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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.

Finding Someplace Different to Love Our Neighbors | May 2019

Dear friends,

In the first year of the EPC’s existence, denominational leaders gathered in Denver to create World Outreach, and invited the foremost Presbyterian missiologist of the time, Ralph Winter, to join them. Dr. Winter’s advice – “The easy places have already been taken; go to the hard places – the places where people don’t yet have any viable churches.”

Those early EPC leaders recognized God’s direction in Dr. Winter’s words, and thus EPC World Outreach was created with the mandate to go to hard places to tell the story of Jesus among a people who have not yet heard.  This is the same missionary vision articulated by the Apostle Paul.

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” ~Romans 15:20 | New International Version (NIV)

Our desire is to not just go to difficult places, but to see fellowships of believers with qualified leaders sending out their own to start Christ-centered movements within other unreached people groups. The EPC has seen success in this area. In March, I had the privilege to be in Siberia and witness a key moment in the growth of churches planted through EPC World Outreach. The EPC “daughter” churches of Kazakhstan received the EPC “daughter” church in Siberia into their presbytery.  And on that same weekend, leaders of World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network (ITEN) were present helping to train future teaching and ruling elders! This is the story of sons and daughters of the EPC who have heard God’s calling to find someplace different to love their neighbor!  And this story continues…

In April, five more families were appointed as EPC missionaries. Each family has their story of God cultivating a call to go where Christ is not yet known.

In all their stories we see similar themes: God still calling EPC sons and daughter to go beyond their own US neighborhoods; seeds for mission cultivated along the way by faithful EPC Pastors and the EPC covenant family at large; and a deep love for neighbors that tells them about Jesus and helps them to grow through Bible study in a fellowship of believers. We hope many of you can meet these new appointees soon at General Assembly, at Presbytery meetings, or by inviting them to come to your church. We believe it won’t be long before they are in a very different neighborhood, among many people who have not heard the story and love of Jesus Christ.

What about you? Is God nudging you to find someplace different to love your neighbor?

By Shawn Stewart, EPC World Outreach Mobilization Coordinator

Community Life

A Message from John Piper

Listen to this quick word from John Piper about how each and every one of us were made to embrace the “global dimension of missional living”.

Free Family Resource from Weave

Download these free family devotionals from Weave, created to walk your family through the word of God, and His heart for the nations, over the course of a year.

Learn about Our New Appointees!

World Outreach recently welcomed five new families as appointees. Click here to learn more about how you can support them financially and with prayer.  

Learn about Our New Appointees!

World Outreach recently welcomed five new families as appointees. Click here to learn more about how you can support them financially and with prayer.

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship | April 2019


Dear friends,

The Islamic Center of Johnson County is located directly across the street from the library I frequent. So for two full years I had prayed for the people there and had felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to pull into the parking lot and talk to someone. And for two full years I didn’t. Which is fairly troublesome for a pastor who claims to support and encourage missions.

The Holy Spirit had also convicted me to reach out to Muslims in my area, but I had no idea how to start. I had met dozens of our EPC missionaries who had traveled to faraway places in order to share their faith with people who were indifferent at best, and governments who did not want them there. Yet how many Muslims had moved right into my backyard – people who were much more accessible (in every sense of the word) than those in foreign countries.

Enter Mark. Mark had introduced the concept of reaching Muslims to our presbytery (Great Plains) and moreover, to me, personally. Mark and I had been forming a good friendship over the years because of our mutual desire to see God reach the unreached.

For at least the last year Mark and I had tried several times to go to ICJC in Overland Park so that I could take that first step and meet some Muslims there. Finally the day had come and we walked in together to a midday prayer time (Salat al-zhur). Mark was his usual calm, yet gregarious self; I was beyond nervous, yet thrilled to finally initiate this first step, and so we began to converse with several men after they had finished their prayer time. They were quite gracious and receptive to our presence and interest.

Although at times it was somewhat awkward – as you might expect – Mark paved the way toward good relations by simply sharing personal information, asking questions and appreciating their faith in various ways: Mark: “That’s a beautiful prayer rug. Did that come from overseas or from here in the US?” Reply: “Yes, this came from Turkey!” Mark: “How many different countries are represented at your mosque?” Reply: “Somewhere between 30-35 countries. Therefore, we have to conduct our services in English.” And on it went.

After 20 minutes or so we were actually exchanging phone numbers and email addresses – which, I must admit, freaked me out more than a little! And yet, there again was the Lord’s peace, joy and purpose – that feeling of being stretched far out of my comfort zone and right where God wants to take me; and not just for me, but so that I could eventually invite others to this engaging process, this clarion call to honor and obey him. Which I am now beginning to do.

Over the course of time following our initial encounter, I then pursued a relationship with the imam of that mosque. Mr. D and I now meet weekly to continue our friendship and learn from one another about the commonalities and differences of our respective religions. Over the last three years I have learned as much about my own faith as I have about his faith. My favorite encounter was the time that Mr. D told me that our Christian religion is unfair. He explained that, as a Muslim, he will stand alone before God to be judged; but that we believed that Jesus would stand with us to pay for our sins. After I thought for a moment, I replied, “You know, you’re right.  That’s not fair…that’s what we call grace.”

Mark’s example and leadership, including walking with me into the mosque, has stretched me in my faith, and also emboldened me to lead my friends, family and congregation in the same way. Our church – Lighthouse Church in Paola, KS – has now completed our first Bridges Course with a good degree of success. And I believe that the Lord will continue to not only make us more aware of Muslims around us, but He will move us to initiate bridges of friendship with many in order to win some.

by Brad Buescher, Executive Pastor of Lighthouse Presbyterian Church 

Community Life

Meet Pastor Mark

Interested in hearing more about Mark and how he shares the love of Christ with Muslims? Read his blog or visit his youtube channel!

COMMA Consultation 2019

Attend COMMA 2019 and become better equipped to reach and share with Muslims here, in our own neighborhoods.

World Outreach Events at GA

EPC World Outreach is sponsoring numerous gatherings at the 39th General Assembly. Check out our schedule here – we’d love to see you!