The Little Church With a Big Heart

February 26 2016

To say our little church with about 175 attenders has a love affair with missions would be an understatement! Nineveh Christian Church has supported One Mission Society missionaries for longer than I have been a member (2002). But over the years, our involvement has grown in so many exciting ways, and I count myself fortunate to be part of that growth.

Our pastor, Tom Knight, and our elders have a unique philosophy that if we expect blessings from the Lord, financial or otherwise, then we must first bless others. 2 Corinthians 9:10 expresses that philosophy: “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” As you will see, the Lord has fulfilled that promise for our church many times.

As I recount the many ways our church has increased our missions giving and involvement, it is not to pat ourselves on the back, but to inspire other churches to realize you don’t have to be a mega church to do great things for God – you just need to be a church with a “mega” heart.

At first we supported several OMS missionaries. But in 2007, just as we were in the middle of building an addition on our own church (a $460,000 project), God impressed on our leaders that we should simultaneously plant some seeds by building a church in India through OMS. Due to the generous giving of our congregation, we ended up borrowing only $50,000 toward our remodel and took on the India church build of $13,500. Paying off both of these projects was not a long, drawn-out process, but rather, was completed in less than a year.

Soon, we were building two churches/schools in South Asia, broadening our missionary support, and in 2010 – 2012, we gave $25,000 to build one floor of a training center in South Asia.

Just as exciting as our congregation’s giving heart was the fact that we had become a sending church. I took my first mission trip with Dynamic Women in Missions in 2012 to Ecuador. Of course, my excitement spilled over and within the next couple years, the women of our church were involved in two trips to Haiti. The second of these trips had 10 women from our church, including our pastor’s wife.

In 2014, we tore down the parsonage across the street from our church to build a Life House – a building suited to our junior and senior high youth. This $360,000 project should have been a challenge for our small congregation, but once again, our building fund had grown due to our generous congregation. Our pastor and elders prayed about where we could sow some seeds of blessing. We had grown to love the people of Haiti, so while we were paying off our Life House, we also financed two homes for earthquake victims in Bon Repos, Haiti.

God continues to challenge the hearts of our people for missions. It is so exciting that this spring we will be sending a work team to Haiti, a team that will include men for the first time.

We have learned that we can never out-give God as we bless others by planting seed in their ministries. We recently bought a piece of property near our church. We are asking God to show us how we can use this property to bless others. I can hardly wait to see what God has in mind!

By Gail O’Connor, Dynamic Women in Missions Volunteer

Tags: little church, generous giving, missions, haiti, india, south asia,

Prison Metamorphosis

February 17 2016

Edgar Delgado grew up in a Christian home and attended church regularly with his family as a child in Colombia. But as he grew older, he made some bad decisions and chose to take the wrong path—a path that eventually led to his arrest and incarceration.

But God was not done with Edgar.

Through the incarceration process, Edgar reconnected with his childhood pastor, who was now a criminal defense lawyer. Edgar turned his life over to God.

While imprisoned, Edgar entered the prison training institute that Prison Fellowship of Antioquia operates in Bellavista prison. There, he found teachers who cared about him and listened to him. Over time, Edgar finished all three levels of the course, which focuses on personal growth, Old and New Testaments, and Christian ministry. His study of the Word enriched him. Through this study and his relationships with other Christian prisoners and volunteer staff members, Edgar learned the values of respect and love for everyone.

Edgar was released from prison two months ago and now works as a taxi driver. He attends church faithfully and preaches the Good News day and night as he drives his taxi. Those who hear him often ask him to pray for them. Edgar rejoices that he has the privilege of sharing Jesus.

The prison institutes, operated by OMS partner ministry Prison Fellowship Association of Antioquia, are helping bring dramatic transformation to the lives of prisoners and is equipping them to reach others both inside and outside of prison.

Tags: prison ministry, transformation, prison training institute, colombia,

​Sycamore Tree Restoration Through Prison Ministry

February 10 2016

Crime has a widespread and long-lasting impact on victims, offenders, and the community. One Mission Society partner ministry Prison Fellowship of Colombia promotes healing for those affected by crime through its restorative justice program, Sycamore Tree.

Based on the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus, the tax collector, who agreed to repay the people he had cheated, this project brings victims into prisons to meet with offenders. Prisoners come to a full understanding of the effects of their crimes and discuss what it would mean to take responsibility for their actions. Victims and their families are also afforded the opportunity to offer forgiveness.

OMS partner, Lacides Hernandez, president of Prison Fellowship of Colombia, tells of one prisoner who recently completed the program. He had been involved in the murder of seven people, whom he secretly buried. However, after participating in Sycamore Tree, he wanted to help bring closure for the families of the seven victims by helping them recover the bodies of their loved ones. He called the authorities, who came to the prison. As a result of his action, the bodies were recovered for the families. This is very important in a country where many people have simply disappeared over the years.

Sycamore Tree emphasizes relationships, accountability, human rights, healing, and transformation. It gives victims a voice, lowers the rate of repeat offenses, and offers a powerful example of the application of biblical principles to social problems.

Painting by James Tissot, late 1800s. (Brooklyn Museum/Wikimedia Commons)

Tags: prison ministry, restoration, murder, colombia, forgiveness,

​From Masterminding a Murder to Christ’s Forgiveness

February 2 2016

For many decades, Colombian prisons were notorious for their violence and hopelessness. But today, by the grace of God, lives are being transformed through the love of Christ and the ministry of faithful believers in those same prisons. Colombian prisons now have become a place of forgiveness, healing, and restoration for hundreds of inmates.

Miriam is one of these. After masterminding the murder of her husband, Miriam was sentenced to prison. She says that for 20 years, her husband abused her, leaving scars all over her body, which to this day still show the evidence of his abuse. Though she sought to put an end to her troubles through his death, her guilt so consumed her that she turned herself in to the authorities.

When she arrived at the prison, she joined one of the cell block prayer groups. She had heard of God, but for the first time she began to truly understand his love. She later signed up for training in the prison Bible school, which deepened her understanding and love for God.

Now, Miriam is living for the Lord. He has done miraculous things in her life. She has received forgiveness from her children for the murder and no longer lives with the burden of guilt.

But the greatest miracle of all, she says, is that she feels completely loved by Jesus Christ.

Follow these blogs and OMS social media to hear more about how prison ministry in Colombia is changing lives...

Tags: prison ministry, colombia, restoration, forgiveness,