There is a place, where amidst the thousands of tombs and graves … men, women, and children call one cemetery “home”. These individuals are seen by society as the discards from broken families, victims of abuse and sexual exploitation, the disabled, the sick, widowed, and impoverished. With no hope and limited options, they turn to what they see as their only choice – the cemetery. There many work as prostitutes, selling themselves for as little as 75 cents. Trying to survive. Outcast from the world around them.
In 2013, Pastor Mike Mercer and his team at Compassion First began visiting, befriending, and loving these cemetery residents. In partnership with the Foursquare Foundation in January 2014, Pastor Mike hosted Christmas celebrations to share the love of Christ, serve food to, and worship alongside the prostitutes and orphans of the cemetery. Pastor Mike and his team were able to celebrate the gift of Christ, the Light of the World with 430 men, women, and children from area slums and brothels. To date, 150 decisions for Christ have been made and 35 people are being discipled!
Evangelistic Prayer Focus: Please pray for continued wisdom and courage to step forward as God leads in establishing HIS presence and further outreach to the prostitutes, transgendered population, and orphans in this cemetery. As well, please pray for those who have entered and will enter into a new relationship with Christ.
“You have turned my mourning into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11
Craig Oviatt, Director of the Salem Dream Center, shares a story of Agustin and the transformation that has occurred in his life. God has used the love and embrace of the Salem Dream Center team to reach out to Agustin and his family in such a way that the trajectory of his life is now moving into the plans and purposes God intended. Once associated with gang activity, violence, and a broken family, Agustin is now walking with a newfound heart for God and purpose for his life!
WATCH THE VIDEO of this incredibly moving story about Agustin and how God turned his sadness into joy!
To find out more about the Salem Dream Center, check out their website at www.salemdreamcenter.org
Please continue to pray that God would extend their reach into the community as they seek those in desperate need of food, shelter and the love of Christ.
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I…was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:34-36)
Responding to Jesus’ call to reach the “least of these,” Roy Yamamoto and Tim Kepler traveled to the middle of the desert with a team of 50 plus ministers to share the good news of Jesus at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. In the midst of 1,600 inmates, a variety of stories, songs, comedy and testimonies flowed forth, highlighted by a grace-filled message of Christ’s hope. Each received a gift bag containing treats from home, life journal and variety of comfort items. .
Teams ministered four days in succession, sharing Christ’s presence through words and hugs to the general population, maximum security and faith-pod inmates. 427 inmates responded through a move of the Holy Spirit and made decisions to commit their lives to Christ.
We celebrate what God has done, and the lives that will be changed as many of these men will be discipled and trained for ministry, both while in prison and when they return home.
Visit Camp Agape’s website for more information on their ministry to children and families of inmates.
Pray with us for Camp Agape’s ministry as they continue to reach out to the children of these inmates. Ask the Lord to open doors for this ministry to help support the families that are dealing with husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and cousins in prison.
Panama: Project leader Dania Reyes, zone pastor, evangelist, and founding pastor of La Verbena Foursquare Church is leading God’s people courageously to win the surrounding communities of Colon, Panama for Christ. For the past three years, La Verbena Foursquare church has touched their community through social outreaches and outdoor crusades. Last year, they saw 900 disciples come forth as a result. This year, with the partnership of a Foursquare Foundation grant, Pastor Dania and her team are expecting double the spiritual fruit, and to expand their annual evangelism efforts by hosting a nine-day crusade, with outreaches for both children and adults, with food basket giveaways and a live stage program that will present the Gospel of salvation. The project, appropriately titled “The Harvest,” is also launching a new church plant in Colon. Pastor Dania affirms that this project has become a permanent part of their church’s vision to reach the province of Colon year round. Already, within the first three months of the project calendar, the church saw an increase in new disciples and church members.
Pastor Dania shared, that during one of the street outreaches, a woman named Elizabeth reconciled her life with the Lord after having stepped away for many years. As a result, she invited her husband to church, who then invited his cousin and her family, resulting in an entire string of family and relatives reconciling with the Lord and returning to Christ. Because one believed first (again), salvation came to the lives of many. God is reaching the province of Colon in Panama through the courageous vision of one leader and her team who dare to believe that salvation is for all who are near and far.
Please join us in prayer as plans are underway for the team to host the largest community outreach the city of La Verbena has ever seen during Holy Week 2014. The church of Christ is standing in prayer believing that the day of salvation is now and that many will hear the message of hope and respond urgently to the call of our Savior.
Sierra Leone: From planting churches among a disabled population living in the urban slums of Freetown, to ministering to Liberian refugees in a camp outside of the capital city, to economically empowering young people by teaching them marketplace skills, to rescuing street boys who serve as slave labor, to comforting individuals who have been traumatized by years of war and strife, Foursquare National Leader Peter Kargbo and the saints in “Salone” (as it is affectionately known) have been busy with the Lord’s business.
The following is a short vignette, written by Senior Pastor Ed Sweet of Valley Christian Center in Albany, Oregon. Rev. Sweet has been mentoring Rev. Kargbo and equipping the saints in Sierra Leone, along with other mission-minded leaders, via a Foursquare Foundation grant partnership called “Salone Church Development.”
“Is this the road to Kailahun?” “Please tell us. Is this the road to Kailahun?” We asked the question over and over of individuals who were walking along the road, of women in front of their homes working over cooking fires, and of groups gathered at intersections. “Yes,” they told us again and again, and pointed us on down the road. The road was often little more than a dirt path cut out of the jungle, with dense overgrowth on both sides and deep ruts down the middle – the result of recent heavy rain.
All four of us were “missionaries” that day on the road to Kailahun: Pastor Peter Kargbo (our Sierra Leone National Foursquare Leader), Henry and Dominic (local pastors and church planters), and myself (the “Opoto,” or white man, from America). We were on the way to this rural community near the eastern edge of Sierra Leone to help with a church plant. Pastor James had been trained, sent, and had already begun a Bible Study in his small home.
We spent our time in Kailahun meeting with local officials, putting on a crusade, coaching and encouraging Pastor James, and going over foundational materials with new believers. About a hundred decisions for Christ were made that week, and a new church was planted. That was in February. In October, Pastor James joined eighty other pastors and leaders from around the country for further training and encouragement. Meeting in Freetown at the headquarters church, we provided instruction and resources for pastors like James during our Foursquare National Convention.
Starting new churches, raising up new leaders, and equipping pastors for more effective ministry – that’s what mission looks like in Sierra Leone.
Whether the land is rich or poor … Be of good courage … Numbers 13
Los Angeles: Imagine what would happen if a Bible Club launched on every school campus in your local school district? What if neighboring churches partnered together and adopted each school, commissioning their youth pastors onto campuses of elementary, Junior High and High School? Weekly ministry and discipleship during lunch hours and after school? Some thought the idea somewhat far-fetched and unattainable. Yet Pastor Jarrod Davidoff and his wife Lucinda knew they heard God’s voice. Faithfully, they followed God’s lead and moved from their quiet home in South Africa (along with baby Cody,) to the bustling area of Los Angeles, focused on God’s Heart and the unfolding of His audacious plan. (“Some said, “Giants are in the land….”)
Fast forward to today: Since that time, not only have doors opened and divine connections and relationships emerged, school advisors and Bible clubs are opening their doors – dozens since 2011. And with the help of a Foursquare Foundation Evangelism Grant this last year, inspiring music and pizza events are gathering students into gymnasiums, campus courtyards, and classrooms, in partnership with Bible clubs, churches, and willing parents. “Pastor Jarrod and his team really know how to rally students together, ‘ said one parent, ‘Not only do they minister a compelling Gospel message, they inspire students to tap into a lasting relationship with Jesus.”
Since September’s grant funded project began, over 18 outreaches have been held in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. And the best part of all – 678 youth said yes to a relationship with Jesus! With free resources, social media, texting, Twitter ‘n such, sustaining discipleship (built into the program) by Bible clubs and churches, is creating quite a buzz on campuses
How can Foursquare Churches get involved? With 50 more Los Angeles contacts on Jarrod’s list, (13 in Orange County,) and dozens confirmed, the team is quite enthusiasitc about what God has in store.
Pastor Jarrod Davidoff senses God has called him in particular to invite and equip all interested Foursquare Churches to participate in this life-changing move of God.
To find out more, visit their website at: www.savetheworldfoundation.com/home
The youth in Gilroy, California are learning a journey in God can be fun and fulfilling, thanks to the anointed efforts of the youth department at The Foothills Foursquare Church. Children’s Director, Rachel Ratliff and her faithful team ministered to around 330 children during a fun and inspiring “Wizard of Oz” themed VBS, where children discovered the love of God as they considered the journey of each Oz character. The week culminated into a most memorable journey of all, meeting Jesus as Savior. As a result, 96 children accepted Jesus for the first time, and each child took home their very own Bible. The next day, all returned to learn about the Holy Spirit.
The older youth were also impacted during a fun and life changing camp this last summer. Here is a story Rachel shares about one of the youth (“D”) that attended camp:
“D” is a Sophomore in High School and started coming to our youth group about a year ago. “D” was born in a prison, and lived in Foster Care until age 4 when her Grandparents adopted her. She struggled with wanting to know her parents - would see her mom from time to time – - Addicted to drugs, and really wanted to know her mom. Then, she found her dad when she was in Jr. High. At this time, she had made the wrong kind of friends, and had tried alcohol and several kinds of drugs. This young girl desperately wanted a relationship with her dad, and was willing to do anything to connect with him. When she was 12 years old, she began buying drugs from her father in hopes that he would love her and be a father to her. She said, “It was the only way I could think of to stay close to him.”
Join us in praying for all the youth and children’s ministries at The Foothills Foursquare Church; that God’s tangible presence would continue the deep work begun in the lives of each child and youth that committed their lives to Him.
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
CAMBODIA – As God’s people, redeemed by the power of Christ’s saving act on Calvary, we know that the hearing of the Gospel is efficacious and can be life-transforming. We know that simply introducing a person to Christ can be the beginning of altering the destiny of their soul and life. In a nutshell, that is the very essence of evangelism. Pastor and Missionary Ted Olbrich and Foursquare Cambodia’s General Supervisor Som Adt have been faithfully sharing the love of Christ in a contextual and creative way.
As many rural farmers and pastors have limited education and access to resources, many times the written Word of God can be difficult to distribute and communicate in villages and townships that are a challenge to access. As such, Ted Olbrich and Som Adt in partnership with the Foursquare Foundation, are providing solar-powered “Proclaimers” – easy to operate, portable audio players that allow groups of up to 20 people play and hear the Bible, verse by verse, in the common language, Khmer.
Through the simple hearing of the Gospel using Proclaimers, unwavering faith of Pastor Ted and Pastor Som Adt, and the loving Body of local believers, the message of Christ continues to spread in Cambodia. Local believers are witnessing healings and demons being cast out. People are turning from charms and superstitions to follow the One who gives Life and brings Wholeness.
Please pray that Christ will continue to be the primary source of comfort and strength for Pastor Ted Olbrich, Pastor Som Adt, and local believers. Pray too, that more laborers and partners will come forth to support this work; that God’s Spirit would continue to move increasingly for the evangelization of Cambodia.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15
The Foursquare Church in Comayagua, Honduras is witnessing God’s promises fulfilled as newly commissioned teams reach out into rural communities with the Gospel of salvation, and enfold new believers into discipleship home groups. This regional church planting initiative, led by pastor Gilberto Mejia, is training and equipping teams from 20 regional churches. The team reported 47 new believers visited churches after follow-up, many came as far as 60km away. Three new families opened their homes to host Bible studies, and a month later, three new locations have been identified as potential church planting sites, where currently more than 180 people gather weekly to hear God’s Word and be strengthen in the fellowship of the saints.
With the help of a Foursquare Foundation grant, outreaches are also increasing from quarterly to bi-monthly, more teams are being formed, and additional resources are being distributed for immediate use.
To date, Foursquare Comayagua has planted more than 200 cell groups for discipleship, and reported 8,300 decisions for Christ, praise God! 3,715 are currently being discipled at local Foursquare churches throughout Honduras.
Join us in praying for the National Foursquare leadership in Honduras, that God would continue to bless each team with his tangible presence, and further help identify additional church planting communities for the expansion of the Gospel and lasting discipleship of the new believers.
Oregon: The Salem Dream Center in Oregon has been reaching out to their community with the love and Good News of Jesus Christ under the direction of Project Leader, Craig Oviatt. Through a partnership between the Foursquare Foundation and West Salem Foursquare Church, The Dream Center has seen over 230 individuals make a decision to give their lives to Christ this year!
In addition to helping families transition out of poverty, illiteracy and language barriers, The Dream Center continues its work through several extension ministries. One in particular, Love Reins Ranch, is uniquely sharing the Gospel at a horse ranch where families bring children with disabilities for therapy. Not only are they seeing amazing results in the physical responses of children, the hearts of the parents are being changed towards God and the church. The Director of Love Reins, Katie, shares, “While the children who come to Love Reins Ranch usually are excited to jump right in, the parents, foster parents, and guardians are generally cautious. Not only are we using big horses around their children, but many have had bad experiences with churches (feeling their children have not been accepted).”
Prayer Request: Please pray that the Salem Dream Center has the resources to reach out to individuals in their community as the winter months close in. Ask the Lord for additional favor and other ministry partnerships that will enable them to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ!