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Moving and Changing to Share Christ’s Message

By Tom Silkwood, Regional Director of GNPI-Thailand

We have completed a new Biblical Extension Course (BEC) program on Christian unity with Mr. Boonsak Tongdee. In addition, our partners at Freedom Films have finished a new testimonial program in the Changed series featuring Mr. Boonsak.

Moving and Changing1

Moving and Changing 4201206_THA_Training_0026Mr Boonsak grew up in a strict, Christian home. When he left for college, he abandoned his Christian life. Then, in his second year of college, Boonsak happened to move into a Christian dormitory. From there he returned to faith in Jesus. Please pray that God would use these programs to teach and encourage many people.

Moving and Changing 3One of our most recent Changed programs features Panida Thongdi. She shares her testimony of how she went from being angry toward 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 change her heart towards her parents. She lives a life of surrender, forgiveness, and freedom in Christ.

Several weeks ago, we uploaded Movement Everywhere #5. This episode is about how Pastor Nattapong is using his coffee plantation and coffee factory to influence people for Christ in his area. The fascinating art of coffee production is opening doors to share the Good News.

All these programs can be viewed on YouTube. (www.youtube.com/Ffpthailand)

My team is in the USA to visit an Asian church in Minnesota. This is a huge step for my coworkers, and hopefully, a potential new partner for our ministry. Our team is there at the church’s request, and the church is funding a majority of the trip.

My son, Jeff, and his family are doing well. However, Jeff has been shocked at what it takes to live here and the stress of it all. My daughter, Kari, and her husband, Dustin, now live here as well. Dustin and Kari are looking for new employment and have some opportunities that are very interesting. They are praying and trusting the Lord for their future.

All in all we are doing well and trust the Lord will provide, guide, and bless us as we trust him.

A Glimpse into Thailand

Good things come to those who wait, right? Do you remember the advertising campaign for Heinz Ketchup in the late 1980s? Apparently this particular condiment was so good, you’d be willing to tip the bottle and wait a few hours to add it to your burger as it finally came out of the bottle.

Well, if good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who faithfully plan, execute, make necessary adjustments, and then expectantly watch as growth and change occur.

I’m deeply convinced of this as I watch our friends at GNPI-Thailand. Thailand has always been a strategic point for missionaries reaching tribal people groups, like the Lisu and Lahu, as well as the main Buddhist populations of Thailand. Just as important, Thailand also serves as a gateway to more difficult-to-reach places, like Myanmar and even China.

GNPI-Thailand is a collaborative approach to using media and technology to accelerate evangelism, including a long-time partnership with missionary Tom Silkwood and Freedom Films. Tom’s faithful work in Chiang Mai has been building steadily over many years and is now bearing great fruit.

Exciting opportunities continue to emerge as Tom and his team produce videos in the national Thai language and leadership training materials like the Biblical Extension Courses (BEC) in other local vernaculars.

Yes, good things come to those who wait. Yet, reaching Buddhists for Christ takes decades. Better things are coming for the people of Thailand because of the patient presence and media productions of Tom Silkwood and GNPI-Thailand.

Throwback Thursday with Tom Silkwood

Here’s one from the archives! It’s fun to sometimes look back at some of the “old stuff on the shelf.”

We think this video is still very relevant, and Tom Silkwood does an excellent job of explaining how GNPI’s core values are at the heart of the resources each regional center creates. We hope you’ll have a few minutes to watch.

GNPI’s Core Values

 

God’s Word – Ensure all endeavors are Biblically based.
Cultural Relevance – Customize resources for specific world communities.
Strategic Partnerships – Create synergy through global networks.
Creativity – Infuse the ministry with imagination and innovation.
Excellence – Aspire to reflect God’s glory in all we do.
Integrity – Honor God in all relationships.

Juan’s Cartel Encounter

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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!

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.)

I Was Worshipping False Gods

Ma Myit FamilyFrom time to time, we receive testimonies from or about people who have been touched by GNPI productions. Our prayer is that they’ll serve as an inspiration to you. Know that your support for GNPI is making an eternal difference in the lives of evangelists reaching people throughout the world!

By AS, Evangelist and Coworker at GNPI-SE Asia

I want to testify about a Buddhist family who became Christians. Last year, in 2013, I went back to my home village to teach in summer Bible school. I met a Christian woman named MM. She was a Buddhist before she knew Jesus. She had some kind of sickness, and she spent so much money for treatment. The medicines did not help her. Then she went to a shaman. The shaman could not help her either. One day she heard about a Christian woman who prayed for the sick, so she went to that village. She was baptized after hearing the Word of God. The Christian woman prayed for MM, and her sickness was gone.

Her husband was not happy about her becoming a Christian, and she did not know how to tell him about God. She did not know much about God. All she knew was that she believed in God the Creator, who healed her sickness. She sent her children to summer Bible School because she wanted her children to know about God. At that time I was teaching from TP’s book, Who Is the True God? TP had trained me how to teach non-Christians from his book for this summer Bible school. After a week of teaching, MM’s children decided to accept Jesus as their Savior and were baptized. They were old enough to make their own decisions.

However, the husband/father grew unhappy. He was always angry at them. The wife made a date and asked me to meet with her husband. When I visited their house there were many Buddhist images in their house. We talked about various things. He was a nice man. Then we came to the point that I could tell him about the true God. The husband asked me if there was a true God and if there were any false gods. I told him that there are many false gods. I compared the true God and the false gods. I left him a copy of Who Is the True God?

I went back to my village again the next summer in 2014, to teach in summer Bible school. I also went back to visit MM’s family. I was surprised that I did not see any statues this time. I asked UC, MM’s husband, what happened to the those images. He told me, “After reading Who Is the True God? I realized that I was worshipping false gods. False gods will not save me from the eternal punishment of hell. Now I am a believer.” When he was telling me all about it, I saw tears coming down from MM’s eyes. I was so happy that I thanked God from my heart. They are very happy to be Christians as a family. He told me he was already baptized on August 5, 2013, not long after I met him the first time.

This time we were able to talk about challenges to their faith. They are farmers. They make a living by growing rice. He told me after he became a Christian, all four of his buffalos died. People were saying that the gods were punishing his family. He struggled with the question of why God didn’t keep his buffalos from dying.

Then we discussed about the evil one, which always causes many unpleasant things for Christians and tempts Christians to fall away from worshipping the true God. We prayed together for God’s protection from the evil one. He understands now that they should stay close to God all the time.

This family wants to start a church in their own village, so they have tried to purchase a piece of property for the future church. However, the village authorities would not allow the family to buy the property because they do not allow any foreign religions into the village. I would like to request prayer for UC and MM’s family in this village. Pray they would stay strong in the Lord and have wisdom for their next steps.

 

Appreciation from Anyway!

by Tom Nutt, Director of Operations

I was able to meet Anyway Mupesewa, a young man from Zimbabwe, at the North American Christian Convention last month. GNPI provided a Solar Kit for him to take back to his home country to use in sharing the Gospel there.

I think you’ll agree, he is a delightful young man. His response represents the appreciation we hear expressed from so many (Yet, we aren’t able to record most of them).

We agree with Anyway’s prayer for you, our ministry partners, “May God bless you and keep his face shining upon you. May he watch over your lives, your plans, and be with you all the time.”

 

 

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