God’s Promise in to His People | November 2020

Dear friends,

 
 

Earlier this month, I received a cryptic text from our national translator, Jake, telling me he would be late for our scheduled call.  But it was only when I talked with him the following day that I discovered the grave danger he had been in. 

While he was at the local university visiting his brother, a medical student, three gunmen from a radical religious group attacked the campus and killed 22 students. Jake, his brother, and a number of other students hid in a basement room.  As a new father, Jake was acutely aware of his wife and child and their vulnerability if something happened to him. But he realized the students around him were trembling with fear and were without hope. So Jake stood up in the room and said he was going to pray for everyone’s safety (not in the usual Islamic way but extemporaneously in his own language). It was after that prayer he sent me his text.

About an hour later they were told that the area was secure.  As they left, many of the students thanked Jake for his prayer for safety. But Jake’s brother was angry at him for praying so boldly and visibly as a Christian. Jake was still shaken when he connected online with me the next day and asked for help to get out of the country. Why were we doing nothing for them except praying?!

I understood Jake’s anguish.  We do cry out to God daily asking him to give our teammates and their children a peaceful life (1 Timothy 2:2).  We pray for peace, but strangely God sometimes does not rescue his people out of dangerous places or conflict zones. Instead he sends them there! Yet He promises to always live with his people. I reminded Jake that God sent our son back into the country after he completed university in the States, and that we too have experienced the pain of losing more than twenty co-workers and friends due to the violence in this country. 

So, after some more talking and prayer online, Jake and I got back to the work at hand, which that day happened to be in Titus. A few days later the in-country team decided to meet weekly with their wives for worship, (alongside of the days the men meet for translation checking). In part they decided to follow the principle in Titus that older women should be teaching the younger women in matters of faith and practice. What a beautiful Bible application immediately in the lives of the translators! We praise God that the team is coming together even more than before in these difficult times.

Field story from two World Outreach workers on a Bible translation team. Names and locations have been changed for their safety. 

 

Community Life

Translation Project

If you would like to support the workers above in their ministry of Bible translation, we encourage you to give by clicking here. When filling out the donation form, make sure to do so indicating the Field Project Fund #296

In Search of the Source - Neil Anderson

For another look into the work of translating the Good News, read In Search of the Source: A First Encounter with God’s Word. You’ll get a glimpse into the lives of Neil and Carol Anderson as they work to translate the Word into the language of the Folopa people of Papua New Guinea.

Why Bible Translation?

Curious why translation of the Bible is so important? Watch this two-minute video by Wycliffe to understand how crucial this work is, and the urgent need for it. 

One Flock, One Shepherd | October 2020

“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
John 10:16

Dear friends,

Living in a country that holds one of the largest Muslim populations can be daunting, but the Great Shepherd has other sheep that are not currently of His fold.  After joining World Outreach two years ago, we moved to our city of a million people, and saw no one reaching out to the Muslim community. No Christians in our city had seen any Muslim come to Christ.  We began befriending and interacting with Muslims, while training local pastors and youth to do the same. This task can be laden with challenges, but we have seen fruit from this kingdom work and wanted to share two testimonies with you, showing the ways God has revealed himself and save our Muslim neighbors.

The King Cobra is considered one of the most poisonous snakes in the world; many in this country die every year from its bite. One night our believing friend, Nadia*, woke up to a hissing sound. She saw a cobra wrapped around the neck of her daughter, Mirai*, viciously biting. Nadia got up quickly and rebuked the snake in the name of Jesus, unraveling it with a stick until it left. After praying together, she and her family went to bed. The cobra bit Mirai six times. By any accounts, this should have killed or dangerously hurt her. But thanks to the grace of God, Mirai was spared – not even needing medical assistance. What a wonderful testimony Nadia has to Jesus’ power to save!

God is doing wonderful things in the house church we recently started.  In doing home visits with a family, we met Aanya*, their daughter.  She had been tormented by an evil spirit for months. She would see troubling things whenever she tried to sleep, and had horrible dreams. Desperate for help, Aanya’s mother and grandmother had taken her to a Muslim Imam, but that  only made her sufferings worse.

As we visited in the home and prayed for Aanya’s healing, God broke through! She is 90% better now, and continues dramatic improvement. She and her uncle put their trust in Jesus, and the other family members are very close to fully committing their lives to God!

These are just two testimonies of how God is moving in the lives of Muslims. The LORD Jesus is calling out to this other flock, through us, and they are listening to His voice.  We’ve seen this fruit in both long-term and short-term missions’ trips – in the States and abroad. Therefore, our challenge for you is to pray for Muslims every day and find a Muslim community near you to share the love of Christ with. How you can participate with God and other believers in this kingdom work to call those that are not yet part of the fold?

*names changed

 
Written by EPC WO global workers, R & S

Community Life

Support R and S

If you or your church would like to support R and S in their ministry, you can learn more and give online here. For additional information about their work, please email us!

WO Workshop

Take R and S’s challenge to heart and learn more about Muslim communities in your area and how you can share the love of Christ. Starting in November, World Outreach is offering a workshop on connecting with your Muslim neighbors. To learn more, visit us online.

And the Word Came with Power

If the stories above of of God’s providence captured your interest, we’d encourage you to read this story about a missionary working with the Balangao people as they engage in a spiritual battle. 

I Can Only Imagine: Rocky’s Story | September 2020

Dear friends,

 
 
 

This is Rocky’s story. It’s a story of joy and delight, followed by horror and sadness, and then an unfolding of the goodness of God in a way I could not have dreamed.

Imagine crowded buildings, where one can only see cracks of light through the walls and roofs above; of groups of dadhi walas (bearded ones) in long white robes and topis (skull caps), and of women clothed all in black with only their eyes showing; and other women wearing shalwar kameez (baggy pants and tunic), flashing blues, reds, pinks, and all hues as they wander down the street; of roaming goats, scooters, bikes, and carts loaded with vegetables or fruit to sell. And through it all the sounds of running children, honking horns, and echoing calls to prayer reverberating from mosque to mosque. This is where I live, and this is where I first met Rocky and his family a few years ago.

I wish you could meet Rocky, beaming smile, infectious spirit, and an absolute lover of Jesus. He became a follower of Jesus about two and a half years ago (was baptized with a bucket from our bathroom!)… and then, in the grip of mental illness, unresolved trauma triggers, and following a medication switch, committed a terrible murder and went to prison.

It is hard to put into words those dark days — trying to manage the police investigation, helping his grieving and terrified family, and somehow avoiding the journalists flooding the area. I thought his life was over — such a promising young man with his life destroyed. And the one who was murdered — the grief of a life ended too early. Rock’s older brother told his sister, the only girl of the family, to take poison, because surely the family of the victim would seek retribution. Instead, she came and lived with me and my teammates for the rest of the year.

Two weeks before this crime, Rocky sat in my living room, fearing he would hurt someone, having tried to commit suicide. We took him seriously, but with no mental hospitals accessible at that time, we didn’t know where to turn for help. Despite being in South Asia, in a mega city of thirty million, this was a village with family feuds that went back generations. All my training on strategies and church planting, of sharing my faith with others, my training in discipleship, and those seminars in spiritual warfare, none of it quite prepared me for this. Even growing up (as I had) in the Muslim world had not prepared me for this! These were dark and grim days.

But it wasn’t the end of the story. As in the gospel, the story doesn’t end with a life taken, and a life destroyed.

 

Rocky turned himself in to the police and went to prison. He took full responsibility for what he had done and said he was willing to face whatever punishment was decided, even knowing the death penalty was a possibility. About a month after going to prison, Rocky had a dream where the person he murdered appeared to him and said, “I forgive you.” In that moment he felt God’s forgiveness washing over him. He began meeting with other young men and teaching them what he had learned about Jesus. We were able to smuggle in some Bibles through a Christian NGO that visited the prisons. Eventually, my teammates were able to visit him; he would mention the scriptures every time, hungry for the Word of God. He was granted access to the music room in the prison where he was able to practice piano and guitar.

Somehow this prison, where he struggles to get enough food to eat and faces constant threats of violence, has become a better place for him than where he grew up. It has given him opportunities and a place to mature in the Lord. He continues to lead a group of young men that numbers seventy and continues to grow.

I have never met someone who devoured the Word with more hunger. Before we left the country this past winter, he smuggled a gift out of prison for all of us: a beautiful letter thanking us for our love and sending us his love, his copybook filled with handwritten scripture.

I share this story not to prescribe a way to do ministry. In fact, what strikes me again and again is the messiness of it all — all the mistakes. But, in spite of the craziness, all the sin and brokenness, I see God’s grace all over Rocky’s story. May that divine grace and glory and love continue to pour out over Rocky and the many others we all may come alongside.

In the words of Paul, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

 
A year ago, the prison had a huge gathering when a famous Bollywood star came to visit; the top warden asked Rocky to sing to an assembly of thousands of prisoners, the Bollywood guest, and the leaders of the prison. Rocky stood in front of them and sang, in English, one of his very favorite songs: the Christian song by MercyMe, “I Can Only Imagine,” along with some other worship songs in Urdu. How powerful it is, to know these songs were sung out to Jesus in front of thousands of prisoners.
 
Written by an EPC WO global worker
 
 

Community Life

Let the Nations Be Glad

Piper conveys a strong foundation for the need for missions in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad. This is a good read for anyone preparing for missions work or looking to see how they can bridge their work to God’s purpose. You can read an except here, or buy the book here.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Read the story of Nabeel Qureshi’s journey from Islam to Christianity, and the struggle in between, in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity. 

Perspectives

Take a Perspectives class and learn about God’s mission, how the global Church has responded, and what the greatest needs in the world of evangelization are today – and how you can be a part of God’s story as he redeems people from the nations to himself.

Can a hungry belly hear the Gospel? | July 2020

Dear friends,

 

Over the last several years, I have helped run a clinic for Arab refugees who have flooded our Middle Eastern country. Once these refugees arrive, the support infrastructure is corrupt and overloaded as thousands receive little help with a $42 monthly stipend to live. Our Arab-church based clinic has been able to offer free medicine for basic chronic health needs; during COVID-19, we’ve also started a monthly food voucher program for local fruits and vegetables.

As we serve this community, we have wrestled with the issue of how to integrate relief work with sharing the gospel. We are surrounded by desperate needs, and wonder if people only listen to our message because they know they will receive something. Is it wrong for them to have mixed motives? Do I come before the Lord with mixed motives? I have been challenged to think about how a hungry belly can hear the gospel when you look in the eyes of such desperate needs. It’s striking one of Jesus’ most famous miracles was feeding the 5,000 while preaching the kingdom stories.

 
Is it okay for motives to be tainted and yet still open the door for the gospel truth of Jesus?  Recently, a friend was passing out the food vouchers on a home visit.  The Yemeni refugee woman’s eyes filled with tears as she said she had dreamed the night before her small children had a table full of fruits and vegetables after two days without food.  She said, “God truly knows me.”  For a Muslim woman to realize this opens a powerful door for the gospel.

Another Sudanese refugee man was sitting on the steep stairs which line the hills of an urban low-income housing area.  He looked up at me as I approached with bewilderment.  I gave him his hypertensive medication as well as food vouchers.  He told me, “I just prayed and asked God if he cared about me.  You came walking down these stairs and gave me these gifts.”  This man began to gently weep of the ways the Lord had answered his desperate prayer after months of unemployment and despair.  He and his wife have been studying scriptures with us for over a year.

Isaiah 58:10 challenges us to meet the physical need as a way to usher in the opportunity to be a light for the spiritual need.  There is a partnership.

 
“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be bright as noon.”
Can a hungry belly hear the gospel? Of course, our Savior can break through at any time. However, when people experience the Lord as one who meets their most basic needs, the diminishing physical ache allows them to be able to engage with the spiritual need for the light of the Gospel!
 
 
 
By a EPC WO global worker

Community Life

The Path - World Relief

If you want to see an end to extreme poverty, violence, oppression, and mass displacement, consider joining World Relief’s The Path. The Path is a monthly giving community of like-minding people who are committed to helping the most vulnerable. Watch a video about The Path here.

Displaced People in the Middle East

Watch this video and learn more about how you can pray specifically for refugees in the Middle East. 

Support Syrian Refugee Relief

Join the EPC in working with church partners in Lebanon, Turkey, and Germany to not only assist refugees with physical needs, but also to share the gospel to meet their spiritual needs. Donations to this fund will help with the Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. 

The Power of Forgiveness | June 2020

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
-Matthew 6:12

Dear friends,

Our work at the youth center in Africa gives us so many opportunities to walk alongside those God puts in our path. A group of girls who play sports together at the youth center began meeting with our teammate, Assay, to discuss topics relevant to their lives. During a discussion on forgiveness, Assay asked the girls if there was anyone who had hurt them, but that they hadn’t yet forgiven. Many of the girls shared stories, but one girl, Heyab, who was 15 and in grade 9, began crying instead.

After the other girls had gone, Heyab stayed behind to tell Assay about her father. When Hayeb was young, her parents separated and so she had grown up without knowing her father. When she realized he was remarried, with another family, she began to hate him. Her mother tried to convince Heyab to forgive her father, but Heyab couldn’t do it. She said to her mother, “You are beautiful and a good person. How could he do this to us?” Her father sent them money and gifts on the holidays, but Heyab wouldn’t accept them. Sometimes her father came to visit, but Heyab refused to see him. Heyab didn’t want to forgive her father.

As they sat and talked, Heyab asked Assay how she could forgive someone who did something like this. And so, Assay shared her own story – a very similar story to the one Heyab had lived. Heyab couldn’t believe it! She hadn’t expected Assay to understand. Assay told her that if she wasn’t ready to forgive her father – it was okay. But she encouraged Heyab to think about the many fathers who left their families, didn’t think of them at all, didn’t help them at all, even if they did have money – men who just wanted to live their own lives. And to think of God, who had forgiven her.

The next week when they got together, Heyab said, “Assay, forgiveness is so hard. Even though you encouraged me to think about forgiving, I still hate him. I don’t even want to think about forgiving him.” They talked a little more, but Heyab headed home again, without forgiving.

Every day, our team meets for prayer and Assay had been sharing Heyab’s struggles to forgive, and we had been praying for her. Over the next few weeks, Assay was starting to get excited, because she could see that God was beginning to open Heyab’s heart.

A week later, Heyab came to Assay again. “Assay, you were right! There are such worse stories – we are lucky to have his love and support even though he has another family. And how can God forgive me, if I don’t forgive my father? I don’t know if I’m ready to talk to him, but I’m ready to forgive him.”

Assay told her, “You need to forgive him from your heart. I’m sure that God will help you.”

The next time her father called her mom, she said hello from Heyab.  After that, Heyab talked to him on the phone, herself, several times. After their fourth conversation, she finally decided to see him. Going with her mom, she sat down with her father and said that she forgave him. There was reconciliation!

Now whenever her father calls, or visits, she talks with him. Before the last holiday, her father bought her a really beautiful dress, and, for the first time, she accepted it. She is getting to know her two younger half-sisters.

The power of forgiveness has transformed Heyab’s life and provides a good example for the other girls, too.  Heyab has learned that forgiveness from the heart, starts first with understanding the heart of God and his unmerited grace, mercy, and forgiveness through the power and shadow of the cross.

Written by an EPC WO Global Worker

Community Life

Ask Pastor John

Can you forgive someone who has not confessed their wrongdoing towards you? Listen to John Piper’s explanation on how forgiveness is a fruit of our union to Christ.

Strength to Love

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love,” – Martin Luther King, Jr. Read more of this sermon, “Loving Your Enemies”, in his book Strength to Love.

Understanding Muslims

There are many resources avaliable on our website that offer opportunities to learn more about God’s heart for our Muslim neighbors and dispel myths about Islam.

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.