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Getting Where We Need to Go

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Director of Development Matt Brock recently visited Africa with International Director Bob Sartoris. This was Matt’s first trip to Africa. He visited Nairobi, Eldoret, and Pokot, Kenya and Mbale, Uganda. Matt will share his trip reflections in a four-part blog series. Watch for the next articles coming soon (The Gathering Place, Food for the Soul, and Dressed for Success).

Matt Brock, GNPI Director of Development

 

 

I take for granted the fact that I have a reliable car. If I want to go somewhere, I get in, turn the key, and go. I don’t have to worry about the reliability of my vehicle. It’s not new, but it’s newer. I never worry about putting gas in my car; I just fill up the tank when it’s running low. Most of the roads I travel, even in their worst condition, are fairly navigable.

These are the hazards of living in our affluent society where even the poorest among us have more than those considered wealthy elsewhere.

This reality came to life for me as I traveled the roads of Africa. For the first time I saw, with my own eyes, what traveling conditions were like for the people who live there. I’d never thought about the roads in Africa before. What I observed was new and shocking. However, what I witnessed, with the eyes of my heart, was encouraging and inspiring.

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One of the first things I noticed as we set out in Nairobi was everywhere we went there were people on the road. It was the same in rural areas. In the United States, it’s unusual to see anyone walking on the side of the road during my drive from Carthage, Missouri, to the GNPI office in Joplin. However, the streets were packed all the time in Nairobi.. Not only were people on foot, but there were hundreds of bicycles, scooters, public transportation (Matatous), and people riding rides on the back of trucks. Even between the cities and in rural areas, people were on the road walking, biking, riding, or catching rides.

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In fact, it was common to see four or five people riding on one bicycle. Protus Sibukule, one of our NOMaD team members, told me that up to 30 people can sometimes ride in a Matatou, which is the size of a 12 passenger van. He said, after taking such a journey with of all of the people sitting on you in the van, sometimes you have to wait about five minutes after exiting to regain the feeling in your legs!

The roads looked like they had been been cut out initially, surfaced (in the urban areas), and then never touched again. In many cases, it seemed our vehicle might not make it out of the pothole where we had just landed. As we were headed to the very remote region of Pokot, it took us about six hours to travel the sixty miles we had to cover. I was glad I took some ibuprofen before we began that leg of our trip. I’ve never been jostled around so much.

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Besides being thankful for the privilege of having my own vehicle that I can fill up whenever I want and roads that are great for traveling from one place to the next, something else dawned on me. All of the people I saw on the sides of the roads and using the highways in Africa are going somewhere. There’s someplace they’re trying to reach. Whether or not they realize it, they’re heading someplace spiritually too.

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Our amazing God keeps track of each one of us on those journeys. Regardless of whether we are saved or not. He knows who we are and where we are. That’s both comforting and awe-inspiring. God in His vastness can keep track of more than seven and a half billion people. He’s also using the roads we’re traveling in this life to provide each one of us with evidence of His existence and to encourage us to reach out and find Him. I love what the Bible says in Acts 17:24-27 as Paul is speaking to the men of Athens:

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us …”

I don’t know where all of those people were going, but most of them were working a lot harder to get there than I usually do. I can’t know their spiritual journeys either. Though we’re working at GNPI to influence the lives of millions of people in Kenya, Uganda, Africa, and the world, I’ll never know even a small fraction of them until we meet in Heaven. Yet, God knows them all. He knows where they’re going. He knows just what they need to find Him, and He’ll offer it without exception.

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I read something once that has always stuck with me, and I think it’s relevant to what I learned while traveling the roads of Africa. Not all roads lead to God, but God will travel any road to find us.

Thank You, Dad!

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Gustavo Velázquez, regional director of GNPI-Mexico, visited our Joplin office with his family this summer. We were glad to have his son, David, work with us in Joplin for a month-long internship. David says it is amazing to know GNPI is a ministry which creates Christian productions to share the Word of God all over the world.

The following links are to some of the projects David (and Greg Fish) worked on during his internship:

NACC video – https://vimeo.com/134431671

Solar Kit video – https://youtu.be/KVtkc1Q8jAk

Send the Light video –  https://youtu.be/VkkNpQeyCDk

God’s Leading in My Life

We were blessed to have a special intern from China for eight weeks this summer. She is finishing her last year of studying graphic design at Southern New Hampshire University. Hannah shares that one of the best parts of her internship at GNPI was visiting Piedras Negras, Mexico.

by Hannah Guan, GNPI summer 2015 intern

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Finding New Life in Christ

God is always worth trusting. It is right for every one of us to share the Truth. It should be our primary work to constantly look for God in every situation in our lives! I’d like to share some of my story about why I chose Jesus and how was I able to work at GNPI.

I came to the United States for a higher education, but God had a much higher education plan for my future. I know it sounds complicated, and it is. I had a long-term boyfriend, and I expected to marry him. He was planning to study in America. It was quite a confusing time for me right after I graduated from college in China, yet I chose to “continue” education instead of looking for a job with him. I was searching for potential opportunities and exploring my dream life in a brand new world. I was attracted to it, although it meant being separated from my family for a long time. What I did was for a better future, and I thought it was worth a try.

A new life is exciting, but not easy at all. It’s pretty unforgettable seeing snow, trying to remember to bless people when they sneeze, and adjusting to new foods. I had many helpless adventures: enduring endless, boring weekends and learning to order a Subway sandwich over the phone. The worst was when my boyfriend broke up with me a year later. I wished it was just a nightmare I was having because it was too awful to be true. For such hard time I chose to accept Jesus because I needed Him! I had been going to an American church and studying the Bible. I was having many troubles in my life and was trying to find answers. I had been feeling very upset until I finally gave an answer to Jesus! An answer of YES!

April 20, 2014, was a really special day when I decided to follow Christ. It happened right after a Christian concert during the communion service of the church I attended. Below is the picture I captured the very moment after I said “yes” to Jesus. communioncup

When the little box of juice and cracker were passed to my hand, I wondered if I should pass it to the next person, but I hesitated. At that time Jesus spoke to me, “Do you believe in me?” It was a voice I could feel, not hear, and it was more like a consciousness not from myself. Then I went on, “Do I have to decide it now? No? Why not? Okay! Okay! I will try, YES!”

Why am I so sure that’s how Jesus spoke to me? First, the whole time while I kept questioning and being heartbroken from a severed relationship, the only question I considered was if Jesus was really true. Second, the moment when the question came it happened as a shock to me, and I even felt it from my body. I could feel a strong fear deep down inside my heart, like getting ready for a speech in front of thousands of people. I knew that I had to make a decision at that time, although it felt so heavy for me to just give a YES. Until I did it, it still seemed impossible to me. Just like that, I decided to follow Jesus, to die for Him! He did a miracle in me!

After a short while I traveled back to China to visit my family for two months in May of 2014. It was quite a hard time of struggling and learning how to be a true believer. I wondered what it meant to be a follower of Jesus as I realized what a sinful person I was. The trip back to China was oppressive, because there was another tough decision for me and my family. My family was having a financial crisis in their business, which meant they might not be able to continue supporting my education in America. Moreover, I had to explain the break up with my ex-­boyfriend. During this time in China I needed to renew both my visa and I­-20, as well as all the complicated paperwork. I planned to drop out and never come back to America again. It seemed so much easier to make that decision! It was a low point in my life, and I thought it would not be a happy ending for me to go back to America. However, I wished, at least, to be able to finish my studies. I decided I would embrace whatever happened to me because I trusted in Jesus!

I tried to find God’s way while I was in China, so I looked for churches and people who might be interested in knowing Jesus. Then something very special happened. I had a friend who studied at the same university and was also a new believer. He traveled back to China around the same time as I did. He came to visit me all the way from Beijing to Guangzhou, which is about the distance as from New Hampshire to Texas. It was amazing that he helped me complete every piece of paperwork for my new visa and new I­-20! Then he left after a week. I really appreciated what he did for me, but it didn’t mean that I would go back to America. The next thing that changed my decision­ was the love of my family. Although it would be difficult, my parents insisted on supporting me to finish my education. I was so touched by what they did. That’s the reason my faith was renewed. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) God sent me a vision of His way. All I needed to concern myself about was whether I was I truly trusting in Him!

A very common question had been holding me back for a long time, “What will you do after you graduate?” Most people would ask me this question when we first met. It was tough for me to answer, because I didn’t even know the answer. I wasn’t quite sure what to do after I graduated. As an international student speaking English as a second language, I didn’t think it would be easy to find a job in America. Moreover, I wasn’t doing very well in my major, so it could be hard to seek jobs, even in China. I used to consider myself as a worthless and helpless person. I needed encouragement.

On May 3, 2015, I was baptized by Pastor Wing Wong from Manchester Chinese Christian Church. It had been a year since I accepted Jesus. I was struggling with some questions about being saved. Wing Wong was the first person who told me I should get baptized if I believed in Jesus who died for my sins to save me, if I repented. He shared Romans 6:3­-6, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (KJV)

I decided to give all my life to Jesus for the rest of my days! I let go of the things I’d been holding tightly and tried to entrust Jesus to allow Him lead my life.

Learning to Work for Christ

Wing Wong has a great heart for following Jesus. He has hope for me, and he likes giving opportunities to others. He asked me to help the church in different events like making a leaflet, recording the Sunday services, editing videos, and even designing a book cover! I suddenly found my value by doing these things. I began to love what I was doing because I found myself in Jesus. Since then, I’ve decided to devote my major to God.

Before summer vacation started Wing Wong asked what my plan was for this vacation. I said I wanted to find an internship. He said, “Very good! Would you like to work at GNPI, a very excellent company which spreads the Gospel through media?” I answered surprisingly, “Really? Media and Gospel? Sure, I’d love it!” A month later, my two-­month ­internship in GNPI Joplin was confirmed by Tom Nutt. He is the person responsible for my internship, who decided my journey, and supported me like an angel. It was a kind of joy I could find no way to describe! God is awesome!

It was so exciting that God gave me opportunities to experience many different and fun things besides working. For the two­-month internship I would say working was only a part of it. It’s more like a precious lesson from God to equip me as part of the Body of Christ. I call it love and mission. I still remember the day when I arrived at the Tulsa airport. Bryan Lawler, graphic project coordinator at GNPI, and his family, who hosted me, were waiting for me in the airport. Their son, Brennen, who had just turned 11, impressed me so much by insisting on helping me take care of my luggage and letting me read his comic books on the way home. I appreciated the ways he showed his love and kindness. It really calmed my heart, and all my concerns were gone.

Guess what my first project of the internship was? It was making a paper chain and cutting papers for a green screen project for a group of kids coming to tour the Joplin office. I loved it! It was my honor to have the chance to learn from, and help, everyone on GNPI’s Creative Team.

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The most fun and interesting part was The Global Gospel App promo. I was fortunate to be the main character in the video!! I was also the model for ad in the Christian Standard. For most of the time I worked with Pa See Caby, the graphic designer, who is both a good partner and friend of mine. She gave me some projects to do, like creating Facebook banner designs and working on GNPI’s 40th anniversary calendar for 2016. I really appreciated having these jobs to do. I was able to learn some video filming, video editing, graphic design, photography, and audio recording, besides being an actor and a model. I suddenly became a little star! [Click here to watch a Behind-the-Scenes video also.]

Most surprisingly Tom Nutt invited me to join a mission trip for a week to Piedras Negras, Mexico.

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After a long drive of 15 hours, we arrived at GNPI­-Mexico around 1:30pm with total of 18 people from three families. What is a mission trip like? What were we going to do? I had no clue at all, except for embracing the tiredness after the long drive and the very refreshing temperatures in Mexico. Yet I figured it out when I saw them beginning work.

They were such amazing people used by God in good ways!

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They fixed the air conditioning, ran electric lines, repainted the walls, and remodeled kitchen of a local church in just one day! We helped organize a VBS at a church, making crafts with the children, singing, and dancing to praise the Lord together.

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We also painted the Garden of Eden mural in a classroom of the church.

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The highlight of this trip was the morning discussions and the food. Although our schedule was very full and rushed, we all attended the Bible discussion at 7:30 every morning. This time of studying God’s Word and putting it into a practical experience helped me make much more sense of why we were there.

The meals were definitely another highlight! They nourished our bodies and satisfied our tummies. However, what I mean by that is not only because the foods were delicious, but also those who prepared the meals added their love into the ingredients, making everything taste especially good. Those women took care of our stomachs and served us like kings every single meal. They had such great servant hearts for God! I was touched by that deep down in my heart, and it’s exactly what we needed to have as we worked.

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“His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planned by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:2­-3)

I don’t deserve anything by my own efforts, but I’m blessed because of God’s grace. Jesus saved me, renewed my life, and guided me to the Truth! All these things in my life have shown me that He is real. Jesus is my super star, and I’m a follower of Him. Whoever dies for Him, He will raise him up from death.

I am thankful for God’s leading in my life!

Our Media Strategy in Chile

Habacuc Diaz tells why he feels called to share the Gospel through media with young people in the city of Santiago. He hopes this media to be useful locally and even globally. Habacuc sees media as a way for his team to show their commitment to use all resources available to make disciples.

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By Habacuc Diaz, team leader of the NOMaD team in Santiago, Chile

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humbled and Honored!

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By Nenette Pacoli, regional director of GNPI-Philippines

I am humbled, honored that the Lord answered our prayers beyond what we asked or imagined and that you and other people find it worth your trouble to support our new series, Say It Forward.

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We are actually talking to four people to feature: a businessman who disciples other men almost full-time and still makes a profit, a businesswoman who has failed / been duped by others and yet has risen again, a book author who will talk about her experiences as a person and as a mom, and a young pastor who will talk about growing up in incredibly poor circumstances (and being joyful and hopeful!). When we’re done we hope to have 36 episodes from six people (including our first two guests), enough to last for the rest of the year. Please help us pray for our next venue.

DSCN4381THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR TRUST and partnership in this work!

“I Saw How God Works!”

by Nenette Pacoli, regional director of GNPI-Philippines

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Last month our pastor, my husband Bert, two staff members, and I traveled 10 hours to Naga. An elderly man from our church, Jesus Charvet, tagged along at the last minute. We were planning to show All Things New that night.

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Mr. Charvet admits, “I said I wanted to go, but I thought, what! Film showing? What good would that do? I didn’t find that as exciting as a medical/dental mission or even other things we’ve done. But tonight I was moved, I saw how God works! I didn’t know that a film could have an impact like that.”

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That night 17 people accepted Christ, 15 expressed interest to know God more, and 11 said they wanted to have Bible study at home.
I have been to countless showings, but I never cease to be amazed at how God works through this movie.

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A Person with Purpose

We are honored to share the testimony of a young man who interned and worked at our office in Kenya. He has made great progress in his life, despite the hardships of living in the slums and on the streets as a youth. May God continue to bless him as he uses his gifts and talents in other career interests in the future.

by Dennis Kamau

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I am 23 years old, and I aspire telling stories through films and photography that challenge the way we live and see things.

I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, in the Mathare slums, one of the largest slum areas in Africa. Being raised in the slum by a single mother made life very hard. She was the sole breadwinner in our family. She was struggling a lot to make sure she placed something on the table for us. I was the eldest of four children. The reality of life forced me to the streets, where I thought I would get refuge. I went to beg for money, but the street life exposed me to other dangerous activities, such as stealing and doing drugs. These habits sunk me deep into the harsh street life.

After a couple of years I was rescued by Made in the Streets (MITS), a non-governmental organization. For 20 years now MITS has been devoted to loving and serving street kids and giving them opportunities to build their skills through a training school, helping them begin new lives in the outside world.

While at MITS I learned about the love of God, about life, and through that, my life was redeemed. Somehow God began opening up my mind, and I was able to see a bright future ahead.

The organization slowly began incorporating different learning activities: carpentry, mechanical skills, agriculture, catering, and IT among others. This was a way of instilling important skills in us.

At different times MITS used to take us to camps and field trips. It was at these moments that I could take a camera and begin taking photos just for fun. Upon going back after a fascinating trip, I would put together the photos then present a slideshow after morning
devotions.

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As the time went by the idea of art of photography grew, and I developed an interest in technology. This attracted me to attend IT classes at MITS, where I was able to advance.

Then MITS took me to an outside college to learn more about photography and film production. After finishing my course I got an internship at GNPI-Kenya with the help of MITS. The internship lasted for six months. During this period it was a challenge for me to impress my supervisors with my job skills, owing that I was very young and new in the outside world. I am very grateful for my internship at GNPI and for my time on staff there. I will always thank God for that opportunity. Being at GNPI allowed me to meet people with diverse ideas and helped me to grow strong in different ways, including my field of work and my socio-economic life. I have come to love my profession so much that I feel fulfilled when I am doing it.

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God really changed the course of my life
to make me a person
who lives and works with purpose.

God’s Word Is Enough

One of our newest board members shares his perspective of GNPI as he and his wife, Lori, recently visited the regional center in Kenya with Mike Schrage. Robb Good says the trip to Nairobi allowed him to see GNPI’s impact in the community and globally. Robb says he saw firsthand how God’s Word is enough.

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by Robb Good, GNPI board member

I’m so impressed by what I see happening here. It’s simple.

What they’re doing is not necessarily how we would reach people in the United States.

People need Jesus.

Continue the hard work  . . . because you can see the fruit.

Being Raised in the Hmong Culture

I would like to share a short series of articles highlighting our GNPI staff members who have learned the importance of cultural relevance by living in a different culture themselves. They have gained new perspectives which they apply to the ministry in practical and valuable ways.

Pa See Caby began working in digital asset management as a college student and a new believer. After she finished her degree in Communications from Pittsburg State University, she gradually took on more responsibility in our office. Now Pa See works as our creative graphic designer. We appreciate her talent, work ethic, and respectful attitude. (Click on the names to see the other articles in this series by Angie Anderson and Greg Fish.)

 

Wedding

By Pa See Caby, creative graphic designer at GNPI

My siblings and I grew up in a Hmong household, but outside our home there was an American world. Two cultures collided with different values. Although growing up this way had some disadvantages, it also had advantages. In college I realized that my upbringing allowed me to relate well with immigrants.

During my first year of college, I met two Muslim sisters from Pakistan. They were new immigrants who left their country with the hope of a better future in the United States. We bonded over our love of Bollywood films and identified with one another’s values.

In the duration of the year, the sisters became engaged. One fell in love, and the other sister confided in me that her engagement was an arranged marriage to a guy she had never met. She was worried, but she wasn’t worried for herself. She was concerned about my reaction to her engagement. The photo above shows the sisters and me at the arranged marriage. It was a joyful time, but they wanted to protect their identities.

It wasn’t strange at all for me. In the Hmong community, although it is becoming more rare, arranged marriages still happen. She was surprised by my reaction because she had been worried that people would look at her in horror instead of rejoice with her. Even though it’s unfamiliar to most people in the US, she has been happy in her marriage, and I am glad for this family.

If I hadn’t grown up in a different culture, I wouldn’t have been able to see it from her perspective. Cultural relevance is extremely important. Thank God for our differences because they can provide timely opportunities to show understanding and God’s grace to others.

 

 

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