Category : Mike Schrage

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A Glimpse into Ukraine

Famous German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is famous for the quote, “God is dead.” In few places has the attempt to remove God from societal life been more prevalent than the nations of the communist former Soviet Union. Even now, the departure from God as the center of life has created the political and military unrest gripping Russia and Ukraine.

You and I know that God is certainly alive and well in our world. Yet, for people who have known nothing but life without God, the quest for truth can be an elusive search, full of struggle and uncertainty.

Dr. Sergei Golovin is the regional director for our center in Ukraine. However, he used to oppose God and his Word. A scientist by training, Sergei was looking to disprove the Bible while conducting research at an isolated location in Siberia. He was all alone. He came across a copy of God’s Word, so he started reading.

What he started out to disprove would eventually win him over. As he poured over the Scripture, he discovered science proved the Bible true, and that this Jesus, whom the Bible spoke of, was actually the author and keeper of all truth.

Dr. Sergei Golovin, a brilliant man and holder of several patents, was convinced from reading the Bible, and looking at the evidence of creation, that there had to be a creative designer.

He was right! This new passion for knowing God turned into a lifelong mission to bring others to know that they need the saving grace of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to set them free from sin.

Today, nearly two decades after he met the God of the universe, Sergei and his team use science and apologetics to win the cultural wars inside his homeland of Ukraine and in Russia. Hundreds of books and tracts, now augmented with video, deliver a better way!

To learn more about the work of Sergei Golovin and GNPI-Ukraine, watch this video we produced in 2013 while helping to raise funds for a new training facility in Ukraine.

Pray for Sergei and Ukraine, particularly during these unsettling times.

A Glimpse into the Philippines

The Philippines is a collection of more than 7,000 islands. Interestingly, it seems there are as many expressions of religious practice and worship as there are islands. This can be confusing indeed.

In fact, it is not uncommon for the people of the Philippines to bring together parts of different religions to practice strange “hybrid” sorts of worship. People could be in a cathedral in the morning, and then that same afternoon, they might offer sacrifices to small figurines in their homes.

Idols would not be something most Westerners would be accustomed to, but in the Philippines, idol worship is rampant. The same person who offers such devotion to an inanimate object could also carry a cross and be nailed to it during Easter week to honor Jesus!

GNPI-Philippines has been speaking into this worldview since 1998 with productions like My Worship: Real or Replacement? and WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) series. These have become very popular broadcast series with the Filipino people. Strange, you say, but for Filipinos, these video series accurately communicate into their worldview.

As a result, the one true God is bringing a life of focus and clarity to many who are choosing his one and only son, Jesus.


A Glimpse into India

Know any great teachers? Chances are a great teacher is the reason why you chose your profession, developed a life-long passion for a hobby or special interest, and likely why you came to know Jesus. There’s something special about people who can take ideas and concepts and make them come alive to us. People who teach, especially about Jesus, deserve a place of honor in our society.

Teachers are given this high respect in the nation of India. It’s this veneration for learning that has given our series, The Parable, such high success and popularity.

The interest in the series comes in a place where Hinduism is alive and well and the worship of hundreds, if not thousands, of gods continues. The Parable series was effective in India because it allowed contextualized interpretation to occur between the pages of Scripture. This means people could easily apply what they were seeing on the screen to everyday issues and problems in their lives.

What would Jesus look like, who would he be, what caste would he be a member of if he had lived and taught in India? What would have been the hallmarks of his teaching and of his ministry in the community and in the country? Questions like these shaped what viewers saw. Finding ways Scripture could be portrayed in digital parables made all the difference for the Hindi-speaking population in India.

This impact was multiplied through access to local cable networks. While this great teaching reached thousands, there’s much work to be done. Only 2% of India’s more than one billion citizens follow Jesus. In fact, of more than 2,250 people groups in India, the latest numbers suggest 2,027 are still unreached. The need to make disciples in this great country is huge!

It’s going to take a lot of great teaching by a lot of great teachers. You know what? Your support of GNPI is helping people share the Gospel effectively. Thanks for helping GNPI accelerate global evangelism to places like India by providing Bible teachers with Christ-centered media content that answers everyday questions.


A Glimpse into Kenya

Last week I invited you to come with me for a journey around the world to visit some of the places GNPI works, to meet our regional directors, and to learn more about the cultures and worldviews in which we work. First stop: Kenya.

The drama was entitled Dini ya Ukweli or True Religion. It was not exceptionally written or phenomenally produced, but was extremely popular with Africans. Why? Because this GNPI Swahili drama hit at the heart of an issue – the issue of religious men with dishonest hearts.

In this video, a local preacher (and friend of GNPI) plays the part of a shyster (and does it well). He is someone who takes advantage of the good intentions and ignorance of others. He is one who mocks his own culture, one laced with ancestral worship for the sake of making easy money.

People could identify with the film’s main character because it amplified his hypocrisy, and in the process exposed disingenuous hearts. At the end of the day, the African audiences who personally experienced or saw such shenanigans in real life knew they were not seeing what Jesus would do. True Religion was not an indictment. Instead, it was a mirror helping them see into their African culture, and it worked!

I hope you’ve enjoyed our stop in Kenya. Stay with me as we continue our trip next week with a visit to India.

Glimpses into the Regional Centers

As a former missionary or cross-cultural worker in Kenya for almost 20 years, I made my living studying the habits, languages, and attitudes of others in order to connect with them. The connection was vital if I was to impart Biblical knowledge and, more importantly, instill a call of the Divine into the heart and lives of future African disciples of Jesus. To do this well, language learning and cultural adaptation are key.

Marketing expert Seth Godin writes, “Worldview has nothing to do with you or your mission… it’s the way a person acts without you in the room.”

For the next couple of weeks, I’d like to share interesting, personal notes about some of our regional directors, the countries where they serve, and highlight a project with impact that is connected to their specific worldview.

My hope is that through these glimpses you’ll not only learn more about our regional directors and the centers they help lead, but that you’ll get to know, just a little bit better, the cultures and worldviews that are part of the people we ask God to help us reach on a daily basis.

So, come with me around the world. Our first stop in next week’s blog is the place I spent so much time and holds a special place in my heart, Kenya.

No Joke!

Recently, at the North American Christian Convention (NACC), I was listening to a speaker who told the story of Penn Jillette, an illusionist, comedian, and vocal atheist. Recounting an instance when he was moved by a Christian who kindly engaged him and gave him a Bible, he said, “You must really hate someone to not proselytize them.”

Take a moment to think about what this atheist said. There is a lot of truth to that, isn’t there?

If we really believe in the wonderful hope of God and Heaven, and if we really believe in the horrible reality of Satan and Hell, would we not want to do all we can to “proselytize” others?

“Others” refers to those who we commonly call “lost,” and rightly so, because that is indeed what they are without Christ. However, as another teacher at the NACC put it, they are not just lost, but “missing.” They are missing the influence of God, absent from the lineage of grace, and ultimately missing from Heaven’s roll call.

The reality that every day we encounter missing people is startling, isn’t it? Will the love we have within us rise up to shout a warning to others destined for eternity without God? Or, will we silently feast at the table of God while others are in a wasteland of darkness and spiritual famine?

Let us recommit to demonstrate genuine love for God’s creation as we walk with him daily – even if that path takes us through hardship or difficulty. Let’s recommit to seek out those with whom we can share the Good News of Jesus.

If an atheist comedian can see true love demonstrated through the life of someone who took a chance to reach him, let’s be encouraged that God’s Spirit is calling all kinds of people to his kingdom. It’s no joke or illusion. It’s God at work, using people like you and me to go, share, teach, and love, using all means possible to win people for his glory!


The Goal

Well, the USA did not win soccer’s World Cup. I was chatting with a colleague immediately after the game ended. He didn’t want to hear the outcome of the Belgium versus USA game because he was going to go home and watch a recording of the match.

Isn’t it interesting how knowing the score or outcome takes all the internal suspense (and in this case, excitement) out of a game?

The same could be said for the World Cup of life. There is so much drama during the actual game of life, with its challenges and illnesses, that are also peppered with joy and jubilation. However, reading the end of the Book (and taking a sneak peak at the score) indicates that the score is: Jesus 1 and Satan 0. He wins, and when Jesus wins, we win!

Bottom line, knowing the score should help all of us stress less and believe more. That’s the goal. GNPI exists, essentially, to help people understand that they can share in this victory with us.

I didn’t spoil the end of the match for my friend, but letting others know the final score in this game of life is a spoiler alert we should not hold back!


Media Helps Make Disciples

I sat in the room with Christian workers from North Africa who work in a tough, resistant environment, listening to a prolific disciple-maker share steps to successful church multiplication. He has helped plant churches in China and India that are now thriving. As I listened, he spoke powerfully to my heart and mind about the priority of Jesus’ command to “make disciples.” Yes, we’re called to share the salvation of Christ, but our work is also about the process of sanctification, creating followers of Christ who carry their cross daily.

We can see the fantastic work so many are doing in the name of Jesus. People are working for justice, drilling wells, taking in the oppressed and orphaned, and feeding the hungry. There is an overarching objective that ties them all together and gives them true power. These needs are met to share the love of Christ and draw others into a relationship with him that blossoms into a passion to draw others. When this cycle is effective, churches begin and they, eventually, lead to other churches!

This teacher went on to say, “It is hard to be a good follower and disciple-maker if you don’t listen to the Master!” In his experience, people make the huge decision to accept Christ by making a host of smaller decisions that build on one another. What truly excited me was when he mentioned the role media plays in helping people who are seeking Christ. Yes, he emphasized what we’ve known for decades; media is key in helping today’s spiritual seekers encounter the Living God.

God continues to confirm, through the people we partner with and reach, that media is more important than ever in the process of fulfilling the The Great Commission. We consider it an honor to be in the same room as people like this great teacher, and we are even more humbled that God would choose GNPI to play a significant role in preparing his bride, the church, for Christ Jesus.

An Important Summit!

I recently sat with 20 vernacular media consultants at an annual summit of media use by minority people groups around the world through Wycliffe Bible Translators.

They concluded that more production of digital media was desperately needed to speed up the translation process, to help them spread God’s Word further, reaching more listeners more economically. They said:

Visual media actually helps people understand Biblical truths!

I shared three components of GNPI: The Global Gospel, project NOMaD, and Solar Kit distribution. Being Bible translators, they were elated that there was a resource so biblically strong like The Global Gospel. Their desire to train more nationals to produce video easily connected with project NOMaD. Finally, their viewing a Solar Kit in action whet their appetites for kits among their people groups. I actually left the Solar Kit I used to demonstrate with a worker, whom I cannot name, so it could be used to share the Gospel with a persecuted people group in SE Asia!  

I wish every friend of GNPI could have sat at that table. One international consultant present at the meeting said, “Mike, after your presentation of GNPI, I wanted to join GNPI!” The intent was not to recruit staff but to recruit partnerships, and I look forward to watching the Holy Spirit will connect the dots!


A Life of Significance

Have you ever wondered why people take on the work they do? Some people work through company financials. Some stay home to raise kids. Some even take on high-risk jobs like joining the Peace Corp. And some, like me, even become missionaries.

 Why do we each do the things we do? Part of the answer, in my opinion, is that God gives each of us a calling!

 The desire to live a life of significance is something God, as our creator, placed within each of us. Understanding what he’s called you to do is key to finding that meaning from life.

 At GNPI, we feel called to accelerate global evangelism through media and technology. When you give to GNPI, you’re investing in the lives of more than 80 people throughout the world whom God has called. In fact, by giving to GNPI you may be answering God’s call to partner with us, affecting the life of a Hindu woman, a Muslim man, a poverty-trapped child in Africa, and many more.

 Thanks for hearing God’s call for service in whatever work he’s given you to do, and thanks for hearing his call to help us do the work he’s given us. You’re a blessing to us!