Oral Story December 2022

Oral Story December 2022

The Battle

“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:12-13

The battle for the hearts of people is real and it is intense. We have faced serious battles this past month in our outreach to Malawi and Ethiopia. The challenges we have faced include: two deaths of family members, Bishop’s nephew, and Pam’s mom; four visits to the hospital; a pilot’s strike; money transfer problems; delay in printing; lost luggage; and illness. All of these are normal challenges of life, but when they all come at the same time, it is obvious that the battle is against spiritual forces in the heavenlies. I am grateful that our call is to stand firm using the armor of God. Jesus is the one that fights these unseen battles.

Facing intense assault can be overwhelming and discouraging, but Paul experienced those same attacks, and he reminds us that our battle is ultimately with spiritual forces not physical ones. He reminds us that we are not alone in the battle. I am grateful that Jesus is interceding on our behalf and that we stand together with all of you as ministry partners. Finances are another area of struggle, dependence, and answered prayer. Support-based missions is a place where the ministry is forced to depend on the Lord for its daily supply and it is a place where Jesus continues to show us His faithfulness. I marvel at the ministry expansion from just this past year in Malawi and Ethiopia. We have partnered with four ministries in Malawi to cover much of the two-year curriculum. Ethiopia has received the introduction to the Orality Strategy of education. Pray for IOI as we consider what the Lord has planned for us in 2023.

The Victory

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I may declare it fearlessly.” Ephesians 6:19-20

Paul desired that he would be faithful to proclaim the gospel and do it fearlessly. Success in missions needs to be measured from that same heavenly perspective.

This month we have been faithful to proclaim the gospel in both Malawi and Ethiopia. The Tabor Evangelical College, in Hawassa, Ethiopia has 100 students enrolled in their missiology program. They were excited to learn how to share the gospel using an oral strategy. This is the third Bible college that we have introduced to this oral method of education and each one of them intends to use the training in different ways.

In Malawi, we held separate trainings in the north, the center, and in the south. There were 65 people who attended the 28 lessons presented by our Ugandan missionaries. They proclaimed the Word of God fearlessly and lives were touched. Beyond hearing the Word, those 65 people now have 28 more stories from scripture that they can use to boldly proclaim with this simple oral communication tool.   We marvel at the testimonies of the students because it is obvious that the Lord has been at work. They tell us that they will be using this method personally, with their families, their churches, and for evangelism. They recognize that this has brought the Bible alive as they communicate with their voice, body, and images. The Bible becomes engaging and now they can recall those stories from their heart, which means that they have a training for all levels of people, educated and uneducated alike.

Oral Story October 2022

Oral Story October 2022

Teach the Word

“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” Galatians 6:6

It is harvest time in the United States, and this scripture highlights the spiritual harvest with discipleship. Next month, for the first time, our Ugandan Orality teachers will be leading their own mission trip. The last passport was issued to our Ugandan team this past week and they will head to Malawi soon. The exact dates are not set yet, but November will be filled with both the training in Malawi and we pray also in Ethiopia.

Four of our seasoned Ugandan teachers will be going on this trip. Musasizi Wilson and Mufumbiro David both participated in the Malawi training last April. On this trip they will be joined by Bagatya George and Eliab Kinene. They will be teaching two by two and the two teams will rotate between the north, the central, and the southern regions of Malawi. This will help the students so that they will not travel as far to attend to the classes and the training will be intended for those that are already leading classes.

We praise the Lord for His provisions. This last month, the bike ride and motorcycle awareness events raised $17,000 toward these trainings and the printing of the second book of the curriculum for Malawi. That meets our expected expenses for the trips and printing, but our monthly expenses are $8000 and our monthly income is about $5000, so that is our current prayer. The Lord has continued to provide for every opportunity He has put before us. We marvel at the multiplication of this training and we are grateful for your support. May Jesus be glorified as we take the precious Word that we have been taught and pass it on to others who in turn pass it on to others.

Reap the Word

 “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7

Grain harvest is measured in bushels per acre, but how do you measure spiritual harvest? It is possible to determine the number of people that have been at training events. It is possible to count the number of countries, locations, classes, or even the number of graduates. Each of those metrics have value and each point to physical, practical, and intentional steps that have been taken to advance the gospel. However, those ways of thinking are based on human perspectives of success.

Reaping the Word of God must have an impact on people’s hearts if it is to have an eternal value. It is the transformation of lives and the visible evidence of the Spirit of God working in people that has significance. Acts records Barnabas going to Antioch to find out what was happening among the gentiles. “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord.” Acts 11:23

In Malawi there is evidence of the grace of God at work in people’s lives. Rural pastors come to study God’s Word for a week and sleep on the cement floor. Seventeen classes have started up, and they are being led by teachers who are learning along with their students. 500 children attend a weekly Bible Club put on by Sam and Patricia, a newly married couple. Prison chaplains were convicted by their failure to share the gospel with the prisoners, and they took up the challenge of starting classes for those who wanted to grow. Our Ugandan teachers are not content to just teach their own communities. They are answering the call to be missionaries to other African countries. Yes, God is at work and there is a spiritual harvest to reap!

Oral Story December 2021

Oral Story December 2021

Behold, He Provides

You have seen the headlines: Omicron Found in Southern Africa, Travel Cut to 8 African Countries. Those headlines are frustrating to our mission effort, but they also serve as the catalyst for a new plan.

Is it possible to do training for people in Malawi over Zoom? If so, Prison Fellowship would be the place and they might have the internet speed and equipment needed. This picture is from our first Zoom test call to Prison Fellowship in Malawi and it worked very well! The room above is the same room that we held training for 25 chaplains in 2019.

If our travel is going to be limited, then we must find another way to reach across the distance to bring the Gospel. Rodrick is a very capable leader at the Prison Fellowship campus in Balaka, Malawi. When it is not used as a half-way house for inmates, it is a great place to host an Orality conference. We would be able to rent this space, provide food and lodging, and support the ministry of Prison Fellowship all at the same time. There are challenges to work through such as the reliability of the power or the fact that their day is our night, but this is a powerful first step toward expanding our training beyond the limitations of things that are outside of our control.

Next, we will be testing a call that connects the ministry team from Malawi, Uganda, Prescott, AZ, Minneapolis, MN, and Cross Lake, MN. May the Lord go before us as we bring God’s Word to the world! I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

Behold, He Came

Behold is a beautiful word.

It is simply to look, to take in, to be in awe over. There are many things that capture our attention, many things that we look at, and take in, but Jesus surpasses them all. Let us behold Him!

To behold Jesus is not like beholding anything else. It is to see who He is and what He has done. It is to marvel at God coming down, to the earth that He made, as a baby. It is to allow the wonder of this gift to sink in, to be invited in and to be welcomed.

That is what happens when Jesus is revealed and understood. It is the awareness of God speaking through His Word. Michael Rokenbrodt recently told a story about Jesus coming down from John 6. Michael said, “From what I could judge from the unanimous royal reverence of the group, it was as though the Lord’s Supper had very much descended from heaven among them.  Our arrival had brought shock and awe. I perceived they were even fearful.  Our discussion in John 6 and the other verses had unintentionally drug out the idol of alcohol into the light. We explained the forgiveness found in Jesus’ blood in the Last Supper, and how it could cleanse and restore a heart from the idol of alcoholism.”

Oh, may we all behold that Lamb that we also may be cleansed and restored. Yes, Lord, thank you for coming all the way down to us. Thank you for the freedom, the wonder, and the forgiveness we can find in you. “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:33-35