An Example for the Believers

November 10 2015

Sitting around a dining room table with cups of tea, walking along the Dnieper River, or going on a retreat at a camp outside Kiev, young Ukrainian believers are learning to minister to one another as they grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. Each week, they meet together in homes for Life Groups to encourage one another in Christ. They take turns sharing responsibilities, preparing ice breakers, leading Bible studies, selecting songs, and praying for one another.

Everyone has busy schedules with either university studies or full time jobs. Finding ways to equip these young believers with knowledge and skills for ministry is a creative adventure in theological education, working in partnership with the OMS missionary team in Ukraine. Just as the Ukrainian believers follow the early church model of house churches, we are following the example of Paul’s methods for leadership training and discipleship. Paul wrote letters to teach and to encourage the new believers. We are also writing. Rather than letters, we are developing a series of lessons that give biblical answers to questions such as: “What will happen at the end of time?” “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “What is worship?” “What is sin?”

Paul traveled and made personal visits to encourage new believers. In October, I had the privilege of making my third trip to Ukraine to share in a weekend retreat. I was asked to teach about developing our friendship with God through the practice of spiritual disciplines and to lead a discussion on what it means to be community in Christ. Each time I return, there is a deepening bond of trust. We discuss joys, questions, and concerns over cups of tea. This is the life-on-life model of theological education that Jesus modeled with his disciples.

These young believers represent the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform lives through their personal testimonies and outreach to others. They represent the hope of things to come as the kingdom of God extends across Ukraine. As Paul encouraged Timothy, let’s pray that they will receive and live out these same words of encouragement: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (I Timothy 4:12, NIV).

By Colleen Fitch, One Mission Society Missionary and Theological Education Consultant for Europe

Tags: ukraine, youth, community, retreat, theological education,

Maos Ajudando or Helping Hands Ministry in Mozambique

July 10 2015

Can you imagine what life would be like if you couldn’t go to school; if you couldn’t work; if every time you left the house you heard people talking about you in a negative way? You had no value in life. This is the reality for thousands of people in Mozambique who live every day with the reality of a disability. What would Jesus do? How would he treat these people? Would he just walk on by or would he reach out to help? In Mark’s Gospel, chapter 2, we read of a man who had a physical disability. Jesus was teaching in a home and there was a great crowd gathering to hear him. That day, some men decided to go to their friend’s house, put him on a stretcher, and take him to Jesus. He could not go by himself. He was completely dependent.

The crowd didn’t show any care for this man who couldn’t walk. They wouldn’t let them through, and so, the friends of the paralytic resorted to going onto the roof, making a hole, and lowering him to the feet of Jesus! Jesus healed him both physically and spiritually. What if on that day the men decided it was easier to just go and hear Jesus themselves and not take their friend? The paralytic’s life would have been very different. These men saw GREAT NEED, exercised GREAT FAITH in the GREAT POWER and AUTHORITY of Jesus! What a GREAT DIFFERENCE it made! As followers of Jesus, we are called to reach out to those who need a helping hand, just like the paralytic in Jesus’ time. We desire to disciple and mobilize believers to be “Helping Hands” in their communities.

One man’s story who received help from the Helping Hands ministry:

As a teenager, I decided with some friends to flee Mozambique in search of a better life in South Africa. We smuggled ourselves across the border and started to look for ways to survive. Time passed until one day, while crossing the road, I tripped and bruised my leg. As an illegal immigrant, I was afraid to go to the hospital. My leg got worse until I thought I was going to die. I then pleaded with my friends to take me to the hospital. They did, but just dropped me at the entrance and fled. A Brazilian nurse found me and paid for my treatment. I then came back to Mozambique. Over time, my legs became worse and in the end, I had to have both legs amputated. Praise God, I am now going to the Chamanculo church where I am learning about God’s love, grace, and acceptance.”

Another story about how Helping Hands ministry is such a blessing:

After traveling 1112km (690 miles) to the north of Mozambique, we (me and several church leaders) were very well received by an AIM missionary, Claire Weddell, in Chimoio, who fed us and shared how she had joined her friend Fatima in praying for God to provide for her friend’s need - a wheelchair! They had no idea how they could get one, but they trusted God for an answer! Some time later, she went to a training event in South Africa and in God’s providence, she made contact with someone who was aware of our Helping Hands ministry. Contact details were passed along, and soon, we were to receive an email from our friend in South Africa. The rest is history! It was great privilege to leave a wheelchair for Fatima - the answer to her prayer! It is humbling that God should use Helping Hands volunteers and donors to become the answer to someone’s prayer, hundreds, even thousands of kilometers away! Be encouraged, God hears and answers our prayers.

By Melvin Kelly, One Mission Society UK Missionary in Mozambique

Click here to donate to Helping Hands in Mozambique.

Tags: ministry to disabled, mozambique, handicapped community,