Caring for Our Afghan Neighbors – Here and Abroad | the Reach August 2021

Dear friends,

For many, these days are full of sleepless nights with anxious hearts. Whether it is the constant threat of a virus which much of the world is unprotected from, a disastrous earthquake in Haiti,  wild fires that are unceasing, or the fall of a government and the rise of another,  we recognize that we are experiencing a broken world. At the root of all of the calamities there is also the Christian hope that one day we have One who is making all things right. However, that redeemed Kingdom is not only far off, but also very ever present in the here and now. We are promised that the LORD who does not slumber, who made all of creation and is recreating it in the image of His son, will bend His ear to His people. If you missed it earlier this week, please watch this link for a call to prayer from Dean and Gabriel.  

Additionally, World Outreach wanted to give specific ways for our people to be praying for the situation in Afghanistan. You’ll see those prayer points below from one of our workers who is intimately involved in that region and among those people. We also ask you to join us next week for a zoom meeting to help answer how we respond as followers of Jesus to Afghanistan’s needs and particularly the refugees coming to the US. If you’d like to connect with your Muslim neighbors (including Afghan refugees in your community), we invite you to also join our workshop taking place in September. 

Let us lift our eyes and our mouths to the LORD, for it is in Him that our help comes.

  1. Peace of heart. Too many people are crowding the airport and making rash decisions, including believers albeit they have reason for concern. God is in control and has higher authority than Taliban. 
  2. Relief to internally displaced people. Thousands of Afghans fled their homes to flock to Kabul only to get caught there now but they are without much food, water or money. No one is there to help them that we know about. 
  3. Civil government. God ordains rulers and kings. The new rulers have the task of running a civil government and society that is stable and peaceful. Even if it is along lines we do not prefer, such laws have not stopped the Church in the past nor will it now. 
  4. Protection from fear and boldness of believers. Evacuation is not the best route for every believer nor all Afghans. Looking to the West has become an idol. God is able to protect them and make the Good News to those around them now and protect them even unto death. 
  5. Opportunity for Christian workers to Afghanistan. Once there is order there will be a huge need for humanitarian/Christian aid organizations to return. We worked under them before and will likely do so again.  
  6. God’s Kingdom to come to Afghanistan. There are no human solutions. Not armies, nor money nor training, etc. have been able to change their hearts, the real root of the problem. Only God can do that through Jesus.

Only God | the Reach July 2021

Dear new friends!

This is my inaugural contribution to the Reach and with just five weeks under my belt as executive director of World Outreach, many “firsts” have taken place surfacing three repeating themes: Thankfulness, Calling, and Together.
 
My first order of business was to attend General Assembly in Memphis, TN last month. My wife, Rachel, and I loved immersing ourselves in a multitude of introductions on stage and off that week. To be physically surrounded by heaven’s ambassadors, those who love the Lord and are passionately committed to building His kingdom drew our hearts to a deeper place of thankfulness, confirmation, and worship. In this age of COVID and clouds of uncertainty constantly hovering, moments to be together are a true gift that we no longer can take for granted. Thank you to Second Presbyterian for hosting so well, the office of the General Assembly staff, and all the volunteers and officers for making our first GA a time of great blessing. A special thanks to the worship team for ushering us onto holy ground, lifting our eyes and hearts to Jesus with profound artful excellence that had Rachel and I wiping tears away every session. With this GA headlined by significant transitions the importance of God’s calling was heavily underscored in my mind, both our calling to follow Jesus and also our calling in how we serve Him. Listening to the many highlighted, divine moments of Jeff Jeremiah’s tenure prompted a recurring echo in me, “Only God.” Only God could know how Jeff’s experiences, gifts and talents would be utilized to meet the needs of the EPC so specifically.
 
Whether it was praising God for His work in and through Jeff, witnessing the vows being taken by Dean Weaver, the commissioning of seven new World Outreach workers, hearing the faith testimony of a new pastor during a “chance” lunch under the tent, or even examining my own calling and presence at GA, the same phrase reverberated again and again, “Only God.” Only God could orchestrate all of this. Only God would call me here. Only God would call all of us to worship and serve together side by side.

Global Huddles
Though we had the privilege of meeting some of our global workers at GA, many could not attend. So two weeks ago Rachel and I had the joy of meeting many more for the first time during July’s “Global Huddle,” a quarterly virtual gathering, where we had a chance to visit face to face by computer. To accommodate our global workers in different time zones we held six Zoom gatherings starting at 6am and ended after 10pm:

  • South Asia
  • Central Asia
  • Middle East & Africa
  • Europe
  • East Asia
  • South East Asia

Listening to the trials and triumphs of our workers serving in sensitive areas of the world fills us with gratitude, awe, and reflexively drops us to our knees in prayer to praise God for what He’s doing and intercede for changes and transformation only He can make.

We continue to be impressed with the ministry and reach World Outreach has had to this point. The quality, depth and wisdom of the people who have made World Outreach what it is today, is a testimony that again, rings the response, “Only God.” Seeking to steward the ministry forward in the best way possible will require a lot of learning for me as a newcomer. Toward that end I openly invite your input. I’m eager to meet with you, pastors and mission leaders, to get to know you, your ministry and how I and World Outreach can serve you best.

I am thrilled to serve together with you toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this new season, to stand together with one spirit and one purpose, and fight together for the faith, which is the Good News.

Grateful to link arms with you,

Gabriel de Guia
Executive Director of World Outreach

 

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.”
Philippians 1:27

Community Life

World Outreach at General Assembly

If you missed out on World Outreach events at General Assembly, you can still catch some of them online! Spend some time in the Word with former director, Phil Linton; catch the World Outreach Report to General Assembly; watch the World Outreach Banquet, and listen to the Israel of God Leadership Institute workshop. Email us to receive more information about the global workers appointed there! 

Executive Director: Gabriel de Guia

Interested in getting to know World Outreach’s new Executive Director? Check out this article from EPConnection for more information on his past ministry experience, the de Guia family, and the confirmation of God’s call to this position. You can also email us to receive a link to the de Guia’s Network Lunch at General Assembly.

Pray for Our Global Workers!

Prayer is one of the most important ways we can support global workers as they share the love of Christ to those that have not heard. If you feel led to pray for our workers, we encourage you to join the EPC World Outreach Missionary Prayer Network (MPN). Click here to learn more about the MPN and sign up to become a prayer intercessor.

Afghanistan: Crisis and Opportunity – How Your Church Can Repond

Dear friends,

Last week, we were able to host a webinar around the current situation in Afghanistan and how we can respond as followers of Jesus. A big thank you to everyone who was able to register and attend. We’re so grateful for the care and concern shown for our Afghan neighbors, here and abroad, and appreciate your desire to help – both in action and in showing the love of Christ. We have heard from many of you who weren’t able to attend asking about ways to help and pray. To that end, we wanted to make both the webinar and the resources discussed available to our broader World Outreach family. To request the webinar, simply click below to email us. 

Psalm 121 reminds us that our God is in control and calls the church to respond in love. Below are resources listing different ways to serve, learn, pray, and give to aid those most impacted by the crisis. We encourage you to prayerfully consider the ways in which you can respond in love.

Resettlement Agencies – There are nine national resettlement agencies and additional local ones. Look up the resettlement agencies in your town or state at the following link. Here is a wonderful video that helps show the power of being part of the Welcome Team that welcomes new refugees. Remember that using google translate can be helpful once serving among new neighbors or using the tarjimly app

World Relief Sacramento Area Host Homes –  If you live in Sacramento, you have the valuable opportunity to become a host home and offer a safe place for newly arrived refugees. Click here for more information and to apply.

Advocacy – Advocate for refugees and asylum-seekers, including vulnerable Afghans, by getting in touch with your elected officials. Document Templates are available here! 

WO Connecting with Your Muslim Neighbor Workshop – WO offers a 6-week course for individuals interested in learning how to foster and create meaningful, ongoing relationships with Muslims in your communities or in nearby communities. To learn more about this workshop, and how to register online, click here

Seminary Course – A 15-week class titled Perceiving God in Islam and ChristianityThe course will be offered online through the Lillias Trotter Center and Wesley Biblical Seminary. We will be considering how vital God’s relational (Trinitarian) nature is to every aspect of our faith. We’ll also compare that with the Islamic view of Allah as a mono-personal god. Please join us in prayer that we will be strengthened and encouraged to share Christ’s gospel with Muslims more effectively.

View and share World Relief’s slides from the webinar. If you have more questions, please feel free to email Heather, with World Relief.

Read Loving Your Muslim Neighbora book by EPC WO global workers on how to become compassionate and courageous witnesses to Muslims in your community.

Care for our Afghan neighbors financially by giving to these funds: 

Use the 7 Areas of Prayer for Afghanistan pdf, detailing the many ways we can be praying for our Afghan neighbors, global workers, and the country as a whole, in this time of immense conflict. We encourage you to use this in your individual prayers, with your family, and in your congregations.

2 Corinthians 5:14 reminds us that the love of Christ compels us – in all things – and most assuredly in the care and support we show to our Afghan neighbors. Watch this video to see a loving testament to that call, and consider the ways in which you can show the love of Christ to Afghan refugees through the resources listed above. 

EPC WO Director’s Reflection on Ministry | the Reach May 2021

Dear friends,

In one month, I will step down after seven years as Director of World Outreach. I want to reflect here on four developments I’ve seen in our work during that time.
 
Internationalized Church-planting Teams. The EPC World Outreach global workers we send out from North America almost always end up teaming with spiritual brothers and sisters sent out from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. These relationships are rarely orchestrated from denominational or mission agency headquarters, but rather are organic partnerships that grow as disciple-makers from very different cultures discover each other working on the same task directed by the same Spirit.
 
Second Generation EPC WO Global Workers. By Presbyterian standards EPC World Outreach is relatively young, having sent out its first workers in 1985. But in recent years we have seen adult children (Jackie, Peter, and Josh) from three different EPC WO families return with the EPC into full-cycle church-planting among people with least access to the gospel. With these folks we build on the foundation of decades of the very best preparation for cross-cultural ministry.
 
Repatriated Immigrant Global Workers. The dream of escape to America, the Land of Opportunity, is still very much alive throughout much of the world. Few who have achieved that dream give it up and return to the lands of their birth, but we in EPC World Outreach have several families where at least one spouse fits that description. These families have unusual credibility with neighbors who recognize they are animated by a power greater than material success. Coupling that credibility with a deep understanding of local culture to share the gospel has had a major impact in many cases.
 
National Church Missional Leaders. As World Outreach Director, I receive several requests each week from Christians around the world, asking for “partnership”. Of course, partnership may have many different meanings, but usually these appeals are for funds to carry out ministry in their communities. As important as these ministries are, I routinely turn down such requests to focus our resources and energies on a different kind of partnership. World Outreach has developed close relationships with church leaders in Asia and Africa whose eyes are always on the frontiers of their communities. They look beyond where their churches are, to the neighborhoods, villages, and towns where no churches are. They pray for those places; they go to those places; they train and send people to those places; and EPC WO comes alongside to help them. Our efforts here become magnified and multiplied for a hundred-fold effect.
 
One final note – these developments in World Outreach have been gifts from God through the labors of people other than me. It has been the labors of loving missionary parents which have borne sweet fruit in the lives of our World Outreach MKsa. It has been the faithful service of elders in our presbyteries who nurtured relationships with national church missional leaders in places like Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Albania, and Russia. It has been EPC pastors who welcomed and befriended immigrant Christians in their congregations, and then encouraged and guided them to be sent back by EPC World Outreach. And it has been our WO global workers who have recognized “God’s team” in the faces of El Salvadoran, Brazilian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Albanian, etc. brothers and sisters and reached out hands to work together.  To all of you, I say thank you for your service to Christ, and for making my work as WO Director a joy.
 
Grace and peace,
Phil Linton, World Outreach Director

Community Life

Annual Report

Click here to read EPC WO’s Annual Report for 2020 for more information on what we were up to this past year: stories from the field, WO by the Numbers, and information on the communities we’re serving overseas. 

WO Workshop

If you’re interested in learning how to foster meaningful relationships with Muslims in your community, we encourage you to take part in EPC WO’s six-week Connecting with Your Muslim Neighbors workshop. Visit our website for more information!

The Reach | Exec. Director Announcement

Dear friends,

On behalf of the World Outreach Executive Director Search Committee, I am pleased to introduce Gabriel de Guia to you as the new Executive Director of EPC World Outreach. Following much prayer and discussion, our nine-member committee unanimously believes Gabriel is who God would have lead World Outreach into the second quarter of this century as its Executive Director.

I hope you will take a few minutes to read the official announcement on the EPC’s news and information channel, www.EPConnection.org. The announcement includes comments from Gabriel and his wife, Rachel, as well as several members of the search committee.

Gabriel comes to World Outreach from Cru, where he has served for the past 26 years. His most recent role was Senior Aid of Development to the Executive Director for the Jesus Film Project, which he has held since 2012. In addition to a variety of other responsibilities at Cru’s headquarters, he served in campus ministry at both Indiana University and Indiana State University from 1996-2002.

As you may know, Cru—formerly Campus Crusade for Christ—is an international ministry founded by Bill and Vonette Bright in 1951 and based in Orlando, where Gabriel and his family are members of the EPC’s First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.

As you have opportunity in the coming weeks and months, please welcome Gabriel to EPC World Outreach. He will be at our 41st General Assembly in June and is excited to meet those of you who will be in Memphis.

Please pray for Gabriel and Rachel as they make the transition to World Outreach in the coming weeks and months!

Rob Liddon
Chairman, World Outreach Executive Director Search Committee
Ruling Elder, Second Presbyterian Church (Memphis, Tennessee)
Moderator, 30th EPC General Assembly

Praise & Prayer Directory | December 2020

Dear friends,

 
 
 

Most of what we in EPC World Outreach planned to do in 2020, we didn’t. But everything God planned to do, he did.

After an initial period of postponing events and waiting for things to return to normal, we started scrapping our plans and trying things we had previously dismissed as impossible.  When Covid prevented WO workers in Asia and the Middle East from carrying out vital ministries, they rejoiced to find young Christian brothers and sisters stepping into the void and organizing themselves to deliver food and medicine. The WO candidate assessment and orientation program we were convinced could only be done face-to-face turned out to work pretty well (and in some ways even better) via Zoom. And for the first time candidates from outside the US were able to participate.

When WO trainers could not travel to a Southeast Asian country, they retooled their course to teach remotely with less lecture time and more student-driven learning and application. Within the following month, a third of the participants had already passed on what they had learned to 185 other leaders in their regions. Some of our workers feared a sharp drop-off when small group Bible studies were forced onto video platforms.  Instead, they were thrilled to find that members who had previously been timid and quiet (many of whom were brand-new Christians) seemed liberated by the new format and blossomed into very active and growing participants.

Looking back on 2020, we have so much to thank God for.  We’ve seen in many ways how his plans were better than ours.  Covid distancing forced many of us into more solitude, more quiet reflection, more listening to and enjoying our families.  It wasn’t what we were aiming for in our goals, but God aimed us there anyway, and we discovered how badly we needed it. Our thanks also go out to the financial supporters of our global workers.  Many prognosticators predicted that mission agencies’ contribution income would drop by 25% in 2020.  That was not our experience, as contributions remained steady.

Almost 30 years ago, Janet and I spent our first Christmas overseas, far from familiar surroundings and family. The OM ship, Logos, docked near the town where we were living, and invited us aboard.  There we met Akira, a Japanese Christian who told us about a young countryman of his who had come to know Christ after a childhood fever had left him totally paralyzed.  Limited to communicating by a system of blinks, he dictated poetry to his mother.  Akira paraphrased one of those poems for us, and my Christmas closing to you is his poem of praise to the One whose gifts to us are so often not what we would have chosen, but exactly what we need.

I’ve never sent a Christmas card,
   never said the Name
Of my Lord who gave up heaven
   and to a barnyard came

Yet my heart is filled with praise,
  on the Spirit’s wings it flies.
I have written, “Merry Christmas”
  on the inside of my eyes.

Written by Phil Linton, EPC WO Director