We recently hosted a team of local brothers and sisters from a city in the northwest of our country. Their goal was to follow up on the work of earlier teams and to start a new work amongst another Unreached Unengaged People Group* (UUPG) here. The team helped us locate two villages of a UUPG we are working with, and helped us share the good news with some of the people living there. We had dinner with a family, dressed up in their traditional costumes, and took lots of pictures. When we came back inside after the pictures, a teammate and I began sharing with the head of the family. He said he wanted to believe, so we led him in a prayer to trust Christ. After we finished praying, I noticed another guy from the team was sharing with 3 guys sitting around him. I then noticed 2 girls from the team sharing with the wives. Before long, the team leader began to address the whole group. He clearly and passionately delivered the simple message of the cross with everyone. He shared with them our need for a Savior and how to enter into a right relationship with the Father. The Spirit moved and He moved in power. After about an hour of discussion, the two couples, their two friends, and another man huddled in a circle with us, and the team leader led them in a prayer as they gave their lives to Christ! It was an awesome evening. *A UUPG is a type of Unreached People Group (UPG), meaning it is comprised of less than a 2 percent evangelical witness. In addition, a UUPG also has no evidence of a church-planting methodology being implemented. There are approximately 3,800 UUPGs across the globe with no access to the gospel.
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Suffice it to say, our summer was jam-packed. It has been a very full, very rich, very challenging few months, and our time here has been characterized by perseverance, initiative, and hard work. We hosted 4 U.S. sports teams who played 11 different national teams. We worked with 3 short-term teams from the U.S. focused on EV and relationship building, and led 7 short-term EV trips to 12 different places. We mentored two 2-month volunteers, and completed a church basketball league. We were involved in the London Olympics, with over 80 athletes, coaches, and officials attending the Olympic Games. We have led 6 sporting events in our areas of focus, reaching out to the community, to orphans, and to some unreached people groups we are targeting. In addition to all these things, we have continued in the normal, daily rigors of evangelism, discipleship, and life-on-life with literally hundreds of folks here. On one of the short-term trips to the southwest of this country, we met up with a professional tennis player we had shared with over 2 years ago. Since that time, the Father moved in his heart, and he recently accepted JC as Lord and Savior – all unbeknownst to us!! He was so excited to share this news with us, and we had the privilege of baptizing him. It reminded me that the Father is always working even when we are not aware of it.
Our short-term trip to a very popular martial artists' Temple was outstanding, both reaching out to orphans and to young martial artists. A highlight of that trip was a meal we shared with several of the older kungfu guys (15-18 year olds). We shared with them not only about our hope in JC, but also about purity in relationships – something they had never heard of in the environment in which they live.
Though the summer was busy and crazy, God’s faithfulness, grace, and love remained steadfast. We covet your prayers as we follow His lead, one step at a time.
Unbelievable that we are approaching 2012’s half-year point!!! This year has been chock full of blessing, of challenge, of activity, of pressing back the darkness, and we your sports team, remain privileged to be in the midst of it all! Yes, sometimes in the midst of attack and weariness there is an occasional thought of lazing on a sun-drenched beach, turquoise waters rippling nearby; sipping an ice-cold Coca Cola under the breezy palm trees… But seriously, the lost are always before us, and the athletes of this great nation need to have an opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ! We want to see Jesus Christ lifted high, not only in the lives of the athletes, but with the population at large through the avenue of sport. Here are a few quick updates:
- The beginnings of a new gathering place of believers has sprouted in a nearby province at the provincial training center there! We are extremely excited about this, as much time and prayer has been invested in this location for several years now. The group has met several times already, and we hope to see their influence grow at that training center and the adjoining sports university campus.
- In addition to a couple short term M trips we’ve already taken this year with local believers, we are gearing up for a few more in the ensuing months to different parts of our country! “Go and make disciples…” is a flame that we are fanning here, and it is an incredible blessing to see brothers and sisters here sharing that passion.
- 5 new discipleship groups have begun in our midst (one of the groups is specifically for sisters), with the desire to go deeper in our understanding and passion for Christ, and with an emphasis on “walking in a manner worthy of the Lord.” Participants in these groups are being challenged to live out their God-gifted lives in practical and visible ways, and all seem to have the emphasis of GOING and SHARING the Good News of JC!
- We have seen the birth of several new believers, and rejoice as more and more people hear the Good News and give their lives over to JC. We continue to be awed and humbled that Pops continues to allow us the privilege of walking alongside Him in what He is doing here.
An extremely exciting development of our work was the preparation and sending out of 3 teams of local brothers and sisters during the summer months to partner with other like-minded believers in other parts of the country, reaching other unreached people groups and cities. The short-term projects have deepened our local believers’ understanding to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” They’ve not only come back with a passion to share, their newfound passion has been infectious with others. A special thanks to those who not only PR’ed for those trips, but also who contributed so that our local friends could go. The week of Thanksgiving we had gatherings on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, celebrating with over 200 people!! We had students, pro athletes, actors, race car drivers, pregnant mothers, doctors, and many more gathered to enjoy this special holiday. For quite a few, it was the first time they heard about a God who loves them and who wants to have a personal and intimate relationship with them, the God for whom we give the greatest thanks. Suffice to say, it was a wonderful weekend of celebrations! Those are just a few glimpses of the great things that Pops has been doing in and among us! We celebrate that He is moving in the hearts and minds of athletes and students around this country!
Our rep in East Asia has seen the Lord work in mighty ways during his time there. He knows first-hand the unique ability that sport has to penetrate normal social barriers and jumpstart friendships which ultimately lead to sharing opportunities. The following is an excerpt from one of his emails: "The Father is moving in the hearts of some of the weightlifters who live in this city. Two of them have recently decided to start walking with Him (one called me late last night, wanting to share the news of his new-found freedom), and we are hoping that they will have an influence in their teammates' lives."