On Saturday, December 23rd 2017, the Waynesboro Free Methodist Church, located in central Virginia, hosted a baptism service for refugees from Central Africa. Nine believers were baptized on this joyous occasion. Several next generation teens shared a call to ministry during their public testimonies and demonstrated a desire to devote their lives to the work of the Lord.
The Waynesboro baptism service was part of a larger Christmas Conference hosted by the Roanoke Free Methodist Church, located in Roanoke, Virginia. Large groups and congregations came from Roanoke, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Greensboro, North Carolina, and even Louisville, Kentucky to celebrate our Savior’s birth.
Roanoke was the first Central African refugee congregation to become a fully established Free Methodist Church USA society in the Acts 12:24 Conference in 2016. Since that time, they have grown from about 70 members to nearly 130, have purchased a 12,000 sq. ft. warehouse to renovate into a church and community center, and have helped to meaningfully connect over a dozen refugee congregations to the FMCUSA. This congregation continues to grow and transform lives throughout the community.
During the 2017 Acts 12:24 Annual Conference, two Roanoke Free Methodist pastors were ordained as elders. Many tears of joy were shed as their decade-long struggle to be received into the FMCUSA came to fruition. The Lord is using refugee churches like Roanoke Free Methodist Church to increase and spread the Word of God in many U.S. cities, and His Word will not return void. May the growing partnerships between indigenous and immigrant Free Methodist groups bring fruitful renewal to our church, and may the Lord continue to use these partnerships to grow his Kingdom.
It was common for Africa mission work to be based from a “mission compound” up until the mid 20th century. While less common today, Kibogora Hospital in Rwanda is one place Free Methodists maintain a mission compound. The compound, like the hospital, belongs to the Free Methodist Church Rwanda, but they maintain a partnership with the Free Methodist Church – USA. Among other needs, this partnership asks FMCUSA to manage the hospitality of the compound. While that sounds like a small piece of ministry, the effects have a large impact on the hospital and its residents.
Kibogora Hospital carries on a vital ministry as it delivers top-quality health care to the region. We often describe it as “the healing ministry of Jesus”; it’s not just health care, but health care delivered with the love and witness of the gospel. The people serving at the hospital are an “internationalized” group of people—Rwandans, Congolese, North Americans, Europeans, etc. Those that are visiting or serving from a distance usually take up residence on the mission compound where there are 10 accommodating units. Residing on the compound enables the people from far away to focus their efforts on medical ministry. But someone must manage and provide the hospitality for the compound. This is where the partnership with FMCUSA comes in.
In the summer of 2016, David and Carol Crandall arrived in Rwanda to serve for as compound managers. They carried out their work with a strong emphasis on collaborating with the compound’s staff in order to care for short-term and long-term guests. This is the core of the manager’s ministry – hospitality. In addition to their focus on caring for guests, the Crandall’s also accomplished quite a few over-due building upgrades. After about a year of service, Lee and Mim Stevens took over as the compound managers. Today, the Steven’s continue to emphasize hospitality throughout their ministry while also applying the particular gifts God has given them. Lee’s background is in management, allowing him to help individuals in the compound grow and develop their own managerial skills. Mim previously served at Kibogora Hospital where she developed the capacity to speak multiple languages. Her previous experience allows her to translate and teach English to about 30 students. Their work continually provides opportunity for witness and the extension of hospitality. The compound residents, in turn, continue to advance the healing ministry at the hospital that would otherwise be greatly hindered.
When looking at many biblical stories with an eye toward hospitality – such as Cornelius, Zacchaeus, or Abraham, you will notice the remarkable recurrence of God performing miracles or specially revealing himself when people show hospitality. The Africa missionary team is looking for people whom the Lord is calling for this hospitality ministry. Please contact Beth Cullison at email@example.com if you are interested in serving in this capacity.
The old Abbott and Costello comedy routine, “Who’s on First,” could find a revised version in the mission context of the Free Methodist work in Guinea. Who is really starting the work there?
In 2010, my friend Lubunga, now Bishop Lubunga, of the Democratic Republic of Congo told me about a Free Methodist Congolese serving in Guinea as a Campus for Christ missionary. The organization’s ministry process was almost entirely evangelistic with new converts directed to existing church fellowships rather than church plants. Lubunga asked, “Isn’t there a way Free Methodist World Missions might connect with this Congolese and work with him to start some Free Methodist churches in Guinea?”
It took me a while to reach a point of readiness to get in touch with Belley, the Congolese who was working in Guinea. Late in 2011 we began communicating by email; one thing led to another and plans were finally made to take a trip to Guinea. Knowing very little French, I invited my ministry colleague from Togo, Rev. Dosseh. Prior to making the trip, we enlisted the help of many North American Free Methodists for 40 days of fasting and prayer. Then Dosseh and I headed to Guinea.
Pastor Belley’s contacts included two Guinean church planters, Jean Baptiste and Martin, who received training in the Community Church Planting method and began to apply this system of expansion. They began working with new and existing fellowship groups and quickly began to see their work come to fruition. Praise the Lord! Since then, Jean Baptiste and Martin have continued to nurture these fellowships while a main church is led by Belley in the capital of Conakry. There are three other church plants in the wider area of Conakry, making a total of about 35 church plants to date. We anticipate second generation church plants to take root this year.
So who’s on first? I mean, who really started work in Guinea? Was it Bishop Lubunga? Was it the praying people who joined in ahead of the first visit? Was it Dosseh, Belley, Jean Baptiste, Martin, or maybe even Bruce who introduced us to Community Church Planting? Thankfully, we don’t need to answer the question because we know it is our Lord Jesus Christ who is Lord of the harvest. He is the one to whom all credit goes. But I suspect it brings Him pleasure to see all the “field hands” involved in this harvest work in Guinea. Pray that the Lord of the harvest sends workers into His harvest field (Matthew 9:38).
World Missions Prayer Calendar: February
The Ethiopia Free Methodist Church is growing through church planting and discipleship. Pray for the church to have a continued passion for evangelism. Pray for the 55 graduates from the oral Bible school as they minister to illiterate people.
Creative Access Asia
Pray for Superintendent John Lane (Wabash Conference) as he assists India Bishop Joab Lohara. They are overseeing a new FM work in a country not known for being hospitable to Christians. Pray for protection for the church people as well as courage and boldness to share the gospel. Pray also for resources to fund and support the work.
Pray for Roger and Deb Varland as they minister in Kenya at Rift Valley Academy. They are the head sponsors for the freshman class. Pray also for their two sons, Reid and Sid who are in high school. Birthday: Deb Varland.
The Free Methodist Church is in the cities of Oostende and Brussels. Pray for effective spiritual outreach and the development of leaders, particularly Belgian nationals.
Pray for Brent Thompson, co-superintendent of the Ohio Conference, as he gives oversight from a distance to the ministry in Honduras and for mutual cooperation and shared vision.
Pray for the team members working with the seemingly unending flow of refugees to be encouraged in their work. Pray for good health and stamina as they work tirelessly, meeting needs and sharing the gospel message.
Pray for the small group of believers who are meeting and providing outreach to those affected by AIDS.
Pray for the first Vietnamese Free Methodist Church launched in Taipei. Pray for wisdom and spiritual growth for the young lay leaders, and for the small groups that are meeting for worship.
The Free Methodist Church in Cergy (suburb of Paris) is primarily composed of Haitian immigrants, many of whom were members of the FMC in Haiti before immigrating. Pray for the spiritual development and growth for the many children and youth in the church. Pray for the church to find more ways to effectively witness to more Haitian and African immigrants in the area.
The FM churches of Paraguay are clustered around the capital, Asunción, and the southern city of Encarnacón. Church-sponsored elementary schools minister in both cities in partnership with International Child Care Ministries. Pray for outreach activities to bring whole families to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pray for the safety of Free Methodist church planters and those that gather in house churches.
Pray for the people still recovering from significant losses suffered during the civil war that erupted in 2010. Pray for Pastor Bertin Tae and his leadership for church plants.
Pray for effective implementation of community church panting principles and the increased spiritual maturity of national leadership.
Pray for Dawn Woods as she learns Arabic, learns the culture and discovers how best to support our leaders in the Middle East. Birthday: Dawn Woods.
Pastor Peterson moved to Brasilia in January with his family to join missionaries Dan and Hope Owsley in starting a new church planting initiative in the capital’s satellite city of Riacho Fundo. Pray for Dan and Pastor Peterson as they work side by side and seek to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance in connecting with people who are open to helping them in their church planting endeavors. Pray for them as they go together into the harvest field of Brasilia, Brazil sharing the good news of the gospel. Birthday: Dan Owsley
Pray for the ongoing community church planting efforts happening in Spain. Also, pray for the resources to train emerging leaders.
The Free Methodist Church has more than twenty elementary or secondary schools, a training institute for lay leaders and a university-level seminary in the Dominican Republic. Pray that many students’ lives will be changed through their experience at these FM schools.
Some 1.6 million Israeli Arabs reside in Israel, and many don’t yet know Jesus as Savior. Pray for the church planting efforts among the Arab population.
Pray for the growing fellowship of new churches with ongoing ministerial training and organizational development.
Pray for Umri Christian Hospital as it meets the health care needs of a vast population. Also, pray for the hospital’s other ministries, which include an English school and a nursing school. Pray for the leaders giving oversight to these ministries and the resources to meet the many opportunities for outreach.
The Thessaloniki Balkan Church multilingual congregation has a vision to birth many other ethnic congregations, in addition to ministering to refugees from the Middle East. Pray for freedom from the religious prejudices and restrictions churches currently face in Greece.
Dessalines Hospital, officially known in Haiti as Claire Heureuse Hospital is located in Marchand Dessalines, 100 miles north of the capital Port-au-Prince. Today, the hospital is known in the U.S. as the Dessalines Rural Health Care Project. The hospital serves a local population of 250,000. Pray for Medical Director Junior Noel, son of Pastor Charite Noel, as he navigates the administrative transitions taking place in the midst of looming financial difficulties. Birthday: Dan Snyder, MD
Pray for the church in Nassau as it seeks to be a welcoming church concerned about church growth and discipling new believers. This church is under the direction of the South Atlantic Conference in Florida. Pray for good connections in spite of cultural and geographic distance.
Pray for the physical safety of Free Methodist church planters and those who gather in house churches. FM Iraqi work is currently centered just 50 miles from the city of Mosul, which up until recently was an ISIS stronghold. Mosul is a city torn to shreds from fighting, but new FM work has recently begun in and around the city. Pray for the multiplication of leaders to reach thousands of towns and villages in northern Iraq.
Pray for the church, which began by a partnership between the Mozambique church and people from Michigan. Pray for people to find freedom in Jesus from false religions. Pray for those struggling to meet basic needs. Nearly 50% of the population in Swaziland lives below the poverty line.
Pray for Rev. Henry Ng and his wife, Jessica, as they give leadership to ministry in Malaysia. Pray for mission endeavors to the tribes in East Malaysia and the development of Chinese and tribal-speaking congregations.
Pray for the Latino congregation living in Vienna as they minister to people in the community. They are seeking to connect with young people who are more open to the gospel than previous generations.
Antigua is an island in the Caribbean Sea, 300 miles east of Puerto Rico. A small Free Methodist Church has been ministering in the capital of St. John’s for the past few years. Pray for the spiritual vibrancy of the congregation as they live in an environment where there are many nominal Christians. Pray for healthy connections with the Puerto Rico churches to overcome the sense of isolation.