AREA-SENSITIVE REPORT

An Asian closed country recently reported providing food and commodities for orphans.

The program known as Feed the Hunger delivered 650 kg of rice (which translates into 1400 lbs.), 200 kg of instant noodles (440 lbs.), 200 kg. of meat (440 lbs.), and 100 kg of sugar (220 lbs.). Along with the food items, other products were distributed.

An additional three children were brought to the orphanage, making the total of children needing provisions to 78.

The director and the orphanage are deeply grateful for the prayers and food for the orphans. They are anticipating building new housing for the children, as well.

Your labor in the Lord for them is not in vain.

Project number 731-1136-119

The names and location of these activities and workers are withheld due to certain security risks. Please pray and provide as the Lord directs.

A “Low Profile” Ministry

Career Missionaries serving in a closed country of the 10/40 Window face the fact on a daily basis they are illegal and that their ministry must be “low profile.” It is even more dangerous for those Muslims who convert to Christianity. The revised 10/40 Window now includes 65 of the least-reached countries of the world.

In spite of the circumstances they confront, the missionaries are planting churches and reaching Muslims. The effort primarily involves cultivating indigenous leadership. Education, scouting locations, and renovation of buildings are all part of church planting. Additionally, chairs, guitars, amplifiers, and microphones need to be purchased.

The missionary says: “Worship is the fuel and goal in missions, because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory—the gladness of the people in the greatness of God!”

As with most missionary endeavors, finances are a continuing concern. They need the funds to fight the battles and establish churches in this hostile area of the world. Your prayers sustain and keep them safe.

Project Number 065-0058

I Struggle At Easter

Easter. I am always mindful and very aware of this time of year.

Easter in my childhood was different than the Easter I have come to know as an adult missionary in Asia. Holy week is the most significant holiday for many here. But, what there is that is holy always leaves me stunned with so many questions.

I remember the chocolate bunny from my grandmother that was childhood Easter.

And the turkey dinner with family that had come from afar.

And the Easter Sunday morning joyous celebrations of Jesus is Risen!

Aside from feeling sad that Jesus had been crucified, there was nothing that felt dark. Easter was safe and warm.

Now, all grown up, with 140 children in my care, I struggle at Easter. There are no chocolate eggs to hide, nor are there roast turkey dinners with families. This is a place where there is no innocence. The darkness of Maudy Thursday and Black Friday is known to even the children—there is darkness and fear.

Men are already preparing. During Easter week, they will walk for hours in the hot streets, beating themselves in a tranquilizing rhythm. Vivid re-enactments of the crucifixion will touch almost every community. They have missed seeing the saving power of the Cross and they hang themselves on makeshift crosses … begging for mercy because of murder, drugs, violence, and hatred. Others beat themselves beyond recognition, begging God to bless them and to please, please, please … forgive them.

The darkness is not only seen. It is felt.

Recently, a little boy stood awkwardly before me, clutching a dirty blue bag of smelly “hand-me-down” clothes. His paperwork said … Foundling. Unwanted. Name unknown. Age unknown. His speech was garbled. His body full of scars. But, it was the terror in his fleeting eyes that struck me. I knelt down. Who did this to you, I asked? I could not help but touch the startling scar, the disfigured leg, and his little cheek. His eyes locked in on mine. I didn’t move.

My heart is heavy. Do we have room, Lord? Can I love another one, Lord? Our home is so full. And some of us are weary … Weary of the fight. Weary of doing good.

Is there any hope?

Suddenly, I see Him. He is there, in the room, His arms outstretched.

Just as His arms were stretched out on that horrible Cross of Calvary.

I hear His voice. I am hope for you. You.

My tears fall like rain.

I AM your Easter, my child.

—Charity and Evan Graff are directors of Gentle Hands in Manila, Philippines, a child and youth welfare agency meant to be on the frontlines of rescue and rehabilitation of the medical, social, and educational needs of at-risk children and youth, working towards improving human community life through the love of Jesus and family-centered care. Gentle Hands is licensed and registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

 

To give online to missionaries Charity and Evan Graff , click here. Project Number 065-0225

To give online to Gentle Hands Ministries, click here. Project Number 740-0166

Relationship. Connectedness. Community.

When I am with a group of human beings committed to hanging in there through both the agony and the joy of community, I have a dim sense that I am participating in a phenomenon for which there is only one word … “glory.” —M. Scott Peck

Wrestling Alone

Failures and fears can drive us into seclusion. When we have problems, we are tempted to wrestle with them alone—where no one else can see the frailty of our humanity. We become fearful that someone will identify our flaws and name our weaknesses, and we hide.

The Power of Community

Today, I was reminded once again of the power of community. It is through community that Christ dispenses courage and hope. It is through community that we voice our fears and failings, yet still know we are a member of the fellowship of believers. It is in community that we develop character. It is in community we find acceptance and identity. It is in community that doubt dissipates.

Truth is relational. People are more apt to hear and receive truth from someone with whom they are in relationship than from a complete stranger. This is the power of community. In community, we experience truth—truth that holds us accountable to one another.

God With Us

One of my favorite names for Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. It is the “with us” part that I love. Jesus models for us by His very name what it is to be in community. It is to be with one another—in relationship with one another. When it is messy or painful or glorious or even when it is just plain average everyday living—no great high and no deep low—we are called to be with one another.

A Community of Transformation

I currently live and serve in Cambodia. What I love about what I do is that I work within a community to improve people’s lives, speak truth, and live out Christ’s commands in community. My work is about people and transforming lives, but through it my life is also changed. When we are in community, lives are not transformed in isolation, but our transformation touches other lives and can bring change to others. It creates a reverse domino effect. Instead of knocking each other down in succession, we lift each other up!

Relationships. Connectedness. Community

It is the power of community that creates life sustainability on the field. Life can be ridiculously tough on the field. It is sometimes chaotic and filled with many challenges that can suck the life out of you. The only solution to combatting the life drain is a solid relationship with Christ, and being a part of a solid Christian community/family. Clarity and right perspective comes when we live the call of Christ together in community. It is what keeps the world right side up and spinning on its axis.

Relationships. Connectedness. Community. We need all three. As Ecclesiastes 4:9 reminds us: “Two are better than one.”

To enter into a missionary relationship of support and community with Julie, click here. Project Number 065-0223.

Julie Martinez is a Church of God Missionary Coordinator who has been serving in Cambodia since 2007.

Cultural Immersion of Missionaries

Parachurch Missionaries in the Philippines, Jeffrey and Emily Weimert, experienced “cultural immersion” upon arriving for their assignment in the Philippines. Earlier last year, the Weimerts completed their training in Thailand and moved the family to Iloilo City, Philippines.

While in Thailand, the Weimerts’ family of eight became friends with Pao, Khem, and their two daughters Pon and Mang Pua. They were self-proclaiming Buddhists, but were open to the Christian faith. Jeff, Josiah, and Byron stayed in their home for 10 days to experience “cultural immersion.” Emily, T’Aunie, Selah, Trin, and Avi stayed with another family. The Thai family had already received sown seeds of the Gospel into their lives from some Brazilian missionaries.

Each evening, Pao allowed the reading of the Bible together. Pao desired to know more and it was a blessing that Josiah led some of the discussions and studies. All the children became great friends, and they gladly accepted the invitation to attend church. After attending church on Sunday morning, the two families would spend the rest of the day sightseeing and preparing dinner together. Khem told one of the missionaries she felt something inside her “come alive” when in church, and the preaching always spoke to her.

A few days before the Weimerts left, Khem confessed she was a Christian! Although not sure she understood, the Weimerts could see the Holy Spirit working in her heart and knew He would lead her the way. After leaving Thailand, the Weimerts received a photo of Khem being baptized! PTL! Her husband, Pao, however, as yet feels the weight of his Buddhist ancestry.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Project Number 065-0951

Manila: Lighting a Missions Revolution

When Thomas Edison introduced the incandescent light bulb in 1878, the announcement generated excitement, as many began to sense that indoor lighting was possible. As the light bulb became available for actual use, people started to do things at night that were either not thinkable nor practical beforehand.

Incandescent light, then, not only penetrated the real darkness of homes, it generated enlightenment of people’s dimmed minds and created opportunities for productivity. The light bulb changed everything. More importantly, it changed people.

Similar to Edison’s delivery of the light bulb, Church of God World Missions’ Send the Light to the Cities initiative is also stirring up excitement and innovative ideas on how to break through the spiritual darkness in key cities around the globe. Places such as Manila, Philippines, are now set for invasion by the light of the gospel with renewed vision and vigor.

As one of our first ten target cities, Manila will be a prototype and launching pad for ministry in the entire region,” shared Director of World Missions Dr. David M. Griffis during a recent fact-finding trip. “Over the last decade, a mission revolution has been underway in the Philippines as new and younger leadership has engaged changing older styles and structures of ministry. The results have been amazing.

A prime example of the changes and phenomenal growth in ministry now being experienced is Church of God Dasmarinas, a church stationed a few kilometers south of Manila. Attendance at this mega-ministry is now reaching more than 13,000-plus people each week under the capable pastoral leadership of Dr. Anthony Velasco. “COG Dasmarinas is one of the most exciting places in ministry that I have ever seen,” remarked Assistant Director M. Thomas Propes. “We need more churches to duplicate what is happening with the young people of Dasmarinas.”

Thus, the Send the Light to the Cities initiative has selected to partner with, and assist, a new church plant effort—the Church of God Marriott—in the heart of Manila. Located directly in front of Terminal 3 of Manila’s International Airport and in the midst of an emerging world-class residential and commercial shopping zone, Church of God Marriott is poised and positioned to reach many urban young people and families.

Pastored by LIFE Ambassador graduate and current National Youth Director A.J. Velasco, COG Marriott is already averaging nearly 200 in weekly attendance after only one year of worship services in the rented Marriott Hotel ballroom. Strategically focused on millennials, this young dynamic church is committed to a spiritual goal of discipleship leading to a “Born Again Philippines.”

To reproduce workers and more church planters, this catalyst church is in vital need of an office, training and storage facility, near the hotel. The Send the Light project goal of $250K, currently being raised by World Missions, is earmarked to purchase a multipurpose condominium near the Marriott in the next few months.

Marc A. Morris, DD h.c.
Regional Superintendent: Church of God Austral Asia

Click the following link to see a video of the first anniversary of this exciting Send the Light church project:
https://www.facebook.com/cogmarriottmanila/videos/1398807776800323/

To Give Online: Project Number 102-9435-006

 

A FOCUS ON CHILDREN

Touching the Head, Heart, and Stomach with Love

Walt Disney began his entertainment empire with a single focus on children. Disney is reported to have explained his business plan as making movies for children, who will in turn bring their parents. Thus, he captured both markets.

A Communist party leader is said to have declared, “Give me a child from age one to six, and he will be a communist for life.

If the secular world understands the value of marketing to children, should not the church much more make children’s ministries one of its top priorities?

In fact, mission experts call the 10-year developmental period from age four to 14 as the “4-14 Window,” during which time, research suggests, that 85 percent of all conversions to Christianity occur!

Jesus prioritized ministry to children and commanded His disciples to not hinder the children from coming to Him (Matthew 19:14). He also emphasized His anointing to preach the Gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18). More than just lip service, Jesus helped others and healed the sick (Acts 10:38). Our model of ministry should resemble His, should it not?

According to UNICEF, one billion of the estimated 2.2 billion children worldwide live in poverty. These children need the Gospel.

Furthermore, today Satan has launched a global attack on children. In John 10:10, Jesus actually described the work of the two opposing forces in the battle for our children. The negative—Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. The positive—Jesus comes to give life and life more abundantly.

Satan, like a roaring lion targets children as his prey (1 Peter 5:8). He deceptively works to rob children physically, spiritually, emotionally, and educationally—to deny them from reaching the potential God created in them.

Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, loved the little children, ministered to them, and provided them a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:10). His ministry to children is our example and should be our standard.

Do not be deceived … there is warfare between good and evil for the eternal destiny of every child on earth. From every country, culture, class, color, and category, all children are at risk. No child is exempt … all are vulnerable.

Satan uses many tools in his attack on children, but we are not ignorant of his ploys of deception to lure our children into drugs, premarital sex, low self-esteem, and other unhealthy and anti-Biblical lifestyle choices.

A cycle of poverty is one of Satan’s favorite tools in inner city slums and rural villages. Trapped in poverty and hopelessness, multitudes of children have no avenue out of the prison of Satan’s grip, unless someone brings the Gospel to them. Finishing the Great Commission must include reaching these precious children.

At Tommy and Poppi Smith Ministries, we seek to rescue these children through our benevolence and care ministry prong defined as “pulling down the strongholds of poverty and suffering.” But how do we do this?

Only the Gospel of Christ’s love breaks the stronghold of the cycle of poverty. God has given us a strategy of presenting the Gospel of love to break this vicious cycle, especially in children’s ministry.

Our holistic ministry to children seeks to touch the head, the heart, and the stomach with the love of Christ. We combine Biblical spirituality (the heart), physical well-being (the stomach) and education (the head), tied together by a saturation of Christ’s love. Our experience is that genuine transformation does occur in the lives of children as we practice this strategy.

POPPI’S KITCHEN outreach serves hot, homemade, nutritious meals to 600 needy children weekly at 10 feeding centers in Jakarta slums and in rural villages on remote Indonesian islands. We partner with local church ministries which sponsor pre-schools, kindergartens, or elementary schools. We come alongside them and help them do what they cannot do.

A typical POPPI’S KITCHEN program begins with a chapel service for the children. This is touching the heart (Biblical spirituality); followed by the meal, touching or literally filling the stomach (physical well-being); afterward, the children attend a church-sponsored school (Christian-based education).

For more than a decade, we have operated POPPI’S KITCHEN using this strategy. Our joy is seeing so many underprivileged children grow up to attend college, get jobs, and follow Christ.

Christian love that touches the head, heart, and stomach will transform a young life for Jesus Christ.

Tommy and Poppi Smith

Regional Superintendent/Representative—South Pacific Region Asia/Indonesia

Project Number 060-0089

 

 

 

 

 

 

SIGNS AND WONDERS ARE THE GATEWAY

An overseer, in an Asian country that adheres to communist control and restricting of religious activity, is serving in an apostolic position for the Kingdom of God. Against all odds and circumstances, he boldly leads an underground church movement that is impacting the entire nation.

His personal testimony is amazing in itself. Due to the witnessing of US soldiers, his father became a Christian. When US troops pulled out of the country, his father and many family members lost their lives for their professing their Christian faith.

For some time, the overseer has witnessed and preached about Christ, at a great cost to him and his family. He was imprisoned for a couple of years, and was placed on a heightened watch list by the government. Initially, the government confiscated his passport restricting his traveling.

Because he felt God instructed him not to register his churches with the government, he and his leaders are continually watched and persecuted. Yet, he recently was granted a passport. The overseer and his churches have to meet secretly.

For a few years, a monthly three-day prayer and fasting conference is held and more than 200 attend! New Testament in essence, the apostolic power is evident as they gather and disperse. Signs and wonders are the gateway for the message of the Gospel as they preach throughout the nation.

Praise God for those who pursue sharing the message of Christ!

Prayer for Poppi & Tommy Smith to be Comforted

Please pray for Poppi Smith and her family in the passing of her father on March 15, 2017. She and Tommy send this message:

Thank you to all for your prayers and messages of encouragement on the passing of Mr. Sulaeman Tjandra, the father of Poppi Smith, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

He was an honored retiree of the Indonesian National Electric Company, having attended to the electrical issues of the National Presidential Palace in Jakarta for many years. Mr. Tjandra was 91 years of age, and is preceded by his wife, the late Anna Firman, and two of his adult children. Eleven children survive him, with numerous grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Thank you for your prayers for the family at this time. God Bless You!

WHO IS VIOLET STARR APPLE?

One may ask … “Who is Violet Starr Apple?”

Violet Starr Apple is not a whom, but a what—a church planting initiative which began in 2010 under the leadership of Somnuk Montrelerdrasme of Thailand and another Asian pastor.

The Crossing Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, pastored by Terry and Kaye Harris, partnered with these leaders to financially assist in establishing 10 new house churches in a Gospel-resistant Asian country by taking the Gospel to new and remote villages. A leader travels by moped to an area where he/she prays for people in need of healing and deliverance. As God provides miracles, the Gospel is preached, individuals are saved, and discipleship begins with new converts being taught the Bible. A small group is then formed of new believers who will meet each week. After 18 years, the meetings have grown from a handful to now more than 200.

The Crossing’s role was to pray, to provide gas funds for the mopeds, and conduct four leadership training conferences the first year. The church raised more than $45,000 for the monthly gas expenses and the airfare for leaders to attend the Bangkok Dream Center for training.

Pastor Harris, Pastor Somnuk, and a team from The Crossing Church, led the final training and graduation services for the new leaders. Thirty-seven new leaders were trained and commissioned! Statistics revealed that during the past year, the efforts of the workers had produced 6,397 conversions, 9,253 individuals were discipled, and 22 new house churches were started!

Sincere gratitude extends to all the donors who made it possible for thousands to be heaven-ready, as well as starting a leadership paradigm in an Asian country that will continue to produce leaders who will win souls and make disciples.