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JL's Journal

September 15, 2014

MOMENTUM IN MINISTRY

“ … those with clean hands will grow stronger

they go from strength to strength … ”

(Job 17:9; Psalm 84:7)

Dear Ministry Partners,

   There is a popular leadership maxim that says: “Momentum is a leader’s best friend.” In many ways that’s true. Whether in marriage, ministry, missions or the marketplace – momentum is essential for growth. However, it is also crucial to remember that building momentum takes time and effort. It’s like pushing a stalled car from a dead standstill. 

   Overcoming inertia in life, marriage or ministry takes a lot of effort – what I call “sweating for Jesus!” Sadly, most young couples in marriage and young Christians in leadership want success without sweat. But the two are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. However, if we will consistently put in the “sweat equity” by faith and obedience, we will build that positive traction and forward momentum that will make things happen for God’s Kingdom and glory. Over time, that momentum will increase in our sphere of influence – and even far beyond our expectations.

   But after a half-century of ministry, it has been my experience that no one builds strong momentum with a large impact overnight – unless it is based on dishonesty, deceit and deception. There are no lottery tickets for spiritual success in life. Neither are there any “get rich quick” schemes when it comes to authentic monetary momentum. Prosperity comes and fortunes are built one dollar at a time. 

   Neither does God make “overnight successes” when it comes to ministry. In any and every area of life, it takes time to build positive traction through a long obedience in the same direction. And that obedience must start first in marriage.  That’s because marriage and ministry are parallel callings. One can be no stronger than the other. That’s why I often teach young leaders: “If you want a strong ministry – build a strong marriage first.” Since marriage is the foundation for ministry – it will either be shaky or solid. A good marriage is the single most positive momentum builder for a strong ministry.

   Another important Biblical principle is this: Momentum is based upon maturity.  Immature individuals make for immature marriages and ministries.  So the more an individual matures, the more his relationships and partnerships mature – or should mature.

   Biblical history and contemporary experience show that ministry maturity flows out of individual maturity. Simply put, mature ministries are led by mature people – like the ones you will read about in this report

   None of our national partners reached individual or ministry maturity overnight.  Like many of us, they are still very much a “work in process.”  While not perfect, each one is in the spiritual process of “… pressing on to maturity” in Christ and for Christ (Heb. 6:1). 

   Therefore, the more mature we are in marriage, ministry, missions or the marketplace, the stronger our momentum will be for the Lord. If we are honest we know that none of us becomes mature in our area of giftedness and calling quickly. Instant sainthood is a spiritual fantasy! There are no short cuts to maturity in any area of life. That’s why success in any endeavor takes time – and plenty of it. 

   When it comes to maturity, I often teach this simple principle:  “God can grow a mushroom overnight – but it takes Him decades to grow an oak tree!”  Sadly, we have a lot of “mushroom ministries” all over the world that are “here today and gone tomorrow!” 

   Any wonder, then, that God said of His people: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor” (Isa. 61:3). That summarizes the purpose for all ministry momentum – to glorify God.  Our good works are for the “ … display of His splendor,” not our own.

   Also, for height and breadth to be sustained – whether in an oak tree or in a Christian – there must first be depth. That’s why God established this principle of growth in the physical, spiritual emotional, mental, social and economic realm:  My people will “ … take root downward and bear fruit upward” (II Kings 19:30; Isa. 37:31). Any wonder that Paul exhorted young Christians to “ … be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being … rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith” (Col. 2:7). 

   That’s how you can tell the difference between a “ministry in the Spirit” and a “ministry in the flesh.” If a ministry is truly “ … a planting of the Lord,” then it will reflect God’s nature and character. Authentic spirituality is always evidenced first and foremost by agape because the “ … fruit of the Spirit is love," meaning that we must be “ … rooted in love, which is the nature of God (Eph. 3:17; Gal. 5:22; I Jn. 4:8).

   Therefore, the greatest builder of momentum in marriage, ministry or missions is LOVE – and lots of it!

   Patt and I are awed and humbled by the forward, upward and outward momentum God has continually graced us with in marriage and ministry for a half century! He has given us influence far wider than we could ever have imagined – or deserved. In this final season of our lives, we are experiencing more and more ministry and mission momentum. And we are acutely aware that “ … the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:23).

   Each week, exciting ministry reports come to us from our beloved partners in many countries of the world – far more reports than we can adequately share! This ministry momentum has out-paced our time and means of reporting. Each of these ministries deserves more attention than we can give them in our weekly email reports because of the momentum they have developed for the Kingdom. However, we do our best to report to you as the ones who make this possible, through your prayers and financial support.

   Patt and I hope that you will be blessed and encouraged by these brief “summary reports” about a number of our partners.

FROM BHUTAN…

   Our partner Markus, who is a native born Bhutanese, makes regular trips inside Bhutan from the Indian border to share Christ, meet with home churches, and to encourage new believers. Since Bhutan is a mountainous country, there is a lot of hiking to do to reach these remote home church fellowships. 

 
Markus trekking in to meet with small home church fellowships,
scattered in the mountains of Bhutan.

 
Sharing God's Word with these underground Believers.

 
Meeting and encouraging house church leaders. A new believer ready for baptism.

FROM BHUTANESE NEPALIS IN ATLANTA…

   In a previous email, we shared about the need of Pastor Santosh Ramdam for a new van for his Bhutanese Church in Atlanta. The one that we gave him several years ago died beyond repair – with over 250,000 miles on it. Through one of our local ministry friends, we were able to buy a used van for them.

    However, the “new” used van is over 30 years old with 90,000 miles on it! So we are still looking for a donation of a newer 15-passenger van for Pastor Santosh’s church ministry. Pastor Santosh continues to minister among the 65,000 Bhutanese Nepali Diaspora in America, individuals who have been repatriated from East Nepal, where I first began working with them some 3 decades ago.

 
Pastor Santosh laments the death of his old van.

 
The new used van we were able to purchase for Santosh for $1,000. After the 
van arrives in Atlanta from Burlington, some of the church members pray and
give thanks for the "new" vehicle.


Pastor Santosh's church in Atlanta meeting in a rented building.

FROM THE MT. EVEREST REGION OF NEPAL…

   Pastor Gyan Sunawar has headed the EBCO (Everest Base Camp Outreach) since its inception over 20 years ago. He has planted churches all the way up to Mt. Everest Base Camp – where churches had never been planted before in history. In order to help with the evangelism and church planting, he started a small Bible School in Jiri, at the foothills of the Himalayas. Each year he trains and mentors young Christian leaders to evangelize and plant churches in this mountainous region.

 
Pastor Gyan addresses this year's graduates from the Bible School
that we help support monthly. 

 
The new graduates receive certificates, and are commissioned for ministry.

 
Please pray for this year's graduating class.

 
The new Bible College students for this year  - ten new evangelists and
church-planters in the making!

MUD SLIDE RELIEF IN NEPAL…

   Sadly, there are monsoon rains and mudslides almost every year in Nepal. As a result, many homes are washed away with a great loss of life. Once again this year, Pastor Hanok headed a relief operation to take in supplies to those who had lost so much.

 
Some of the devastation to homes and lives caused by the horrific mudslide.

 
Pastor Hanok buys supplies with funds provided by our partners through JLPF,
and loads two truckloads of food and cooking supplies for the needy.

 
Two trucks purchased by our ministry partners transport the food supplies,
and the older red truck is newly repaired and loaded to capacity with relief items.

 
The new truck recently purchased for Pastor Hanok, provided through the 
generosity of a ministry partner, is also used for carrying in relief supplies. 
Pastor Hanok helps distribute food and cooking supplies to those who
have lost everything.

 
A victim of the mudslide carries a heavy bag of rice home to feed his family.
Hanok shares with an elderly woman who lost her entire family in the mudslide.

GOAT & PIG DISTRIBUTION IN ZIMBABWE…

   One of our ongoing partnership ministries is to distribute animals to needy people – primarily women and widows. This helps these precious ladies to stand on their own two feet and provide for themselves and their children. Pastor Godfrey Mkolo, assisted by Tailos, has been a key catalyst in this animal distribution program in Zimbabwe.

 
Tailos and Godfrey prepare for a goat distribution, and Godfrey assists the women
as they receive their goats.

 
Each woman pledges to give back their "first born" goat to the program
so that other needy women can be blessed. At right, pigs are ready to
be distributed.

NEW HOUSE & ABLUTION BLOCK IN HWANGE, ZIMBABWE…

   Last year we were able to build a large, beautiful “African Tabernacle” for one of our oldest partners in Zimbabwe, Pastor Simon Mkolo. But there was also a great need for an “Ablution Block” (toilets) for the hundreds of people who use this facility regularly. So, through the generous donation of $25,000 by a ministry partner, we have almost completed this much-needed facility.

 
Tailos, who supervised all of these building projects, stands with me in front
of the "African Tabernacle". The nearly completed Ablution Block, with
one side for men and the other side for women.

 
The foundation for a new home for Tailos has been laid and prepared 
on the Conference Center Campus. The total cost of his new home
  is just $3,000 - half of which we have already sent by faith.
We are now praying for a matching donor who will give the other
 $1,500 to complete this much needed home for this dear brother.

PIEDMONT MEN OF STEEL CONFERENCE IN BURLINGTON…

   Each year it is my privilege and joy to spend a half-day teaching a Leadership Seminar for Rev. Woody Lamm and Pastor Ron Harris. Both Woody and his wife Nancy are former NDI staff members. Woody was an NDI Board Member and is now a member of the Board for JLPF. Founder of PMOS (Piedmont Men of Steel) along with Pastor Harris, Woody and Nancy with Ron and Patricia are raising up and mentoring the “down-and-outers” who are struggling to rise above a life of crime and substance abuse. They are helped and supported by beloved NDI icon Rev. Herbie Spruill. Through the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, these men’s lives are being transformed into trophies of God’s grace!  So it was a special honor for me to spend time teaching these leaders for the fifth consecutive year when I am in country.

 
Teaching the leaders of the various North Carolina chapters of PMOS.

 
Herbie always blesses and challenges us with his tearful exhortations
and joyous rendition of his trademark song, "I Feel Good". As I stand
between Pastor Ron Harris and Pastor Woody Lamm after the recent
Leadership Seminar, I feel that I am between two spiritual giants
for the Lord Jesus!

CONCLUSIONS

   Thank you for this opportunity to share a brief ministry and mission snapshot from a few of our strategic partners. Through their faithfulness, each has built strong ministry momentum for the Lord Jesus. And it has been our joy to do all we can to help them build some of that spiritual momentum for God’s Kingdom in their sphere of influence – all because of God’s grace and your partnership!

In Him … through Him … for Him, all things (Rom. 11:36),

 & 

JL & Patt

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