Monday, January 3, 2022

A Prayer Update from Mark and Charity

Dear Partners in Ministry,
Greetings to you as we conclude our 16th year of ministry to China. We praise the Lord for a fruitful year of ministry. Although we experience each day both the blessings and curses of living in a technological age, we are so thankful to be able to use these tools to spread the gospel of Christ, to bring clarity to Biblical Truth, and to help Chinese pastors know and preach God’s Word. Pictured above is a Zoom class on Monday where we continued our study of Biblical Counseling, this week keying in on the importance of forgiveness.

Philosophy of Ministry
The goal of all we do to serve the Chinese church is to raise up and equip nationals to do the work of the ministry under the authority of God’s Word to His glory alone.
...to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ... Ephesians 4:12

It is because the philosophy of our ministry is and has always been about raising up and equipping nationals for ministry that we have not seen a lot of change in our ministry even in the last two years. During that time, our location from which we are doing ministry has changed, but the focus of the ministry has not changed. We praise the Lord that we have seen the impact of the ministry greatly increase in the last two years. The changing political situation in China is deeply troubling. We are reminded of our insignificance and God’s sovereignty as we continue to watch the situation. We often discuss the situation with our elders, leaders at ABWE, and different pastors of our supporting churches. They are helping us to think through the best options to insure a sustainable ministry into the future. Please be praying with us in this. Mark plans to begin courses towards a masters in Biblical Counseling this January. We believe this will help with the ongoing ministry to China, with personal and family growth, and with additional future ministry the Lord has for us.


Impacting churches inside and outside of ChinaWe shared with you in the Christmas letter that our weekly users of the Chinese Bible Study Toolbox (CBST) have increased in the last year from around 1500 to consistently over 5000. Right: Table shows the top ten countries these users are coming from and the approximate number of users per country per week.



“我们属于加拿大的一家华人教会。我们团契目前在用敬虔的丈夫,贤德的妻子这两本书作为我们家庭主题学习内容。” Jennie Liu
We belong to a Chinese church in Canada. Our fellowship is currently studying, The Exemplary Husband and The Excellent Wife as our family study.



The blessings of faithful employees helping to lead the translation work at IRC
Above: Yisa (Isaac) with his wife Xiaofeng at an office fellowship way back in 2016. Isaac began working at the IRC Beijing office back in 2015. He has been a very faithful employee over the years. In the 7 years he has worked for us, he has done most everything at the office and currently oversees the finances as well as the administration of multiple translation projects. This year I have been giving him more responsibility as he moves into a COO type position (Chief Operating Officer). When this picture was taken back in 2016, they did not have any children. Now Xiaofeng is pregnant with their fourth child. Pray for Isaac as he takes on more responsibility at the office, along with the responsibility to care and shepherd his family and serve in various ways at his church.


“每次研经工具打不开的时候,我都好心焦啊,感谢主,可以正常使用了!好开心!”
Each time that I cannot open the CBST, I become very anxious. Thank the Lord that normally there is no problem. I rejoice!


Planning as the Chinese government exerts more and more controls on religion.
In the quote above you can hear first hand an issue that is of concern tobelievers in China. That issue is that the government is stepping up its blocking of religious websites and social media groups. We thank the Lord that it has NOT impacted the Chinese Bible Study Toolbox (the user quoted above is probably experiencing a local internet issue or a time when the website is being updated). In late October, our other website was blocked for users inside the Mainland. We quickly launched a new site with a new web address (www.shengmingbaoxun.com) and it has not had any issues.

We learned several things during this time. One is that we need to have multiple web names for our websites known to the users (for those that understand, they block the name not the IP address). We have now put this in place for the China muzhe website as well as the CBST and continue to think through this issue. In the end, we believe that www.chinamuzhe.com website was blocked because of 1) its popularity, 2) its name contained “China” and “muzhe” - shepherd, and 3) it contained Sunday school material for children. Most of that content on the China muzhe website is downloadable and had been widely distributed on social media. What a blessing that it continues to be used.



Continued work with the House Church
We are blessed to continue to be ministering to different ones in the Chinese house church we were apart of in Beijing. We recently started a class on parenting with 5-6 couples. This is a blessing for several reasons.
1) It is a blessing to see Longqi (upper left corner) take leadership in our study. Mark read a book on eldership with him four years ago and he has taken leadership in his family and at church very seriously. Charity has spent time discipling his wife, Lina. Longqi has invited some other couples to join in and study the same material we taught five years ago at the church.
2) We are thankful that although we have been out of the country for nearly two years, these couples still desire fellowship and discipleship relationships with us.
This illustrates how our philosophy of ministry has worked out in a practical way as we see this couple equipped and doing the work of the ministry.


“感谢上帝,《研经工具》已经陪伴我走过4个年头,受益匪浅。无论是主日学还是平时的查经,第一件要做的事就是把《研经工具》打开。谢谢参与《研经工具》事工所有弟兄姊妹,你们为上帝做工的心志和辛苦的摆上必蒙上帝的记念!” Brother Liu
Thanks to the Lord, the CBST has been my companion for 4 years now, I have benefited greatly. Whether it is preparing for Sunday School or my regular Bible Study, the first thing I do is to open up the CBST. Thank you to all the brothers and sisters who have worked on the CBST. Your resolve to serve the Lord with your hard work is a display that will surely not be forgotton by God.

This is all made possible through your love for Christ, your prayers, and your partnership with us.

We thank the Lord for you! Mark & Charity


Monday, December 6, 2021

A Prayer Update from Gary and Barb Bennett



1. Pray for our colleague Nick Pirolo who has just come back from home assignment and is working on accreditation for our University program CLIR. Praise for wisdom and discernment for him and the others as they meet with officials and try to figure out the way forward. We are reminded of the lyrics from CeCe Winan's song "move the unmovable, break the unbreakable, Lord we believe". It really is going to take moving the unmovable, but that is God's specialty.


2. Continue to pray for one of our NCM professors Alphonse and his radio teaching program. God is using him mightily, so pray for wisdom and direction for Alphonse as he continues to teach God's Word.

Monday, November 1, 2021

A Prayer Update From Catherine Coon

                                       

Personal
• Praise that my move from Fremont to Cottonwood went well.
• There is still much to do on the house, as well as much catch up from helping my mom move. I’d appreciate prayer for wisdom in handling all that needs to be done.
• Pray that I will settle in well and have a clear sense of how God would like me to be involved in the neighborhood, church, and larger community.


Hope Alive!
• Pray for a smooth transition of the executive director position of Hope Alive! from me to Caleb Smagacz at the end of the year.
• Pray for God’s guidance as we work on my job description for my new responsibilities with Hope Alive! after the transition.
• Pray that the Ugandan government will have a realistic plan to get all students back in school in January. Except for a few very special classes, schools have been closed for 19 months.
• We continue to provide educational classes for our students. Pray for the encouragement of all involved, that good learning will take place in encouraging and safe settings.
• Small acts of terrorism have been taking place in Uganda. Pray for safety for our students, staff, mentors, and their families.
• Pray that our students (and staff and mentors) will grow in their walk with God during these challenging times.

 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

A Prayer Update from Jill Hostetler


1. Pray for our after-school Good News Clubs. Praise God we have been able to restart 4 clubs.

2. Pray for a 2 week course I am taking at the CEF International HQ (Sept 19-Oct 1).

3. Pray for many children to attend our outdoor neighborhood outreach at our CEF office in October.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

A Prayer Update from Dougg and LeAnn Custer



Praises:
  • Great Mobilization Ministries Team retreat full of praying for each other's ministries as well as for more workers, encouraging each other, and training to enhance our effectiveness. 

  • The Ministry and Cultural Preparation Trainings this summer went very well - one was in person, and the other on Zoom. We all feel like we are hitting our stride!


Prayer Requests:
  • For these missionaries who were trained and are nearing departure, that God would use the cultural and ministry training to make them better disciples in South America, Southeast and Central Asia, India, Japan, Europe and Africa. 

  • Pray that God would provide visas and open borders for the 14 fully supported units excitedly awaiting deployment to their field of service.

  • Decisions are being made to hire a mobilizer for those working in the Disciple Making Movement as well as a media mobilizer, someone who would produce videos, brochures, etc. for the mobilizers to use on campuses, in churches and at conferences. Pray for all the details to be worked out.

Monday, August 30, 2021

A Prayer Update from Sam and Jamie Hornbrook

                                              

1. We are grateful our daughter Nicole spent two months with us this summer while she worked for a company in California. The internet allows you to do things like that these days. Nicole is 20 years old and will be starting her Junior year of college at Purdue University in just a few days.

2. We continue to have discipleship classes with our next door neighbors. We meet with Rosi the nurse and the elderly lady, Tere. Both are very excited and grateful for the gospel. The Lady Marisol had a conflict with her mother, who is Tere, and has refused to attend the class for over a month. We pray she will humble herself and come back, but also trust the Lord to reveal what is in each person's heart.

3. The third wave of covid is filling up hospitals and taking the lives of extended family members of church families. We are thankful that we have not had a death because of Covid yet, in our church.

4. We continue to meet as a church but are back down to about half of our congregation attending as people are concerned about public events.

5. Praise the Lord with us for a church member who returned to the fellowship of the church after 2 and a half years of being church disciplined. The result is she is now a single mother, but has come back and given her testimony of repentance and restoration to the Church. We thank the Lord for bringing Paty back to Himself and to our church!

Thank you so much for praying for us and giving faithfully!
Blessings in Christ,
Sam and Jamie Hornbrook

Monday, August 23, 2021

A Prayer Update from Catherine Coon


1. My mom has successfully moved into independent living in a senior residence center and is settling in well. We are very thankful.


2. Hope Alive! students are doing much better with the tutoring that we are providing while schools are closed than they do in their very large classrooms (60 – 100+ kids). We are looking for ways to increase what we are able to offer as schools continue closed due to the pandemic.

3. The transition to a new executive director for Hope Alive! is moving forward well. Caleb Smagacz is in Uganda with his family. He and I continue to meet via Zoom. The expected date for handing off the baton is January 1, 2022. I will then focus on fund-raising, partner development, and curriculum development and hope to travel to Uganda two or three times a year for a few weeks. Please pray that the transition will be smooth.