Issue 14 | Volume 1
mission April 2014
FRUIT > recipe for growth > inca-national ministry > growing hope > growing pains > calculating christ > shining ones
BY BOB & SHONA BARNARD, MEXICO CITY
Here’s a recipe for church growth: Ingredients • 1 large inflatable pool (borrowed) • 1 homemade heating device (non- compliant) • Water to mix (bucket loads) Method • Add Water • Mix in candidates for baptism • Garnish with celebratory music and mayhem! Our recipe recently produced 14 new baptized believers wanting to make a stand for Jesus for the first time in public. This Sunday morning service was one of true celebration. We had a full house of around 120 people and, in true Latino style, lots
Growth is not only evident numerically but even more so spiritually. We’ve recently had to buy another 40 chairs! Five smallgroups were simply not reaching everyone, so after 3 months of training 26 potential leaders our young Oasis church has begun dozens of small discipleship groups, where we will be applying the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) method. Basically each group of 3 or 4 grows and learns together using the DBS type of inductive Bible study and members are held accountable through a series of questions each week. Please pray for these groups and their new leaders, several of whom have never led a group before. Our youth ministry is growing rapidly too. At the beginning of 2014 our daughter Anya got together a few reluctant young people to form an Oasis Youth Group and then headed back to uni in New
Zealand. Within a matter of months we now need to divide the group. Our teammate Allie has taken on the challenging 13 to 18 year olds, many of whom aren’t yet Christians; and we have asked a local couple to continue with the over 18 group. It has been wonderful to see the young people grow in the Lord. Several are taking on new ministry, such as the ever-popular “Zonakidz” ministry, worship, prayer and of course the youth meetings. You can imagine how much growth can be as challenging as it is exciting. We continue to marvel at what the Lord has done with our willingness to step out in faith and church-plant ourselves after 16 years in Mexico supporting other local churches. Please pray for wisdom for us as we train local leaders and tend to the new growth. And if anyone is considering long-term mission in Latin America or is thinking about a short-term trip to a Spanish speaking nations, get in touch with Pioneers! We can use all the help we can get to secure in this harvest.
inca-national ministry BY SAL BEISLY, BOLIVIA
At the height of its power, the Incan Empire spanned Bolivia, Peru, most of current Ecuador and a good portion of current Chile. The dominant language of the time was Quechua but Spanish has since superseded it as the main trade language. Quechua remains as a people group designation and language, but the people are now amongst the poorest in the nation. From our perspective of history it is amazing how the dominance of one power can be completely flipped by another. Sal Beisly writes, This is our second term in El Alto, Bolivia with Pioneers and we’re now
partnering with a second church, helping them establish their ministry, encouraging their leadership and imparting Jesus to their young people in practical ways. Around Christmas 2013 we took our third trip down an ancient Inca trail with the youth of the new church we’re supporting. It’s just a small church amongst the poor but we are impressed with Pastor Mauro. Until recently the congregation consisted of three families, one of
which was ours. However over the past few months more are starting to come regularly, including some of the youth, and we have grown from 2 pews to… 4. We thank God for that. It is significant growth. The trail we hiked with the youth connected with our new church took us on a very interesting and beautiful walk. On this occasion our family’s small camp pots and dehydrated veggies and soups wouldn’t cut it. Instead we lugged big pots with us continued...
Cover: Sam Barnard & youth in Mexico City.
recipe for growth
of food, music and fun. Praise the Lord for new believers; we celebrate with heaven (see Luke 15:7)!
so we could cook enough pasta for 30 of us. This was tramping with a difference! It was rainy season so we had plenty of rain. The further down you go the warmer it gets so the rain didn’t worry us too much. The climate change did reinforce how we are more suited to the higher and cooler El Alto climes than the heat of the yungas (jungle)! Despite this it was lovely to see green and walk on grass. We ended up staying at a camp on the third night and it had a huge pool, which was great fun. Most of us had very sore muscles and shoulders from the trek so were happy to rest and eat and muck around in the pool!
Our children really enjoyed the youth and there was heaps of scragging and joking going on. Overall it was an excellent opportunity to get to know these young people and lead them in devotions. They are a great bunch. As they minister amongst the poor, coming alongside to support rather than to dominate local ministries, Gregg and Sal desire to help them navigate their way out of impoverished situations, the young adults especially. The powers that keep them in a cycle of poverty can be flipped by Christ infused hope and the Beisly family is bringing Jesus into the situation to do just that – one pew at a time. All puns aside, this
is incarnational ministry at its core: living for and witnessing to Jesus in a community to see him replicated in the lives of those around them.
The Beisly Family
BY KATHERINE YOUNG, SOUTH SUDAN
They came to us from a small village several hours down the road, having already travelled more than eight hours to the capital where they had been told nothing could be done. But they had heard that maybe we could help. So they came. A gaunt five day old baby with old-man wrinkled skin and a protrusion of his intestines the size of a tennis ball extending into his umbilical chord, and a mother who held her baby gingerly, not sure if she should love this baby who would probably die. But they came with hope. Surgery for something like this is not an option in this country and the family did not have the means to travel to neighbouring countries. When they arrived to see us we sent emails around the world asking if there was anything we could do for them with our limited resources and were advised to try dressings and compression bandaging. I have to confess; we doubted it would fix a problem as big as this. Part of what we are called to do in this place – where death is such a
prevalent reality, where so many babies die before they are given a name – is to show that each life is precious, known and loved by God… and by us. So we sat with this mother, we prayed with her, and we told her we would do what we could to try and help. Every day we held the frail body of this little boy in our hands and wrapped a bandage snuggly around his belly. We sat with the mother and helped her to express her milk and feed him with a syringe. And we spoke to and loved her baby. And slowly by slowly he started gaining weight, 10 or 20 grams at a time. We showed his mother how to care for the lump on his belly, and she gained confidence in looking after him. She started smiling at him. Since she had a friend nearby in town we confidently discharged her. Every couple of days I would find her sitting on a bench outside our operating room waiting for us to review her son, with a warm greeting on her lips and smiling as she gazed down at her boy proudly, who now had a name. When the lump on his belly had reduced to the size of a 10c piece we felt it was safe for her to return to her village in
the hope that he actually would be able to live. Before she departed she thanked us. She said that before she came to us, she thought her baby was going to die. But now she had hope. And she promised to return with a gift. She turned up again last week. It had been more than two months since I last saw her. During that period civil war had broken out in many parts of South Sudan and our team had to be evacuated. I had no idea if the fighting had claimed their lives, let alone the ever-present threats of malaria, contaminated water and food insecurity. But there she was. Sitting. Waiting for me on ‘her’ bench, with a warm greeting on her lips and smiling as she gazed down at her chubby chuckling growing son. This young boy still faces many challenges and I do not now know what life here has in store for him. But I do know that because of his ‘deformity’ his family have been able to see that there is love and that there is hope and that Jesus is the source of that for them and their nation, if they continue to allow him to grow it in them.
BY C.B., CENTRAL ASIA*
For eighteen years, Peter* and Grace* have been praying. For eighteen years, they’ve followed Jesus and suffered persecution for His name.
They’ve been called “cult-followers”, “sell-outs”, “buyers of the foreign religion”. Their kids have had stones thrown at them on the way to school. People won’t greet them or shake hands with them at the bazaar. Yet they have persevered. Peter’s family came to the Lord mostly at the same time, eighteen years ago, when the first wave of modern missionaries entered the former Soviet Union. Even though his believing siblings live two hours away in the big city, there’s still a sense of camaraderie and “we’re in this together”. Grace’s family, on the other hand, has been “karshi” (opposed) from the beginning. Her siblings have done their fair share of name-calling and ostracizing over the years, but Grace kept praying, sharing, waiting, crying, and praying some more.
Then came pain. Last summer, one of Grace’s four older sisters lost a son to suicide. She wept for a week. Grace sat with her the whole time and they cried together. Grace had been preparing for surgery, and God gave her a miraculous reprieve from pain so she could grieve with her sister.
*Edited for security.
A few days later Grace underwent surgery and God miraculously healed her from a dangerous internal problem.
Peter* & Grace* celebrating with family.
The nurse assisting the surgeon was a friend of hers, and said to Grace afterwards, “Usually in a case like this your insides would be a mess, but your issue was completely contained in one location - no mess anywhere! It was amazing!” During her stay in the hospital Grace had a powerful experience with God where she felt His presence in a personal and intimate way. Afterward her witness became even more unashamed and unstoppable. Contrary to Grace’s experience her sister had no peace since her son died. Grace continued to share with her, bold enough after her surgery to use the strong name of Jesus unashamedly. “Only in Jesus will you find peace,” Grace became more persistent and with tears she pleaded, “Jesus is the only True Way to God. He’s your only hope.” Two weeks ago, Grace was in the city visiting their daughters, and she felt a sudden urge to cut short her time with the girls and hurry to her sister’s house. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Grace had brought a Bible to give to her sister, and a copy of the Jesus film. When she arrived, her sister and her husband were watching a news program describing the weird practices of a cult in this country, and Grace took the opportunity to say, “See? We are not like that. Do you think we’re like that?” Her sister shook her head. “Our lives are full of peace,” Grace insisted. “We’re relying on God to provide for our needs, and He is providing, sister. You’ve seen Him provide for us!” Her sister nodded. Grace spent that day sharing with her sister and praying for her.
And then came growth... That evening, her sister’s daughter, who had been very opposed in the past, called and said, “I want to go to church tomorrow. I heard Aunty Grace is visiting you, and I saw how Grace’s God healed her from her operation this summer, and I want to know more about Him. One of my students told me about a local church somewhere nearby, and I want to find it. I want us to go together.” The next morning, the three women (Grace, her sister, and her sister’s daughter) spent an hour and a half tracking
down the church. When they finally turned up, the group of about thirty believers in this security conscious country were initially a bit apprehensive. Grace introduced herself and gave her testimony, explaining that her relatives were seeking the Truth. Then Grace’s sister shared about losing her son, and how she’s been unable to find any peace. The pastor explained the gospel clearly to them and told them how to receive Jesus, making sure they understood. They did. They were ready. That morning, right then and there, Grace’s sister and niece became her first believing relatives. They prayed with the pastor to accept Jesus as the only Way to God, and the Saviour of their souls. During lunch, the pastor said to Grace, “You’ve done all the work of sowing and watering and cultivating - and today we have had the joy of the harvest!” Grace called me the next day and told me the story, in tears. “I’ve waited eighteen years,” she said. “I never thought I would see this day! Praise the Name of Jesus!”
…Miraculous growth. Since then, the two pre-teen daughters of Grace’s niece have also accepted Jesus, as well as her niece’s husband’s older sister and her children, and another female relative. One of the children, a little five-year-old girl, used to be extremely spoiled and selfish. After watching the Jesus film together with her family, the little girl went around and gave out pieces of candy to every member of her family. When asked why she was suddenly so generous, she replied, in surprise, “Well, God just told us on the video that we should be kind to one another and share what we have!” Praise the Lord for the salvation of these four women and their children! Pray for the men of this family, that their questions would be answered, and that they would be willing to trust God with issues of alcohol and drug addiction. Pray that they would see the change in the lives of their wives, and accept Jesus for themselves. Pray that this entire extended family would grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and become change agents for the gospel in their community.
calculating christ BY C. C., CENTRAL ASIA*
It is always nice to not waste skills from a ‘previous life’. Last year I taught Year 13 economics to fulfil parentvolunteer obligations at our expat school. – and every one of my students excelled! This year I’ve been invited to do some math tutoring with students from a closed neighbouring country at our local university.
She had students study 3 of Jesus’ miracles, right from the Bible text. After the class student “M” excitedly asked, “Do you know where I can find a Bible? I want to read it over winter break. You seem to know a lot about the Bible. Can you help me study it?”
My Team Leader, who works at the university in a very key role, offered me the math tutoring opportunity. Because of her official role, she is somewhat limited as to what she can share but in a class she was recently teaching she used parts of the Gospels as source text. This enabled her to legitimately talk about Jesus!
This situation has great potential for gospel impact and I am blessed to be able to work alongside my Team Leader, yet with a little more freedom. Please pray for opportunities to bring Jesus into the equation during Math tutoring classes, and wisdom to know how best to respond to questions of interest as they arise.
*Edited for security.
shining ones BY J & A, EAST ASIA*
We’ve had a pretty exciting last few months with some significant cause for joy. It started off with our team taking some young disciples up to a farm for a four-day student camp. The teaching focus was about being salt and light. On the first night we played an excellent game to highlight spiritual realities. It was played in total darkness with the students having to find (and keep) a light. It was illuminating (literally) comparing their communal and individual responses to spiritual warfare. They would mainly venture out of a place of safety with their lights only in a group. If one did set out alone they often hid the light they had been given for fear of becoming a target. Think about that for a moment. How easily do we let our “light” shine when we’re going about our daily business? Over the following few days we made more lanterns and candles with the students who enjoyed the
time, commenting that they found the teaching challenging and useful for their own lives. It wasn’t long before the impact of our teaching time manifested with one of the students bringing a classmate to our home. She had been sharing her light with a friend and by the time they came to our house the friend had already decided she too wanted to follow Jesus! Another light was lit. A different student shared with her very sick grandmother who was in and out of consciousness. Finally the grandma decided she wanted to ask Jesus to lead her on the next part of her journey. After praying to Jesus for her first time, grandma asked her granddaughter if she should also write it all down and burn the paper
like she would normally do with a spell. Our student had been worried that her grandmother would not be lucid enough to hear the truth so this was a real confirmation that she was lucid and processing a genuine heart decision. No burning of paper was required but another light was lit. A very bold student took a big step and shared with his teacher. In this country that is very dangerous and quite counter-cultural, yet his faith compelled him to shine. As it is generously shared, pray that the light will continue to spread!
*Edited for security.
Arlene & Steve Richardson (Arlene is a daughter of Ted and Peggy Fletcher. Steve is the son of Don Richardson).
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thirty-five years BY STEVE RICHARDSON, PIONEERS USA
Pioneers USA’s Director Steve Richardson, has written a chapter for a forthcoming book honouring the influence Dr. Robertson McQuilkin who taught many Pioneers members at Columbia International University. Steve has allowed us to reproduce a very abridged version of his chapter here.
Despite all its remarkable strengths and achievements, the mission era of the 1970s and 1980s was not particularly favourable to the launching of new agencies. After repeated rejections for service from other mission Boards, Pioneers founder Ted Fletcher finally decided to start his own small ministry with the blessing and help of their local church. He was greeted with a wave of scepticism. “You’ve never been a missionary!” “Don’t we have enough agencies?” “Shouldn’t you at least change the name to ‘Africa Evangelical Outreach’ rather than ‘World Evangelical Outreach’ (Pioneers’ original name)?” “No, I believe God has given us a vision for the whole world,” Ted replied, often reminding himself of Psalm 2:8, “Ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession” (NKJV). Ted had a growing conviction that there must be more effective ways to connect God’s people to the global harvest.
Surprisingly, the new agency, re-branded as Pioneers in 1984, began to grow rapidly. Over the next thirty years, Pioneers flourished into an international movement with nineteen national offices, recruiting and fielding church planting teams in more than 100 countries. Since 2000, the U.S. base, now representing only a portion of Pioneers, has continued its steady growth trajectory with a tripling of its membership from 500 to more than 1,500 longer-term workers. The international roll now exceeds 2,600. I attended Columbia International University and its commitment to a set of clear, compelling, and biblical core values, combined with its laser-like focus on the Great Commission, greatly impacted me. I intuitively sensed that Ted Fletcher and his small start-up team were guided by a very similar vision, values, and organizational alignment. In the years since, I’ve watched Pioneers mature and pondered the ways in which God has nurtured and strengthened it. The organization’s growth occurred against the backdrop of numerous challenges: • The role and context of mission agencies had begun to shift dramatically. • The need for Western missionaries was being questioned. • Church, donor and fiduciary expectations were rising. • The founder had never himself been a missionary. • Many agencies were experiencing little or no growth. •
A younger generation of workers was less likely to think in terms of a “long- term” commitment, portending higher attrition rates.
• Most Pioneers workers were destined for hostile places where conventional mission activity was not an option. continued...
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These broad categories are: 1) effective (contextualized) mobilization
• The challenges of screening, training, and deploying missionaries were mounting.
3) a strong sense of community
Reflecting on the early expansion of Pioneers, Ted Fletcher (who died in 2003) often observed that “there is a sovereignty” in such things. God knows and defies our tendency to favour formulas over faith. There is risk in prescribing specific models or offering simplistic answers to sweeping questions. Each agency is a unique response — involving a unique culture, group of people and time period to a specific set of opportunities and challenges.
Peggy & Ted Fletcher, 1979.
PIONEERS MEMBERSHIP GROWTH
2) clear and compelling values
4) decentralized structure; and 5) constant theological reflection. Pioneers has enjoyed a healthy and consistent rate of 7-10% annual growth since its beginning in 1979. It has modelled resilience and relevance during a challenging era for larger sending agencies as a whole. I believe that Pioneers is an effective model for how missions, particularly missionary sending agencies, might function effectively in the twenty-first century. Will Pioneers continue to thrive, or is the organization simply experiencing the rise and fall of a typical organizational life cycle? I suspect the future will remain bright as long as the movement remains:
Enduring growth also requires a synergistic confluence of positive influences, with significant and sustained interplay between key factors. No individual measure taken in isolation will assure a healthy organization, much less reverse a process of decline. Furthermore, sustained agency growth, while desirable in many cases, may not be the ideal scenario for every agency. In many cases, it may be better for an agency to serve its purpose for a season before gifting its remaining resources in a timely fashion to a new and vital movement that God has raised up.
• Vision driven, rather than history driven. • Values based, not policy or personality based. • Decentralized — with an expanding network of teams and “niche ministries”. • “Amateurized” — with a flexible, positive and open system that attracts spiritual entrepreneurs and tomorrow’s leaders.
Nevertheless, in short, I believe we can identify five overarching factors that have contributed significantly to Pioneers’ growth, resiliency and fruitfulness during the past 35 years.
• Reflective — often asking as a community, “What is God saying and doing?” • Global and multicultural — serving to unleash the “whole church” into the “whole world.” 2O13
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• Threats to missionaries’ physical safety were increasing.
The FINAL edition of Pioneers NZ's biannual hardcopy magazine featuring stories of Kiwis ministering around the globe with Pioneers teams.