Monday, February 22, 2010

George Verwer -- You Owe Me Big Time!

Recently I attended a church meeting with George Verwer, International Director Emeritus and Founder of Operation Mobilization (OM), a summer short and long-term mission with thousands of missionaries worldwide.

The pastor of the church called on me to introduce George since I knew him personally and had served with OM in India from 1966 to 1968.

As this request was completely unplanned, I made my way slowly to the podium and silently prayed, “Oh Lord, please help me introduce this great man of God in a way that will honor him, glorify Your Name, and be an encouragement to those here today.”

I began my introduction with a story of the time when I traveled from India and across Pakistan to Afghanistan in a small pick-up truck with several single men, a family of four, and George’s family of five. What a trip this was!

When we arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan, various members of the team went to several planned places of ministry. I was planning to travel by plane after a few days with George and his family to Brussels, Belgium, but George received a telegram and needed to fly immediately to Brussels. He caught the next flight, leaving his wife Drena and three children in my care as we flew to Brussels the next day. George had purchased “el cheapo” tickets on a Russian airline and when we arrived at the airport the next day, we were told the tickets were absolutely no good!

Now there I was in a fanatical Muslim country with my director’s wife, his children (one who promptly broke his arm) and NO money!

After two weeks of doing everything but selling used cars, as well as George’s children, I was able to obtain funds from several Christian business people in Kabul to purchase tickets. We then flew, via several long layovers, to Brussels, and I delivered his family safely to George.

As he profusely thanked me, I said, “George, you are welcome; however, you owe me big time!”

George Verwer HAS paid me back big time. In fact me, as well as hundreds if not thousands of God’s people throughout the world have benefited from his generosity, prayer, encouragement, books and materials for ministry, and especially the example of the zeal of a man sold out to Christ and His glory!

My wife said she felt God answered my prayer to be able to honor George Verwer in a way that glorified God. The Word of God says, “Render to all what is due them … honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:7, nasb).

May I close in saying, “Thank you Lord, for the ministry of George Verwer (and Operation Mobilization) in my life and in the lives of thousands of others for Your glory!”

The following is an excellent article by George Verwer:

Why are there not more workers? Church and Mission agencies all over the world have one thing in common — they need WORKERS. Most are even praying for those who would come short-term to help in the task, but the bigger demand is for long-term workers of some level of maturity. The need in the 10/40 window is for thousands of workers, including those who will go as tentmakers and most people expected many more to be there by now. Some of the obstacles are: (1) Lack of vision — a few seem to actually have the vision, both of the need as well as the amazing opportunities and others don't have vision to send out workers, especially from the church. (2) Lack of prayer — despite statistics about prayer and prayer movements, one has to admit that the average church is not a praying church. Few leaders, believers and even missionaries have a disciplined prayer life. Furthermore, some prayer movements have been invaded by ridiculous and extreme ideas bringing division. (3) Apathy among God's people — Brother Andrew once said, "It's easier to cool down a fanatic than to warm up a corpse!" (4) Lack of Biblical generosity — the lack of funds is hindering God's work and hindering the sending out of missionaries. Surveys show that a tiny percentage of money goes outside of one's own church and then one's own nation, except for relief and development in a disaster. (5) Biblical compromise — ignorance of the Bible in evangelical and biblical communities is allowing Universalism in various forms to invade causing missionaries and leaders to drift away from the basics of God's Word. (George Verwer, Operation Mobilization)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Does a Little Matter?

Africa is a continent with massive needs, but with wonderful opportunities for ministry with the gospel and compassionate care for God’s glory!

We should not settle for doing little for the kingdom of God when we can do so much more by trusting in our sovereign Lord to use us for His glory. On the other hand, we should never despise the day of small things and do what we can even if that might be something small. The boy in the gospel of John who only had a small poor lunch of five loaves and two fish, yet in the hands of Jesus the lunch was multiplied to meet the physical needs of 5000 men plus women and children.

On one occasion in Africa, my wife Margaret held a little AIDS baby for about one hour. Did this baby know what was happening? I carried another baby around the AIDS hospice and sat with another little sick boy who hugged up next to me. He did not understand a thing I was saying as I sought to minister to him from the Word of God and sang, “Jesus loves the little children…” We may not have made a real difference in the lives of these children, or did we?

Margaret and I were on the streets with a young ACTION missionary from Minneapolis working with street children.

We bought lunch for 20 boys which only cost 25¢ each. Did this make a difference? Most of the boys ate their lunch and left but only a few were very thankful and appreciative. $5 to buy a large lunch for 20 boys is such a little thing. Did it make any difference?

We visited a church-based community school in a building with no roof, no windows, no chairs, and a dirt floor. Almost 500 children were gathered in the one room. I saw a little boy with an open infected sore above his eye. I put on a little antiseptic and band-aide. This was such a small thing. Did it make any difference? The little boy sure seemed to appreciate this care and concern and repaid us with a smile and a hug.

The ACTION Zambia team leader and I conducted a three-hour seminar for 44 pastors and Christian workers which included a snack. The three-hour seminar along with the snack and soft drink for each came to a total of only $20, which is less than 50¢ each. This is such a small amount. Did it make any difference? These pastors sure appreciated it, especially the teaching from the Word of God and the small snack of bread and soft drink. Many of these pastors go without food weekly so their wife and children can eat.

Many times we think missions and ministry are only for the people who are well-educated, very knowledgeable, articulate speakers, can sing, lead well, direct, and give counsel to every problem. However, many of us are not is this category, but we can do small things. We can sit on the corner with a street child and give a piece of bread and a soft drink while sharing the gospel. We can hold children in an AIDS hospice or in the many Christian orphanages in Zambia, Malawi, or Uganda.

There are presently 12 to 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa and thousands of untrained needed pastors. It would be wonderful if many of God’s people age 21 to 83 would consider taking their abilities, talents, background, finances and/or expertise and give to Jesus and let Him multiply these gifts to reach the multitudes with His gospel and compassion for His glory! Why not?

Someone said years ago, “a little from our world makes a big difference in theirs!”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Hard Life for a Street Child

By Adam Hussey, ACTION Philippine missionary

Recently as I was approaching an escalator in Manila, Philippines, I noticed a young boy lying on the ground in front of the moving stairs. His feet, legs and arms were covered with black soot from the dirty sidewalks and streets. He looked very peaceful sleeping on his mattress of cement and pillow made of cardboard. His hands were crossed and placed lightly on his chest and I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why is this boy able to sleep so peacefully? How long has he been sleeping out on the streets in these conditions? Is he so exhausted that he doesn’t even notice the people stepping over him to get onto the escalator?”

The loud horns of the busses, the roar of people moving about and talking, and the vendors selling their goods on the street all seemed to be muffled as I stared at this young boy. It broke my heart to have to step over him. It’s a natural reaction to reach out to help save this boy from his condition. I thought, “But what can be done? What should be done? What is our part in all of this?” I was almost depressed about having to step over him, but then I remembered the organization with which I am associated. Action International Ministries works with street kids in a very unique way. Of course, children are fed and clothed, but it does more than that. We share the Gospel and love of Christ with street children and orphans. They are discipled and mentored. We offer vocational training, practical life skills, and to live a Godly life in Christ. It’s more than just food and clothes; it’s about raising up spiritual generations through the efforts of others reaching out to those in need. It’s more than words; it’s putting those words into action.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Did You Say, "I Love You"?

by Jim Elliff

An elderly, deep-south, retired couple sat on the porch. The man was reading the paper intensely, as he did every day. The woman was staring at the old man to whom she had been married for 60 years, conjuring up memories of good times and even difficult seasons which they had suffered through together.

With moist eyes, the sweet old lady finally uttered a simple uncluttered declaration. It was kind of a summary of her tender emotions following her romantic revelry.

She said, "I adore you."

The crusty old southerner didn't move his paper, nor his eyes off the paper, then grunted, "I'm a' tored a' you too!"

How are you doing in expressing your love?

In the acclaimed musical which is still the favorite of many, Fiddler on the Roof, the central couple of the plot, Tevye and Golde, come to a revealing moment. The theme of the song is introduced by Tevye, the milkman husband, but echoed by Golde, both a product of an arranged marriage now far along in years. He asks the question, "Do you love me?"

(Golde) Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

(Tevye) Golde, The first time I met you
Was on our wedding day
I was scared

(Golde) I was shy
(Tevye) I was nervous
(Golde) So was I

(Tevye) But my father and my mother
Said we'd learn to love each other
And now I'm asking, Golde
Do you love me?
(Golde) I'm your wife
(Tevye) "I know..."
But do you love me?

(Golde) Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I've lived with him
Fought with him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?

(Tevye) Then you love me?
(Golde) I suppose I do
(Tevye) And I suppose I love you too

(Both) It doesn't change a thing
But even so
After twenty-five years
It's nice to know

Do you express your love, or just assume that your love will be seen in your actions alone? John wrote, "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth" (1 Jn 3:18). But he did not mean that we are not to express our love. He does otherwise himself, referring to his readers as "beloved" five times in this small letter of 1 John.

Perhaps no one in history has openly repeated the sentiment of love like the apostle Paul. Over and over again, he speaks of it. For instance, he said this to the Thessalonians:

Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (1Thess 2:8)

Here is love both in word and deed. We should learn by his model, especially toward those we care for the most—like a spouse or a family member with whom you have shared life for years. Live your love, certainly, but also say it often.

Copyright © 2010 Jim Elliff
Permission granted for reproduction in exact form, including web address. All other uses require written permission

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Are Older People Useful in Missions?

All Glory to God and Honor to the Little Lady of Tamworth, England

Someone pointed out that the Earl of Helsburg was 90 when he began preparing his 20-volume revision of English law. Galileo made his greatest discovery at age 73. Hudson Taylor was laboring vigorously on the mission field at age 69. J. Oswald Sanders ministered effectively into his later 80s; and at age 85, Caleb wanted a mountain so that he could drive out a stronghold of giants.

Mavis Orton is 77 years of age and has served the Lord with the poor in the Philippines for nearly 25 years.

In 1985, Mavis was somewhat discouraged. She loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him as a medical missionary but missions would not accept her because she was considered too old being in her 50s.

One day, however, she happened to read an advertisement in a Christian newspaper in England placed by Action International Ministries. It was a simple ad which began, “Wanted: dedicated men and women over 50; if you young people are not going to do the job, then get out of the way and let us old people back at it!”

With a heart for ministry of the Gospel and compassionate care to the poor, Mavis was encouraged, then contacted ACTION, applied, and was accepted in 1986 to serve in the Philippines, a country of over 90 million people.

A supporting home church in England and dedicated advocates, Geoff and Irene Foster, in Tamworth rallied behind Mavis to support her in ministry.

After language study, Mavis worked in various ACTION ministries in evangelism, discipleship and development to the poor of Manila. After several years, Mavis began using her training and experience as a midwife to assist extremely poor women in home delivery of their babies

Mavis later began the Shalom Christian Birthing Home in her house. At first, she delivered seven to ten babies monthly, with this growing 150 monthly!

Many Filipino young women are being trained in midwifery, and over the years, thousands of men, women and older children have heard the gospel with many coming to faith in Christ.

On June 13, 2007, Mavis received the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. I was invited to accompany Mavis to the palace as ACTION’s Founder and International Director Emeritus with longtime special friends and supporters Geoff and Irene Foster.

Mavis trusted God for funds for the construction of a larger facility for the Shalom Christian Birthing Home. This adequate building enables Mavis and her team to support up to 2000 births each year.

ACTION’s web site is able to receive gifts to help Shalom Christian Birthing Home as well as any ACTION office.

It has been an honor to serve over the years with this little woman of God. Yes, to God be the glory and honor (and thanks) to this little lady of Tamworth, a woman who did not let her age keep her from serving God!

Monday, February 8, 2010

From Cold North to Tropic Philippines

Ron Homenuke ministers to street children in the Philippines

by Doug Nichols

Ron Homenuke, (graduating Class of 1984 from Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada), was honored as the Distinguished Alumnus for 2008. Ron has served in ministry to street children in the Philippines for nearly 30 years.

Growing up in the cold winters of northern British Columbia, Canada, Ron became a skilled hockey player. Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, his professional career was well on its way when injuries brought a halt to Ron's dreams and he moved on from the hockey world to training in Wildland Recreation at Selkirk College in British Columbia. He had trusted Christ through the witness of a friend, but due to a lack of discipling, Ron's carefree lifestyle carried on much as before.

Early one morning in 1976, Ron and some fellow students decided to hike the Kokanee Glacier in British Colombia. On the way down, Ron lost his footing and fell almost 2000 feet to the base, suffering severe brainstem injuries. He lay in a hospital, unconscious for the first three weeks, until his transfer to a rehabilitation center where the former star athlete found himself learning to walk and talk all over again.

Ron's determination and hard work paid off as he fought his way back to relative health and enrolled at Prairie Bible Institute in 1980, still suffering the effects of his injury. He persevered and grew spiritually under the teaching and godly example of friends and teachers and went to the Philippines in 1985 as a missionary with Action International Ministries (ACTION). After working with street children in Manila, Ron moved on to a church-based outreach in the city of Olongapo (called “Sin City” by many) where he carried out a very productive ministry for 16 years. He is at present involved in a development of ACTION called Lifehouse Village, which will house up to 63 orphans and street children.

During these faithful years of ministry, Ron suffered fatigue, bouts of illness, and ministry setbacks that have made his life and ministry anything but easy. These experiences have allowed him, however, to see how God delights in using the weak and the ordinary to accomplish eternal purposes for God’s glory.

"Trust God with what He has given you," Ron says. "After my accident I had to relinquish the rights to running my life. I've learned to cope and I still struggle with the off-balance gait and the slurred speech but I would not trade my life for anything. Giving the Lord first place in my life, especially as a missionary, is far more than I could ever ask for."

Matthew Henry, one of my favorite British pastors who died in 1714, made an excellent comment regarding Luke 6:40: “Christ’s followers cannot expect better treatment in the world than their Master had. Let them not promise themselves more honor or pleasure in the world than Christ had. Let each live a life of labor and self-denial as his Master, and make himself a servant of all; let him stoop, and let him toil, and do all the good he can, and then he will be a complete disciple.”

Through a near fatal experience, God has brought Ron Homenuke into a life of purpose and fulfillment. His accomplishments in the hockey arena were temporary, but the difference he is making in the lives of street children that nobody wants will last for eternity.

Several years ago in Olongapo, Ron took me and another ACTION missionary to visit Rodney, a boy of 13 who had trusted Christ the week before at an ACTION camp for 68 underprivileged children (54 indicated they trusted Christ!). Rodney had leprosy, and it was really sad to see the filthy 3-room home (under an old staircase) he lived in with his mother, her live-in partner, and 3 other brothers and sister. We encouraged the mother to do all she could do concerning cleanliness and then expressed the importance of inner cleansing through the blood of Christ!

Later we briefly visited a government detention center of about 70 street children (ages 3 to 17). Ron usually ministers in the center twice weekly. The children saw us coming and began to shout Ron’s name as they love him so much. When the main gate was unlocked and we stepped in, the children overcome with excitement jumped all over us, all wanting to be touched and hugged! As we left about 30 minutes later, each of us had to take kids off our backs, shoulders and legs. Children were holding on to us to the last moment. I was the last to exit. As I stepped outside the gate, it was shut and locked. I then turned to say goodbye especially to a very unattractive little boy with many sores on his face and body, runny nose, and oh so dirty! I put my hand through the bars of the gate and he grabbed on for one last squeeze not wanting to let me go. By the time I reached our van, I was crying. “Dear loving Father,” I began to pray, “please have mercy on that scar-faced little boy. Bring him to salvation through your Son, the Lord Jesus. Help him to respond to the Gospel which he has heard through Ron. Please care for all these abandoned children for Your Word says, ‘for in You the orphan finds mercy’.”

Many additional missionaries are needed to work with Ron Homenuke and Filipino churches to take the Gospel and compassionate care to over one million needy, sick, dying and lonely stret children of the Philippines to the glory of God!

"From Cold North to Tropic Philippines (Ron Homenuke ministers to street children in the Philippines" by Doug Nichols (adapted from and added to article by Pat Massey)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Price of Leadership

by Myron Rush

Salvation is the only thing in life that is free. Everything else has a price and the price tag on leadership is very high. That is one of the reasons we have such a shortage of leaders. A lot of people want to be leaders. Most people seek the positions of leadership. However, very few people are willing to pay the price to become effective leaders. In addition to time and energy, there are other prices that a leader must pay:

•You must be willing to stand alone.
•You must be willing to go against public opinion in order to promote what you believe.
•You must be willing to risk failure.
•You must become a master of your emotions.
•You must strive to remain above reproach.
•You must be willing to make decisions others don't want to make.
•You must be willing to say no at times, even when you'd like to say yes.
•You must sometimes be willing to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the group.
•You must never be content with the average; you must always strive for the best.
•People must be more important to you than possessions.
•You will have to work harder to keep your life in balance than people do who are not leaders.

- Myron Rush

Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't Ever Give Up

It is one thing to dream dreams and see visions. It is another to convert a dream into a plan of action. It is yet another thing to persevere when opposition comes. [The true leader] has the resilience to take setbacks in stride, the tenacity to overcome fatigue and discouragement, the wisdom to ‘turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.’ Rev. John Barkman puts it this way, “Speech is a gift, endurance is an achievement.” Churchill had three things to say to the students at Harrow, “Don't ever give up! Don't ever give up! Don't ever give up!" In other words, “The strength of a person can be measured by what it takes to stop him.” Again Solomon said it the best, “you are a poor specimen, if you can't stand the pressure of adversity.” by John Stott