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Every Tribe, Tongue, and Nation

At the beginning of this year, we reflected on some New Year’s Resolutions for the Worldwide Church. One of those was, “a Bible in every person’s heart language.” The Compass Church is contributing to this goal by partnering with people like Jeanne. She is a Bible Translator and has served for 47 years among a tribal people group in Mexico. This past fall, after decades of work,  the New Testament was presented to the people in three of their dialects.

We enjoyed a visit from Jeanne last month. It was inspiring to hear about her work and the ways God is using His Word. We wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to be encouraged by Jeanne’s story, so please check out the video below!

Haiti: Building a Home and Sharing about Jesus

John Flores attends The Compass Church has been on 3 short term mission trips to Haiti. This past April he was part of a small team from The Compass Church that worked alongside the STEP Seminary school in Port au Prince  to build a house for a needy family. He shares about the experience in today’s post.

With Haiti being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere the abundant need for aid keeps me going back. This year the main focus of my team’s trip was to build a house for a family that had lost their home as a result of the earthquake in 2010. Since then, the family was living in a make shift house of tarps and tin with no water or electricity. Their home was located on the side of a mountain with narrow paths to walk and no roads. When it rained, the water would wash away anything that was left on the ground which usually meant that the family didn’t sleep if it rained at night.

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The STEP Seminary school is located next to where this family lives and building homes is a part of STEP’s community outreach. The program is completely funded by donations so they only build homes when money is raised – it cost about $6,000 for a house. Our team went down to assist in the building process. There were translators on site while we were working and the fellowship during that time was incredibly powerful and impactful to me.

Throughout the day, many curious children and adults would come to the work site to be a part of the experience. Have you ever seen the show “Extreme Makeover”? Our missionary host described the feeling of the local people as getting a live episode of that show. It was an exciting time for their community and most recipients of a new home have endured many many hardships. When a new home is built for a family, it’s common that other relatives will come to stay with them because it is a much better living situation than what either family had before. Just imagine living with 8 people in a 150 square foot house.

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John working on the house

When Americans come into their community the Haitian people are more receptive to hearing the Gospel. So a few seminary students came to the work site with us every day to take advantage of the opportunity to evangelize to the eager onlookers. One seminary student told me that he’s tried going in the community by himself but the people thought he was the police or part of the government and they wouldn’t talk to him.

We brought snacks, balls, bubbles, and other things to play with the local kids. The best place to play, on that part of the mountain, was on top of a concrete roof of the house that was below us. One day a seminary student offered to translate my teams’ testimonies to the people that were gathered around the construction site. He directed all the kids to sit on a dirt mound and the parents filled in around them. Sharing my story with the group that day was one of the most memorable moments of my Christian walk.

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Playing on the roof

Each day I spent in the community I felt like I got to experience a tiny bit of the pain and suffering the Haitians experience each day of their lives – hardships that would mentally cripple most people. This made me so much more excited to share with them about Jesus. Three people accepted Christ while we were there. I pray that one day all of them will experience God’s love, redemption, and peace.

Seeing God’s work in Haiti has increased my faith immensely. I plan on going back to the mountainside community and bringing the guys from my small group to build another home in the spring of 2018.

A Powerhouse of Missionary Sending

For the last few weeks we have looked at ways that the Gospel is being proclaimed in word and deed throughout the Latin America/Caribbean region. Did you know that the Gospel is also going out from this region to the rest of the world in big ways?  For example, according to this article from Christianity Today, Brazil sent out 34,000 missionaries in 2010. This makes it the second highest country for missionary sending in the world!

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Praise God for our brothers and sisters in Brazil that are sending and going in order to take the Hope of the Gospel to the world. Let us pray today that God would bless their lives and work!

For more on how the Gospel is going from everywhere to everywhere check out this post.

 

From new life to bearing fruit

This week’s post comes to us from Mark and Meg Kuzdas who serve in Costa Rica. Prior to moving to Costa Rica, Mark and Meg attended The Compass Church, and were very involved as leaders in the youth group. Mark sent us a testimony written by a young woman named Debra (name changed for privacy). 

Mark writes, “Debra’s home was one of those that we visited very early on as we started the ministry after language school in 2003. We are very proud of her as she has graduated high school and is in her second year of college.”

One day my family and I moved to live in Los Guido. Mark and Meg came to our house and invited us to go to church. My mom took us to church and we continued to go each Sunday. A short time later Mark asked my brother, sister and I if we would like to be a part of a discipleship group and we said yes.

leaves-2146615__340I was 5 years old when I started in my discipleship group and loved it. When I was going through the second book I began to understand that Jesus died and rose again for me. Mark asked if I wanted to accept Christ as my Savior and I said yes and prayed. Some time later I learned to really love teaching others all that I had learned and was learning as I became a teacher in my own discipleship groups. Eventually I became a youth leader in the church.

The Lord provided a huge blessing for me in 2015 when I was able to go to Nicaragua on my first missions trip. It was so exciting! I wanted to go and be part of the team that was teaching the Word of God. I had been taught and learned that Jesus died and rose again for me and I wanted to teach others the same thing and also help in whatever I way could.

Z83758LMGTAfter we returned to Costa Rica, Mark asked those on the team who would like to return to [Nicaragua] on another missions trip. Of course, I said I did and have been back several times! I look forward to going again [this year] to not only share more from God’s Word but also to teach music which is one of the gifts that the Lord has given me.

Today I am one of the teachers every Sunday in Sunday School and part of the worship team where I play the keyboard, flute, and sing. I am a teacher in the discipleship groups and I teach music classes. I work in the kitchen of the …. feeding center every [week]. I continue to help and serve in any way I can.

Praise God for the work He has done in Debra’s life! Pray today for Debra that she would continue to be used by God to share His light in her country and beyond. Pray also for Mark and Meg as the continue to serve faithfully. 

 

Come Alive!

Reading the news these days can be a scary business. Violence, injustice, poverty,  the list goes on and on. In response, many may place their hope in good deeds, scientific advancements, or politics. Yet none of these can truly overcome evil.

As followers of Christ,  we can live with peace even in the darkness, for we know that the battle has already been won. This past weekend we celebrated our salvation in the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the true hope of the world.  It is a “a living hope  … an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away,” (1 Peter 1: 3-4).

The world is desperate for this Hope.  May we go forth and share it hear, near, and far.

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Our God is Above All

Today’s post is written by Tim Navratil who serves with his wife as the Area Leader for Latin America/Caribbean with ReachGlobal.

Last March I traveled to a remote part of the Peruvian Jungle.  I found out that the jungle there can be described in three ways.  The lowland jungle that most of us think of when we hear “jungle” where the waters flow slowly and the trees are thick and the air is heavy with bugs and humidity.  The highland jungle is high in the mountains where the rivers begin.  The middle jungle is where I traveled.  There the rivers run wide and fast, are bounded by rocks and trees and the air is a bit less humid.  The road to the villages we visited was narrow and mostly gravel with several rivers we had to ford.  One river we drove through for about 100 yards, part of the time running down the middle of the river.  That was a bit exciting.

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The people we visited are called Yanesha.  They are a native people to that part of Peru.  They live on a government reservation comprised of about 48 communities.  I was tagging along with a church team that taught English at a middle/high school in the town of Shiringa.  We spent several days teaching English and playing games with the students.  Each year our ReachGlobal missionaries in this area host mission teams to teach ESL in quite a few schools in the area.

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This year there will also be construction teams coming to minister among the Yanesha.  They are helping to build a ministry and training center to help teach the young pastors and lay leaders in the communities.  The church was planted among the Yanesha by Wycliffe and they even have a New Testament in their language.  Unfortunately, the churches spiritual health has deteriorated over the years and there is a real need for spiritual and theological training.

A few months after I visited Shiringa, I read an article on the internet about a 73-year-old woman who had been accused of witchcraft in this village.  She was thought to have been bringing curses on several villagers and making them sick.  This poor woman was burned alive at the stake.   Over 40 people in this village voted to give her the death penalty for her wrongdoing.

Picture 3One of the church leaders among the Yanesha recently was ill and after receiving prayer from our missionaries went to visit a shaman.  This unfortunately is not uncommon among these tribal people.  There is a great need for training and prayer for understanding the spiritual forces at work among them.  I am excited to be part of another team going back to the Yanesha in the Spring of  2017.  One of the team members is going to be teaching for three days on the topic of Spiritual Warfare to over 40 church leaders.

Would you please be praying for the Yanesha, that their spiritual eyes of understanding would be opened and they would see that there is only One God who heals and that there are many spiritual forces of darkness arrayed against the work of Gospel transformation in their communities.

 

Our Rock: Disasters & the Church’s Response

At the end of January, The Compass Church commissioned Matt and Laura Pheneger and their children as they moved to Peru. (You can read about that here.) Transition to life and service overseas is never easy, but the Phenegers arrived only weeks before the worst natural disaster that Peru has seen in 100 years, with unusually high rainfall leading to devastating mudslides. Today, Matt writes about that disaster, and the Hope that is breaking through.

It was a powerful image that was broadcast around Peru and around the world.  A woman who was swept away by one of the mudslides that devastated Peru in March (see video:  http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/22/americas/peru-mudslide-survivor-video/index.html).  Evangelina Chamorro survived the harrowing ordeal, praying the whole way down.

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Tens of thousands are dealing with the catastrophic effects of the mudslides throughout the country.  I traveled 200 miles north of Lima to the town of Huarmey with a group from our church, Camino de Vida.  What I witnessed was nothing I had ever seen before.  The streets had been converted into rivers of mud and water.  Homes were filled to overflowing with that same sludge.  People were living on the roofs of their homes at night and  wading into the muck and mire to shovel the quagmire out of their homes throughout the day.

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A school

I also witnessed the Church in action.  Overwhelmed by the extent of the devastation, the government has struggled to keep up with the need.  Churches and individuals have banded together to take on the challenge.  It is going to take weeks if not months to return these towns and their homes and businesses to a sort of normalcy.  Because of what they experienced in the mudslides and the response of the church, though, many people’s lives will never be the same.

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The team from Camino de Vida church helping people to remove the mud.

In one of the mudslides up in the mountains above the area where we live, a massive boulder landed next to a home.  Although the first floor was now full of six feet worth of mud, the family was thankful they were spared from the boulder crashing into their home.  Soon after a second deluge headed their way.  This time, instead of slamming into their home, the boulder stood in the way, sparing a potentially crushing blow to the house.  The first mudslide, that brought so much damage, had also deposited the very thing that saved the home from the second mudslide.

In the midst of all this catastrophe, our prayer is that some rocks have been deposited to divert further damage across the country.  Hopefully that is true of physical rocks, but also spiritual rocks.  In the barren terrain across the country, there are very few obstacles to hold back the mudslides that are inevitable when any kind of heavy rain hits.

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A church member praying for a woman affected by the mudslides

This appears to be the case spiritually as well.  Pray that the Church can be used by God to get outside the walls of their church buildings and begin to impact this nation.  Using the gifts, talents and passions that each individual in the Church has been blessed with to tackle the issues that are overwhelming Peruvians’ lives resulting in fatherlessness, brokenness and desperation.  Pray that Christians from all walks of life will be rocks in the arena in which they have been placed.  From businessmen to teachers to soccer coaches, we all have an opportunity to live for and point people to the only Rock who can be our haven in the midst of the deluge we face in this life & through Him live the life for which we were created.

Focus: Latin/Caribbean Region

Gods is doing exciting things in the Latin/Caribbean region, and The Compass Church is privileged to be a part of it! We have 8 singles and families serving in 5 different countries (one for almost 50 years!) and partnerships in Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua.

Over the next couple of months we will focus on this region, and even have guest posts from some of our Global Partners! You will be encouraged by the faith of our brothers and sisters living in this part of the world, and be equipped to partner with them in prayer!

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Lifting high…the Scriptures

With this post, Rick finishes his series of reflections from his trip to Europe this past fall. You can read the first three posts beginning here, and the second three here.

2017 is a significant marker in church history.  It is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Theses” to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany on 31  October 1517.  Within months, copies spread throughout Europe.

Doctrinal affirmations of “sola scriptura” (Scripture alone), “sola fide” (faith alone), “sola Christus ” (Christ alone), “sola gratia” (grace alone), “sola Deo gloria” (the glory of God alone) sparked a return to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Lift high 1

The first of these, “sola Scriptura”, was the defining catalyst of the Reformation…the Word of God was being boldly proclaimed as the only source of divine knowledge and the only authority on earth to which the conscience of man was subject to.

As the Reformation spread into French-speaking Switzerland, Guillaume (William) Farel brought his fiery preaching into Geneva, eventually making his way north to Neuchatel.

On 23 October 1530, Farel stormed into the Collegial Church of Neuchatel. Accompanied by a crowd, he destroyed the idols which dishonored the worship of God.  He became the pastor of the church and remained there for the next 27 years until his death.

Farel was a man of intense courage, boldness, fearlessness and missionary zeal. This “Elijah of the Alps” roused John Calvin out of academic solitude. Farel sought out Calvin as he was passing through Geneva in July 1536 on his way to Strasbourg to continue his writing.

Placing his hand on Calvin’s head, he said, “May God curse you and your studies if you do not join me here in the work He has called you to do!” Calvin complied declaring, “I give myself up to the Lord’s good pleasure”.

The two remained life-long friends. Upon receiving a letter from Calvin, indicating his impending passing, Farel, then 75 years old, walked the 70 miles from Neuchatel to Geneva to be with his friend. Farel had taken a backseat upon the emergence of Calvin, but Calvin wrote to him, “Farewell, my best and most worthy brother. Since God has determined that you should survive me in this world, live mindful of our union, which has been so useful to the Church of God, and the fruits of which await us in heaven.”

Outside of his church in Neuchatel, a statue of Farel stands…crushing idols under his feet…and lifting high…the Scriptures (sola Scriptura). The Bible and the Bible only.

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Schaeffer writes that the Reformers had a “serious view of the Bible”…”the Reformation centered in the infinite-personal God who had spoken in the Bible.”

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As I travel in various parts of the world, I pray that God would raise up an army of fiery “Farels”…men and women of intense courage, boldness, fearlessness, and missionary zeal…who are not ashamed to lift high the Scriptures…proclaiming the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Written by Rick Pierson, Executive Director of CompassGlobal

 

 

Dust Jackets

Rick continues his series of posts based on his trip to Europe last fall.

I love books…over the years I have gathered a small library, the core of which has come from my university and seminary days.  I’ve always had an interest in “dust jackets” on hardbacks and have tried to preserve them on my books.

While they do not actually protect from dust, they do serve to protect a book’s original cover while providing design interest and information on the content and author. The earliest known dust jacket was discovered on a 1829 book at the Bodleian Library, Oxford in 2009.Dust Jackets 4

Now before you think I need to get outside more, dust jackets are quite significant to book collectors.  Some can increase the value of a book hundreds of times over.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any of those. But one dust jacket that has always been significant to me is the one on “How Should We Then Live” by Francis Schaeffer.  It portrays the central panel, “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”, of the Ghent Altarpiece painted by Jan van Eyck in 1432.

The Ghent Altarpiece is a twelve-panel oil painting that is counted among the great masterpieces of the world.  It also bears the distinction of being the most frequently stolen artwork of all time (thirteen times; if you’re interested in the fascinating history behind this painting, read Noah Charney’s, “Stealing the Mystic Lamb”).

The Ghent Altarpiece was designed for the Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium, just north of Brussels.

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Just a few months ago, I traveled to Ghent with Olivier and Dan, two of our supported missionaries based in Brussels. I couldn’t believe, after looking at that dust jacket for forty years, that I was about to enter the cathedral (my photos above and below).

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Soon afterward…there it was…I was standing in front of the Ghent Altarpiece. Schaeffer writes, “It is an altarpiece containing wonderful pictures of Eve, Adam, and singing angels. But most impressive is the central theme: the rich, the poor–people of all classes and backgrounds–coming to Christ. And who is this Christ? Van Eyck comprehended the biblical understanding of Christ as the Lamb of God who died on the cross to take away the moral guilt of those who accept him as Savior.

But this Christ is not now dead. He stands upright and alive on the altar, symbolizing that he died as the substitute, sacrificed, but now he lives! As van Eyck painted this, almost certainly he had Jesus’ own words in mind as Christ speaks in the Apocalypse, the last book of the Bible: ‘I am the living one that became dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and I have the keys of death and hades.'”(“How Should We Then Live?”, p.66).

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Gazing at the Altarpiece with Olivier and Dan, my thoughts turned toward Belgium, France, the U.K., Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Moldova and our church planting partners in Europe…the uphill battle that they face…taking hope that Christ is not now dead!

Written by Rick Pierson, Executive Director of Compass Global