Mission Update: East Africa

By Charles Cheruiyot

The journey to freedom from the bondage of sin starts once people come out of their denial and realize that they are powerless. Without  help from God, the creator of the universe and sustainer of lives, human beings will not find lasting peace and rest. God has given us ministries to reach out and help connect humankind to their maker, as we teach and walk with them through the journey to that freedom.

Kenya
I recently attended a one week training after we got an invitation to participate in a ministry called Restore Small Groups. I took our facilitators from Makueni, Nakuru, and Eldoret and they really enjoyed the training. Even though we doubted attending due to cost, God opened a way and we got support for accommodation and food courtesy of our American friends. I managed to help with transport, and we thank God for the provision and safe travel.

Reports indicate that the Celebrate Recovery facilitators in Makueni, Nakuru, and Eldoret are implementing the small group’s recovery programs, which is working well. Attendance is increasing weekly. Some of the challenges we are facing is getting conducive facilities for the program (and this is common in all our churches and meeting locations), thus the need to build classrooms and amenities within our locations where we minister. Prayer requests for acquisition of the facilities are welcome.

I called our brother Morisho from Mombasa and shared what the Lord is doing in our ministries. The report from Kisii also encouraged us—Simon Ongiri informed us of great progress with the orphanage and radio outreach.

I traveled to Nairobi, Nakuru, and Kericho counties and found out that there has been much suffering in the lives of the people there. According to Kenya Red Cross and government agencies, the worst areas are the northern parts of Kenya like Baringo, Turkana, and Marsabit (and surrounding counties), where livestock has died due to prolonged drought.

I give thanks to God for the gift of good ministry partners in the USA, Africa, and other places who are standing with us in mission work. Special thanks to Ben, Robert, and his team for praying and assisting us with a mission vehicle, which is being prepared as I write this report. I went to Nairobi–based Mobius Motors and made an order with the advice from Ben and Robert. Soon, it will be ready, and our mission work will be made more easy and convenient.

Joseph Maiyo, a speaker in the Kalenjin language, reported that he planted a new church recently. He is praying for them to get shelter as they increase in numbers. Ezekiel Ngososei and Sosten Kering are working tirelessly to get the Gospel on the air and do follow-up in their communities. They each preach once a week and are getting good feedback from the audience. Herbert Opula, who speaks the Luhya language, told me to convey greetings to you and let you know that the work of spreading the Gospel is going great.

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Tanzania
Our churches have been supporting mission work for the Datooga tribe of Tanzania, where Zephaniah and Gladys are currently volunteer missionaries. After retiring from teaching, Zephaniah decided to take the Gospel to the Datooga tribe (a sub-tribe of the Kenyan Kalenjin tribe). The Datooga tribe are mostly farmers and cattle raisers.

The Datooga mission work there is overseen by Churches of Christ in Kipsigis, which took first the initiative to reach out to the tribe. We’ve gotten reports that the work there is going well. I’m planning to visit them as soon as the new Mobius is ready. We are praying for the work of God in Tanzania and other parts of East Africa to continue smoothly.

*Special Report: Flash Flooding in Kenya
At the time of this writing, there has been recent flash flooding in parts of Kenya. We have friends and churches in the affected areas who need relief.

Currently, they need food, clothing,  and medical attention due to diseases associated with the rain. I’m willing to travel to affected areas with my team to offer relief and support in any way, but we lack funds. Recently, we donated five bags of maize to Budalangi (near Uganda).

We have prayer requests for families affected by flash floods near Nakuru City last night. 41 people lost their lives when a water dam burst and swept across the village. Over 500 families are camping at a school nearby and are in desperate need of food and materials to keep them warm.

So far, 158 people have died since the onset of the rain. I have requested church members in Nakuru to visit the victims and help where they can. Thank you for your prayers and support.

—Charles

Sri Lanka: 2nd Quarter, 2018

By Asee Darla

 

In Sri Lanka last month, we sent one of our preachers, Moses Raghu, who trained under me to Colombo. He went there and brought a good report.

There is a special situation—there is a Telugu community who have not had anybody to teach them Bible in their native language for the last 40 years. As you may or may not know, I belong to Telugu community. So, we are arranging a FM Radio program for them in both Telugu and Tamil languages. Sanjay and Moses will also actively engage in helping and training native preachers for One Kingdom. I do not go there every month, but may be once every quarter.

I need your prayers. This way, I can have a continuous relationship with the Colombo Church of Christ and the brethren for whom I labored for several years and continue our mission.

Nepal: 2nd Quarter, 2018

By Asee Darla

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Sanjay and I traveled to Kathmandu. Brother Pramodh, Brother Krishna, and Brother Ramananda received us well at our regular place, the Tibet guest house.

The next morning, we went to see a house that we are renting to use for mission work. We are using one room for radio ministry, a room for Bible classes, a room for students to stay, and another room for Brother Krishna, who will be there working there. We purchased furniture, bedding, and computer equipment. We’ve also applied for a land line telephone connection. In other words, the house is all set to be used for our mission.

The weather has been bad for traveling, so we felt we might have only a few students, but that was not the case. I was so glad to see their commitment. After I began talking with them, I realized most of them had memorized The Sermon on the Mount. That is a deal everywhere for those who want to work with us. That gave me good encouragement. Next, we had a three-day preaching class. On the last day, we had two students tell us how hard it was for them to get to Kathmandu. I am so grateful for your prayers.

We then went to the radio station to record future programs. We are trying to keep at least three months worth of programs on hand for the radio station there. We are also planning to run a Bible correspondence course in both English and Nepali languages. This will be our future work. We plan on visiting Nepal every quarter throughout the year. Students will also come to see us in Nellore once a quarter. We’ve chosen a quarterly system because many times the weather is bad and travel can be dangerous.

We are still looking for a husband and wife whom we can trust to take care of orphaned children. As you may know, when Brother Ben visited Kathmandu, we started helping one of our sisters who is running an orphanage. I visited these children and made arrangements to help with their present needs. We gave them rice, vegetables, bathing soap, etc.

This trip was overall a satisfactory trip and we returned home safely. It gave me a clear idea as to what is needed for the Nepal ministry. You know how much we depend on your prayers and blessings.

India: 2nd Quarter, 2018

By Asee and Sanjay Darla

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Greetings to you in our Lord’s wonderful name. I am grateful for all your prayers. World Radio has given me the opportunity to labor more for the Kingdom and die with more satisfaction and more confidence. I always praise my God for this great opportunity in joining this global program to call people who accept the Gospel and to become a part of One Kingdom. Brother Ben has put his trust in me to labor on behalf of him and One Kingdom to help people to be saved from the devil and his devices. I am personally thankful to you for all your prayers and encouragement.

In India, last month we have received 142 new responses and 87 repeated responses. We invited some of those who have been studying with us to give them a conclusion of our studies—to accept God’s new covenant and be born again. It was a four-day class and we spent about 20 hours giving them a picture of the new birth. 22 couples attended, and two wanted to be baptized this month. I understand we need one or two studies for the rest before they are born again.

In Sri Kalahasti, we studied with a group of 45 denominational preachers and 28 Church of Christ members. We studied 4 scriptures on the board.

We attended a Church of Christ preachers meeting in Ongole; about 300 preachers were assembled from all over Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. With most of them, I worked in the previous years. They were so happy to meet me on this occasion.

Last month, we baptized a total number of seven. Two in Nellore, three in Guntur and two in Tenali.

Ukraine: 2nd Quarter, 2018

By Dimitiy Grishchuk

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The beginning of the year was cold and frosty, but full of wonderful opportunities to serve God and His children. I do not stop wondering at how many new opportunities God gives to those who seek and those who pray about it. There have been meetings with new people, Bible study, repentance and baptisms, Christian winter camps and many other things that God gave us as an answer to your prayers and our seeking.

Our team conducted a two-day children’s camp in Stanytsia Luhanska (pre-war zone). It is special when we visit the children there. Every time we introduce ourselves as Christians from Kiev, people are always surprised at how somebody from this far away remembers them or knows about their problems. This time, apart from meetings with children, we helped two families buy firewood for the winter, and delivered several packages with medication to disabled people.

A woman named Natalia has lost her husband and children. She is also shell-shocked due to a shell burst in her house. She managed to hide in a corridor when she heard the blast. The truckful of firewood we bought for her will last her half a winter. “God will provide,” she stuttered hopefully as an answer to our unsaid question.

The children here have forgotten about war during these two days at the camp. They’ve forgotten about types of weapons; about the calibers of shots and blasts. They found out that God loves them and, of course, He prepared gifts for them! Do you remember how it is written in the Book of Revelation about Pergamum? There Satan lives. In the orphanage, we feel a heavy weight both physically and spiritually. There we see torn souls, stained minds, shattered childhoods, honor that is sold and drunk away. Also, there are lice. But, where there are bullets, there are also lice. And although a part of our team has already gone through this illness, we continue with prayer, with the Word, and with hugs. The little prisoners of sin and death had three amazing Christmas days. Three days of prayers, Bible study, games, fun, songs, and pure goofing around.

Does one need to be afraid of lice to talk about God’s love to a boy named Zyno? His parents attended a church here. His father is a preacher in one of the many denominations. The parents eventually divorced. Now, his father does not pay him any attention, although he continues to preach and lives not far from his son.

Later, his mother began a relationship with a man who often beat Zyno, which led him to the street and then to the orphanage. The boy is familiar with the church, but disappointed in Christians. It is not an easy task for us to give him a new confidence in believers. But with your prayers and support, we will overcome this also!

Five boys from the orphanage have been attending the Kiev community gatherings for a month now. We take them to the church in advance, prepare them a home-cooked lunch, and we play, pray, and say a short sermon. Then, they join the adult church. It is interesting to see their joy and enthusiasm as they sing Christian hymns with everyone, and as they watch the church partaking in communion. At the end of each gathering, the church blesses our young guests in prayer.

We communicate with youth and teenagers weekly through the ministries of Sokoly clubs, Molotalk English club, street outreaches, and individual meetings. The love to God through the love to the country, to society, to family and to yourself —that is the motto and the main theme of our ministry.

Dominican Republic: 2nd Quarter, 2018

By Prudencio Rodriguez

 

My brothers, I give you a special greeting that God extends many years of life to all who love the Lord.

I want to tell you that in this year we have entered with more encouragement and more faith, with just one reason to bring one more soul at the feet of Jesus Christ.

In response to our World Radio program, we received many calls from listeners congratulating us for all we did in the past year and continue to bring many blessings this year, thank God we maintain good contacts with our hearing friends. In this month we had two baptisms they are: Olanda Micell and Rosenne Pierre.

Brother Ben, I want you to keep praying for our Haitian brothers here in the country. Although many of them are legalized, they endure the impossible—that is, they are suffering a lot here in our own nation.

Recently, I had to intercede with the Dominican authorities. Here in a Dominican prison, a brother was imprisoned, because I was carrying a copy of his identification card and not the original card (because it had been lost).

Thank God that I was able to get him out of the prison and I didn’t have to  take him back to Haiti (the authorities had a truck full with more than 50 Haitians ready for deportation). I gave this brother an evangelist identification card for the authorities to consider, and I am willing to do everything that is within my reach to take care of these Haitian brothers. Right now there is a migration of Haitians to the Dominican Republic and, both when they enter and come out, it is affecting both nations.

Benin: 2nd Quarter, 2018

By George Akpabli

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The Agon Church of Christ and their evangelist Casimir invited us for a 3-day event of open-air preaching. They have begun a new preaching point in Hoeugbo. After our departure and their follow-up, they baptized 10 souls to begin a new congregation.

Casimir and his congregation led us to another town called Savi, where we repeated what we did in Houegbo. When the call for obedience was made, several people came forward and went on their knees in prayer. We left them in the hands of the preacher and the church leaders for follow-up.

From March 22–25 we did a follow-up work in the village of Dassa, where for days we preached day and night with the evangelist there, Pascal.

From March 26–28, we responded to a call from the church in Tandji. They have been waiting for us for months as our calendar has been absolutely full. We had three nights of preaching and Gospel meetings there.

Our work in this village was very challenging. One night one of our amplifiers broke down, we put in the second one, and during our preaching all of our horn speakers went dead. We replaced them with the box speakers. Then the second amplifier also went down. We realized it was not only equipment fatigue—we were also very tired, so we returned to Cotonou after worship with our brethren. It was with great joy that we received the phone call that ten souls were baptized.

We are now taking a little rest as we have our bus repaired, change of oils, filters, and the engine belt were needed, as well as our PA systems.

Thanks for your prayers brethren.

Turkey: 2nd Quarter, 2018

Name withheld for security

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Dear Partners in Christ,

Our ministry among refugees continues to grow and expand no matter what challenges we face.

The church in Istanbul baptized 28 people last year, but just a few months ago, 13 more refugees came to know Christ! With our refugee leaders, baptism classes have begun alongside other Bible studies. Seven months ago, these Bible studies were started among refugee families in Istanbul and now it continues among  five different groups in different parts of Istanbul.

This year, groups will study about what it means to be a Christian and a true family. Besides Bible study, our groups will continue to visit new families as they arrive in Istanbul. Many refugees are trying to move to larger cities for work (and other reasons), and goodness doesn’t always greet them!

Refugee Church in Istanbul grew so much and with the help of Bahcelievler Grace Church, we have tried to rent a new place and repair it as a church building. But this new church location has bothered the neighbors and surrounding neighborhood.

So, the municipality had to shut down this new church location after many complaints. The place is still available, but we cannot use it. We would love you to join us with your prayers to seek His guidance!

God continues His work among these groups. Our prayers are for them to root in Him and build their faith on strong foundations! We also continue to pray about how we can serve. As we walk with them, it is wonderful to see His wonders. We rejoice and are blessed by His Spirit!

Trinidad and Tobago: 2nd Quarter, 2018

By Mahase Bissoondath

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Dear brethren,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Praise and thanks be to God for your labor of love in the Gospel. We have just concluded a four-night revival and had one soul restored and between eight to twelve visitors each night. The radio program seemed to be a common factor among our visitors.

We have had five baptisms in our area (the north) linked to the radio program. Our television program was in jeopardy due to a lack of funds to cover the cost of production and air time. However, the TV station reduced their cost and the production man reduced his cost, both indicating that the program should not be stopped. These are non-Christian people, by the way. What is this saying to us in the Kingdom? Lately there has been keener interest by the congregations to support the program.

I have found another brother to assist me with the radio program and another with the television production. The programs continue to generate interest, but conversions are slow-coming. Most people don’t even think it’s possible to have a true Gospel, and they follow what is generally accepted—believe in Jesus and join a church of your choice. We pray that the Lord of harvest would grant us an increase and much fruit in our labors. We must keep on preaching and seeking the lost as there are still those who are searching.

We thank you for your support and pray for continuance.

Grace,

Mahase Bissoondath

Burkina Faso: 2nd Quarter, 2018

Philip & Sara Matheny

 

Last week, we met a baby who had lost his mother at birth just seventeen days before he arrived with us in Banfora.  An aunt and uncle had kept him alive by feeding him mashed corn and millet dissolved in water. As a tiny newborn, he was obviously not going to last much longer on this diet. We had the joy of watching Dramane teach the couple how to make formula, how to use a bottle, and watched him guzzle his first real meal since birth.

But that isn’t all. We met another rescued baby who had been abandoned in a latrine, a grandmother caring for her grandchild who she found in an abandoned house with his mother’s body, a five-month-old who lost his mom to malaria five days prior, and a man wearing a black turban who thanked us exuberantly (although his wife had died) because his baby is still alive.

We also met two twins being raised by an aunt after their mother died following their birth (when all the family thought she was simply resting), and a grandfather who came to get formula for his grandchild after the mother died of malaria and the father hung himself in his grief. In our two days in Banfora, we heard story after story of tragedy, and yet in the grief there was joy and often smiles because the tragedy had been stopped short.

The babies are alive! They are all receiving formula through our Formula Distribution Ministry while being cared for by their own extended family.

When we share these stories (and there are many more to tell), we do not want to leave the impression that all of Burkina is living in desperation. This is a country full of hard workers, big smiles, and extreme generosity.

What we find is that our work puts us in direct contact with the small segment of the population experiencing a family crisis who live in the rural (and often poorest) areas of this already-impoverished country. As the Word says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,” and we get to experience this watching Him work in Banfora.

During last week’s visit to Banfora, the Lord answered our prayer: “May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us- yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:16-17).

At first glance, you might say our neighbors live in poverty.  They sleep on straw mats rather than beds, haul water inside by the bucketful every day, wash their clothes by hand and go without fans or refrigeration because of the cost of electricity.

But we don’t see them as poor.

Our neighbors are the ones we sat with after the loss of their sons, the bride who asked us to drive her to her wedding reception, and the proud parents we were honored to drive home from the hospital with their newborn.

They are the ones with whom we exchange ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Good Ramadan,’ the children we share Bible stories with, the men who invite us to drink tea under the mango tree, and the tailor who made aprons and ties for us to give as gifts (though he didn’t know what they were).

They are the barber who insisted he knew how to cut our kind of hair when really he didn’t (but then eagerly learned), and the joyful Christian sister who wouldn’t let us pay her when she helped clean the house before we moved in.

They are not defined by what they don’t have. They are employees at the sugarcane factory, farmers in their fields, midwives and nurses at the hospital, teachers in a classroom, and a vegetable seller with a roadside stand.

They know exactly how much our baby cries at night (and talk to us about it after a bad night). They called to check on us every day when we made an emergency medical trip to the capital. And, yes, they also live on an average of only $3 a day, which leaves little buffer when sickness hits or the rains don’t come for the fields. From our neighbors I have seen that life is hard, but it is still very full of life.

I hope the neighborhood is better for having let us be a part of it. I can guarantee we are better for being included. Please continue to pray for the babies in our Formula Distribution Ministry and the families caring for them.

Thank you again for asking us to be a part of this publication!

Japan: 2nd Quarter, 2018

By Michiko Straker

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I was exhausted. In 2014, during our third year working in follow-up to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, I was very tired—either burned out or close to it. My good friend, Tomoko McLain called to ask if I would be interested in joining a team that would eventually host a Come Before Winter (comebeforewinter.org) renewal retreat for Japanese women in ministry. I thought, “I need that for myself!” I joined the team because I felt I needed help. I needed a lifeline to pull me out of the mire.

We trained over a three year period—four face-to-face sessions in Japan, and many video chats and email exchanges in between. I joined the first training while we were still in Ishinomaki, then the remaining three after we moved to Calgary. This past February, we had the fourth and final training session which led directly into hosting the five-day renewal retreat.

These were healing experiences for me. The act of preparing to feed others was actually feeding me as well—not just the activity, but the content. We studied the Bible deeply in order to present it to retreatants. I was refreshed.

19 women serving in various ministries from various Christian backgrounds attended as retreatants. There were 10 of us on the hosting team, making 29 in all. This makes an amazing impact in a nation where less than 1% of the population are Christ-followers.

Our guests were tired and stressed. Some were burning out in their ministries. So the main focus of the retreat was Psalm 103 as a lens for God’s hesed—His tireless love for His sometimes tired servants. We studied deeply. We made art together, contemplated in silence, practiced active reflection, and left space for unstructured recreation. There was time for one-on-one, small group, and large group prayers. We spent days together practicing and receiving God’s hesed. And our hearts filled up with love. Each of the hosting teams presented something. But our main task was to make space for our guests to be with God.

My presentation was about God’s hesed revealed through faith and struggle over generations. In Psalm 103, David praised God. It wasn’t just a feeling, it was a decision—the fruit of a long heritage of faith. David drew hope from the story of Moses’ struggles in Exodus 32. Even though Moses had a hard time, he always depended on God. Moses was David’s hero.

I have a hero in my heritage of faith, too. My great-grandmother was a Christian who prayed God would bless her descendants with the same hesed He showed Moses and David. He did. I feel it. So I choose to praise God. My encouragement to the other ladies was that one day our struggles may be what future generations look back on for hope and faith. We don’t have to be too strong, we just need to depend on God and let his love be seen in our lives.

On the last day, each participant took three minutes to share the fruit they gained from Psalm 103, and to name a specific change they would make for a renewed life. Change can be hard, but we can do it with God.

I made a commitment for renewal, too. At the end of our team meeting, I was asked, “Who is on your heart from this retreat?” One person in particular stood out to me. I felt a burden for her. I was asked to share this with the hosting team, and then to leave the person there—to give her and her struggles to God. I was surprised to realize this is my weakness. When I was in the disaster zone, I tried to walk with people and listen to them well. I think I listened to them well, but I couldn’t give them to God. Maybe I was scared to release them—thinking it is a sign that I didn’t care enough for them. But in truth, we can give them over to God’s care, and continue pray to for them. This is my renewal. I pray the ladies who came are walking with God in their new decisions, too—and are renewed.

Although this may have been Come Before Winter’s last official international development renewal, the Japanese hosting team is praying about ways to carry on in some way in Japan. Please pray with us for strength for people of faith to carry God’s tireless love from a rich heritage to a renewed future.

Mission Update: Greece

By Ryan Lee

From the time its doors opened in 1892 until its closing in 1954, Ellis Island was a gateway to freedom for immigrants from nations such as England, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavian countries seeking a fresh start in America. The Statue of Liberty standing tall shined as a beacon of hope for displaced families looking for a new beginning. An inscription on a plaque nearby featured the poem New Colossus, welcoming all who craved liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Whereas most large monument statues were erected to symbolize a great victory or even to deter enemies, the Statue of Liberty stood tall as a giant welcome mat. In the 60 years Ellis Island was open, over 12 million immigrants passed through on their way to becoming American citizens. In many cases, immigrants were given a new name—their American name. Some of these immigrants stayed in New York. Some traveled further west, but all of them began a new life, in a new home, with a new name.

Ellis Island was just a gateway, a portal for them to pass through. Immigrants poured through the doors of Ellis Island like a river flows through a valley. The island is one of the most important landmarks in American history. It’s this history that helped to shape a nation that stood for life and liberty. And as Mark Twain once put it, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

Now, over 60 years later, another group of people are fleeing their native countries in search of freedom. Except this time they aren’t immigrants—they are refugees. Instead of fleeing from western and northern Europe, they are fleeing countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Iraq. And rather than the gateway being Ellis Island, the gateway is Athens.

The Refugee Crisis, as it’s come to be known, began around 2009. Men, women, and children from Muslim backgrounds are fleeing their war-torn homes, running for their lives to escape oppression and violence. As they head to Europe, 80% of all refugees fleeing the Middle East and North Africa come through Greece. Athens is the gateway city and the epicenter of what is known as the refugee highway.

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Over 90% of the refugees who pass through Athens must cross the Mediterranean Sea. Smugglers will often take the refugees’ life savings in exchange for passage. Unfortunately, many of these crafts are overloaded with refugees and abandoned before arrival. In 2017, approximately 4,000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean. If a refugee is fortunate enough to make it to Athens, they most likely arrive penniless, their only possession the clothes on their back.

Because of the economic situation, there are not a lot of opportunities for the refugees. Athens is busy, yet not a lot of people are working.

Many refugees, after trying to find a life in Athens, realize that the best opportunity for them is by trekking deeper into Europe. So, much like Ellis Island, refugees pass through Athens like a river. It’s in this river where we meet Larry and Cathy Bowles.

The Bowles are missionaries from Oklahoma who spend the better part of each year (as long as their visas will allow) in Athens. Larry, a retired firefighter, and his wife Cathy began their mission work in Athens with a mindset to evangelize to the Greek people. When the refugee crisis began, they realized it wasn’t the Greeks who God had called them to minister to, but the Muslim refugees. And because of the nature of Athens and the fact that these refugees are only staying in Athens a short time, the Bowles realized they must change their strategy. They not only needed to shift their focus from Greeks to Muslims, but they also realized that God was calling them to go further than evangelism. They had to disciple.

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How, though, do you disciple a person who you know will be leaving you in a couple of months? The first step was simple: meet their physical needs. Larry and Cathy and their small team met any and every refugee they could, providing food, water, blankets, clothing, and healthcare. They showed Christ’s love by meeting the physical needs first, which opened doors to share with them who Jesus is. To their surprise, they found that many of these refugees were curious and actually eager to learn about who Jesus is. They realized quickly that this environment was ripe for discipleship.

Again, the hardest part of their quest to make disciples was the short time the refugees stay in Athens. Before these people left Greece, Larry and Cathy wanted to embrace them in love and tell them about Jesus. But they didn’t have time for a Biblical studies school; they needed something more short-term, more intense. And thus, the AcroCenter was born.

The AcroCenter was started as a discipleship training program. The Acro (Athens Christian Refugee Organization) Center works in cooperation with and serves as an extension of three major evangelical refugee outreach organizations currently operating in Athens. It exists to provide the opportunity for deeper Bible training and focused discipleship with new Christian refugee believers while they are still in Athens.

With the understanding that they didn’t have much time with the refugees, Larry and Cathy developed a 5-week, 60-hour discipleship course to teach people not only about the Gospel, but also who God truly is as a person. It’s extremely intense, but it has been very effective with the Muslim refugees who are seeking a relationship with God. The program is designed to meet new refugee believers where they are educationally, while providing a solid foundation of sound Biblical training and discipleship. This training gives them a strong grasp of scripture and equips them not only to live a life for Jesus, but to teach, evangelize, and make disciples of their new fellow countrymen (not only while they are in Athens, but also wherever the Lord moves them as they pass into other countries within Europe and beyond).

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There are many challenges in doing this work. For instance, when refugees first come to the AcroCenter, they are given a Bible. Even this is a foreign concept to them as most refugees are fleeing a place where owning a Bible is illegal—and in some cases, punishable by death. From the very start, their worldviews are shaken. Most have grown up in a religion that is defined by domination and control, where rules are maintained by fear, intimidation, and harsh punishment. With Jesus, however, they are met with love, grace, mercy, and hope.

The motto of the AcroCenter is “We are looking for those who are looking for Jesus.” And when you think about it, that’s every refugee. They fled Islamic oppression in search of what Jesus provides even if they didn’t realize it at the time. Only in Christ can they experience true transformation and real deliverance from the tyranny of Islam.

One of the most uplifting stories of this ministry is Larry and Cathy’s exit strategy. They believe that God will build His church through His people. Who better to disciple a Muslim refugee than a former Muslim refugee? Larry says it as plainly as it can be said, “We can equip them, but it should be they who lead, not us.” With all the refugees pouring into Europe through Athens every day, it’s very possible that Muslim refugees will be who God uses to disciple Europe.

Just like Ellis Island was for over half a century, Athens has become a gateway to freedom for millions. And as the Statue of Liberty stood as a welcoming beacon for immigrants seeking refuge, perhaps the Acropolis will be a symbol of the strong tower that is the name of the Lord. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” Emma Lazarus wrote The New Colossus in 1883 to raise money for the Statue of Liberty. It then became an invitation to liberty. While no one is building statues or writing poems for the Refugee Crisis, Jesus has already given his invitation. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” —Matthew 11:28

To learn more about Larry and Cathy’s mission work in Athens, please visit their website at: acrocenter.org.

Russia: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Natasha Podryachikov

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If you remember, one of our sisters in Christ, Sashulya, ended up in the hospital with some extreme pain in her stomach. Thanks be to God; not only did the surgery go well, but recovery also was speedy. She will go back to work this week. We appreciate all your thoughts and prayers about Sashulya.

December was an amazing month! I was so excited to see that God blessed us with many opportunities to share the good news with people this season. I host annual Christmas celebrations at the local girl’s school and at church. This year was not an exception,  and there were several changes which I was excited for. This year at school, I was allowed to host this party for all grades. To my surprise, there was a big group of elementary kids. The teachers also helped  me with the preparations for this event.

It was a pleasure to see that all these kids were looking forward to this party. During story time, it was nice to see how the children all had open hearts for God. I talked to the principal afterward, and it was great to hear that they started putting my Christmas celebration officially on their school calendar.

This year the church also had many children that brought their friends as well. The members of the church actively participated in hosting the Christmas event.

This was the first time that Dennis and I noticed how we did not need to lead and host the party. The adults initiated in areas where they were confident. During the celebration at church, the main point of the story about Jesus was: our God is a God who is giving and sharing what He has. Everyone was so inspired that after the party they gathered and discussed the plans they had for the ministry and the church, which was very exciting.

On the horizon, we have an upcoming seminar on financial management,  a three day getaway that concentrates on edification and encouragement, and an outreach in Kazakhstan held by the church in Degtyarsk. Please pray for these works. The house church in Degtyarsk prays for more members, and our friend Oksana prays for the growth of God’s Kingdom in Uralmash, and also in her home country of Uzbekistan.

Because of Christmas, we were able to give other people and friends blessings and spread the Word of God.  I would like to thank everyone who helped with their continuous support and giving. You bless us every Christmas, and we are thankful for this.

The Gambia: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Lawrence Oshioreame

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Since the inception of this congregation in 2000, the Lord has laid it in our hearts to embark on agricultural projects as a means of sustaining Kingdom work and reaching out in a more effective way. By taking the Gospel to those outside the Kingdom, we are helping to better the lives of those in both spiritual and physical ways.

This vision has been shared among sister congregations here, and it was applauded. But, it has also appeared unattainable due to all the financial involvements, actualizing all the elements, and implementations.

The congregation sees agriculture as one of the most effective ways to support and sustain Kingdom work in Gambia. The Gambia is predominately Muslim, and it is hostile to the acceptance of the Gospel. Poverty is widespread. This Muslim-dominated background slows the pace of numerical growth in the Kingdom, and the poverty level affects many who become Christians in their living. Thus, the strength of their giving in worship service is greatly affected, too.

1. Our Vision:
A. To set up a standard poultry project with chickens of more than one species, as well as layer and broiler chickens. These layers would produce eggs daily, which would be accumulated for sale, and the broiler breeds would be prepared directly for sale.

For example, having about one thousand layer chickens will produce slightly above a thousand eggs daily, because there would be a few exceptional cases that some would lay two eggs daily. The layers can be sold after months of laying eggs and replaced with new grown layers.

Market target: Local markets such as the tourist industry and the general public.

B. Have an orchard of Moringa trees (never-die trees) that would produce seeds yearly, which can be sold for medicinal purposes. Or, another option is to grow cashew trees. Its fruit can be used to produce wine and the seeds for export to the USA and Europe.

C. Set up an irrigation farm to produce vegetables throughout the year for the local market, and possibly for export as well.

2. Our Mission:
A. Buy sizable land within local communities, especially outside a major city where Search for Truth is being broadcasted.

B. Acquire equipment for the poultry project, and establish a steady source of buying chicken feeds according to their kinds. (ii) Later, discontinue the purchase of chicken feeds and produce it for security and cost effective purposes.

C. Construct a bole hole so that there will be constant supply of water for irrigation farming even during the dry season.

D. Seek partners to collaborate with us for the initial sponsorship of finances and materials.

3. Beneficiaries (Church and communities/individuals and non-Christians):
A. The church is the first beneficiary of these projects, in the sense that it will create employment for some indigenous church members who fit the job descriptions. It will help raise steady funds for scholarships and benevolence in general.

B. It will cater for evangelism mechanics, such as necessary logistics to operate and push the Gospel to areas targeted.

C. It will help to employ workers within the local communities where the projects are sited.

D. It will help to operate with benevolence in various relief activities, dependent upon the pressing needs of people or prospects for evangelism nationwide.

E. It will help to provide scholarship for needy children outside the Kingdom as a way of taking the Gospel to the lost. There will be obvious criteria used to ascertain the beneficiaries of this work.

F. It will help to support preacher’s allowance.

G. It will help to build new church buildings.

H. It will help to support Mission work outside The Gambia as the Lord leads.

4. Current Status of the Vision:
By the grace of God we have acquired some plots of lands in some local communities. Such as 200m by 100m x 200m by 100m at Mbullum, 100m by 100, x 100m by 100m at Somita.

Secondly, a few communities are willing to sell plots of land if we establish a school for the community so that their children will not have to travel long distances to go to school.

5. Current Challenges:
A. To raise funds to register the properties from occupancy ownership to leasing levels.

B. Fencing of the properties for security, and to do some local planting of crops to raise money gradually for the main projects. Fencing will protect the crops from animal intrusion and destruction.

C. Raise funds for the main projects to begin and to serve the overall goals.

Senegal: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Arnold Dzah

 

I lack words to describe the penetrating power of the radio program. God continues to break harder grounds through the radio programs here. We’ve now fully entered the university campus nearby where students call to ask pertinent questions. We receive  questions such as, “Why do we still follow Christ when he promised that somebody is coming after him? Should we listen to that person?” Your guess is as good as mine, since such a question can never be answered on the radio.

Though Islam is tolerant in Senegal, we don’t want to provoke them. We are mindful that the station may be closed down or we may be stopped from preaching. We asked the one who asked the question to visit us in order to discuss it together.

We have five university students attending the Bible school here in Dakar. We’re so grateful to God. I received a call from a village I can’t even find on the map (Domgor), where a gentleman introduced himself as a listener. He has told us that he is  not alone in listening to our programs, so he is inviting us to visit him. Additionally, if possible, we will organize an evangelism event for this next December. And if we can preach in their local language, Djola, many more will be interested.

We pray that we can be assisted to satisfy this request. This is not the first time we received such a request coming from the Djola-speaking people. They are another huge population in the southern part of Senegal.

We’re so grateful for all the support we receive from World Radio in support of our preaching programs. May God continue to bless you.

Sierra Leone: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Michael Amara

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Greetings from Bo, Sierra Leone. We are glad that God Almighty has given us another opportunity to proclaim His Kingdom around the world. I am grateful that I am a chosen vessel for The Great Commission. We thank all our sponsors for their contribution and encouragement as we partner together. May the good God continue to bless them throughout 2018 and the years to come.

One Kingdom has been a source of blessings to our people and the Churches of Christ in our localities. May we be blessed in our efforts for His purpose in this life. Gracefully we say Happy and Prosperous New Year  for 2018.

We thank God for the provision our sponsors have made for the beginning of this year. Please be informed that the next quarterly agreement has been made with KISS 104. To God be the glory.

Peru: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Rodolfo Casas

 

Each day, the church becomes better known through the radio program, relying on  sound doctrine and exposing the Gospel. In these last two months we have been emphasizing everything related to the family, since it is a great need of our people. Our brothers  and sisters are sharing the program, and many people have begun to take an interest in teaching.

Sometimes they call us asking us simple questions, and when we give them Biblical answers they say they never knew such things.

We want to express our gratitude for all the efforts and love that keeps the Gospel going through the radio program Con la Biblia Abierta to Peruvian. We are grateful that the church is making itself known and Christ is being glorified. The members of the different congregations here also feel edified with these Biblical teachings, and we have had several baptisms recently.

Thank you very much for making this program a blessing. God continues to prosper and sustain you.

Philippines: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Daniel A. Oliva

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Radio evangelism is a great way to share Christ here. Church members in Malasigue, Pangasinan and Gerona, Tarlac are inviting me to teach radio/WBS contacts in their hometowns. I have am planning to visit these places and teach both members and nonmembers of the church. Please, include these in your prayer list.

A ‘seeker’s class’ was started at Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija in the Military Reservation in December. Along with brethren from Cabanatuan City, we taught a lesson on unity. I encountered a problem, because one of the children is deaf-mute, but she can read the Bible. I have to re-learn my sign language lessons to be able to communicate with her. We in the Philippines are ever grateful for helping. God bless.

Egypt: 1st Quarter, 2018

By Alfred Habashy

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Last August, Francis and I went to Bremen, Germany for the second time to continue what we have been started in March 2017 among the Arab refugees. We answered the second call from the Church of Christ in Bremen. The work among the refugees is growing. Their numbers have doubled, and the church members work hard to reach the Arab refugees around them. Brother Rudy the preacher, his family, and Elsa (she is a missionary and has lived in Germany from more than thirty years) do a great and outstanding job. They urge and encourage each member in the church to disciple others. Moreover, Elsa and Michaela (Rudy’s wife) do excellent work with the Arab ladies. They teach, visit with them, and help them to finish gaining legal status.

Francis and I spent eight days there. Brother Doug from Sunset joined us for only three days. During the day, we went to visit Arabic Muslims refugees in their camps, praying and encouraging them in their houses. At night we had a great teaching time at the church. We studied three topics from the Bible and Koran:

1) Has the bible been corrupted?

2) The incarnation of Christ.

3) Who is Jesus?

Their responses were over our expectations and imaginations. The attendances every night were not less than twenty men and women from different ages. The majority of them were very receptive. Despite this, there were some strong discussions (although not harsh). We had a wonderful time before teaching to sing Christian songs together. This visit was so successful, so fruitful, so powerful, and full of joy and love. Ultimately, in my last session, we ended up with splendid success!

After I finished my lesson in the last day, I asked, “Who is Jesus?” All of them in one accord with loud voice answered, “Jesus is God!” Wow, what an amazing and wonderful seed planted in the minds and hearts of more than 20 Arabic Muslim refugees. We fully trust that the Lord will confirm The Word in their minds and hearts.

In September, I went for a month to teach for the first time in AIBI School in Athens. God gave me great opportunities with the students I was teaching, especially among the Arabic-speaking groups.

At AIBI I taught two classes: Bible History and The Life of Christ. The students are from different countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Also, they are from different background, some Catholics, some Pentecostal and others attend to the church of Christ.  I had a great time to studying individually with some students as well.

Athens is a great and ample field to reach many Arab refugees from several Arab countries. Moreover, it is so open to proclaim the truth freely. I met with many of them. All of them are open-minded, so acceptable, and very receptive to The Word of God.

In Cairo, we had our second 2017 book fair. Let me recap the 15 days of this fair quoting Jesus’s statement to His disciples, “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” This is true! We encountered many Muslims who came before and got a Bible. Over 85% of them told us they are reading the Bible secretly, regularly, and daily. They also had some questions and need help to understand. Moreover, during this fair we have been able to hand out about 8,000 New Testaments with other Bible stories for kids and Jesus films as well. Our distribution these last three years has surpassed 47,000 Bibles.      

I started a new group to study the Bible every Saturday before our weekly prayer meeting with some of those who need and ask for help. This group is completely different than any other Bible study I’ve conducted before.  There are 15 young men and women. Nine are Muslims, two from the Coptic Orthodox Church, and four from the book fair team. I experience great challenges with this group. Two weeks ago, two of these Muslims had been baptized unto Christ.  However, they refused to take any photos during the baptism.

As for our church, three families lost their young ones within the past two months. It is a tragedy! It is very sad and a mourning time for the whole church. We will miss them so much. Our hope is that they are all now in a better place with Jesus. Please pray for these families to get rest and comfort from The Lord.

Our youth meeting on Friday is growing as well. This small group started a Christmas caroling to praise and celebrate Christmas songs with the church on January 7th, as all the eastern churches celebrate Christmas on that day. They rehearse twice a week with great enthusiasm for this unique event.

Finally, Hala, Joly, Andrew, and I send you all our love and the choicest blessings from heaven this Christmas. May you have a brilliant Christmas season! Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!  And New Year brings new hopes and aspiration. Have a fantastic year filled with peace and health, with lots of love and loads of wealth, wishing you all a Happy New Year.

My family and I are grateful for each one of you for your love, prayers, and support. I always like to end my report with the same request that Paul made of the New Testament churches: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” —Ephesians 6:19.

Uganda: 4th Quarter, 2017

By Waibi Robert

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It is hard to express in words the encouragement the church ministry brings to people. We have shared God’s word, the deep spiritual walk, and the power it brings about.

At Lwanda Church, we regularly fight addictions, loneliness, temptations, and share our spiritual experience. We inspire hope to people who are harshly being tormented with bad habits, diseases, sickness, and demons.

For Super Sunday and the Radio Evangelistic Ministry, I addressed real issues in the lives of faith. The theme of the teaching was ‘Building a godly character.’ The number one step to building a Godly character is humility. Jesus is always the best example for humility; he was gentle and humble (Matthew 11:29).

Some have been rebuked who have become prideful with their gifts that God has given. He informed the congregation that, “man is an instrument in God’s hands and all we have is God–given.’

God’s love for us never changes. Our invitation is open to whomever may be interested to join us morally, spiritually, and financially. Through your gifts, struggling brothers and sisters will be able to receive the encouragement and hope. We will be happy to share these blessings with you.