New Year, same reality, renewed hope

To our God of the unexpected

Coming alongside their children


“Will they make friends?”

“Where will they be able to learn and continue to thrive?”

“I hope they will be happy.”


When God calls a family away from what has been called ‘home’ to work alongside Him overseas, it is not just the parent’s lives that are changed – but also their children’s.

INF seeks to provide schooling for both primary and secondary aged children, so that their parents can focus on the work God has called them to Nepal to do, knowing that their children are in caring community and receiving excellent education. The Pokhara Study Centre, located at Pokhara in Nepal, is part of this vision.

This school is essential for the ongoing work at the INF Green Pastures Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre which is presently being transformed into a major referral centre for the western half of Nepal. Without excellent education for their children, medical specialists are often unable to stay which impacts the whole community.

There is an urgent need for two expatriate Christian Primary School Teachers to join the team. There are also opportunities for secondary school teachers. Is this somewhere God may be calling you, or someone you know?

Share this with someone you know, find out moreget in touch or learn more about opportunities to serve with INF.


We also have opportunities for teachers to teach expatriate children is many places in Asia and the Arab world. Get in touch with us!

Introducing new Interserve Teams: Germany and Central Europe

War, conflict and persecution has caused massive movements of refugees. There are many opportunities to come alongside them to support them practically and emotionally, to bring a message of hope or to wait alongside them in the unknown.

There are now new Interserve Teams in both Germany and Central Europe, with the need for experienced cross-cultural workers to minister to Asian and Arab world refugees, children and youth. There are also many other diverse opportunities throughout Asia and the Arab world where you can be involved short-term or in long-term work among refugees.

We are looking for people to join us in serving people on the move – would you come along with us?


Read Joel’s* story about waiting with people as they hope for new and divine beginnings, as he serves among refugees in West Asia.

*Names have been changed.

Where does the vision to go overseas come from?

One question that arises from time to time when talking with people is this: Where does the vision to go overseas and work come from?

This is a very good question! Well, as I listen to people, it appears to arise in different ways. Yet, one of the more common ways is by being intentional in reflectively prayerfully reading his Word and by being intentional in obeying what we learn. As we do this the more opportunity he has in taking our desires and interests and reshaping them so they become more like his (Romans 12:1-3).

But, in thinking of this, we need to stop, step back, and look at our motivation as to why we are even Christians. Why do you and I identify as a Jesus-oriented person?

I don’t know about you, but my initial motivation to follow Jesus was for “fire insurance” – to avoid hell. I admit this was a very ignoble way to begin my journey; but, it was where I was. Amazingly enough, it didn’t matter to Jesus. He accepted me and poured out his Spirit upon me. In that moment I immediately became a new creation in Christ. Miraculously, my whole internal system changed – my thoughts, motivations, and so much more. I was no longer concerned about fire insurance. From that moment on I wanted to know him.

A friend of mine started his journey at a completely different place. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who thought so deeply about getting baptized as him. His parents were serious disciples of Jesus; so, maybe he had their genes.

What he was worried about was that he was making the decision to dedicate himself to Jesus and be baptized to please his parents. This concern paralyzed him.

As we talked about it, I didn’t know how to help him resolve his dilemma. So, I prayed.

Then, I looked up at him and asked: “Do you want to love Jesus?”

He said: “Yes, absolutely.”

“Well, then,” I said, “if you want to love the Lord, just go ahead and do it.”

The lights went on in his head and he started beaming. He had been so focused on not making this decision to please his parents that he didn’t realize that he really wanted to love the Lord.

He was baptized a week later.

I tell this story so that we can stop and self-reflect on our motivation for being a Christian. Why do we identify ourselves with Christ?

No matter what motivated us to come to the Lord in the first place, he expects that our initial motivations will change. We are to move from thinking about what we can get out of him to following him because we love him.

The story of the woman wiping Jesus’ feet in Luke 7:36-47 highlights this point:

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. A woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind Jesus at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him— that she is a sinner.”

Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

This woman came to Jesus out of her deep remorse for what she had done. She left responding with love to the forgiveness acceptance, and love that she had received.

This is what Jesus is asking from each and every one of us. He is asking us to respond to the love he has given to us with love. Love to be love has to be freely given.

Is it the desire of your heart to respond to Jesus with love?

If so, take a few minutes to talk to him, to voice your desire to love him with your whole heart, to follow him wherever he may lead, to do whatever he may command. Be honest with him and voice any misgivings you may have, about how you have failed to do so in the past and your insecurities about how you will do in the future. As you voice to him your intent, your misgivings, and your insecurities, allow yourself to be surprised by his love, just as this unnamed woman was. Allow your mind and your heart to receive and be immersed in his unending wellspring of grace, mercy, and love.

As you do this, and as you follow him day by day, you will discover how able he is to take our IMGP2514-1617 copyhearts and our interests and make them like his, so much so, that we find ourselves caring for those around us – those we had never even noticed before – and for those who are geographically distant from us. It is then that the desire to be involved in what God is doing in his world arises, and takes us down paths we never could have imagined taking.

We have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
1 John 4:16


Pat Krayer is Executive Director of Interserve USA.

If you would like to talk with someone about discerning God’s leading in mission, you are welcome to contact us.

Seven Habits of a Refugee-Welcoming Church

I don’t often cry reading the news, but I did shed a tear earlier in the year when three year-old Alan Kurdi appeared in my newsfeed. The images of his body, face down in the sand, remain a chilling reminder of the dangers faced by those fleeing conflicts in Syria and across the Middle East. Despite those dangers, millions of people continue to risk everything for the hope of refuge beyond their borders.

But I also cried because it took the photograph of a lifeless child on a Turkish beach to provoke a response from nations around the world. We – and so many believers – have felt the pressing need to show compassion and Christ’s care for people like Alan Kurdi and their families. But the sheer size of the crisis, and the fact that we are unimaginably distant from it, mean that we can sometimes feel overwhelmed and powerless. How can churches here do anything meaningful for those seeking protection around the globe?

Our experience working with CultureConnect amongst people seeking asylum in Sydney is that the church can be a wonderful welcomer of the displaced right here – we just need to start somewhere. Here are seven habits we think many, if not all, churches can get into.

1. Connect, one person at a time.

“I’d love to welcome a refugee – if only I knew where to find them!” We hear this so often when we share about our work with displaced people. It isn’t often that a person seeking asylum will rock up at church without an introduction; ask God to lead you to them first. You might try spending time in a culturally diverse part of your city, chatting to locals. Consider English classes or other initiatives that engage new arrivals to Australia. [1] Community organisations working with people seeking asylum often need volunteers to help refugees to settle well and feel at home in Australia – it may take some effort, but the new friendships will be well worth it.

2. The roof is your introduction.

We’ve noticed that for many people seeking asylum, walking into a church building feels like walking onto a film set without a script. Strange music is playing, strange words are being used, and everyone seems to know when to stand and sit – except you. It can be a bewildering experience for them, especially if Christian worship was forbidden in their country of origin. So you can imagine that one of the hardest things for us has been watching displaced people visit our church without being welcomed. They sit at the back or stand by themselves in the morning-tea crush, surrounded by regulars catching up with one another over a cuppa.

It can be incredibly hard talking to someone new for the first time, but as someone once told us, ‘the roof is your introduction’. That is, if you and someone else are in the same place, under the same roof, you have at least one thing in common! See where that introduction might take you.

3. “Won’t you have some tea?”

We’ll tell you our secret for the best connections with people seeking asylum: tea and hospitality. Awkward post-church conversations aside, one of the best ways to connect deeply with people is to share time around the table. Meals – or even just cups of tea – are the currency of so many cultures from which our displaced friends come. Almost invariably, they miss that togetherness and community. Why not have a go at offering that togetherness to them? It need not be a complicated affair. What really matters is your willingness to welcome them into your home and into your life.

4. Listen, don’t just do.

As we’ve built trust with our friends who are seeking asylum, we’ve gotten used to the problems they face every day as they try to build new lives here. When food has run out, we’ve bought groceries. When we learned our friend was sleeping on the floor of his rented room, we found a mattress. We’ve fixed cars, looked for jobs, sourced crisis accommodation, provided lifts to church, and written countless letters to support claims for protection. All these things are critical parts of ministry to the displaced; at their best, they show Christ’s care for the whole person.

However, if our welcome consists only of these things, then it can very quickly devour us. There have been times where we’ve been burned out by compassion. We’ve been wearied by what feels like endless neediness from the very people we are trying to serve. God has shown us (the hard way!) that sometimes, it’s best to do less and listen more. It can be easy to jump to conclusions about what we think a displaced person needs, and to go ahead and do it – but rather than fix all their problems, we are learning to be present with them. We pray with them. We try to be a family of faith surrounding them with grace. When we journey with people seeking asylum, we can learn so much from them about perseverance and the struggles of life in this present age. Our friends who trust Jesus have become for us one of the clearest pictures of the work of God in bitterness and trial that we in the West can ever hope to see.

5. Join forces.

Ministry amongst people seeking asylum can often be a case of ‘two steps forward, one step back’. On your own, it can quickly become overwhelming. Seek out people who share your concern for the displaced, either in your church or further afield. For us, that meant getting together with two other families to plan welcome dinners and support for asylum seekers in our church. What might it look like for you to team up with others? Perhaps your church could start something big, like English classes for migrants. Something smaller might be mobilising your church to provide food for those seeking asylum in your community. [2]

6. Pray.

However we go about welcoming refugees, we must begin in prayer to the God who is a refuge for all of us (Psalm 62:8). He alone can bring peace and healing to the broken-hearted, and prayer must be at the heart of any ministry to the displaced. When we fold our concern into the public prayer lives of our church, it can be a strong signal that our care comes from the heart of God. It also tells our friends seeking asylum that their unfinished journeys lie in His care, and that His people have not forgotten them.

It can be difficult to know how to pray. You can keep informed through news sites, or through more general Christian resources such as Operation World. [3] Interserve also have a number of Partners at work amongst people seeking asylum, both in Australia and abroad, whom you could uphold in prayer.

7. Change the conversation.

The broader discussion in Australia about asylum issues is sometimes enough to make us despair. Instead of talking about rights or responsibilities, our leaders are more concerned about ‘stopping the boats’ and deterrence through detention. People seeking asylum have become a target for anxieties about security and the threat of religious terrorism. As they are increasingly marginalised in our communities, the divide between ‘them’ and ‘us’ is reinforced. The church, however, can speak life into this discussion. Pick up your pens and write to your local Member of Parliament (a real, paper-and-pen letter is far more likely to be read than an email) and let them know your views on asylum policy. Share stories about the positive impact refugees can have in their new homes. Be informed about the many myths circulating about refugees [4] and become equipped to reframe the conversation constructively. These might seem like small steps, but they can go a long way towards changing the way neighbours and communities think about the displaced and how we should receive them.

 

These seven habits of a refugee-welcoming church may not change the tragedies that led to Alan Kurdi’s body washing up on that beach. However, we hope they will spark your imaginations for embracing those who did make it to our shores, and through that embrace, for showing them the divine love, which opens up the highest possibilities.

 

This article was written by an Interserve Partner preparing to serve in West Asia alongside refugees.

 

[1] For those in Sydney, the Welcome Dinner Project aims to bring established Australians together with new arrivals around the kitchen table.

[2] Simple Love is a Christian organisation doing this kind of work in the Sydney region.

[3] Operation World is a guide for praying specifically for each nation around the world.

[4] The Refugee Council of Australia, for example, has produced a number of useful fact sheets.

 

Move of God Amongst Muslim Refugees

Floyd McClung recently wrote this short testimony to encourage us to continue praying for Muslims people and this working alongside them in refugee camps:

Terrorists get the media’s attention, but they don’t win the battle for people’s hearts. There are far more people responding to the love of Jesus than will ever join up with ISIS and its movement of fear! The real war on terror isn’t fought with drones and AK47s! It is being combated with love by our dedicated workers who are right now serving on the Syrian border and in refugee camps in Europe.

Photo by R Pessoa, used with permission

Millions of Muslims are turning to Jesus around the world and it is precisely for that reason: they are sick and tired of hate and violence. They are tired of man-made religion. Of rules and self-righteousness. They want something more. They hunger for what only Jesus can offer.

One such Syrian refugee named Ishmael was a former secret service agent in Syria – assigned to assassinate those who opposed the regime. He was sickened by what he was doing, but fearful to speak up. He decided to run for his life – literally. He escaped at night across the desert with his family to Jordan. There Ishmael met “George” (not his real name – changed to protect his identity as he continues to minister in Jordan). George led him to faith in Christ and Ishmael in turn started 38 Bible studies with other refugees – including back in Syria itself.

  • Pray for the many Muslim background believers across the world, as many face ostracism and persecution from families and communities because of their faith. Pray for them to grow, grounded in a faith and knowledge of their Father God that will be a witness to those around them.
  • Pray for Christians working in refugee camps to have compassion and to share Jesus with the people they serve, and that many will find hope, life and healing through the power of the Gospel.
  • Pray for the ongoing discipleship or MMB’s for resources and people to walk with them as they grow in their faith.
  • Pray for a significant move of the Holy Spirit across the Middle East, for many Muslims to encounter Christ and for genuine peace to come to  this region.

Acts 5 vs 14: “Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women

Source: http://floydandsally.com/2015/11/23/perfect-love-casts-out-terror/

Read more from Pray for the Nations

Being present on the margins

This year we’re celebrating the gift of God’s presence by giving the gift of presence ourselves.

Our Christmas appeal is raising money for Interserve Partners to live and serve alongside the peoples of Asia and the Arab world – many of whom have never met a Christian.

Share how you are giving the #giftofpresence to those around you this Christmas.

Christian TV Studio Burnt Down in Pakistan

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Police officials in Karachi, Pakistan, are investigating a fire that, last week, destroyed the offices of a Christian cable television station.

2005-05-02-Bishkek-Studio7The fire at Gawahi TV’s office was reported around 3 am. last Tuesday, and took nearly two hours to extinguish. By daybreak, the three-room office was a burned-out hulk.

On Thursday, employees, who days before had been planning their Christmas broadcast schedule, gingerly stepped around large piles of half-burned religious books as they walked through the office. A charred copy of the Bible sat on top of the reception desk.

Javed William, whose brother, Pastor Sarfraz William, is the owner of Gawahi TV, said the fire appeared to be a planned attack. “The door locks were cut and the things were not where we had left them,” he said, adding that a security camera system had been destroyed in the fire.

Employees said computers had either been destroyed or stolen.

“The hard disks are missing,” said Irfan Daniel, an assistant manager. “Someone did this with a lot of thought.”

Javed William said he was not aware of any threats to the organisation. “This is not an attack on us,” he said. “It is an attack on Christianity. Whoever did this does not want God’s work to happen.”

Gawahi TV’s religious programming includes recitations of the Bible, Christian hymns and music videos, and is shown on local cable networks in Karachi.

There have been a number of recent attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan, and these have continued despite the government’s repeated pledges to safeguard religious minorities.

  • Pray for the staff at Gawahi TV station, as they clean up and cope with the loss of their offices and equipment. Pray for peace, encouragement and also for the resources to continue to broadcast the message of the Gospel in Karachi.
  • Pray for protection for Christians in Pakistan, with the increase in threats and attacks against them.
  • Pray for the government, to be serious in its promise to protect religious minorities in Pakistan.
  • Pray for the spread of the Gospel in Pakistan, through media such as TV, and other sources. Pray that many will hear and respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Nehemiah 4 vs 9: “So we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/

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God at Work Through Local Missionaries

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Omrao knew he was being watched – watched by men who didn’t want the other villagers to see the film he was showing that night.

A Blow Couldn’t Stop the Film Show

The day before, he and his ministry team had shown a movie about Jesus. Around 80 people had attended and listened to Omrao and his team share from the Word of God. Excited about the movie and the Good News they had heard, the villagers spread the word about another film showng, but this angered some of the young men in the village.

The men approached Omrao and began to threaten him and his team, warning them to stop showing the film and to leave their village. Omrao replied politely, saying they were not there to harm the people but to encourage them. He assured the young men they had not forced anyone to watch the film, but it was open to anyone who wanted to come.

When it came time to show the film, Omrao sat surrounded by 200 curious people who had gathered. He was hoping to avoid problems from the men who had threatened him, but at that moment, he realised the film equipment had been left unattended. He feared the young men could easily damage the costly tools, and wondered if this was such a good idea after all.

As he stood up and moved toward the projector, he prayed quietly from his heart. Just then, he felt a sharp blow on his shoulder as one of the young men struck him with a torch. Then the group of young men appeared and threatened him again, echoing what they had spoken the day before.

But God heard Omrao’s prayers. As the young men tried to stir up unrest, some of the elders of the village chased them away.

“Why are you trying to create problems here when everyone is watching the film?” the elders said, confronting the young men. “We want to watch the film, and we do not want any trouble here. Go away from here and do whatever you want outside. Do not disturb us.”

By God’s grace the young men left Omrao alone, and the 200 villagers were able to finish the film in peace that night.

  • Give thanks for Omrao, and for many other local mission people working in S.E Asia.
  • Pray for them and their families, for protection and strength as many face persecution and threats in the areas where they serve.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to work through films and other media used to tell the Gospel in otherwise unreached areas. Pray for many to encounter Jesus, His hope, love and grace.

Psalm 109 vs 31: “For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save them from those who would condemn them to death.”

Source: http://gospelforasia-reports.org

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