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.
Frank: The Taxi Driver/Disciple-Maker
Frank* makes a living for his family driving a taxi. He starts early and finishes late but shares Jesus with his clients on a daily basis. He and his family have led neighbors to Christ, planted a church in their home and are planting a second church in his sister-in-laws neighborhood. They also care for a 3 year-old whom they rescued from the street (literally).
One astounding fact is that a car here costs the same or more than the equivalent car in the west, yet a taxi fare is a fraction of the cost that it would be there. The math does not add up. When you visit, you notice immediately the great number of taxis and buses and that adds a lot of competition to Frank’s* already demanding and underpaid career.
Please pray for Frank* as he works out how to create a unique point of difference in his service, that makes him different to the competition. On a spiritual front, pray for Frank* to find a healthy balance between work, family and ministry. Pray that Frank* would continue to be a faithful and bold disciple of Jesus and use his work as his platform to share Christ!
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!
Tomorrow July 10, new believers in the village of Mahamasina will be baptized in a river known for having crocodiles. We aren’t worried about the crocs because locals say if we make a lot of commotion the crocs will go away. The same is true for the enemy of the cross. When we make a lot of spiritual commotion (praying in faith, quoting Scripture), the devil flies. We ask that you pray and make a spiritual co-motion concerning this new church that is starting. Three men and one woman, if not more, should be baptized. These 4 baptized believers will be the 1st members of the Baptist Church in Mahamasina. There are several other new believers but they have yet to commit to make this next step. Pray for these new believers to stand firm in their faith. Pray for a strong, healthy, reproducing church to be planted. Pray that this church will grow numerically as well as spiritually and they will be a lighthouse for Christ Jesus in the heart of a very, spiritually dark area in Northern Madagascar.
Career workers, A. and B. Locke, are returning to the United States for a year-long furlough. They leave behind a new church plant in Snake Park, Soweto. The church has twelve new baptized believers and thirty-three believers officially signed to be members of Faith Baptist Church, Snake Park. Horizon Baptist Church, an established church near Soweto, has adopted them as their mission. Please pray for the leaders of Faith Baptist. Pray that they will steadily follow God’s guidance. Pray that the members will be faithful in attending church. Pray that Horizon Baptist members will continue to support Faith Baptist, especially while the Lockes are away. Pray for the Lockes, that they will trust God to provide and protect the fellowship within Faith Baptist Church, Snake Park.