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Prayers & Praises

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses . . . even to remotest part of the earth.” — Acts 1:8

God’s Blessing Under Trying Circumstances!
Jeff Kenee reports on the work of the NOMaD team in South Africa. Jeff writes, “God continues to bless us under trying circumstances. Our leadership development continues successfully on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It was exciting to bless each of them with a DVD presentation of our teaching on inductive Bible study and growing in spiritual maturity. A big thank you to the NOMaD team for filming, editing, and producing this first resource DVD. We are excited about our outreach also. Three of our leadership students have been accepted into a federal prison as teachers/chaplains. Due to the class growth, the warden is making an allowance to make a larger hall available to the teachers. We are planning to utilize the New Life Behavior team to present training to all of our leadership students and produce it as a future training DVD.”

A Changed Person!
Tom Silkwood of GNPI-Thailand says, “One of our most recent Changed programs features Panida Thongdi. She shares her testimony of how she changed from being angry towards her father to a person who works in church ministry and now cares for her aging parents. She became angry with her father because he considered selling her to buy a house. She left her village and stayed with friends in Bangkok. Then she studied God’s Word, and she let God transform her life to one of surrender, forgiveness, and freedom in Christ.”

Planting Seeds of Hope in Young Hearts!
Nenette Pacoli of GNPI-Philippines writes, “The film showing at Boys’ Town went well last month, though it was heart-breaking. Over 100 boys live there, either abandoned or surrendered by their parents. We planted seeds of hope in their hearts. Hopefully we also sparked dreams in their heads when they saw the ending where the boys in the All Things New story went to college. Please help us pray for ways to connect local churches to be involved in these young boys’ lives.”

Strategic Planning for Kenya!
Isaac Masiga of GNPI-Kenya says, “Thanks for the continuous prayers for us. Keep us in prayer as we work on our strategic plan this month. Pray that God would give us wisdom and foresight about what we need to do between now and the next few years.”

Prayer Requests from SE Asia!
TP of GNPI-SE Asia shares, “Pray that we can get a set of outdoor musical instruments for video productions and for youth campaigns. The people of this region are very fond of music, and Christian music attracts young people to Christ. Pray for evangelists and for the people in SE Asia and our military government.”

Juan’s Cartel Encounter

juan_feature

by Greg Fish, Creative Media Designer

I was preparing for a trip to Mexico in July. Before I left, I received a prayer request from my friend, David. He told me that our mutual friend Juan had been taken hostage by the cartel. His captors took his money, laptop, and projector. Many of us began praying for Juan. Several days later, David sent this update.

I just returned from having lunch with Pastor Juan Roque. It was our first face-to-face meeting since he had been taken hostage on his last trek to the Aztec villages. There was a calm determination in his demeanor. Juan declared that he was pretty certain his meeting with cartel members had been arranged by God.

Two weeks before he left on that mission trip, Juan preached to the church in Las Palmas that in every encounter we have, God is working through us to be a blessing to others or through others to bring a blessing to us. Juan left that Monday in his daughter’s small car to see how it could make the trip. His white truck was constantly getting stopped on previous trips, so he decided some months ago to travel by small car to stay under the radar. As Juan approached the town of Padilla on the highway, the transmission began acting up. He called a mechanic from Matamoros to meet him with a different car.

On his way back, Juan was motioned over by armed cartel members. Having transmission issues, he had no choice but to pull over. In the past, the preferred method was to put the pedal to the metal. They put the a rifle through the rolled down window and began questioning him. “Where are you from?” Juan answered that he was from Matamoros, an area controlled by a rival cartel group. They began shouting at the others to come over because they had one from Matamoros. One of the leaders came over and in a loud, stern voice told him that this was the end of the road for him. With his head down, Juan continued to answer the barrage of questions. When asked what was in his glove compartment, Juan told them that he had another cell phone. As he opened up the glove box, a new book that he had purchased fell out. It was a Spanish edition of You Will Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max Lucado.

When the cartel member saw this, he laughed and told Juan that he was going to kill him that day. Juan was taken out of his car and transferred into several cars that took some back roads off the main highway. He was pretty sure that this was the end of the road for him. When he was put into the third car, a gruff leader began to question him.

Juan shared that he was a pastor from Matamoros. Juan doesn’t recall the exact exchange, but the man indicated the he was in charge of executing those taken captive. Juan noticed that the man’s attitude toward him changed. He confided to Juan that he never intended to be where he was, doing what he was doing. He had tried to find a good job. He had no success in finding honest work and that he had a family to support. The executioner also mentioned to Juan that his mother was a member of a Pentecostal church in Monterrey. He asked Juan if God listened to him. Juan replied that indeed God did listen, not only to himself, but to all who sincerely seek him. After traveling down the back road for some distance, the cartel leader told Juan that he was going to let him go home. Juan agreed that he would be going somewhere, either home to his family in Matamoros or home to his Father in Heaven. The leader clarified, “No, you are going home to Matamoros.” Juan never pleaded for his life or asked to be released.

He was then transferred to another vehicle and taken further back where he remained while one man shouted for a machete. As another man went to get it, Juan, face downward, could see that the other guard was wrapping his rifle in what appeared to be something to muffle the sound. Again Juan felt certain that his life on earth was about to end. After what must have seemed to be an eternity, the man who said he was going to help him get back home returned. The leader began shouting orders at the others to release Juan and put him in the leader’s car. Juan was returned to his car that had been stopped hours earlier.

Near Juan’s car was a truckload of armed men, who by then, had received word that Juan was a pastor and was going to be set free. As the cartel leader handed Juan back the keys to his car, he also put some money into his hand “for expenses.” Juan was grateful for his release and pleaded with the leader to spare the lives of the mother and child that had been stopped about the same time as he had. As Juan drove off, he could hear the men in the back of the truck shouting, “Pray for me. Pray for me.”

As Juan finished sharing with me, he looked up, smiled, and said,” I am pretty sure God arranged that meeting for me so I could be a blessing to them.” Juan plans to return to that roadside location and post a message of God’s love for all his children.

I know that this isn’t Juan’s first brush with danger or death, but I’m so glad that he indeed got through it! I, myself, was in Mexico soon after this took place. Because of some generous donors, I was able to replace Juan’s stolen projector and also provide a Solar Kit for him and his ministry partners. Praise the Lord that He can work through every encounter!

Prayers & Praises

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses . . . even to remotest part of the earth.” — Acts 1:8

 

God’s Blessing Under Trying Circumstances!
Jeff Kenee reports on the work of the NOMaD team in South Africa. Jeff writes, “God continues to bless us under trying circumstances. Our leadership development continues successfully on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It was exciting recently to bless each of them with a DVD presentation of our teaching on inductive Bible study and growing in spiritual maturity. A big thank you to the NOMaD team for filming, editing, and producing this first resource DVD. We are excited about our outreach also. Three of our leadership students have been accepted into a federal prison as teachers/chaplains. Due to the class growth, the warden is making an allowance to make a larger hall available to the teachers. We are planning to utilize the New Life Behavior team to present training to all of our leadership students and produce it as a future training DVD.”

A Changed Person!
Tom Silkwood of GNPI-Thailand says, “One of our most recent Changed programs features Panida Thongdi. She shares her testimony of how she changed from being angry towards her father to a person who works in church ministry and now cares for her aging parents. She first became angry with her father because he considered selling her to buy a house. She left her village and stayed with friends in Bangkok. Then she studied God’s Word, and let God transform her life to one of surrender, forgiveness, and freedom in Christ.”

Planting Seeds of Hope in Young Hearts!
Nenette Pacoli of GNPI-Philippines writes, “The film showing at Boys’ Town went well last month, though it was heart-breaking. Over 100 boys live there, either abandoned or surrendered by their parents. We planted seeds of hope in their hearts. Hopefully we also sparked dreams in their heads when they saw the ending where the boys in the All Things New story went to college. Please help us pray for ways to connect local churches to be involved in these young boys’ lives.”

Strategic Planning for Kenya!
Isaac Masiga of GNPI-Kenya says, “Thanks for the continuous prayers for us. Keep us in prayer as we work on our strategic plan this month. Pray that God would give us wisdom and foresight to what we need to do between now and the next few years.”

Prayer Requests from SE Asia!
TP of GNPI-SE Asia shares, “Pray that we can get a set of outdoor musical instruments for video productions and for youth campaigns. The people of this region are very fond of music, and Christian music attracts young people to Christ. Pray for evangelists and for the people in SE Asia and our military government.”

A Glimpse into Mexico

Picture, if you can, a shrine on the side of a dusty, Mexican road with a statue of Mary, flowers, a picture of a skull, and money offerings – modern day indulgences to gain supernatural favor.

The payee is none other than the leader of the cult Santa Muerte (Holy Death) – also a drug lord. He has hired people as priests to intercede for the group so their cartel would be more prosperous and dominate other gangs.

Drugs and deity may seem strange bedfellows, but that is the culture in Mexico today.

Bob Gurwell and Gustavo Velazquez, working for our regional center in Piedras Negras, Mexico, have written, directed, and produced Criba (The Sifting). In this real-life drama, a young man is drawn into the downward spiral of darkness, danger, and fear.

Thousands have watched with nodding heads, saying they can identify with such occurrences. The GNPI regional center in Piedras Negras is making a difference in addressing difficult issues in light of the truth of God’s Word.

You can watch Criba too (it’s in Spanish). Simply navigate your browser to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfTOqH66sQE and see how God is using GNPI-Mexico to create culturally relevant, media content addressing today’s issues.

God’s Sower in Latin America

Harland Cary was called to receive his eternal reward earlier this week. Tomorrow (Saturday, September 12, 2014) many will celebrate his life at his memorial service. Brother Cary has blessed hundreds, if not thousands, through his life of 97 years. GNPI is just one of many ministries that has been blessed beyond words. Bob Gurwell, GNPI international coordinator, was just one of those impacted.

As a young man, Bob considered becoming a medical doctor until one day Brother Cary suggested he instead consider becoming a “doctor of the soul.” That conversation set a new course for the young Mr. Gurwell. This so typifies the impact of this working warrior for Christ!

Not that long ago, GNPI’s regional center in Piedras Negras, Mexico, did a video tribute to Harland Cary that we would like to share with you. Please praise the Lord for this life well lived, and pray for the extended family at this time of loss.

Meredith’s Story

serving in Mexico, through the eyes of our 16-year old guest blogger, Meredith Simmons…

MeredithMeredith is a high school student from Missouri who went to Mexico on a missions trip this past summer with her church. They helped with a few projects at the GNPI regional center in Piedras Negras. Here is Meredith’s impressive re-telling of her experience:

Meredith GroupWhen I first heard about the trip that my home church was planning to take to Piedras Negras, I knew it was something I wanted to do. The plan was to spend a week doing various construction and painting projects at GNPI’s local center and at a local church, and serve the community by assisting at the church’s Vacation Bible School. As plans continued to be finalized over the ensuing months, the excitement mounted. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I knew that it would be great.

When our team crossed the border into Mexico and entered Piedras Negras it was dark, so my first glimpse of the town was limited. Even so, I was surprised that despite it being 9:30 pm, there were people everywhere. It seemed like it could have been mid-day for as busy as it was. All the shops I saw were open and people were strolling around, riding bicycles, eating food, and just hanging out.

I looked at everything that night, trying to discover as much as possible about the place where I would be spending the next week.

Meredith CactusAround the town there were no neat lawns filled with lush green grass. Instead, the landscape was rather more desert-like, only without the sand. There were scraggly, prickly plants that could survive the hot, dry weather, and these covered the open areas that were not subject to high traffic. There was also dust everywhere. In many yards there were no plants, just dirt and rocks. I would later find that before Vacation Bible School started at the local church each evening, someone would have to sprinkle the yard with water to help settle the dust before the children came.

Meredith Food LadyDuring our stay, our food was made by some of the ladies from the church. I surprised myself by being excited to taste Mexican food, as I’m not usually eager to try new dishes. Those ladies sure know how to cook delicious meat! Much of the meat was cooked with different vegetables and some kind of sauce.  One night they served us some kind of soup, which they told us contained pork rinds. When my dad began eating his soup, he pulled out a giant, fatty, piece of pig skin that still appeared to have bristles on it. We soon discovered that their version of pork rinds is not the crunchy, chip-like snack that we eat in the US.

Meredith FoodOne of the most interesting things that they served us were our beverages. Every meal we had some kind of fruit juice. Now, I’m not talking about the artificially flavored, bottled drinks that may come to mind when I say ‘juice’. These drinks were made of fresh fruit; we assumed that they pressed the juice from the fruit just like someone would press apples in order to make cider. Some of the drinks we had included watermelon, cantaloupe, peach, mango, pineapple, and lemon. Some of these tasted like they had been sweetened, but the juice itself was the actual fruit juice.

Probably the most eye-opening experience was helping to deliver food to impoverished families.

One of the areas we went into was basically a community of squatters. These people literally had nothing. The houses were constructed of any discarded material that could be found. Wooden pallets and scraps of plywood, torn tarps and cardboard boxes were put together to create shelters of sorts. Occasionally, buildings made of cinderblocks could be seen, but those were few.

When we first pulled into the area, we stopped and handed out a few packages of food, and moved on down the line of shacks. We had gone knowing that we could not possibly give something to everyone, but desiring to do what we could. Before we had gone very far, people began to walk up to our vehicles and ask for food. They were desperate for it, and they just kept coming. It was so hard to have to turn people away when we ran out.

As we were driving away, an elderly lady hobbled out of her house and began calling to us. I couldn’t understand her words, which were spoken in Spanish, but her meaning was crystal clear; she needed food. The lady looked like she could hardly walk, and as she gripped her cane with one hand, she held out her other hand to us, pleading for help. We had nothing left to give her. All of our food had been given to those who were able to come and get it. It was heartbreaking to see her and not be able to help. The image of that woman’s face will be ingrained in my memory for a long time to come. That experience made me realize just how much I take for granted.

Meredith VBSThe most enjoyable times I had while in Piedras Negras were those spent at Vacation Bible School. The dear Mexican lady that led the songs was very fluent in English, which was extremely helpful. She had us Americans get up onstage and help her lead the actions for the songs. The thing was, we had to learn all of the actions as we went, which made for a lot of laughs as we stumbled along, trying to watch the leader and not make fools of ourselves in front of all those people. Each night we improved, and by the end of the week, we had become proficient at most of the actions, even if the words to most of the songs were in Spanish.

Also during VBS, I had the opportunity to interact with the Mexican Christians. The thing that really stood out to me about them was the love that they showed towards me, our group, and the kids at VBS.  Even though my ability to speak Spanish is limited, and few of the Mexicans were fluent in English, I felt as if all of us, Americans and Mexicans alike, were part of one big family. Conversations were difficult because of the language barrier, but even though we could not communicate verbally, there was a connection that went deeper than speech. It was amazing to experience the bond of Christ in that way!

Meredith People

Being with the people of Piedras Negras was a blessing. I loved seeing Christians from another country serve the Lord, and it really showed me how God is using people from all over the world to advance the Gospel.

That’s a big thing that I appreciate about Good News Productions; they help to train and equip people from all different areas to spread the gospel among their own communities. As several people expressed while in Mexico, we may live in cultures that are different, and we may look different on the outside, but on the inside God has given us the same heart; one that desires to serve Him, and to Him, we are all worth giving His Son.

Freed By Blood

by guest blogger, Meredith Simmons

MeredithMeredith is a 16-year old high school student from Missouri who went to Mexico on a missions trip this past summer with her church. They helped with a few projects at the regional center in Piedras Negras. One of the things she says was most memorable to her was the day they went into a destitute, poverty-stricken area to hand out food. Here’s how Meredith tells the story:

“The people in the area we went to literally had nothing. Most of the houses were constructed of wooden pallets, scraps of plywood, torn tarps, and cardboard boxes put together to create shelters of sorts.

gif2When we first pulled into the area, we stopped and handed out a few packages of food, and moved on down the line of shacks. Before we had gone very far, people began to walk up to our vehicles and ask for food. They were desperate for it, and they just kept coming. It was so hard to have to turn people away when we ran out.

As we were driving away, an elderly lady hobbled out of her house and began calling to us. I couldn’t understand her Spanish words, but her meaning was crystal clear; she needed food. The lady looked like she could hardly walk, and as she gripped her cane with one hand, she held out her other hand to us, pleading for help. We had nothing left to give her. It was heartbreaking to see her and not be able to help. The image of that woman’s face will be ingrained in my memory for a long time to come.”

Meredith certainly paints a vivid picture with her words, doesn’t she?

Raising a family in this environment can leave people with wounds that may never heal unless they find the ultimate Healer. Raziel grew up in this kind of environment. The 20-minute video below, Desatado Por Sangre (Freed by Blood), is the condensed story of his life, produced by GNPI-Mexico. Raziel was freed from his life of darkness and addiction by the blood of Jesus and has gone on to become a Youth Minister—telling others about the Good News that he found!

Thank you Meredith, for sharing your story with us. (To read Meredith’s entire blog, click here.)

Prayers & Praises

“Peter and the other apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’ ” —Acts 5:29

 

Indeed, God is Good!
Protus Sibukule of the NOMaD team in Eldoret, Kenya, writes, “Recently we took our evangelism to Busia, Uganda, at the invitation of our friend who had seen our Christian films. Indeed, God is good! A good number of people came to our meeting, which ran for two days. The impact was great, as many were touched and eventually invited Jesus in their lives.”

New Episodes of WWJD!
Nenette Pacoli of GNPI-Philippines writes, “We are working on some new episodes of WWJD. We are currently editing the Finding the Right One program, and we have one final interview for the one on Stress Management. Thanks for praying always.”

Evangelists Must Preach!
TP of GNPI-SE Asia shares these prayer requests: “Pray we would be able to start trainings for evangelists and to send them out with tools via media and the Internet. Unless there are evangelists to preach, many lives will end without hearing the Gospel of Christ.”

Finishing the Last Phase!
Gustavo Velázquez of GNPI-Mexico shares, “We are very good, very busy. Please help us pray for the third short film, Sin Devolución (No Return). We are finishing the last phase. We hope to have it ready in two weeks.”

More Thai Lessons and Testimonies!
Noii, a GNPI Christian partner from Freedom Films in Thailand, writes, “We thank God for bringing us to serve him in Minnesota this month. Now we are shooting video for four Thai programs in the Biblical Extension Courses (BEC). Tomorrow we will record a testimony, and we are almost done with the biography of Dr. Vacharee Peterson. She is a Thai dentist who has a good testimony. Next month we will shoot two more BEC programs and three more testimony programs. Please pray for us to have wisdom from God.”

Things to Thank God For in SE Asia

Our center in SE Asia was established 10 years ago. TP works diligently to develop media tools to help Buddhists understand God’s plan.

By TP, Regional Director of GNPI-SE Asia

It is so wonderful working with GNPI. We thank God for your willingness to work together and your support for the team in SE Asia. My family and team members are fine as the Lord watches over us.

During these days, Charts of Evangelism, Hymns of Praise, The Owner of the Universe (10 keys facts) are in the process of printing. These will be available soon. The Armageddon News (DVD) is being produced in two languages. The first language will be finished in September. In September, we will record preaching for Thanksgiving and make new videos of Gospel songs.

This year has been quite a year. It has been wet this whole monsoon season. It was wet all over our apartment, but we thank God that the monsoon season will be over soon. In a month or so, we hope to move to a new place. It is an unfinished home, but we will complete it little by little.

One more thing I am grateful to God for is that I have nearly finished the evangelism tools. I have revised them many times as I use them to teach others. Every single person says it’s very clear. Many were baptized, and every week more new people accept Jesus as their Savior.

Thankful Resize1

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I have trained four evangelists. They are working in different areas. The newest one is AS from our office. Now he and his wife are preaching in a small church which our family started. He is reliable in evangelism. He has traveled to his home village three times already since we started working together.

Thankful Resize2

MM was teaching guitar to youth in one of the districts until August 28th. PA is doing video editing. CA is recording music. He is also teaching guitar to a young man from the northern part of our area, near China’s border. He will teach youth in his village. He also wants to reach some young people from the other side of the border. Please pray for these young men to be able to serve the Lord continuously.

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There are so many reasons I am thankful to God. To make it short, I thank God for Christian friends, my wife and four children, this GNPI studio and staff members, and I thank God for bringing new people into his family.

A Glimpse into SE Asia

In the days of Christ, the Pharisees were the religious elite. The way they dressed, spoke, and acted revealed their status. They were seen as having an inside track to a relationship with God. For much of his public ministry, Jesus challenged the Pharisees because they knew all the right things to do, but their hearts were in the wrong place.

This teaching angered some, but it was inviting to others. We see glimpses in Scripture of Pharisees who were touched and changed by one whose heart was always exactly where it needed to be.

Buddhist monks are the religious elite in SE Asia. Like the Pharisees of old, they are easy to identify; their orange cloaks stand out as if to shout, “Here rests religious insight.”  Their elaborate monasteries are well-populated and centers of highly prized knowledge.

Interestingly, though, in SE Asia, Buddhist monks have been found playing Christian worship music over their loudspeakers. To the objective observer this would seem odd. Why would songs espousing and illuminating tenants that are not from Buddha fill the air next to a temple filled with Buddha’s likeness?

The answer? GNPI works hard to share the Gospel through mediums that people can understand, in a way that is culturally relevant. Set new teachings to inviting native music and you have a powerful recipe for reaching people.

Music has such power to move us. It would be hard to find a medium that sparks greater emotion. Add the teachings of Jesus, and God will use music to do incredible things.

In SE Asia, it’s working to melt the heart of the religious elite as they hear and consider the challenges of a man who changed the world with the truest heart we’ve ever known.

 

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