Category : Mike Schrage

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Media in Malawi

Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”  Scripture says it this way, “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

This week I had the opportunity to visit with two young missionaries in Malawi. They represent the new role many western missionaries play. They are not missionaries as you might think. Rather, they are facilitators equipping leaders in the local church.

This is a good thing. It indicates the Gospel has taken root in the heart of the people of Malawi, and they are making disciples and starting churches. The missionaries’ new role, in this case, is one of organization and encouragement, as together with national leaders they forge a new strategic plan.

As a matter of fact, over the past 50 years, these gentlemen estimate the mission entity they work with in Malawi has started 300 churches. If you think that’s impressive, the number is an estimated 2,000 in Mozambique.

Their facilitation includes helping national church leaders plan microfinance strategies and community development, tools that help show kindness to others. What vital work for Malawi, one of the 10 poorest nations in the world.

As these young missionaries shared their dreams, they focused on media to tell their story, share the vision, and most importantly, declare and deliver the Good News.

Yes, the roles may have changed for western missionaries, but the need for media to proclaim that “Now is the day of salvation” has never been more important.


Late Lawson: The George Washington Carver of Togo

Togo is a relatively small western African country of seven million people. Late Lawson is from Togo, and he has visions of lifting his nation from poverty one farmer at a time.

Seventy percent of all Togo’s citizens are farmers. With high rates of illiteracy, farming is often one of very few options for work. With small plots, a lack of fertilizer, and worn hoes, opportunities are difficult to imagine.

Yet Late, a trained consultant in the area of agricultural engineering, says that, “God has given us everything we need to become self-sustaining and even rich.”

Late is the George Washington Carver of Togo. He and his wife, Minen, are founding members of Afrika Excel, a Christian NGO specializing in advising subsistence farmers and offering micro-loans of $150 to plant corn, peanuts, and pineapples.

Recently, copies of The Global Gospel were given to Late and Minen to share during literacy classes held in the village where they work. The 88 stories of the life of Christ will be a fantastic supplement to the textbook they use, the Bible.

Late sees himself as a vessel God is using to deliver connecting resources with his people. Perhaps as important as providing training, loans, and education for farmers is the spiritual nourishment farmers will receive from The Global Gospel.

Praise God for vessels like Late Lawson who connect resources around the world!


Spoken Word

I just returned from an enriching time at the 2015 North American Christian Convention (NACC). The theme for the gathering was “We Speak.”

Obviously, you and I understand what’s behind the spoken word.  One of us opens our mouth, something comes out, it’s taken in and processed by the other, and responded to in some way.

However, did you know there is a literary process called “Spoken word?”

Spoken word involves performance-based poetry. It makes use of wordplay and storytelling to dramatically highlight a concept or idea. Performers of spoken word weave in poetic components like rhyme, repetition, slang, improvisation, along with tone, gestures, and facial expressions to create a unique audience experience.

Watch the video I’ve included below and listen to this wonderful perspective about how the global Church has been present to tackle the issues of education, healthcare, slavery, racism, and others!

At GNPI we believe Jesus was the paramount Spoken Word. Sharing His story brings hope and healing to a world desperately searching for peace. Yes, Jesus is still Lord of all!


Church: The Next Best Thing

Recently I heard Dr. Mark Scott say in a sermon, “We haven’t done everything right as the Church, but we are the best thing to have happened on earth until Jesus’ comes back!”

I agree. Though our local congregations aren’t perfect, there are glimpses into what Christ has called us to be. When you look around the world, perhaps now more than ever, we have tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact on this world for Christ. Though we are imperfect, the One we assemble to worship each week is perfect. He can use us to spread His fame throughout the earth while meeting real needs within our communities. That’s been the model for the Church from the beginning.

Likewise, neither GNPI or any of the individuals who comprise her are perfect (as if you were unsure). Yet we are trying to obey The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. Our objective is to shower the world with God’s love as we go, making disciples through culturally relevant media and media strategies. That’s our special niche in His Kingdom.

The “going” and “making” are imperative commands of Jesus, so our hearts are set on this. It’s who we are. We see it as the best thing that’s ever happened to us on earth, until Jesus comes back.



“. . . the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do . . .” — 1 Chronicles 12:32 (NASB)

Context is a key component in understanding the most effective way to share the Gospel.

Never has this been more true than when considering how to use technology in evangelism. Columnist Tom Goodwin recently observed: “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory.  Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

This is true for ministry as well. Some members of the GNPI staff recently visited with the curators of YouVersion (probably an App you have on your phone). YouVersion team member Kyle Smith shared that in eight years, YouVersion has become the largest distributor of Christian material in the world! Imagine going from not existing to the world’s largest in eight years!

The ability to respond to the ever-changing culture of society (and the Lord’s wisdom to perceive the rate and direction) to the ever-changing context of technology is crucial.

Like the sons of Issachar, let us discern the times and the context and move forward!


A Salute to a Special Teacher

Barbara Sachtleben

As a history teacher, Barbara Sachtleben has seen the benefit of technology in the classroom. As a GNPI Board member, Barbara also saw the benefit of technology for sharing the Gospel around the world. She has done her best to learn using all kinds of technology.

Barbara has served as a Board member since 2009. Before that, Barbara was gracious to drive her parents from Springfield, Illinois, to Joplin, Missouri, every year for the annual banquet and Board meetings as long as her parents were able to make the trip. Barbara’s father, John Sachtleben, was one of the original Board members of GNPI.

Barbara meticulously took the minutes for advisory council meetings for years before becoming a member of the Board of Directors. We appreciate the great investment of time, energy, and laughter in the ministry of GNPI.

Congratulations on your 40-year teaching career, Barb! Our staff is praying the Lord will fill your days with joy and contentment and bless you in your next endeavors.

Click here to read about Barbara in the State Journal-Register.

In 14 Years

It’s incredible to note that it’s been 14 years since the 9/11 tragedy that so shaped our nation. What has God done to redeem this tragedy? I can think of a few things, but here’s an important one:

More than ever, Americans are sensitive to and knowledgeable about the Islamic religion and worldview.

But did you know this? According to a recent report, amid all the news that Islam is making great gains around the world, there is another worldview making great gains.

In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation on earth, two million Muslims are converting to Christianity per year. That’s one new convert every 15 seconds.

That is the God we serve! Even when perceptions tell us differently, he is a God who can redeem the lost and turn death to life!

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

God is moving many, including those of us at GNPI, to pray, prepare, and plant seeds of Good News into the hearts of men, women, and children from the world of Islam.

Human Words

“Human words cannot change human hearts.” Dr. Jim Denison

My own life story illustrates this fundamental point. In 1976 I was a college kid in Carbondale, Illinois. I was alone and had no direction.

I was bored with life.

My mother, however, had found a new path and was anything but bored with life. She had just become a Christian and began praying for her children. Once, when I was home from college, she secretly put a New Testament in my suitcase before I returned to school.

I found it as I started work again at Southern Illinois University’s research farm. I was still wandering. With a lack of friends, fun, and family, I began to read this little blue book my mother had hidden in the bottom of my suitcase.

I thought she had just done my laundry, but she wanted something else clean too – my heart!

As a 19 year-old kid, I was totally unaware of the Bible. Out of curiosity and boredom, on a cold November evening, I began to read a chapter in a book called “John.”

At first I thought it was odd. It didn’t really make much sense to me. However, God’s Word moved quickly into my heart. By chapter three I was kneeling at the edge of my bed. I wept as I told a God I did not know of my sins, hopes, and struggles. Then and there I committed my life and future to Him!

No sermon. No five-week Bible study. No savvy evangelistic approach – simply God’s words leaping from a printed page into my heart.

That’s the genius of the Bible.

This Book of Books is filled with words not from a man named John, or any of the other writers; they are the words of God, delivered through men his Spirit moved! That made all the difference for my heart, soul, and the eternal trajectory of my life!

That’s why, 40 years later, I love what we do at GNPI. Here, two of our core values are being culturally relevant and biblically based in every production and strategy.

No, human words can’t change human hearts. Yet, God’s Word can and does. We see it almost every day at GNPI! I’m thankful God’s Word changed my life.


National Restoration

I continue to reflect on the March visit we had from Dr. Sergei Golovin and his wife, Olga. As much as we benefited from their trip to share what God is doing in Ukraine and Russia, they were also given a mighty boost from their interactions with so many stateside who provided love, care, and encouragement.

Until displaced by the looming military and political conflict, Sergei lived for decades in Simferopol, Ukraine. It is where his parents lived before him. Last year, when Russia took over the city of Simferopol and the entire Crimean Peninsula, it assumed it could start with the critical sea harbor at Crimea and move westward across all of Ukraine. However, these plans didn’t come to pass.

“What they underestimated,” said Sergei, “was the Ukrainians’ resolve to, ‘not be taken back to Egypt’ or put another way, not come again under the rule of communistic Russia.”

The onslaught has taken its toll on Ukraine. Ukraine is weak, but not defeated. Dazed, but not paralyzed. Young, but not foolish as a nation. Stripped down and almost bare, according to Sergei, Ukraine is starting to find revival because it was forced to do so.

Sergei said it well, “Good governance seeks the rights of mankind; good Christianity seeks a way to gracefully give up those rights.”

It’s from this posture of seeming brokenness that Sergei sees exciting opportunities to build a new nation founded on the principles of God and his Word.

That is national restoration!


The Restoration of Peter

Peter was a church planter in Kenya. After the missionaries left Kitale where he lived, Peter began to teach false doctrines to young churches in hopes of earning money in dishonest ways. He continued down this path for almost a decade.

Slowly but surely, after a chain of difficult events in his life, Peter admittedly began to wonder if the way he was living was causing him to miss out on the blessings of God. He didn’t know what to think about his daughter’s miscarriage. He and his wife were always arguing. He was not welcomed by his former preacher friends, and most of his relationships with missionary colleagues were diminished.

One day he arrived early to a leadership training. During a time of worship, he confessed with tears, kneeling to ask forgiveness before the entire gathering. Afterward, for a season, he refused to be a student or teacher. He refused even to eat with his former colleagues. He had to come to a place where he forgave himself, and he could allow others to forgive him.

Today, Peter is fully restored and is a strong leader among the churches in western Kenya. Peter knows the Bible as well as anyone and is a powerful witness of the boundless grace and forgiveness of God.

It sounds a lot like the restoration experienced by another Peter nearly 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.