Monday, November 24, 2014

Tom Lin at Go Global

I greatly appreciated Tom Lin's testimony and challenge to missions during Go Global!

Tom Lin is the Director of the Urbana Missions Conference and Vice President of Inter-Varsity.  It was a privilege to get to know him while he was here.

Helping Porn Addicts

Last month we were privileged to have Michael John Cusick (Surfing for God) in the Global Center. In this training session he focused on equipping leaders to help people struggling with this issue.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Persecution of the Church in Wenzhou, China

Please pray for the church in Wenzhou, China.  I have been here and worshiped with these Christians just a few years ago.  At the time the feeling was that freedom for Christians was growing and would continue to grow.  It's difficult to see things going backwards.

In this CNN clip, the newscaster shows his newscast being blocked out live by Chinese television. Then he shows Chinese Christians beaten for protesting the destruction of their church.

The following article is from CNN:

Dramatic footage shows congregation battling riot police

Dramatic footage obtained by CNN shows Christians in the southeastern Chinese city of Wenzhou barricading themselves into their church to keep hundreds of riot police at bay and save their church cross from confiscation.
Since the beginning of the year, Communist Party officials have been demolishing churches in surrounding Zhejiang province, and removing crosses from tops of church buildings, ostensibly because they are “illegal structures.” However, the move is thought to be part of a crackdown on the growing popularity of Christianity.
The city of Wenzhou is a Christian stronghold.
Members of the congregation of the Salvation Church have been guarding the gates to the church for two months, reports CNN.
In July, the church’s CCTV footage captured police beating protesters and dragging them away.
“What the government here is doing is so barbaric,” said a local church leader Chen Zhi’ai to CNN.
Analysts say that the rising popularity of Christianity in China is seen as a threat to the Communist Party.
“Christianity has been growing very rapidly in China in the last several decades,” Fenggang Yang of Purdue University in Indiana toldCNN. “There is very little sign that it is slowing down.”
Christians in Wenzhou, a city dubbed the Jerusalem of China, say they are facing the worst suppression in decades and many residents are living in fear.
“The leaders think Christianity is a foreign religion and it is part of a foreign culture, which they define as ‘Western’ culture,” says church leader Chen. “They see our growth as an invasion of Western culture into China

Friday, September 5, 2014

First Chat Club of the school year

For the past two years the Global Center has hosted "Chat Club" - a time for Beeson students (or other Americans) to get together with Samford's international students for an informal time to making new friends and letting the internationals practice English.  Today is the first one of the semester and it just so happens to coincide with the day we received almost all of the furniture for our ongoing update of the Resource Room.

Both sets of students are doing great!  The internationals - many of whom are not comfortable with their English level - are engaged in conversation and the Beeson students are doing well too.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Formerly Unreached People Group Celebrates the Coming of the Gospel

Beeson alumni Chase and Kelli Reynolds were called to reach a remote and completely unreached people group named the Yefta people.  In January of this year they posted this story on their blog and I was completely amazed.  How many missionaries get to take part in a celebration led by the people they reached about the joy of the gospel coming to their people??

By the way, Chase will be here TODAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH, AT 12:10PM IN THE GLOBAL CENTER!  Come and hear his story firsthand!

As soon as the plane’s engine stopped, it was surrounded with war shouts and chants, bows and arrows, head dresses and painted bodies. When we opened the doors, two guys were standing there in full traditional Yetfa dress with their arms interlocked and others were shouting for me to sit down in their arms. Then they began to dance and shout and carry me towards the house. Kelli and the boys were behind being paraded and showered in flowers. The procession went along a narrow path lined with a long draping fringe of palm leaves that were decorated with flowers. When we got to the house the whole village was singing and dancing. They finally set me down on the front porch (having not let my feet touch the ground).

That’s how the celebration began and it only got better!
Not too far behind us Pak Abi – the Indonesian missionary primarily responsible for bringing the gospel to the Yetfa people – and crew arrived. They had the same reception, but with many more tears. Grown men, old men… men who prior to the gospel coming (and even after) shot and killed others for any opposition… were crying uncontrollably and embracing Pak Abi.

We were then left alone to get things in order around the house, but that evening a group of men came over to discuss the plans for the weekend. Before we left last time, I had sat down with a few of the leaders and discussed what we might do throughout the celebration. Then, after we came back to Sentani, they formed a committee and really went to town on the planning.

Friday was a focus on traditional Yetfa culture prior to the gospel coming.

Saturday was about when the gospel first came.

Sunday was about the present, particularly focusing on the emergence of God’s Word in their own language.

Friday began with a frenzy of activity. It began early with putting tarps on as the roof of the large, make-shift tent structure they had built. Then I met with the 17 Yetfa speakers who had each been memorizing one of the translated Scripture stories. This was what I was most anxious about! I had turned the task of getting that group ready completely over to Sion and Jeri. Everybody arrived fairly quickly and lined up in chronological order. And then it began… One-by-one they cited from memory their portion of the overarching story of salvation – from Genesis to Pentecost.
Chase baptizing a man in the Yefta tribe

I was in tears.
Although, along the way, I had heard and scrutinized every word in those 17 stories, I had never heard them as a single story. It was powerful! I was moved, even more so because we had worked so hard so that the stories were faithful to Scripture but also short enough and simple enough to be memorized and retold. They have a clear progression and message of salvation. I was so proud of how well they had memorized each story. I went home and told Kel that I could completely relax and enjoy the weekend now that I knew that that part of the celebration was covered.
After that we scrambled around the house getting ready for our guests to arrive.

Two plane loads of people who had been involved in (or represented organizations that had been involved in) the gospel entering the Yetfa area arrived around noon. The war dance and parade was repeated for each one. After the second plane arrived and dance ended, Bob Cochran, who has beenour primary consultant for the story set, was equipped with a traditional Yetfa bow and arrow and whisked away. He was given the honor of shooting (or being the first of about 10 people to shoot) the second of two hogs that they were cooking for a celebration meal.

That afternoon was fairly relaxed, although one of the videographers and I spent the rest of the day filming testimonies from others who didn’t speak in the service. They shared about the changes the gospel had brought about in their people. It was all done in Yetfa and was directed towards future generations who would not remember what it was like before God’s Word came. It was a preservation of the living memory, and the common themes were “We were in darkness. We killed people. We stole from each other. We killed people for stealing from us. We worshiped evil spirits. We didn’t know God. We were always afraid – afraid of trees, rocks, holes in the ground, bodies of water, spirits, people, nighttime. But when the gospel came,we stopped being afraid.”

That evening we had a special time of prayer for the first-time telling of God’s word through the stories we had worked on in their entirety!
The next day, after a night of heavy rain, I got up early for a last practice with the storytellers. When I got to the big tent, it had been nearly completely knocked down by the rain. I, honestly, thought that it was a loss and started thinking about alternative places where we could gather. About that time a few guys came up, then they began to call for others. Before I knew it, we were cutting things up, tearing the wreck apart, rebuilding it. Others were running out to the jungle to cut new wood to replace broken pieces, and in no time at all, the tent was as good as new. We gathered for the practice and everybody did great. We had prayer and then ran home to get ready.

The early part of the service was packed with songs and testimonies, but finally it came time for the stories. Then, for the first time, the wider community heard the story of God’s salvation clearly and carefully translated into their own language. When the last story was finished, one of the storytellers shouted out, “We have to tell others this good news!”, and all 17 storytellers ran out of the tent. Then Jeri preached a message based on a primary theme of the story set – ‘do not fear’.

For the full blog post, click HERE

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Don't "Just Be a Local Pastor"

Can an older established church become truly missions-driven?

How can our church give to missions on a new level if we're still paying debt?  Can that really happen in a responsible way?

If we are all to be "goers" or "senders," how can a local pastor truly lead the way in the sending?

As a missionary spending 6 months stateside in 2008, I went to my first Global Impact Conference at Shades Mountain Baptist Church and had every pre-conception about established churches and missions completely blown out of the water.  After seeing how God was using the church and considering statistics such as 1000 church members a year going on a short-term missions trip, I initiated a lunch with Jeremy Griem, the missions pastor, who I knew from our days as Beeson students.  When I asked how this happened, he quickly pointed to the vision and leadership of Pastor Danny Wood.  Immediately my conception of how important a pastor can be in terms of our global Great Commission changed.

I now teach missions to a group of students who will mostly go into the pastorate locally.  Although I pray God will pick off as many as possible to go directly into the mission field, I do not consider the former fact a consolation.  I have great motivation and hope towards the goal of equipping current and future pastors to lead their church on God's global mission.


Friday, August 22, 2014

SU Student Amanda Hill in Malawi

Encouraging report from Amanda Hill regarding her time in Malawi this Summer:

My team and I worked in Lilongwe, Malawi with an organization called Children of the Nations. My team focused on special needs children. We educated caregivers about certain special needs (such as Down's syndrome, ADHD, cerebral palsy, albinism, and more.) Also, we taught the children that they are unique, God's children and made with a purpose through Vacation Bible School and service projects that the kids helped with. We cleaned a local hospital together as well.  

One of the most encouraging aspects of the trip was the joy and thankfulness of the children in the villages. With so little, they freely and happily praise God. Philemon 1:7 reminds me of the Malawian children: "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people." They encouraged me so much.