My dive trip was ambushed by a mission opportunist, Manado

Manado is the main city on the island of Sulawesi. In many ways, it is a surprising city within Indonesia, where there are more Christians than Muslims, more Churches than Mosques. The whole place has a large village feel, although nearly 2 million people are still located in the city. Manado is surrounded by fishing waters, numerous islands offshore, and shadowed by large volcanoes on every side. I had been invited to Manado to join the SGMLifewords training of 300+ mission workers who were being equipped with The Visible Story and numerous Bible booklets. These workers were all part of the GMIM synod, who have over 100 churches in Sulawesi.

Before my trip, I did some research into the interesting sights and local attractions around Manado that I could add to the beginning or end of my work trip. After all, this may be my only opportunity to ever be in Manado, so I wanted to see some sights. There are 3 famous things about Manado, all “B” words:

  • Bubur (a delicious local dish),
  • Bibir (meaning “lips” – they always kiss to greet in Manado), and
  • Bunaken, a dive paradise that very few tourists ever reach. As an ocean lover, this was my target.

When I arrived in Manado, it was late in the evening and I was greeted by one of the most extroverted people I had ever met. I was the only Bule (white guy) at the airport, so it was not hard for Pak Ferdinand to recognise me. Arms raised high, he calls out, “Pak Dan!” He grabs my bag without asking, and together with Pak Frans, they lead me to the car. “Nama saya Ferdinand, I’m an SGM volunteer for many years.”

Monday was my day to visit Bunaken Island. I would normally add some sight seeing at the end of a trip after we are exhausted and need time out, but this time, it was the very first thing. Pak Ferdinand had kindly offered to accompany me on the trip, taking me on a local fishing boat on the 1hr trek across to the almost-famous Island. Pak Frans instructed me to give him a “love gift” for his time, and so we made our way to the shipping port.

The Manado port reminded me that I was firmly in Indonesia. Crowded, noisy, dirty, friendly. Different smells would hit me – an open rubbish truck struggled past, durian fruit being unloaded from a small truck, and the usual scents of fish and street cooking. The waterway was filthy, filled with discarded plastics, food scraps and even building materials. But that didn’t stop children playing by the waters’ edge, or elderly chefs from cleaning utensils in the wash of boats passing. It would be a miracle if I didn’t get a tummy bug on this trip, as we just ate the local food with the locals.
As we approached our boat, I noticed Pak Ferdinand was carrying a box. “What’s in the box, Pak?

He just laughed and his big huskyvoice breaks into the laughter, saying,

“It’s a gift”.

 

I wasn’t surprised that we waited another 90 minutes after “boarding time” before we were pushing off. We were aboard an old timber transport boat with about 30 locals scattered throughout; shirtless men smoking on the roof, children up the front, and about a dozeninside. Our boat is the daily supplies carrier for the village. It transports fish, coconuts, avocado and high school students to the city each morning, and returns early afternoon with fuel, bottled water, bags of rice and even the odd motorcycle. I imagine that when the wind and waves are up, this rickety old boat would be a little scary to travel on. But there were no waves on our day.

 

We were the only guests checking in to the MC Cottages. It was A$25 for the room, which included all 3 meals in the day. Yay, I could afford that! The owners were the cooks, cleaners, maintenance and managers all-in-one.

I quickly got my snorkel gear together, put on some suncream and was ready for Pak Ferdinand to lead me to the tiny fishing boat which would take us to the edge of the reef. He can’t really swim, so he was going to watch from the boat. As he came from his room, this random box was under his arm again. What for?

“I hope its ok with you, we have slight detour before diving. Are you ok to come with me to the school?”

Pak Ferdinand was an opportunist. For him, a trip to Bunaken Island meant that he could bring scriptures across to the island and give them to school students and the village church. He had brought a few hundred scripture resources, some booklets from SGM Lifewords, and others I did not recognise. Our stop was to be an unannounced visit to the local school where he would just introduce himself and hope that they would receive him and his “gifts”.

The principal and teachers came to greet us as if we were royalty. They stopped their classes, showed us around and announced our names. I was a white foreigner rarely seen in these parts, and here I was standing in front of perfectly uniformed students and teachers in Billabong boardshorts and a singlet. I felt almost disrespectful. But they didn’t care.

Soon they called all 120 students to attention so that Pak Ferdinand could speak. He was funny, passionate and kind. Everyone was attentive, even the female Muslim teacher. And then he opened up his box and the teachers gave all students “You Matter” and “Little book of help” in their own language. They took 15 minutes to read individually, while Ferdinand sat to explain further to some students who had questions. It was a pretty special moment, watching as he shared the gospel with students on this distant, rural island. And they loved it.

After an hour, we were off again, Pak Ferdinand smiling broadly as he finished what he came to do. Now it was my turn to do what I came to do, although I felt a little ashamed that my desires weren’t nearly as noble as his!

What I saw as a site seeing dive trip was viewed by a mission-hearted man as an opportunity to share the gospel.

PS. The dive was awesome.

Dan Hardie

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Latest Interact Magazine

God speaks my language
For almost 130 years, SGM Lifewords has played a large role in making the Bible accessible to all. With over 22,000 archived resources in more than 200 languages, our new issue of Interact discusses the incredible impact this is having around the world.

To receive a posted copy of this latest Interact magazine, simply pop an email to australia@sgmlifewords.com

Note: If you normally receive Interact in the mail, it should arrive shortly. You can still read the online version linked above.

In Manchester – hope after terror

Former British Red Cross frontline response worker, Derek Alder, shares Little Book of Chaos in Manchester one week after the bombing attack that took 22 lives and left 116 people injured.

Derek Alder was among the tens of thousands of people – including our VerseFirst team – who attended Big Church Day Out (UK) at the end of May. During the festival, he came across the VerseFirst exhibition stand and the brand new Little Book of Chaos booklet, designed to help young people facing stress, anxiety and depression.

Sharing his history of emergency response with the British Red Cross, Derek explained that he had booked a trip to Manchester in light of the attack, and needed resources that would comfort people in the midst of chaos and confusion. We were happy to collaborate with Derek and gave him 100 copies of Little Book of Chaos, Little Book of Help and Little Book of Faith. The booklets remind all of us that we’re human, the struggles are real, it’s ok to not to be ok, and that God is with us through it all. Here’s a glimpse of what Monday 29th May looked like for Derek … one week on.

06:00 – Surrey to Manchester

You are the God who sees me (Genesis 16:13 NIV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

Big Church Day Out was fantastic this weekend, but with a jam-packed week before that, I’m quite exhausted now. Saying that though, I’m ready to go and meet the people of Manchester and help those who are hurting and caught up in confusion. I’m grateful for these booklets from VerseFirst because it’s an incredible way to open up conversation in such sensitive situations. Just two more hours until I arrive in Manchester!

13:00 – Mixed Emotions

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown (Isaiah 43:2 NLT) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

This morning has been a quiet one – especially for a Bank Holiday Monday. There’s been a tangible sombre presence and although it’s now picking up somewhat, you can sense the grief in the atmosphere. As I chat to a few people who are walking through the city centre – most in their early to late twenties – they tell me that “the past week has been full of mixed emotions”. A particular group of young guys take interest in Little Book of Chaos and express their thoughts. “It’s pretty sad that it takes something so awful to have a lot of us come together like this,” says 24-year-old Michael. “But I’m glad that we do come together. Even though I don’t know what’s in this book, I’ve got hope that somehow it’ll ease my mind. No idea how but it’s needed.”

17:00 – Stronger Together

I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken (Lamentations 2:11 NLT) – Bible verse included in Little Book of ChaosAfter speaking with people from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences in life, it was truly touching to know that differences didn’t matter. I spoke to them about real life situations mentioned in Little Book of Help such as money, friendship and work, and we all agreed that anyone can go through times of trouble. What matters is how we respond. They were very eager on taking copies for themselves and were shocked they were free.  I also met with churches and organisations this afternoon and the recurring anthem has been “do not let this turn to hate, do not turn against each other – together we are stronger.”

22:30 – Night Vigil

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed (Psalm 34:18 NCV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

I’m gathered with hundreds of other people in St. Ann’s Square to pay tribute to the victims in Manchester one week on from the attack. I take the opportunity to approach people using the VerseFirst resources that I have left, and speak with them to hear what’s been on their mind over the last seven days. To my surprise, I start seeing smiles. Some tell me they don’t believe in God but were interested in Little Book of Chaos so took some copies. One man in particular shook my hand, thanked me for caring about them and said, “It’s touching to meet someone who has such a deep concern for people to travel 200 miles up here and share a reassuring message with hurting people through these beautiful booklets.” He wasn’t a Christian but I think a seed was planted that night.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5 NIV) – Bible verse included in Little Book of Chaos

(Note: The new Little Book of Chaos is not yet available locally, and will have a full book launch and events in Australia-New Zealand during Mental Health Week in October 2017)

The Bible in a new heart-language: Youth

For the almost 20,000 young people reading VerseFirst each day in their social media feed, experiencing the Bible in their “heart language” is about more than the literal language in which they read. In a post-literate culture, images, words and cultural form combine to communicate truth and meaning for this new generation.

A recent addition to the online social media presence is the ability for young people to deepen their experience of the Bible through our new VerseFirst blog content. Young people are encouraged to “read on” from the single verses that they are seeing in art-form, to either read more of the surround chapter and verse, or to engage with the blog thoughts. The level of interaction around Bible-text is through the roof, with hundreds of young people commenting, liking and sharing scriptures each day. That is so much higher than the level of engagement we get with Bible booklets! And it is the way of the future – speaking their language.

We are excited about what comes next, as we think about how we continue to offer people ways in to the life-transforming words of the Bible, and it’s message of love and salvation through Jesus. Whether in print, via “live programmes” or through these digital resources, our passion is that everyone, everywhere should have the chance to read, hear and experience the life words of the Bible.

Free for Everyone, Everywhere

Many of you would have noticed some significant changes to our website and the removal of all “suggested donation” amounts for booklets. Notably, everything has become $0. Yes, ZERO DOLLARS for all of our quality booklets, resources and programs.

Why give them free? 

Our products are quality. That’s why people want them. All around the world, hundreds-of-thousands of our Bibles and Bible resources are freely given in the name of Jesus. The SGM Lifewords Bible mission has been actively giving scriptures for 128 years. In places like Indonesia, we have church planters, missionaries, street workers and chaplains who have no funding for Bibles, and yet we believe the scriptures bring life change and transformation as people encounter Jesus. They need Bible resources, and we feel called to make that possible.

However, in Australia and other western countries, most people ordering resources CAN afford them, and many ask “how much do these cost?” We used to put an amount of around $1 per booklet. It was a bit silly of us, because we ended up in a position where people were paying for their own booklets, but then we struggled to raise money for those who can’t afford it (which is three-quarters of our work!). When we would make an appeal to give for Bibles, most Aussies would respond with, “But I already bought mine. Why are you asking for money from me?”

In this scenario, only people who can afford their own bibles will get them. Retailing bibles isn’t our mission.

So… We have decided that EVERYONE gets Bible resources free. We feel called to utter generosity.

We want to win your heart, for you to love the Faith Mission that gives Scriptures for free to everyone! We want to show those in need that those of us who have much will actually provide – not just for our own ordering needs, but for many who can’t receive it! We want you to love our entire Bible mission. So, rather than suggest a payment like any other retailer, we offer you great resources. Then once a year, we’ll ask if anyone would like to give so our entire mission can be achieved.

If we simply suggest people pay for their own Bible resources, then many will miss out.

Free works when generosity is circulated

How you can contribute: 

Later this year, we will be doing a full blown Appeal, asking you to give so that Bible resources can continue to be distributed both here and abroad. If you have benefited from our generosity, you will hopefully recognise the importance of the mission, not just for yourself but the for the thousands who can never afford it. In Australia, we can give. We can get our churches to give. We can make it our mission to provide Bible resources to many who would never get it. And we will benefit from receiving these ourselves.

We hope you join in.

Blessings,

Dan Hardie

 

Ends of the Earth – Appeal

The “Ends of the Earth” Appeal is aiming to raise enough funds to provide 24,000 scriptures to remote villages of Indonesia. Local Pastors, mission workers and Bible College students on field mission work are requesting Bible booklets in the native languages, so we We keep getting requests in Indonesia for scriptures in local languages, relevant portions, attractive and powerful.

“Many of our partners are in mission outposts at the ends of the earth. They tell me that they just don’t have portions of God’s word to give to the people they meet and minister to. My conviction is: If God’s word contains good news for all people, then we must provide for them.” Ps Gunar Sahari

Please give generously so that we can provide titles like, “The Way to Life”, “Who Cares about Me?” and “Power to Save”. If we raise $12,000 together, no one will miss out.

You can give online here or request a gift pack to vera.kuswara@sgmlifewords.com

The least of these: serving on the streets

  • Gunar & Lifewords team take the first October weekend to share God’s word with hundreds
  • Bible College Students continue their weekly field ministry training among Indonesia’s most poor & needy
  • Pavement Project gets used among dozens of street children

We reported last year about the dozens of students from the Pelita Dunia Bible College who go weekly to meet physical, spiritual and emotional needs.

These students continue to serve the street poor, children at risk, and those who lack the bare essentials. At Christmas, our “Aussie Mums 4 Indo Kids” campaign allowed these teams to give 1200 Christmas gifts and meals in these locations, and this weekend they will continue to love and serve “the least of these”.

Pak Gunar Sahari (Indonesian Director for SGM Lifewords) said,

“This is all part of what it is to be a Christian presence. The people know we are here to help, to love and bless. They receive our food parcels or noodles or rice, and they are open to hearing about Jesus who is central to our faith and lives. I am very proud of our students, and look forward to seeing many people come to faith through this.”

There are currently 18 Indonesian missionary students being sponsored through our SGM Lifewords sponsorship program. Each week they hit the streets, slums or villages in an effort to meet needs and bring God’s love. These students are just some of those who will be blessed with resources from our “Ends of the Earth” Appeal, as we raise $12,000 for 24,000 Bible booklets to be shared in rural locations of Indonesia. Without your support, they could not share God’s love in this way, so thankyou for partnering with them in spreading God’s love and word.

(Take a quick look at the photo slideshow for an overview of this amazing ministry…)

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PRAYER POINTS:

This long weekend, please join in praying:

  • Gunar and students who are doing amazing ministry on the streets of Tangerang and Jakarta. Pray for their safety, for fruitful ministry and for the message of love and grace to be well received.
  • Please pray that we will receive the $12,000 so that we can continue to supply bible resources to those who most need it. So far, we have nearly $2000, so there’s a long way to go!

I (Dan Hardie) would like to finish this update with a huge THANKYOU to those who have contributed to the “Ends of the Earth” appeal AND those who continue in the student sponsorship program. Through this, students are equipped with Bible Resources, helped with their college fees, and contribution to their livelihood. God bless and please keep praying for them!

Taking it to the “Ends of the Earth”

Our mission is to bring life words to the world.
Words of peace.dscf3409
Words of hope.
Words of life. Both here and abroad, people are coming to know the peace & love of God by simply encountering his word. We keep getting requests in Indonesia for scriptures in local languages, relevant portions, attractive and powerful.

“Many of our partners are in mission outposts at the ends of the earth. They tell me that they just don’t have portions of God’s word to give to the people they meet and minister to. My conviction is: If God’s word contains good news for all people, then we must provide for them.” Ps Gunar Sahari

Can we provide for them?

Well God has been working through SGM Lifewords for 128 years to meet these needs. Together, we can actually be an answer to someone else’s prayers! So…

How many? 24,000.
Where? Towns & Villages far from major cities. Literally, the “Ends of the Earth”.
What? Life words booklets + The Visible Story

If you love God’s word, then you’ll know why we feel passionate about serving them. Here’s where the scriptures are needed immediately:

indo-map_crop-from-main-doc

 

Through our “Ends of the Earth” appeal, we will raise $12,000 for 24,000 booklets over the next 12 weeks. Would you join us in providing scripture to Pastors and Mission workers of Indonesia?

You can contribute to the “Ends of the Earth” appeal today!

The worst place to be a child

Miguel lives in one of the most dangerous locations on earth. His life is at risk daily, and the most likely outcome is that he will join a gang for protection and belonging. He is 13 years old and, like many children on the streets of Latin American cities, he is addicted to alcohol. If it isn’t alcohol, it is drugs, sexual addiction, binge violence or a combination of each – anything to offer a temporary escape.

Miguel is known to SGM Lifewords through our Pavement Project. Sitting with a street counsellor he is hard and tense at first, but after going through the process and realising that there is genuine care and attention, he starts to cry as he shares his story. One can’t help but wonder: How did he end up on the streets? Who cares for him? What future is there? Can he find love, hope and redemption?

A DREAM BECOMES REALITY

When Brazilian missionary Viviane Pinheiro first heard about Pavement Project at a conference in May 2015, she knew it had the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of Guatemalan children-at-risk. On the overcrowded streets of Guatemala City, Viviane and her husband Rodrigo, minister to children living in poverty. They provide food and childcare for hundreds of families in a country where malnutrition affects 4 in 10 children (eight in ten among indigenous families). Guatemala is still reeling from a brutal civil war that lasted over 30 years, and poverty, social violence, drug trafficking and environmental disasters make life for its 15.5 million residents extremely tough. Gangs rule the streets in many areas and children are caught up in the violence. It has been described as the worst place in the world to be a child – physical and sexual child abuse rates are staggeringly high, children are murdered every day, and impunity is a grave issue.

Guatemala has been described as the worst place in the world to be a child

Viviane’s dream to bring Pavement Project to Guatemala became reality a few months after the conference when Carmen Andrade arrived to train the country’s first three PP workers. Alongside Viviane were Pastor Jaime Perez and Nora Mendoza. Together the group spent three days learning how to use the Bible-based counselling tool to bring God’s hope and healing to the children they work with.

BRINGING GOD’S LOVE TO VIOLENT COMMUNITIES

Pastor Jaime works in public schools in the capital’s slum communities. Guatemala City has the second highest homicide rate in the world, and most of the students he ministers to are involved in violent crime and drugs. In these rough areas gang members are heroes in the eyes of children, and the average time spent in school is only three years. Pastor Jaime uses the Pavement Project to share God’s love with 1,200 young people who have grown up around violence and aggression; to show them that God has a better plan for their future. Nora Mendonza works with children-at-risk in a rehabilitation centre. The vast majority are addicted to alcohol which they often use to numb their painful memories, hunger and the cold. Nora herself has suffered the effects of addiction. Her husband was an alcoholic for over 20 years and used to physically and verbally abuse her . He came to faith a few years ago and is in recovery – he and Nora are now dedicated to supporting addicts and are using Pavement Project to counsel the children and their families.

We need to show them that God has a better plan for their future

Miguel is just one of the children Nora has already been able to minister to, through the Pavement Project counselling process.  After being counselled he said: “I feel safe in Jesus’ hands. He will give me strength like a lion to overcome my addiction.” For Viviane, Pastor Jaime, and Nora, Pavement Project is an answer to years of prayer for children-at-risk in Guatemala. As young hearts cry out for hope across the country, we pray that the Bible’s life words will bring healing to children living in the worst situations imaginable.

PRAYER POINTS:

  • Pray for Viviane, Jaime and Nora as they use Pavement Project’s green bag to bring God’s words of healing, restoration and forgiveness to children at risk in Guatemala.
  • Pray for their safety, protection and courage. Pray also that they would be fruitful in their ministry, and see many children experience life change
  • Thank God for work that is happening in Miguel. Pray that it would continue and that he would have the strength to carry on

You can donate toward Pavement Project here or join our monthly support team.

GRAND OPENING – Training Centre in Indonesia

12 months ago, we imagined a Training Centre in Indonesia, where missionaries, pastors, students and farmers could be trained and equipped with God’s word. Last week, we saw the Grand Opening of our Tangerang office and training centre – and it was amazing!!

Within a seminar room that could seat 50 people, we finished with over 120 people squashed into this new training venue (and in fact, right up the stairwell!). The congregation enjoyed enthusiastic worship, prayer, official words, reflections, and fresh vision from our Indonesian team. It was great to have the Board members, ministry partners, students and volunteers join us with laughter and joy. It was evident that the celebration was not about a building, but was about the people who would receive words of life, both for themselves and to share with others. Many people hung around for hours, looking through our booklet range, watching our SGM films, and asking to join a TVS training or even Pavement Project.

Training CentrePak Gunar Sahari said,

“We have been training people with The Visible Story, Pavement Project and Mobile Mission events for many years now. We have borrowed rooms at Bible Colleges, used Church Halls and met in homes. That is sure to continue, but it is such a blessing to be able to offer some accomodation and an established training venue for those who come from afar to spend 3-7 days with us in prayer and Bible training. I can see that this will be a great blessing for many.”

Supporters from the UK and Australia have given generously to establish this training centre, and we’re excited to partner together in expanding the work of SGM Lifewords in Indonesia.

Praise God!