Discipleship

A New Generation of Caribbean Leaders

By Alan Ch’ng

Joe Maschhoff (right) and Anthony in Santo Domingo.

Joe Maschhoff (right) and Anthony in Santo Domingo.

On the outskirts of Santo Domingo, the bustling capital of the Dominican Republic, a young man born into dire poverty is now leading people within his network of family and friends to Christ.

Anthony’s life hasn’t been easy. From the time he was born, he has faced every economic obstacle imaginable: a broken family, scarce transportation to reach schools, little money for books and meals. It’s remarkable that Anthony survived his childhood.

Today, despite his country’s high unemployment rate, Anthony has a job as a computer programmer in a bank. He recently married Gleni. Thanks to God’s faithfulness, they have been able to purchase a small starter house in a middle-class neighborhood of Santo Domingo. People around him admire his wisdom, character, and godly lifestyle. In fact, two of his bosses say that Anthony mentors them.

Anthony’s story also demonstrates the power of God to multiply the lives of His followers, to produce spiritual generations through life-to-life outreach and discipleship.

Joe Maschhoff, a pioneering Navigator missionary in the Caribbean, first met Anthony about four years ago at a men’s conference and later invited him out for lunch. During the meal, Anthony agreed to read the Scriptures with Joe, something that Anthony had never done before. They studied regularly over several months and developed a close friendship.

As Anthony learned more about the Gospel of God’s grace, he enthusiastically started his own Bible studies with friends and colleagues. Some have been living on the edge of poverty. More and more people are getting to know about Christ through Anthony’s initiatives.

Joe has also helped Anthony strengthen his connections to Navigators in the region, giving Anthony more opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of biblical leadership, and to participate in regional missions efforts.

Anthony is just one example of how God is producing spiritual generations throughout the Caribbean. The Navigator work in the region started only four years ago. And yet, in January, more than 40 men and women from five Caribbean nations attended a Navigator forum designed to encourage and equip a new generation of Christ-followers.

I believe this first generation of Caribbean Navigators will go on to reach many people who will in turn produce a second generation of believers. That is how God works. We pass on our knowledge about God from one generation to another (Psalm 78:1–8). As Paul said in 2 Tim 2:2, we hand the good deposit of the Gospel to faithful men who are able to teach others. Jesus, envisioning the next generation, prayed that many would believe in Him through the message of His disciples (John 17:20).

Through Joe and his pioneering team, God is establishing a foundation for the Gospel to flow into the Caribbean cultures and to establish spiritual generations. God is transforming families and marriages, which is crucial to reaching the highly relational Caribbean culture.

Please pray that God would continue to protect this generation of believers in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico—and use them to advance the Gospel in the region and around the world.

Alan is a member of the International Executive Team. After serving as country leader for Malaysia, Alan was selected as the regional director of the Asia-Pacific work. Alan is married to Connie and they are blessed with three adult sons.

Settling Ex-Prisoners in New Zealand

By Alan Ch'ng

The Settlers team, shown left to right: John, Lynton, Anthony, Eliza, and Gerard

The Settlers team, shown left to right: John, Lynton, Anthony, Eliza, and Gerard

Ted (not his real name) was facing the intense challenges of re-entering society from a New Zealand prison when he met John and Eliza MacClure. After spending extensive personal time with John in the Scriptures, Ted gave his life to Jesus. Ted also began inviting other marginalized and broken men from his hostel to study the Bible with John. He is now working as a support worker with others who have a heart for ex-prisoners. But last year, after five years, Ted succumbed to past struggles. His life unraveled again.

“We were naïve in thinking that this amount of time would be enough to ground him.” said John. “Now, we know to expect to have to deal with problems as they arise and that some things take a long time to sort out, but to never give up.”

John and Eliza didn’t give up on Ted. As a result, Ted is continuing to rely on God day-to-day, strength-to-strength, as he seeks to overcome his past and live a full life.

Eliza has also been helping a recovering drug addict. Although he’s accepted Jesus, his physical problems have caused terrible suffering. Eliza comes alongside him in moments of serious crisis, helping him to cope through friendship and counsel. Because of her refusal to give up and her unconditional love, she is one of only two people whom he trusts enough to share his heart.

Loving well requires staying power. “Wonderful things are happening as, very slowly and little-by-little, men we work with are coming to faith,” says John. “Others are growing stronger in their journey with God. It’s both exciting and sobering to realize we are involved in such weighty matters.”

John and Eliza work with a team of Navigators in New Zealand called “Settlers.” They are dedicating their lives to helping the broken and marginalized make the difficult journey back into mainstream society.

John has seen firsthand the obstacles that ex-prisoners face. Until his recent retirement, John served for many years as a reintegration caseworker for the New Zealand Department of Corrections, working in Christchurch.

“At the time of leaving prison, especially after a long period, it is like someone moving to a new country for the first time not knowing the language or customs,” he says.

Although several other social agencies help released prisoners find housing and work, the Settlers team believes it is paramount for ex-prisoners to be accepted by and belong to a positive network and community. This is the focus of the Settlers team. They provide former prisoners an opportunity to develop circles of support and to strengthen their social capital.

Inspired and motivated by Psalm 1, Isaiah 61 and Isaiah 58:6-12, the Settlers team prays that each man or woman they serve through the love of Christ will go on to produce spiritual generations among others who are broken and marginalized.

The key, say John and Eliza, is perseverance. As Paul said in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

“We are learning to keep a long perspective and to wait with patience,” says John, pointing out that the word patience comes from the Latin verb patior, which means “to suffer.”

Please pray for these patient, dedicated Navigators in New Zealand, that God would use them to develop the ex-prisoners they serve into future leaders who will help others experience the true freedom of Jesus.

Alan Ch'ng is a member of the International Executive Team. Prior to this role, he served as country leader for Malaysia, and as the regional director of the Asia-Pacific work. Alan is married to Connie and they are blessed with three adult children.

From Anger to Forgiveness

By David R., Regional Director for Eurasia

Orphan.jpg

Abandoned at birth, Sophia (not her real name) was taken to a cold, gloomy Eurasian orphanage. She was one of 250 children living in a three-story building. Strict and sometimes abusive government teachers raised the children. In this oppressive system, Sophia would attempt to survive until she was 16-years old.

Most of the kids in her institution had lice. The food was bland. Chores were rigorous. Punishments were severe. At age six, after committing a minor infraction, Sophia was forced to hold up a heavy chair for an extended period. On some occasions, the teachers beat the kids with phone cords and then placed them in hot showers.

In this lifeless environment, Sophia bonded with some of the other orphans. They defended one another against the harsh treatment of the teachers. They were her brothers and sisters through elementary and high school. But
she would lose those friendships at age 16, when the orphanage forced Sophia to leave without any money or relational support.

As a result of this harsh and loveless upbringing, Sophia says that her heart increasingly filled with anger toward her mother, whom she had never met.

“I was very angry in high school,” said Sophia. “I wanted to find my mother and hurt her with words. I knew from my experience at the orphanage that words couldbe very heavy and painful. I wanted to use words to make her pay for what she had done to me.”

Despite her hardships, Sophia managed to enter college. She moved into a student house and lived with some Russian girls from her orphanage. A Christian woman would come to visit them. Through that woman, Sophia met a Navigator missionary, Jenna (not her real name), who began caring for her and reading the Bible with her.

“Jenna was a woman of integrity,” she says. “Until I met her, I had never seen words and actions together in a person. She was always caring for the poor. During one of our Bible studies, Jenna showed me verses that said that God had adopted us all—that without God everyone is an orphan.”

In 2006, Jenna invited Sophia to a camp for young people who had an interest in knowing more about Jesus. Sophia attended the camp and surrendered her life to God. This humility before God opened her to revolutionary change by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“God showed me that I was not perfect, and that God also loved my mother,” Sophia recalls. “I began to realize that I had no right to judge her. Because of God’s Spirit and His Word, I could see that my anger toward my mother was caused by pride.”

Jenna continued to help Sophia mature in Christ through the spiritual disciplines—reading the Scriptures and prayer. Sophia also became strongly connected to a community of Navigators in Eurasia. By God’s power, she realized that her mother must have been suffering with guilt and pain, and she longed to remove that pain. God had replaced her anger with compassion.

Through a remarkable series of events in 2009 to 2010, Sophia discovered that her mother lived with other relatives in a rural village. They arranged a time for Sophia to go to her mother’s home and meet her for the first time.

“That first moment—I was praying. It was hard to believe,” Sophia said. “I was dealing with a lot of pain. My mother was very nervous. But I was thankful that God had removed my anger. I sat with her and told her that I forgave her. She cried a lot. I told her that I could forgive her because of my faith in Jesus.”

Today, Sophia has a growing relationship with her mother and extended family. She also serves as an integral part of our Navigator team in Eurasia. Her long-term goal is to finish a post-graduate degree that will enable her to work with orphans as a teacher or counselor.

“I want to share the Gospel with them. I can be a reference to help them survive after they leave the orphanages. I understand them and their needs,” Sophia said. “Maybe when they graduate I can help
them join a faith community like I found.”

What about you? Do you need to forgive someone? Sophia’s story demonstrates that if we humble ourselves before God and walk closely with Him, He will transform us and give us the power to move from anger to forgiveness.