It has been said that life is slower in a third world country, but it seems as though time has speed up as of late.
We received word in early December that Melissa's mom was having "emergency" open heart surgery. Due to some extenuating health conditions, we thought it best to send Melissa home to take care of her mom. While the surgery went well, her mom has had to start dialysis due to a drop in kidney function. Please pray for Carla's recovery.
I traveled north to my parents' house for Christmas this year. I had the opportunity to help ordain Jonas as a pastor. It was a great time of celebration for what God has done in his life and family. While on the same trip, I spoke for my dad in a Sunday morning service and preached on Christmas Eve for an evangelistic outreach.
After arriving home in the US, Mel told me the great news that Mia's sibling is going to be a little sister. We plan to welcome her into our family on April 17th. I am planning on joining them in the US in March.
We launched the Togo Palms Institute the first week of January this year. We currently have one student with more on the way in the fall. I am teaching Old Testament Survey and Jonas is teaching World Missions as well as French 1. The institute is geared towards pastoral training. Each student will take 30 courses that last 14 weeks each. This part of the ministry is vital to leadership development and the church planting movement.
We were able to hold our second annual Togo Palms pastor's conference the second week of January. Our theme this year was "the nuts and bolts of ministry." It was great to see the spiritual growth and progress in each one of the couple's lives. My highlight was watching the couples on the soccer field playing "couples" soccer.
A little while back we started having trouble with our landlord. He made it clear to us that he did not want us in his house after March. We bagan looking for another place to rent and God provided a great place that is closer to the camp property. I will be moving our household items next week. I think this will be the true test of Mel's trust in me, since she will not be here.
Greetings in the matchless name of Jesus! We are thrilled to see what God has done during these past three months through the life and ministry of Chelsea Community Baptist Church! We have seen people come to Christ and new believers growing and going in their new found faith. Recently, a precious woman by the name of Diane came to our church services. Diane is English but has been involved in Buddhism for the past 25 years, to the point where she has been lecturing and teaching others the tenants of Buddhism throughout the City. She came to our church because a friend who has been saved invited her to come along. She stated "I have never seen anyone change their karma as quickly as he changed his." Of course his karma was not changed, Jesus changed him and gave him new life! After ten weeks of attending services, listening to the Word of God preached, and multiple questions answered from the Word of God, Diane trusted Christ as Savior. She gave me the image of Buddha that she has prayed to for the past twenty five years and said "Do whatever you want with this, I have Jesus now, He is all I need!" The Gospel still has power!
We are also thankful for several others that have trusted Christ as Saviour in recent days. On Christmas Day, we had our annual service and saw the brother of a family who have all been saved at Chelsea come to Christ! We are rejoicing in all that God is doing and all that He will continue to do in the lives of these new converts. Will you pray that each of them grows in their faith and become bold witnesses for Christ in the coming days?
With many wonderful stories of God's grace over these past four and half years, we are anticipating all that God will do in 2013 to see more people saved in the coming year. We are beginning new discipleship and followup classes with these new converts and asking the Lord to continue building His church in the days ahead!
We continue to see good growth in the lives of the young men that we are training for the ministry. Each of them are fervently praying for God's leadership and direction for their next step in ministry. As we come closer and closer to the completion of their ministry training, we are trusting the Lord for the opportunities to arise where the Lord will thrust them forward into whichever harvest field that he may have for them.
One of the young men has just been brought on as the assistant pastor at Chelsea and is already doing a fantastic job in his new role. We are bit by bit handing over more responsibilities to the men of the church as Chelsea progresses into an autonomous indigenous New Testament Church.
We are also excited about several new outreach opportunities that have presented themselves to our church. We have begun three Bible studies in our local Starbucks close to our church. From these studies, we have already seen professions of faith, visitors in church, and great outreach opportunities for our membership to share their faith in a neutral atmosphere.
Beginning in February, we will begin a Sunday morning series entitled "Can I Be Happy?" 68% of Londoners claimed to suffer from some sort of depression in 2012. We will address this by teaching the Beattitudes of Jesus Christ and inviting our entire community to the services. On Sunday Evenings, we are beginning a series entitled "Global WarNing" an in depth study of the book of Revelation. All of these plans are simply designed to reach more and more people with the gospel! Please pray that God will use these outreach efforts in order to reach individuals and families with the gospel of Christ.
Dr. Charles Keen once told me, "The least missions minded people are usually missionaries!" When he stated this to me, I knew exactly what he meant: it is easy to stay focused on planting a church and forgetting that we have been called to preach the gospel to EVERY creature! Our church in Chelsea has become a hub for 53 nationalities that congregate together each week, we literally have the door at our footstep. Because of this opportunity, God has opened many places to take the gospel around the world that we would never had the privilege to take it without coming first to London! During the past seven months, I have been invited to 9 different countries to train pastors and equip local churches that are all pastored by national leaders! It is staggering to think the impact that a small church in West London can literally have on the world due to it's location. Please pray that God will give wisdom, direction, and discernment as to how to help these pastors and leaders that are scattered throughout the world. We believe strongly that God is opening doors in places that most Americans would never be able to go through the contacts and church members at Chelsea Community Baptist Church. May God continue to "call out a people for His name's sake", here and all around the world for His glory alone!