Bolivian VBS

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The radio ministry team in Bolivia was proud to host this summer’s Low German Family Bible School (also known as vacation bible school, or VBS). A rather large team of leaders came from North America to offer education uniquely tailored to kids, youth and adults. There was also a strong partnership with many local churches and schools who shared their facilities. The VBS were rewarded with a great turn out, serving dinner every night to more than 250 guests, and the closing night was the biggest with well over 500 in attendance.

Several fixed-tuned radios were handed out which will allow their recipients to tune into RTM broadcasts which include music and gospel broadcasts. And we hope that the many decisions and recommitments that were made there to follow Christ will flourish and be nurtured.

The Goal of Financial Self-Sufficiency

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This update comes from Melvin who is serving in Ukraine, where we are starting to explore a new area in Financial Stewardship. Ukraine is still working to assimilate all the cultural changes from its days within the former Soviet Union as it catches up to the West. But there are some cultural elements that are a bit tricky. On a personal level, these include things like property ownership, financial management, and responsibility to support the church and other good causes.

These types of economic skills are pretty much taken for granted (though perhaps they shouldn’t be…) in Canada and most other Western countries, but they present major obstacles to Ukraine’s progress. People feel little investment or responsibility for the things they own, including vehicles and buildings. Under the previous system, nearly everything fell under the state’s control and responsibility; effectively it was always “somebody else’s problem”. That mentality hasn’t completely changed. And, as you may imagine, this mindset extends to the church. It has become apparent that education and practical experience is necessary if the Ukrainian church is to thrive.

There are two specific strategies that we are developing in Ukraine. The first is education: using biblical principles, we are teaching stewardship through DBI, Christian business seminars and through the local churches. The goal is to build generosity into people’s increased potential for prosperity. This will give people a deeper understanding of the role money plays in their lives, and the lives of their churches. The second strategy is more practical. We are working toward the goal of providing business loans to Christian businessmen. For many in Ukraine, as in much of the world, credit is prohibitively expensive to obtain. By establishing a revolving loan fund, we can address the practical needs of the local business community, and allow development and progress in their small businesses, which will not only help them, but it will also feed the loan fund and help more businesses. This is a practical Christian expression of assistance and trust.

If you would like to be involved in this new initiative, there are a few things you can do. One is to visit Ukraine to get a firsthand impression of how you would like to participate. Another is to pray that this new ministry offering will be a huge blessing to the people there, and that its impact will be felt for years to come. And if you feel inspired, you can donate to the loan fund and help to build what we envision will be a permanent resource for the Evangelical Free Churches of Ukraine!

BuzZ Online Episode 1 (Fixed)

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As promised, here is the debut of the EFCCM’s podcast called the BuzZ Online. Click the graphic above to listen to the audio. It should open up automatically in your media player.

Show Notes

  • In this first episode, I talk to Craig (The EFCCM’s Mobilization Director) about some of the big picture stuff behind the EFCCM, including its history, and where we see God leading us.
  • MEMO’s main website can be found here.

As mentioned, the next two episodes are nearly finished too, so make sure you check back soon for more!

Edit: Warning, technical jargon ahead: If you don’t know what this means, just ignore it. :-)
I have now added an xml file for the podcast. If you would like to add it to your own podcast aggregator, you can use this:

http://www.efccminternal.org/podcastrss.xml

It will also soon be appearing on iTunes, if that’s what you use. I will offer more details as they become available.

Bonus announcement: I have added the second episode to the server already. If you subscribe, you’ll be the first on your block to get it! :-)

It’s Paying Off!

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I debated about making this post because it might sound like I’m tooting my own horn. But I’m reconciling myself with the fact that I’m really tooting God’s horn, and I’m forging ahead.

The Ukraine videos represent a lot of investment (you can find them elsewhere on this site), and I’ve been somewhat concerned with how we’d ever determine whether or not they were “worth it”. To be quite frank, I don’t even know how to go about measuring that. But recently I got a report from someone else in the office that we have had at least four people contact us with interest sparked by those clips. For us, that’s pretty significant!

Thank you to all of you who have watched those with an open hearts and minds, and who are eager to see where you might fit in international ministry. Bolstered by the positive support, I’m hoping that this will become a more regular thing, and I’ll be able to repeat this effort in another country. Maybe even with a team that’s bigger than just me. Interested? Drop me a line!

Christian, Are You Ashamed?

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It’s my impression that Christians have been caught up in increasingly political confusion recently. When we look at the world, there is a lot of antagonism on apparently religious grounds, and some of it has the label Christian applied to it. For the person-in-the-pew, the implications are numerous.

Emotional reactions are naturally widely varied. But perhaps the most paralysing is shame. I’m getting the impression that in many circles credibility is forcing its way in through mediated repetition. We are very often (and loudly!) told of the shortcomings of the faithful, of the murky ways that our faith is stretched to justify injustice, or even of how our faith clashes with the ‘truth of science’. (I’m not providing examples of these; I’m sure you can think of your own.) So how can we maintain our faith in the face of this opposition? Follow the Truth!

There are unique things about faith that God uses us to offer the world. For starters, the concept of a loving, forgiving God is deeply liberating. For those that have been ‘teethed on the pew’, it’s sometimes difficult to grasp how powerful redemption is, and how truly novel it is too. (That’s why I enjoy listening to testimonies of people that eventually found soul-satisfaction in Christ.) But here’s the kicker: we are instructed to first to love. Pretty much every other religion instructs first to obey. If what we do as humans is motivated by love, it’s much more noble, more pure and more significant than mere obedience.

When we get straight with what we believe, and what our belief offers to the world, how can we help but be emboldened? We need humility, gentleness, and all the other fruits of the spirit, but when we have the opportunities, we must be able to declare the Gospel with conviction. The truth will counteract all the negative stereotypes and bad examples that are out there. God is using his followers to daily tell His story to the world!