This week Judy and I have been with 35 church planters from England – exchanging practical ideas at a retreat summit in Greece. Over the last weeks we have equipped planting teams in Dubai and Beirut – and visited places where Jesus lived and early churches were planted. (Over coming weeks I will share some of the planting case-studies.)
A street sign in Dubai caught our attention: ‘Dubai is a community of 185 nations and languages.’ This is the world! People are on the move. National and religious barriers are being dissolved as people move around the world. In new places many who previously had no opportunity to hear about Jesus, come to know, love and follow him. They can then take the good news back into relational networks in their home countries – many times to places where the gospel has previously not reached!
Walking the streets of old Damascus we were reminded of Saul’s conversion, his entrance along Straight Street (Acts 9:11) and his pioneering mission – planting new gatherings of believers across boundaries into the Gentiles world. His faithfulness and courage inspires us. He faced extreme opposition (beatings and imprisonment), intense hardship (sleepless nights and hunger) (2 Cor 6:3-10) – despairing ‘even of life’ (2 Cor 1:8); but he was so changed by the love of Jesus Christ and the Spirit within him that he was ‘compelled’ to share the good news of salvation to all.
Be faithful and courageous,
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS – 29 May 2011 (for more resources go to www.newchurchlife.com)
Uni Students planting New Faith Groups in Beirut: In small teams of three, Christian students from a university in Lebanon are visiting residential communities in Beirut – to share practical life skills and their faith. They simply go from house to house – as a group, introducing themselves as students and explaining that they have prepared a seven-week mini-workshop on health and family values, asking, ‘Would the family like them to share this with them?’ It quickly becomes evident that they are Christians – but they have been welcomed to every home they have gone to so far! They are following the pattern Jesus suggested, when he taught how to enter new communities –
(1) Find people who are receptive (Luke 10:5-7) – by systematically visiting residential communities.
(2) Eat with people (Luke 10:8): the students really get to know the people, eat with them, tell stories to the children, become part of the family!
(3) Heal their hurts (Luke 10:9): these students listen and sympathize – and share simple, practical but carefully prepared support to help families with their health and well-being!
(4) Share the gospel (Luke 10:9): in the communities in which they are sharing, these students are finding it takes about 7 weeks – and then families are ready to read the Bible, learning about Jesus as their Saviour!
Community Chaplains in White City: Five ladies are working as Community Chaplains in the tough environment of White City – in central west London. As social workers and family counselors they decided to work in an area around a local community centre. They cooperate with other support services – and have received training to relate to people with addictions and HIV. They work in teams of two – each one wearing clear identification; going door-to-door explaining they are in the community to support and pray for people. They have also been assigned a room in the community centre where people can also drop in on Thursday evenings. ‘We are welcomed by all,’ says Pauline, one of the Community Chaplains. ‘We are invited to share the gospel and pray.’
NSPYA (Inspire) started in a back yard! ‘NSPYA started in my back yard as a small group who felt very impressed for a need of inspiring worship, fellowship and service with a passion for the unchurched,’ says planter Ben Tavao. ‘This is where we got our name NSPYA (inspire). God has taken us from a group of 6 people to an average of 60 per week.’ Most are new kingdom people who have been baptized in this plant – or getting baptized. Ben says, ‘We have 12 people who will be baptized over the next 2 months.’ The process being used by this plant in Perth (Western Australia) to connect with people (Ben says, ‘It’s been working for us so far…’) is simply called the “One to One” challenge –
Meet One person
Pray for that One person daily
Invite that One person along to an event (social/small group or Church)
Introduce them to – One God in One Faith and One baptism in One Church body.
Creative Church reaches Dunstable Estate: Weekly activities include small groups, Bible readings, a football club for boys on the estate, involvement as street pastors, and a weekly interactive worship time. Understanding how people relate and learn today, planter and pastor Simon Martin – and the planting team, organize a very creative worship service each week. They meet for lunch together on Saturdays – and preparation. The worship time involves singing, scripture, and a short introduction to the theme of the day. Every person then develops that theme at tables – with crafts, drawing, cooking, drama, etc.
Hugs for Free! In one afternoon a team of 120 – led by pastor and planter Sam Neves, went out onto the streets of London and gave out 30,000 free hugs. Sam is Brazilian. He says, ‘Brazilians give 7 hugs a days. Most Londoners hug only 2 times – a year! God wants to hug people, and he wants us to hug people! He wants us to do what he would do if he were here!’
International Plant Grows in Jordan: In Amman, capital of Jordan, just over 5 years ago – I met with 8-10 people, a few families from different countries who were exploring the possibility of gathering on a regular basis. This small group has now grown into an international church that is reaching across cultural and religious boundaries with the gospel.
Simple Church in London: Five friends (including an atheist) met for three months; sharing food, reading the Bible and praying. ‘At the end of that time we felt God was calling us to work for the homeless in London,’ says Asha Wije, one of the team – a diverse group of nationalities, professionals and laborers. ‘The first night we walked around a park and found no one,’ says Asha. ‘As we were about to give up, we found Tony near a tunnel. We offered food, clothes, toiletries – but he refused. He just wanted to talk. We ate the soup, to keep us warm. He thought it good that we went to him.’ The next week they met a Muslim woman – who needed the things they had to give. The next week, they met Tom – who just wanted to talk. And, the next, they met Barry who was freezing cold and really appreciated the hot soup. Using their iphones they were also able to direct him to nearby job centers – which he was wanting. ‘Each week we found one only – but it was like God was training us,’ says Asha. ‘As we worked we found the communities of homeless in London – but God was teaching us the value of the one!’
Prayer request …
Veteran planter needs our prayers! We have shared many short stories from Olga and Michael Murga. Michael was a denominational leader in Ukraine. They moved to the Middle East, Michael encouraging and supporting Olga as she started multiple new gatherings of believers. Returning to their home lands Olga continued to share the gospel in the Republics. When I opened Olga’s latest email I was sure it would tell of another series of meetings, another baptism, another new group formed! But, this time her email brought the request – ‘PLEASE PRAY I AM VERY BAD – CANSER OF STOMAK.’ Please pray that Olga and Michael will experience the healing presence of Jesus through this difficult time of treatment.
Equipping & Resources …
Videos of Missional Communities: Checkout these 3 short videos that demonstrate missional community life http://www.vergenetwork.org/films/ (shared by Anthony WagenerSmith)
CHURCH PLANTING NEWS