said a teacher to the students gathered together at the end. “You don’t need to read it in a book; it has been presented to you today, and it is relevant for everything.”

 

MENTORING & DISCIPLESHIP

ZAMBIA: AN HONEST START

Five years ago, seven boys were chosen to be discipled as the Honest Boys by Lake Tanganyika Field Leader Christopher Kasale. Some of the boys have lost one or both parents, but all were considered vulnerable. They have learnt football skills, coaching, farming, handicrafts, finances, leading a Discovery Bible Study (DBS) and upholding Christian values. Those boys are now young men discipling other boys whose situations resemble their own pasts.

Dennis dropped out of school at an early age. When visiting his cousin at the OM base in Mpulungu, Christopher invited him to stay and be discipled. Using the handcraft skills he learnt, particularly carving, Dennis began saving money for school fees. Now in grade 11, Dennis is one of the oldest students in the class at 22 years old, but he is passionate about developing others and is a role model. His teachers have asked Dennis why he is different. The answer: Jesus. Dennis has also taken up leadership at Kids Church that develops leaders from a young age.

Kennedy was found by the Kasales nine years ago in a shanty compound outside Kabwe. Drinking, smoking, fighting and sleeping on the streets, Kennedy was told he would never amount to anything in life. Believing differently, the Kasales took him in and gradually Kennedy changed, becoming the Honest Boys team leader and helping many boys grow spiritually, mentally and physically. Completing high school, Kennedy began a one-year mechanics course. “It’s a lifestyle now,” Christopher explained. “Even at school, he is discipling a group.”

“I learnt discipleship and servanthood are important,” said Brian. “Being humble, loyal, respecting people—all those things I learnt at the base.” Brian studied to become a mechanic before returning to Mpulungu to set up his business. He has been responsible for his mother and younger brother and sister, which would have made it impossible to study further after high school. However, because of his relationship with the OMers they, and other supporters, sponsored him to go to mechanic school and provided the startup money for his business. Brian’s vision was to set up a mechanic shop where boys could come to his workshop to help him and be discipled as they work. Brian leads by example, demonstrating Christian values in how he treats customers and runs his business.

“There’s no graduation; you’re always an Honest Boy,” laughed Christopher. Today, three generations of Honest Boys are changing and challenging the young people of Mpulungu and beyond. 

 

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

 

* name changed