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The Power of Prayer | November 2019

Dear friends,

 
V was famous in his Pakistan community as a star cricket player … and for gambling. But as he became more and more involved with a new cricket club called Serve Pakistan that emphasized spiritual training as much as physical training, his life was transformed. Earlier this year V was approached by a family in the community, whose teenage daughter was demon possessed. They had exhausted all previous hope of healing for their daughter but pleaded for V’s help. V gathered some of his cricket club teammates to join him in days of prayer and fasting, then began to pray with the girl and her father. During this intense hour of prayer, the girl was delivered from evil through the power of Christ!

In 2014 A founded Serve Pakistan Cricket (SPC), which has now multiplied into 10 cricket clubs which meet regularly to play cricket, fellowship, pray, worship and receive mentoring. SPC bridges religious divides, teaches cricket skills, and transforms the lives of young men.

As the network of cricket clubs has grown, so has the need for a more permanent ministry center, where spiritual and physical training can be provided. The proposed ministry center/business, Serve Pakistan Farming Services (SPFS) will be able to provide ongoing, in-country financial support for Serve Pakistan Cricket, as well as offering potential to a wide range of community development programs for the village of Clarkabad and the surrounding area. IBAM (International Business as Missions – the arm of EPC World Outreach that works to use business as a means to share the gospel) is collaborating closely with A to make this dream a reality.

To learn more about the ministry of Serve Pakistan, send us an email!

Written in coordination with A.

How Can You Participate?

About the Punjabi of Pakistan

If you feel called to pray for the Punjabi of Pakistan, or would like to learn more, download our free prayer card. We would be happy to send these to you to pass out to friends and church members, as well – just send us an email.

for Serve Pakistan

Make a commitment to pray weekly for SPFS. Pray for the process of buying the land, building the walls, hiring new local staff, working with local government regulations, building buildings, buying tractor and implements, pray for A as he continues making local contacts in Clarkabad.

A to Speak

Help us advertise this ministry project and invite A to speak with your local congregation. We would be happy to join you in your local congregation via skype to share this ministry vision in person. Email us to get in touch.

Look to The Rock from Which You Were Hewn | October 2019

Dear friends,

In one of the darkest days of the people of Israel, the Lord spoke through Isaiah…

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.  Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him.”  Isaiah 51:1-2

What does it mean to be ‘hewn’?  To be hewn is to be given identity, shape, form.  And what or who is the rock?  The big ‘r’ Rock is God, of course—God our Rock, our Father, by whom we have been created and have our identity (Deut 32:18) and Christ ‘the spiritual Rock’ (1 Cor 10:4).  Also, the metaphor of the rock is extended from the person of Christ to his words and the revelation of who he is (Mt 7:24; 16:18).  Our Rock is a Gentile-reaching, cross-bearing rock.

But Isaiah 51 identifies Abraham and Sarah as a rock, too: ‘Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you’ (v2).  They are Israel’s father and mother in the faith—a human father and mother (Rom 4:12,16).

So, while our faith is ultimately in God the Rock, the very object of our faith and source of our identity, shape, and form; it is also true, in some sense, that we have in Abraham a tradition of faith and source of identity that is a secondary ‘rock’, a little ‘r’ rock, from which we are hewn.  By extension, we have this also in other human godly church fathers, like Paul, Augustine, or Luther.

As Presbyterians celebrating Reformation Day and as EPC folks who have declared intentions to be missions-focused, let us consider the rock from which we have been hewn, in terms of our church’s founding and tradition.  That includes John Calvin, one of many Reformed churchmen in our heritage.  And let us take to heart the following powerful missions commitments evidenced in John Calvin’s writings.  Perhaps they will help us shake off the dust of unhealthy traditionalism and misconceptions about what it really means to be Presbyterian or Reformed.

John Calvin to his arrested missionaries:
“Since it please him [God] to employ you to the death in maintaining his quarrel [with the world], he will strengthen your hands in the fight, and will not suffer a single drop of your blood to be spent in vain.  And though the fruit may not all at once appear, yet in time it shall spring up more abundantly than we can express.”

John Calvin commenting on Augustine:
‘”For as we do not know who belongs to the number of the predestined or who does not belong, we ought to be so minded as to wish that all men be saved.’ So shall it come about that we try to make every one we meet a sharer in our peace.”

John Calvin commenting on Isaiah 2:3:
“And indeed nothing could be more inconsistent with the nature of faith than that deadness which would lead a man to disregard his brethren, and to keep the light of knowledge choked up within his own breast.”

May we be inspired anew from the rock of our traditions, to do as John Calvin and the Reformed movement did, …

  1. to send missionaries to hard places, even where they face imprisonment and martyrdom, while pastorally and prayerfully submitting it all to God.
  2. to try to make everyone we meet a sharer in our peace.
  3. to not keep the light of the gospel choked up inside of us.
  4. to rise in faith knowing that the missions fruit we seek will in time “spring up more abundantly than we can express”. (See also Gen 12:1-3 and Is 51:3.)

Is this not the rock from which you and I were hewn?

This World Outreach Reflection on Reformation Day is by Bruce Anderson, EPC World Outreach ITEN Founder & Coordinator

Note: The first two quotations of Calvin are quoted from Haykins and Roberston, To the Ends of the Earth, 2014, p. 59.

 

Community Life

To the Ends of the Earth

If you are interested in learning more about the role of the Reformed tradition in spreading the gospel, Haykin and Robertson’s book, To the Ends of the Earth is a great starting point.

A Presbyterian Mandate

Read this free book by Frontiers founder and EPC WO global worker, Greg Livingstone. In this book, Greg challenges us to rededicate ourselves to our foundational calling: taking the gospel to those people and places that have no access to the Good News. This is available as a free pdf.

Calvin and World Missions

Download this free resource from World Reformed Fellowship that has collected articles from 1882-2002 on Calvin’s role in establishing mission theology. Interested in sharing the quotes from the Anderson’s reflection with your congregation? Download these slides and pictures – each to slip into a bulletin.

GROW-ing the Gospel | September 2019

Dear friends,

Amina* was desperate, alone, and vulnerable.  Sharing a tiny Beirut apartment with several other families and separated from a husband searching for work in Turkey, she needed a safe place to leave her child while she looked for work. Somehow, she found the GROW Center, a preschool designed for the children of the most desperate – single mothers, migrant domestic workers, and refugees.

The GROW Center employs local Christian women who boldly exhibit the love of Christ. The Center’s teachers use Bible stories, Christian songs, and prayer time to share Christ and His love. While students develop cognitively, socially, and spiritually, parents receive positive mentoring from a social worker and staff, and the whole family receives quality health care and training from a nurse. Since the Center is staffed by local Christian women (some of them Syrian refugees themselves), it’s also training women how to run a business in their own country.

When Amina arrived and told her story she was overjoyed to hear that yes, there was a spot for her daughter in the two-year-old class. And then the Coordinator asked to pray for Amina in the name of Jesus Christ – for a job, an apartment of her own, and a job for her husband in Beirut, so they could be a family again. Amina, a Muslim, felt the love of Christ as she listened intently to the prayer. Several months later, she came back into the Coordinator’s office, beaming, to share the good news: a job for her, a job for her husband, and an apartment for the family!  The power of answered prayer brought her husband to the Center later, where he too received prayer in Jesus’ name.

The GROW Center’s founder, Dr. Robert Hamd of EPC World Outreach, says Amina’s story shows how the Center’s early childhood development programs and adult mentoring programs make a huge gospel impact on the Syrian refugees, migrant workers, and underserved Lebanese communities of Beirut.
Our vision is to replicate GROW Centers in other underserved areas of Lebanon; we believe investing in early childhood development and adult mentoring makes good missional sense. If you would like to learn more about Philemon Project’s GROW Center ministry, check out www.thephilemonproject.org or email philemonproject@me.com.

*Amina’s name changed to protect identity
Written in coordination with Dr. Robert Hamd

Read past issues here.

Community Life

GROW Center Update

To learn more about the Philemon Project and their GROW Center ministry, read their summer update by clicking the button below!

Support the GROW Center

If Amina and Yurina’s story resonates with you, we’d encourage you to consider supporting the Philemon Project as they work to replicate the GROW Center and impact more families with the love of Christ. Click the button to give.

Pray for the Syrian Refugees of Lebanon

If you feel called to pray for the Syrian Refugees of Lebanon or are interested in learning more, take a look at our prayer card. We would be happy to send these to you to pass out to friends and church members, as well. Simple click the button to email us.

A Privileged Opportunity | August 2019

Dear friends,

S* has become one of my closest friends, a man who inspires me with his example of living missionally. I first met S and A, his wife, in August 2015, while preaching at Faith Church. I noticed this South Asian family enter the back of the sanctuary and made a point to seek them out after the service and learn about their story. Breakfast later that week began a journey of getting to know one another, becoming dear friends, and serving together in God’s mission.

S and A are Bangladeshi immigrants that model a missional lifestyle by reaching out in friendship, service, and with the gospel to the many Muslim immigrants around them in metro-Detroit. By the time I met them, S had already shared the gospel with hundreds of Muslims, led a handful from Yemen and Bangladesh to faith in Christ, and started Bible studies with new believers and interested Muslims.

When talking with S at breakfast in August 2015, he expressed that he was called by God to reach the Muslim immigrants where he lived and plant churches among them, but he didn’t want to do it independently; he wanted to be connected and accountable to the church. S had already served as a missionary with Wycliffe, planted two house churches in Bangladesh, and led many Muslims within metro-Detroit to faith in Christ. Was there a place for him in the EPC? I was committed to finding one.

S and A became members of Faith Church (EPC) and, under the oversight of our Session, were commissioned to start a movement of house churches among the Muslim peoples of Detroit. Faith Church and sister churches of our presbytery began working alongside S and A by teaching English, visiting in Muslim homes, helping with service projects, and sharing the gospel. We were blessed to work alongside S and A and graciously challenged by their missionary way of life. 

During this time, God burdened S with the plight of Rohingya refugees. He made several trips to Bangladesh to visit them in their squalid conditions in the world’s largest refugee camp. In the last few years, S has helped dozens of Muslims come to faith in Christ, baptized many new believers in Bangladesh, started three house churches in Bangladesh, one in Detroit, and plans to establish another in Windsor, Ontario (across the river from Detroit) before the end of 2019. Recognizing God’s calling, EPC World Outreach appointed S and A as missionaries, splitting their time between metro-Detroit and Bangladesh.

Is there a place for him in the EPC? Yes. Absolutely! But he doesn’t tick the traditional boxes. He’s an immigrant who hasn’t been to the traditional schools. He’s learning American and EPC culture and needs people to champion his ministry and open doors to churches for him. But S and A are some of the most faithful disciples of Jesus I have ever met. I pray EPC churches will see the gift God has given them in S and A, celebrate their ministry, and support it so that the gospel continues to “ring out through them” in Detroit, Windsor, and Bangladesh (1 Thess 1:8). It is a privileged opportunity to join with them in what God is doing here and around the world.

*Names removed for safety and security.

By Steven Sage, former Senior Pastor of Faith Church, Rochester Hills, Michigan

 

Community Life

Summer Mission Jam Reflection

In early July, students and youth leaders participated in EPC World Outreach’s first Summer Mission Jam. Watch this video and hear  from them as they reflect on the trip and how it impacted their thinking. For the safety and security of our global partners, this video is password secured. Click the button below to request the password.

Support Sh and An

If S and A’s story resonates with you and you would like to support them as they spread the Gospel in metro-Detroit and Bangladesh, click the button below.

Pray for the Rohingya in Bangladesh

The Rohingya are a stateless, unreached people group residing in three countries, including Bangladesh. If you feel called to pray for them, or are interested in learning more, take a look at our prayer card. We would be happy to send you several of these cards, to pass out to friends and church members, as well. Simply email us below.

Fruitful Work in Kazakhstan | July 2019

Dear friends,

Two EPC World Outreach church-planting teams began work in the former Soviet Union in the mid-1990s. One team planted Holy Trinity Church in southwestern Siberia. The other team planted a presbytery of churches in Kazakhstan – now known as the Evangelical Reformed Church (ERC). In March of this year these two church-planting streams converged in a wonderful way, and EPC World Outreach’s Ed and Nan McCallum were there to see it. 

For the past six years EPC World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network (ITEN) has partnered with Holy Trinity Church’s Reformed Bible School to train students to understand the whole story of the Bible, interpret it within its context, and apply it to seeking the lost. Just before Holy Trinity Church was received into the ERC, eighteen students from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan came to Holy Trinity for two intensive seminary classes – Theology 1 (taught by the director of Baltic Reformed Theological Seminary in Riga, Latvia), and Church Planting and Development (taught by Ed and Nan McCallum). This convergence of theology and church-planting was a wonderful picture of ITEN’s core mission – to train trainers who will equip their own people to live on mission for the Glory of God among the unreached. 

Holy Trinity and the other churches of the ERC are in many ways the children of EPC World Outreach. But they are adult children who dream of birthing their own children. ITEN has committed to partner with them in this “full-cycle church-planting”. Holy Trinity Church is working to launch an online classroom using Third Millenium’s Russian-language curriculum, and now has an experienced church-planter on staff focused on outreach to their neighbors with least access to the gospel. And the ERC churches in Kazakhstan are starting a network of house churches. This is reformed theology at its best – deep roots and strong, fruit-laden branches.

By Ed and Nan McCallum, ITEN Associate for Site and Program Management & ITEN Program Assistant

Community Life

More about the Kazakhstan Ministry

If you are interested in following the Kazakhstan ministry and learning how you can support our brothers and sisters in Christ through prayer, sign-up to receive Azim’s monthly email, as he and his family serve faithfully in this way. You can also watch this video to learn more about this ministry.

Give to the ERCK Project

If you feel called to support the development of the ERC in Kazakhstan as they continue to grow disciples, you can do so by clicking below.

Pray for the Tatar of Russia

The Tatar of Russia are an unreached people group in 11 countries, including Kazakhstan. To learn more about the Tatar, you can view our prayer card. If interested, we would be happy to send you several of these cards, to pass out to friends and church members. Simply email us below.