By Dave Taylor on Jun 03, 2021 11:45 pm
It is with great privilege and joy, that I introduce you to the twin daughters of JP & Sathwika Ravuri.
Having been married for 9 years, JP & Sathwika were told by the top-ten gynaecologists in India that they had “no chance and no hope” of having children. But look what the Lord has done! Just two days before the arrival of these girls, both JP & Sathwika got sick with Covid-19, but “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Gen 18.14).
The Lord heard our prayers and provided good hospital space for them, good availability of doctors, and a safe delivery for these dear twins. All the family are now back home and in good health. All glory be to God!
We serve a King who loves to answer our prayers, and so here’s how you can be praying for our global work in the month ahead...
Please pray for Doug Hayes (Pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church and Director of Covenant Mercies), as he travels to Liberia, Ethiopia & Zambia this month. Please pray that he has a good and fruitful time in all three locations, as he both works for the good of Covenant Mercies, looking at new possibilities and strengthening existing work. As well seeks to serve our churches there, particularly in Liberia, where he’ll be preaching on 13th June, and then in Zambia, where he’ll be coming alongside the elders in determining the best way forward for Christ Community Church and the Copperbelt Pastors College. Please pray that Doug would be a real comfort to our dear friends in Zambia, as they continue to recover from the devastating loss of Wilbroad Chanda, and that God would give them all faith, wisdom and unity, as they consider the road ahead.
Please pray for Joselo Mercado (Lead Pastor of Iglesia Gracia Soberana in Gaithersburg, and one of our SGC Representatives to Latin America) as he and his family relocate to Costa Rica for the next 23 days, to continue building relationally with our Sovereign Grace Church in Costa Rica, as well as two further churches pursuing adoption with us. He will be preaching each Sunday in a different church, doing workshops on leadership and marriage, as well as spending lots of fellowship time with the pastoral teams and their families. Please pray that God really blesses this investment of time.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Belarus. Since the Presidential Election demonstrations in August of last year, things have gone from bad to worse for their country. Over 35,000 people have been arrested and many have been beaten and kept in inhumane conditions. Many pastors felt compelled to speak out against the widespread violence and injustice against the citizens, and as a result have been threatened and warned by the government. Fear and uncertainty are a heavy shadow over the nation, and with people being arrested at random, this only adds to that sense of fear. Please pray for protection on our pastors there (names concealed for security reasons), who are being threatened. Please also pray that what is taking place there will lead to further opportunity and fruit for the gospel, which is their hope.
Please pray for our dear friend and church in Nepal (names also concealed for security reasons), who are in his words, feeling like they’re “walking through the valley of the shadow of death”. Our pastor there lost a family member (his cousin’s wife) to Covid, on 14th May. In addition, six pastors in the network have recently died, all from Covid, and a great deal of members of their churches are also hospitalized or sick at home, unable to get to the hospital. The severity of the Covid situation has brought with it severe lockdowns and closure of food stores, making it difficult even for those that do have money, to get what they need. Please continue to pray for our dear friends at this very difficult time. As they’d be quick to tell you, even in this, they know He is able and good.
… We serve a King who loves to answer our prayers, so may we go to Him in this, and may His grace abound.
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By Dave Taylor on May 31, 2021 02:39 am
An update from Michael Granger, Lead Pastor of Trinity Fellowship in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia…
Where do we find ourselves in this season? Delighting in the day-in and day-out grind of ordinary ministry. In the kindness of the Lord, Trinity Fellowship has been established. And, I have naturally undergone something of a transition from being a church-planter to a pastor. Currently, I'm preaching through Paul's Epistle to the Philippians. And when we, the church-planting team and I, look out over what is taking place, we find growth. And that, to the praise and glory of Christ's grace!
Glorious grace and resounding praise!
Our team is growing as we recently hired my sister-in-law, Tensu, last month to come and work for Trinity Fellowship full time as an administrative assistant. What a gift she has been! The church is growing in size, averaging 50 to 70 on Sunday mornings; growing in maturity and in our understanding of the gospel; growing as a community; growing in discipleship; and I trust, growing through conversions.
One example from recent weeks happened when a first-time visiting unbeliever sat down in the third row during our Sunday morning service. She was openly aware that she was not a true Christian and that her Orthodox Christianity was nothing more than a cultural identifier. But to our joy, a miracle happened between last Sunday and this Sunday. And when it came time to take the Lord’s supper - I having given a warning to those who are not true believers and to those living in sin - to my great delight, I saw her take the bread and the wine. After the service, I approached her and said, “I saw you take the Lord’s supper. Have you become a Christian?” Holding her tears back, she nodded her head and said, “I became a Christian this week."
A few weeks back a young Somali brother in our church and also a disciplee and ministry partner of Muhammad received a text message on his phone from Al-Shabab (a major Islamic terrorist network in our part of the world). The text message read, "We know that you are spreading the false teaching of Jesus and that you are working with Muhammad. We are planning to kill you when we find you!" This young man in turn articulated his fears to Muhammad, to which Muhammad responded, "Oh man, I've been receiving those texts for 2 years and I'm still alive. Let's keep working for Jesus.”
I get to pastor these people? I simply don’t know what to think when I consider that God himself has entrusted such sheep - to me. I have the best job in the world! I get paid to do this? This is scandalous! This is why we moved to Ethiopia. So that we might experience the super-natural regenerational power of God as he raises the dead to life. May that always be the ordinary ministry of Trinity Fellowship. Amen!
Sovereign Grace, we do not forget your generosity, your kindness, nor the abundance of warmth we have received from you. Indeed, this work out here exists because you did not stop working for Jesus. Trinity Fellowship is the fruit of your combined efforts. Thank you so much.
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By Dave Taylor on May 28, 2021 02:13 am
An update from Carlos Contreras, Senior Pastor of Gracia Soberana de Ciudad Juarez and Regional Leader for Mexico…
This past week we had the joy of hosting in our sister church in Guadalajara Mexico, a retreat for 13 Latin American leaders that have requested adoption by Sovereign Grace Churches, or have recently planted a church, or are in planning stages to plant a church in the near future. 3 men came from Costa Rica; Allan Monge who planted a church in Cartago 4 years ago and is in his ordination process; Chespi Sandoval who also planted a church in the area of Jacó, and Rodrigo Fournier who is leading a large church in the western part of San José, both of whom have requested adoption. Jacobis Aldana came from Santa Marta Colombia and also has requested adoption, and David del Castillo came from our recent church plant in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, who is progressing well in his ordination process.
From México, we were joined by Enrique Villegas and David Puga from the state of Veracruz, both of whom are in the process of ordination. As well as 4 pastors from 3 churches requesting adoption – Carlos Martinez from Torreón, David Hernandez from the city of Chihuahua and Jorge Luis Gutierrez and Emmanuel Alfonzo from the city of Uriangato in the state of Guanajuato. Additionally, I had the privilege of introducing two men who are currently living in Juarez being equipped to be sent out in the next couple of years to plant churches: Marcelo Torres who plans to plant a church in Reynosa in the state of Tamaulipas, and Israel García, who is looking to plant a church in Huajuapan, Oaxaca.
The retreat was organized as a new initiative of the Latin American Fund to help move forward the process of church planting and church adoption in Latin America. Rich Richardson, Joselo Mercado and myself, planned this event as a context designed to expose participants to the values and virtues that have distinguished our rich history as a family of churches. We wanted to expose new and younger leaders to men with a very long history within Sovereign Grace who we encouraged to share from their personal decades-long experience. The general theme of the retreat was “Training Faithful Pastors for Decades”.
Rich Richardson started us very well talking about “The certainty of Pastoral Suffering”. Next day Mark Prater also served us well - sharing via Zoom - some valuable insights into “Leading through Suffering”. CJ Mahaney also joined us via Zoom that afternoon sharing about “How to tend to your own heart”, a theme he has been teaching for decades. And on our last day Steve Shank, one of the founding leaders within our family of churches, shared a priceless talk on “Leading your Family Faithfully”.
After each session there was an invaluable extended time of questions and discussion with much participation from all, including from Hellman Avila, Abelardo Muñoz and Manolo Quintal who also came, as part of our regional leadership team in Mexico, to help with the relationship building among all.
I believe the fruit of this time together met and surpassed our expectations. After 3 days together, men from different countries who didn’t know each other before, went back home as friends. They experienced first-hand what all the speakers emphasized: Leaders in Sovereign Grace never lead alone, that is why we build relationally. And, most importantly, we all got a concentrated extra dose of what it means to be a pastor in Sovereign Grace. We pray events like this will help us plant and build churches in Latin America who faithfully reflect the values that, by God’s grace. we have been given as a family of churches.
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By Dave Taylor on May 26, 2021 03:18 am
An update from Andrew Leung, Pastoral Intern at Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney, and Executive Assistant to Dave Taylor…
The Sovereign Grace Emerging Nations team is currently relating to over seventy-five churches in over thirty-eight countries around the world, representing many different nations and cultures. It brings to mind the picture in Rev 6:9 of a “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb!” What a day that will be!
I was thrilled with excitement then when Dave asked me a few months ago, to help coordinate the work of translating the recently launched sovereigngrace.com website, along with the Statement of Faith and the Seven Shared Values, into various languages: Italian, Croatian, Korean, Chinese, Tagalog, Cebuano to name but a few! These languages all relate to places around the world where Sovereign Grace either has a partner church, or where Sovereign Grace is looking to plant or adopt. The website really serves as a window for people unfamiliar with Sovereign Grace churches to peer in and learn about Sovereign Grace, as well as a way for pastors and churches in all the corners of the world to get connected with us.
Italian was the first language to cross the finishing line and is now in the process of being uploaded onto the website. We look forward to more and more languages being made available in the weeks ahead!
What an amazing opportunity to share with many nations, in their own tongue, our Sovereign Grace distinctives as outworking of the gospel, and to invite them to join in our family of churches. Through the translation of these rich materials, we get to share something that we treasure and that has brought us much joy. May it serve us well in this Great Commission.
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By Dave Taylor on May 24, 2021 07:01 pm
An update from Patrick Chavez, a Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney...
If I were to ask you what you were doing on the weekend of the 19th - 21st of July in 2019, could you remember?
I can almost bet that if you were a member of Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney and I prompted you with the word Collaroy, your face would light up and smile. I think the memories would come flooding back of fun, fellowship, and exciting and clear times of teaching and experiencing God in refreshing and gospel-centred ways. This was the reality we all experienced on that weekend.
You see, back in July of 2019, just before our church sent out the team to plant Sovereign Grace Church, Parramatta, we went on a church retreat together. The focus of the retreat was encouraging and pursuing the gifts of the Spirit, an area that we desired to grow in as a church, in our understanding and practice. And so to lead us through that, Mark Prater, along with a team; Bill & Ramona, Dan & Jeannie, Doug, Everett & Laurie, Jocelyn, Rick & Martin; all from Covenant Fellowship Church, kindly made the 30 hour journey from Philadelphia to serve us and minister to us.
As a church, we were so blessed by these brothers and sisters from across the waters. Their love for Jesus and His Word was so infectious. Their patience in listening to us, understanding us, caring for us, praying for us and discipling us on this weekend was amazing. So much so that we eagerly wanted to continue this even after they went home, and so we reached out to Mark Prater to see if these dear folks would assist us in an ongoing growing of our understanding and practice of these gifts through monthly discipleship sessions on zoom. And to our surprise, they agreed!
This has been such a blessing to us! These men and women have been willing to disciple 17 of us, on the gifts of the Spirit, between Philadelphia and Sydney. They have woken up at 4:00 AM to jump on a Zoom call to meet with us and go through books, answer questions, share their experiences and pray for us.
I asked some of our team here what it has been like to receive discipleship from these dear brothers and sisters, and here is a sampling of what they said:
“It's one thing to be informed about prophecy through a close study of scripture or biblically sound books. But it's quite another to experience the practice of prophecy first-hand through our brothers and sisters at the Philadelphia church. Even though we are separated by the Pacific Ocean, and even through the chaos of the pandemic, every four weeks we would spend time in sweet fellowship over those zoom calls to talk about the practice of prophecy and the truths we were gleaning from the book we were studying. While the first-hand experiences were invaluable, what was often more eye-opening were the honest mistakes and the humbling moments experienced by our mentors which defined their prophetic journey. What a joy to walk together in unity, and to be spurred on towards greater pursuit of prophecy by our dear friends overseas”!
“We have been so blessed by Ramona who has invested her time and energy so selflessly for the sake of building into God’s kingdom on the other side of the world! She shares her own experience readily and is so helpful with our questions - nothing is too small or insignificant for her. She answers with such grace and wisdom and prays for us without ceasing. She has been instrumental in building up our faith and desire to grow in the spiritual gift of prophecy. But more importantly, she constantly points us to God, the giver of this gift, and helps our souls to magnify our great God and delight to use this gift to please and glorify Him and edify His bride, the church. Our hearts are filled with gratitude towards the Philly team. They have showed us a debt of love we will never be able to repay!”
“I have been in group with Ramona, bless her, she gets up so early for us all. She has been so gentle and very knowledgeable in this area, she is easy to talk to, we can ask questions anytime, she always has an example to share with us of many of the questions we ask, and that makes learning very relatable and gives practical help. She doesn’t rush anything and guides us to keep seeking the Lord in prophecy.”
“The benefit from the Philly prophecy team has been so gracious, in the sense they've guided us and cared for us in an unknown territory for us - prophecy. They have always been gracious and warm and answered all our questions. There is so much I didn't know on the topic of prophecy”.
We are so grateful for our partnership with our family of churches here in Australia. Would many more partnerships be made around the world, all for the glory of God.
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Things To Pray For In May
Worship Matters In Liberia
Moving Forward In The Philippines
Reaching The Unreached In SE Asia
Global Ordination Update