February Heartbeat

Dressing to Go to Church

It’s Sunday morning – time to get ready for church. Depending on the time of year and where you live, this could mean adding several layers of clothing to protect yourself against whatever elements you’ll face as you head out the door  ̶  sweater, scarf, coat, gloves, life jacket. Wait, life jacket? Probably not, unless, of course, you are Pastor Adam Issah and his wife, Florence.

 

Several times a week, Pastor Adam and Florence slip on their life jackets, climb into a boat and cross the river to follow God’s leading in their lives to reach the people of Adenekpa. The Adenekpa community is in the region of Kogi State, where the people are cut off from others by a combination of two big rivers, “river Benue and river Niger.”

 

This Free Methodist (FM) church plant, which is part of the Middle Belt Eastern Conference, began as a response to a request by a family who relocated from the Free Methodist Church in Emiworo about four to five years ago. This family lived there without a church to fellowship in for a long time. In response to their request, several efforts were made to start a viable church plant, despite the definite risks involved. Though there is a high concentration of Muslims, there are many who long for the gospel of Christ.

 

The FM Church of Nigeria is fully committed to seeing this ministry develop. During the annual meetings for the Middle Belt Eastern Conference, Superintendent Mathias Emenike shared about the many challenges facing several churches in the conference. The Adenekpa work was among those. A special offering taken during the conference was specifically designated to help toward meeting the needs of this church plant. The funds given that day are being used to construct a small place of worship where the new believers will meet and give glory to God.

 

The opportunity for ministry is great in this small village. We thank God for the willingness of Pastor Adam and Florence to put their lives at risk week after week, so others have the opportunity to know the One Who promises salvation to all. Please join in praying for the leading of the Holy Spirit in all Pastor Adam and Florence are doing. Every time they cross the river, may there be more people waiting to receive the good news of Jesus Christ!

 

By Vickie Reynen

Transformation Through Families

 

As a mother of five daughters and one son, Pastor Nse Emenike knows something about raising a family in challenging times. Pastor Nse and her husband, Superintendent Mathias Emenike, have been married for more than 20 years. They understand the trials Nigerian couples and families face. They also know church is the place for families to find help in meeting those challenges.

As pastor of the Enugu Free Methodist (FM) Church in Nigeria, Pastor Nse is committed to building strong families. Strong families create strong churches, and strong churches provide a place to build strong families.

One basic principle in building strong families is  commitment to the marriage. In a Nigerian context, this means going back to the foundation and ensuring couples have taken the right steps in formalizing their marriage. Often the cost of traditional marriages and church weddings discourages couples from following the biblical and cultural principles of marriage.

Pastor Nse knows there is a better way. As couples have responded to biblical counsel, they have chosen to honor and respect their extended families by taking the right steps traditionally, legally and biblically.  The church holds a “Marriage Blessing” ceremony allowing couples an opportunity to thank God for His help and renew their commitment to live according to His Word. In November 2019, five couples participated in a “Marriage Blessing” ceremony. This ceremony is transformational, not only for the families involved but as a testimony to the youth of the church. They are encouraged to make godly choices regarding their marriages and families. The church anticipates more couples will take these steps in 2020.

Families are also celebrated through “Family Sundays.” On the last Sunday of every month, at the Enugu FM church, couples are encouraged to bring all their family members to worship together. Prizes are awarded, and valuable lessons shared on the sanctity of marriage and healthy family life. The lessons are for the families in the church – but also geared to teach the community what a godly family can be.

God, through the efforts of Pastor Nse and her family, has brought many families to a true knowledge of Himself. Husbands have repented and become committed to their wives and children. Children are testifying of good relationships with their parents. Transformation is happening, and God is receiving glory!

By Vickie Reynen

Unreached in West Africa

After seven years of traveling throughout West Africa (Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger and Senegal), here are my observations about church planting in West Africa.

The first missionaries who came to Africa primarily located along the sea, beginning their ministries there. They did what they could, and they did well, some even paying with their lives. But soon colonization brought confusion. It became difficult to distinguish between the colonist and the Western missionary.

In Togo, the gospel has spread well in the south, in Guinea in the forest region, and in Ivory Coast around Abidjan. But large regions remain the domain of animists and Muslims. The primary efforts of churches today are still focused on where Western missionaries first started. The areas where Islam is developed are ignored, or if there are churches there, most of the members are Christians who came from an area where Western missionaries began work.

Some Christians will tell me, “We are praying for Muslim areas and have sent pastors to these regions.” It is possible pastors went, but many have failed.

In these claims, one discovers the unreached people of West Africa are unrecognized  ̶  not in view. Many pastors try to use the same strategy they applied in the Christianized areas from which they came. They have a thirst to see many converts in a short time. But in this strategy, there is a lack of love and a lack of missional thinking or behavior.

The question to be answered is: Why are Muslim areas still unreached in West Africa where Western churches or orthodox churches are celebrating their 100th anniversary?

I am tempted to say we don’t need pastors; we need missionaries. Of course, we need pastors, but the church in West Africa must start teaching about mission. We need specific strategies and leadership development for this work. Only mission work reaching and using local people can reach the unrecognized population. About 95% of the population in Mali, Senegal and Guinea is unreached and far too unrecognized. If the church in West Africa does not develop and send local leaders, these people will remain unreached.

Free Methodist World Missions in Africa understands this urgent need. The Wesley Missionary Institute is being developed to train local workers to apply the best strategies for effectively reaching animists and Muslims with the gospel message. We have a vision to reach the unrecognized populations and see the kingdom of God expand throughout West Africa.

By Rev. Dosseh Takpale

World Missions Prayer Calendar: February

01 Saturday | Senegal

Praise the Lord and pray for a new affiliation! The Genesis Conference developed a relationship with several pastors in Senegal. In 2019, through a cooperate effort of the conference, FMWM and the West Africa area leadership, the group formalized their wish to affiliate with the Free Methodist Church.

02 Sunday | Thailand

Pray for four female pastors in Thailand working with Burmese refugees, ethnic Chinese, Malay and tribal Lahu. Ask the Lord to provide spiritual strength and needed resources for these four women.

03 Monday | Kenya

VISA missionaries Roger and Deb Varland have been teaching at Rift Valley Academy (RVA) in Kijabe, Kenya, since August 2016 and plan to continue until 2021. Pray for continued energy to love, serve and mentor students.

Birthday: Deborah Varland

04 Tuesday | Russia

Impact Europe has partnered with international missionaries Michael and Tanya Mendakoff, who have been working with orphans in Russia since 2003. Pray for a group of people in Russia working together to disciple young Christians. Their goal is to plant a Free Methodist church by May 2020.

05 Wednesday | Nicaragua

Pastor Hieubert Zapata and his wife, Sandra, oversee the Free Methodist Church in Nicaragua. Pray for Sandra, who has suffered from some health issues. Ask the Lord to renew her strength.

Birthday: Sandra Centenos Zapata (international missionary)

06 Thursday | Middle East

One ministry team of 70 volunteers serves approximately 2,500 prisoners, including violent offenders. Pray God will give wisdom to these volunteers as they share the good news of Jesus with the inmates, their families, and the families of their victims.

07 Friday | SEED

Pray for Brian Graybill, the SEED administrator. Thank the Lord for his organizational and administrative skills and his heart for economic justice.

08 Sunday | Creative Access – L

Give thanks to the Lord for those who have been baptized in recent months. Pray specifically for six young people being discipled and trained to become future leaders.

09 Sunday | Greece

Pray for continuing partnerships, resources and personnel to assist with the ongoing ministry to immigrants and refugees.

10 Monday | Middle East

Many in the northern area of one country are survivors of ISIS; pray for the physical strength and emotional healing of those who work with them daily. Also, pray for the multiplication of disciples and groups in this region.

Birthday: Hany

11 Tuesday | Honduras

In November 2019, Honduras was officially established as a mission district with a new leader, Pastor Daisy Arzú. Give thanks to the Lord for the growth of this work and pray the Holy Spirit will guide the church in the days ahead.

 

12 Wednesday | Rwanda

In 2020, FMWM will be handing over management of the Kibogora mission station to the Free Methodist Church of Rwanda. Pray for the church as it works out this plan and for the uninterrupted guest house services for all the short-term mission volunteers who pass through.

 

13 Thursday | Myanmar

The Light and Life Bible College was started in 2005 to train pastors and church planters. Pray for the 15 students currently enrolled there.

14 Friday | Middle East

Pray for Dawn as she travels with her husband, Dale, Middle East area director. Ask the Lord to give her wisdom and spiritual insight to be a special encouragement to the women in this region.

Birthday: Dawn

15 Saturday | Brazil

Pray for Dan Owsley to be strengthened by God’s grace and wisdom as he develops a team to sharpen the focus and revitalize the seminary in São Paulo. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading in this new endeavor. Dan started this new assignment in January.

Birthday: Dan Owsley

16 Sunday | Spain

The Mosaic Cultural Center was created to be a missional bridge to the community. The center is a vital part of the FM ministry in Spain. Pray for volunteers who partner with them and for those they serve, including the many immigrants.

17 Monday | Paraguay

Pray for the 22 churches in Paraguay. Their vision is to reach lost people for Christ. Pray for effective ministry in their communities that will result in entire families coming to know Jesus Christ.

 

18 Tuesday | Middle East

Many in the Middle East suffer from fear. Pray all will seek the Lord and that He will answer them and deliver them from all their fears (Psalms 34:4).

19 Wednesday|Sierra Leone

Pray for the growing work in Sierra Leone and for Superintendent Rufus Kahn from Liberia, who is providing community church planting training for their leaders.

20 Thursday | Creative Access-N

There were 25 new churches in Creative Access Country-N in 2019. Praise the Lord! Pray for Abraham, the country leader, as he continues to train and develop leaders for this expanding work.

21 Friday | Portugal

Pray for Eduardo and Cindi Angelo as they lead the work in Portugal, seeking to nurture leaders and establish new FM church plants.

22 Saturday | Haiti

Pray for the Haitian bishop and pastors as they minister amid the daily stress of trying to help those around them, especially during the unrest and violence of the past year. Pray the Holy Spirit will encourage them and fill them with renewed hope.

Birthday: Dan Snyder (Haiti), Eduardo Angelo (international missionary-Portugal)

23 Sunday | Set Free

Pray for the Set Free team in Jackson, MI, as it launches a campaign for My Place, which will serve as transitional housing and provide holistic services to youth and young adults in vulnerable circumstances.

24 Monday | Togo

Students from across West Africa will be trained at the Wesley Missionary Institute to be missionaries and cross-cultural gospel workers. Pray for the needed scholarship support for 10 students.

25 Tuesday | Hong Kong

Pray for the continued ministry of Filipino churches ministering to domestic helpers who emigrated from the Philippines.

26 Wednesday | Europe

Pray God will give wisdom and discernment to Europe Area Director Josh Fajardo as he works together with other leaders, exploring the possibilities of partnerships and FM ministry in Germany and Romania.

27 Thursday | Latin America

Because of social and political challenges in Latin America, there are many new opportunities for the gospel of Christ. Pray for FM brothers and sisters who have fled their home country and are now planting churches throughout the region.

28 Friday | Creative Access-V

There are now close to 50 churches in this country. Many of the pastors live in significant poverty. Pray God will meet their physical needs as they seek to provide for others in need while also giving spiritual nourishment.

29 Saturday | Missionary Children

On this special day of the year, pray for an extraordinary group of children – our MKs. Ask the Lord to pour out His love, kindness and encouragement on them.