“2020 is not a big pause year for the kingdom. A lot of things have been delayed, cancelled, or paused, but not God’s work in the world.”
My friends, how true that is! So much has changed this year and not gone according to our earthly plans, but one thing that hasn’t changed at all, is God’s work in the world. He’s not paused at all!
And so here’s some specific ways that you can be praying for us, in faith, in the month ahead...
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Belarus (names concealed for security reasons) as they speak to the injustices that have been taking place against the Belarusian people by their own government. A couple of pastors have recently been arrested and brought in for questioning as a result. However, in the midst of these demonstrations, the unrest continues to provide gospel opportunities, allowing Christians to openly preach the gospel to the people in crowds, something that has been illegal to do (outside of a registered church) for many years. Pray that the gospel would continue to go forward, and that the Church in Belarus would be a city on a hill at this difficult time.
Please pray Calvary Gospel Church in Gundugolanu, India, and their Pastor, Jayaprakash Ravuri, as they seek to minister to a Muslim family, as well as several other individuals, who have come to faith in the last month. Please pray that God would give them grace to bravely face every opposition that may come from relatives, friends and neighbours for the sake of their faith. Please also pray for further gospel opportunities in the Hindu community that the Church is located in, that the doors may continue to open for gospel work.
Please pray for our key leader in Liberia, Dyonah Thomas, as he welcomes 58 new students, from four different West African Nations, into this year’s Grace Life Pastors College. Pray that the students three years commitment would be impactful and that God would provide all that they need on campus, as they continue to build their new Pastors College facility.
Please pray for the Cross Of Christ Salvation Gospel Ministries Churches, led by Jeffrey Jo, in Manila, Philippines, that God would give them great wisdom and opportunities to share the gospel of Christ to others, even in spite of the lockdown and the ‘new norm’. Please also pray for them as they continue to transition from a ‘hierarchical’ association of churches to a more biblical ‘family of churches’, in keeping with their heart and vision, and for Jeffrey Jo as he continues to work through the Sovereign Grace ordination process.
Please pray for Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney, Australia (6th September) and Lord’s Grace Church, Seoul, South Korea (13th September), as they both celebrate their Church’s Ten Year Anniversaries in the month ahead. As well as Sovereign Grace Church, Parramatta, Australia (13th September) as they celebrate their First Year Anniversary.
… “a lot of things have been delayed, cancelled, or paused, but not God’s work in the world.” Amen that that!
An update from one of our Pastors as puts boots on the ground in Turkey...
As I’m writing, my family and I are on our way to the ancient, lukewarm church of Laodicea, in what is now modern day Turkey. We are a family of three, and for the last six years we have been preparing to serve full time among the Turkish people. Two years ago, our home church Sovereign Grace Church Dayton (SGCD) sent us to the Pastors College. Last month, SGCD commissioned us, ordained me as a Sovereign Grace elder, and sent us out to serve in Turkey.
In the days of the Apostles, the Gospel spread rapidly across this land, but like Laodicea things have changed over the centuries. Today, Turkey is over 99% Muslim, with a strong secular twist. We love the Turkish people and are eager to begin our new lives here for the sake of Jesus’ fame.
Over years of visits, the glaring contrasts of western Turkey have fascinated us. For example, a kitten or baby will melt the heart of the toughest Turkish man cruising to town on his Harley. When out for a walk, you will often see a conservatively dressed Muslim woman in a head covering arm in arm with her friend, a woman in a tank top and skinny jeans with no head covering. The Muslim call to prayer is loudly announced 5 times a day from every mosque in town, and 5 times a day it is quietly disregarded by most.
Turkey is Muslim and secular. It is located in the Middle East, Asia, Central Asia, and 3% of it is in Europe. While extremely unreached, there are churches. Turkey is a holiday paradise and a spiritual wasteland. It offers religious tolerance, yet Christians still face persecution.
Starting this month, we will make our home in the Turkish city of Antalya. Over the next weeks and months we will be setting up our new house, obtaining permanent residence permits, and will begin our Turkish language study.
All this is both overwhelming and a dream come true. The Lord has proven himself so faithful in providing for us to get here and opening the door for us. Two things that anchor us in the midst of the transition are first that our home church is “holding the ropes for us.” And second, that we are not serving in Antalya alone. We will “join” and be mentored by Antalya Protestant Church, a small Turkish church that the Lord has used in significant ways. We are overjoyed at the opportunity to learn from them in our early days.
The next few years will be filled with language and cultural learning as well as humbling mistakes. As we begin our ministry, we recognize our weakness and Jesus’ strength. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us. We need your prayers to the Father on our behalf. The gospel need in Turkey is too great and our enemy too strong for us alone. We need the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to lead us, empower us, and work through us.
We would cherish the prayers of our Sovereign Grace family of churches as we settle in for the long haul in Turkey…so that we might share the gospel, serve existing churches, and help to plant new churches in Turkey. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
An update from David Del Castillo, Pastor of Gracia Soberana Santa Cruz, and his wife Jadwy…
We hope you are well and that God is blessing you in your activities. We want to start by briefly explaining what is happening here in Bolivia. The prohibitions during the working days of the week are being gradually suspended, people attend almost normally to their work centers, the only limitation is the ceiling in the schedule since the movement of non-essential services concludes at 5:00 pm. We point out that the prohibitions on weekends are in force, which is why the Church cannot gather on Sundays yet.
Also, Bolivia is going through difficult times in the political sphere, because the appearance of the pandemic caused the change of date to the presidential elections that were to be held in May 2020, first until the beginning of September and now until mid-October, these aspects caused unrest in the country, which resulted in marches, road blocks and coercive measures, which for the moment and thanks to the Lord have eventually ceased.
Beyond all of this and in relation to the activity of the church, we see encouraging results in the lives of many people of the church; an example of this was listening to a sister from the church, who responded to a preaching by Jorge in a very positive way. She had had relationship problems in her family for more than 40 years, due to the content of the message she was able to achieve a personal reconciliation with her father and encourage her brothers to do the same, an event she described with great emotion at one of our prayer meeting on Tuesdays. We were very grateful to God for what happened.
Our prayer meetings on Tuesdays have been very important in this difficult time. Two families had close relatives with Coronavirus during this time, in one case their children (who are already adults and have families) and in another their parents. We were praying for them weekly and it is pleasant to see the answers from the Lord as they recovered but also the communion that has taken place, because these families appreciate a church that welcomes and accompanies them, and they have made it known to us in that way.
Currently in our Thursday meeting led by Jorge and David, we are reviewing the Gospel through the book “Gospel Centered Life” by Thune and Walker. It was nice to hear a sister tell us that it is the third church she has attended in her life and that she had never understood the Gospel in this way, and it is moving to see how every week she is particularly amazed by what we share of the Gospel. There are many more testimonies that are happening and this leads us to the assurance that this is the correct time for us to be here in Santa Cruz, despite not being able to meet in person.
Something decisive in this time has been the personal counseling that has been provided, since there are people who do not have access to the internet and who are part of the church since the beginning of our activities, these brothers, who do not have the technological means. To date, they have received calls mainly from Jorge and Teresa, undoubtedly God is using us to lead these brothers who were without coverage. How good is our God who had all of this in his plans for us and led us to this place in a troubled time.
In closing, we want to thank several of the pastors who have participated in our series "knowing our brothers of Sovereign Grace" there are many that have not yet been released, but we thank them in the same way, the idea of this series is to be able to publicize the ministry Sovereign Grace here in Bolivia. There was a lot of impact on the church hearing pastors they don't know express that they are praying for them, in addition to the extraordinary messages shared. You can see this series on our Facebook or also on our YouTube channel . This series is a great blessing, first for us, because we feel that we have a family that supports us, and also for the brothers and sisters of Gracia Soberana Santa Cruz who see that they belong to a very large family of churches.
An update from Joselo Mercado, Lead Pastor of Iglesia Gracia Soberana in Gaithersburg;
After taking 3 Covid tests prior to leaving, I flew to San Juan on Thursday, August 6th. I was able to enter the Island without the need to quarantine because I fulfilled the requirement of having a negative test taken 72 hours prior to arrival.
On Friday I had a meeting with the Reformados leadership and after careful thought, we decided to have Josue Caceres become the new President. We think that having a pastor in the Island lead the ministry will be wiser, as he is more aware of the need of the Church. I will still be part of the leadership, and will be supporting Reformados, especially with finding resources. I am really excited about this.
On Saturday, I then gave a marriage seminar at Iglesia Bautista Metro (IBM), a three-year-old Southern Baptist Convention Church plant. There were around 20 couples present and we had a great time. Their pastor is doing an outstanding job of creating a gospel culture.
On Sunday, I then got to preach twice at Josue Caceres’ Church in Quebradillas. It was very encouraging to see the Church gathering in the middle of the pandemic. They now have two services and have taken all the needed precautions. I preached on Isaiah 62 and the need to have watchman that will ask God to remember his promises to love us. After that I spent the afternoon with all of Josue’s and Pastor Monchi’s (Josue’s Dad, who is also a pastor in the Church) extended family.
On Monday, I was then interviewed by a podcast that the IBM leaders have put together. They interviewed me on the importance of having a worldview and how the lack of worldview has affected the Church in the midst of the pandemic and the influence of Critical Race Theory. After that I met with the main leaders of the Church and they asked me some questions regarding Church life and leadership.
Update from Doug Hayes, Pastor in Covenant Fellowship, PA, and Executive Director of Covenant Mercies…
When the COVID-19 crisis started coming into focus earlier this year, we wondered to what degree it would curtail our plans for 2020. We immediately began to pray not only for the health and safety of the children and families we serve through our Orphan Sponsorship Program, but also for the many sponsors and financial partners of this ministry, without whom we would be completely unable to pursue our mission. While the crisis is far from over, I am happy to report that thus far, the Lord has answered those prayers. He has yet again been faithful to show mercy upon mercy – to us, and to the 1,400+ children we serve – even in the midst of hardship upon hardship.
Though schools are still officially closed in Zambia, Ethiopia, and Uganda (with the exception of Grade 7 students in Zambia, who have returned in preparation for an important national exam), infections and deaths from COVID-19 have remained comparatively low. While we can’t know for sure whether any child or guardian in our program has been infected, none have been sick to the point of requiring hospitalization or testing. Meanwhile, our staff on the ground have been able to safely deliver food and hygiene supplies as necessary, helping our children and families sustain themselves through a time when normal economic activities are significantly scaled back.
While the closure of schools is undoubtedly a setback for our children, I am excited to report that in Zambia, we have been able take advantage of the vacated campus by moving forward on our ambitious new expansion project at Lighthouse Christian School. Of course, none of this could be happening if not for the generous support we have received from so many. Despite the economic uncertainty of our present moment, a coalition of donors stepped forward to make a $25,000 matching gift challenge for the Lighthouse project. Amazingly, others stepped forward to help us successfully meet the challenge within a couple of months! Work on the new structure continues, with high hopes of having it ready in time for the 2021 school year.
If you are among those who have already given, we cannot adequately express our gratitude for your eagerness to be an instrument of the Lord’s faithful and generous provision during difficult times. If you missed out on our matching challenge, but you’d like to explore other ways to get involved, please check out our web site or view our new Sponsorship video here.
We are grateful for all who are standing with Covenant Mercies in prayer, in financial support, and in solidarity with the many children and families we serve in the developing world. This global crisis represents hardship upon hardship for them, but through Christlike generosity and gospel partnership, the Lord is once again intervening with grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, and kindness upon kindness.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has slowed down our travel, but that pause has given us a chance to work behind the scenes on projects like our ‘International Partnership Program’ (IPP). Todd Peterson, Pastor of Cross of Grace Church, El Paso, TX is heading up this project for us. Here’s the scoop…
It was some months ago now that we started work on the IPP and myself, along with Pat Tedeschi (Pastor of Green Tree Church, New Jersey), Allen Dicharry (Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church, Midland, TX) and Pete Schefferstein (Pastor of Lakeview Christian Church, New Orleans) are really very excited to be working on this new initiative together.
In headline, the goal of this endeavor is to help US Sovereign Grace Churches to connect in long term partnerships with our international Sovereign Grace Churches. We know that there are many existing SG churches that already have meaningful and fruitful international partnerships, but we also understand that there are many more churches that have the desire for partnership but don’t know where to turn to get started.
That’s where the IPP comes in, which will entail things like:
Helping US churches to identify their heart for a specific region of the world
Identifying partnership interested international churches
Helping with partner matches
Helping with effective short term mission trip planning and creation
As mentioned above, one important aspect of international partnership is short term mission trips. These trips not only give US churches an opportunity to build deep relationships with an international church as they actively work together in the “local” ministry of the gospel, but also have a tremendous effect on those that have never experienced the struggle of gospel ministry in a foreign country.
We recognize, however, that running a short term missions trip is very resource and administratively intensive and so not every church can form their own team by themselves. This results in many individuals never really having the opportunity to go on a trip, and so, given the impact of these trips, it is our desire is to help make it possible for anyone who attends an SG church to go on a short term missions trip if they desire.
We plan to achieve this creating a website that will enable missions teams with room for extra people to post their trip on the website and therefore give the opportunity for others in SG to apply to join those trips.
Our goal is to have the ST missions site complete by this fall in time for 2021 trips to be registered. We also hope to have the partnership process ready by the second half of 2021. Please pray for us that we would be led by the Lord as we seek to better connect our ever growing global family of churches!