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Prayer Update April  2009
In this Update:
 
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2009 Church
Leadership
Conferences
Kenya
July 2009
Rwanda
July 2009
DR Congo
July 2009
Ghana
Oct./Nov. 2009
 
Prayer Needs

*Please pray for God to build up and prepare our teams going to Kenya and Rwanda this summer.

*Pray for our partners: Alfred, Bishop Lewa; Martin, Mbusa, Dieudonne, Joe Entwi, and Timothy.

*Pray for the strengthening of the churches in Africa.

 
Coming May 2:
BikeRunWalk4Bibles
 
Pray for the raising of funds for the purchase of Bibles for churches and leaders in Africa. 
 
Report from Kenya
Recently we have been testing the Bridges training materials (from Crescent Project) on a few pastors from Kenya. These materials teach Christians how to "build bridges" in sharing Christ with Muslims. We are looking forward to future possibilities for churches in Kenya using these materials.
 

Visit our Website EquipDisciples.org

*New resources under Resources

*Spanish edition of the Quick Reference Worldview Discipleship Teaching Manual.

*Revision of the English edition of the Quick Reference Worldview Discipleship Teaching Manual.

*Cabécar edition of  Worldview Discipleship Pictures book.

*New KinRwandan Worldview Discipleship materials too be added soon.

BikeRunWalk4Bibles

Saturday, May 2, 2009, 10 am or 12 noon
Starting and Finish Line: Elm Grove Pavilion at
River Legacy Parks, Arlington, TX

Equip Disciples is sponsoring a BikeRunWalk to raise money for Bibles for Africa. Participants will choose to bike, run, or walk either a 3, 7, or 14 mile course beginning at 10 am or 12 noon. The Money raised through registration and sponsorship will be used to purchase Bibles for war torn and impoverished areas in Africa, where both pastors and congregations have few or no Bibles. The cost to enter the event is $15. A family may enter for $25 total. In addition, Participants are encouraged to enlist sponsors to provide funds for additional Bibles starting at $5 for 1/2 a Bible. The top 3 individuals and the top 3 families raising funds for the most Bibles will win a prize.  You may register at the event (no t-shirt included for late registrations). Go to the Equip Disciples website to register.

Click for complete details
Download Registration form now

Click to donate

See you at the Park!

 

Report From Costa Rica

On March 19 our mission team hiked into the mountains east of Grano de Oro for a 4 day discipleship conference among the Cabécar Indians. Pastor Abelardo and his wife Rojelia are leaders at the Zion Church in the village community of Ñari, Costa Rica. For those who live here, Ñari can be about a 45 minute (3-4 mile) hike from the road. For us, it was seven hours. Of course we stopped for lunch, swimming, and to doctor a few blisters--but it was still quite evident we were much slower at hiking in this steep and rugged terrain!

We went down into a deep valley, across the Rio Chirripó, then back up into another valley to reach Ñari. Abelardo and Rojelia said they were full of joy when they saw us coming up the mountain to their church. I remember seeing their faces of joy when we arrived and taking good note of it, because often the Indians do not express their emotions. I thought maybe it was relief that we were finally there, after taking so long to hike! But Rojelia said they were overjoyed because they had prayed for so long for someone to come and encourage and strengthen them in the ways of the Lord. They had become greatly discouraged, even losing heart in their own times in the Word and in prayer because they worked so hard for the Kingdom and saw little growth. They kept on preaching and teaching faithfully, but in some ways spiritually there were signs of deep spiritual discouragement.

Their church started when a group of Cabécar Indians had decided to follow Jesus and turn from their alcoholic and abusive lifestyles. But over the past year, quite a few of the church members returned to their former ways of life and left the church. Some of them went to another church a little ways off because over there they could live in open sin yet even be a leader in the church.

In addition, Abelardo and Rojelia face persecution from the pagan community for not following the cleansing rites which are part of the Cabécar's traditional religion. Rojelia was even accused of trying to "kill the children" in a school where she cooked lunch, because she did not follow these cleansing rites--which in their religious system left her in an unclean state. As a result of a few people (led by her sister) complaining of this, she lost her job. Yet many of the parents liked her because she always did a good job and worked with integrity, not stealing the food like other workers would do.

Their antagonistic neighbors have also cut their water lines to their house, stolen parts of their land, and threatened to destroy them with witchcraft, making daily life hard for Abelardo and Rojelia. While there are believers in the community, they were weak and young in the faith, and would not stand with them on tough issues.

Praise the Lord that there were around 75 members from the community and beyond who came to the discipleship conference. Some hiked from about 3 hours away (their pace, not ours). We worked alongside of Timothy Jones, a Kingdom servant currently working on the Cabécar Translation of the Bible. We taught on many aspects of basic theology such as, God's spiritual creation. Since the believers do not yet have the full Bible in their language, they were learning for the first time that there were angels who were servants of God to protect and minister to believers. The Cabécar traditionally only knew of demonic spirits who were to be feared and appeased.

We also taught on the role of the family--teaching children the ways of the Lord to raise up godly offspring; on avoiding the paths of destruction (including addictions like sexual immorality, drug abuse, alcoholism, laziness and neglect, false religions, violence and hatred, and ethical corruption); and on how to stay on God's path. It was neat to talk about these different lifestyle paths because paths are the only routes of travel in the rainforest mountains.

In the mornings and evenings we led sessions for all ages. In the evenings we taught by candle and flashlight, and the teachings would go on for many hours as the people still would want to learn more about the Christian faith. The teaching sessions rotated between Joe and Tammie Friberg of Equip Disciples, Nathan Benke from Southcliff Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, and Paul Dawkins of First Baptist Church Arlington. Timothy Jones translated throughout, and really seemed to enjoy working between Biblical, American, and Cabécar cultures, taking the opportunity to do some teaching and preaching of his own as the Spirit prompted, and using our whole team as a collective, interactive concordance to look up appropriate references to illustrate special points that needed to be made.

This conference was the first in a community setting where we were teaching all the people how to do the drawings illustrating Biblical doctrine. It was a good test of teaching these theological materials in a community environment. Timothy related to us how the people picked up on the drawings very quickly because they used to use drawings in their old religion. Traditionally, the shaman of the group had a white stick with charcoal drawings on it which he would use to teach the people Cabécar beliefs. And as we taught the discipleship lessons, even the children were learning along with the adults, and we saw the adults teaching the children through out the day.

In the afternoons, our children, Joel and Jessica also taught discipleship sessions to the Cabécar children. And Michael taught baseball and sports. Timothy Jones also brought his son, John (age 7) and daughters Ruth (12) and Abigail (5).

Please continue to pray for the church at Ñari and for all the people in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama.

  • For the people to read and use the Cabécar Bibles (New Testament, Genesis, Exodus, selected Psalms) that we distributed.
  • For the Biblical teachings to take root and spread throughout the community so that the church and families are strengthened in the ways of the Lord.
  • For Abelardo and Rojelia--for God to continue to give them wisdom and strength in their Kingdom work. And for Rojelia to find a new source of income.
  • For Timothy, David, and Philip Jones and their Cabécar co-translators (Davíd, Venicio, and others) as they continue with final revisions to the New Testament and further Old Testament translation work, and for their discipleship work among the Cabécar.
  • For Equip Disciples as we are working on a Cabécar version of the Worldview Discipleship Materials for future use.
  • For the Kingdom to grow among the Cabécar people, and especially for the children we taught--that God would raise up a new generation of Cabécar people who will live for Yahweh instead of Sibu and who will be a vehicle for the transformation of that culture.

 

Reflections on the Privilege of Ministering

By Paul Dawkins

Click here to read complete testimony

For those of you who don't know already, I just went to Costa Rica for 8 days over spring break on a mission trip to teach basic theology to Christians among the Cabécar Indians.

I have been processing the trip for a few days now and trying to share stories and have realized that this was a very different trip from what I have done in the past. The beauty of the rainforest was overwhelming and the people were so kind and beautiful. I just kept looking around and thinking, “how on earth am I able to be here doing this in such a wonderful place?” The words humbling and overwhelming kept coming to mind.

After a day spent mostly in transit to Grano de Oro where the missionary had a farm, we stayed there two nights getting ready and helping out around the place. It was a gorgeous home out in the mountains. We drank milk they had milked, we ate cheese they had made, the eggs were from their chickens, the fruit was fresh and wonderful. The missionary had a really nice family with incredibly cute and precocious children. Three of them ended up accompanying us into the mountains (including a 4 and 7 year old!).

On Thursday we drove up a bumpy dirt road further into the mountains to the trailhead and began our descent into the valley where the village was. We hiked for several hours on steep trails, but praise be to God for the dry season that the mud was minimal. Usually you slide down the trail, but we got to hike. We took it slowly, and I kept looking around in wonder at the life growing everywhere. It seemed like plants were growing on top of plants and life was truly everywhere. We drank and filled our bottles at cool springs. Eventually we made our way down to the river.

After we crossed the river, we swam and cleaned up a bit in a mountain stream. Leaning into the strong current with two feet planted on rocks beneath, looking up at the lush jungle around me, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the place and what a privilege I had to be there. I was surrounded by the wonders of creation and getting to declare the One who created it all.

Getting to the village, it was strange not being able to talk with them, but they gave me food which as you probably know is one of the best ways to show me that you love me, so I felt welcome. Most meals consisted of rice, black beans, a few pieces of the pig they killed for the weekend, and a boiled green banana. They also made some amazing flat bread, noodles, and some really sweet tiny bananas (almost like candy). They also consistently offered us weak coffee with lots of sugar (which they only had because we brought it for the conference).

There was a wooden church building and a wooden house both with concrete foundation where we were teaching. It is called a village, but you could only see one or two other houses from where we were since they are spread around the contiguous valleys. In front of the house there was a really nice vista of the valley through which we had just hiked and I used that spot for a lot of my bird watching over the next few days. I found an English bookshop where I bought a bird book of Costa Rican birds. I ended up doing a lot of bird watching which was very fun and some of the birds were absolutely stunning.

Each day thus consisted of something like breakfast, teaching, lunch, swimming, hiking, dinner, teaching, maybe more dinner, sleeping. I also tried to help with some of the chores around like moving horses for new grass, sweeping, and the like. This was the first time I learned that you could sweep a dirt floor in a non-trivial way. Even the brooms were pretty cool since they were just weeds held together with cloth, but they worked extremely well.

I was encouraged by how interested they were to learn and how attentive they were. A lot of night sessions would go for 3 or more hours, but when Timothy the missionary asked them if they were tired, they would just tell us to keep going. It made me see how much our overstimulation here in the US strongly affects our ability to pay attention for a long time. I am sure they faded out at times, but they pushed through it even though they had been working all day because they wanted to learn. There was a mix of new Christians, stronger believers who knew the Bible well, and lots and lots of children.

I came away though reflecting on how little I knew of what went on. I think it was good to show me how little of mission work is really there for our eyes to see. Even as you read this, the real value of our trip is being determined as God continues to minister to those people and bring to mind the things that we taught from his Word. Like seeds germinating under the ground, I don’t get to see what all God did that weekend and what all will come of it, but I have sown in faith and I continue to pray for God to establish the work of our hands.

God taught me many things on the trip as I did have much time to think, reflect, and pray. I am still mining my experiences for insight and understanding, but I am thankful and humbled most of all for the opportunity to serve such wonderful people.

Click here to read complete testimony

 

Upcoming 2009 Missions


Team dinner
Kilifi, Kenya 2008
We still have openings for volunteers for upcoming missions. Please pray and consider the following opportunities. You are welcome to attend the next trip meeting. If you don't live near Arlington, TX, we are putting together a video series for training. Contact us if you sense that God is calling you to use your gifts for Him in this ministry.

Next Trip Meeting: Sunday April 26 at 6 pm
1010 Loch Lomond Dr., Arlington, TX 76012. You can also contact Tammie Friberg.

Church Leadership Conferences this year:

  • Kenya, East Africa- Adult Training Conference (July 16-27, 2009) [NEED: Stewardship Teacher; Discipleship Teachers; Computer PowerPoint and Bible Software E-Sword Teacher]
  • Rwanda, East Africa-Adult and Youth Conferences (July 26-Aug.4, 2009) [NEED: Youth workers; Sports Coach; Bible Study Teachers; Stewardship Teacher]
  • DR Congo, Central Africa- Visit Former Child Soldiers (July 2009)
  • Ghana, West Africa- Adult Training Conference (Oct./Nov., 2009)

Personnel needed: Seasoned Bible teachers; computer PowerPoint & Bible Software teachers - Kenya; other special topic teachers; Children's Sunday School workshop teacher - Kenya; Youth workers, including sports coaches - Rwanda).
Requirements: immunizations; preparation meetings; travel insurance; Passport.
Volunteer Cost: estimated at $3,000
Basic Information: Conferences last from 8 to 5 each day, and in the evenings we pray and share together from the God's Word and the days experiences. We typically stay in a hotel or guest house in a large city. We pay careful attention to security issues in each country. Volunteers must be active in their local church and have gifts in the area of service where they want to serve.

 

Put on Power from God

by Joe Friberg

He told them, “This is what is written: the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you have clothed yourselves with power from on high. (Luke 24.46-49)

Our pastor’s Easter sermon included a note on Luke 24.49 that the verb for “clothe” is in the middle and not the passive voice. Dennis went on to explain in the words of Herschel Hobbs that this means there is a sense in which we believers have a role in putting on this power. This suggests the we must “put on” or “clothe [o]urselves with power from on high,” rather than the passive notion of waiting “[to be] clothed with power.” Paul uses the same word in Ephesians 6.11 when he tells us to “put on all God’s armor so you can stand up against the devil’s tactics” (emphasis added).

God's dynamis Power

What’s God’s power like? The Greek word is dynamis, and you may very well have heard from sermons that the name dynamite is taken from this Greek word. But the emphasis of dynamis isn’t about explosive or destructive power (as in Mythbusters: “Don't try this at home.”). Rather, the emphasis is on ability that’s under control—the capability to do something constructive. And in fact, Aflred Nobel must have had this emphasis in mind when he chose the name for dynamite. The genius of dynamite wasn’t its explosive power, which comes from volatile nitroglycerin. Instead, Nobel’s great advancement was the safety he achieved by combining nitroglycerin with diatomaceous earth to create a stable paste that could be formed into sticks. God’s power is always under control!

That thought has captivated my attention the past two weeks. What does it mean for us to be involved in putting on this power from God—this power that is to enable us to proclaim the good news about Jesus to the ends of the earth? Clearly it means we don’t merely sit around twiddling our thumbs, waiting to be zapped with God’s power so that then we can spring into action! Prayer comes to mind as one aspect of what we ought to be doing—because weren’t the disciples in a prayer meeting when the Holy Spirit first came on them at Pentecost (Acts 1.14, 2.1)? But I suspect maybe God has a few more concrete instructions for us, which leads to this study.

Tracing through the references to God’s power in the New Testament brings out several themes.

1. God’s power is perfected in weakness.

Perhaps the most repeated and undergirding theme is that power is all about God’s power—not anything I can bring to the table. “We have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us” (2 Cor 4.7). Paul acknowledges and embraces his own weakness, because he knows that God’s strength is much greater, and God is able to take over and accomplish much more then we can—especially when we are not self-sufficient.

God told me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12.9-10)

2. Knowing Christ.

Having an ongoing, growing relationship with Christ is key to experiencing his power in one’s life.

a. Embrace sufferings.

Above we read that Paul connects his weaknesses to sufferings, and in Philippians 3.10-11 he declares an intimate knowledge of Christ and his sufferings as his lifelong goal:

My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, so that in a sense I may experience the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3.10-11)

In order to truly experience Jesus’ resurrection power, we need to accept the hardships we encounter as opportunities for God to show his power.

b. Discard distractions.

In the process of knowing Christ’s power, Paul considers everything else to be refuse in comparison to an intimate relationship with Christ.

But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ. (Phil 3.7-8)
c. Imitate Christ.

The end result of knowing Christ is to be more like him. Paul continues:

I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.... We should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. (Phil 3.14-17)

As he says in 1 Corinthians 11.1, “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.”

d. Integrity matters.

With Christ-likeness, our lives begin to reflect God’s righteous character—his traits shine through our actions and words. Paul can can speak of the integrity of his ministry, which permits God’s power to operate freely.

[We commend ourselves] by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the message of truth, by the power of God; through weapons of righteousness on the right hand and the left. (2 Cor 6.6-7)

Peter also connects God’s power and the effectiveness of one’s life in Christ with the strength and progress of one’s character.

For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1.3-8)

3. God’s Kingship is the source.

The source of God’s power lies in his Kingship (Kingdom)—he is creator and King of the universe. All authority lies with him. His power is not about people who can talk a good talk, put up a good front, or put on a good show, but about the reality of God himself.

But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will know not the talk but the power of those who are inflated with pride. For the kingdom of God is not in talk but in power. (1 Cor 4.19-20)

So where does our focus need to be? We need at the very least to have our understanding enlightened by a vision of God and what he has accomplished for us in Christ:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens-- far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1.18-21)

If we can but catch a glimpse of who he is, that will open the way for him to be able to work in and through us. And because of who God is, we need to rely on him and not to fear! “For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Tim 1.7). It’s delightful to take note of who this encouragement is written to: the disciple Timothy, whose name is composed of the root timao ‘to fear’ + theos ‘God’—the only one he was to fear is God himself! And there’s yet more to learn from this instruction given to Timothy: God’s power is never about raw power; it is always coupled with love and wisdom. God’s power is for doing good, and doing it well.

4. Message matters.

The cross. For us the cross is so often simply a symbol for Christianity. For the first century world, it was a picture of ignominy, disgrace, torture, terror. Yet at the same time it was the very core of God’s message of saving grace. Here we come back to human weakness and embracing the death of Christ—as the core of the very message we proclaim to the world around us:

For to those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God's power.... To those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God's power and God's wisdom. (1 Cor 1.18-24)

For our message is not about religion, but about reality. We study the Scriptures to see what is true and what is real, and then to live it and teach it. We must never become like those “holding to the form of religion but denying its power” (2 Tim 3.5). Our faith is not about theoretical doctrines, but a practical reality that provides ultimate salvation. We should earnestly cultivate this awareness, “being protected by God's power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1.5).

5. Community counts.

Coming back to the matter of prayer, we find that Paul prays for the congregations he has ministered to:

I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.... (Ephesians 3.16)

and he asked them to pray for him as well:

With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should. (Ephesians 6.18-20)

In this passage we see how crucial he counted the community of prayer for his ministry. As Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them” (Matt 18.20). That's a promise we have from the Lord. When we gather as community, he meets right there with us in all his power.

In summary, to put on God's power in the Holy Spirit to proclaim God's Word to the nations, a believer must embrace their own weaknesses and focus on knowing Christ, embracing his sufferings and imitating his character. One should also appreciate the one who is the source of power. Our focus must be on an accurate, true message. And we cannot understate or underestimate the power of prayer, especially the prayers of the Body of Christ.

Then Jesus came near and said to them, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and  disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
(Matthew 28:18-20)


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Scripture Quotations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)