Thursday, October 31, 2013

Discovering Where God is at Work

With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's approaching, may of us will visit with friends, co-workers, neighbors, and extended family, and these visits can be wonderful opportunities to share the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Leading missiologist Carol Davis says, "When you find the spiritually hungry and prepared people, you have found 'good soil' that God has prepared for an abundant harvest. Now you are on God's agenda." Wouldn't you agree it's always easier to share God's love when it's His agenda? But how do we find those prepared people? 

Often, when we join God in what He is doing, there is a great harvest. While on the mission field, one of the ways to see where God is working is to find a Person of Peace. A Person of Peace is the doorway into the surrounding community...or to your neighborhood, workplace, school.

As we prepare to Go to our neighborhoods, workplaces, or schools, one of the most important things to do is to pray for a "Person of Peace." What does that mean? When Jesus sent His disciples out to share about Him, He told them to look for a "Person of Peace." He admonished them: "Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' If a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house" (Luke 10:5-7). Jesus simply tells His disciples what to do. He doesn't explain why. But when we look at examples from the rest of the New Testament (examples like Zaccheus, Cornelius, Lydia, the Gadarene demoniac, and the Samaritan woman at the well), the "Person of Peace" is someone God has prepared, in advance, to receive both the messenger (you) and the message (story of God's love, i.e. Gospel). This person opens the door to his own network of friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.
Chief Sung was a person of peace in Pum Veal, Cambodia
A Person of Peace has three consistent characteristics:

Receptive: A Person of Peace is an unbeliever who has been prepared by the Holy Spirit. He always welcomes the messenger (you) and is open to the Gospel. 

Reputation: A Person of Peace is well-known in his workplace, neighborhood, school, whether for good or for bad. Some biblical examples with good reputations include Cornelius (Acts 10) and Lydia (Acts 16). Others were well-known for their bad reputations, like the woman at the well (John 4) and the Gadarene demoniac (Mark 5). Yet, when each accepted Christ, their character was radically changed. God gained the glory for these transformations. 

Influential: As the others watch the life transformation begin, they are drawn to the reason for the change. A Person of Peace is willing to introduce his or her circle of influence to Christ. They tell others the wonderful things Jesus has done for them. 

A Modern Day "Lydia"
An e3 team in Slovenia met a woman who lived in the village where they were planting a new church. This gracious woman offered her home as a meeting place. The next day she accepted Christ. She was a Muslim fortune-teller who read tea leaves and coffee grounds to predict the future. Through her circle of influence, 21 people received Christ. They started a house church in her home. After reading the story of Lydia in the Bible, this woman renamed herself "Mama Lydia." Finding a Person of Peace is key to establishing the work in a particular area (your neighborhood, workplace, school), as in the case of Mama Lydia. It has been found that when a new church or small group is built along natural friendships and family lines, the "Body" grows more quickly and often makes a greater impact than groups that do not share the same natural relationships.

So, as the holidays approach and you go into your neighborhood, workplace, and school, remember that God has been there before you. You are looking for a Person of Peace to share your story (testimony) and God's story (Gospel) with. And because God is the One who is drawing them to Himself, you will be encouraged and blessed by their openness. So start praying diligently for God to reveal a Person of Peace in your spheres of influence.

Monday, September 16, 2013

God Uses Young Team Members

The following stories are shared by e3 Legacy leader Jim Corbin from when his team of 26 North Americans served in Costa Rica this summer. Twelve of the team members were under the age of eighteen! God used the youngest team members to further His Kingdom, even from the beginning of their time around Tarbaca, Costa Rica.

Listen in as Jim shares about their first day in the field:

Tonight, as we shared stories of what God did today, most of the stories came from voices of youth, excitedly sharing their stories of leading their first people to Christ.  People in the community where 13-year-old Patrick is serving told him not to approach a certain house, because a witch lived there.  With his translator and local church member, Patrick went anyway.  As Patrick listened to the woman’s story, he learned that she felt lonely.  The community had stopped talking to her or visiting her.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Patrick led the woman to Christ.

Jessica came with her 11-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, and had concerns about whether her daughter would be bold enough to share her story and the Gospel without her mother at her side. Tonight, as Elizabeth shared her story about going into a school to ask about talking with the children there, Jessica realized that God was working in her daughter’s life.

Halfway through the week, God continues to amaze His missionaries:

Sometimes God just likes to show off. Early in the week, God already demonstrated that He had prepared us to encounter specific people during our time in Costa Rica. On Wednesday, He took things to new levels.

Monday evening, Darren and Sara, led by the Holy Spirit, shared the Gospel with people who serve our team meals at the restaurant connected to where we are staying. Yenner, who had asked what our team is doing here, accepted Christ.  Just as our team has done throughout the five communities where we are serving this week, Darren and Sara tried to set up a discipleship meeting with Yenner. They requested to meet Wednesday night, but Yenner was not scheduled to work on Wednesday and was, therefore, unavailable.

On Wednesday afternoon, when a discipleship meeting Trena and Ryan had scheduled fell through, they looked to share the Gospel with new people.  As the time neared for them to head back for a different discipleship meeting, Trena decided to go down a dirt path and share the Gospel at just one more house.  As she, Ryan and Gabriel, their translator, approached the house, Ryan saw people working in the yard and thought she recognized a familiar face from the restaurant where we eat breakfast and dinner each day. Sure enough, in the community where Trena and Ryan are serving this week, half an hour from where we are staying, they bumped into Yenner and his wife. They scheduled a discipleship meeting for Thursday in Yenner’s home.
In a different community, Jessica saw a house with a verse from Isaiah on the door and asked the owners about its significance. She quickly learned that the people who lived there were Jehovah’s Witnesses. On a handful of recent occasions, including the church service in Costa Rica on Sunday, the Lord had shown Jessica Proverbs 21:31: “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” Even though Jessica felt ill-prepared for conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses, God showed her His ability to carry her through that situation. Jessica, who speaks some Spanish, had a Spanish-English Bible with her. She had owned this Bible for nearly ten years, but had not used it recently. Wednesday afternoon, at just the right time, she discovered a paper in its front cover with Bible verses addressing the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses—something from a Bible study years earlier. We are continually encouraged to see how God is accomplishing His purposes each day, as we look to Him to guide our steps.

During the week, the LORD continued to bless the area of Tarbaca with His grace to those whose hearts were softened. We were able to share the Gospel with 380 individuals, and of those, 210 accepted Jesus Christ as their LORD and Savior. In addition, the teams were able to start 39 discipleship groups where 174 individuals attended during the five days. As part of the celebration, Austin shared that this week God showed him that he needed to surrender everything to God. Austin told us that sharing his faith was one area in his life that he has had trouble with, and everyone in the room agreed that this is something we all struggle with in our walks with the LORD.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What in the World Are We Here For?

So often, we become wrapped up in the the daily grind of life, and we forget all about the mission that God has entrusted us with.  All around us are people in desperate need of being reconciled to their Creator, yet we are too busy to notice.  Too busy to remember the power of the God who drew us to Himself.  Unencumbered by their daily routines, God gave our team members a clear view of His call, and the might and power that are ours through the Holy Spirit.  These are some of their stories:

Meagan, 18, shares her favorite story: "I went to Cecilia's house and shared the gospel with her and her husband, Peter. They loved God's story. I asked if they knew where they were going when they died, and they were taken back a little bit. Peter said 'no,' so I explained heaven and hell. They weren't ready to accept Christ, so I asked if there was anything that they needed me to pray for. Cecilia pointed to her little baby who was sick with malaria; the baby was laying there barely awake or moving. I prayed over the baby and said I would come back tomorrow to see them and check on baby Justine.  They also said their 16-year-old boy sitting was mentally challenged since birth. I was running late, so I said I would pray for him the next day!  When I returned, the husband wasn't there, but Justine was looking a little better. I sat and talked with Cecilia and then prayed over Frank, who looks and acts like he's 5 years old. It was very heartbreaking to see him sitting there not active and drool coming from his mouth.  Cecilia told me that he won't let anybody touch him but her, so praying over him wasn't easy. I went back again and was surprised to see Justine crawling around and playing, perfectly healthy! I just wanted to thank God for healing Cecilia's precious baby girl. I talked with Cecilia and prayed over Frank again and then left. On Thursday, Cecilia finally accepted Christ and I was so excited!! I prayed over Frank again and could see a huge difference in him. He was walking around and trying to talk. I went back again and sat with Cecilia again. She kept thanking me for coming back every single day and showing love for her and her children. Justine was as happy as ever and Frank was looking great, playing, trying to talk, smiling, and walking around.  He was still drooling, but he was letting me touch him and kept going into the house and finding little gifts for me (even if it was just a bean or piece of plastic). Cecilia told me that she could see a huge difference in him since I had been praying for him, and I told her that it was just God working. I grew extremely close to Cecilia and her beautiful family and was sad to leave them, But I know that God is watching over them and that one day Frank will be healed." As we show love, walls are broken down, and reconciliation between God and Cecilias can take place.

Sterling and Anahi, a young, newly engaged couple who served in Uganda, share some of their thoughts: "Thank you. I could say it a hundred times, and still not have said it enough. Thank you. Thank you from our team. Thank you from pastor Benjamin, a Ugandan who was in the village with us, and who marveled at the sight of the works of God. Thank you from pastor Molly, who will be leading the church that you helped plant there, in Mkandwa. Thank you from Sandy and Richard, two young men who were healed physically in Mkandwa. And thank you from Saidat, Sekamanya, Peter, Waswa, and the dozens of others who were healed spiritually, who were redeemed and brought back to relationship with their Creator, and who are pursuing to know Him further through the study of His Word still today.

God saved many people in the surrounding villages of Masaka, Uganda, because you participated as senders and prayers. One lady in Anahi's village named Ida was a 50-year-old woman who lived in a hut with her brother because her only son stole her money and ran away. God saved Ida the week we were in her village, Masambya, and she is now attending a discipleship group with another girl in her village. Ida is such a sweet grandma to all the children in the village, and we all will continue to pray that God will use her in amazing ways as well as by sharing God's love story with all the children in her village.

Uganda was David, Susannah, and their four children's first mission trip. It was a joy to watch God us this family in a powerful way. David served with two of his children, Mary Frances (14) and Will (9), while Susannah ministered with Blake (17) and Louisa (11) in a neighboring village. Here are a few of their stories:

·         Louisa was speaking to a woman in Saaza village on Friday and she told Louisa that, “Some blond-haired boy much too young is sharing the Gospel in Gayaza.”  These two villages are almost 15 miles away from each other and yet The Word spreads quickly.  I’m so glad we didn’t cheat Will from this amazing experience in Uganda by leaving him behind because he was too young.

·         Susannah spoke to a well-versed older man for hours over a few days who was skeptical about Jesus; after a few days and much prayer with his wife, the husband and wife, Charles and Harriett, asked Susannah to come in to their home, “We’ve been waiting for you.”  She continued studying the bible with them and, sometime after, he told her interpreters that he was ready to accept Jesus Christ.  His wife cried and the rest of the team did also.  They told Susannah that they were both HIV-positive but their outlook on life was forever changed knowing they now had accepted God’s gift of everlasting life and forgiveness.  We gave them no money or food or any other benefit.  Only the greatest gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God graced them to accept this gift by faith.  They were overjoyed and later he became the Person of Peace for the village of Saaza, who will lead the people there to create a new church.

·         On the trip to the airport in Entebbe, we had to pass through a security checkpoint where they always require you to get out of the vehicle for inspection.  As we rolled down the window to speak to one of the stern looking Ugandan Military Police holding an AK-47 machine gun, our driver said, “These are missionaries.  They are heading home now to America.”  At first, Susannah and I started looking around for who he was talking about.  We had never ever thought of ourselves as missionaries.   It felt like we were in a movie.  And yet I asked the officer as he contemplated, “Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?”  He responded with a big smile, “I am born again!  You may pass.”

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Prayer Calendar for July 2013 Venezuela Team

At the start of July, a church-planting team leaves for Venezuela. Please keep this team in your prayers as they make final preparations, and as they go!

Here is a prayer calendar for this expedition. It might be easier to read, if you click on the photo of the calendar.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Prayer Calendar for June 2013 Uganda Team

This week a church-planting team leaves for Uganda. Will you join us in praying for this team during the next few weeks?

Here is a prayer calendar with specific, daily prayer requests. Please watch our Facebook page for prayer requests and updates, as well.

Click on the calendar below for a file you can download and print out.

e3 Legacy – Prayer Calendar: Uganda, June 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

God is the Main Character in This Story

“Do you know what I really enjoy? It’s a story in which God is the main character. When God draws a person to Himself, changes a person’s heart, or provides exactly what a person needs at exactly the right time in a way that only God could have orchestrated – I love that stuff.” With these words, I began a letter on Monday, May 27, to a team of people who have prayed for me and supported me over the years.

Telling stories, particularly when God receives all the glory, is a passion of mine. I recently joined e3 Legacy’s team to communicate, especially through social media, stories of how God is using ordinary people and ordinary families to reach people around the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

My summer plans included two e3 Legacy expeditions: Uganda in June; Costa Rica in July. Dating back to last April, these were my fourth and fifth e3 Legacy expeditions – five expeditions within sixteen months, and in the middle of these was a sixth event that required fundraising. I concluded my letter: “God has already provided $300 to send me to Uganda, but the financial need is – well, God will need to be the main character in this story.”

Hundreds of miles away, a lady with a heart for Uganda – her children and grandchildren live there – began praying and regularly checking the fundraising progress. “Are your fundraising numbers correct that you have $300 for each trip? I am praying the Lord moves in a BIG way!”

“I am committed to going to Uganda and Costa Rica,” I wrote back. “Just keep praying. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills!” The part about cattle was a reference to Psalm 50:10, a declaration that God has abundant resources to meet our needs.

During our Uganda team’s second training meeting, which took place the previous week, we prayed specifically against discouragement – fully a third of our Uganda team members independently expressed feeling discouraged – and for God to release funds for the team. I wrote in my journal: “Lord, thanks for providing for me today. Please meet all of my needs. Help the financial needs to start being met, even from unexpected sources. I look forward to what You do.”

Three days after I sent my letter, a person accepted a request I had made a year or two earlier to be connected through social media. While we shared a common former employer and several mutual friends, we had never worked together or been formally introduced. Wanting to be polite, I said hello, and we exchanged small talk about common interests and experiences.

Later that evening, I helped prepare for a well-promoted fundraising event. On the night of the event, storms came, and I came away discouraged by the event’s turnout. I knew it was God’s responsibility to meet my needs, but I also hoped more people would demonstrably care. When my friend with the heart for Uganda wrote to say she was praying, it was futile to fight back a few tears.

My weekend plans carried me out of town, and I went to an unfamiliar church a little grumpy. When I entered the service, I avoided eye contact and slipped past a greeter, but the greeter tracked me down and shook my hand anyway. God was pursuing me in more ways than I recognized.

It took me a few songs to feel like joining in the singing, but God gradually softened my heart. During the song “Always,” by Kristian Stanfill, God drew my attention to the song’s reference to Psalm 121. The song’s refrain says: “I lift my eyes up. My help comes from the Lord.”

The pastor who spoke that weekend, a guest speaker, gave a message about being led by the Holy Spirit. “If your back’s up against the wall, and you’re not sure how you’re going to get through the next few weeks, and you’re out of options, and you need a fresh injection of faith,” the pastor said, “faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit.” The pastor’s father-in-law, a man with a heart for planting churches in East Africa, had tragically died several months earlier. Curiously, part of the message was about leaving a legacy of faith.

Encouraged, I wrote to the Uganda team later that evening, explaining how God had used the message and the song that referenced Psalm 121 to lift my focus back to God: “HE, not other people, is the faithful source of my help. HE created the heavens and the earth. HE will provide.”

During my trip back home, the person with whom I had recently first connected through social media got in touch with me. “I see that you’re off to Uganda to spread the good news. Wonderful! I am happy to contribute to God’s work,” this person wrote. “Just let me know where to send funds. God’s kingdom is the best investment. I’m sure your team and you will touch many lives for the sake of eternity.” I made a note to follow up with this person once I got back home.

Before departing on church-planting expeditions, e3 Legacy teams meet four times for training. Following each training time, teams typically participate in a day of fasting, as spiritual preparation. While I had been out of town, I missed training sessions for the Uganda and Costa Rica expeditions – they happened concurrently, and I was unable to join either of them. I contacted the leaders of each expedition to verify that we would be fasting on Monday. The leader of the Uganda expedition said “yes,” we were fasting on Monday. The leader of the Costa Rica expedition said “Tuesday.” I had committed to both expeditions. In my heart, I decided to trust the Lord through a two-day fast.

For a few years, I’ve followed a plan to read the Bible completely through each year. It includes parts of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs each day. Very late on Monday evening, I did my daily reading. My scheduled reading for Monday included Psalm 121. Shortly after I read that, without thinking much about it, I checked my Uganda fundraising page.

My fundraising thermometer for the Uganda expedition had skyrocketed. When I investigated to see how God had provided, I discovered that God used the person with whom I’d recently connected through social media to fund the remainder of the Uganda trip. I was stunned – joyful, but stunned.

I only slept a few hours Monday night. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I could scarcely wait for Tuesday to arrive. When I awoke on Tuesday morning, my friend with the heart for Uganda had already noticed that God provided. “When the Lord moves, He moves BIG!” Her message was waiting in my inbox.

On Tuesday morning, I wrote another letter to the team of people who have prayed for me and supported me over the years. It began: “Here’s a story in which God is the main character – a testimony to God providing exactly what I needed at exactly the right time in a way that only God could have orchestrated.”

When I’d written the first letter a week earlier, little did I know that the next story I’d share would be about God providing for me.

David R. Hoskinson recently joined e3 Legacy’s team as Communications Coordinator. He plans to join e3 Legacy expeditions to Uganda and Costa Rica during June and July.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What I Want to See All Over Uganda

Next week, an e3 Legacy team from the United States heads to Uganda to partner with Ugandan church leaders to plant new churches. A member of the team leaving from the United States shared the following account of how God is preparing him to go.

Yesterday I wept for the first time in a long time. It was in song. I was leading worship for my church yesterday morning, and the last lines I sang came out as mere babbling. Why was I crying? Why was I bawling into my microphone? It was because of you guys.

Before we started our last set, my church watched a video about church planters in Ethiopia. It ended with an Ethiopian pastor weeping and shouting in an interview, saying “This is what I want to see all over Ethiopia! This is what I want to see all over Ethiopia!”

After a week of praying that God would stir a deeper love in my heart for the people of Uganda, this hit me like a train. Seeing such an earnest heart for his people moved me in a way I had not expected. This will likely be the heart of the church leaders we will be working alongside. This is their vision for Uganda, and it is one that we must share if we are to take part in it.

Then, in our last song, we ended repeating the lines “Let the amen sound from your people again!” And it hit me even harder (like a collision of trains): this is our ministry. We are taking on the task of bringing people back into relationship with their Creator and welcoming them into a global family of believers, and they will sing to God just as we are. The amen will sound from His people again and for the first time.

How humbling that God drew us of all people for this task. And so I wept. And so I pray that this message reaches you, as well. And I pray that God is deepening your love for the people we are going to minister to. Be seeking Him as we fast tomorrow. We must be desperate for Him, for it is only by His grace that we will succeed.

Sterling Pounds departs next week for an e3 Legacy expedition to plant new churches in Uganda. This week, the team completes its fourth day of seeking the Lord through fasting, in preparation for ministering in Uganda.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Fasting Testimonials

Fasting presents pleasant surprises. Won’t you join us in one of our upcoming fasting opportunities? Share your experience with us like Rebecca and Alissa do below.

“I am 30 minutes from finishing up my fasting here in Texas. I was SO skeptical about doing this, but trusted that God would help me. He did. Every time I felt hunger pains or puny, I prayed. I prayed way more than I ever do and it was a great day! Thank you for presenting me with this challenge. I am so excited for the trip and grateful that I get to be a part of it and that I get to meet so many wonderful people!”
– Rebecca, age 30

“My fasting experience was incredible. My entire life group (small Group) did it with me to support me. We didn’t do the whole 12 hours because some people needed to take medicine and I had a huge math test, so I had some almonds before the test and they ate bread with their medicine. The idea was still intact; every time my belly growled, I prayed for my own heart, the people on the team, and the people of Cambodia. Also, our speaker at church this weekend was speaking on human nature and used what happened in Cambodia as one of his examples. I learned more about what happened and so did most of my prayer support group, and it lit a fire of prayer under us.”
– Alissa, age 16