Leaders – Transformed, Fearless & Committed
I am writing this article while sitting in a meeting with 120 men and women in the Middle East. These national leaders came in a packed bus to meet in this secure location. I move carefully out of the sight of those who are watching outside our compound. If they discover my presence, we will need to report my activities to the authorities. Because we are in an area controlled by the radical element of another religious group, this is something we don’t want to happen.
The leaders come from across this geographical region. Each has planted at least five house churches, and all are training others to begin home churches. The worship times are full of joy and anticipation. The prayer is heartfelt and compelling. All tell stories of supernatural power in Jesus Christ.
John*, who is about 23 years old, is participating in the training. He was raised in the traditions of the majority religious faith, memorized his holy book and went to prayers five times a day. In John’s earnest pursuit of God, one evening, Jesus appeared to him in a dream. Jesus had a message: “The thief comes to steal and destroy; I have come that YOU may have life!” John did not know the man in his dream and had never heard the message. He woke up and Googled the message from his dream. The answer he found was the words of Jesus from John 10:10. Over the next three months, John read the entire New Testament and made contact with one of our leaders. After becoming a believer, John was threatened and persecuted by his family in many ways. Now he serves as a full-time minister in his country.
Unlike John, many of the other leaders are construction workers, housewives, government workers, doctors, lawyers and other professionals. Some are farmers in poor villages. The group is a true mix of cultural status and position.
Like John, many have encountered Jesus in amazing and supernatural ways. They also have been persecuted for their faith. But these leaders are able to move into areas where North America Christians could never go. They are bold and passionate about serving Jesus.
God is at work in some of the most difficult places using this group of leaders in the Middle East – raising other leaders, building up the body of Christ and expanding His kingdom.
*John is a fictitious name used to protect the individual.
By Dr. Dale
From Northern Iraq to the World
Through support and partnership in kingdom work, Impact Middle East (IME) leaders have trained over 40 church planters in 2019. These individuals from different backgrounds are beginning to sow seeds throughout Northern Iraq and beyond.
We have intentionally targeted diverse populations because of the diverse nature of the region where multiple ethnic groups coexist. We are empowering local leaders from at least 11 ethnic backgrounds to share the grace and truth of Jesus Christ and plant multiplying churches.
The intensely diverse nature of the region gives IME a unique opportunity to reach the world for Christ through impacting various people groups. Because of people movement and displacement, the seeds IME workers plant in Northern Iraq get sown throughout the world.
Two Syrian refugee families who were trained in Northern Iraq ended up settling in Australia. They are now part of outreach among Arabs in Australia.
An Iraqi family returned to its home in Mosul after ISIS was overcome. The family has now planted two house churches in Mosul.
Another family has now planted a church in a creative access area. Currently, there are over 40 people worshiping weekly and a large children’s ministry for the families of new believers in this area.
For several years, we have invested in local leaders from one particular city near the border of a neighboring country. We have trained church planters who have come from the majority background, and the work has now multiplied to reach over 250 people. Some of these new believers have relatives across the border. These brothers and sisters are crossing the border to share the good news of Jesus with relatives and are baptizing new believers inside this difficult country. The Word of God cannot be chained.
God is at work in Northern Iraq where we see unprecedented kingdom opportunities for unreached people groups. The IME team on the ground has a big vision to reach the nations for Christ through the diverse fabric of this region. Pray that as we train and invest in new local leaders, they will catch fire for kingdom multiplication. Pray they will go and make disciples throughout the Middle East and the world.
In January 2019, Impact Middle East (IME) began work inside one of the most dangerous countries in the region. This country is frequently in our news headlines with stories of government chaos, war, mass killings, ISIS control, and persecution of both Muslims and Christians. For security purposes, we cannot name the country.
One of our leaders from a neighboring country put together a prayer team of five people who literally risked personal safety and traveled into this dangerous country. These five people prayed that God would lead them to a Luke chapter 10 person of peace.
God provided not just one person of peace but FIVE. If I listed the names of the cities and locations where these persons of peace were found, you would most likely recognize each
place – not for church planting but the horrors of war.
Our national leaders have faithfully been traveling into this country twice a month. They are providing training, encouragement and leadership for a new group of house churches. These leaders have witnessed the horrors of war and the savage treatment of people. On one visit to a house church, they entered the town, seeing decapitated bodies in the city center. There is no formal security or police control in the area, only the religious system of punishment.
On Easter Sunday, one of the house churches was attacked. The men were dragged into the street. They were all given the option to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ or die. Not a single man would renounce his faith in Christ. God protected them, they were beaten with sticks and bruised, but not a single bone was broken!
This country still spins in chaos. The presence of ISIS remains, and in many areas, the government has no control. But now, in January 2020, one year after IME leaders entered the country praying for a person of peace, what is different? The difference is 20 to 25 new house churches in one of the most challenging areas of the world. God is appearing to people in dreams. He is transforming lives, protecting His church and blessing His followers who stand firm in proclaiming the name of Jesus.
By Dr. Dale
World Missions Prayer Calendar: December
01 Wednesday | Intl. Missionaries
FMWM is happy to have international missionaries partnering with us in several areas of the world. Eunice Alvarez, from Mexico, works alongside U.S. missionaries and national leaders in Ecuador. Raouf Soliman, from Egypt, is partnering to reach Arabs in Europe. Pray for the strengthening of these partnerships with the FM Church around the world.
Birthday: Raouf Soliman, Rodolfo Veronese (International Missionaries)
02 Thursday | Southeast Asia
Roger and Ellen Haskins begin their assignment in Asia this month. They will serve to provide support and encouragement for leaders across Southeast Asia. Pray for wisdom
03 Friday | Greece
Praise the Lord for many new believers among those who have immigrated into Greece. Pray for them to be discipled and mature in their faith. Ask the Lord to raise up godly leaders who will be able to share the gospel with others from their home country
04 Saturday | Costa Rica
Nearly half of the population lives in the central valley surrounding the capital city of San Jose. Pray for continued multiplication of churches in the cities of the central valley.
05 Sunday | Africa
Mike Reynen found his unique travel schedule in 2019 resulted in a personal setback in French language studies. He plans to revive his French studies for 2020 and would appreciate your prayers for much progress. Birthday: Mike Reynen
06 Monday | Iraq
Many refugees in Northern Iraq have faced the trauma of losing everything – home, job, relationships and memories. Pray for them to find healing and wholeness. Pray they will find a new identity as beloved children of God.
07 Tuesday | Ecuador/ Hungary
Ecuador: Ask the Lord to give wisdom to J.R. Crouse as he mentors candidates going through pastoral formation in Ecuador.
Hungary: There is a need in Budapest for people to help with children’s ministry, outreach and evangelism, English ministries, web and technical development, hospitality, and more. Pray for people to be called and raised up to serve.
Birthday: J.R. Crouse (Ecuador), Larry Winckles (Hungary)
08 Wednesday | Togo
Lomé remains the hub for Free Methodist outreach ministries in Togo. Pray for a cluster of fellowships around Sokodé to develop into fully organized churches. Pray for country leader Dosseh Takpale as he leads church planting efforts in Togo and into new areas of West Africa.
09 Thursday | Asia
Pray for Asia Area Director Eric and the Asia Leadership Team as they meet in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this week. Pray for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as they work on strategic plans for developing leaders and reaching new areas and people groups in Asia with the gospel.
10 Friday | Portugal
Pray for pastors Santiago and Laysse Magalhaes, who lead the church in Lisbon, Portugal. The church currently meets in a hotel. Ask the Lord to provide a permanent facility for their worship and youth ministry.
11 Saturday | SEED
Pray for the SEED staff and volunteers as they work together to complete their annual inventory process this month.
12 Sunday | Middle East
Pray humbly before the Lord, asking Him to give you a new love and compassion for the people of this region.
13 Monday | Latin America
The Latin American missionary team will gather for a retreat in Jardín, Colombia, January 13-18. Pray for the refreshment and spiritual encouragement of the missionaries and their children. Pray for Area Director Ricardo Gómez as he leads in vision casting. Birthday: David Lopez (International Missionary)
14 Tuesday | Creative Access – BG
There are now more than 25 churches and another 25 church plants/preaching points established in this country. Pray for the needed resources to support this growing work.
15 Wednesday | Uganda
The Free Methodist Church in Uganda recently became a provisional general conference. Pray for Bishop Hamlet Mbabazi as he leads the churches in Uganda. Pray for the discipleship of believers and the development of holistic ministries.
16 Thursday | Bulgaria
Pray for the church in Petrich. Ask the Father to help them mature in their faith and learn to communicate the gospel in their community effectively.
Birthday: Diane Mellinger
17 Friday | Egypt
Thank the Lord for the lives and relationships transformed by the love of Jesus. Pray they will continue to grow in the understanding and knowledge of God.
18 Saturday | Cambodia
Pray for the fulfillment of the vision to plant 300 house churches in Cambodia. Pray for Superintendent Daniel Sar as he encourages the church toward this goal.
19 Sunday | Cameroon
Pray for an end to a longstanding conflict in this country that has escalated in the past year, leaving many people displaced as they seek areas of safety. Ask God to strengthen and encourage the church.
20 Monday | Australia
Pray for Mark Barigye, a recent graduate of Greenville University, who will be serving a VISA assignment in Darwin, Australia. He will help establish connections in the community and assist in church planting efforts.
21 Tuesday | Spain
Phil and Debra Gilmore anticipate joining the missionary team in Spain sometime this month. Pray for them as they form new relationships within the community and with the ministry team.
22 Wednesday | Nicaragua
Pray for peace and justice amid much political and social unrest. Ask God to give District Leader Hiuberth Zapata wisdom and strength to lead the church and ministries through these challenging circumstances.
23 Thursday | Set Free
Eden’s Glory is a residential home serving women who have come out of exploitive situations where they have been sold for the benefit and profit of others. Pray for healing and wholeness for these women. Pray they will know their value in the eyes of their Creator.
24 Friday | Burundi
The church in Burundi ministers to the whole person through medical ministry. These ministries include public health education, maternity centers, nutritional centers and Hope Hospital of Kibuye. Pray for both physical and spiritual wholeness to come as a result of these ministries.
25 Saturday | Sri Lanka
There are more than 35,000 villages that have had no Christian contact. Pray for the gospel to reach these villages.
26 Sunday | Hungary
Péter Tóth is the first Hungarian ordained elder. He became the lead pastor of the Budapest fellowship in September of 2019. Zsuzsa Mécseri-McNamara, a conference ministerial candidate and coordinator of the Set Free Movement in Hungary, became the assistant pastor. Pray for God’s wisdom to be with both young leaders.
Birthday: Katie Winckles
27 Monday | Guinea Bissau
Praise the Lord for new believers recently baptized and more than a dozen leaders who are being trained for church planting. Pray for the maturity and expansion of the church in Guinea Bissau.
28 Tuesday | Mexico
Poverty, addictions, violence and government corruption are all problems in Mexico. Pray for transformation in individual lives that will lead to communities transformed into places of life and peace.
29 Wednesday | Creative Access-C
Pray for Keith as he trains students who will then teach others what it means to follow the Father. Pray for multiplication of his efforts as his students return to their villages to train others.
30 Thursday | Jordan
Pray for our leaders and their families that God will continue to strengthen them and give them boldness to proclaim the gospel message.
31 Friday | Latin America
Guy and Betsy Crawford provide pastoral care and support for the missionaries in Latin America. Ask God to encourage them as they seek to encourage others.
Birthday: Guy Crawford