November 25th, 2015

A Snapshot of Sowing & Reaping – November 2015 Newsletter

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“Since you left, we have started three satellite churches…”

I looked around me as the dozen Vietnamese pastors shared how the Lord has been teaching them and leading their ministries in the past year.  We had really grown fond of each other over the years of our bi-monthly retreats. Being back with them during the month of October gave us a chance to catch up, and was wonderfully encouraging. I met in small groups and individually with many of the 45 Christian leaders I have mentored there.  God gave me a snapshot of their growth – reaping after years of sowing -and inspired me with some marvelous testimonies like these:

On Evangelism, Church Planting & Growth

  • One pastor has seen over 1,500 conversions to Christ so far this year.  They hold evangelistic events every Friday night, and like many churches have daily 5am prayer meetings.
  • One pastor had told me his church’s goal is to plant 10 churches in the next 10 years. He reported that they just completed this years’ church plant is doing well, and they have launched another church planter to do evangelism and form a small group to begin a church next year.
  • Another seasoned pastor in his 50s planted a new church this year.  The first week they held a worship service, the offering was $7.  After half a year, attendance and offerings have grown to be able to support his salary.
  • Four of the pastors are now making plans to purchase property for new church buildings and are praying for money to pay for the expansion.
  • (The Protestant Christian population has doubled in the past 7 years in Vietnam, now numbering 2% of Vietnam’s predominately Buddhist 90 million people.)

On Spiritual Formation & Biblical Training

  • One pastor took his deacons on a retreat for the first time, imitating our pastor’s mentoring group’s retreat from last year. He was so happy to see the benefit of getting away together.They are going to do another one for other volunteers in the church.
  • Another pastor with a new church has his church recite the Apostles’ Creed on Sunday mornings.  However, his people were silent when they got to the statement about Jesus descending into Hell. His people didn’t like that part.  He decided he needed to start a doctrine class, and now his people recite the full creed during services.
  • One pastor started a Bible School in the past year, and has 13 full-time students preparing for ministry, with an average age of 30 years old.  He asked me if I could come teach an intensive course next year, or send other teachers.  Let me know if you want to go together!

On Local & National Church Leadership/Influence

  • Three pastors in my groups will probably be elected to denominational leadership next year. Other pastors told me that next year’s election will be crucial because many of the older leaders will be retiring and it is an opportunity for renewal in the denomination.
  • One pastor told me he has a “new group of deacons.”  They are the same people I had held two retreats with last year, but he said that since we studied deacons in the Bible and the role of serving together, his deacons have a completely different mindset about their role in the church.

“When are you coming back?”

They kept asking me, Why don’t you move here? Duing this Sabbatical year, and especially while I was there, on the ground in Vietnam again, I kept asking myself, and the Lord, “Shall we move here?”

The Lord used their enthusiasm for my role in their lives to confirm to me that he has a continued ministry for me in Asia, especially in Vietnam and in China.  He has blessed me with a good understanding of pastors and churches there, strong relationships with many well-respected leaders who will be role models in the future of the church in these nations, and strategic open doors for expanded investment among other Vietnamese and Chinese leaders.

In the weeks I was away in October, the Lord encouraged me that I could be a great help to Asian leaders through regular itinerant visits. Just as Kimberly got a similar sense when she attended an Arts in Mission conference in Thailand in July, I sensed the Lord was not leading us to live in Asia for the near future.

What is next?

This week marks one year since we returned to the US. If you’ve followed the emails, you know that the Lord’s timing was perfect for us to be here in support of our parents; but we are not as far along as we had expected to be in the planning for our future full time ministry in missions.

While we love what we do in coming alongside Asian Christian leaders to support their growth and the growth of their ministries, we know that we cannot continue to do it without American partners.

Jim is looking for some other mature missionaries he could work closely within pioneering and growing mentoring ministries for the church in Asia.

We are exploring some options with CRM colleagues and with others outside CRM to find the right partners to keep going strong.

We wish we had the answers about next steps already, but the Lord continues to reassure us that we are right where he wants us, and that he will make clear the next steps at the right time, which we believe is right around the corner.

Thank you for your patience and your support for us – we need it and we feel it!  Please pray with us as we seek God’s will for where and how to get back to serving his church in the world!

Blessed Thanksgiving,

Jim & Kimberly

About the photo at the top of this email: It comes from a music video produced by our friends in Vietnam. Traversing the country, finding Christians among many of the minority peoples of the nation, they recorded Don Moën’s HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD, in multiple dialects. When it was finished, they uploaded this testimony to YouTube and other social media sites. These young urban Vietnamese Christians wanted all of the people of Vietnam to understand that the Christian God is not merely something for westerners. He is the God of all the people groups of Vietnam.

Nissi Studios:


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