Emerging Nations: April Newsletter
As we celebrate the Easter weekend with our churches, there are so many glorious realities to be shared. Not least, the reality that Jesus was forsaken and alone, so that we would never have to be. It’s one of the most overwhelmingly glorious realities of the cross. You and I, in Christ, will never be forsaken. We will never be truly alone.
It’s such an amazing reality. He’s always listening, always with us, and always eager to hear us, and so here’s how you can be praying for us in the month ahead...
Please pray for all of our Churches over this Easter weekend, that the Gospel would be preached all over the world and that many may come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour as a result.
Please pray for our brothers in Pakistan as they continue to outreach to those working in the brick factories, a seven day a week, early to late job. Just in the last few weeks, six men and women have given their lives to Christ and responded with baptism. Please pray that God would help these new converts to stay strong in the faith, and that there’d be many more baptisms to come.
Please pray for our Pastors College work in Africa. To date we have three colleges keen to represent Sovereign Grace Churches in Africa… Copperbelt Pastors College in Zambia, Grace Life College in Liberia, and in addition, Michael Granger & Josh Pannell are eager to launch an SGC Ethiopia Pastors College in the back end of 2021 as well, making up the third. Understanding that not everyone can get on a plane and come overseas for a year, please pray that God gives everyone involved wisdom in this great endeavour, and that many pastors may be trained, equipped and deployed in Africa as a result.
Please pray for Dyonah Thomas, our Liberian Leader, as he struggles with some health challenges, in particularly with his heart. Though the symptoms are mild, please pray that the Lord gives the doctors wisdom as to next steps, as he heads over to Ghana for some medical tests, and that healing may be brought to Dyonah’s body. Please also pray for Mai, Dyonah’s wife, as they work this through together as a family.
Please pray for our missionaries that have crossed so many boundaries to be out in the field and who are there desiring to proclaim Christ and see Churches planted, often in hard ground places.. To date we have families in Turkey, South East Asia, Croatia and Ethiopia. Please pray that the Lord would bless them, keep them, and establish the work of their hands.
… He always listens, and so thanks for praying!
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An update from Riley Spring, Lead Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church, Parramatta, Australia…
It is a such joy to report on some of the key developments that are happening here as we seek to move forward in Sovereign Grace Churches Australia. The Lord continues to be so good us, and so here are some headlines for you:
We currently have three men in the process of pursuing whether God is calling them to Pastoral Ministry! At Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney, there is Andrew Leung who already assists Dave Taylor on the Emerging Nations team and is now taking an extra day off work to give himself toward further study and training, and Simon Walker who has taken 6 months off work to undertake a full-time internship involving a mixture of study, character formation, and practical ministry experience. At Sovereign Grace Church Parramatta, Richard Song is now working for the church one day a week to explore his calling to ministry through study, fellowship with me, and practical ministry experiences. We are so grateful to God for these men, their wives and families, and their joy to sacrifice for the sake of our churches!
Dave Taylor is conducting a year long ‘Leadership Bootcamp’ for 18 men and women between our two churches, as well as a number of attendees from outside Sovereign Grace. This course is designed to help attendees see that biblical leadership is leadership which is fuelled and formed by the realities of the gospel, not by pragmatics of secular business texts, and to help them grow in their leadership in whatever sphere God has for them.
Within a short-time of us praying and asking for openings the Lord has brought about three new opportunities to connect with people who are interested in exploring a partnership with Sovereign Grace in some form: a desire for a church plant in their city, an adoption of an existing church, and a church planter! Only the Lord knows what will come of this, but nonetheless it’s a joy to introduce these new friends to SG and to share with them our love for our family of churches, our appreciation for our doctrine, values, and practices, and to see their enthusiasm!
With a desire to build upon the good work and the health of our two current churches, our hope is to see planters trained, pastors cared for, and enduring churches built all across Australasia, and to do it as friends! To help make more of that happen, I now give some of my time each week to making new connections and relationships in the Seminary and Church Planting world, as well as establishing pathways, and creating resources to connect us with future planters, pastors and churches. To that end, we are aiming to start a ‘Leadership Podcast’ in the coming weeks, where we plan to steal all the good stuff we’ve learned over the years from Sovereign Grace Churches and share it with Australian Pastors. We’re also aiming to make videos to help newcomers understand how they can actually take next steps with SG here in Australia.
Please keep praying for us in all of this. We so need the Lord. May all the glory be His!
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An update from one of our Pastors, as he and his family continue to serve on mission in Turkey…
“I believe in Jesus and I’m a Muslim,” said my new friend, speaking very slowly so I could understand.
Not exactly sure how to reply with my elementary Turkish, I settled on, “Ahhhh.” Then the Lord prompted me to ask, “Well, Mehmet, have you ever read the Bible?”
“The Bible…four books…Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I have not read them.”
“We actually have 66 books and together they form the Bible.” Wanting to leave him with something that would point him to the true Jesus, I said, “John is a very important book. You should read it.”
“We can read it together.”
“Sure,” I said with a smile under my mask. “Let’s do that Mehmet.”
This conversation with Mehmet was a high point on an otherwise low day for me. The night before I struggled with my toddler who couldn’t sleep. In my heart I grumbled and with my mouth I complained.
Later that day, waves of discouragement swept in.
-Am I really learning the language fast enough?
-Am I really adding to the advance of the gospel here?
-Am I doing something significant?
-Am I keeping up with _______?
-Why did I grumble and complain again last night?
Like the fool, I entertained such questions that unfortunately looked to me as both the subject and the solution.
On this day, when I was painfully aware of my weaknesses and flaws, the Good Shepherd graciously and kindly brought Mehmet into my life.
Mehmet is a package delivery man, for a local company like FedEx. He was just finishing a delivery to our apartment building as my family and I arrived home. On the main door of the building was a package slip with my name. However, the slip was from the Turkish post office, not Mehmet’s company. About to clock-out for the day and perceiving that I could use some help, Mehmet took the slip and offered to drive me to the post office.
We made small chat on the drive. He knew some English vocabulary and the Lord blessed my elementary Turkish.
He asked me what I did. I told him I was a pastor in America and that I was presently helping a church in Turkey. I told him that my primary job responsibility right now was to learn Turkish. He thought all this was great and his questions started rolling.
-Are you a Catholic priest?
-Do you know such and such a pastor who went to prison in a different city?
-Have you tried giving your baby carrots to help her teeth?
It was during this pleasant conversation that Mehmet told me of his belief in Jesus, or rather the Muslim version of Jesus.
I came away from that time reminded of the kindness of the Lord. He faithfully orchestrated the entire thing, from the placement of the package slip, to the timing of Mehmet’s shift, to the conversation about Jesus. Meditating on this, I’m reminded: we moved to Turkey for Mehmet and for people just like him. Sovereign Grace Church Dayton commissioned and sent us here to proclaim the true Jesus, the one and only Savior, to such people who only know him as a good prophet. This really is an incredible and joyous privilege, something we remain amazed at. How kind of the Father to use broken vessels such as us, and to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we can make much of Jesus in this unreached land.
Please ask the Lord to help us be faithful, even in these days of small things as we learn language, make mistakes, and grow. We dream and pray that someday we could say to folks like Mehmet, “Brother, let’s read John together, in Turkish and why don’t you come with us on Sunday to Sovereign Grace Church, Turkey.” Lord Jesus, please let this be!
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An update from Carlos Contreras, Senior Pastor of Gracia Soberana de Ciudad Juarez and Regional Leader for Mexico…
Last year, a week before the world shut down because of COVID 19, we were able to host 2 Preaching workshops as we have done for the past 7 years. This year we weren’t sure that we would be able to continue this very significant ministry to pastors in Mexico. However, we were encouraged by many pastors that were asking us to do so by saying that Expository Preaching had become a priority in their ministry. So, we are so grateful that we were able to host our two Workshops, one in Sovereign Grace Church in Guadalajara and the other one in our church in Juarez.
We have been on partnership with The Charles Simeon Trust now for 8 years hosting and teaching Christ Centered Expository Biblical Preaching to our pastors as well as other hundreds of pastors in Latin America . We believe that this is one of the best ways we can serve the body of Christ and share with others what we have enjoyed in Sovereign Grace as one of our shared values. That is being faithful to the biblical text and Preaching Christ from all of Scripture.
Our theme this year was “Preaching the Wisdom Books” by studying the Book of Job. And, even though the registration was limited to about 30 pastors per site, we were glad to see that the majority of attendants were returning pastors from previous years. Most of the SG pastors in Mexico and Costa Rica have been to multiple workshops now and thus serve as instructors or Small Group Leaders, so we, as a family of churches, are able to personally serve and encourage many pastors as well as develop lasting relationships with them.
We pray that as the pandemic ceases in the coming months, we can continue with our plans to expand our reach and open other sites in Mexico and Central America so that we can continue this important ministry to the extended Body of Christ in Latin America.
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An update from Ed O’Mara, Lead Pastor of CrossPointe Church in Arnold, MD, USA…
I had the privilege of accompanying Joselo Mercado to Costa Rica from 19-22 February. We served at the Por Su Gracia pastors conference and visited two churches exploring adoption in Sovereign Grace. Chespi Sandoval, Lead Pastor of Casa Vida Playa Azul, and Rodrigo Fournier, Lead Pastor of La Vina Escazu, organised the conference which was hosted at La Vina Escazu’s building in San Jose. These two men are godly and gifted brothers who share our values and long to serve the body of Christ in Costa Rica by equipping pastors to lead their local churches well.
Joselo did an outstanding job preaching in two plenary sessions while we both also participated on panels discussing biblical missiology and pastoral care amid cultural currents. The eagerness and gratitude of the pastors gathered was palpable and it was clear that we are seeking to build God-glorifying churches with the same core values. At the conclusion of the conference we met with a group of leaders interested in joining Sovereign Grace, including Rodrigo and Chespi. It was a time of refreshing fellowship, care, encouragement, and prayer that highlighted the unity of the body of Christ. This budding partnership is already providing great comfort to our new friends who can at times feel alone in the work of ministry!
On Sunday we visited Casa Vida Playa Azul. Playa Azul was once a tourist beach town but it has fallen into poverty. Chespi is a humble and faith-filled man who relocated his family from San Jose to establish a church that would reach the young people of Playa Azul. Their church is building a campus with amenities like a swimming pool, soccer field, and dormitories in addition to their meeting facility so as to provide a place for the community to gather. Through these relationships, they are reaching the lost of Playa Azul. I preached the morning message and Joselo, myself, and Bob Wright (a member of Covenant Fellowship who has a home in Costa Rica) spent the remainder of the day with Chespi, his wife (Milena), and his son (Emanuel). Again, this time was focused on encouraging and strengthening Chespi’s family in their gospel work and caring for their souls.
It was humbling to be reminded that these times of fellowship that are part of our normal experience in Sovereign Grace are not the normal experience of so many pastors in our world. Extending the gospel mission is not merely a church expansion plan, but it has real impact on people, communities, and pastors who desire partnership. What a great grace it is to share the riches and values God has blessed us with, in Sovereign Grace, with like-minded brothers and sisters around the globe. What a privilege to be interconnected in our common gospel mission!
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Things To Pray For In March
Growing Gospel Partnerships In Liberia
Celebrating Two Years In Jamaica
Greetings From Africa!
Four Global Churches Pursuing Adoption
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