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Prayer Update June  2009
In this Update:
 
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Prayer Needs

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

*Pray that all the discipleship teaching materials are translated in time!

*Pray for understanding across language barriers and cultural differences between American partners and African partners.

*Pray for team unity in content, purpose, mind, and spirit.

*Pray we will be clean vessels for God's use.

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

*Pray for the strengthening of the churches in Africa and Costa Rica.

*Pray for our spiritual and physical safety and for good health.

*Pray for God to supply all our needs for Bibles and Discipleship resources.

*Pray for excellence in team members' preparation.

*Pray for the salvation of the 50 youth soldiers.
 

 

Visit our Website EquipDisciples.org

*New resources under Resources

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

*New Theological Discipleship Training Materials in English

*Cabécar edition of  Worldview Discipleship Pictures book.

*New Kinyarwandan and Swahili Theological Discipleship materials to be added soon.

Overcoming Obstacles

Reflections on the Costa Rica Mission

By Nathan Benke

In 2003 the Lord called me to begin traveling to other nations and teach His Word. The previous nine years I had been involved in local ministry that the Lord was blessing and in which I felt very comfortable. God had given me many challenges over the previous years but traveling to other nations was my biggest challenge to date. These were just some of the obstacles: 1) finances, 2) how would my family do while I traveled, 3) language barriers, 4) cultural differences, 5) contacts outside the U.S., etc.

As of today I have been on numerous mission trips outside this country. On every one of these trips there have been large obstacles before me. Things that seemed impossible and could have been easy excuses to quit.

The Lord had taught me years earlier that when God speaks to His people, He is revealing what He is going to do. This is true all through Scripture. But it is quite human for us to look at the circumstances, and think it is impossible. Moses is the classic example of this. The Lord had clearly spoken and the circumstances were clearly impossible. The problem was that he was looking at how he was going to do it. Moses was not looking to the God of the impossible. One of my favorite passages is from Exodus 6:1 where the Lord says, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh...". Moses victories are a testimony to God who does what He says.

I first came to know Joe and Tammie about 7 months ago. They were preparing a mission trip to Costa Rica. As I prayed it seemed clear that the Lord wanted me to go. But, there was a problem. My right knee has severely torn ligaments and a large piece of cartilage has been removed as well. The challenge for this trip was the only way to get to the mission site was to hike down a mountain over 2000 feet and cross several rivers. The starting point was actually above cloud level. There are also no roads and no electricity. It would have been easy to say no, but the Lord of the impossible was leading.

I went and the trip was great. The Cabecar Indians received us so well and they would sit for hours as we taught. The Spirit moved as God's Word was shared and on Sunday morning several even prayed to receive Jesus. The time with them was so special. I could go on and on.

When we hiked out it was a big moment for me when we finally reached the top and I saw the truck waiting for us. I knew the Lord had done the impossible again. God put the trip together, worked in the people, and kept my knee from pain. Will you pray about a future trip with Equip Disciples? Will you trust the God of the impossible if He says yes?

Nathan is a missionary with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and went on the mission to Costa Rica in March. Nathan is also going with Equip to Kenya and Rwanda in July.
 

Prayer

For Kenya and Rwanda Missions

Needs: Pray for God to prepare us, equip us, provide for us; for God to bring down strongholds of false beliefs and ungodly living; for physical and spiritual protection; and for fruit for the Kingdom. Pray specifically for our team members (below) and also for the conference participants, for the teachings, and for financial needs.

Kenya Mission (July 16-25)

Team Co-laborers:

  • Joe and Tammie Friberg - Equip Disciples
  • Nathan Benke - NAMB missionary
  • Alfred Mtawali - Bible translator; Christian recording artist
  • Amos Lewa - Bishop, member of K. Fellowship of Pastors
  • Jacob Njagi - Bible translator
  • Mary Nduati - MA Counseling and Bible, Counselor, Preacher
  • Jeremie Nzanzu - Computers
  • Mtawalis Band - Christian recording group from Kenya
  • possibly 1-3 additional team members

Partners: K. Fellowship of Pastors; Alfred Mtawali; Amos Lewa

Participants: 200 Multi-denominational ministry leaders and pastors from all areas of Kenya.

Conference Topics: Expository Preaching; Theological Discipleship Training; HIV/AIDS ministry training; Using Computers in Ministry (Powerpoint and E-Sword Bible Study Software; Video Editing); the Bible and Morals; Counseling Topics; Evangelism; Missions Studies.

Rwanda Mission (July 26-August 3)

Team Co-laborers:

  • Tammie and Joe Friberg - Equip Disciples
  • Nathan Benke - NAMB missionary
  • Alfred Mtawali - Bible translator; Christian recording artist from Kenya
  • Jeff Caffey - Deacon, engineer
  • Jennifer Trevino - Public school teacher
  • Mary Nduati - MA Counseling and Bible, Counselor, Preacher
  • Dieudonne Karahanyuze - Missions Director
  • Martin Nzabanito - Beyond the Bridge Ministries
  • Two translators
  • possibly 3-5 additional team members

Partners: The Association of Evangelical Pastors of Rwanda; and the Methodist Churches of Rwanda; Dieudonne Karahanyuze

Participants: 100 Multi-denominational Ministry leaders and pastors from Rwanda. 50 Former Rwandan youth soldiers-from the fighting in DR Congo; orphans from the genocide.

Conference Topics: Theological Discipleship Training; HIV/AIDS Ministry Training; Bridges Materials; Missions Studies; Trauma Counseling; Youth Soldier discipleship and sports camp.

Pray for Our Financial Needs

  • $2,400 for Study Bibles ($10-20 each) and discipleship materials printing
  • $2,000 for mattress rental for conference participants
  • $3,500 food for the conferences
  • $1,000 in Missionary Scholarships to make it possible for some indigenous teachers to travel and have lodging to teach in the conferences

Thank you for your prayers and support. 100% of your gifts go to meet conference needs. We have no paid staff--we all work only for Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

BikeRunWalk4Bibles

256 Bibles given*

24 walkers/joggers/bikers

91+ miles traversed

On Saturday, May 2, Equip Disciples sponsored a fun BikeRunWalk with the goal of raising $5,000 for Bibles for Africa. $2,561.25 has been given so far. Some children gave $31.25 in quarters and other small change!

And the fundraising winners are:
  Individuals Families
1 Madelyn Allovio Alick Mimi Cheung, Joseph, and Joshua
2 Jessica Friberg Jeff and Elizabeth Caffey, Caroline, Ethan, and Sarah
3 Kathy Miller Robert and Sandra Grigsby and Andrew
 

"What a joy and blessing it was to be apart of your amazing event serving the Lord. What an awesome testimony of love to others as Equip Disciples not only shows love to those in Africa by sharing the Word of God, but also gives the Word of God for them to continue their walk with God. I'm honored to have shared in your event.  Thank you and God Bless!"
--Kathy Miller, member of First Baptist Church Arlington

You can still give towards the $5,000 needed for Bibles for Africa! Click to donate

* Based on $10 per Bible. Actual cost of Bibles varies, with Swahili Study Bibles closer to $20 each. 100% of funds raised goes towards the purchase of Bibles in Africa.

 

Upcoming 2009 Missions


Conference - Kenya 2008

Next Trip Meeting: Sunday, June 14 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 16-25, 2009)
  • Rwanda, East Africa-Adult and Youth Conferences (July 26-Aug.3, 2009)
  • DR Congo, Central Africa- Visit Former Child Soldiers (July 2009)
  • Ghana, West Africa- Adult Training Conference (Oct./Nov., 2009)
 

Jam: Spreadable Fruit

Impacting the world through discipleship missions

by Tammie Friberg

Each year thousands of ministry teams head out into the world to serve the Lord in a kaleidoscope of short-term Kingdom ministries. Much time, resources, and personal risk are laid down for the cause of Christ by many. And some would ask the question...is it really worth all this effort, money, risk, and time? Does it really make an impact for Jesus?

In the pursuit of learning how the early church was fruitful in ministry, I read through various New Testament epistles. I looked for commonalities in how Paul conducted his trips and how he recorded the fruit that the Holy Spirit had produced through his team's efforts. Below are some observations on what seems to characterize their efforts in missions. Bear in mind that these are general observations from a comparative textual study. It is not meant to say that Paul was outlining a definition of “successful” mission trips in any letter he wrote.

We read in the book of Acts that Paul went from place to place encouraging and strengthening the churches. He took with him a small team of co-workers who shared with him in the ministry. Sometimes there were many who came to Christ; sometimes there were many who turned away from them or who wanted to kill them. They suffered persecution, misunderstandings, traveling difficulties, and even imprisonment--not things we would generally associate with positive mission experiences. Who would have thought that--in spite of all of these things--this small team would have had the impact they did in the world, reaching even to us today! Difficulties did not stop God from working, nor did it mean Paul and his team were incompetent. So let us see what does define success, if by any means we should look for it.

We can observe how God worked through Paul by looking at 1 Thessalonians and some other related passages. I especially want to draw attention to the nature of how this mission team's fruit spread outward from the missionaries themselves to the church, and then to the surrounding regions and countries--this illustrates a major way the Lord may produce fruit through the work of a small mission team.

From 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 we read:

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. [emphasis added]

And in 2:2-13 we read:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. 5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness-- 6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

So what was it on the part of Paul that contributed to the effectiveness and spread of the mission? From the passages above and other related verses I observe the following 5 ingredients:

1. Paul and his team relied on the guidance, power, and equipping God gave them for ministry through prayer, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God.

They did not conduct ministry by their own strength. They truly had a deep and abiding relationship to the Lord nurtured through prayer and Bible study.

  • Prayer:
    • "We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers." (1 Thess. 1:2)
    • "I always make mention of you in my prayers." (Rom. 1:9)
    • "I give thanks...always praying with joy for all of you...." (Philip. 1:3-11)
  • Holy Spirit: Paul always worked through the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (1 Thess. 1:5)
    • "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant...." (2 Cor. 3:5-6)

2. It is evident that Paul and his team had invested personally and lovingly in the lives of those to whom they ministered. Paul often spoke of the deep love he had for all the churches, and of the personal spiritual investments he had made in their lives.

  • They referred to their ministry as flowing from the love and care of a mother or father toward their own children (1 Thess. 2:7,11).
  • They had a fond affection for the people, and shared their very lives with them (1 Thess. 2:8).
  • "I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers of grace with me." (Philip. 1:7)

3. Paul and his team were examples of integrity and godliness. They did not have a double standard, one for themselves and one for the people.

  • "You know what kind of men we proved to be among you.” (1 Thess. 1:5)
  • In 1:6 Paul says the churches became imitators of them, even in the midst of persecution.
  • He says in 2:3 that their exhortation was not from error, impurity, or deceit.
  • In 2:5 says they did not use flattering speech, seek glory from men, or misuse their authority.
  • In 2:9 he points out how they worked hard so as not to be a burden to the churches.
  • And in 2:10, he states how they behaved devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly in their relationships with the churches.
  • "For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world, and still more toward you, with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God." (2 Cor. 1:12)
  • "But we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." (2 Cor. 4:2)
  • "We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one." (2 Cor. 7:2)

4. The content of their message was the Word of God and the Good News about Jesus. It did not consist of current philosophies, psychology, or popular thought.

  • It is the Word of God which worked mightily in the hearts of the believers (see 1 Thess. 2:13).
  • We also know that they used the Word of God in a variety of ways. Verse 2:11 says they were exhorting and encouraging and imploring them.
  • In 2:4 we read that they spoke the gospel to please God and not men.
  • "The gospel which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—so among yourselves also." (Col. 1:6)
  • "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)
  • "For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus as Lord." (2 Cor. 4:5)
  • "For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ." (Gal. 1:11-12)

5. All the team members worked together for a common goal, to bring all believers to full maturity in Christ. The Greek word for maturity is teleos, which means that no part is lacking, that something is made perfect or complete.  It is used of God, most often when speaking of His justice and His mercy or love. We are to be "perfect" as He is perfect. Paul was aware where the people fell short of this perfection, and these are the things he set out to help mature in them.

  • Paul encouraged the churches to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel (1 Thess. 2:12).
  • "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ." (Col. 1:28)
  • "As therefore you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." (Col. 2:6)
  • "My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed I you." (Gal. 4:19)

Lastly, in these passages we note the receptiveness of the people to Paul's message. 1 Thess. 1:9 says, "They report about what reception you had to us...you turned from idols to serve the living God." And again in 2:13, "You received the word...for what it really is, the Word of God." In Jesus' Parable of the Sower, much attention is given to the receptiveness of the human heart to the Word of God, but little attention to the Sower. Similarly, in Athens, Luke records the reception Paul had when he preached that Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead (Acts 17); when he preached this, many turned away--but there were some who wanted to know more. We must bear in mind that our part in spreading the Word is obedience to God's calling--rather than worrying too much about measuring success in human terms. When the Word goes out, people have the opportunity to hear the message. The results are not necessarily indicative of the sower, but of the hearer.

With all of these things in mind, is the wear and tear, sacrifice, risk, and work of missions, worth it? Do short-term work and mission teams yield results or success for God's Kingdom? From the texts above I think we can give a resounding YES! Our focus must be on being pure vessels through which God can do His work on those who are receptive. Obedience, integrity, and a devotion to preaching the Word of God through the Holy Spirit's power seem to be the ingredients for spreadable fruit to take place. Remember in Thessalonica how the people became imitators of Paul, and then their example reached believers in Macedonia, and even in Achaia? As we all go out into the world this year, let us be mindful to have the kind of relationship with the Lord that produces the kind of fruit that spreads...just like jam! A little jam spreads on biscuits to bring that mouth watering sweet flavor--so one little team can impact a church, the church a region...and beyond. Together we can impact the world, just as Paul and his little team of leaders did in Thessalonica and beyond. Let's jam!

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
(2 Timothy 2:2)


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