Times:9:30 a.m. Sunday School10:45 a.m. Worship Service
Times: 9:30 a.m. Sunday School | 10:45 a.m. Worship Service
It’s hard to summarize the two weeks I spent in Pakistan last month! But I’ll try.
The most common question I’ve been asked since my return has been, “Did you feel safe?” Thankfully, I never felt any danger or even discomfort in public. The churches have freedom to operate (many of them—Anglican, Presbyterian, etc. —date back to when Pakistan was part of India under British rule), and my trip and the events I took part in were totally public and above board. The only real problems come from radical Muslim fringe groups, and the government and military have cracked down on them in the past five years, I am told. (They are more active in other parts of the country than we were in, too.)
The believers are warm, hospitable and joyful, though many of them are quite poor. We (there were five of us from North America) were welcomed everywhere we went; the people seemed to grateful that we had come so far to be with them.
In many ways, it was the most intense and exhausting trip I’ve ever taken. (Or am I just getting old??) There were many 12-hour days, some 16. With traffic congestion and distance (and pollution!), some events took us an hour or even two to reach, especially in Karachi, the third largest city in the world. There were conferences; seminary lectures; church services; street meetings; visits with pastors, chaplains, a Christian college president, and the Executive Committee of the Church of Pakistan (Presbyterian). All interspersed with tea! (a remnant of British colonial days, I guess.)
The food was a challenge for me too: almost all of it spicy, which I’m not fond of. And on the weekend in the middle of the trip, I and two others in our group got sick from drinking water from a bottle which it turned out was in fact filled from the tap! I got pretty sick, but that just lasted about 24 hours.
Ronnie Stevens, our speaker during the annual Global Missions Conference, begged us to “Let God decide.” Let God decide about our involvement in global missions. Everyone should be involved in the global proclamation of the gospel, Ronnie said. But, how do we know what God’s will is for us? The primary thing is to draw near to God, know His heart, and hear His voice. Then, take a step forward and let God confirm your direction (Proverbs 4:18).
With 31 individual FEC Missionaries or National Partners in attendance, it was an outstanding time of fellowship. We were informed about what God is doing around the world, we connected First Evaners with our missionaries, and we were challenged to engage in what God is doing globally.
This year at our "Go Tell It On The Mountain" Kids' Missions Conference we boarded an imaginary plane and “flew” to the countries of Nepal, Spain, and Uganda where we heard from First Evan missionaries about their journeys overseas. We got to experience the cultures and learn how we can use our talents and abilities to show God’s love and share the gospel anywhere we go... exalting God in the earth!
Our conference goal was to provide $15,000 for projects of the Nepal Gospel Centre, including GLOW (God Loves Orphans and Widows). This ministry offers biblical and practical training to equip disadvantaged women to support their families and impact their communities for Christ. The goal was met, but funds are continuing to be collected to help further their work.
Proskuneo Ministries is a group of talented musicians who led us in multi-cultural worship throughout the weekend. They created a spirit of reverence and adoration as we praised God for His work in us and others around the world.
The morning had come for me to host my first Discovery Bible Study (DBS). This study allows non-believers to read the Bible and discover God for themselves as they see what Scripture says about God and people. I had invited several young women over for coffee and this DBSdiscussion, and one woman, Sandra, agreed to come. I first met Sandra through our weekly English speaking club. After we got to know her better, she volunteered at our children’s English camp last summer alongside the First Evan team. We had never had a deep spiritual conversation before our first DBS meeting. We spent some time drinking coffee and getting to know each other more. I was so nervous! I didn’t want to control the conversation, and I didn’t want her to feel pressured or scared away. I wanted to let the Holy Spirit lead. We had a good conversation, but our time was getting shorter, and I thought we might not read the Bible that day. All of a sudden, she asked me if I would read the Bible. I was shocked! I knew God was there and leading. I read Mark 2:1-17 aloud. We discussed the passage a little, and then she asked, “Do you know much about Jesus?” I had to keep my mouth from hitting the floor. I replied, “Yes, I have read about His life. Do you know much about Jesus?” She said she didn’t. I was filled with excitement. Wow, God, what an open door!In a culture that sometimes distances itself from and holds misconceptions about faith in Christ, God is still working in the hearts of people. He continues to remind me that He is in control and actively working to draw near those who are lost.
David and Vicki Frazier (Equipping Servants International) have been training English teachers and developing English as a Second Language materials and classes for incoming refugees and immigrants for the past five years. Language is the key for internationals to integrate and succeed in the U.S., and we need to welcome, embrace, and empower the internationals in our city. This is a strategic way to reach the nations for Christ, as God has brought them to our doorstep! ESI’s team has been using ConnecTEFL to train ESL teachers who can serve in the U.S and abroad. Many of the teachers, including First Evan missionaries Michael and Caroline, are now serving overseas.
We have dreamed of opening a language school to serve over 150,000 internationals in Memphis with affordable, accessible, professional English language instruction, and to provide a way for God’s people to serve and engage with internationals for the kingdom. After years of developing a relationship and serving refugees, World Relief Memphis has taken on this project and made the ConnectLanguage Center a reality. Through donations and work crews from First Evan and other churches, the center has opened, and will be providing day and evening classes throughout the week this fall. The plan is for CLC to become a self-sustaining school within the next few years; as of today they have 57 registered immigrants (paying), and 10 refugees (scholarships)! For now, they need donations to enable refugees to take classes. You can give to World Relief Memphis (worldreliefmemphis.org/give) or through First Evan; designate “CLC Scholarship Fund.” Please pray that many internationals will come to Christ through the ministry of the CLC, and drop by and see what is happening!
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