By Dave Taylor on May 05, 2020 02:16 am
As Mark Prater said in a recent podcast entitled 'Loving Our Neighbours’, there has been an “explosion of generosity” in Sovereign Grace Churches towards the nations in this pandemic.
And so there has… Over the last month, since seeing how this pandemic has been playing out in different countries, we’ve been able to raise and send out over $97,000 (USD) in aid to those most in need in our related churches - in the Philippines, Liberia, Pakistan, Bolivia, Mexico, India, Colombia, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. In many of these countries, being in lockdown has meant no work, and therefore no food and basic supplies. What a joy and honour then for us to play our small part in caring for our brothers and sisters there. It has been inspiring to see how so many have given to this plight… Honestly, how can we thank God enough for you!!
And yet that’s not all we have the privilege of doing at this time. We also have the privilege of “lifting our eyes to the hills, from where does our help come?” (Psalm 121.1). Together we can run to the LORD who “made the heavens and the earth” and “who neither slumbers of sleeps”. What an honour!
I’m aware though that it can be hard to know where to begin with so much going on around the world, and so here’s some specific thoughts for the month ahead…
Pray for Dyonah Thomas, the Churches he serves in Liberia and the 50 pastors who graduated from the Grace Life Pastors College who pastor in semi-rural communities. Please pray that God would provide finances and resources to buy food and supplies for themselves and for all the saints in those churches.
Pray for Jorge and David Del Castillo who just planted Iglesia Gracia Soberana in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, but only had the opportunity to hold a few public services before shut in orders were given in that nation. Please pray that God would provide for this new church.
Pray for Jeffrey Jo (Manila), Nilo Ebo (Cebu) and Pete Valdez (Bohol), who care for churches in the Philippines, asking God to provide finances and resources to purchase food and supplies for those in need.
Pray for Carlos Contreras & Joselo Mercado, as they serve the churches in Mexico and Latin America. Please pray that God would give them much wisdom and insight as financial challenges and ramifications become clear in these countries.
Pray for JP Ravuri in India, as he seeks to feed his Church and the village around him. That the Gospel would go out boldly and clearly into what is a heavily Hindu community.
Pray for the pastors we are relating to in Pakistan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Ethiopia, Cuba, Italy, Zambia, Brazil, Nepal and the UK.
Pray for Dave Taylor and the Emerging Nations Team. Please pray for much wisdom, clarity and faith as we serve in this unprecedented time.
... For His glory. May His goodness and mercy chase us down all over again in this.
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By Dave Taylor on May 04, 2020 10:24 pm
An update from Dyonah Thomas, Lead Pastor of Grace Life Church, and Founder of Grace Life Churches...
Thanks for the encouragement and support during this critical time.
A few months ago, the reality of our initial steps hit me so hard. When we embarked on the Journey to plant Grace Life churches and schools, it was clear to us that the Lord was directing us to prioritize least accessed communities - where the poor live with very limited resources.
We have seen beyond our imagination in terms of gospel transformations of hearts. God has worked in turning many hearts away from Idol worship, to worshipping the Living God. Yet COVID-19 and all its lock down implications has brought a new reality to us – an opportunity to serve the congregation with basic food for living, and an opportunity to build gospel applications into our daily lives in the midst of stress and suffering.
The story of Martha gives a clear picture of a very high percentage of our population in the midst of COVID-19 and the lockdown implications. Martha is a Christian and a member of a Grace Life Church plant. She goes to the fish cold storage depot every morning, to credit two to three cartoons of fish. She walks around all day trying to sell the fish to the communities, around about 3:30pm, she takes the sales money back to the stores and normally keeps 3-4.5 percent as profit. With the 3-4.5 percent she then buys food to cook for her house for the day.
As the challenge hit, through lots of prayer and scripture guidance we launched a COVID-19 relief fund. The goal was to make consistent supply of food available in a designated storage and supply each member of our local churches and very vulnerable populations in our communities during the periods of Lockdown.
We reached out to Dave Taylor and his team, dear friends and brothers. Graciously with initial help from Sovereign Grace Churches Australia we made food available to 141 families, from 4 church plants, living in 9 communities. Within another week, Dave had reached out to Ben Kreps, and Ben mobilized his region (Lower Great Lakes) and they also made a generous donation. We were amazed by the intervention and thankful to the Lord and the Sovereign Grace family for reaching out with such generosity. We were able to purchase rice, which is a major meal for Liberians, oil, maggai cube, tuna fish, luncheon meat, cereal milk, sugar and dis-infectant.
We have been able to help brethren like Joana. Joana is a grandma and lost her daughter and son in-law to Ebola. Now she is caring for their children. These kids have been helped through the Grace Life school system and God has saved Joana. She wept has she received her food knowing that she may not have had a way out. As a petti trader she is not allowed in the street during lock down.
Dickerson and his family are grateful and keep praising the Lord. Dickerson cried thanking God, he said, “Honestly , I never knew where the food was going to come from during this time, but God showed up.”
Ma Martha, as many may call her. She walked around her house with hands in the air thanking God as we gave her the food.
Stephen and his family of four kids, who lost their parents to Ebola. God has saved them, and they are active members in one of our local churches. Stephen said to me, “Pastor, we don’t know how to say thanks, but we feel the care of God.”
Thank you Sovereign Grace for all of your help. As I am writing, all of our local church members have basic food needs to last for the lock down which ends on May 14, 2020.
May the blessing of the Lord be with you all as you continue to pray for Liberia and others and as you find ways to help so many through this.
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By Dave Taylor on May 03, 2020 08:23 pm
An update from Scott Crook, Lead Pastor of Cross of Grace Church, Chaska, MN…
For the past several years Sovereign Grace has partnered with Training Leaders International in a specific project to help train a group of Pakistani pastors. Meeting in neutral cities throughout the Middle East, the training has centered on how to preach gospel-centric sermons all through scripture.
Back in their home country, this group of 16 pastors travel to many different villages on bicycle, motorbike, or on foot to preach the gospel and to raise up disciples for Jesus. And during the pandemic, they have also been faithful to help meet the physical needs of the poorest Christians in these villages. Like many struggling nations around the world, their need is great.
Any aid offered by their government is going only to Muslim families and businesses. Christians are excluded. The brick factories that many Christians are forced to work in for their meager wages have been shut down. A massive shortage of food and basic supplies continues to increase throughout Pakistan.
In response, our region (the Midwest/Northwest Region) recently took a collection to help with this need. Through the generosity of Sovereign Grace churches, we were able to collect just over $30,000 to help the hungry and poor of Pakistan. Praise God!
One of the lead pastors “Brother F” recently sent me this update:
Greetings and Prayers. First of all, I would like to give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the best protector and provider. As everyone knows that lockdown is going on all over the world and everyone is suffering but the daily wagers, the brick-making people and private workers are more affected. They can’t work because of lockdown and on the other hand, they have to provide for their families. On one hand it is good that they are not going out, but on the other hand, they are suffering and praying for food.
We are happily sharing that we were able to distribute food items, hygienic things, and face masks. Our main priorities are widows, orphans and the neediest people. We are very thankful to you because you have donated the funds generously for them.
During the distribution on the brick factories we saw young children locked down in one room, and waiting for God’s miracle for them so that they can eat. One of the mother’s said, “My children were starving but I keep them busy in prayer and asked them to pray and God will provide and all of a sudden we heard a knock on the door and God provided the food.” She said, "We are so thankful to God that He listens to our prayers. It is a difficult time but it will pass soon. Our God will protect us because He has promised us that he will never forsake us."
You are always in our prayers. God bless you. Your brother,
While our training for these brothers has temporarily postponed, our prayers and support for them continue. Their faith inspires me to trust in our ever-present, faithful Savior to meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).
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By Dave Taylor on May 03, 2020 12:46 am
An update from two of our key leaders in the Philippines; Jeffrey Jo, Lead Pastor of CCSGM (Church of the Chief Shepherd Gospel Ministries) in Manila; and Nilo Ebo, Lead Pastor of HDCC (His Dwelling Christian Church) in Cebu. These brothers represent over 20 churches between them…
Jeffrey Jo – Manila & Mindanao (13 Churches)
It was March 16, 2020 when the president of our country placed the entirety of Luzon under an ECQ or Enhanced Community Quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On March 17, the Philippines was declared under a state of calamity for a tentative period of six months.
Such announcements resulted to the lockdowns of all major roads, seaports, and airports. Commercial establishments, schools, and even offices are closed since mass gatherings are prohibited.
We just came from the Sovereign Grace Churches’ Pastors and Wives Conference in Cebu City that started March 10 and ended by the 12th. We left Cebu the following day as we carry God’s message in our hearts that the church really is, “the dearest place on earth”.
Such truth indeed inspired us and prepared us for the events to come. Due to the lockdown, a lot of members from our churches both here in Manila and in Mindanao are greatly affected. Some lost their jobs, others were urged to work from home. Those who have businesses need to temporarily close their offices/establishments. Those who have blue collar jobs are greatly affected along with their families. Our government, just like the rest of the world, seemed to be caught by surprise by this pandemic but in all fairness, they are doing their best to meet the needs of the people and at the same time, prevent the spread of the said virus.
These made me, along with our elders and pastoral team, to pray, to plan, and to purposely initiate a project called “Project Backliners”. Its aim is to raise money so that we can give financial assistance to the brethren in our main church that are greatly affected by the lockdown. In God’s providence, we were able to raise P82,000.00 that helped 12 families and 8 individuals. Project Backliners then ended on April 12.
However, as the elders convened, we thought of our brethren from our daughter churches here in Cavite and down south in Mindanao, 13 churches in all. Our challenge was how to raise such an enormous fund of P280,000.00 plus, and we only had P8,000.00 remaining fund from our previous Project Backliners. We prayed to the God of heaven for His wisdom and providence, knowing that it is His will to help the suffering brethren. We knew that our hands are tied, but His are not.
We then started a second wave called “Project Backliners 2.0”. True enough out of God’s grace, Pastor Dave Taylor of Sovereign Grace Church Sydney, Australia messaged me and offered help for our brethren in need. In due course, donations came in from Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney & Sovereign Grace Church of Parramatta, Pastor Riley Spring. Pastor Eric Turbedsky of Sovereign Grace Church in Orange, California, Pastor Dave York of Covenant Life Fellowship in Oregon, Pastor Rich Richardson of Center Church, Gilbert, and Pastor Lynn Baird of Sovereign Grace Church, Pasadena.
We were in tears when we received the news and the acts of generosity of the leaders and members of these six Sovereign Grace Churches. This fund along with the continuous giving of our church members here will surely feed families, sustain utilities, support medications for the sick but above all, it will surely bring praise to God from the heart and lips of all the leaders and members of our churches as they acknowledge God’s providence and the loving support of the church families of Sovereign Grace churches.
Indeed, the church—His church is the dearest place on earth!
Nilo Ebo – Cebu & Provinces (12 Churches)
The Philippines is a growing economy, however the growth has been stunted due to the present Covid 19 crisis. The government’s Enhanced Community Quarantine resulting in work stoppage, the temporary closure of stores, malls, amusing parks, recreation centers, churches & religious places of worship has greatly slowed down the economy, affecting the livelihood of all families.
The Government’s stimulus program called “social amelioration fund’ intended for the poorest of the poor ranging from P 6-8 K per family per month is not enough to feed a family of 5. The average income earner, being also greatly affected by the crisis, is not included in the goverrnment subsidy. The rising cases of Covid 19, the police & military personel in the streets to impose government regulations has added fear & uncertainty to the populace, since they cannot go out to work to provide for their family.
Pastors and most of the church members are struggling since they were not included in the SAF leaving them destitute. They need food & supplies, they have no where to go, like being under a dark tunnel of uncertainty.
When Dave emailed me, informing me about the financial assistance of $6,500.00 US, coming from Sovereign Grace Churches, its as if we saw a light at the end of the tunnel for our churches. We were excited & immediately bought rice and canned goods and distributed the relief goods to the homes of the church members. They were very grateful, big smiles on their faces, we felt a joy & excitement seeing them received the goods. Thank you Dave & Sovereign Grace Churches for your love & concern for our plight.
Our relationship has not only grown deeper, but will never be the same again after this act of kindness & generosity. Your love and kindness will go a long way, you are part of our church and this deed will be a highlighted event in the history of the Church in the Philppines.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Dave Taylor, Rich Richardson, Eric Turbedsky, Dave York, Riley Spring, Lynn Baird & Sovereign Grace Churches for this unexpected gift!
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