Brazil

Translation Team Established for Brazil! Partner with us to help!

Hello! How are you? and God bless you!

From Brazil.

WDA in Brazil

Rio Tinto, Brazil is a city of about 25,000 with a huge catholic church right in the middle of town. The whole city spreads out around this very visible church. And in this city of Rio Tinto, there lives a very interesting man named Fernando Frincu.  One of the interesting things about Fernando is that, even though he lives in Brazil, he is Romanian. Fernando and his wife Carolina are associate staff members with WDA.

Everette Albrecht, who is on the WDA Equipping Team at Purdue University, has been to Rio Tinto about seven times over the years to teach discipleship principles. The pastors in that area were learning a lot about how to disciple others and in the course of their training, Everette starting teaching them about the importance of emotional healing. Just like everywhere else, the emotional needs are huge there and the pastors wanted to learn more.

So, in the summers of 2010 and 2012, Margo and Jack, from the WDA Restorative Team headed south with Everette, to teach and train about emotional healing and the importance of this in the discipleship process. They had the privilege of returning there again in August of 2013 for another three weeks and this is their report…..

Testimony of God’s Healing Work

Last year in Brazil, Margo had shared her own story of healing and redemption with some of the women. Talking about her struggles empowered the women there to open up their own hearts.

“One lady (Helen) came up and thanked me for sharing my testimony in Joao Pessoa. We had chatted with each other last year. She shared more of her story with me this year. God has brought healing in her life. She has asked her Pastor for permission to lead a Restoring Your Heart (RYH) group in her church.

M., another young lady with whom I met last year, told me that hearing my “history” had helped her in the healing process. Since I’d seen her last summer, M. had participated in a Restoring Your Heart group and as a result, had forgiven her father. She told me with a smile that she was going to buy a gift for him for Father’s Day! She also wrote him a letter to apologize to him and tell him she loved him. M’s father wrote her back and asked her for forgiveness as well!

A highlight of our time was hearing feedback from a group of men and women (in Rio Tinto) who had participated in RYH groups during the year since we had been there. Each person talked about what they had learned, their initial concerns, the benefits to them and their desire for more healing in their lives. They all plan to continue participating in RYH groups.”

The seeds planted over the last two years had already born much fruit!

Discipleship and Emotional Healing

One of Everette’s goals for this trip was to introduce church leaders and seminary students to WDA’s philosophy of ministry, in two new areas, Joao Pessoa and Campina Grande. Everette has such a gift for teaching and has a huge amount of experience training seminary students in both Mexico and Brazil.

Fernando, Carolina, Everette, Margo and Jack in Brazil
Fernando, Carolina, Everette, Margo and Jack in Brazil

The team was encouraged by the fact that Fernando and Carolina both have a strong vision for discipleship and emotional healing. Since one of WDA’s objectives is to train people in the countries we visit, Margo, Jack and Everette spent extra time this summer with Fernando and Carolina.  They were able to share more advanced training in both restorative and discipleship principles and practices. This will allow Fernando and Carolina to better train the people in their own community and thereby spread the process. We feel this is the best way to multiply the blessings of healing and growth. Fernando’s schedule will allow him to do future training both in Brazil and also in Romania and their contacts will open the doors for WDA to hold even more seminars in Brazil.

“We work so well as a team with Fernando and Carolina. They are so teachable and it is a joy to be in partnership with them. We are very blessed to have them on staff with WDA.”

 Next Step: Translation of Materials

With most of the objectives of this trip being accomplished, including forming a translation team to work on both discipleship and restorative materials, Margo, Jack and Everette are looking forward to returning again next August. They plan, among other things, to do seminars in three large churches in different parts of Sao Paulo, a city where news of God is desperately needed.

We ask that you would pray with us for the trip next year, for Fernando and Carolina and for the people of Brazil. Many of the areas we visit are very dark and very much in the stronghold of sexual sin. There is a huge need for healing there, both emotional and spiritual.

Note: It is expensive and time consuming to have WDA materials translated into other languages. If you would like to contribute financially to this effort or to the ongoing training in Brazil, please click the button below. Your donations will be gratefully received and used to advance God’s Kingdom.


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To find out more about the WDA International Ministry and all the amazing places we go, click here.  To find out more about the WDA Restoring Your Heart Ministry, click here.

Bihar

WDA announces new discipleship training partnership in India.

Bihar
Bihar, India

We are excited to announce that WDA is officially planning to establish an ongoing training partnership with a coalition of churches in the province of Bihar, India.  Pastor E. Abraham of Neighbor Hope Ministries (Headquartered in CO, USA) and his staff have invited us to train the NHM executive leadership team, with a view toward offering our training and resources to a coalition of nearly 1200 churches in the region sometime in the future.

On November 4, Mike (a WDA board member) and Angela Wolf along with Bob and Linda Dukes will travel to Bihar, to formally and relationally establish this new partnership.

 

The goals of this trip are:

1] Train a core group of NHM leaders in WDA’s philosophy of ministry and in specific ministry skills,

2] Equip them how to use our resources, most likely (initially) our Cornerstone Project (Cornerstone is WDA’s new name for the combination of our “Getting Started” and “Laying Foundations” materials) and,

3] Assess long-term needs and forge relational connections as we visit their network of churches and schools in the province.

 

Our desire is to lay a foundation for future support and training, both with WDA and through our 2820 Partner-Churches.

In preparation for this new endeavor we ask you to join us in prayer. Please pray for

  • Protection against spiritual warfare.
  • The Lord to go before us to open doors and open hearts.
  • A coalition of unified leaders to train.
  • New disciple building associations, both U.S. based and overseas, that will join with us in this long-term project.

In addition to the cost of travel we also seek funding to provide WDA materials translated into Hindi. If you would like to support this project, please click on the following link India International Trip.

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We are very excited about what God is doing and look forward to sharing with you our progress on this great adventure!

 

In August, 2012 Worldwide Discipleship Association partnered with AMC bible college in Lubumbashi, Congo to train over 200 pastors in and lay leaders in basic disciple-making methods. We found in the Congo a passionate group of believers deeply immersed in a spiritual battle with very little training. The task of intentionally creating a disciple-making culture was recognized by many leaders as one of the greatest need for the church in the Congo. As WDA continues to train Congolese leaders, we hope to see growing numbers of pastors and lay leaders equipped to disciple younger believers in grow to Christlike maturity.

I had the privilege of hearing a bunch of middle schoolers share reflections about their time at our local middle school.  It was interesting that my perception of middle school was tainting my ability to hear with objectivity.  I have furiously attempted to avoid thinking about anything related to my Jr. High School experiences.

There are books written about teenage girls, queen bees, bullying and an assorted other difficulties related to growing up through adolescence, especially during the middle school years.  I previously posted about our experiences as parents of teenagers in a blog called Three simple steps to growing up with your teenager.

We are still learning here.  I do recommend you read “Like Dew Your Youth” by Eugene Peterson.  I have also had a great many talks with our C.O.O. David Parfitt,  who has just launched two teenagers into college and beyond.  His perspective has certainly been helpful.

As I sat there listening to these really awesome teenagers, some who performed music and others who read 2-3 minute reflections on Middle School, I was struck by the differences in maturity and perspective.  It reminded me of two things.

5120336436_0af6412eae_o1.  We’re not there yet.

If there is one thing that I have learned it is that none of us have arrived. From the moment you sent the first child off to preschool to the point where you release them into independent living, you remember at each point that none of us have arrived.  This living in the now and not yet, the point where you look at your heart or try to understand the heart of a teenager, the place where you are both able to remember that “we’re not there yet” is both scary and humbling and also a place for faith.

More than one teenager communicated that Middle School was a place to learn and grow. They shared the trials that were faced there, the loss of a teacher or parents, the loss of reputation, dealing with their own inner struggles and consequences of poor choices.  Some communicated about their dreams and plans, high hopes and confidence in their vision for a future.  That’s what those kinds of events are for.  But is was good to see that in the midst there were those who realized that “they were not there yet!”

This reminds me of a critical point for those who are helping build disciples and those who are being shaped towards Christlikeness, we are all in process! This process will not be done till we see Christ face to face.

2. The way up is the way down.

The second truth is somewhat surprising and at the same time confusing at first.  To grow spiritually, to grow into a person who has the character of Jesus, means that the way up is the way down!  What?  I thought that maturity means increasing holiness and perfection.  I thought that sanctification was getting better!

What was telling in the different teenagers who shared was that each seemed to have a bit of humility, they knew that they were not there yet, but there seemed to be a variety of ways which they would attempt to continue to grow.  Certainly there were mentors and teachers along the way that helped these optimistic and sometimes proud teens learn the lesson that they don’t know everything (something of which I still have to remind myself).  There were circumstances of loss, pain and grief that brought honesty and self reflection to these teens.  But one thing that wasn’t shared across the board was a simple truth that Jesus brings to the table.  The way to go up is the way down.

But not all Christians see Sanctification in these terms.  What about being “enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness”?  Doesn’t that mean I’m getting better! Well, yes and no.

The Westminster Confession of Faith says:

Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace,[97] whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God,[98] and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.[99]

[97] Ezekiel 36:27. Philippians 2:13.  2 Thessalonians 2:13.

[98] 2 Corinthians 5:17. Ephesians 4:23-24. 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

[99] Ezekiel 36:25-27.  Romans 6:4, 6, 12-14.  2 Corinthians 7:1.  1 Peter 2:24.

Note something in the first phrase that is sometimes missed.  Sanctification is the WORK of God’s free grace.  To support my first point, we are not there yet.  It is the ongoing work of God that helps us grow.  We are renewed after the image of God! Certainly more like Jesus than when we begin.  The last point is also true, enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness.

So on the one hand, Yes, Sanctification is the work of grace where we are enabled more and more. So take heart, we do grow!

What does this look like?  Well, maybe we need to consider what this doesn’t look like!

Sanctification is not the work of my flesh, personality, or inner stubbornness to be a good person!  We remember it is a work of grace! That means God is more concerned with my spiritual growth than I am!  He has promised to complete what He begins!

So it doesn’t look like me picking myself up by my own bootstraps! I don’t grow by my own will!  (Getting Better is a hard phrase to explain here, but by my saying, No  – I am not getting better – means that “I” am not making myself better.)

To connect this back to my original point, I need to remember that I don’t arrive once I am saved and I still don’t arrive once I have learned how to grow and follow God.  The way up is the way down!

Some of this is perspective.  I have a brother-in-law who is an awesome mechanic.  If I were to go in to his shop while my car was getting a new timing belt, not knowing what it took, I might be surprised at all the things he has to take off my car to get that job done.  Simply, if all I have ever done “spiritually” is fill my “heart” up with gas, put in new coolant or give it a wash (metophorically speaking), then I would be shocked at what real “heart work” takes.  It is as if we forget that to grow takes both time and a bit of time under the hood.

The very thing that marks Christian maturity is the ability to grow in brokenness.  This is not simply admitting that I am a sinner, but the ongoing process of allowing the Holy Spirit to uncover the things in my life that need to be repented of and developing a heart that is willing to “go with the Holy Spirit” down into my heart. I have to allow Jesus to take apart the transmission, do an overhaul on the engine and maybe even do some body work.  I’m not going to see anything unless I allow the “great mechanic” under the hood.  And honestly, if I understand what the Bible says about my condition apart for Jesus, I need some serious time in the shop!

Self examination with the Word of God,  prayer producing God given repentance and Godly sorrow, and a healthy relationship with God means I need to go down!  (Psalm 5:17) The more I am aware of my sinfulness before a holy God the more I see my need for Jesus each moment!  It is at these very moments that I see the cross of Christ grow bigger and bigger! I realize the depths of my sin, but also begin to scratch the surface of the depths to which Christ’s death paid for my sin.  Jack Miller says, “Cheer up” you’re far worse than you think you are!  But you are more loved and accepted in Christ than you ever dared dream!

So I listen to the middle schoolers finish speeches and one thing that I’m reminded of is that some of them have a healthy view of self.  They realize that they have a ways to go and are learning.  They haven’t lived up to their own or others expectations and will continue to mess up.  But as with all of us, they still are in progress.  My prayer for them, for myself and for you is that that process of growth toward maturity begins with a humble and broken heart before Jesus that causes you to replace trust in yourself for self-improvement with faith to believe that Jesus is calling you to Repentance and Faith.

Walking with Jesus today means that I learn that I am still growing.  I learn that Jesus helps me see my daily sin, my love for self, my trust in this world; in seeing these things…. he calls me to ongoing repentance and ongoing faith.

Here are a few articles that can flesh these thoughts out further.

All of Life is Repentance: Tim Keller

The Theology of Sonship

Sanctified by Grace: White Horse Inn Blog

The Centrality of the Gospel

The author takes full responsibility for the content and links provided on this blog.  His views may not be held by or represent all the views of Worldwide Discipleship Association.  Feel free to jump in and have a good discussion!

lemon

lemonIf you’ve been in an evangelical church on a Sunday morning in the last 10 years you may have noticed the backgrounds behind the lyrics on the screen. These are ultra-beautified scenes designed to stimulate people’s sense of beauty and pleasure… A dew-laden glen, sun streaming through trees, a child on a swing. They are photoshopped to the max. Today I saw one that amazed me. It depicted a sillouhetted Christ hauling a cross against the background of swirling white clouds and an impossibly blue sky. I laughed to myself. Leave it to Christians to turn a scene as morbid and dark as the crucifixion into something pretty and palatable!

In fact I think Christians have been in the business of cleaning up God’s mess for a long time.

Same thing with communion. We got rid of the wine in favor of Welch’s. But I rather like the bitter beauty of wine. I mean, it’s an acquired taste right? You need a certain level of exposure and romantic indoctrination to fall in love with a well-crafted wine or beer (though most of us would agree there is something innate to be discovered in the drink… we’re not just manipulating ourselves). But, as my father-in-law reminds me, it’s bitter stuff. And he’s right. It is bitter. And it’s gorgeous. Life can be like that. And I think that the place where God intersects our lives can be like that. Beautifully bitter. Gorgeously mundane. I mean, why would God command the Jews to eat bitter herbs on passover? Why would he want people to codify and commemorate within the very heart of their spiritual rhythms the bitterness of slavery?

Christians have gotten good at giving lip service to ugliness recently. “It’s hard but good.” “It’s been really challenging but I know God has a plan in all this.” But like the artistically framed picture of the passion, it only hints at a reality that’s tough to look at, tough to hear about. When I went to see the Passion of the Christ in college, the lady sitting in front of me said during the credits, “I paid 8 bucks for that?!” I think that’s how a lot of Christians feel when they find out that Christianity is not an opiate for the masses after all. Jesus told his guys: “In this world you’ll have troubles. But take heart, I’ve overcome the world” (Interesting he didn’t say, “I’ve overcome your troubles.”)

Maybe that’s why I swear. One, because swearing helps me talk to normal people and communicate that being Christian is different from being Ned Flanders. But more importantly, I feel that well-chosen profanities CAN give the linguistic gravity to talk about the ugliness all around us. And I WANT to have the language for ugliness because when we talk about ugliness with unapologetic honesty, it’s cathartic. AND we’re identifying with a God who talksabout ugliness throughout the bible and makes himself beautiful in the ugly and the everyday.

God is like Pablo Neruda. The Chilean poet had a knack for finding beauty in the little things. Things like a cat or a lemon. And the poetry is breathtaking. I mean…

Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
altars,
aromatic facades.

If I were a poet I’d try to write about sunsets and mountaintops, but Neruda seems to see God himself in the lemon. I guess what I’m saying is that God himself sees himself in the lemon… in bitter herbs and bitter wine, in life’s disheartening ironies, in our unthinking exhausted moments when we can’t even bring ourselves to care. In the ugly and the plain and the bitter, there’s God like a kid with finger paints… making art; a strange kind of upside-down image we need a new framework, a maturity of thought in order to decode, to reveal the altars, the aromatic facades, the beauty.