Thoughts on a new day (03-02-2014)
Welkom, Free State, South Africa
The first thought I had when I awakened at 4 a.m. on the day before my departure for “home, sweet home” was “Wow! I feel good! I feel rested!” God ministered restful sleep once again after a grueling day of teaching and then traveling six hours over some roads that even advertised, “Potholes ahead!” God has been so good to this servant. Into the Throne Room of Heaven I headed to kneel before the Father and say “thank you” and “I love You” and “I serve You gladly.” Then, “How can I ever praise You enough; You have done so much for me!”
As the years have advanced, I have found that Nehemiah 8:10 has often been my signature verse: “The joy of the Lord is [my] strength.” Also, Lamentations 3:23-24: “His mercies are new every morning.” I have been blessed this morning to hear our daughter Mona’s 2013 Easter cantata, which includes precious thoughts. “Let everyone bow before Jesus, the One and Only.” “He grew the tree that He knew would be used to make the Old Rugged Cross. He was crucified on the tree that He created.” “Amazing Grace, how can it be that .” "Let everyone bow to Jesus the One and Only!" The music is heavenly. Our two granddaughters, Jeanne and Emilee, are featured soloists. I could only bow and weep and thank God for a Son that died for my sins and was raised from the dead.
Then I listened to Steve Marks, one of my favorite songsters, sing “What would you have me do, Lord?” and “Our eyes are upon You, Lord.”
Sunday at Leslie’s church. On visits to South Africa, I look forward to Sunday morning at Leslie’s Thabong township church. Praise God, now they have a building of their own that stands out in simple structure and beauty, a testimony that God still accomplishes miracles. Our first ministry with this church was in a small tent that was erected every Saturday and taken down on Sunday evening. The congregation was mostly children. Leslie and Tabitha taught them to pray for their parents and now many adults join the children in making up a vibrant assembly of believers.
Leslie promised that we will end the morning service early so the people can get home, have lunch, and return for Prayer Seminar #13, the last seminar on this trip, that begins at 2 p. m. Invitations have gone out to many other churches. The only challenge is that the supply of prayer seminar workbooks from other years’ seminars is limited. We used all the prayer seminar workbooks in the North West & Northern Cape provinces that I brought with me.
The joy of serving! Since 1996, our work in South Africa has been mostly in Black townships, with indigenous congregations. The Black South Africans make up 85% of the nation’s population. The concept of “Lighthouses of Prayer” is one the believers take seriously. I was particularly touched by two closing remarks. One was a pastor in Carltonville in the North West Province. He said he had learned many new things and ways about prayer that he intended to use in his personal life and then teach his people. Then he held up the Prayer Seminar Workbook saying that within the cover of that workbook were remarkable, basic teachings that were well organized. He promised that he would be using it as a tool to teach the purpose and power of prayer. The other was the pastor’s wife in Stellasetlagole. Six had just professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The unction of the Holy Spirit was upon this moment in a special way. She said that they were going to be Lighthouses of Prayer and intended to plant lighthouses to penetrate the spiritual darkness all over their large “village,” which is organized around many chiefs. She said, “We are ready and equipped to be people of prayer.” On this trip, there have been seminars in Black townships adjacent to Alberta, Carltonville, Rustonburg, Bloemhof, Hartswater, Schweizer-Reneke, Christiana, Pampierstad, and Stellasetlagole (a “village” that includes many chiefs/tribes covering a large geographic area). There have been twelve seminars (one mini-two-hour seminar, two leaders’ seminars, and nine full seminars). The one scheduled today in Welkom is Prayer Seminar #13.
Hundreds have attended using up all our workbooks; sixty-one made professions of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The people rejoiced. After each seminar, many photos were snapped. “One more” was the usual word. It is a joy to serve God’s children and the churches.
QwaQwa prayer seminars. Malloy, Leslie’s assistant who travels with us, is from QwaQwa, a large area in eastern Free State that borders Lesotho, home a million people living in many, many villages scattered over a very large geographical area. Malloy has felt the call of the Lord to go to all the villages and teach the prayer seminar. A church has already scheduled a seminar for next Sunday, March 9. As we go to the airport tomorrow, we hope to discuss this possibility with Leslie. Malloy said, “we must see the principles of prayer you are teaching will continue until Jesus returns to earth.”
The joy of teaching! My friend, the late Dr. Leslie Flynn, long-time pastor of the Grace Conservative Baptist Church, Nanuet, New York and journalism professor at Nyack College, wrote a highly acclaimed book, The Nineteen Gifts of the Spirit.” I cherish an autographed copy that he presented to me. Several seminar professors have told me that this is the best book on the subject. One of the gifts is teaching. A lady came to me following a prayer seminar long ago saying, “You have the gift of teaching.” Hopefully, she is correct.
Whatever, there is joy in teaching for me far beyond any other work I have pursued (pastor, college administrator, college president, executive-director of a Christian accrediting agency) or simply sitting in a pew. My goal is to keep teaching as long as God gives me health and opens doors. Paul used an expression that is apt to what I am feeling on this beautiful Sunday morning in Welkom, Free State, South Africa where the birds are singing and the breeze is gentle. He said, “this one thing I do …” (Philippians 3:13). Regardless of what comes and goes, I have placed myself into His hands “to teach and to preach the things pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ.” Hallelujah!
“I will make you a light to the nations”
One of the songs of Heaven recorded in Revelation is one that praises the Lamb who was slain to make redemption possible. “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on earth” (Revelation 5:9-10). Another song of Heaven is one sung by an innumerable company of the saved. Drawn from “every people and tribe, dressed in the white robes of salvation,” they join in offering praise and glory to God (Revelation 7:9-17). Heaven is filled with praises—praises for the Lamb, for the One born in order to die, to purchase with His own blood “men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
From “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” God has children! In a remarkable way, He has opened doors for JGHM to minister in fifty-eight nations on six continents: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia (including the Pacific Rim, Fiji Islands, New Zealand), basically through prayer seminars although there have been opportunities to preach and to provide leadership seminars (including an evangelism clinic to teach people how to share their faith through their personal testimonies and through Scripture). An effort has been made to work primarily with the indigenous church wherever we have gone and to provide the prayer seminar in the respective native languages. The prayer seminar workbook has been translated into many languages including German, Hausa, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Thai, Urdu, Swahili, Luganda, and others.
SOUTH AFRICA 2014
South Africa 2014 Report
[Friday, February 14--Saturday, February 22]
For some months, I have prayed that Leslie Motsalane would be able to carry on the prayer seminar ministry that was started in 1998. God has blessed Leslie and Tabitha, his wife, in many ways. When we first started working with them in 1996, they were living in two small rooms in a black township. Their dream was to establish a church and build a house right in Thabong, a very large township. They started their church in a small tent that had to be put up on Saturday and taken down on Sunday night for security reasons. Slowly, their house began to take shape using bricks from the closed gold mines that cost a penny a brick. The church moved from a corrugated tin unit to a nice brick building. We provided funds for Leslie to get on his feet, including funds for a van and funds to travel to conduct seminars. We have provided funds to print workbooks and have been able to provide thousands.
Leslie, his team and I (sometimes with Sue and sometimes with Tabitha) provided prayer seminars in each province and in surrounding southern African nations. At one point, Leslie said that several million have been impacted by the prayer seminar. The workbook is translated into Sueto, Zulu, and Xhosa.
For the 2014 seminars, Leslie's strategy was to revisit provinces, but go into areas where we have never been. When we first started, pastors were reluctant to encourage their people to attend a prayer seminar thinking that it was simply a vehicle for stealing their sheep. There has been a remarkable change with pastors joining together to plan for a prayer seminar in their area. Our theme this year is establishing Lighthouses of Prayer using the model learned in Pakistan.
There have been six prayer seminars (five full seminars and one mini-seminar that was only two hours). There have been seminars in two provinces with two additional provinces scheduled for next week. The attendance for three of the six seminars has been the largest we have had in South Africa. In each seminar, we have been explaining that Leslie and his team are equipped to come back for further teaching. Twenty-four has made professions of faith.
PERSONAL. Many of you have told me that you would be praying for me personally (for health, for vitality, for spiritual discernment). There are always challenges in doing work in other cultures but I have had great health and ample patience. Of course, I am tired at the end of a day, but there is renewed strength the next morning. More and more I feel unworthy to have been entrusted with a ministry that God has blessed and used to touch so many lives. My zeal for the seminar remains strong. One pastor who attended the Carltonville seminar (one of six present) said that he learned many points about effective praying that he had never known, but, he said, the prayer seminar workbook itself was the most helpful tool that had ever been placed in his hand. In one of the seminars, I used the Placetas, Cuba story. I shared fifty years after my initial visit in 1960, I returned for the first time in 2010. Nine of the seventy saved in 1960 were present for the 2010 seminar. Leslie said that he watched the faces of the young people and saw amazement that there was still fruit after fifty years. It is little incidents like that that makes me want to keep on keeping on. The torch must be passed to the youth. When the young people respond, it is encouraging.
Thanks for your prayer covering. Many of you gave liberally to have the budget met before I left home. Ten more days, the Lord willing, I will be home. Sunday, February 23 is the middle day of the nineteen trip.
Spiritual decisions in Venezuela
October 19-November 4, 2012
“Preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things
which concern the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:31)
Since 1996, “Adam Nathanson” has been a prominent name in our cadre of best friends and fellow ministers. As a recent graduate of Maryland Bible College, he and his wife, Dianna, were serving as missionaries in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. On my agenda notes for the week of December 29, I have the following note: “Nathanson Fax—confirmed Brazil July 17-August 3, 1997.” Although Adam was unable to attend a prayer seminar at his college, he heard from those who did the impact. He was the catalyst for the nine prayer seminars, six leadership conferences, and two sermons. Sue spoke to three women’s groups. Over the years, Adam has traveled with me serving as Portuguese or Spanish interpreter in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba as well as Spanish prayer seminars in the United States.
Once again, Adam, who now serves as a missionary to Venezuela and is founder-pastor of Grace Community Church in Caracas, and I teamed up for prayer seminars in three areas: Caracas (capital city with five million people), Amazonas State (about the size of Texas and home to 150,000 native Indians living in the jungle), and the Santa Elena region along the Brazilian border and home to two major Indian tribes. In a sense, the latter two venues are among the hard regions. Seventeen tribes live in the Amazonas jungle. Although many small churches have been established throughout the jungle, there is constant warfare among the tribes. Many of the churches were established by New Tribes Mission, an entity that has been expelled from their jungle work and is no longer welcomed. The contrast between Puerto Ayacucho and Santa Elena is remarkable Both are striking, but Santa Elena with an elevation of 2,500 feet surrounded by picturesque flat-topped mountains is one of the most beautiful areas that I have visited anywhere in the world. This was my eighth visit to Venezuela (1992,
There were ten prayer seminars and I preached three times. Hundreds committed themselves to become Lighthouses of Prayer (necessary to penetrate the Spiritual darkness that abounds in Venezuela). 149 were saved. Certainly Adam and I were blessed beyond words. However, we had a major disappointment. Plans were for us to go into the Amazonas jungle among the tribes. The focus of the invitation was for us to travel from Puerto Ayacucho by river (four hours on the mighty Oronoco River) to a small town, San Fernando, where an annual conference is held for 350-500 pastors. We considered this one of the most extraordinary invitations we have received. Upon our arrival, we were informed that there was aggressive guerrilla activity and that it would be unsafe for white Americans to travel. Although disappointed, we placed this under the category of Isaiah 55, God’s ways are not our ways; His are better. We were strongly urged to return to these areas. Perhaps this will be God’s will at some future date. We have tentatively agreed to return in July 2014 to Puerto Ordoz to work with seventy-five churches and to Caracas to provide a series of prayer seminars.
On behalf of each person touched, we express thanks to the Doorkeepers who provided prayer and financial support. Ninety contributed significantly over-subscribing the budget. “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward to begive you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose sings you have come for refuge (Ruth 2:12).
- Population: 28,047,938
- Capital: Caracas (5M)
- Literacy rate: Male 93.8% Female 93.1%
- Life expectancy: Male 71.49 Female 77.1
- GDP per capita: $12,400
- Unemployed: 9.4%
The response to the prayer seminar has been tremendous in Latin American nations (Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela). Many have said that they had systematic teaching in the various areas of the Christian life, a need met by the prayer seminar ministry. Both the English & Spanish editions of the prayer seminar workbook have proven to be a useful tool for further equipping believers/pastors/churches to become Lighthouses of Prayer for their local areas and the nation.
Although I have never attempted to think in terms of what nation or are has borne the most visible fruit, it is obvious by observing the reception that that Latinos have received the Word in an enthusiastic and receptive manner—with gladness. Many saints have been personally enriched and we have hundreds upon hundreds of written testimonies to that effect. Not only have thousands been taught, but many souls have been saved—possibly as many as 10,000.
Return to Venezuela. There has been tremendous evangelical have grown in the last two decades and it continues. Evangelicals have grown from one million in 1990 to around 3.2 million in 2010. There are an average of two evangelical churches planted every day. The Charismatics/Pentecostals now total 4,731,954 and are growing rapidly.
The first ministry in Venezuela was in July 1992 in the heart of an industrial area along the mighty Orinoca River in San Felix, adjacent to Puerto Ordoz. Some pastors traveled over four hours to attend. Twenty-one testimonies were shared in the Doorkeeper Report (VOL IX, No. 8, August 1992), and a representative one follows: “The seminar taught me that the Holy Spirit does not come down each time I call upon Him, but He lives inside each Christian. The Holy Spirit moves and convicts. Now the next move is mine. TO THE WORK!” Prayer seminars have been taught throughout the nation (from Caracas, moving westward, eastward, and southward): 2007 (April 1-12); 2008 (March 15-30); 2010 (February 26-March 14; July 31-August 9); 2011 (April 3-25); 2012 (February 24-March 12). To summarize, thousands have attended from hundreds of churches, including many pastors. Only eternity will reveal the widespread influence of the prayer seminars and the evangelism clinics.
For the past sixteen months, leaders in Venezuela have been making plans for our return to Caracas and to Amazonas State, home of seventeen indigeneous tribes. The latter is significant because of the prohibitive restrictions imposed on Christian outreach by the government, increased during the Chavez tenure. The dates are October 19-November 4. The budget is $5,900 (includes airfare, internal transportation, lodging, food, and 1,000 Spanish workbooks). Adam Nathanson, missionary-pastor in Caracas, will travel with me as my interpreter as he has done for most of the Spanish seminars in Latin America.
We need both prayer and financial support. Following the “One-hundred-Givers” principle, we invited you to become “one of the one hundred” as the Lord leads. Venezuela bookmarks are available as reminders to pray for the Lord to put His hand on this effort and the result will be His glory. As we think about the Latin America impact of the prayer seminar, let’s pray “Lord, do it again!” and the Gospel that is presented.
Spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is intense in Venezuela. Satanists actively seek to destroy the Church. Caracas is the site of Latin America’s largest mosque. Jehovah’s Witnessed and Mormons claim huge numbers and are growing rapidly. Spiritism is dangerously strong. Up to 85% of the population are involved to a lesser of greater extend in some form of spiritist practices (witchcraft). There are thousands of occult and spiritist shops where witch doctors and their ilk are frequented by rich and poor alike. A large number identify with the Roman Catholic church, but most are nominal—only 20% attend mass. A secular mindset is promoted and is prevalent in public life. Many new Christians come from tragic or dysfunctional backgrounds and need much help and spiritual guidance such what is presented during a prayer seminar. Since each participant receives a personal copy of the Spanish Prayer Seminar Workbook, he/she can continue studying.
Thanks for providing the prayer and financial resources to touch other nations. Your labor is not in vain.
LAUNCHING JGHM-EAST AFRICA BRANCH
ESTABLISHING LIGHTHOUSE OF PRAYERKENYA-UGANDA
There are two major reasons that JGHM has decided to concentrate on East Africa for the next few years. One is simply that we must make each year count in the light of my “advancing age”—now seventy-seven and one-half. The other is the remarkable “gifts” that God has provided in the persons of Martin and Anne Shikuku in western Kenya’s Rift Valley. When Martin was my student in a college course on prayer in April 2006, he absorbed the message that I was teaching and immediately begin to run with it. At that time, he shared dreams that God had given him for his life and ministry—building on the Word of God and prayer as two major emphases. My visit simply provided material to fan the fire that was already burning. On my first visit to his church in Eldoret, he and his congregation presented me with beautiful carved elephants. He explained that I am the “big elephant” and that he and his partners would be the “little elephants” who intended to follow the “big elephant” in providing prayer seminars throughout West Africa.
I firmly believe that Satan himself understood the prayer power in ministry. Martin, his family and his congregation were greatly affected by the post-election violence in December 2007. He and his family fled to the police station in Eldoret for safety. Everything in his house and church were destroyed, His father-in-law was murdered. I wrote our Doorkeepers and partners that the “Little Elephants” were in trouble. Their response to the need was to give over $13,000 to allow Martin to reestablish his ministry. God has richly blessed.
In a sense, you and I can feel that Martin belongs to us. We have provided funds for a van for Martin. He has built the large church building of any Baptist church in West Kenya. He has started a preschool and a Bible institute for those called into the ministry. He translated the workbook into Swahili and is just completing a Luganda translation to use in Uganda. He has conducted many, many prayer seminars and has traveled with me for seminars in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and DR Congo.
Why have we chosen Martin to head the new JGHM-East Africa Branch? Simply because God has His hand on Martin in a very special way. Of all the work being done by many others through the prayer seminar ministry in many countries in the world, we believe that the potential that a man sent from God named Martin George Shikuku will allow us to make the biggest impact ever.
We need your prayer and financial support for the April 25-May 14 prayer seminars. Please put Sue and my family on your daily prayer list as well. We will attempt great things for God; we will expect great things as He blesses our efforts.