On my first visit to the church, I said to myself, “I will change them.”
At 18 years old, I was a good Muslim from Iran. During the winter of 2018, I decided to leave my family and home for a chance to study in Germany. I failed several times, attempting to escape Iran. Once they took all my belongings, even my shoes, and the police sent me back, forcing me to walk through the mountains and snow. I never gave up because I was desperate. Having an Iranian mother, an Afghan father and being born in Iran meant I was a person without a country and a future. Iranian law does not give legal existence to Afghans.
On my way to Germany, I got stuck in Thessaloniki, Greece. There in the camp, while living in a tent, someone invited me to church. I said, “No, why would I go to church? I am Muslim.” The man told me the church could help with asylum. He also said there was food. After my first Sunday at the Free Methodist Church Anagenesis, I determined to change them. I took a Bible to read in my hot tent. I knew I would find wrong things.
As I began to read first the Gospel of Matthew, I was fascinated. The more I read, the more I wanted to know. I came to the place where Jesus cried out on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they have done.” As a young child, I was abused, and my parents neglected me. As the youngest sibling, I was the servant and was forced to work early in the morning before school and after school, too. My studies were my escape from misery. In the words of Jesus, I found hope and healing for my repressed bitterness. I decided to try what Jesus did. Walking outside the camp, I prayed until forgiveness gave me release. I then realized I loved Jesus more than Mohammed.
In 2018 Jesus became my Savior, and in August 2019 I was baptized. Now I am a student at the Greek Bible College in Athens, and I am learning my “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” Jesus is the answer for my people; Iranians need to know Jesus. Someday I hope to return to my home country and preach to my people.
The church in Greece is helping transform lives. I am a living testimony.
The church in Thessaloniki, Greece, is currently sponsoring Ali’s training at Greek Bible College.
By “Ali” as told to Michael Long
“One person at a time.”
I recall Bishop Emeritus Richard Snyder once asked leaders in Europe, “How can we transform society?” His answer was, “One person at a time.” After many years of ministry, I still wonder at the power of the gospel and the effectiveness of the Great Commission to transform ̶ one life, one family at a time.
Bruno Souza is in training to oversee the multimedia at our church. He is married to Amanda, and they have two children. This family accepted Jesus, and they were baptized early in 2020. They had been lost, without hope, without Jesus, without direction and without work, until they met Marizam Lima. Marizam is a member of our church. He shared the good news of Jesus with Bruno and Amanda and invited them to attend his online cell group.
Bruno and his family gave their lives to Christ and found help for their basic needs. Bruno was unemployed, but a contractor from our church hired him.
Marizam and his wife, Catia, began discipling Bruno and Amanda through social networks. Little by little, Bruno and Amanda are growing in their faith and becoming eager to introduce people to Christ. After all, the Great Commission is for everyone!
There are two words in the Great Commission defining the “marriage” between evangelism and discipleship: Go and Make.
To evangelize means going to the lost, connecting with them and sharing the good news. It means giving opportunity for people to understand God’s plan of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.
To disciple is to receive new believers into the family of God as a younger brother or sister, helping them grow until they are a committed and convinced follower who is also bearing fruit.
Marizm and Catia understand the Great Commission ̶ what it means to Go and Make. We look forward to seeing Bruno and his family become faithful followers of Christ who also will fulfill the Great Commission.
One person at a time or one family at a time ̶ this is how we are seeing God move.
By Cindi Angelo
Doing Life Together
Investing in and building leaders gets messy. My wife, Dee Dee, and I call it “doing life together.” It is all about building relationships, and there are no short cuts; it takes time.
Foundational to developing leaders is fellowship, walking through the ups and downs of life together, building trust and transparency, learning each other’s gifts, and recognizing God’s calling. It’s precisely what Jesus did with His disciples. They did life together. We call it servant leadership ̶ learning to serve one another to accomplish God’s plan in our lives and for His kingdom. Leaders naturally want to serve those in their communities and then invite them to join in doing life together as followers of Jesus.
At one time, we were being persecuted by a group with whom we were attempting to partner. One of the pastors from this group requested a meeting with us. He had been watching us. He saw how we had responded to the persecution and wanted to work with us. This pastor wanted to work with churches in impoverished communities. He desired to help support new leaders and care for the communities.
In the process, a clash of cultures was obvious. One culture was spontaneous, less structured, and had a mindset of “living life in the present.” The other culture was more planned and driven toward accountability and structure.
Doing life together and serving each other meant having many conversations. Clear communication about leadership and community development was essential. We had to work together to create a plan. How much structure was too much? What would work for the leaders and the people? Compromises from all were necessary.
After a year and a half of learning from one another, planning and adjustments, a church was planted in 2015. This leader now oversees 38 new churches in three countries. Some are in the most impoverished communities in the Balkans.
What is servant leadership? It is a gospel of loving and serving one another as we do life together. It is listening and learning from one another. It is persevering through the difficult moments and emerging in unity.
Good, godly men saw the potential in us when we didn’t see it in ourselves. They were involved in our lives and modeled the Jesus way of leadership. The strategy is simple – invest in those around you and do life together ̶ modeling a love for Christ and each other.
By Chance Galloway
Monday | United Kingdom
Pray for the FM Church as they seek to develop their leadership pathways and strengthen their impact for the kingdom locally, nationally and globally.
02 Tuesday | Argentina
Pray for a bilingual (Japanese/Spanish) house of peace in Buenos Aires, reaching the descendants of Japanese immigrants to Argentina.
03 Wednesday | Iraq
Pray for unity, forgiveness and love to be characteristics of the body of Christ. Ask the Father to defeat the enemy who seeks to use jealousy, bitterness and pride to bring division.
04 Thursday | Liberia
Pray for the 16 churches, a new church-planting initiative and several primary schools in Liberia. Ask the Father to give Superintendent Rufus wisdom as he leads these ministries.
05 Friday | Costa Rica
Pray for the church in Costa Rica as they continue to reach into the community in creative ways through children’s programs, prayer walks, computer classes, feeding the homeless, street evangelism and house-to-house prayer.
Birthday: Glenn Lorenz
06 Saturday | Creative Access Asia-NP
Praise the Lord for seven new churches in 2020. Ask the Father to provide 10-15 new district leaders and church planters this year.
07 Sunday | SEED
Praise the Lord for the Dayanand Hand Loom Group! This livelihood group began more than 15 years ago and now provides sustainable income and literacy classes for marginalized people. Pray for the continued fruitfulness of this group.
08 Monday | Kenya
Pray for Roger and Deborah Varland as they complete their last semester of teaching at Rift Valley Academy. Ask the Lord to guide them as they close out their time in Kenya, return to the states in July and listen for God’s leading in the next phase of life.
Birthday: Roger Varland
09 Tuesday | Asia
Pray for courageous, discerning and abiding faith for Asia Area Director Eric. Join him in praying for the “moon-shot” goal to influence 1 million Asians toward Jesus in the coming years.
10 Wednesday | Europe
Bulgaria: Pray for areas of Bulgaria hit hard by the pandemic, including the loss of one leader. Pray for the feeding programs in these areas and the pastors serving these communities.
Hungary: Pray for the Anderson family as they transition back to pastoral ministry in the U.S. in June.
Birthdays: Eric (Asia AD), Chance Galloway (Bulgaria),
Sarah Anderson (Hungary)
11 Thursday | Southeast Asia
Pray for heart preparation as Jason and Wendi complete partnership building and prepare for their next assignment in Southeast Asia.
12 Friday | ICCM
ICCM work in Ethiopia began in 2001. Pray for the five ICCM schools throughout the country and the weekend program and anti-trafficking initiative in Addis.
13 Saturday | Middle East
Praise the Lord for new churches born on Zoom and new leaders being discipled remotely. Praise the Lord for increasing numbers of “majority background” people who are hearing about Jesus.
14 Sunday | Ivory Coast
The FM work is expanding out from the city of Guiglo in the northwest. Pray for the national leader, Maho Olivier, as he guides church-planter pastors in establishing new churches.
15 Monday | Uruguay
As Mike and Andrea Green transition back to the U.S., pray for their family. Also, join them in praying for international missionary Daniela DaChuna who will continue forming and training community church-planting teams.
Birthday: Mike Green
16 Tuesday | Creative Access Asia-HK
Pray for the FMC in this country as they continue to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading amid new and changing circumstances.
17 Wednesday | Set Free Movement
Pray for the estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults who experience homelessness each year, making them vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation.
18 Thursday | 360 Mission District
Praise the Lord for 26 conversions and eight new church plants in the third quarter of 2020. Pray for Dennis Leon as he leads a vision to plant churches along the entire Costa Rican coast.
19 Friday | Middle East
Pray for ministry among families from non-Christian backgrounds. Pray entire family groups will come to Christ.
20 Saturday | Tanzania
Praise the Lord for ministry to the disabled in one community. The church is offering love by providing food, practical support and fellowship
21 Sunday | Hungary
Pray the Lord will open new doors to establish more churches throughout Hungary. Birthday: Gerry McNamara (International Missionary)
22 Monday | Thailand
Pray country leader Pastor Joshua will be encouraged and emboldened as he works with other pastors and church planters to achieve lofty church-planting goals this year.
23 Tuesday | Creative Access-X
Pray the telecommunication and internet systems will improve in this Latin American country to aid in advancing God’s work.
24 Wednesday | Middle East
Praise the Lord! Women who could not attend house churches have now, using the internet, joined Bible studies from their homes.
25 Thursday | Mozambique
Pray for the staff at the Nhaloi Hospital as they navigate medical care amid challenging circumstances, including no electricity and limited water supply. Ask the Father to provide for ongoing needs and facility upgrades.
26 Friday | Philippines
Pray for Bishop Alan Bacus, superintendents and pastors as they seek sensitivity to God’s vision for the Philippine FMC. Pray for their continued efforts in crosscultural missions.
27 Saturday | Belgium
Pray for Bible studies, youth work, refugee ministry, church planting and leadership development to be fruitful for the kingdom.
28 Sunday | Peru
Pray for Oscar Luis, a pastor and music teacher, leading a network of house churches high in the Andes Mountains. Praise the Lord for 43 new believers in recent months.
29 Monday | Middle East
Pray all those traumatized by violence and abuse will find “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
30 Tuesday | Spain
Ask God to give missionary Phil Gilmore wisdom, tact and boldness as he looks for opportunities to share about Jesus with agnostic Spaniards with whom he has formed a friendship.
Birthday: Phil Gilmore
31 Wednesday | Togo
There are now FM fellowships from the southern coastline to the central region and even one in the far north. Pray for the Rev. Dosseh Takpale as he leads 14 pastors working in these churches and church plants.