Current Newsletter – January 2014

LDM_Inc_logo 410pDear Friends,

I trust that you had a great Christmas and that you enjoyed the holiday period, however short or long it may have been. We had a great time with our children and grandchildren.

Let me give you an update as to what happened during my trip to Bangladesh in the last week of November 2013. The training was held in Khulna in the south of Bangladesh with the Evangelical Friends. It was a very moving and exciting time.

One the first day, Albert, who is the leader of the Friends in Bangladesh, took me to see one of their persecuted churches. Apparently, seven families were converted fpersecuted church 2rom a Hindu background in this village and then baptized. However, they were subjected to such fierce persecution that six of them fell away. Praise God, this family in the photo, who erected the church building on their land, is still going strong. This is despite the fact that the villagers burned down their carpentry business, built a Hindu temple on their garden area which reduced the amount of food they could grow to sustain themselves, and refused to buy anything from them or sell anything to them. However, they simply loved those who persecuted them and the community has started to accept them again. They are fearless in their witness to Jesus and have a selection of tracts on the wall of their house/business. I couldn’t help but notice the look of joy on their faces – although they appear serious in this photo – and the look of despair and hopelessness on the faces of the Hindus who had come to visit while I was there. There is no doubt that Christ makes a difference in the lives of those who accept him as Lord. I find it very challenging to be in the presence of people who have suffered so much for Christ.

Those who are from a Muslim background also face severe persecution. In fact, the intensity of the persecution has increased lately because of the large number of Muslims who are becoming Christians. The conversion rate is particularly high among the educated Muslims. These people are spiritually hungry and they find the answer in Christianity. Remember, the Qur’an supports the NT teaching about Christ and acts as a pointer, for those who are open, to know Jesus. Many Muslims are having the vision of “the man in white” whom they know is Christ. This vision seems to be widespread throughout the Muslim world. I personally know of former Muslims, now Christian pastors, who came to Christ because they received this vision. I have been told by pastors in Uganda and the Middle East that Jesus actually directs some of them to specific churches.

I think people in the West have a fear of Islam and see it as an unstoppable force. If only they knew what is happening in the Islamic world and how many Muslims are turning to Christ, they may have a different attitude. The fastest growing church in the world is in Iran with a 20% pa growth rate. So much of the growth comes because Muslims receive a vision of Jesus – the man in white – and they know that they have to turn to him and worship him. Can I encourage you, especially if you are a pastor, to organize prayer times in your church during Ramadan and pray for the Islamic world. God is at work in a way which we haven’t seen before. 

We started training Sunday morning and went through to Friday lunch (stopping for church on Sunday afternoon). I taught on Romans and the response was very encouraging. This photo shows Albert translating for me with a copy of my Romans material which he had translated into Bangla. We had a total of 16 pastors and evangelists at the Conference and while each had a story of persecution, they also showed the reality that Christ gives “live to the full” (John 10:10).

The Evangelical Friends didn’t exist in Bangladesh until Albert planted the first church in 2006. Their strategy is to only plant churches in areas where there are albert translatingno other Christian churches. They now have 18 churches around the country with the largest having 36 families (around 100 people). They talk in terms of “families”, as they know that the persecution is so intense that it would be difficult for a wife to be baptized and physically survive the beatings unless her husband is also baptized. They also expect a number of cell groups in other villages to quickly grow to the minimum required number so that they can be recognized as churches.

Albert and his co-workers have been in jail on a number of occasions for converting Muslims to Christ, but each time they follow the practice of Paul and Silas and sing and worship God from within their cells. They operate powerfully in signs and wonders and other miracles. Albert told me that during one such imprisonment he noticed that one of the guards was sick and had a blanket wrapped around him. He called the guard over to his cell and told him that Jesus could heal him and then prayed for him. The guard was immediately healed and was so grateful that he went to a nearby restaurant and brought them some good food; something which they previously hadn’t had in jail.

I have gained many insights over the years of this ministry, and have been blessed in many ways, but one of the most exciting has been this firsthand understanding of how the early church must have operated and why it was able to grow so quickly. The other conviction that has become stronger over the years is that the church is most effective when it holds spiritual values at the core of its message and is not afraid to preach it.

I plan to return to Bangladesh in February 2015, although Albert wants me to come during the last week of February 2014 as well. In order for the latter to happen I need additional finances. Please pray for God to release extra money into the ministry.  The invitations are there but I need additional finances before I can commit myself to accepting them.

Thank you for your prayer and support.

Every blessing,

John

 Contact Details:

 Email Address                                 Website
j.edwin.gore@gmail.com               www.leadershipdevelopmentministries.org.au

Bank Details:

Account Name:     Leadership Development Ministries Inc.
Westpac Bank:      BSB No. 032505
Account No. 259508