Look closely at this picture! Do you see the man in the foreground with bare feet? This business man, Leon, aged 50, almost died twice this year. This past February he came down with a very rare bacterial infection which over took his entire body. He went from a very fit, healthy young man, to one whose life was almost taken from him. Twice his four girls, ranging in age from 4-18, were called in by their mother to say goodbye to their dad.
Now for some background. Back in September 2017 this small group of Christians started meeting together in Leon’s home for the purpose of learning how to be a “disciple who makes disciples”. From September until when Leon got sick, this small group met to learn some “tools” to help them obey the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus commands His followers to “Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded them…”. Then in February 2018 Leon got terribly sick, and was in ICU for several weeks. We stood by his hospital bedside, praying to the Lord to spare his life. God heard our prayers, and has allowed Leon to slowly recover. It is now August, and Leon is recovering day by day. GOD HAS USED THIS ILLNESS TO GET HIS ATTENTION. Leon and his family (who host this group),have now expressed their desire to make this discipleship group “church”. We will need a larger meeting place than this living room pictured, and are prayerful for God’s perfect will to be done in this next step. Will you pray right now for Leon and his family? Pray for complete healing for his body, and protection over his family. Please pray for a new location for us to meet, and pray for this body of believers, that much fruit for God’s kingdom will result from this church plant.
The people were all smiling as they came out to greet the missionaries driving into their cactus lined village. The national partner arriving with the missionaries made introductions as they all sat down on the woven mats laid over the dirt. The nationals and missionaries exchanged proper greetings. The missionaries asked, “Do you want to hear about Jesus Christ and sing a song to God?”
“Yes!” the villagers responded.
“What song do you know?”
“We don’t know any songs to sing to God. Teach us.”
The missionaries proceeded to teach them a song along with the gospel. A few people showed interest in following Jesus.
Within a few months, as the national partner continued visiting and sharing with the people, many came to Christ. They were hungry for more stories from the Scriptures and insights into how to follow Jesus.
The missionaries were able to visit every once in a while, but the national partner was key in meeting with the villagers regularly. The time came for the new converts to follow in baptism. In the deserts of South Madagascar water is scarce. Finding a water hole deep enough to baptize is a huge challenge. On this day, the villagers and missionaries walked 10 miles to get to the ocean and back. The lead missionary, along with a few volunteers from Louisiana, stood on the shore surrounded by the new converts and modeled how to baptize. After a little more teaching and verification that the people understood what this step in their faith meant, the leaders of the village took each new convert one by one and baptized them! The people from the village sang praises to God and celebrated with a meal on the beach; rejoicing in this step of obedience in their new found faith.
Teachings continued and the new converts gained more and more understanding of the Scriptures. After some time the missionaries were asked to come back and teach about taking the Lord’s Supper. The people were all smiling again as they came out to greet the missionaries driving into their village. The missionaries had permission to set up a tent and stay for the night. They got the tent up and began fellowshipping with the people. Some women missionaries were cooking with the women in the cooking house. The missionary kids were teaching the village children how to play hop scotch and the men were sitting and beginning to discuss the steps to take the Lord’s Supper, described by the Scriptures. It was an incredible experience to be a part of these milestones in the lives of new Christians who had no preconceived ideas of what these actions should look like. From the time they confessed Christ as their Lord and Savior and learned songs to sing to praise him, to following him in baptism and then learning what it means to remember the Lord through taking the Lord’s Supper, the missionaries were determined to teach them to do everything based upon what the Scriptures say.
Pray the people in the village of Amby will grow in their faith according to the Scriptures. Pray they will weigh every action in light of the Scriptures and that they will be able to stand firm in the midst of persecution and temptation. Pray for the people in the church to grow stronger in their faith and be diligent in sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
For two years God was telling us to start a church in our home for the purpose of modeling the Acts 2 church model. We resisted wondering if it was putting too much dependence on us, as outsiders. Finally in October 2015 we started a church meeting in our home. The name of the church group became “The Refuge” and it continues until today.
We spent all of 2016 modeling healthy church and took the group through the books of Acts. It was very basic teachings with emphasis placed on simple obedience. Our structure has been much different than traditional church meetings and the “Three-Thirds Process” became the structure of each meeting where we would spend time together in fellowship, pastoral care, prayer, small group accountability, vision casting, learning the new lesson and goal setting with prayer. (Look back, Look Up & Look Ahead). 2016 was a growing year for us as we saw individuals get stronger in the faith and in evangelism & discipleship. Every believer in the group is considered an active disciple with a role in Kingdom work.
2017 has looked much the same in regards to individuals growing deeper, but we’ve also seen a shift where churches are being birthed out of this initial church plant. It’s been exciting to see this evolution take place since our goal is to have a healthy church in every village here! In 2015, we envisioned this to be the role of The Refuge as we started, but it was obvious that this would be a gradual process initially. The group is thinking multiplication now and that has encouraged us. Sometimes a church group meets on a different night of the week so the church will come to join The Refuge meeting on Sunday night. This has been a perfect time for accountability, training and follow-up conversations.
We praise the Lord for how He has taught us to just obey even if we have doubts about how things will turn out.
Please Pray for The Refuge as it has become a training center for multiple leaders and church groups. We get constant feedback each day from people being impacted and challenged. Please pray for the new church plants on the island… House of Prayer, Amazing Grace, & House of Faith to name a few.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin! Zechariah 4:10a
Until There is No Place Left!
As the time of singing came to an end, the congregation waited in anticipation for the young preacher to begin his sermon. He set his Bible and notes on the table before him and paused. “Raise your hand if you’re alive?” he started. “Raise your hand if you’re alive?” One-by-one most of the people raised their hand. He proceeded to preach verse by verse from Colossians 3 about putting on the new self. When he reached verse 3 he asked the congregation again to, “Raise your hand if you’re alive.” This time there was hesitation. “Raise your hand if you’re dead,” he rephrased his question. More hesitation, but again one-by-one hands started going up.
You see, we are called to die to ourselves and be hidden in Christ that when he returns we would join him in glory. In Galatians 2:20 we are reminded, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This young preacher captured the attention of the congregation and made a lasting impact on the fact that we need to put away the old self and “whatever we do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:17)
Pray for this congregation to live out Colossians 3.
A young local girl in her twenties had been in church her whole life. Her father is a pastor of a local church. She did a lot of service work for Christ and the church. She assumed that because she was brought up in the church and was always surrounded by christianity, that she too had a personal relationship with Jesus.
A national partner was training a group of people a set of lessons in T4T/Four Fields. These lessons teach Christians how to become disciples of Jesus Christ and not merely church-goers. This young girl was a part of this training. During this training, she realized that she was not a disciple and had actually never surrendered her life to Christ. She had experienced no personal encounter with Christ and was lost. She gave her life to Christ during this church training and was soon baptized.
We are learning everyday not to make assumptions about where people are spiritually even if they are in the church. We should always consider that the harvest could be within the church. Praise God that this young girl had an opportunity to learn what it means to be a disciple of Christ and have a personal relationship with Him and that going to church does not save us.
Pray that God’s power would equip and empower leaders/trainers on the island to boldly profess His Word to the church and to the lost world around them. Pray that we would have discernment and risk offending people for the sake of their salvation and the Kingdom. Pray that the church would build HIS kingdom and not their own kingdom. Pray that, as believers, we would put His commands above traditions and what is considered the “norm”.
The first team of six persons from New Song Church, Carrollton, Texas is on the ground (June 25-July 4) in Sekhukhuneland led by the pastor. They are also accompanied by the pastor of the Bermuda Baptist Church in Virginia who is the stateside coordinator for the work. This is the first engagement step for New Song. Please pray for strategic relationships to be forged between the team, Rock of Ages Baptist Church and the community of Sealane, Limpopo Province. Pray that the trip will be fruitful for the Kingdom so that a strong foundation is laid for future engagement.
On December 14, 2012, Riley Henri died in a tragic car accident. He was in the prime of his life, and left a young widow, Patricia, and her 7 year old son, Kendis. One of Riley’s dreams which he shared with us before this fatal day, was to have a Bible teaching church in his little town of Flic en Flac.
Now, 4 years later, that dream is coming true. Next month we will be starting “church” in Patricia’s home. God has done this in answer to prayer. When Riley died we were given the promise from John 12:24 “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” We believe that Riley’s death was not in vain. He are praying for much fruit to come from this one accident. We are praying that this new “church” will be the beginning of something huge. Please join us in praying that much fruit comes from this new church start
“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” Acts 2:46
There are many churches in our country worshiping in buildings, but it is growing more common for churches here to meet in homes. There are many reasons for this, but we are seeing amazing things happening through these churches. Each week there are baptisms and the Holy Spirit is moving in a mighty way! People are opening the Word of God for themselves and learning how to obey what they learn. They are connected to small groups where they have support and accountability. When people decide to follow Christ and are baptized, the first thing they learn to do is share their story and God’s Story. Everyone in the group is busy, not just the leaders. Laborers are being multiplied daily!
Pray that God would protect the work from wolves who wish to destroy it. Pray that God would protect these small churches meeting in houses from the traditional and existing churches. Pray that God would empower these believers to make sure that all people here get to hear and choose to accept God’s gift of salvation. Pray that we would be good about casting vision with existing believers and communicating His plan to include everyone in the Kingdom. Pray that we would always be about Kingdom Work and not get side-tracked by extra-Biblical things.
The Father’s Heart
Christ loves the church so much and gave Himself up for her. As we obey His command to go and make disciples, we want churches to be planted all across the countries of the Ocean2Ocean Cluster, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Several of our personnel from different countries will be attending a church planting training to learn effective ways to multiple disciples and churches. In addition, several of our personnel will be going to teach at this same training. “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” Isaiah 64:4 Pray that as we come together for training God will speak through the trainers, that all those learning will hear from the Father and know His Heart, that each of us will be challenged daily be obedient disciples.
The Oxford Economic’s Global Cities 2030 study reports that the population of Johannesburg (Joburg), South Africa will increase 2.2 million by the year 2030. That averages out to 3,000 people a week moving into the city! It is essential that evangelicals launch new churches throughout Joburg to meet the spiritual needs of the growing population.
This year, three new church plants are beginning (and four others are in the planning stages). One of those church plants, Godfirst Braamfontein, is in downtown Joburg and began meeting in January from the 17th floor of a local hotel. Braamfontein is an area of downtown Joburg that is feeling the effects of gentrification (renovation & improvement). It is the ‘HIP’ place to be! It is a community whose population is as diverse as the shops, businesses, and residences are. Here you will find luxury accomodations, university student housing, and high rise apartments that need some repair work. You will find coffee shops, markets, street art, hotels, hair salons, fast food, grocers, and shops for the wealthy as well as the poor. Young millenials are everywhere, in their hip attire, but so are the homeless and broken. No matter where they are from, many need to hear the truth of the Gospel!
Please pray that this church will continually proclaim God’s love, mercy, and salvation to the peoples of these areas. Pray for the lead pastor, elders, and lay leaders as they preach, plan outreaches, and strive to meet the needs of the people both physically and spiritually. Pray also for leaders of small group Bible studies.
View from the 17th floor church[/caption]