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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.)

Things to Thank God For in SE Asia

Our center in SE Asia was established 10 years ago. TP works diligently to develop media tools to help Buddhists understand God’s plan.

By TP, Regional Director of GNPI-SE Asia

It is so wonderful working with GNPI. We thank God for your willingness to work together and your support for the team in SE Asia. My family and team members are fine as the Lord watches over us.

During these days, Charts of Evangelism, Hymns of Praise, The Owner of the Universe (10 keys facts) are in the process of printing. These will be available soon. The Armageddon News (DVD) is being produced in two languages. The first language will be finished in September. In September, we will record preaching for Thanksgiving and make new videos of Gospel songs.

This year has been quite a year. It has been wet this whole monsoon season. It was wet all over our apartment, but we thank God that the monsoon season will be over soon. In a month or so, we hope to move to a new place. It is an unfinished home, but we will complete it little by little.

One more thing I am grateful to God for is that I have nearly finished the evangelism tools. I have revised them many times as I use them to teach others. Every single person says it’s very clear. Many were baptized, and every week more new people accept Jesus as their Savior.

Thankful Resize1

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I have trained four evangelists. They are working in different areas. The newest one is AS from our office. Now he and his wife are preaching in a small church which our family started. He is reliable in evangelism. He has traveled to his home village three times already since we started working together.

Thankful Resize2

MM was teaching guitar to youth in one of the districts until August 28th. PA is doing video editing. CA is recording music. He is also teaching guitar to a young man from the northern part of our area, near China’s border. He will teach youth in his village. He also wants to reach some young people from the other side of the border. Please pray for these young men to be able to serve the Lord continuously.

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There are so many reasons I am thankful to God. To make it short, I thank God for Christian friends, my wife and four children, this GNPI studio and staff members, and I thank God for bringing new people into his family.

A Glimpse into SE Asia

In the days of Christ, the Pharisees were the religious elite. The way they dressed, spoke, and acted revealed their status. They were seen as having an inside track to a relationship with God. For much of his public ministry, Jesus challenged the Pharisees because they knew all the right things to do, but their hearts were in the wrong place.

This teaching angered some, but it was inviting to others. We see glimpses in Scripture of Pharisees who were touched and changed by one whose heart was always exactly where it needed to be.

Buddhist monks are the religious elite in SE Asia. Like the Pharisees of old, they are easy to identify; their orange cloaks stand out as if to shout, “Here rests religious insight.”  Their elaborate monasteries are well-populated and centers of highly prized knowledge.

Interestingly, though, in SE Asia, Buddhist monks have been found playing Christian worship music over their loudspeakers. To the objective observer this would seem odd. Why would songs espousing and illuminating tenants that are not from Buddha fill the air next to a temple filled with Buddha’s likeness?

The answer? GNPI works hard to share the Gospel through mediums that people can understand, in a way that is culturally relevant. Set new teachings to inviting native music and you have a powerful recipe for reaching people.

Music has such power to move us. It would be hard to find a medium that sparks greater emotion. Add the teachings of Jesus, and God will use music to do incredible things.

In SE Asia, it’s working to melt the heart of the religious elite as they hear and consider the challenges of a man who changed the world with the truest heart we’ve ever known.

 

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.

 

Get Back to Your First Love

There are more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, and this is no accident.

languageIn Genesis 11:7, speaking about the tower of Babel, God says, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other (NIV).” Verse nine says that he then scattered the people all over the face of the earth. This scattering resulted in many things including cultural differences, from what we eat to who and how we worship.

God did this on purpose. He also knew that telling the whole world about Jesus would be a challenge because of the resulting cultural differences—the ways, concepts, emotions, and word meanings often get lost in translation.

Challenging? Yes.
Impossible? No!

This is why GNPI’s regional centers continue to work on projects like this music video from SE Asia. The title for this song translates to the English word, Essential. Written, arranged, and performed by local artists and staff from our SE Asia center, they are taking a bold stand for Christ in their country.

At GNPI, we create culturally relevant materials that speak to the hearts of people worldwide. Our regional center staff, lead by nationals in most cases, know the best way to do that.

The language of this song may not be your first language, but the message is pretty clear.

Essential is based on some hard-hitting truth found in Revelation 2:1-5 revealing how God feels about those who forsake their first love. It’s pretty obvious that it is essential to get back to our first love if we want to please God. We need to do whatever it takes to rekindle that spark we first had for Jesus.

Creator Camp 2014

By Sergei Golovin, Regional Director of GNPI-Ukraine

With great joy, I am glad to say that the most challenging project of the year has been completed! We successfully managed to arrange The Creator Children’s Camp at the occupied territory. The troubles of the world did not stop us. We just regrouped for new conditions. As usual, the camp was a testing field for new curriculum for camps, Sunday schools, and children’s programs.

Camp 014

This year the theme of the curriculum was Creator of the Universe. It was focused on the design of the universe, the ways people study it, as well as God’s plan for it according to the Scriptures. Various games, sports activities, and experiments helped the kids have a lot of fun and learn the material effectively at the same time.

We had 20-30 children participate, and 10 percent of them were from non-Christian families. All of the media work at the camp was done by last year’s media training course graduates! The main difference this year was a day-camp format.

Camp 006

Nevertheless, we made several field trips. We went to the seashore and also to the Multi-Purpose Resource Center training facilities for games and astronomical observations. We also took the campers to view the Space Center. At the end of the camp, the children gave a special performance at the church to share what they learned. This was a special occasion for them to bring their parents and friends who don’t usually go to church. The guests received some of our books as a gift.

Now, after some revisions and editing, the curriculum will be available online for other churches and ministries alongside the ones we have issued in previous years. Please pray with us for the seeds planted, both at the camp and after it!

Here is a video trailer about the camp.

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.

Take My Life

By Marsha Bacon, Communications Coordinator, GNPI

Kiev BannerUkraine has been in the news lately, along with countless other regions where unrest and violence continues to escalate. Russia began her crusade to occupy Crimea (the location of one of GNPI’s regional centers) in March, and that was just about the time the music video embedded below was completed.

I am on staff at GNPI and had some surgery back in April. I was in the hospital when I received the communication from Lena, the office manager in Crimea, that their third music video, Take My Life, was complete. As I sat there in my hospital room, watching the video on my phone, I thought about what my Ukrainian friends were facing—ugly photos coming out of Kiev where Russian troops had already invaded, the threat of violence and war, the threat to their physical safety, so much uncertainty!

Yet, the music video is the exact opposite of that. It’s calm, assuring, and strikingly beautiful. Take My Life, an old hymn, is a song about trusting God and giving him our lives.

I messaged Lena and asked her, “How much of the footage in the video was shot during the conflict of the troops moving in?”

She answered me, “All of it, and the shots by the sea were actually shot during the invasion. In fact, we had to postpone the first studio shooting day because that very morning we were occupied.”

The reality of this reduced me to tears. As I watched the video again and prayed for their safety, God revealed to me that even in the most dangerous storms of our lives, he can calm us with his quiet, tender presence.

I find it remarkable that media has the ability to transcend the limitations of cultures and languages and deeply touch someone in a hospital room thousands miles away. So take my life, Lord. You are certainly more capable of doing something good with it than I am.

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