Category: News

Staff Playlist of Worship Songs

Our first value is to Seek God First and with that in mind we decided to make a Staff Playlist of our favorite worship videos for you to enjoy.

Rilla: HR & Finance Manager

Cheryl: Finance Assistant

Desiree: Donation Support Specialist

Bill: Volunteer Finance Assistant

Wendy: Director of Mobilization

Callie: Mobilizer for Latin America

Jennifer: Business Manager & Mobilizer for Europe

Spanky: Mobilizer for Africa

Jordan: Mobilizer for North America & Coach

Robin: Mobilizer for Avance

Amanda: Business Operations Analyst

Esteem Them Very Highly in Love

Partnership is a word that would very well sum up our (almost) 5 years in Budapest.  Soon after we landed in December of 2011, we began to attend a church called Agóra that had been planted the year before.  The two pastors who planted it, Trey Shaw (IMB) and Hamar Dávid, asked me (Ben) to join them as the 3rd leader in July of 2012.  Since then, I have served in a variety of roles depending on the needs of the church.  Most recently, and perhaps the best fit so far, has been the Steward of the church and Manager of its space, a community center called the Forum.

agora

In these years we have interacted with many Hungarians, and several of them have become very dear to us.  This probably resonates with many of you, connecting with nationals in your own context.  One of these Hungarians is a young woman called Kata.  We met Kata about two years ago when soon after visiting the church, she began to sing on the worship team.  She and a few of the other worship team members were invited to our home for supper, hospitality being a big part of our ministry.  Our firstborn hit it off with her right away, something that hadn’t yet happened between him and a stranger!  She was warm and friendly that evening and every other time we interacted with her.

kata

Last March, we heard that she had quit her job and was looking for work.  I was beginning to wind down my activities at Agóra and the Forum in preparation of our summer return to the USA.  I had a very long to-do list that seemed impossible to complete at any level.  I approached Kata about assisting me for the last 6 weeks we had.  We were also looking for a new babysitter, and she agreed to watch the boys for a few mornings each week in addition to helping me.  To say that she was a life-saver would be an understatement.  She helped me accomplish 10x more than I would have alone, and allowed Megan to have an occasional break that every Mom needs.  We grew closer to her, and were able to pray for her a few times.

In conversation with Trey, one of the pastors, we learned that she had been discussing with him her questions on some deep, theological issues.  I was able to share with him something Kata had recently told me, “I love Agóra, I love my boss, and it is YOU!”  Agóra is a place for healing in Christ and a big part of that is being a safe space for questions.  Hungarians are highly intellectual and so group discussion has always been a strong part of our DNA.  Kata felt safe enough to share her concerns, to ask her questions, and she wasn’t mocked or shamed as she likely would have been elsewhere in Hungarian society.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.  But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.  Live in peace with one another,”

This is what we did for Kata.  It didn’t seem like much, simply thanking her often for her help, and letting her know how valuable she was to us and to the church.  It’s not just Kata, though.  From our pastor, Dávid, to the other members of the worship team, to the leaders in the church, they all labor diligently.  It is our joy and privilege to get to know these people, to love on them, to feed them on occasion, and to esteem them VERY highly in love.  That is what we should all do for our partners, because many times their own society does not.

By: Ben Naylor, Serving in Hungary

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A New Kind of Partnership

I am a Thai-Chinese American, born and raised in New York City, and by God’s grace, I have been called to serve in Christ as a missionary. I love the city.  Presently, I serve in a city of over 12 million people.  Just ~0.5% of the population identify themselves as a followers of Christ.  More people are being prostituted than are worshipping God.  A little over 400 churches exist in this global city.  So many more churches need to be planted.  This city is Bangkok, Thailand.

When I think about partnership in this great city, I have mixed feelings.  We just finished our first term on the field, and I have to be honest and say that it is critical that the Thai church have partnership, but the majority of oversea churches, organizations, and ministries who are partnering with Thai Christians come with their own agendas and goals.

Over and over again, my observations show me that after the initial excitement of starting something new, they must soon face the realities and difficulties of ministry in the city.  Partnerships quickly dissolve and the Thai church is left weaker and more disillusioned.  I hate to say this, but I feel like my people, my Thai brothers and sisters in Christ have fallen victim to spiritual prostitution.  Therefore, it is so important that we approach partnerships with understanding, humility, and faithfulness.  I want to share an example of partnership that has me excited and has become my main focus and work.


My family landed in Bangkok over three years ago, and partnered with a local church that was planted over 20+ years ago.  It was originally a college ministry turned church plant and that transition proved to be difficult.  We felt our ministry directed towards pastoral care and church revitalization.  After three years, we realized our efforts could not reverse the problems surrounding the church. But starting in January 2016, a unique partnership was established.

retreatA church in center city Bangkok whose focus is on a Gospel movement of churches in the city, offered us a fascinating proposal.  With a deep understanding and knowledge of our university campus church, the church in center city Bangkok offered a season of Sabbath.  Simply put, this meant we would merge temporarily and later replant our university campus church.  This offer provided rest, resources, leadership, and re-envisioning with no strings attached, except that this partnership would result in a replant.  I became one of the leaders at the church in center city Bangkok in the transition.

baptismThis experiment has been very encouraging.  Members of our university campus church, who showed no interest to serve, now desire to lead.  Over and over again we hear people confess how sweet the Gospel of Grace is and how it has transformed their lives.  New structures and leadership have been established with unanimous support.  From a sullen and tired atmosphere, the church is excited, committed, and hopeful of the future.  We anticipate launching our university campus church in late 2017.

 

So what has this unique experience taught me about partnership?

  • The goal must be the Gospel in understanding and expansion.
  • Clear intentionality and purpose must be communicated.
  • There must be clarity on both sides of expectations and benefits.
  • A clear sacrifice must be made on both sides to establish the partnership.
  • Time and flexibility are keys to ongoing success.
  • Trust and mutual submission to one another must be exercised for Christ’s glory.

 

By: Rawee, Serving in Thailand

Please Pray With US

1. Continued growth in the leadership and members of our church.
2. Blessing and guidance over details of our church replant.
3. To witness a Gospel-Centered Church Movement in Thailand.

Love in Action – Refugee Camps in Greece

From the beginning of the “refugee crisis,” churches and ministries in Greece were restricted from sharing the “hope within us” as we lovingly cared for the physical needs at the various refugee camps around the city. We watched thousands pass by us, hoping they would hear about Jesus along the way.

The wake-up for us came when the first bombing happened in Paris and we learned that one of the bombers came through two camps here in Greece where we (Evangelical churches and ministries) served, yet he never heard from us that Jesus loved him and wanted to fill and heal his hurting soul. It was then we felt God calling us to have a safe place where they can come, and we can “show and tell” freely.

Immediately, God began bringing churches and individuals to us who could provide  the resources needed to create the center.  In June 2016, The Alliance Relief Refugee Care Center was opened just south of the center of Athens, Greece.

The purpose of the center is to show the love of Christ to recent refugee families stuck in Athens, providing practical help (showers, laundry, Internet, childcare, language classes, counseling, medical check-ups, refreshments) in a comfortable and safe environment, while intentionally looking for opportunities to share the story of the Gospel with those who are seeking.

We are open 8-hours a day; three days a week for Farsi-speaking families and three days a week for Arabic-speaking families. On Sunday the center is open to be used for churches or small groups that are birthed from the week, currently hosting a Farsi church of 70 believers and growing.

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We believe God is going to reach many refugees through the center and we want to see many disciple-making disciples be sent into Europe through us!

By: Alan & Whitney Brown, Serving in Greece

Prayer

Please pray for volunteers to come through out the year, for open hearts among the refugees and protection over them and us as they become disciple-making disciples here in Athens and around the world. 

Training Latin Leaders

Global Perspective: Forming Church Leaders to Turn Growth into Maturity

The days when Evangelicals in Colombia were ignored or marginalized as an insignificant minority are gone. The exponential growth of evangelicals in the country—as in the rest of Latin America—has brought a dramatic change in the religious sociological landscape. We have become a significant minority with presence in all spheres of society.  This opens doors of opportunity to serve in the name of Christ and also poses huge challenges to the church. A key question is: How do we take the opportunities and face the challenges so that numerical growth turns into maturity and God glorifying fruit, and does not become only demographical data?

Training Sunday school teachers
Training Sunday School Teachers

Lively worship, massive events, successful church planting, generous sharing, and even social acceptance do not sustain healthy growth. Otherwise the New Testament could have stopped in Acts chapter 2, with the narrative of Pentecost, and an attachment: a logistics manual on how to reproduce it in different cultural settings around the Roman world of the first century.

Biblical exposition conference
Biblical exposition conference

For 72 years the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (FUSBC) has participated in the formation of leaders for the evangelical church in Colombia and other Spanish speaking churches around the world.  We have come to appreciate more and more at least three key elements that the New Testament shows are foundational for the sustained health of the church:

  1. Rooting people in the Scriptures
  2. Expressing your faith in your context
  3. Articulating your faith in your own voice

These give focus to what we do at FUSBC through our programs: B.A. in Theology (residential and on-line), Graduate Degree in Christian World View and Ethics, Ministerial  Institute of Medellin (Bible Institute), Continued education (non-formal), and Prison Bible institutes.

  1. Rooting people in the truth

Jovanny, a pastor’s son,  came from a small town. Upon graduation, his denomination appointed him to pastor in his hometown. The congregation did not want him; he was young, inexperienced. But after they received his humble and effective teaching of the Scriptures, nurturing them in the truth and shepherding them into obedience to that truth in their day to day situations, they came to love him. People enjoy enthusiastic worship, but they treasure more shepherding, rooted in God’s Word so they grow spiritually into maturity.

  1. Expressing the faith in your context

Jovanni took all the traditional seminary courses on biblical interpretation, church history, theology, preaching, etc. In these courses, he was challenged to connect what happened in the classroom with what was happening in our country.

During the worst days of the drugs cartel wars in Medellin, the Seminary developed a course on the Church in situations on violence. Today, when more than 10% of the Colombian population are internally displaced, faculty at FUSBC are working with churches, scholars from other countries and displaced communities on a research project focusing on Theology and Displacement. At the same time, another team is working on a course on Christians as agents of peace and reconciliation, and yet  another group teaches on Pastoral care of women. When seminary professors, students and graduates root their teaching and service in the Scriptures and connect it with the context, the church is nurtured into maturity.

Prof. Mejía rural church
Prof. Mejía at a rural church
  1. Articulating your faith in your own voice

An avid reader, Jovanni was always asking why the seminary library did not have more books written by Latin American evangelical authors or, at least, from a Latin American perspective. To this day, most literature used in theological education in the majority world comes from other contexts. Writing for a seminary professor in Latin America is a major challenge: you do not get paid sabbaticals or research assistants. In spite of this, one of the leaders of a major publishing project from and for the evangelical church in Latin America told me recently: FUSBC is the single major contributor of authors (faculty and graduates)  to this project. Another one of our graduates articulates his faith for the church and the un-churched through his music which is known all over the continent. When the church articulates the truth in her own voice, for her own context, it is growing into maturity.

Prof. Hays and studens

A mature church is one that remains faithful. The Biblical Seminary of Colombia focuses in theological education leaders to that end.  Among our graduates are a great number of pastors, presidents of denominations and faith-based organizations in the country and at a global scale.  While some have reached positions of renown, the service of most may never be recognized beyond their neighborhoods. However, they are those who have nurtured believers in the truth all over Colombia and in other Latin American countries, as well as planted churches among Latin American immigrants in the United States and Europe.

By: Elizabeth Sendek, Serving in Colombia as Director of the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (FUSBC)

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The ASK…ministry or a burden?

I have been involved in missions for over three decades, and in that time I have personally found that one of the biggest hurdles for people raising support is the Ask. Most people are afraid to ask or don’t know how to ask for support. Unfortunately, a lot of times, we treat support raising “as a necessary but unpleasant activity to support spiritual things. If God has called you into ministry support raising is first and foremost a form of ministry.”

When I first started raising support, I had this attitude towards support raising too. In the early 1980s, I attended the Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment (ACMC) National Conference. I listened and learned a lot. The next year I was asked to be a board member and the following year to be the first field staff. My wife and I were thrilled at the thought of serving the Lord and helping churches fulfill the Great Commission. Once the excitement wore off, though, I realized we had to raise support.

My first support-raising letter to individuals resulted in only $25. Thank goodness, my home church took on 30%!  Since I was working with churches, I felt they should support me, so I started ASKING them to support us. Some said no because I was not going overseas, but several did support us. Over the next 3 years, we reached our goal with a lot of help from one missions pastor, in particular, and from several prayer warriors.

spirituality fundraisingI recently picked up a booklet by Henri Nouwen entitled “The Spirituality of Fund Raising”. If I had read that book when I started raising support, it would have been a different ball game. God gave me a passion for helping churches, but I lost that passion when it came to ASKING for money. Like many others, I saw support raising as a “necessary but unpleasant activity” instead of part of my ministry.

Most of us are afraid to ASK. Let me give you an example. The CEO of ACMC asked me to invite a wealthy friend to lunch with the idea of asking him to support a project. We met at his country club. My boss talked about everything, and my friend joined in. They talked for almost an hour and no ask. I nearly died. My CEO was a wonderful, godly man, a graduate of West Point and a high-ranking officer. But, he was afraid to ask.

Conversely, when you aren’t afraid to ask, God can move in big ways. Two years later we hired a development person. I was asked to take my friend to lunch with our development person. After lunch and some conversation, I was asked to tell about a project. The next thing I knew our fundraiser asked for $20,000. My friend said he would let us know. Within a week we had $15,000.

Webster’s dictionary gives seven different definitions for the word ask. The one I like says, “to invite”. Henri J.M. Nouwen puts it this way, “Support raising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” I challenge you to view support raising in this light, as a ministry instead of a burden, and don’t be afraid to ask. You’ll never know how God will work unless you do.

*All quotes are from The Spirituality of Fund-Raising by Henri J.M. Nouwen

By: Tom Telford, Missionary & Author with UWM and ACMC

Missions in the 21st Century

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6 Steps in Sharing Your Missionary Story

You’ve already done the hard part.  You made a good list of contacts, and you made some phone calls.  You worked up all the bravery that you could muster, and you asked for an appointment, an opportunity to share what God is doing in your life. To your surprise, they agreed to meet over coffee, and now you get the privilege of telling your story, your beautiful story!  So, what do you say?

1. What has God done? 
Everyone has a unique narrative about God’s faithfulness.  He is gracious to all of us! Whether you have followed Christ from an early age or have recently been brought out from a life of tragic mistakes, you are a beautiful testament to God’s love and mercy.  Take advantage of the moment and brag on the special way that God has treated you.  He deserves to be praised out loud!

2. How did God put missions on your heart?
Somehow, God has shown you an intimate part of His heart, His passion for the nations.  How did that happen?  Were you involved in a short-term experience, a Bible study or a sermon series, a special missionary friend or a college professor?  How did God change your heart and give you a special mission?  Why are you ready to turn away from the typical pursuits and seek a life of missionary service?

3. What’s the vision? 
Since you have heard from God, you now are seeking to obey His plan for your future.  What does that look like? Where will you be living? Is there a team?  What will you do? How are lives being changed?  When will you be going and for how long?  Is a missionary organization involved?

4. What has to happen to get there?
Let people know what you need?  Tell them about your need for preparation and training and some of the logistics.  Tell them specifically about your monthly financial need.  Explain the urgent requirement to be fully-funded so that you can experience a healthy, vision-driven, unencumbered ministry that can have long-term results on the field.  Show them the different levels of giving and then…

5. Ask!  
Give them the specific opportunity to invest in what God is doing in and through your life!  Wait for their response.  Allow them to make a decision based upon what God is doing in their own heart.  You will be surprised by God’s willingness to provide through the generosity of His people.  When the answer is “yes”, help them step through the next steps.

6. Celebrate!
Enjoy the fact that you have been passionate and obedient. You have done your part and now you trust that God is doing His work.  You can rest in the knowledge of His goodness!

By: Tim Hagler, Support Coach

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A Life Changing Understanding of Support Raising

When I first realized that God was calling me on a journey to minister overseas, my first thought was, “Oh, no, I’m going to have to raise financial support.”  At that moment I had some very mixed feelings.  Let’s just say I wasn’t the most excited about it.  I saw my ministry overseas as the goal and support raising as the obstacle to trudge through in order to do the ministry I really felt called to do overseas.  Today, however, after living on financial support for about 4 years, I think about it much differently.  There were a few key things that God used in my life to change my mind about it.

I believe that the moment that changed my understanding of support raising came by attending a great support raising training where I had my mind and heart changed with new knowledge.  First, I began to understand how much the Bible talks about how God wants to support those He calls to minister and sends out in every way, including financially.  Most of the time, He uses other individuals to provide for those needs in various ways.  Second, I realized that I’m not just asking people for money, but inviting them to be part of the ministry that God is leading me to.  I was giving them the opportunity to take part in God’s global plan to reach the nations.  These were the two biggest turning points for me.  Furthermore, the training gave me great confidence to start meeting face to face with people, knowing how to share the vision for ministry, and inviting people to join me financially to be part of my ministry.

SRtraining

I began to see support raising as part of the ministry God was calling me to and no longer as an obstacle I had to endure.  The more people I met with, the more opportunities I had to talk about the need for people to hear the gospel in the country where I was going.  It opened up people’s minds to the need around the world and ministered to them at the same time.  I began to find joy in the support raising process and thanked God for each person that He brought across my path to share my ministry with.  God was providing a good solid financial partnership team around me that made it possible to go minister to lost people.  This was a support team for me that would not only be there for financial support, but also for prayer and emotional support.

sharevision

Please don’t think that support raising is always easy!  I want to make sure you understand that.  Please understand that the enemy’s opposition to you and your ministry doesn’t start when you get overseas.  It starts when you begin support raising, inviting people to join your support team.  I had so many ups and downs during the months of support raising.  I had close friends that I was sure would support me, but to this day have never financially supported me.  I had people that I knew well who discouraged me because they didn’t think I was going to the most strategic country for missions.  I had several meetings over several weeks where everyone’s answers to me were “no”, and I didn’t gain any financial support.  The enemy wants to discourage you, distract you, and frustrate you, even before you begin your full-time ministry.  The spiritual warfare begins as soon as you pick up the phone for the first time to call someone to setup a support meeting.

supportmaterials

Support raising is definitely a faith growing experience through both the ups and downs.  If I had never started raising support, I would have never grown in my faith like I have over the past 4 years.  I learned more about perseverance, because raising support takes a lot of work.  I also grew in my faith as I trusted God to provide a support team that would make it possible for me to move overseas and be an ambassador for Christ.  I learned that the relationship between me and my supporters is a two way ministry.  I get to extend Christ’s love, pray for, and minister to each of my supporters, and they do the same for me.  It’s a continuous ministry partnership that God orchestrates to allow you to share the gospel of salvation to the world.  It all starts with raising financial support.  The ups, the downs, and the hard work of support raising.  It’s all worth it to see more people come to faith in Jesus.

Looking back at where I’ve come from on my support raising journey so far, I have learned a few important things:

  • The Bible is full of examples of how God abundantly provided for the people that He called to do the work He wanted to them to do. Most of the time He uses others around us to provide.
  • You are not trying to get money from people, or being pushy. You are extending an invitation to be part of the ministry God has called you to.
  • You are ministering to people even as you are raising financial support. You are helping them learn more about the needs around the world, and helping them understand how they can be involved.
  • The enemy wants to discourage, distract, and frustrate you during your support raising.
  • There is no doubt that there will be ups and downs as you raise support, but it’s faith growing, and worth the hard work and perseverance to see more people come to faith in Jesus.

By: Jordan Smith, Mobilizer and Coach – Asia

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