Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Deviating from the Plan

An excerpt from...

Deviating from the Plan

By Jeff Fyke, Volunteer, Kenya
October-December 2014

Deviating from the Plan
Most of us make plans. Some of us have plans for the day and week while others have plans for the month, the year, and the rest of our lives. We talk about our plans, get excited about them, and can’t wait to be a part of them.

When I arrived in Kericho late in January, I planned on doing media and youth ministry. However, God had another plan and presented me with an opportunity to teach guitar to the students and staff at Kenya Highlands Evangelical University. Around 20 students and three staff took lessons. We had classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the chapel, where we would split up into groups and learn songs. If a student didn’t know a chord or understand what I was saying, one of the other students would take the time to show them and would help them until they got it. These students invested in each other as I invested in them. What a beautiful picture of discipleship.

Through guitar lessons, these theology students not only learned how to play an instrument, but they also learned what it means to be a worship leader, worshiping God in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). As we lived life together, we talked about how worship is a lifestyle, not just something that happens at church. For me, worship is my response, both personal and corporate, to God, for who He is and what He has done, expressed in the way I live and the things I say. Many students had not seen worship in this light before. Not only are these students worshiping Christ in their classes and at church, but they are living out a lifestyle of worship. When I asked them what they planned on doing with what they learned, each student said, “I am going to teach others how to play.” Guitar, for them, is now a tool they can take to their villages to lead others in worship and a deeper relationship with Christ.

Currently, my wife, Tascha, and I are at the Africa Gospel Church Baby Centre in Nakuru, serving in children’s and media ministries. Even now that I am in Nakuru, the guitar ministry at KHEU continues. I still talk with, encourage, and help my students as they teach others how to play guitar and what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth.

Do you want to go to Kenya?GO: Like Jeff and Tascha Fyke, more volunteers and missionary staff are needed to invest and encourage the students in their education and spiritual paths. Contact to learn how you can serve at Kenya Highlands Evangelical University.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Prayer Calendar: December 28 - January 3

Here's your missions prayer point this week from The Call magazine:

Are you willing to allow God to lead you down an unexpected path of ministry? Pray for His guidance as you take these steps of faith.

Most of us make plans. Some of us have plans for the day and week while others have plans for the month, the year, and the rest of our lives. We talk about our plans, get excited about them, and can’t wait to be a part of them. Are your plans God's plans?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Overcoming Weird

An excerpt from...

Overcoming Weird

Pointing Girls to God in Ukraine

By Oksana Brower, Missionary, Ukraine, with Rachel Elwood, Support Staff
October-December 2014

Overcoming Weird
It’s considered weird to be a Christian in Ukraine.

When I first started a girls’ discipleship group three years ago, I encouraged the girls to invite their non-Christian friends to come. There was a lot of skepticism at first—was this another crazy cult?

Between inflation, government corruption, and the scars of communism that continue to linger, young people don’t have much hope for the future. This feeling of apathy is almost a disease among them. I can’t “fix” it for everyone, but over time, I’ve built trust with a few girls ages 16 through 20, and we’re starting to see a few glimmers of hope as they are brought into an understanding of God.

We get together once a week and talk about God, life, and the Bible. I don’t have a curriculum or study guide because those kinds of materials aren’t available here. My goal is to show them that God is not all about rules; He’s all about love and acceptance. We talk about what it means to fall in love with God. We talk about how our choices reflect what we value. Some of the girls come from Christian homes and some do not. (I now have two groups who meet separately; one for Christians and one for non-Christians.) But even the girls who come from Christian homes struggle with understanding God. They have few mentors to help them mature in their faith.

I also meet with them one on one, where we can get into more personal discussions. But it’s hard! Sometimes I just don’t see any progress in their lives, and I worry I’m not doing enough. Recently, I prayed that God would help me disciple them better. God just said to me, “Love them.”

I realized that these girls weren’t really being loved, not by their families or even at church. To love people sounds so simple. But it’s not; it gets complicated. It means living with people through their messes and mistakes. I began to understand discipleship on a new level. It was not enough to preach or teach them; I had to love them. God is helping me see that He is working in their hearts, and I hope to simply point them to Him.

How do we point people to God? Through loving them and living our lives with consistency and without hypocrisy. Those girls observe my relationship with Bill. They see how we parent our son, Denis. They know that we are the same, whether at church or at home. No, we’re not perfect. But we are able to show them that walking with God is a journey and that there is hope that can be found.

Try out the World GO! Manual.ACT: Is God calling you to lead a discipleship group? Unlike for Oksana, several resources are available in the United States to use. May we recommend the World GO! Manual for starters.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Prayer Calendar: December 21-27

Here's your missions prayer point for this week inspired by The Call magazine:

PRAY that God will reveal Himself as a loving Father to those who do not have good role models or mentors.
It’s considered weird to be a Christian in Ukraine. Perhaps, it's weird to be a Christian where you live too. Read more about others who overcoming this stigma of being weird in the Oct/Nov/Dec issue of The Call

Monday, December 15, 2014

Prayer Calendar: December 14-20, 2014

Your missions prayer point this week from The Call magazine is:

PRAY that discipleship training materials will be distributed to pastors and Christian leaders throughout Papua New Guinea. 

This prayer point is inspired by the article Heart of the Great Commission. Read more from missionary, Becka Johnson here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Privilege of Discipleship

An excerpt from...

The Privilege of Discipleship

By Amy Schmidt, Missionary, Bolivia
October-December 2014

The Privilege of Discipleship
Discipleship can look very different from group to group, but the idea of helping others grow in their faith is the foundation and the joy of this privilege. As a teacher/facilitator for a couple of groups in Bolivia, I see it as a great opportunity to help others stretch toward their potential.

I didn’t have discipleship in mind necessarily when I started the Precepts upon Precepts Bible study with six tween girls, but I’ve learned since then that a Bible study is a great tool to impact girls who are entering a stage of life with much change. This curriculum has been a great tool for discipleship, because it teaches them how to study their Bibles. The girls sing with gusto, pray sincerely, share their hearts, and like to laugh.

I have recently started a group in a different church. This group is a completely different dynamic, but I am really hoping to build trust and deepen relationships with the new group. There are eight boys and girls in this group. Many come from broken homes or rocky relationships with their parents, grandparents, etc. They have the chance to shape their future with God’s help and know that He loves them, despite their environment.

Discipleship is a privilege and opportunity, not some great talent or ability. It’s praying with them in times of need or joy. It’s asking the tough questions. It’s laughing at their zany jokes and enjoying the precious moments when they pour out their hearts. It’s praying for them in the early morning, while I’m washing dishes, or when I’ve just visited with their parents. With God’s help, I hope to make an impact in these lives that will carry on.

Get involved in a discipleship opportunity.ACT: Does the idea of discipleship seem a little scary? Start small. This month, volunteer to serve in your church youth group or lead a Bible study for tweens. Ask God to give you guidance as you prepare to serve.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Prayer Calendar: December 7-13, 2014

Your missions prayer point for this week inspired by the October/November/December 2014 issue of The Call is:

PRAY for missionaries who are involved in discipling children and teens. 

"Discipleship can look very different from group to group, but the idea of helping others grow in their faith is the foundation and the joy of this privilege." ~Amy Schmidt, Missionary to Bolivia 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Discipling Native American Youth to Be the LITE

An excerpt from...

Discipling Native American Youth to Be the LITE

By Jon and Lindsay Birkey, Missionaries, American Indian Field
October-December 2014

Discipling Native American Youth to Be the LITE
Over the past year, we have heard a number of Native American pastors say they believe that “the last great spiritual awakening in North America will come from within the Native American communities.” We believe that in order to have this spiritual awakening, there must be leaders within the Native American church who will step up and be the light on the hill—a beacon of hope for their Native brothers and sisters. The struggle Native American churches have throughout the reservations is that there are too few leaders. Some Native pastors split their time on Sundays between two or three churches because there simply aren’t enough Native leaders. What can be done? We must raise up a generation of young Native leaders who will become the future of the church within Native American communities.

At Southwest Indian Ministries Center, we are working on a program to further develop the leadership skills we see in our Native American campers. The LITE (Leaders in Training Experience) program is designed for junior and senior high youth who come to our camps to learn more about becoming leaders within their families, churches, schools, and communities.

In January and May, we provide weekend workshops for LITE campers to come to SIMC and learn more about leadership. Each weekend, we teach leadership skills that are found in the Bible. As our LITE campers learn more about how to be godly leaders, we want them to have opportunities to practice being godly leaders.

This is where the discipling comes in. This is why we invite them to come back to our elementary weekend and summer camps as leaders and helpers. We give each LITE camper different roles of leadership and responsibilities. As our LITE campers gain experience and confidence in their leadership roles here at SIMC, we encourage them to find ways to practice their leadership skills in their home churches. We recognize the importance of working together with local churches to plug in our campers so they will continue to be discipled in faith and grow in leadership.

As our camp continues to grow in numbers and in maturity, we hope our LITE program will continue to develop Native American leaders who will be leaders at our camps and in their communities well after they graduate from our camp ministry program. We hope one day they will take over our roles at SIMC.

Make a difference on your knees.PRAY: Partner with Jon and Lindsay Birkey in prayer for the LITE campers. Pray that the LITE campers will grow to be the Native leaders that bring forth the next great spiritual awakening in North America.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Influence and Encouragement

An excerpt from..

Influence and Encouragement

By Carolyn Wade, Missionary, Kenya
October-December 2014

Influence and Encouragement
Returning to Kericho, we stopped along the highway to buy some vegetables and I asked a lady a question. She immediately said, “I know that voice. I hear it every morning at 5 a.m.” Well, yes, she does! That is when morning devotions that I have pre-recorded are aired. This opened the door of opportunity for me to ask the lady and her friend selling vegetables if they were saved.

Then we went farther down the road and stopped and I called a girl over. As I greeted her, she said, “I know you. You came to my school.” And with that meeting, I was able to encourage the girl to stay away from the boys during the school holiday and to always remember her self-esteem comes from Jesus.

This has never happened to me before and may never happen again that far from home, but it is a reminder of our influence as disciples of Christ. May we always lift up Jesus and call people to salvation and surrender of their lives.
In both situations, I had an opportunity to encourage them to live a Christian life—to be disciples. What opportunities is God placing before you to use your influence to encourage other believers in their faith? A word of encouragement, a prayer, and a listening ear can go a long way in ministering to others.

Make a difference on your knees.PRAY: Ask God to open your eyes to ways you can encourage others in their faith this month.