June 1 2015
“Our homes are often
ransacked, and our Bibles are confiscated; then they have Bible burnings,
building huge bonfires in the community. Sometimes they also light fires
outside our churches to scare and intimidate us.” The young lady spoke in a
matter-of-fact tone of voice.
I was in a country in Asia training people to evangelize,
make disciples, and form new churches - any of which could mean severe
retaliation and serious persecution if they are caught. I looked at the young
woman with respect, admiration, and compassion; but as a valiant soldier of the
cross, she wasn’t looking for any of those responses from me.
She knows the risks of practicing her faith and obeying God’s
command to be His witness. I thought to myself, “She is very young. She has her
whole life before her. She could be living for herself and desiring a peaceful
future without danger, but instead, she has come to be trained.”
She and dozens more came to be trained. They had made the
decision to follow Jesus, regardless of the possible cost to their lives. They
are not choosing to live safely or to walk an easy path. They are choosing to
It was humbling to meet these brave ones. I felt a heavy
weight of responsibility as I equipped them to undertake ministry that could cost
them their lives. However, I know that the Gospel has always been spread
through the shedding of blood. For generations, we have had it easy in the
United States. I wonder how many of us
would follow suit. II Timothy 3:12 also
states, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly in Christ Jesus will
As we see our religious rights disappearing, perhaps it’s time
to ask ourselves this question.
May 27 2015
The future growth in the Philippines will come from the
tremendous group of college-age young people God is raising up. We saw their
enthusiasm and potential when we visited the Don Mariano Marcos State
University in La Union.
We met the Dagupan team at the National Lay Leaders'
Training in Baguio (more than half of the lay leaders were from this age
group), and at the Banaba House Ministry retreat for 17 young people, primarily
children of ECC workers and pastors.
These young adults are catching the vision of church
multiplication through T&M training and desire to spread the Gospel
throughout the Philippines and elsewhere. They come to the training events and
return home excited and ready to apply what they learned. They are starting
groups on their campuses and in their communities.
One young lady attended the training in La Union. She
committed to start a group with two friends on campus. She started with nine!
The group has now grown to 20 members. She is training three leaders in order
to divide the group so that it may continue to grow. The members lead worship
teams and are involved in children’s and youth ministries in their local
We believe that many of these young people will be the
future T&M trainers in the regional training centers, and the church
planters and pastors needed for the developing house churches.
May 21 2015
When we arrived at El Progreso Prison, we were met by the
warden and a member of the Honduran Judiciary. She welcomed us and was very
familiar with our local volunteers, Lilian and Annabella.
Lillian and Annabella were members of our classes for T&M
Levels One and Two. The inmates were gathering in the Chapel to worship with
us. We met with and had an opportunity to hear from the “Hijos de Paz.” These
four men were on fire for God. Along with Lilian and Annabella, the attendance
at the Bible studies was approaching 85 to 90 individuals and growing each
The service lasted for one-and-a-half hours as they expressed
their thanks to God for providing a way of learning and coming to know Him. They
related this to the lessons they had been studying; with many references to the
first study, the story of Noah. They drew comparisons to the world in the days
of Noah and how they were products of the present evil world. They spoke of the
ark as a symbol of Jesus, and that just as the ark had saved and preserved the
lives of Noah and his family, Jesus through His death on the cross had paid for
their sins and lifted them up and preserved their lives for eternity.
We could truly see that God is directing what is happening,
and that with the obedience the volunteers demonstrate, the program will
We also learned that great things are happening outside the
prison. The program has started in several neighborhoods and people are very interested
in continuing the lessons. We heard about one man identified in the
neighborhood mapping of Level One as a possible problem. The man had a drinking
problem and mistreated his wife and children.
One of the volunteers stopped and
spoke to the man one morning as he was sitting in front of his home. They
discussed the lessons from Noah and lessons from the T&M booklets “Good
News” and “Family Prayers.” He began to ask serious questions and after about
two weeks, he invited his wife and one of his teenage daughters to join them as
they discussed the material. The family noticed a change in the man, and soon
they invited another daughter, and then a neighborhood friend to join them.
This group which started almost reluctantly is now beginning to actively seek
the Lord and His answers to their spiritual questions.