Thriving from East to West . . . Africa
By Vickie Reynen
Thrive Kenya leaders Yvonne Mtafuta and Lillian Kanji were excited, eager and a bit nervous in the weeks leading up to their first international mission trip. They had the opportunity to travel to West Africa where they would share about Thrive with the FMC in Lomé, Togo. Yvonne and Lillian loved the experience of “international travel.” Flying for the first time is always exciting ̶ right? But there was so much more that made this trip an unforgettable experience for them and others!
Over the week, Yvonne and Lillian had several opportunities to share their calling to Thrive. The first opportunity was with a core group of young women from the Free Methodist Church in Lomé. Through several training sessions, they covered topics like discipleship, child protection, online safety and raising awareness of gender-based violence and human trafficking. The ladies from Togo were very engaged and eager to learn. Within a few days, the young women in Togo took the lead as they taught during the distribution of Days for Girls Kits at the FMC school in Tchore. The young women in Togo even did a presentation for the women’s group at the FMC in Lomé. They did a great job and were well received.
Yvonne and Lillian also taught students at the Wesley Missionary Institute (WMI). These two young women are excellent teachers, and the students were engaged and eager to learn. It was eye-opening for everyone, as the different cultural perspectives came into play regarding the causes of human trafficking and gender-based violence. Typically these topics are not addressed well by the government or the church – so having this opportunity to have frank, honest discussions was huge! As these missionary students graduate and return home to begin their cross-cultural mission work, they become better prepared and more aware.
What a blessing to know that while the Thrive “movement” will continue strong in Kenya, it is also being established in Togo as the “New Thrive Generation” group begins to grow. And hopefully, every student who goes out from Wesley Missionary will impact the communities they serve. From Kenya to Togo, from East to West, and even beyond ̶ may the hearts and lives of many be transformed and, yes, rescued ̶ for the Glory of God!
The Logical Choice
By Mike Reynen
Kalson was a member of Full Gospel Mission back home in the north. But when he came to Douala (Cameroon), he occasionally fellowshipped with the Free Methodists. “Occasionally” is an honest and generous adverb.
Kalson is a teacher of philosophy and logic. About two years ago, he came south looking for work. He did find work but did not find time for God. He felt he needed God but says about those days, “Because of rent, I needed to work, and so I set the things of God aside.”
Before teaching, he was involved in retail sales of West African colorful material. At one point, he handed quite a bit of money to a person he trusted. This person was to go and buy a supply of material but never came back. This experience was near the onset of a phase of Kalson’s life in which he remarks, “Life was not moving. I was not focused. I was a student and heavily indebted.” This phase ran continuously from his days in retail sales to the time he got the teaching job.
My life was a mess. But, truly, getting the teaching job was an answer to my prayers and a special part of God’s plan for me. At some point, remarkable things started happening to me. Some teachers’ salaries were being reduced, and other teachers were not paid. Mine went up! I also got an unexpected text from Pastor Wilson. I saw at that time the need to commit myself to God.
I asked Kalson how life has changed since he committed his life to God. He said, “Back then, I couldn’t fast. Now I fast and pray. I couldn’t get up in the morning and pray. Now I do.” Kalson glorifies God for His continued unusual favor through the teaching job. He does not have the customarily required certificate for teaching students at this level. But the school wants him to keep right on teaching! Kalson also teaches Sunday school in the Free Methodist Church in Douala.
The decision to commit his life to God has given Klason new focus and purpose. It was indeed the logical and right choice!
Available and Willing!
By Rev. Bern Kalukusha
Pastor Yembekezeni Kantini leads a growing Free Methodist church just outside the capital city of Lilongwe, Malawi, in a village called Mtonda. Though a fully organized society, the Mtonda Free Methodist Church had been without a pastor for some time following the death of its pastor. The conference had been unable to provide one, as there was no available trained pastor. During this time, Yembekezeni Kantini volunteered to lead the church. Yembekezeni had no theological training, but he was willing and available.
Here was a man who wanted to serve God in a pastoral capacity but had no pastoral training. To make matters worse, he did not know English. Knowing English would allow him to study at Great Commission Bible School. However, when the principal of the school, who doubles as the interim superintendent of the conference, saw Yembekezeni’s zeal and enthusiasm for the things of God, the Great Commission Bible School provided special theological classes for him and a few others with similar situations.
Yembekezeni Kantini has proved to be a fast learner. He is leading the church well, and the church is growing both spiritually and numerically. He has been evangelizing in the nearby villages of Kaluzi and Nathenje. Yembekezeni has was assigned an ordained minister as an overseer. With this pastor’s help, Yembekezeni recently baptized 75 adults into full membership of the Free Methodist Church. Holy Communion was celebrated! And around 25 men and women recommitted their lives to Jesus and received a warm welcome back into the church! This can only be God at work!
The Rev. Bern Kalukusha is the principal of the Great Commission Bible School, which was launched decades ago under the direction of Henry and Bonnie Church. Leadership was passed to succeeding missionaries Ryan and Katie Bartlett and Ryan and Jenn Wilson. Later it was placed in the hands of Rev. Kalukusha. Right from the beginning, the school aimed at being particularly adapted to the pastoral education needs of their context. This account of Yembekezeni’s specific learning needs and the school’s response shows the school’s steady eye for expanding the reach of the church in Malawi. The Great Commission Bible School welcomes visiting teachers and mission teams.
World Missions Prayer Calendar: August
01 Monday | Creative Access Asia-BG
Pray for Derek, the country leader, as he leads the church in boldly sharing Jesus within their difficult context. Pray for the 291 people groups that have yet to hear the gospel message.
02 Tuesday | Portugal
During the pandemic, cell groups met online. Pray for renewed enthusiasm and spiritual fervency for cell group members and leaders as they gather again in person.
03 Wednesday | Bahamas
Pray for Pastor Leonard Roberts as he helps the Grace and Peace church in Nassau reengage their community following the COVID pandemic.
04 Thursday | Middle East
Thank the Lord for the ongoing expansion of the church throughout the region. In 2021, Impact Middle East workers entered three new countries and established five new church-planting networks.
05 Friday | Rwanda
Pray for the medical ministry of the Kibogora Hospital and the neighboring health care centers.
Birthday: Emmanuel Nzungize
06 Saturday | Creative Access Asia-PN
Pray for the plans and resources needed to launch new churches in seven villages where initial contacts have been made.
07 Sunday | Eswatini
Eswatini was formerly Swaziland. Pray for God’s leading and empowerment as the two churches seek to expand work and reach new communities with the gospel.
08 Monday | Bulgaria
Pray for the Galloways to have wisdom and guidance as they enter a new season of ministry. Ask God to lead and guide their every step and provide for their personal and ministry needs. Birthday: Dee Dee Galloway
09 Tuesday | Haiti
The political and social situation in Haiti remains dangerous. Pray for God’s protection, provision and wisdom for our FM leaders and ICCM schools.
10 Wednesday | Egypt
Praise the Lord for more than 3,100 leaders trained since January 2022.
11 Thursday | Set Free Movement
Pray for our Set Free leaders in Hungary and throughout Europe as they continue partnering with the European Freedom Network to protect vulnerable women and children coming out of Ukraine.
12 Friday | Creative Access Asia-IN
Praise the Lord for the ongoing expansion and ministry of the FM hospital in this country. Pray that many will find healing for their souls even as they seek healing for their bodies.
13 Saturday | Guatemala
Praise the Lord! Guatemala becomes an official mission district this month. Pray for all the pastors to have peace and confidence as they begin working together as part of the FMC.
14 Sunday | Southeast Asia
Thom Cahill is part of a team developing leaders across Asia. Pray the Lord will continue to call new leaders who will receive training to reach and disciple new and existing believers for the expansion of God’s kingdom.
Birthday: Thom Cahill
15 Monday | Albania
After two years of delay due to the pandemic, leaders officially launched the ministry in Albania in late May. Pray for the core group as they build relationships and begin outreach in the community.
16 Tuesday | Chile
Ask God to bring continued blessing and new fruitfulness to the women’s ministry in Laurie Sheriff’s home in Chile.
Birthday: Laurie Sheriff
17 Wednesday | Thailand
Praise the Lord! There were 44 new believers in our Thailand churches in May. Give thanks and pray for these new believers and the continued fruitful ministry of FM churches across Thailand.
Birthday: Corey Persing
18 Thursday |Liberia
Pray for the effective ministry of primary schools started in several churches. Ask for God’s wisdom as they make plans to open more schools.
19 Friday | Iraq
Pray for workers continuing to give crisis counseling to women. In 2021 they served more than 200 women. Ask the Father to bring wholeness to these women.
20 Saturday | Uganda
Rwanda and Kenya both initiated FM work in Uganda. Pray for wisdom and unity as leadership works together to guide churches and integrate the work.
21 Sunday | ICCM
Liberia struggles with a “resource curse,” an unstable government and limited infrastructure. ICCM opened in Liberia in 2016. Pray for sponsored children in this country.
22 Monday | Creative Access Asia-HK
The sociopolitical climate of this nation has changed dramatically in the past two years. Pray the church will find creative new ways to communicate the gospel and experience a new season of fruitfulness.
23 Tuesday | Jordan
Pray for the women’s discipleship and leadership training groups launched this past year. Ask the Lord to raise women who will be well equipped to courageously and creatively share the gospel.
24 Wednesday | Bulgaria
Join David and Jill Sweet in special prayer for ministries in Bulgaria – the expansion of the Bible school, fruitful harvest from the Pure Farm, women being welcomed into the safe home, and the next wave of church plants.
Birthday: David Sweet
25 Thursday | Paraguay
Five pastors in the annual conference retired this past year. Pray for the calling and development of new leaders for the present and the future.
26 Friday | Burundi
Pray for the FM church in Burundi as they reach out wholistically to communities through agricultural programs and small-business opportunities.
27 Saturday | Ireland
Pray for several new church plants throughout Ireland. Ask the Father to strengthen the leaders and prepare people who will be open to the gospel.
28 Sunday | Creative Access Country-X
This country now has an annual conference and a mission district in the west. Pray for wisdom and guidance for Pastor Casto and Pastor Hector as they lead the work of the church.
29 Monday | Creative Access Asia-CA
The cultural climate in this nation continues to change and become increasingly antagonistic to the church. Pray believers will have the courage and boldness to remain faithful to Jesus.
30 Tuesday | Ethiopia
Pray for the Ethiopian church’s continued passion to evangelize despite the persecution many have faced over the past several months.
31 Wednesday | Chile
Ask the Father to equip Rich Sheriff to effectively fulfill his responsibilities within the Latin America area team as well as pastoring the local church in San Pedro de la Paz, on the edge of Concepción, Chile.
Birthday: Rich Sheriff