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Mark Allen Will Be Missed

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

The little sunbird was trying and trying to push its way through the glass window pane to get into our dining hall here at the guesthouse on the outskirts of Nairobi. Up and down, side to side, backing up, literally ramming the glass time after time. It was painful to watch, and it had to hurt a bit. Bottom line: it was useless. With time, and then a little coaxing, it turned directions and flew away, free to soar and do what sunbirds were created to do.

How similar is that experience to our life at times? We push and strain in a certain direction, sure that this is what needs to happen; this IS the direction we will take. We wear out under our own strength, leaning on our own one-directional perspective of understanding. We think we see clearly, but we do not. Over time, and with a nudge from the Father, a new perspective is reached, and we get to soar again, just as God has designed and even ordained.

Four years ago in this very building outside Nairobi, Kenya, called Heart Lodge, Mark Allen’s heart was touched and prepared for new levels of soaring and impact. Mark had come along with Don Anderson, executive pastor of Chandler Christian Church (now Compass Christian Church). Mark was on staff at the time as the media person and came to record the trip for Don and the congregation to see later.

Mark traveled with Don and two of us from GNPI to our regional center in Nairobi. Mark was enthralled with the focus of the ministry to empower local people to use media for their own purpose in proclaiming the Good News. Mark took copious hours of footage and interviews.

There were urban Kenyans to visit with at GNPI-Nairobi, Kenya, and small town ministry partners in Eldoret, Kenya, where an emerging Nomad team had formed. There was a visit to the rustic rural area in northwestern Kenya to actually see how GNPI productions were impacting the local people in their local language. Then there was a flight to Kadiolo, Mali, in West Africa where another Nomad team was forming. All the while, God was working in the heart of Mark, wooing him ever closer to a new career, moving his direction like the sunbird ever so slightly to soar.

A few years later Mark accepted the call to be the Project Nomad Coordinator for GNPI. He would again be traveling the world, now not only recording what God was doing through nationals using media but, more importantly, actually training others to do as he was doing. Mark was making media disciples. He said, “Mike, I feel that all I have experienced and learned was for such a time as this here at GNPI.” Truer words were never spoken, my friend.

Mark, in two years time, learned the DNA of GNPI, put the Nomad curriculum into video training format, and traveled the world teaching over 200 students in 10 different countries. He listened and learned from his students and then taught, shared, and coached each of them. He was loved by all who met him and his contagious personality drew people of any culture to him. He was a natural.

On June Friday 16, Mark had a severe car accident as he drove from his home in Tyler, Texas, to Yuma, Arizona, for Father’s Day. Mark, an only child, agonized over the balance of world travel for his ministry with GNPI and the needs of his aging parents back in Arizona. Mark passed away early the next day.

Mark is survived by his wife Lorri, his parents, and her parents. While Mark may have had a small biological family, he had a huge spiritual family as emails and texts came flooding in from around the world at the news of Mark’s passing. Mark left an impact and a legacy, and it all started when Africa grabbed his heart here at the Heart Lodge in Kenya.

Like the little sunbird outside the dining hall at Heart Lodge, Mark searched for years to find his sweet spot in media. With a nudge from the Father, Mark discovered that it was through Project Nomad, and for two years he soared. Mark, you will be missed, brother, but you are now doing what we are all ultimately called and designed to do, which is to glorify and worship our Father. This is the perfect ending to any video drama story.  

 

Apps Available

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

Could your ministry use free resources in Swahili or Spanish? Swahili and Spanish apps are now available.

The Yunami app encourages spiritual growth with Swahili content.

The + Vida app helps Spanish speakers who are seeking the Lord.

In addition, we also have The GNPI App with all kinds of resources at www.gnpi.org/app.

Thanks for helping us get the word out!

Perfect Harmony

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

In 2005 I was invited to speak to Christian workers in Mexico. My host at the retreat center knew GNPI’s mission and suggested I speak with Sergio Alvarado and his wife Holly. Sergio was an emerging church planter who had a growing passion to use media for this work.

Sergio and I eventually met and shared our dreams for Project Nomad and how it might be able to impact the city of Pachuca, which is outside of Mexico City with a population just over a million. Sergio grew in his media abilities, and over the next five years his newly established Nomad team produced resources to aid church plants.

One of the projects planned, but never recorded, was a teaching series on marriage from Linda and Pecos Inchaustegui. We were excited for this program to bless Mexico and all of the Spanish-speaking world, but we were never able to do the project.

After several successful church plants, Sergio’s team, Impacto Latino, moved forward with plans to move to the larger city of Querétaro. They established a new office to develop materials for a whole new generation of church planters.

Around the same time, one of our talented staff members from GNPI-Piedras Negras, Mexico, found himself moving to the exact same city for very different reasons. Pablo and his wife had a young son with special needs, so they left a ministry and the city they loved in order to find help for their son in Querétaro. (This actually reminds me of how GNPI started when founder Ziden Nutt moved his family from Zimbabwe to the U.S.)

What happened when they found themselves in the same place? That five-year-old project idea became a reality. Pablo and Sergio recently teamed up to record Linda and Pecos teaching about marriage.

The Lord used an invitation to share about Project Nomad. Project Nomad helped to start several congregations in Pachuca. This success led to a new city for more church planting. Pablo “happened” to move there too. Twelve years later, three ministry partners have finally teamed up for a great project.

It may not always happen on our timetable, but God is always at work to create perfect harmony!

 

An Unfolding Backstory

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

Sometimes life unfolds like a newspaper whose headlines strike you. This story dates back thirty years.

Meet Eko, a Christian media entrepreneur from Indonesia. Years ago he was close to graduating from college in the U.S. and still directionless, so he went to Joplin, Missouri, to check out a ministry called Good News Productions, International. Eko went with nothing to lose and everything to gain. As he listened in rapt attention to GNPI founder Ziden Nutt, Eko discovered a clear calling in his own soul to use media for the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, an American printer turned missionary was working in Indonesia. Frank Preston pursued a doctorate in his spare time focusing on how fundamental Islam is propagated by its followers through media strategies. He studied, learned, and began the Kingdom journey of sharing this knowledge with GNPI and others willing to listen.

Another ten years passed. A missions pastor, Danny, asked Shawn, a former missionary, how much money it would take to fund 10,000 copies of a children’s book series Shawn had written? Providentially, that conversation took place in Mbale, Uganda.

The estimated cost for 10 stories with 1,000 copies of each one was $100,000. Within 24 hours Danny made a call and had the money! Jerry, a member of Danny’s congregation, was dying and had lost his wife recently. They had no children, and Jerry wanted to bless ministries which reach children. Jerry loved the children’s book idea and agreed to provide the funds.

The children’s stories were a “new angle” on familiar Bible stories. Imagine, for example, a child listening to her grandfather Jairus tell her how Jesus raised their mother from the dead. Several artists were invited to do the illustration work, but nothing seemed to work out. We wondered, “Why are there delays? Why is this vision to reach the next generation through children’s stories stalled again? Why, God?”

Then new questions were considered: What if the books were animated and included a social media strategy? What if a place outside of the U.S. could do the work for a lower cost? What if the project design was under the expert eyes of Frank, the former missionary in Indonesia and well-educated mentor in media design? What if there were 10 stories from the New Testament and 10 stories from the Old Testament? Since the project would be launched in a challenging Muslim audience, why not start with the stories the Muslim audience identifies as true prophets, men like Abraham, Moses and David?

Meanwhile, GNPI was invited by another missionary serving with a different organization in Indonesia to visit a Disney-like media ministry. Hidden behind the vegetation on the edge of the city was an economically-sound media company and the skillful workers were willing to help with creation of relevant Christian media for their country, the most populous Muslim nation in the world. On the back patio of the office was a small globe, which looked very similar to the one outside of GNPI’s office in Joplin. Eko had built the globe in recognition of the ministry that had changed the trajectory of his life so many years ago.

God brought GNPI and Eko back together at the perfect time, and Eko made another generous contribution to the project. When he heard that the project cost was three times the designated amount, he matched the generosity of Jerry with a gift in kind. The largest project in the history of GNPI history was half funded by two families before the contract was even signed! Not to mention the fact that it turned out Frank and Eko’s wives knew each other from the time Frank’s family was in Indonesia.

Only God could weave together so many details and people, and He is finally unrolling the newspaper in order to let us see His purposes tucked in the headlines of Good News in the New Angle Media Project!

 

Playing by the Rules

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

Many people believe that we, as humans, are innately good. On the plane ride to Uganda, I read something that would bring this belief into sharp dispute. Did you know that the rule book for Major League Baseball is 250 pages? If people are innately good and always do the right thing, why do we need 250 pages of guidelines for “America’s Game?”

The truth is everyone struggles with sin. Thank God for His grace and the way to overcome sin through Jesus Christ. Our regional centers around the world produce media to show people who’ve relied on rules and pleasing gods who can’t save them that there’s a bridge for them built by a cross.

God’s Word affirms this in Romans 3 when stating, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” or “there is no one without sin; not even one.” Thank God the verse doesn’t end there! This passage goes on to remind us of our marvelous salvation through trusting Jesus.

This reality drives me as an individual and GNPI as an organization. We want to show people of many cultures and worldviews that while no rule book will save them or give them enduring happiness, a relationship with Jesus Christ can teach us how to live and find wonderful peace.

 

Global Religion

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

I love what Dr. Jim Denison wrote recently in his blog to encourage all of us as followers who know the end of the story.

…well-known evangelical Os Guinness claims that Christianity is the world’s first truly global religion. He cites five facts in support his thesis:

  1. Jesus of Nazareth has the greatest number of followers of any religion on planet earth.
  2. The church is the most diverse community on the earth.
  3. The Bible is the most translated book in human history.
  4. Churches are the most numerous social service agencies across the world.
  5. In many parts of the world, the Christian faith is the fastest growing religion and is growing through conversion rather than simply through the birth rate.

A Nazarene carpenter and his followers launched a movement that spread around the world on borderless Roman roads (the Internet of the day), using the universal Greek language (the English of the day). They “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, KJV) and took the Gospel “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).

Now it’s our chance to help pass on this global religion!

 

The Power of a Share

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

In advertising, word of mouth is the power customers have to make or break a new restaurant. In today’s social media environment, the power of the “share” is just as influential. Watch this short video illustrating how you can like, comment, share, and donate.

The effort of a click is a moment of your time or a few dollars, but in the case of Dayita Patel the actions had our eternal impact. Thank God with us for the power and privilege He has given to us to share the Good News with people around the globe.

What I Like

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

Danny Hughes of Compass Christian Church in Chandler, AZ, lists his favorite things about the ministry.

What do you appreciate about GNPI?

Pressing Pause

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

We’ve all heard the phrase “stop the presses!” In the print era, this meant something significant was missing in the next edition, and workers needed to stop, process, and potentially add to or rewrite portions.

In the digital era, I wonder what is the equivalent? Hold the phone? Hit the pause button? The reason I mention these phrases is because Bob Nunnally, our IT and app coordinator in Joplin, recently reminded me of some figures for a few of our Spanish video productions available at www.pbnihispano.org/. Here’s the list:

  • Promesa de Amor – 2,808,789 views
  • Sin Alternativa – 147,758 views
  • La Red – 58,299 views
  • Promesa de Amor Christian Music – 41,559 views
  • La Ultima Oracion – 27,509 views

Let those numbers sink in for a moment! Across the Spanish speaking world, almost 3 million people have viewed a video online about spousal abuse and what a Christian response should be. Another older movie, Tough Choices, about the sanctity of life has been viewed by 150,000 people.

In today’s social and digital media world, once video productions are made and offered in this teeming ocean called the Internet, only God’s Spirit knows the breadth and depth of its impact. That is simply amazing and makes “hitting the pause button” worthwhile as we praise our Lord, who is the giver of technology to His people, the Church! What an honor GNPI has to be a part of that plan.

 

Project Nomad Multiplies Impact

Mike Schrage, Executive Director

Peter Ignatius is the visionary leader of Lakeview Bible College and Seminary in Chennai, India. GNPI has been partnering with Peter for the last several years. Peter’s faculty and students have excitedly embraced Nomad training as a way to enhance their ability to use media to be effective and relevant communicators of the Good News in India.

Timothy Jai Kumar, a faculty member at Lakeview, now dedicates much of his teaching to students of media production. In partnership with GNPI, there is a small production studio at the college and an on-campus media team. Several intensive media courses are now available to incorporate the latest media methods and technologies.

Timothy has also traveled to other areas which several students call home, and he has taught their peers the basics of media production through Project Nomad. The Bible college has trained media students in five states who are serving the needs of their communities and congregations.


Project
Nomad continues to fulfill our goal to provide national outreach using media and discipleship and one more way GNPI is multiplying the ability of others to understand the Good News!

 

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