This is not supposed to happen in Australia. Maybe it's because they have some Kiwis on the team.
This email just came through from a young Chinese woman we met once. We'd begun to disciple her friends Dave and Julie (names changed) and she happened to drop by and join in.
We never heard from her again. Until a few days ago.
Hi Steve and Michelle
Just want to thank you for the work you have done and the work you are doing. Thank God for using you to share His gospels.
I am so glad to write this email to you. I don't think you still remember me but I always remember you. It was back to March 2012. You and your wife went to Dave and Julie's house (Chinese couple) to read the bible story with us.
I coincidentally attended it but now I know it was not a coincidence. I am Dave and Julie's friends from a far-away suburb. Back then I was depressed and life was in a mess. I believed in Buddha that time. You gave me the bible (bilingual one). God is so amazing. Since I came back from my friends' house God gave me another indication about Him so I ended up to find a church close to my house.
I started to go to church in April 2012. Now I have been at this church more than five years.
It is a great journey of being a Christian. Feel so blessed these five years. The faith is growing and know God more. Got married and already had two beautiful children. Can't help expressing God is so good and true. Our God is so faithful. Love Jesus and praise Him. He changes me to a better person.
So thankful to have Him in my life.
You never know how God can use just one encounter. We need to keep doing the right things and trust him for the outcome.
Russell Godward his been out with Dapo and others looking for houses of peace in Essex. Russell should know better. The gospel's not supposed to work in England.
Out visiting homes and offering prayer in our town.
A lady invites us in to pray with her. Her life & family are broken. We pray and share the gospel. She turns, believes and invites Jesus to be her new king!
We return to disciple her later this week. A few doors down we pray for a guy in his 30s who has a brain tumour. We share the gospel. He's not ready to turn and believe but wants us to return on Friday.
That evening we have a team meeting and meal. One of the guys is late. When he turns up he shares how he was sharing the gospel with his neighbour and wife. They both turn and believe, and respond to the command to be baptised immediately. They run a bath and baptise them! BOOM!!
I cheekily ask who gave them the authority to baptise - their answer - JESUS did! Oh yes!!
This is a town in Essex! People everywhere are ready to respond to an invitation to follow and obey Jesus! Come on....
The reason people aren't coming to faith in our communities is that we're not sharing. The gospel works. Everywhere.
I never get tired of hearing stories like this. From a friend’s newsletter:
About six weeks ago I decided to go to a city across the border for the day to see who I could find to share the gospel with. During the morning I walked around an area not far from the train station and had a couple of conversations with people but no one seemed to be interested to talk much about Jesus. Praying I said to God, "there must be someone here who wants to know you!" Very quickly after this I had a thought that I needed to go to the university district. So I caught a taxi to the university.
About two mins went by and a lady approached me and asked if I was looking for someone or somewhere in particular? I said to her that I was looking for a KFC or McD's to meet people as I was looking for anyone who was interested to talk about God and the Bible. Then I asked her if this was something she was interested in? She stood there looking at me for a moment then began telling me that herself, her husband and their two children had just been living in America where they used to take their daughter to Awana Club at a Baptist church every Friday evening. She told me they loved the atmosphere and the people but didn't really know a lot about Jesus. She then said something quite astounding.
She said, "We want to know Jesus but we don't know what to do!"
To cut a long story short I arranged a time to return to the university two weeks later where the lady and her husband listened to the gospel message and then gladly received Christ into their lives as Lord and Savior.
Please pray for the family as they begin following Jesus. I have been back three times now to go through some discipleship lessons with them.
He knows how to find a God-prepared person, he knows how to share the gospel, he knows how to disciple new believers and help them form church. He’s doing his job.
Last time we checked in Russell Godward was out searching for houses of peace in Gisambi, Kenya. Now he’s out in Essex looking for people of peace with Dapo.
Here’s the latest from his newsletter:
I’m discipling a young friend, Dapo, in the photo above. Each week we head out into the same part of town to connect with people. We headed down to the Barber's shop to meet a young guy we had been discipling. We meet him on his break each week and share with him at the cafe. We've done this every week now for a couple of months, but today he doesn't show and we can't get hold of him on his mobile. We're disappointed and a little concerned. It's getting dark and cold, so we head around the area to prayer walk before heading home.
As we head back to the car a guy calls across to us. A young friend of Dapo's. Like many 19 year old lads with some street cred, he's full of chat and bravado. We greet and talk a little and then it's time to leave. Before we leave Dapo turns to the guy and does what we've trained him to do - he asks if we can pray for him. At that moment the guy changes, the bravado falls away and he visibly warms to the idea of prayer. I ask him if we can pray for anything specific? He looks me in the eye and says "Yes, 2 years ago this week my older brother at age 21 committed suicide in prison. I miss him and just want to know he's okay". So there on the High Street, as the cold and dark press in on us, we pray for him and his family in Jesus' name.
He looks up and there are tears rolling down his face. We share some comforting words with him and ask after his mum and the family. He needs to leave, but before he does Dapo asks him if we can meet again to share some more? He says yes and we plan a time to meet in the next couple of days. Then he gives us the biggest 'man hug' ever and we head home, encouraged.
Two days later we are waiting in the cafe. He arrives on time, we greet and catch up briefly over a mug of tea. We begin to share more with him; we ask if he feels near or far from God and he talks a little about this. Dapo shares his story, how he came near to God. I share the 3 Circles on a notepad, a simple 'gospel' conversation we use regularly.
I then ask him 3 questions;
- Where are you? He describes his life as being 'broken'.
- Where would you like to be? He'd like to live in God's plan for his life.
- Is there anything stopping you turning and believing today? He says 'no'.
So there in that cafe an amazing miracle happens. We pray together as a young 19 year old guy turns his life over to following Jesus, and we make plans to start meeting to disciple him!
Discipling people like this will be hard work, fraught with difficulty and challenges. Broken people are not put back together overnight, but why would you want to do anything else?
This is what we do on Monday's now!
We are seeking and learning to live like this every day, sent to connect and share with the 'unreached' people of our town and area.
We are offering to serve the church of Thurrock in order to equip and train local believers and churches to share in this way.
We are travelling and training churches and groups across the UK with the MOVE team.
We now exist to multiply new disciples & churches - everywhere!
If you want your Mondays to be different maybe we could come and train with you, your church or a group of churches in your town?
Russell has become our first British born MOVE UK team member. Send me an email if you’d like connect with him and find out more.
There’s a view out there that we don’t need to make a special effort to find people far from God. You don’t need to add something to your already busy life. Just do what you normally do. Hang out with the people you know and the opportunities will come to you — or not.
Then there’s the view that Jesus was always on the move from place to place, like a shepherd looking for lost sheep. My friend Grant takes the second view. Here’s a story from his latest newsletter:
A friend and I were preparing to go out to parks, believing God will lead us to people whom He has prepared to hear the gospel.
As we were praying and asking God to lead us, I remembered an Iranian couple we had met two weeks prior. I believed God wanted us to again go to that same park to meet the couple and share Jesus with them.
As we arrived we looked around but could not see anyone, then over under a tree I saw an older couple whom I recognised; it was the elderly Iranian couple. We walked over and reconnected with them. As we shared more about Jesus, Muhammad said, “I have read many stories of Jesus in Iran and I love Jesus but I cannot follow him because I am Muslim”.
He went on to say, “In Iran if you follow Jesus and the government find out they will put you in prison or even kill you. This is what happens to people there”.
My friend and I began sharing how he didn’t need to give up his culture to follow Jesus and then shared a simple message through drawing a picture that illustrated who Jesus is and how we can be made right with God by going through Jesus. I then shared how Jesus had lead us to the park that day as He had wanted us to share this message with Muhammad and his wife.
When I said this Muhammad said, “Really! Really? Jesus sent you here today?” I said yes and told him that Jesus wants Muhammad to know him. At the point Muhammad had tears rolling down his cheeks and a great joy came across his face.
We ended our time by praying with Muhammad and his wife, giving Muhammad a big hug and arranged to meet him again and share more Jesus stories with him and his wife.