Global Missions

New Territory

Photo credit: lightstock.com I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder.

For by God’s grace, I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.

So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God.

Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them. They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. 

In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.

My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,

“Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.” (‭Romans‬ ‭15:‭14-21 (NLT)


The letter to the Romans was written to people who were believers, people who knew and understood the truth of the gospel. Many of them could teach and share the gospel with others.

Here the apostle Paul reveals his heart for those who've not heard the gospel. Those who don't know of Jesus or of God's redemptive love for them. This is Paul's ambition.

His ambition is not for a bigger and better church. It's to reach out to those who've never heard the redemption message in the gospel and are not engaged with those who do know it. His focus is to reach nonbelievers.

Today, as in times past, much of the growth of one church is at the cost of another. Believers in one church body transfer to another one that seems better for whatever reason.

And yet, over 40% of the world's population are unreached by the message of God's redemptive love—over 3 billion people are unreached. Some of these unreached or unengaged peoples have immigrated to North America.

Now, more and more young people, born and raised in America, are part of a new, growing group of unreached and unengaged people.

It's time to stake out new territory. This means each believer is responsible to reach out to others, and church leaders need to equip their people to do this.

Let's reach out to the unreached and unengaged, especially in our own neighborhoods, and help support missionaries who go to other nations to reach the unreached. ©Word-Strong_2016

A Man and His Faith

Ayele_teaching_Omo Last week, I took a quick look at theology—our beliefs about God. We've all got theology, but we all don't believe the same things. By "we," I mean humanity.

Why don't we believe the same things? Because we're all different, with different backgrounds, and different life stories.

This week, I want to look at the intriguing life story of a friend of mine.

My Ethiopian friend

I first met Benjamin (pronounced Beny-a-min) at a church service and liked him immediately. He was the first Ethiopian I met, but not the last. His life story intrigued me, yet it stirred some controversy. He has a common name, but his life story is far from common.

He was born in rural Ethiopia into a muslim family. When he came home from school and saw smoke rising from his home, he was happy. He knew his mother was cooking a special meal for his father, who had other wives than his mother.

He came to faith in Jesus through dreams, as I've heard take place for many of Islamic faith. Because of his choice to follow Jesus, he was ostracized by his family, which sent him on a search.

Benjamin set out to find help to learn about his new faith and was directed to missionaries in Kenya. Along the way, he was captured by Communist soldiers who tortured him for his faith in brutal ways. Eventually, he found the guidance he needed, and came to America for education.

A passion for his people

I met Benjamin as he raised support to work with a mission in Kenya. He became a missionary to Ethiopian refugees gathered in neighboring Somalia. These were his people and he wanted them to know the Lord Jesus.

I had him preach at our church a couple of times in the mid-eighties, so I heard much of his story. We also spent time talking about his mission and passion for reaching his people with the gospel.

I found Benjamin to be a man of great faith and integrity. He was childlike in the ways of American culture and social norms, but well-read and intelligent. I trusted him.

An interrupted testimony

He told me of a time when he shared his testimony at another church. The pastor invited him on the recommendation of someone in his congregation. As he told the story of his conversion from Islam to Christ, the pastor interrupted him and had him sit down.

The pastor told him he didn't believe in such things (the supernatural experiences), and discounted his life story. This stunned my friend Benjamin. It saddened me as he told me of it. Needless to say, this pastor was not one of his supporters.

Here was a man of integrity and without deceit who shared his personal encounter with Jesus, but he was not believed. Why? Because the pastor couldn't get past his own theological filters.

I'm glad for my encounter with Benjamin. His life added more depth and fullness to mine. He was one more encouragement for my own missionary experience. Years later I would visit his homeland (see photo above).

When we moved to the Philippines and he moved to Kenya, we lost contact with each other. But I will never forget Benjamin and his faith.

We're not all the same

Our experiences and encounters in pursuit of the truth shape and impact our faith and understanding of God. Identical experiences don't produce the same results. A simple reading of the gospels reveals this.

All of the apostles were afraid of Jesus as He walked on the water. Only Peter got out of the boat to walk towards Him (Matt 14:22-33). The Roman centurion who witnessed the death of Jesus realized He was innocent, unlike his fellow soldiers (Luke 23:47). After Jesus healed ten lepers, only one came back to thank Him (Luke 17:11-19).

Each of us view things differently. We often draw different conclusions with different perspectives from similar experiences. So, how can we possibly have any unity in the Christian faith? Benjamin and I shared the same faith in Jesus, but our life stories were very different.

The Christian faith is a personal faith because it's centered on the person of Jesus. The closer we grow in our relationship with Jesus, the more unified we become as a group. This can be seen during a worship service, as the Lord intends (1 Cor 12:12-14, 25).

A question and a challenge

Last week, I mentioned two things I hoped to get more response on, so here it goes again.

Would any of you reading this post be interested in learning more about inductive Bible study? If that sounds interesting, let me know.

Here are 3 things I want to challenge you to do—

  1. Review your own life as a believer in Jesus—What stands out as most important to your spiritual growth and why?
  2. Who is the most influential spiritual leader in your life, so far? Why?
  3. What’s been most helpful to you in your pursuit to know God?

I'd love to hear your responses to any of the above. You can post it in the comments for this post, or post it on the Word-Strong Facebook page.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share this post!

A Rekindled Vision

MPR_CCBCP Not quite two weeks ago, I posted about my recent ministry time in the Philippines. This is somewhat of a follow-up post that includes what I recently shared with those on my mailing list.


I just returned from a couple of weeks in the Philippines. It was a great time reconnecting with the ministry of Calvary Chapel Bible College (Philippines) and everyone there. I taught a class and several other messages during the first week. I also shared messages with the church body at Calvary Chapel Dumaguete City, and at the House of Jesus (a church plant in a nearby town).

The second week was focused on the 20th anniversary of the Bible college. It was great to see returning alumni and reconnecting with pastor friends I hadn't seen in several years. In talking with alumni and staff, and the director and president of the college, something was rekindled in my heart.

Rekindled vision

My heart was stirred in a fresh way for the need to equip pastors and leaders, not only through the Bible college, but through extension campuses and IBS workshops. This was confirmed further as I met with Ptr Jing (CCBCP director) and Ptr Jimmy Morales of CC Lone Mountain.

On my way back to the US, I passed through Manila and was able to meet up with Ptr Lito and Cecile for dinner. We talked about the need for an extension campus up in Manila and in other areas of Luzon (largest island).

Extension campuses

LIto-CecileThis is an important part of the rekindled vision in my heart. Currently, there is one extension campus, near the main campus of the school in Dumaguete City. However, none exist in the Luzon area at this time.

The extension campuses can be regional centers for equipping leaders and workers for ministry. The curriculum will be a condensed version of what is offered at the main campus.

Courses can be offered on Friday nights and Saturdays, so those attending can still do ministry in their home place. Pastors in the area can be the teachers. The courses would be text-based inductive study with the pastors providing instruction and practical insights.

Vision for my role

A part of the role I can play is helping these campuses get set up, and to provide training and encouragement for the teachers. I also need to work on the condensed curriculum, most of which I can do in my home office in FL.

Am I planning to move back to the Philippines? No, but I do believe I need to travel over to the Philippines and Thailand at least once or twice a year. I also have a heart to do some training in other countries, but that will come later.


In order to pursue this rekindled vision for ministry overseas, I need to raise support for travel and ministry expenses. If you'd like to partner with me in this venture, you can give online or via regular mail. Thank you!

Please send support to Shepherd's Staff to my account (511) and designate for Ministry Travel. I also appreciate (and need) monthly support for my continued ministry with Poimen Ministries, which can also be sent via my Shepherd's Staff account.

Thank you for those who already support me in prayer and funds! I appreciate you a lot, and count you as partners in the ministry God gives me to do.

20 Years and Counting

DSC_1021 How can I put into words what is beyond expression? Even a photo, like the one above, doesn't capture the breadth of relationships and experiences we celebrated this past week.

Just twenty years ago, a small Bible college was established in the central region of the Visayas, in Dumaguete City, Philippines. We started off with a small student body—five people, and the following year our second class was even fewer. But year by year, the school grew and developed.

ptr-alumni_hats

Over the years, many churches have been planted by our alumni, and some of those earlier ones planted more churches. Even Bible schools and extension campuses (non-English teaching) have been established in a few places, including Southern Thailand.

Welcome-CCTC

Missionaries, pastors, children's ministry leaders, and other workers have been equipped and sent out. Each alumni learned to serve in the ministry while they studied, and out internships helped cement what was learned in class.

TK_mpr-alumni

Our celebration included some important reminders from God's Word through some of His servants, and we had some great fellowship.

Diningroom

It was a sweet time of worship, Word, prayer, and of course, we enjoyed some delicious food!

dinner-beach

We also made time for fun!

Imo-vball_guys

 

Many of the alumni came as young men and women, some were teenagers, and now they have their own families. I've been privileged to be a part of their lives over the years.

guys-atbeach

It's been a treat for me seeing so many people I haven't seen in a long while, as well as those I see each year. The time has gone by too fast, and it's hard to say good-bye again, as I head back to my US-home.

MPR_CCBCP

Back Home for a While

IMG_0566 It was 25 years ago that my family and I moved across the world to the Philippines. It was my second time to travel there and their first. It was a new adventure of faith and we didn't have any grand plan.

God put a vision for serving in the Philippines in the heart of my wife and I. Two distinct visions for ministry. My wife wanted to care for abandoned babies, and I felt called to equip pastors and leaders.

Out of those two visions, God gave us the privilege of establishing two ministries—Rainbow Village Ministries and Calvary Chapel Training Center (with CC Bible College).

Back home at full speed

Last year, we realized it was time to bring Rainbow's ministry to a close after 23 years of fruitful ministry. You can read that story here. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Bible college I established in 1995. Susan and I still marvel at what God entrusted to us for a time.

This past week I taught the second year students. It's a course on applied hermeneutics for studying biblical prophecy, and we studied through the book of Malachi. This week many alumni will come, along with teachers and pastors who've served here over the past twenty years, to celebrate God's faithfulness.

Dumaguete City is still home to us. We lived here for fifteen years, and it's where we've had a church home for 25 years. Filipino culture embraced us and we gained an extended family of dear friends whom we enjoy fellowship with each time we are here.

 

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Still my passion

So, my schedule is busy with teaching and fellowshipping over meals, and I'm enjoying it to the max. It also rekindles my passion for world missions, also known as cross-cultural ministry. I'm reminded of the simple truth Jesus told His first followers in Matthew 9:37-38—

Then he [Jesus] said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

More than ever this is true. There are billions in the world who have not heard the gospel, and billions who do not have anyone to disciple them in the faith. Below are some previous posts regarding this reality. Please read and pray!

And... please share with others what encourages you and touches your heart! Thanks!

Previous posts—

MOTROW

Men of Faith

The World Has Changed

The World Has Changed

©kentoh | 123rf stock photos Saying the world has changed may seem an understatement, an obvious one. But Paul Borthwick is a world-renown teacher and consultant on world missions, and this statement is the recurring theme of his book. He isn't referring to technology, nor culture per se. It's a declaration about global missions. And he ought to know, he has much experience to back it up .

While reading through his most recent book, Western Christians in Global Mission, I was both challenged and refreshed by his writing, research, and dialogue to western Christians involved in global mission, such as myself. As a cross-cultural missionary, I had a vested interest in reading this book and I was not disappointed.

I've already recommended it to others, and wrote a review on Amazon. But I wanted to make a recommendation here on my blog. The subtitle alone challenges the reader with a question too often unconsidered— What's the Role of the North American Church (in Global Mission)?Western_Mission_cover

Having been a church planter in the US and trainer of church planters and leaders in SE Asia, this is a vital question to be answered. Mr Borthwick does this well in several ways.

He begins with broad views of the church in North America and the Majority World, and how they fit into the state of the world. He sees Nine Great changes in the world that are Great Challenges for the church worldwide (pages 33-60).

  • The Great Transition— the worldwide church is primarily non-white, non-Western, and non-wealthy
  • The Great Migration— there are vast movements of people from nation to nation
  • 2 Great Divides— an Economic Divide and a Theological Divide
  • 2 Great Walls— the first being a wall between the gospel "haves" and the gospel "have-nots," the second is the effect of environmental impacts on the poor.
  • The Great Commission— the church has not done a good job making disciples, either in North America or the Majority World (making converts is not the same as making disciples).
  • The Great Compassion— seeing beyond the need of salvation to see people in their need of many things for daily life (yet without causing a dependency).
  • The Great Salvation— a personal worldview that serves as a reminder and motivation for going out into the world with the gospel.
  • The Great Celebration— having vision for the celebration in heaven of every tribe, tongue, and nation worshipping Jesus.

The author goes on to give "An Appraisal of the North American Church." It is one I found to be both confirming and challenging. Then "An Appraisal of the Majority World Church." This was both refreshing and disconcerting, and it confirmed my thoughts that the great need in the Majority World (I call it MOTROW) is the need for sound equipping of leaders.

A good portion of the book is dedicated to seeing how to move forward to meet these changes and challenges. There are plenty of open-ended questions and penetrating insights given by Majority World leaders to foster discussion and consideration. The author adds stories of his own that give vivid insight into the learning curve presented in this book.

His extensive experience in many countries and continents with various leaders and people groups qualifies him to not only make statements, but pose important questions. He gets into specifics and provides practical queries and guidance.

I found myself agreeing over and over again with the points made and the challenges posed. Not only does Paul Borthwick make his case well and graciously, it lines up with my own observations from experience on the mission field for the past 20+ years, including 15 years as a resident in the Philippines.

I don't just recommend this book, I believe it is a must read for anyone in North America who wants to keep in step with God's plan for His Great Commission, especially western-culture missionaries.

A continuing theme throughout the book is, "The world has changed." So has the church worldwide, and the world mission movement.

America has a role, but it's not out in front taking charge, directing, and funding everything. It's in a partnership alongside Majority World missionary leaders.

I hope you'll take time to read and thoughtfully consider all that's presented in this book. The world has changed and it's waiting for us to catch up with it.

Men of Faith

It's not the sort of thing that makes headlines, even in Christian circles. But it is the heart of story after story in the Bible. The heartbeat of God's kingdom throughout the world. A simple walk of faith. A commitment to serve the Living God and His Son, Jesus the Messiah, and extend the Kingdom of God on earth. Elmer_guysI want to mention a few more of the men and women of faith—true faith—that make up the Body of Christ worldwide. Echoes of their stories are found in the Bible (as in Hebrews Chapter 11) and scattered in all the continents of the world. I featured two families of pastors I know in the Philippines in some recent posts (Extended Family andFruit). These are men I've mentored over the years. This post is more or less a follow up to those posts.

Once again I had the privilege of meeting with my dear friend Pastor Elmer and a few other pastors. He is church planter, has developed a training school for church planters, trains leaders, has sent out missionaries, and does ministry over the radio and even cell phone conference calls. He is resourceful, visionary and tireless. I'm blessed to have him as a friend.

Last week we met to see how all of us could collaborate in our service in God's kingdom. Elmer shared some of his vision for training leaders to reach oral learners, those referred to as non-literate. He is a certified trainer with a US-based ministry called Simply the Story. He's travelled to the middle-east and hopes to come to the US to share his vision and ministry. But his heart is and always will be in the Philippines.

The men gathered together have experience as pastors and church planters. Each has different gifts and vision. I've been their mentor, teacher, and in some cases their boss (as director of a Bible school). Now I'm more of a partner with them (Phil 1:5). I'm still a mentor in many ways, but more as an encourager.

My role has changed over the years from being a primary leader (in charge) to that of a partner. A partner comes alongside and works with other partners. It is a mutual relationship and I'm learning to become a better partner along the way.

This role of partnership with national leaders is not a concept or paradigm, but it is a developing one. This is laid out and discussed in a newly published book I'm reading through now, Western Christians in Global Mission, by Paul Borthwick. It is a role I began to realize and enjoy at the beginning of the new millenium.

Western_Mission_coverMany western cross-cultural missionaries see the crippling effect of discipling national believers in a traditional or western style of ministry. Instead of leaders and churches discipled to Jesus regardless of culture, they are often stilted reflections of western churches.

One simple thing I learned over the years and have shared with others is to begin the "transition" to national leadership from the outset of establishing any ministry or church within a cross-cultural setting. Two important reasons come out of this lesson.

It takes considerable time to disciple and mentor people and no shortcuts exist to do so. We are to disciple people in relationship to Jesus, not to a methodology, nor to a style of ministry. This is a basic truth as stated by the Lord, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt 16:24). He took more than three years to disciple those who followed Him. He spent most of His time and energy on twelve of them.

A second important part of the lesson is about national leadership. National people will not learn to follow a national leader unless they see him or her in a primary role as a leader. A primary role of leadership requires the attendant authority that goes with the responsibility of the work itself. This is a sticky point for many western missionaries. We don't like to give up our authoritative position. We don't want to lose control. It's the struggle of human will and pride.

If you want to move forward in partnership with national leaders, how do you do it? Jesus is always our prime example (Luke 10:1-3; 24:44-49). And being an example is always a prime element of being a leader.

Fruit

The value of long-term missions, especially cross-cultural missions, is the fruit it can produce. Time and investment are key. Not just marking time, nor the investment of money. These things produce their own fruit, but they are not spiritual, nor do they always further God's kingdom. I'm talking about the time it takes to invest in people and God's mission, which will always extend God's kingdom. It's not rocket-science, as they say, it's obvious. It's what Jesus did when establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. He invested His time in people—twelve men in particular, three men more deeply (Mark 1:14-20; 3:13-19). This same model works today, but is not always followed. Why? Because it requires commitment, faithfulness, persistence, and other such qualities and disciplines not so popular in our current age.

It is the cure, if you will, for discipling the present distracted generation. It is time-tested on the world's mission field. So, it is just as relevant now as it was in the time of Jesus. Relevant for local (home) missions and world (international) missions.

The past few weeks have reminded me of this. I had the privilege of preaching in a local church of a couple I've mentored for many years. Pastor Randy was one of my students and then one of my teaching staff at the Bible school. By his own admission, he was not an easy student. Manju, his wife, was the classmate of my oldest daughter, Becky, and on my administrative staff for several years. She calls herself a Filipina trapped in an Indian body.

They are one of several couples who are the continuing fruit (John 15:5, 8, 16) of the Bible college, or as some called it, the Bridal College. So be it. I see no shame in finding your life partner in a school of ministry of any level, especilly when the couple continues on in ministry.

I see no problem encouraging couples in marriage who have a commitment to God and His kingdom. Often, their families don't see it that way, nor their friends, nor the prevailing culture. Randy and Manju are a good example. They are from two very different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. They are two very different personalities. And they fit together as true disciples of Jesus, bearing fruit that lasts.

This past year they resigned from their stable positions on the Training Center staff to pastor a small church full-time. The church is in a residential area adjacent to the (at times very noisy) airport. They have stepped out in faith and God has honored their faith. In that alone, they have been an example of faith for their church that encourages the people to follow the same Jesus they follow.

Time investment is not for those who look to whatever is expedient for the moment, or whatever is popular and trending. It requires vision from God and the grace of God to persevere in His calling. It is an investment in people and their lives. A building of relationships that requires commitment, faithfulness and lots of acceptance and mercy. The things we see in Jesus.

When others see this in us, whether as recognized leaders or simple followers of Jesus, they are more able to see Jesus in us. This is how God intends for His kingdom to be built, in any geographic location and within any culture.

Are you a follower of Jesus? How do people see your life as an example of His? How do they see you at work, at play, at home, or wherever you may be? Another way of saying it is, what is your influence on people?

We will produce some kind of fruit in our lives and in the lives we connect with, but what kind of fruit is it? Is it fruit that encourages others to walk in faith? Is it fruit that produces others who follow Jesus as we follow Him?

Extended Family

Extended family living under the same roof is common in many cultures. It hasn't been so common in America the past few decades, but that's changing because of present economic realities. At Rainbow  we have an extended family on one compound under a few roofs. On special occasions (Christmas, weddings, despididas [farewell parties], we see other members of Rainbow's extended family join us.

Susan and I feel at home when we travel to the Philippines to rejoin our extended Rainbow family. It's a community of young and old (we're the old ones now). Each person has a place within this community, this family. This is what God intends for His family, the church, the Body of Christ [1 Cor 12:12, 14, 18, 25-26]. Seeing God's extended family, the church worldwide, is a great blessing for cross-cultural missionaries. When we are here in Dumaguete City, we rejoin our church family at CCD. It's been our home church for two decades. This past Sunday I had the privilege of sharing a message at another local church, pastored by my good friend, Oscar, who's also a good artist, and a skilled teacher and trainer of leaders.

I've enjoyed the privilege of worshiping with many church families over the years, in many different geographic locations and cultures. Several times I've been the only white face present, yet I felt connected with God's extended family.

I appreciate my experiences in these church families. Not because I get to travel or serve cross-culturally, which I love to do, but it gives me a better perspective of God's church. It is a worldwide community, one large extended family.

Living in America, in our very fragmented and isolated culture, we're myopic. We have a very narrow, near-sighted view of life and the world. Our news media is so controlled by popular interest, it's hard to find out what's going on in the rest of the world. It doesn't matter what network. It's frustrating when you know there's much more going on in the world, but it seems closed off.

This is how church can be anywhere. In America, we've refined this myopic focus of attention on ourselves, and it's sad. It's also very selfish and self-centered, and something we need to guard our hearts against.

When we're in the Philippines we get a much wider view of world news, and a better sense of the church international. At a small missions conference this past week, I heard my pastor friend John share about the underground church and Bible school where he visited and taught. This stirs my heart, it always does.

A great need exists throughout much of the world for training and equipping leaders within the church. This need has burdened my heart for many years. It's not that they need me, if anything I need them. But they do need what I and many other western leaders have to offer— experience and expertise.

In America, we (the church) have been blessed, and abundantly so. A lot of talk has gone on about redistributing wealth. The church worldwide doesn't need the material wealth of American churches, that would ruin them. What they need is our wealth of spiritual resources— training, expertise, mentoring, and the like.

We need to see the church as an extended family that shares what God has blessed us with, not keeping it for ourselves. There are millions, no billions, of souls who are waiting for us to do so. The idea of sharing and being a community, an extended family, is what we see with the first church [Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37].

This was the Lord's design and direction for His church. Why has it changed? Was it God who changed it or us? If you're not sure, just ask Him.

Small Biz Missions


Last weekend—in between huge shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday—small businesses were spotlighted on Small Business Saturday. That's pretty tough competition. How do you compete with a stampede of "blowout deals" and stay-at-home shoppers who don't have to pay sales tax?


Last Sunday I visited a good-sized local church who were featuring a well-known, multi-million dollar international mission. From what I know, this mission is a good organization doing a good work in the name of Jesus. I laud the church and pastor for their enthusiasm and commitment in support of this kind of ministry.

My wife and I listened to the impassioned reasoning to support this ministry related to the Scripture text for the morning's message. An appeal was made for people to commit (ie: sponsor a child). As I listened, I couldn't help see a comparison (on the same weekend) to Small Business Saturday sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the myriad of small missions and not-so-well known (even unknown) missionaries and national pastors throughout the world.

Small businesses can't compete with WalMart-type (or Amazon, etc.) big businesses. Neither can smaller ministries and missions compete with larger, more corporate-style ministries—nor should they compete with them. You might wonder why use the word compete in relation to ministries? It's reality. I know this from the perspective as a pastor and missionary, but that's another issue.

This kind of comparison is an apple-oranges thing. They're really not comparable. Just as small businesses are more locally connected and relational (at least have the potential to be), so also with smaller ministries. Each has their place and purpose.

Most missionaries and ministries don't have the budget nor time available for getting better known. They're too busy and committed to what God has called them to do.

So here's a sampling of a few ministries I know and appreciate that represent the tens of thousands of other faithful and fruitful ministries that are often unknown or unnoticed by most of us. Of course, God knows them because He called them and stands with them day by day.

I'll include some links below (where possible) and a brief description of their ministries (who, what, where). Check them out and pray for them, they'll appreciate it. Acknowledge them (maybe on social media if they are ok with it) and even consider helping them out with some support.

I'm thankful for Shepherd's Staff Mission Facilitators for the way they help many smaller ministries, and for our being part of this ministry for several years. Visit their site to see the many missionaries and missions they assist, including ours (we're in the list and at the bottom of the page as Rainbow Village Ministries).

Missionaries and Ministries (their names have embedded links to click on)—
Patrick and Shari Bailey— ministry among indigenous people of the Philippines and beyond
Eric and MJ Johansen— working with indigenous people in Thailand and beyond
Brian and Betty Vander Kodde— church planting and discipling in Peru
Jeff and Lilia Roenspie— church planting, discipling and literacy work in Mexico
Jonathan and Adrienne Ferguson— pastoring and discipling in Kenya
Bruce Sonnenberg— established an educational support ministry for those affected by HIV/AIDS with missions throughout the world

These are but a handful of the many thousands, including national pastors and leaders in every nation in the world, who serve the Lord faithfully. Blessings upon them all!



Faithfulness and the Future

This past month I had the privilege of teaching several young people in two courses at a Bible college. The study and work the students do is quite demanding. I helped one group learn how to study parables, and we studied the Book of Daniel in the other course. Daniel was a man whom God showed the future, and I was reminded that students like these are the future of the church.

I also enjoyed visiting with many alumni during the school's annual Founder's Day conference, and several others in a second meeting before I left. They naturally look to me for guidance as their former teacher, but it's they who encourage me when I see their faithfulness and vision for ministry.

One man especially encouraged me as he shared all God was showing him to do, and what he was doing. Pastor Elmer has quite a story. While he was working as a carpenter in the early days of building at Rainbow Village, he went back to night school to complete his high school degree while improving his English. He wanted to enroll in the Bible college I established in 1995, which required a high school degree and some English proficiency. I was also blessed to officiate his marriage held on Rainbow's compound.

Even while working as a carpenter, I saw his vision and commitment for ministry. He held devotions with the work crew each Friday morning. He went on to Bible college and worked a year in an internship program following graduation. Plenty of challenges came his way, but he endured and completed his assignment under a national pastor.


After taking it over, he established a new church plant in the mountains above the school and Rainbow, later, he came on staff at the Bible college. He was instrumental in helping me establish a curriculum taught in the local dialect (language), a long-held vision of mine. A few years later he wanted to strike out on his own to establish a church-planting school. 

The curriculum would be similar, but simpler and more condensed. His goal was simple—equip leaders to plant churches. At first he was hesitant to tell me his vision, since other church leaders had laughed at him. I rejoiced when he shared it with me. It was another phase of vision God had shown me many years before.

More and more, I've realized that vision from God is not something given for us to bring to pass, but to be shared with others. We may or may not be part of its fulfillment. Perhaps our involvement is simply to share it with others without direct involvement.

For many years, even a couple decades, I've believed the Philippines to be a reservoir of missionaries. I even compiled a list of reasons* I believe this. In the past year or two, my brother, Pastor Elmer, has begun moving forward with his own vision for sending out missionaries.

He has a contact in Hong Kong who helps provide employment, sponsorship and plane fare. Elmer's part is getting candidates prepared to go. This includes equipping them to do ministry. He's able to draw on his own experience and training as a church planter and pastor, and as a certified trainer for Biblical storying (Simply the Story).

But getting candidates prepared involves acquiring the necessary legal documents, including a passport and visa. This is a cost most Filipinos cannot  afford. Where does the money come from? Initially, he used profit from harvesting a field of rice (another interesting story!) from funds he loaned to poor rice farmers. But he has a sustainable plan to develop a missionary sending agency, another great story in itself.

I believe this is the future of world missions. Men and women such as Pastor Elmer exist throughout the rest of the world (MOTROW). They have vision, ingenuity and dedication. An important question to ask in light of this is—What is the role of the American church and of western missionaries?

Pastor Elmer and I have a partnership similar to what Paul and Barnabas had in Acts 11. My role is not like Paul's, but Barnabas'. When Barnabas saw the revival taking place in Antioch (Acts 11:10-26), he went to Tarsus for Paul (then called Saul). Elmer doesn't need me to direct him, but to work alongside him. He's not looking to me for financial help (although I do help support him in a small way). He's asking me to partner with him in what God has given him vision to do.

In the past several decades, western missionaries and churches have unwittingly hindered national-led churches by creating a dependency on foreign support and methods. The dependency develops, among other reasons, because of strings-attached to giving support—the expectations of how ministry will be done.

Will we, the American church and western missionary, make way for a new wave of missionaries and world missions outreach? It will move forward with or without us. After all, it's God's work, not ours.

*If you'd like a copy of my list of reasons for Filipinos being World Class Missionaries, send me an email—livingwordstudy@gmail.com