Saturday, November 25, 2017

Heading to Zambia...Nov. 27th

The Lord has granted a full recovery from a neck vertabrae fracture and it's finally time to get back to the Mission Field. I'll be flying out on Monday (11/27) for a three week visit to Zambia. This is the trip that had to be canceled back in August due to the neck injury. It's been a few years since we've had a visit to Zambia and it's well overdue. Much has been happening over the past few years. 

Pastor Ibrahim has been diligently working to train men to be faithful preachers of the Word in three districts of Zambia. The men have completed their initial training and have successfully passed the required written tests. I will review their work and administer an oral exam before certificates are distributed at special services in each district.

The opportunities to assist in spreading the Gospel in Zambia are a wonderful example of how the Lord has worked in ways that we would never have expected. 

I'll give you a brief history of the CLC's involvement with this work in Zambia.

Seven years ago Pastor Ibrahim was living in his home nation of Tanzania where he was nearing completion of seminary training at the CLC affiliated St. Peter Seminary in Himo. When the seminary was forced to close, Ibrahim was just one semester away from graduation. With things in temporary turmoil and no congregation to serve, he wasn't sure what the Lord had in mind for him. He had been a public school teacher and head-master, but he was sure that the Lord wanted him to dedicate himself to full-time ministry work. It was at this time that a friend who had moved to Lusaka, Zambia called him and asked him to come to Lusaka and start a church where he and his family could learn the truth of God's word. So he went. He started a congregation with just a few individuals. 

In the past seven years the Lord has opened doors of opportunity for Pastor Ibrahim to train pastors in three different areas of Zambia. He is working with men in the Lusaka area and in areas near the Zimbabwe and Tanzania borders. 

Eleven men have completed their initial training and are now ready for their oral review when I am there. 

Here's a link to a Lutheran Spokesman article that I wrote a couple of years ago with a few more details:    

Thursday, November 16, 2017

CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List...Nov. 16, 2017

I’ve been keeping a mental prayer list for quite a while. But this week I decided to type it up and share it on this blog. I’m prayerfully hoping that this will achieve a few goals in service to the Kingdom of God and for His honor and glory...
  • Keep me and others mindful of the importance of praying for each other and the work of God’s Kingdom.
  • Keep an ongoing list of what’s “currently” going on in the CLC mission fields.
  • Keep the privilege of being about this work front and center for me and others.
  • Keep these petitions and thanksgivings before the throne of the One who is always faithful.
CLC Mission Opportunities Prayer List:
1.  Sanju Bhitrakoti – was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She spent several days in the hospital. She is now home on bed rest. Baby is due in early January. 
2.  Political unrest in Zimbabwe as the military has taken over control. 
3.  Pastor John Hein and Pastor Em. Dave Koenig are working in Liberia. They will be there from November 8-26. 
4.  Thanksgiving for newly declared fellowship with pastors and believers in Liberia. 
5.  Individuals in Senegal, DR Congo, Haiti, and Bangladesh have begun formal Online Theological Studies correspondence courses this month. 
6.  Pastor Jeremiah Roody (Haiti), whose wife gave birth to their first child, a son named Zamar Jeremiah, born on November 14th. He and his wife have been with family in the Dominican Republic for the past few weeks so the baby would be born in a good hospital. 
7.  The eleven pastors/students in Zambia who are preparing for their final exams after three years of instruction from Pastor Ibrahim. They have succesfully complted a written exam and will go through an oral examination when I 'm there in December. 
8.  Raju and the Himalayan Bible Institute students in Nepal as they prepare for their November class schedule. (The students in Nepal meet one week (six days) of each month for 12 hours each day for pastoral training. They return to their home congregations and work with the local pastor during the other three weeks of the month) 
9.  David Reim, pastor of our CLC Mission congregation in Vernon, BC, Canada had a heart attack a week ago. He received immediate care at a local hospital where they treated a blocked artery with a stent. He is home resting and recovering for the next several weeks. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness in protecting His servant’s life. 
10.Pastors from the Nigerian-CLC of the Lutheran Confession and MELC in Togo will meet at the NCLC headquarters in Efa, Nigeria for the 2017 West Africa Pastoral Conference and 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Pray for safe travels and that the Lord will bless their time together in His word. 
11.Preparations for Pastor Mayhew and my visit to Tanzania in early 2018. It has been three years since the last CLC visitation to Tanzania and there is much work to be done. We will conduct pastoral training seminars and will also be investigating opportunities to reestablish organized efforts to train pastors.
12.Pastor Liberty Atawa in Zimbabwe as this nation is involved in political turmoil after the military takeover of the country's infrastructure. Pastor Atawa continues to receive Theological training via email correspondence courses. There has been no visits to Zimbabwe since 2010. We are hoping another visit can be scheduled soon.
13.The MELC in Togo has just recently been approved by the Togo government to begin caring for orphans and providing for children in need in the impoverished portion of the city of Lome where the main congregation is located. Through Kinship sponsorship they are now caring for five orphans. They are also providing help with a weekly nutrition program, clothing, school supplies, and a weekly Bible school. 
14.Pastor Olvera in Mexico is beginning effort to formally train three men to assist him in spreading the Gospel as the Lord opens doors of opportunity.
15.The BELC in India continues to train new men for leadership roles as the opportunities to start new pastoral training districts increase. 
16.The CLC-India makes preparation for their Christmas outreach efforts. Pray that the recent anti-Christian rhetoric does not interfere with their to proclaim the birth of the Savior of the world.
17. One of the orphans in Myanmar recently had appendicitis and had to have surgery. Thank the Lord that Kinship was able to offer some financial assistance. Pray for a full recovery and no complications.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pray for Christians in Chin State, Myanmar


October 27, 2017 by Janelle P in 

Out of the eight major ethnic-nationalities in Myanmar, the Chin tribe is the only one that has embraced Christianity. Ninety percent of the Chins are believers, and they take pride in being the only Christian tribe in Myanmar.
The gospel spread among the Chin in the 19th century, due to the work of Western missionaries. For decades, their religious identity within a state-sanctioned Buddhist context, has caused them to endure forced labor, rape and violence at the hands of the Burmese army, the Tatmadaw. Countless times, the Chin people have been abused and pressured to recant their Christian faith.
When Prime Minister U Nu of Myanmar declared Theravada Buddhism the state religion in the 1960s, the Tatmadaw began trampling on the Chin Christians’ right to worship. Thousands of Chin took up arms in protest. The Burmese government still views them as agents of the West, deviants to the country’s goal of Buddhist unification.
Despite the end of military rule and the Burmese government’s transition to a democracy in 2011, the Chin remain overlooked – deprived of many modern conveniences, and still victimized for being a religious minority.
Chin pastors say that by 2020, everybody in the country must be Buddhist.Muan,* a local pastor shared with Open Doors, “Recently, the officials built a Buddhist temple beside our church. We were forced to contribute stones to build it. Officially, we are never allowed to build a church. We must resort to bribing local officials.”
All citizens are required to attend mandatory village meetings that conflict with their Sunday worship services. They believe that it is an attempt by the government to distract church members and continually decrease church attendance. “From my village, it takes two days to walk to the public meeting,” a pastor shared. “It’s difficult, but we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t go. Everyone is afraid of not going because we might receive a red mark on our government papers. Those papers are our lifeline.”
The Chin State is also the poorest region in Myanmar. According to UNICEF, 73% of Chin State residents live below the poverty line. “Extreme poverty is a major problem in our area,” says another pastor. “Poverty drives mothers to marry off their daughters to insurgents who are, of course, not believers.”
Open Doors continues to reach out to the Chin tribe; reminding them that God is sovereign despite persecution and poverty, and training them in areas such as marriage and family life, biblical discipleship, church growth and administration, biblical stewardship, livelihood and financial literacy. Open Doors works to assure them that believers around the world love, remember and pray for them.
Phyo,* a pastor for 17 years shared, “I didn’t know how to study the Bible. I never applied it to myself. I only applied it to others. After I started coming to this training, I realized that I must be the first to apply the Word. Now, I am able to guide others.” 
“Whenever we pray, everything is so formal,” Phyo continues. “After the service, we go home and that’s it. When the Open Doors worker came, she taught us to pray while washing the dishes or cleaning the house. We are doing that now. I encourage the church to pray while they travel, while they work, and while they do other things.”
Thanga* says the Lay Leaders Training has changed their lives for the better, “If we didn’t have this training, we would have been totally destroyed. We were already destroying ourselves. Now, we have hope.”
Myanmar is ranked #28 on the World Watch List, and believers here are faced with the daily challenges of living in the land of Buddhists. Those around them are worshipping false idols, and they know they have the true source of life, found in Jesus Christ.
Visit our World Watch List | Myanmar to learn more about what believers are facing today and continue to pray with us for the Chin tribe and other Christians living in Myanmar.
*Names changed for security reasons