Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fully Trained Disciples (September 2016 Newsletter)

The newsletter is earlier and shorter because of travel. Enjoy!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Serving Jesus (July 2016 Newsletter)

“And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
Luke 17:8-10

The last month and a half have been whirlwinds of evangelism. We finished sharing the gospel on a number of new streets, started four new Discovery Bible studies, and have partnered with several other ministries to display the image and glory of God in Hamtramck. Two months ago I was knocking on doors almost every day by myself. Today I have so many Bible studies I will soon run out of time to manage them all. Two months ago I had few evangelism partners. Today, I have several young men who are eager to go out and share the gospel with me.

Ramadan came and went with a flurry of activity. In spite of the time of fasting and prayer among our Muslim friends, many were open to hearing the gospel and considering learning more about Jesus. We had kind and inviting responses from many.

H____ invited us in and gave us refreshment. He's Muslim but believes Jesus died as the sacrifice for sin. He is not sure about the resurrection or Jesus's Lordship. He was excited to study the Bible with us, and has been faithfully listening and hosting us in his home since. H____ told us his story of growing up in a war torn country, showing off the shrapnel wounds he has across his body. After hearing my testimony, he also shared his own struggle with mental illness and his pursuit of God’s mercy. H____ introduced to his neighbors and told them to read the Bible with us and he has plans to introduce us to more neighbors.

My friend Andrew S. had a dream a month ago about a specific house in Hamtramck. He felt that God wanted him to share with the people who lived in that house. I told him, “If you need a buddy, I would love to go with you!”
We went and knocked on the door and the man who greeted us immediately said, "I know you!" Two years ago I had prayed for his damaged rotator cuff and he was instantly healed (that story was in the April 2014 Newsletter https://drive.google.com/…/0B4Gp5HabTdUlY0xhZWxEcE9iR…/view…). He had asked, "How can I become a Christian?" But I never saw him again after that. Two years later God reconnected us through a dream Andrew S. had. We have been back to M_____’s house multiple times since then, but haven’t yet found the best time to meet with his night shift schedule. We feel encouraged that God has given us the green light to be persistent to share His love with M_____.

In the midst of all of this I thank God that I get to be a son and a servant in his house. I am privileged to be in midst of what God is most interested in. I know that I am an unprofitable servant who has only done his duty. I know that Jesus deserves so much more. Please pray as we pursue the vision of #noplaceleft and seek to see Jesus receive all that He paid for.

 Read the rest of the July 2016 Newsletter.
 Read previous Newsletters.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Catch People to Tell Them (June 2016 Newsletter)

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." (Matthew 4:19)

This month Muslims are celebrating Ramadan which they believe marks the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. They celebrate by fasting from sunrise to sunset for one lunar month. I pray that as Muslims fast and pray they will encounter the love of Jesus Christ.
Every night I walk around the city praying for my Muslim neighbors, believing that God will touch them with love grace. The last month has been a flurry of activity as I’ve knocked on over 300 doors to share an opportunity to learn about Jesus and followed up on numerous families that showed interest.

My friend L____ was proud to show me his graduation certificate for his adult education class.
“I’m the only one who passed and got a certificate,” he said. “Everyone asked me how I learned English so well, and I told them that they had to read the Bible, that it had many hard words in it and that I read it with you every week.” L____ is starting to read the Bible on his own each day, developing a devotional life.
 I’m inspired by L____ who after a Bible study told me, “We must catch people to tell them about Jesus.”
I want to catch people to tell them about Jesus. This month I was able to partner with several ministries for outreaches in Hamtramck. We knocked on door after door and had conversation after conversation as we shared the Jesus Film in several languages and offered Bible studies about Jesus.
One man, H________, didn’t have a DVD player for the Jesus Film so we returned with a  Scripture booklet for him. We came back another day and he had read it and wanted to talk more so we met in his home for over an hour. As we sat with him he put on a livestream channel on the television to show us the mass of people in Saudi Arabia walking on pilgrimage to Mecca. Millions are seeking favor from God.
H________ showed us a lot of warmth and hospitality, but was not receiving of the message. I’m praying every day that he has a dream or vision. When I return to talk to him I will ask him if God spoke to him in a dream or if he had a dream of Jesus.
In the midst of fasting, prayers, pilgrimage, and religion, God is seeking His lost treasure. The best is yet to come.

House of Peace search progress. The data points become obsolete so quickly and require so much data entry I just started following up based on notes and drawing lines for streets that had a first touch.
 Read the rest of the June 2016 Newsletter.
 Read previous Newsletters.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Disciples Not Decisions (May 2016 Newsletter)

The last month of ministry has contained many answers to prayer and work in the harvest field, including some of the most miraculous multiplication of disciples I’ve ever been a part of. God’s has mandated that we make disciples. This means connecting with those who are far from God and telling them God’s Good News about His Kingdom and forgiveness and the reign of Jesus as King. We throw the seed of the gospel into the soil of the heart. What happens next is a mystery. The interaction between the Spirit of God, the condition of the soil, and the process of encountering truth results in fruitfulness, the conception of faith, or barrenness and the rejection of the message. This rejection may not happen immediately, in the same way that many encounter the gospel many times before coming to Christ, some may initially receive the message only to reject it later, whether in word or in lifestyle.

 As a disciple maker these processes are part of the task. I proclaim the Gospel. I sow the Word of God. Sometimes the message begins to grow and sprout in someone’s life. Sometimes they receive the word—they understand and believe it, and sometimes they reject it. Sometimes they receive the message only to reject it later because of persecution, or sin, or trouble. Working with those from other religious backgrounds means that fear and persecution are very real. Sometimes they receive the message and are fruitful and the gospel multiplies through their lives.

 This month I shared with an Iraqi man in a coffee shop. I was very excited to learn that twenty years ago when he was in Iraq he read the New Testament on his own in secret. God had been working in this man’s life. I shared the story of God’s plan to provide salvation and forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He rejected the message at first, but as we talked he came to understand and said that he believed that Jesus had died on the cross for the forgiveness of his sins. I explained how God made Jesus King of the Kingdom of God, and that he needed to obey Jesus as his King. He said that though he believed in forgiveness through Jesus, he wanted to believe in one God and live a good life. He “made a decision” to believe in Jesus’s death, but rejected Christ as his Lord. He rejected discipleship.

 This month I spent time doing a number of Bible studies with two brothers from a Muslim background. We studied Genesis and I helped them with their English homework. The older brother and I got along very well, and I began to consider him a friend. Both of them had heard my testimony when I first met them, including the message of the cross and resurrection, and they knew that I wanted them to be close to God because I told them that was one of the reasons I was helping them and what I was teaching them.

 My new friend wanted me to correct his homework for a college class. He was supposed to write about his life. He passed the paper over to me and I read:
"On the weekend I have no place specially to go. But generally I walk for blocks until I reach a little park with benches and trees and a little railing, giving it a feeling of privacy. I sit on a bench and think, "Better job. Better job. And a nice house with a porch on a street and a big yard.' When sun goes down. I go home."

I was sitting in a public place, and managed to compose myself enough to make corrections and pass the paper back to him. As he started rewriting it, I wiped tears out of my eyes. His words captured the loneliness and the need of the immigrant experience so well. I was moved by compassion.

 We continued studying the Bible, and two weeks later I received a text message saying that he and his brother would not meet with me anymore. They haven’t responded to any communication since. I think their father, who is strict, told them they could not continue, but this kind of rejection is normal even after I share my story and the gospel with them and they start discovery Bible study.

The gospel eventually reveals the nature of the heart.

 This week my friend L____ (Bangladeshi) shared the Two Kingdoms gospel presentation with I__ (Yemeni) and I__ confessed his faith in the Jesus's death on the Cross for his sins, the resurrection, and that Jesus is king of the Kingdom of God. I__ wants to follow both Jesus and Mohammed.

 L___ has been sharing faithfully, and is excited about how God is blessing his life. This month he passed a very difficult English exam. He was the only student who did well on the test. The other classmates asked him how he did so well, and he told them, “I read the Bible with my teacher.” He told them that they should read the Bible too. He was also excited that he received a two dollar raise at work without asking for it. He thanked me for praying for him and believes that God is answering our prayers.

 Please pray for L____ as he continues sowing in I__'s life and others. Please pray that God would give me wisdom in coaching and training L____, and please pray that we don't accidentally start multiplying syncretism, as I__ tries to sort out how the gospel fits within his worldview. Please pray that he would become a disciple and a disciple maker. The best is yet to come.

 Read the rest of the May 2016 Newsletter.
 Read previous Newsletters.

Monday, April 25, 2016

How to Access Other Languages on YouVersion

I frequently do Bible studies with friends who do not speak English as their first language. It is often difficult for them to discuss and understand abstract texts in English. They feel much more at home with their mother tongue. I can do Bible studies with them in English, but it is limiting. Access to Bibles in their languages can sometimes be difficult or expensive. It can also be threatening for them to read in public places. One of the best solutions I've found for sharing the Bible across language barriers is the YouVersion Bible app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for free and contains a massive number of translations of the Bible, not only in English, but in many different languages.

Here's how to access them:

Open your YouVersion App

When it loads you find yourself on the homepage. Hit "Read."

The app should open the last translation you used at the last passage you read. I was reading Genesis with a friend and my app opens to Genesis Chapter one. In the top right near the center you should have a button showing the translation. Mine shows the NKJV translation. Hit that.

That will open a list of translations you have recently used and languages you have chosen. As you can see, mine is a bit mixed up because I use English, Bangla, and Arabic. Find your selected Language which should be at the center or middle of the page. Yours should say English. Mine says Bangla (in Bangla characters). Hit change.

This will open a very large list of languages. From here you are a little bit on your own. You need to be able to recognize what language you need, and you may need to recognize it in its own characters. In other words, you can't just hit "Arabic" you have to be able to identify Arabic script and hit it to open the translations available in Arabic. Start scrolling down the list. We have to get past the letter "Z" in order to find languages in their own script.

Keep scrolling.

Keep scrolling.

We found different scripts. Now we have to find the one we need. I'm going to pick Bangla.

I found Bangla. It says Bengali on the right, but I know enough of the Bangla alphabet to sound it out the first time I found it. You may need to be able to do so to find the language you need. Or get your friend to find it on the list. Just ask, "I want to show you something. Which one is your language?"

My YouVersion has three different translations in Bangla. One uses neutral terms. One uses Hindu terms, and One uses Muslim terms. I know one of the translators who created the translation that uses the Muslim terms. He and several others assured me that while it uses some Muslim terms, it retains familial language and is theologically faithful to the text. You may need to do the same kind of research to choose the right translation for your friend.

The app now goes back the text that was pulled up and it is in Bangla! I can have my friend read it from here.

To go back to English I just hit the translation button again and NKJV is in my recently used translation lists as is the Bangla version. I can navigate to a passage in English and with two buttons change the text to Bangla and show my friend. Questions or comments? Share them below.