Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Price of Christmas

by John Richard, ACTION Missionary

Scripture Readings: Matthew 1:18-21; 2:16-18; Luke 2:33-35

Since we are called to celebrate a Christian Christmas, we need to remind ourselves of an important truth, namely, that there was a price to be paid by those connected with the Christmas event.

Nine Observations:
1. The parting that the Father underwent
2. The poverty that the Son embraced
3. The condescension that the Spirit showed
4. The shame that Mary endured
5. The stigma that Joseph carried
6. The anguish that the Bethlehem homes suffered
7. The interruption that the shepherds experienced
8. The trouble that the wise men took
9. The sword that Mary anticipated

1. The parting that the Father underwent
Of His own accord did God, the Father, part with His only begotten Son, the Son of His love. There was no other way to rescue fallen man. That was Christmas.

2. The poverty that the Son endured
God, the Son, had to vacate the richest place in heaven, even the bosom of the Father. Though He was rich, yet He became poor. How poor? Not as a king born in a royal chamber did He come. In lowly birth He came. So lowly that His cradle was the manger. His curtains were the cobwebs, and His companions, the oxen and the donkeys.

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem homes was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity;
The foxes found rest and the birds their rest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod
In the deserts of Galilee.

That was Christmas.

3. The condescension that the Spirit showed
God, the Holy Spirit, condescended to come upon a virgin, who like every other human, was stained with original sin. He had to purify her womb and make it meet to bear the Holy One, the sinless Son of God. That was Christmas.

4. The shame that Mary endured

Mary made her body available for the incredible thing to be performed in her and through her. An event that set wagging tongues cast aspersions on her chastity. That was Christmas.

5. The stigma that Joseph carried
Joseph fared no better than Mary. Undoubtedly, he had fathered Jesus ! It could not be otherwise. This palming off the responsibility to the Holy Spirit. Whoever can swallow such a story? Don’t you see Joseph could not after all put away Mary? That was Christmas.

6. The anguish that the Bethlehem homes suffered
The Bethlehem mothers had to witness the awful spectacle of seeing their two-year old baby boys slain under their very eyes. Screams of anguish arose from Ramah. Rachel was weeping for her children unrestrainedly. That was Christmas.

7. The interruption that the shepherds experienced
The shepherds had to act on the angelic announcement. For them it meant leaving their flock and going with haste to seek out the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. They were prepared to have their normal pastoral life disturbed. That was Christmas.

8. The trouble that the wise men took

The wise men, too, took a long arduous journey. All the way from the East led by a star to a place they knew not where. More than that they presented the Babe with their choicest treasures: gold, symbolic of Christ, the King; frankincense, symbolic of Christ, the priest; and myrrh , symbolic of Christ, the prophet. That was Christmas.

9. The sword that Mary anticipated
Remember Simeon’s message to Mary at the Jerusalem Temple: “A sword shall pierce your soul, for this child shall be rejected by many in Israel …” That was Christmas.

What does Christmas mean to you?
A voluntary giving up of a prized darling?
A willingness to quit the comfort of security?
A willingness to be ridiculed and reproached for the sake of Christ?
A willingness to soil our hands with unlovely things?
A willingness to give of our sons and daughters to defend the cause of Christ?
A willingness to have the daily pattern of our lives disturbed?
A willingness to take hazardous duties?
A willingness to part with our material wealth?

If these be evidenced in you, then Christ’s coming is not in vain.

Christmas is really paying the price of Christian discipleship. And discipleship is an affair of great cost. It may cost a man his life; it may cost him lifelong separation from his nearest relatives; it may set him at variance with his loved ones; it may require him to pack up and go wherever Christ may send him; it will require of him the sacrifice of ease and self-indulgence; it will make demands upon his time, his money, his talents.

In short, he has to give his heart to Christ and make himself available to do His bidding according to His good pleasure.

“Tho’ Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in thee
Thy soul is still forlorn.” (Angelus Silesius)
-- John Richard

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Should We Celebrate Christmas on December 25?

Well, it’s “the most wonderful time of year” again! That familiar phrase from the well-known Christmas song is at once both an exciting statement as well as a confusing sentence. Simply put, our world is a realm which is chronically drunk with frequent incremental celebrations throughout the year, most of which are void of any substantial purpose for our lives. And chief among those celebrations is the “Christmas” time of year.

The time of year of Christ’s birth can be deduced from both the Bible and secular history as NOT being during the month of December, let alone being specifically on December 25th! In fact, most conservative NT scholars say the time of Christ’s birth was probably springtime or an early fall event. The reason for the late December dating was no doubt a Romanesque touch which added yet another celebration to its calendar! I am sure that their thinking went like something like this, “Why not add another celebration to our pantheon of parties which celebrates the virgin birth of Jesus (which was really a virgin conception, not a birth)!? So, in considering the pagan origin of December 25th, is there still Scriptural warrant for celebrating the birth of the Son of God – especially at this time of year? The answer is a resounding yes!

There are two key texts: Matthew 2:9-11(esv) reads, after listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh; and Luke 2:18-20 (esv), And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The shepherds were mere men. We are mere men, women and children. They praised God and worshipped at the news that the Savior of the world had arrived into His very own sin-soaked world (Colossians 1:16). Now that’s news to celebrate!!

Pastor Jerry Marcellino
Audubon Drive Bible Church

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Is There Really More to be Done?

One of the biggest concerns for mission leaders is that we start to think the job is finished. We need to celebrate when many come to Christ. The angels in heaven rejoice when just one sinner comes to repentance. But we must inform ourselves about the realities, and guard against the feeling that there is no more work to do:

The truth is, 4.4 billion people on our planet do not know Jesus.

The truth is, currently, at least 1.87 billion people live in areas with no gospel presence at all (World A).

The truth is, in spite of major growth efforts, the percentage of people who call themselves Christian around the world has stayed essentially the same since the beginning of the 1900s (about 34%). We haven’t grown percentage-wise for the past 100 years. [Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, 40; Market, “Global Christianity.”]
The truth is that 6500 people groups still do not have a Christian witness at all.

The truth is…we are not there yet. [Page 64]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Church Is Growing

To being with, over 2.2 billion people now call themselves Christian, more than any other religious group in the world. Since the days of the disciples, the growth has never stopped. Christianity adds more than 28 million people to the church worldwide each year.

A significant part of what’s happening today in the Christian world is happening China. In China, it is estimated that over 100 million people are Christians. They are already fourth on the list of countries with the most Christians in the world. It doesn’t make the evening news, but every day, at least 10,000 new believers are added to the church. [Johnson, “World Christian Trends 2005.”]

In Afghanistan, before 2002, researchers counted about 75 believers. Just two years later, in mid-2004, there were over 8000, with believers in every single one of the 34 provinces. One year later, the Christian population had tripled!

In Kenya, so many churches have been planted that I heard one Kenyan pastor say, “If you stand on any street corner in Nairobi and throw a stone, you will hit a church.” The buildings are everywhere! [Pages 57, 58]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Serve as God Wills!

"William [Carey] worked hard at his cobbling, making sure he was giving his best service to his customers. When this was finished for the day he made time to study languages, science, history; to lecture when invited, and weekly to preach. It was a busy life but a contented one. In a letter to his father written at this time he said: 'I am not my own, nor would I choose for myself. Let God employ me where He thinks fit.'" (William Carey by Kellsye Finnie, OM Literature)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Sanctifying Shepherd

By John MacArthur
[from The Master’s Mantle, Summer 2009, Vol. 16:2, page 1, 3]

There is a growing but false legend that churches are designed for non-believers--a "contextualization movement," according to David Wells, founded on sola cultura, not sola scriptura. As a result, true Christianity hides its face, resulting in the death of sanctification. Seeking only numbers and affirmation, he adds, this new evangelicalism uses the culture to attract, with no interest in the deadly poison that lies below the surface of it.

Contextualization is nothing but an overexpo¬sure to the world, the flesh, and the devil, leading to a rise in antinomianism. History shows that antinomianism follows hard on the heels of a recovery of the doctrines of grace. Because the doctrines of grace can be pressed hard in the direction that everything is settled and secured, it leads easily to blatant and out-rageous antinomianism.

Contextualization of the gospel today has infected the church with the spirit of the age. It has opened the church's doors wide for worldliness, shallowness, and in some cases a crass party atmosphere. The world now sets the agenda for the church-it has done it musically, and is now doing it in terms of the message. A survey by James Davidson Hunter, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia, found that young evangelicals have become significantly more tolerant of activi¬ties once viewed as worldly or immoral, including smoking, using marijuana, attend¬ing R-rated movies, and premarital sex.

In No Place for Truth, David Wells writes, "The stream of historic orthodoxy that once watered the evangelical soul is now dammed up by a worldliness that many fail to recognize as worldliness because of the cultural inno¬cence with which it presents itself It may be that Christian faith, which has made many alliances with modern culture in the past few decades, is also living in a fool's paradise, com¬forting itself about all the things God is doing, while it is losing its character, if not its soul."

Clearly the NT church is focused on godliness and the edification of the saints so that they might reflect the image of Christ. That was Paul's foundational principle of ministry. In 2 Corinthians 11:29, he asks, "Who is led into sin without my intense concern?" In Galatians 4: 19 he adds, "I am in labor pains until Christ is fully formed in you." The sanctification of God's people involves agonizing, excruciating pain, in a world without anesthesia. It's not about how clever you can be to reach the cul¬ture by looking like the culture, because then you've just opened the sewer and let it seep in.

Today, everything seems directed away from this. We want to get as close to the world as possible. But we don't need culture to define the life of the church. When Paul says he became all things to all people, he simply means he would make any personal sacrifice to reach a person. Holiness of the church is Paul's objective, and must be ours. To fulfill this mandate, the shepherd must recognize seven things:
The power of the flesh. Do you understand the power of the flesh, how easily temptation is excited? Your people need to be protected from their own flesh, from inciting the flesh by painting word pictures of sex organs. The battle has to be won on the inside (Rom 7; James 1). I never want to be a person who is used to solicit any kind of evil in the mind of anyone. Because "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matt 18:6). That's the first instruction given to the church-protection from temptation. The church should be a haven, not a place peo¬ple are tempted.

The power of the world. Whatever you borrow from the world has the potential to corrupt. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4; 1 John 2). The last thing you want to do is kick the church doors open and bring the world in-rubbing out the line between the world and the church. I want to build a wall so when you come to church your experience is disconnected from the world.

The power of Satan. "The devil prowls around like a roar¬ing lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet 5:8; 2 Cor 2:11; John 17:15). Shepherds not only feed and water sheep; they also protect them. You never want to be the instrument by which the devil gains access to your flock. The sanctifying shepherd recognizes that his people have a high level of susceptibility to corruption through the world, the flesh, and the devil, to which they're overexposed con¬stantly. The battle is fierce in their hearts-at work, at school, watching television, etc. The shepherd must be their protector.

The power of the Scripture. A sanctifying shepherd recog¬nizes the power of the Scriptures to sanctify. "Sanctify them by Thy truth: Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17; c[ Ps 119:11; Tit 3:5). We are pruned and purged by the Word, and that is why the shepherd is committed to the exposition of Scripture and thereby unleashing its sanctifying power.

The power of the Holy Spirit. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Gal. 5: 16). Being filled with the Spirit basically means to let the Word dwell richly within you (cp. Eph 5:18 with Col 3:16). As shepherds, we want our people to come under the sanctifying power of the Scripture and the sanctifying power of the Spirit. They go together.

The power of confrontation. There is power in confronta¬tion (Matt 18:15-17). How can you do that in a church where the members aren't Christians? That's impossible by definition. How can you do that in a church where you just want everybody to feel good about being there?

The power of example. Your people know what's in your heart by what you say. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt 12:34). You can tell what a man thinks by his speech. Furthermore, when you stand in your pulpit, your people are getting the most sanitized version of you. The real you is not that sanitized! There's a reality about our fallenness that we don't need to display. But when you see someone who is openly flagrant, coarse, and profane (and that's the most sanitized version of him?), the conclu¬sion is obvious.

Christ-likeness is the goal of ministry in the church (Eph 4:13). Martin Luther, noting that the power of your min¬istry is inseparable from your character, called antinomian teaching the "crassest error, designed to grind me underfoot and throw the gospel into confusion. Such teaching," he contended, "kicks the bottom out of the barrel of God's sav¬ing work." We need to be sure that we understand that we have been called to shepherd the flock of God (1 Pet 5:2), which means to travail in pain, until they come to Christ¬likeness.

My prayer for you is that you would be sanctifying shepherds.

[from The Master’s Mantle, Summer 2009, Vol. 16:2, page 1, 3]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Deeds, Creeds, and Mission

by Daren Beck

And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits… And they went out, and preached that men should repent (Mark 6:7 & 12, KJV).

These last months, my colleague BJ Lopez and I have been teaching through the Gospel of Mark. I have always enjoyed this particular book because it is hard-hitting, concise and action-packed! In Mark 6, we find Jesus sending out the 12 disciples on a short-term mission trip. Their mandate was clear, their methods were detailed by Christ, and they were deployed for the task (Mark 6:7-13). Among other things, I was struck by the harmony with which Jesus combined the emphasis of proclaimed truth and accompanying works. Today there is much talk about “creeds and deeds” in mission. By creeds we mean a body of truth which can be Biblically defined and is historically accepted by the Church, and deeds as those things we do that point people to the Gospel of Christ.

The disciples followed Jesus’ example of proclamational preaching – a message that demanded repentance and faith in Christ. Their mission also included the authority and power to authenticate their message and to identify their authority with the One (Christ) who had sent them. Neither the creed nor the deed was lost in the mission.

Down through history the Church has many times emphasized either creeds or deeds in attempting to accomplish mission (taking the Gospel to the world) while neglecting one or the other. It seems to have divided some groups to be known as those who only emphasize doctrine (creeds), while others are driven by an insatiable desire to show Christ through good works (deeds) in hopes of demonstrating the Gospel to a spiritually dying world. Needless to say there is a balance to be found lest we become either modern-day Pharisees or neo-gnostic moralists! But I fear that many of us are dangerously close to losing the heart of the Gospel which is rooted in the foundational truths which comprise our stated beliefs (creeds): consider the following:
The Bible is God’s redemptive story (Romans 3:1-23).

Man’s depravity and spiritual deadness demand that the Holy Spirit do the work of regeneration in a completely supernatural way (Ephesians 2:1).

Apart from this work of the Holy Spirit the Gospel is foolishness to those who are already perishing in their sin (I Corinthians 1:17-18).

The only source of light for the world is Jesus (John 1:5), even as He shines through His redeemed people (Matthew 5:16); He is the true light who is the source of salvation (II Corinthians 2:5-6).

People come to salvation through the preaching and teaching of the Gospel (Romans 10:15-17).

None of the presuppositions mentioned above are dependent in any way on my deeds or works. I certainly affirm that the byproduct of spiritual fruits will be activities (work or deeds) that honor Christ (James 2:14-26). The truths declared in Scripture become my creed forming an unyielding foundation for everything I do, including mission.

Our ministry here in Cambodia is built on the timeless truths of Scripture and we are unapologetic in proclaiming our firm belief that the Good News is to be declared and proclaimed. Should we be about deeds? Absolutely! As Christ shines in our hearts and the Holy Spirit empowers us, we share the privilege of demonstrating Christ to a dying world – for His praise in their salvation and for His glory in the preservation of His holiness in their judgment (II Corinthians 2:16).

Pray that we of ACTION would be faithful in our Christ-commissioned mission. Pray that our message would reflect the truths contained in Scripture and that our actions would come out of the overflow of our hearts and be used by God for His glory.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

News from the Action Zambia PLD field

AZ Welcomes A New Consultant

Action Zambia Ministries (AZM) recently hired a new, part-time consultant, Wozifera Ngoma. Ngoma joins AZM's staff to assist in the areas of leadership and discipleship.

In the local language, Ngoma's first name means, "someone who has died on his own." But Ngoma likes to give it a Biblical meaning from Galatians 2:20, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (ESV)

Born in Zimbabwe on June 3, 1960, Ngoma lived with his parents and grandparents who had emigrated from Zambia to work in the mines. In 1967 his family returned to Zambia's eastern province and settled in Chipata.

Having been raised in a life of religiosity, the truth of Scripture

hadn't come alive for him until he was 22 years of age. His cousin, Charlton, shared with him that baptism was not what saved a person, but that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ did. When his cousin told him this, his eyes were opened, much like Nicodemus. He then realized there was more to Christianity than he had known and that he must be born again.

Following his conversion on March 17, 1982, Ngoma experienced a real freedom and began to grow in grace. Living in the remote bush, there was no one to disciple him. However, God by His Spirit helped him to grow in a number of ways. First, the Lord taught him that he needed to share his faith. Winning seven people to the Lord soon after coming to Christ increased his joy. He also had an intense hunger for the Word of God which led him to read the Scriptures daily. Thirdly, he cried out to God in prayer each day, oftentimes going to the mountains to seek the Lord.

Since his conversion he has lived up to his name by planting churches in rural areas, seeking theological training, and pasturing Faith Tabernacle Church for the past 12 years. He also shepherds a congregation of listeners each Sunday morning through a ZNBC broadcast on Radio One. Although he doesn't see his flock in the broadcasting room, he knows there are many in need of salvation and discipleship who can be reached with radio waves. Ngoma also ministers to HIV/AIDS
patients at the George Health Center each Friday where a group of 80 persons meets for Bible study.

Ngoma has not always had a heart for people with this deadly disease. Before his conversion, he thought only prostitutes contracted AIDS. Since that time he has seen that there are innocents who become sick with this illiness. AIDS began to concern him when some of his family and people in the church began to die. Ngoma began to see that when Christ walked the earth he embraced those who were suffering. As he thought about Jesus' example, God changed his heart and he longed to bring the Word of God to patients at the clinic in George township, people who often do not have a church.

As a volunteer Ngoma also coordinates leadership and AIDS awareness conferences. His greatest joy is to see people's lives being transformed. His passion and heart for the work drives him, not the earthly reward, as he uses his own finances for these events.

In his new role with AZM Ngoma is looking forward to working with pastors in the Action Bible Institute (ABI) and
discipleship 2:7. He says, ". . . most of our pastors have not had the privilege of going to college. They cannot afford the fees. How can you pastor people if you don't know the Word of God yourself?"

He likens the need for pastoral training to the taking in of physical food. People must be fed with the right kind of nourishment. If they aren't, then they will die. In the same way, pastors must be fed with the correct type of spiritual food. They will die without proper spiritual nutrition. In turn, without the right type of doctrine the people will be misled. "What AZM is doing is helping those who aren't privileged."

What AZM is also doing is planting seeds, according to Ngoma. ABI currently teaches 14 students and 2:7 disciples 10.
Those 24 can in turn teach hundreds, then thousands, then millions. In the years to come these very people will impact a lot of lives.

AZM welcomes Pastor Ngoma as he joins its staff and becomes a part of impacting the lives of Zambians. Please pray for him as he serves with AZM. Pray also for his wife of 20 years, Easter, and their three sons, Joshua, Joash, and Joel.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Christian Love

The Greek word for Christian love is “agape” which means “sacrificial action for another person’s good”.

Many years ago when the Roman Empire was spreading throughout the world, King Tigranes of Armenia was taken captive. While standing before the conquering Roman general waiting for the death sentence to be passed, Tigranes fell on his knees before the General and pleaded for his family saying, “Do with me what you like, but I beg you to spare my family.” The conquering General was so impressed with the love of the king for his wife that he released the king and his family.

As they left the presence of the General, King Tigranes asked his wife what she thought about the General. She replied, “I never saw him.”

“What do you mean ‘you never saw him?’”, Tigranes asked. “You were standing within a few feet of him. You could not help but see him. What were you looking at?”

With tears now sparkling in her eyes, the queen gently replied to her beloved husband, “I saw no one but you. My eyes only saw the one who was willing to die for me.”

“But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, nasb).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pastors' Conference on HIV/AIDS

In August 2009, ACTION Zambia missionary Steve Allen went to a pastors' conference out in the Zambian bush. It was solely focused on HIV/AIDS training. The CROSS curriculum was taught to 23 pastors. CROSS curriculum is a 16-week course touching on the following: domestic violence, medical facts of getting the disease, and how Christians can fight. He also taught a lesson on counseling!

This curriculum is critical for these pastors. In the discussion times, one pastor opened up about his struggle to move away from the cultural views of women and adapt a more Biblical outlook. His views changed over the weekend as we looked at passages like Ephesians 5:21-33 which speaks of submitting one to another out of love (not just the wife submitting to the husband and in essence being his slave). It is vital that these pastors get this training as they are the key to reaching the Christian church of Zambia with HIV/AIDS training that is Biblical and changes people's hearts and actions.

--ACTION Zambia PLD Missionary, Steve Allen

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: "Reproducible Pastoral Training"

All of us (I hope) would like to “go therefore and make disciples”, but sometimes we do not know how.

Reproducible Pastoral Training is a timely and easy to read book written by missionary Patrick O’Connor.

Do not let the title fool you. This book is user-friendly, hands-on, and practical in making disciples who then reproduce themselves.

While the title suggests a focus on starting new churches and preparing leaders for the harvest, it also offers a practical look at how to do this. The book is an excellent biblical resource that is not a “new fad” or hard-to-replicate program. It is written from a perspective straight from the field and has been tried and tested. It is a required “must read” for every missionary and disciple who hopes to leave a mark - a mark which is hard to erase.

When I first saw this book and heard about the movement in western Honduras, I bought ten copies. I recently bought ten more! If I could get the book for $1, I would buy 1000!

O’Connor has spent nearly two decades as a missionary in Honduras. He cut his teeth in western Honduras, where he pioneered a brand new movement of churches in rural off-the-map locations. He calls them “chains of churches” and the Lord gave birth to many of them. Indeed, before the church planting movement genre became popular, these indigenous and nationalized cluster of churches, daughter churches and granddaughter churches were taking root.

O’Connor now ministers with Action International Ministries (ACTION), on loan from Missions Door, and we are thrilled to see him serve as Facilitator for the Church Planting Movement (CPM) worldwide. He was raised in India, and now returns often to train nationals in India for reproducible pastoral training.

O’Connor did not learn these concepts in a vacuum. For two decades, O’Connor learned and applied these concepts through his mentor George Patterson. Reproducible Pastoral Training presents Patterson’s model of outreach. It presents 68 biblical principles for action-oriented multiplication. The following are few of the 68 guidelines:

-Watch out! Here come wolves!
-Dramatize biblical events.
-Apply God’s oil to rusty organization.
-Spy out the land.
-Bond with the people and their culture.
-Permit the setting to shape your methods.
-Find pointers to Christ in pagan lore.
-Lead humbly and firmly.

Whether you are a pastor, academic, lay practitioner, housewife or a missionary on the field, I would encourage you to buy and read this book.

Gene Daniels, Author of In Search of the Indigenous Church, said this of the book “O'Connor has accomplished the missiological version of crossing Niagara falls on a tight-rope while blindfolded; he has written an organized presentation of the principles for building up indi¬genous churches without turning it into another fad system. Bravo!”

Victor Choudhrie of India put it this way: “Reproductive Pastoral Training is an impressive, up-to-date manual on Church Planting that should be studied by all who are involved in church planting movements. The principles laid are universal and scriptural.”

Reproducible Pastoral Training can be ordered by phone or online:

Order by phone: William Carey Library (1-800-MISSION; 1-800-647-7466)
Order Online:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009 Book and Literature Distribution

2009 Book and Literature Distribution
by ACTION missionary, Jim Robinette

Thanks to Christian Salvage Mission of Ontario, Canada, ACTION Kampala received a sea container with about 600 boxes of Christian books, Bibles, teaching materials, children’s Sunday school materials, audio tapes, tracts and various kinds of literature in March, 2009.

We estimate that each box contained about 50 books (totaling about 30,000 books in all) and innumerable pieces of literature, tracts and Bible study helps. At the time of this writing, almost all materials have been distributed.

The materials were received with enthusiasm by our Ugandan friends in churches, ministries, prisons, Bible Colleges and Universities, schools, and numerous individual Christians.

Primary and Secondary schools in Kampala and all parts of Uganda received books and materials, as well as Bible Colleges in Kampala and Rwanda.

We distributed materials (books mostly) to pastors in several meetings and “pastor training times” including Congolese refugee pastors in Kampala on two occasions.

A Christian radio station operated from the African Bible University benefitted from the books and materials. The radio announcers often quote from the books during their radio teaching and ministry time.

Ministries also distributed many thousands of books to their evangelists who serve country-wide and in prisons where they serve.

We encouraged schools and ministries to begin libraries and lending libraries. Several churches and ministries have done this. Some churches have made books available to their church members by setting up book shelves in the church. One church plans to open up a special room to serve as a church library.

The children’s materials are especially helpful as children’s ministries are much in need of materials. We have distributed hundreds of Bibles and New Testaments, some of these have been used in existing Bible studies.

A group of about 100 secondary school students will receive Scriptures upon the completion of a discipleship Bible study. Pastors particularly have thanked us and expressed how they have been helped through the books and materials. I’ve included a letter of thanks and encouragement from Vincent Otucu of Youth Evangelistic Team, a ministry from Apac, Northern Uganda:

Dear servants of God, Jim & Kappy,

Praise the name of the soon coming King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. Amen! Your wonderful Scriptures, magazines, books, booklets, tracts and Bibles are very useful to us. We are indeed thankful to you all for your precious gift to equip the churches for mini-library and to spread the gospel and win the lost and dying souls in our unreached areas. Your rewards will be great in heaven when our Lord comes again. Much of the tracts, booklets, magazines are needed, but the demand for Bibles and books is high in churches, prisons, hospitals, offices, lodges, etc. Press on my friends."

Please continue to pray that God will use the books and materials He has sent us to fulfill His glorious plans which are surpassingly wonderful.

“The Lord gave the word; Great was the company of those who proclaimed it.”
(Psalm 68:11, NKJV)

For our Lord Jesus in His harvest work,

Jim & Kappy Robinette
Action International Ministries in Uganda

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Container Bound for Uganda is for God's Servants!

ACTION, in partnership with Chapel Library (Mt. Zion Publishers; ), has been collecting study Bibles and bible materials to ship to Uganda, Africa for needy pastors, Christian workers, and Bible school students over the past six months.

On August 28-29, Brother Clarence and a team of approximately 25 men in Pensacola, Florida worked for a total of 7 hours loading boxes of donated Study Bibles, Gospel booklets, books, and children’s literature (valued at $250,000) on to a 20-ft. container bound for Uganda on September 4.

Over the months, many individuals and publishers have assisted in this great task with donated literature and books. We praise God for His provision and funds through His people.

The container is scheduled to arrive in Kampala by October 24, 2009. Please pray with us for the safe arrival of the container to Uganda and that there will be no problems with customs.

We look forward to October when these Study Bibles, wonderful books and literature will be placed in the hands of those ministering the Gospel throughout Uganda. Praise God for the opportunity to partner together with others for His glory!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Serving Pastors in Cambodia: Daren Beck, ACTION Missionary

One of the greatest privileges I have is to come alongside pastors who faithfully preach and shepherd God’s people entrusted to them despite difficult circumstances. Pastor Sothon Pol is one such pastor. He planted Shalom Church Anglong Romeat in 2003 and labors for the Lord in a very difficult area. The community in which Pastor Sothon ministers is only an hour away from Phnom Penh, but is very rural and unreached with the Gospel. The villagers have lived in darkness for generations and the ministry there painfully slow. This past year was especially difficult because of poor harvest due to drought last year and floods this year. Recently the local government authorities refused to sell him a piece of land because they do not want a Church in the community. Sothon remained encouraged and unswerving in his commitment to the ministry. He recognized that God was in control and confident that God would direct them to a different piece of land. Please pray for me as I come alongside Sothon and help him work through the myriad of issues that he faces as the pastor of a local church in Cambodia.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Preacher's Mandate

1. Pray as though nothing of eternal value is going to happen unless God does it.
2. Prepare as giving “my utmost for His highest.”
3. Seek not to ‘get a message’ from the scripture, but seek ‘the message’ of the scripture.
4. Be satisfied not with producing good content, but with producing good people.
5. Attend carefully to private and public walk with God, knowing the congregation never rises to a standard higher than that being lived by the preacher.
6. Be “persuaded that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.”
7. “Preach the Word”—not about the Word, not from the Word, not with the Word – affirming it is only proclamations of God’s Word that carry God’s authority and his promise to bless.
8. Exalt Christ preeminently, trusting He will then draw people to Himself.
9. Balance declarations of “salvation by faith alone” with declarations describing the life Christ produces when He sees saving faith: transformed heart, desire to serve the Lord, not self, growing affection for His Word, increasing obedience, fruit of the Spirit, saltiness in society, maturing Christlikeness.
10. Depend solely upon God for translation of spiritual truth into life.
11. Preach Christ’s Word in Christ-like demeanor.
12. Agree it is impossible at one and the same time to impress people with Christ and with oneself.
13. Allow the preaching to exude the fruit of the Spirit, lest the preaching fail to produce Christ-like lives.
14. Preach with humble gratitude, as one privileged to be an oracle of God.
15. Trust God to produce in the hearers His chosen purposes—irrespective of whether the results are readily visible.

Courtesy of The Cornerstone Trust, PO Box 1906, Cave Creek, AZ 85327

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Face to Face

Servant Magazine, Issue Eighty-two, 2009, Page 8

Oprah Winfrey’s promotion of Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth has turned it into an international bestseller, influencing millions. In it Tolle asserts, “There is only one absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it....Yes, you are the Truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being that you are is Truth.

Jesus tried to convey that when he said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’...Jesus speaks of the innermost I Am, the essence identity of every man and woman.”

Donald S. Whitney calls Tolle’s teaching “the oldest blasphemy in the world,” and the same old lie Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden: “You will be like God.” “One of the quickest ways to expose a false teacher,” writes Whitney, “is to examine what he says about mankind, Jesus, and the Bible… uncovering one major heresy usually indicates the presence of many others. Tolle’s heretical deification of man means that our great problem is no longer separation from God due to sin, but separation from ourselves….Tolle does mention sin, but…for him it is not the transgression of or lack of obedience to the law of God, but ‘to live unskillfully.’ And the ‘salvation’ we need is not the forgiveness of sin, but enlightenment.”

James Enns, History Professor at Prairie Bible College, calls Tolle’s message “just one more tired reiteration of New Age therapeutic psycho-babble.” Yet Enns is concerned about the widespread popularity of this teaching, believing that it reflects the basic human need for significance. “One of the most subtle effects of sin is the self-alienation we experience in our efforts to be our own god. Tolle’s solution is to proclaim the lie of our own divinity even louder. The writer of Proverbs reminds us that the fear of the Lord—not the worship of ourselves—is the beginning of truth and wisdom. It is only when we humbly confess that God in Christ is the way, truth and life, that we can truly be transformed, and discover that real meaning and significance are a gift God offers us in Jesus, not something we create.”

Servant Magazine, Issue Eighty-two, 2009, Page 8