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That all may hear

A few years ago I was in a car crossing a long bridge over the Son River in Bihar, India, west Patna, the state’s capital. The Son River is the largest of the Ganges’ southern tributaries and there was plenty of time to watch what was going on below.

I saw these people on a sand bar and couldn’t help but wonder why one was outside the group.

Why was the group leaving him behind as they headed to the bank?

Our prayer at T4 Global is that people aren’t left out of the Kingdom because they never heard God’s Big Story in a way that they could understand — in their own language.

Thank you for standing with us in that prayer this day.

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What happens when we admit Failure?

I have always been captivated by the fact that Jesus’ first instruction to his audience when preaching the gospel was “Repent!” (Mark 1:15).  “Repent” is not a word often used in common contemporary English. Worse still, I’m afraid it’s not a word we use enough in the contemporary church either.  From the beginning, turn from our failures and missteps has characterized the life of those who have seen God as deliverer and savior. Repentance is the work of God that prepares us for His gospel in and through us.

How could this apply to churches and missions organizations?  What would happen if our work was colored with a spirit of acknowledging failure in order to turn from it?  I believe we could see God work in great ways through openly admitting our weaknesses.  With brokenness admitted and out in the open, God can use the pieces to build up a new work only his hands could build. When we admit failure, God may be readying us for a new commitment to success.

A friend of mine from the mission community recently sent me this video on admitting failure.

Watch it, and ask yourself, “What could happen if I admitted failure?”


Posted in Evaluation, Listening Groups, Mark Overstreet, Oral Learning, Orality, Partnerships | Leave a comment

We are at War. Pray for us.

Stonings, burning of buildings, and escalating violence in the capital city have marked the new strife between the two countries embattled.

My brothers are at war.  They live in a country at war.  I want to hear their voices. I want to hear if their families are safe.  I want to hear the truth.  Since the leader declared war yesterday, rumors of aggressive religious and civil rights violations have been reported.

The phone rang.  Finally, an answer.  As I spoke with the brothers, they asked for prayer.  They are at war–not with another country but against powers far greater than any geopolitical force.

As Christians, we need to be reminded often that our war is not against flesh and blood, and today is just such a day.

How can you pray for the brothers there? I am attaching a list of their requests from my conversations this week:

  1. Pray that Jesus would be seen as King, as the Way, as the Truth.  Only He can bring Peace.
  2. Pray for protection of God’s churches not to be seen as southern, but as the body of Christ.
  3. Pray for God to comfort the pastors not to be frustrated or fleshly, but to be strong in His mighty power of the gospel.
  4. Pray for the Salvation of majority youth in the both states mobilized for war. When we see them, pray they would see Christ.
  5. May this situation cause people to seek God and draw them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Pray for southern ministers of the gospel serving in the north to seek God’s direction for wise decisions. Many are confused, not knowing what to do and what will happen if the tension continues. The people of the north are a large unengaged unreached people group and they need the light of the gospel.

We are at war. Pray for them.  Pray for us. Pray that when people see us, they would see Christ.

**country and pastors’ names deleted for security**


Posted in Initiatives, Mark Overstreet, Oral Learning, Orality | Leave a comment

All the world Upside Down: A Maundy Thursday Reflection

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14)

When one serves a King, one must follow the rule of that King.  When one follows Jesus, one gets an added bonus: in the incarnation, Jesus rules as King and provides examples to all of His followers of what it looks like to serve one another.

On this Maundy Thursday, consider the value of Jesus’ words a few verses later (v 17), “Blessed are you if you do them.”

Read that verse again carefully, “Blessed are you if you do them.”

It’s not the knowing that matters to God, but the doing that gets the blessing.

Jesus, knowing He would suffer a criminal’s death in a few hours, stoops to serve the disciples by providing to them an example of serving others.  The King performs the task of the slave. Then, He guarantees it with a promise–you will be blessed.

He has created a world where the servants will serve until they’re kings, where the poor serve until they inherit the kingdom, where those who mourn will be comforted, where the meek inherit all the earth, where peacemakers will be called sons of God, and where those persecuted for God will inherit His kingdom in heaven.

Tonight is the night that all of creation turns upside down: the meek become kings and the King becomes a servant.

All creation rises up against the Creator, and the Creator bows low and gives His life so creation can live again.

Thursday is for serving.  Thursday is the new command.  Thursday is our example. He washes dirty feet, feeds the hungry, quenches the thirst of the thirsty, and watches his closest friends desert Him.

All that, and its just Thursday.

Posted in Mark Overstreet, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Blowing kisses…touching Heaven

Every Child we encounter could be a divine appointment and we should never underestimate the power of that moment. I would soon find this out last week when I walked into the restaurant that we had grown to frequent on our trips to India.

I had no sooner sat down than a young Indian father approached me with his 4-year-old daughter. He had a camera in his hand and was very insistent about making sure I noticed her.

Realizing how important it was to this father, I sat her on my lap. He took several pictures and then went back to sit down. Over the next few minutes, this little girl danced past my table smiling and waving at me. Then, as they were leaving to go, the little girl turned around and blew a kiss my way. I quickly blew one back as she giggled and ran to her father.

As the father was leaving, the manager of the restaurant starting arguing with him. I sensed that he was unhappy that this man was bothering his special customers. I felt sorry for the father who had only wanted to expose his daughter to someone he felt was important for her to meet. At the same time I felt uncomfortable and unworthy of this father’s view of me.

At that moment I realized that God was speaking to me through a divine appointment — Was I the only Jesus that this little girl would see? How I accepted or rejected her would make a great impact on not only her, but also her father. This day would be recorded in time by the picture that he would show her over her lifetime.

This little girl would grow up to be a woman. Where would Jesus be in her life? Could it be possible that she would hear about Him in her own mother-tongue language through the AudiBibles that our content developers had just finished recording? Was God preparing the way for her to know him? I felt humbled and grateful that He might use me in such a moment. I had just seen a glimpse of Heaven.

In Matthew, the words of Jesus reminds us to “let the little children come to me, for such is the kingdom of Heaven.”


Posted in India, Orality, Susie Brown | 1 Comment

To go or not to go

A man stands amongst the charred remains of a church in the Gwom district of the central Nigerian city of Jos

The news feeds I read from Nigeria everyday have been filled with conflict. Our Christian brothers and sisters in the northern and middle belt areas of Nigeria have endured attacks by suicide bombers on churches, drive by shootings, churches burned and warnings to leave. Sadly, retaliation killings by “Christian” youth have also occurred.

I have been to Nigeria more than any other country in my travels. I understand that the violence there is much more complex than the Muslims vs Christians that the news media seems to portray. There are issues of tribal control of land and grazing rights, voting rights and which people groups are indigenous. There is poverty and unemployment. There is distrust of the government, police and military. And there are the terrorists who want to make Nigeria an Islamic state under Sharia law.

As I am about to embark on another trip to Nigeria to work with T4 Global orality projects we are facilitating in 8 different languages there. I have asked the question, “How do you decide when you need to step out in faith into areas our State Department has warned about or when the danger is a sign you should delay a trip?”

Have you read the story of Gideon in Judges 6 and 7 recently? It is quite a story: Sin. Conflict. Terrorized by the Midianites. Hiding in caves. Poverty. Starvation. A cry to God for help. God’s prophet says, “I told you so.”

An angel. Gideon threshing wheat in a winepress to hide from the Midianites. God’s assignment for Gideon to deliver Israel. Gideon asks for a sign and gets at least 4: An offering of meat and bread consumed by fire from the rock. Wet fleece, dry ground. Dry fleece, wet ground. A Midianite soldier nightmare.

God reduced an Israelite army of 32,000 to 300. Gideon and his few men took on an army of tens of thousands. Audacious faith against overwhelming odds in the middle of conflict. There was no question the battle was won by God’s power and not the Israelites’ own strength.

It would be nice to have a sign before I go back to Nigeria. Our Kambari teams report there were 3 new churches that were planted in the last month from new converts listening to our audio content. Two other language projects reaching into the Muslim north are being received enthusiastically. Maybe those are sign enough.

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Discipleship means showing up

Monday mornings generally mark the start of a new work week, and for me, that means a very early morning at the gym.  We meet, we pray, and we hit it hard.  Our small group builds accountability, discipline, and strength.  We set goals to increase a healthy dose of spiritual, emotional, and physical strength, and in order to enjoy it all, only one thing counts–I have to show up.

When we work around the world, one of the greatest needs expressed by our local partners is access to the Word of God.  Since we work with people groups who have no Scripture printed in their local language, where would they access the Word, and how would they discuss the Word of God without a copy in print?

We work in the local culture, with local voices to share the Word of God in a way the local community can understand.  We pass it through small listening groups with local relations, among trusted leaders who have a sound public reputation, and we seek to work with partners who want concrete, measurable changes in their lives and in their communities through the Word of God.

In the picture above, you see a brother who smiles as he looks at the mp3 player loaded with the gospel, spreading Truth into communities who have no access to the Word of God.  As a leader in his village, he is thrilled to be a part of a T4 Global program that gives him access to the tools he needs to grow as a pastor and church planter.  In the background, you see the band of children, who played around us and listened to us as we worked under the tree. The kids had never heard the things of which we spoke.  Our small group represents those who now have access to the Word, and beyond them remain the billions who have no access–spoken or written–to the Word of God.  They have no place to show up, no place to listen, no place to hear where Hope and Peace is found.

As local T4 Global listening groups meet around the world with one another, they seek to build accountability, discipline, and strength through newfound access to the Word of God.

Would you pray for them to hear and understand the Word in a way that they find spiritual, emotional, and physical strength to do the work of the Lord?

And finally, pray for T4 Global as we seek to raise up more who can take this Word to those who have never heard, to those who have no access to the Word of God, and to those who want to “show up”, but have no place to go.


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Beautiful Feet and the Good News of those who Go

When I think of feet, lots of interesting thoughts enter my mind.  Of all the images that race through my head, none of them would be characterized as “beautiful.”  When Paul reflected upon the missionary call, he called the messenger’s feet “beautiful” (Romans 10:14-15).  Jesus’ followers were willing to leave the comforts of home in order to carry the gospel to the unreached world, and Paul reached back to Isaiah’s poetry (Isaiah 52).  The prophet likens the gospel message to the life saving, soul delivering carriage of goods through the wilderness to those who live in isolation.

On a recent trip, I worked with pastors who work among a tribe isolated from all news, both eternal and temporal.  They know neither the truth about HIV/AIDS nor the Truth about Jesus.  Beyond that, the pastors have no access to training tools that could help them grow.  On this trip, we loaded stories in their local language from the Scriptures about creation, the fall, man, sin, and redemption.

These shepherds prayed for God to give them the Word of God in their mother tongue.  Today, they have songs, dramas, and proverbs from the Word that help them grow as leaders and as men of God.  In the coming months, they will share the gospel and humanitarian content with listeners who have never heard the Truth about God or the truth about the cause of Malaria, malnutrition, and other life ending, preventable dangers.

Pray for these leaders to have safe travel as they move through the mountains, as they go to their tribes and share the Story that sets people free, in this life and the life to come.

Pray for the gospel to go in power.  Pray for those who give sacrificially to preparing laborers for the Lord’s fields.  Pray for more beautiful feet.

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15).

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The Whole Counsel of God, Part II

A few months ago, I heard about Music Inspired by The Story.  I immediately bought it via iTunes, accidentally saw The Story Tour while in Grand Rapids in December (I should say unexpectedly), bought DVDs for my entire team here at T4 Global and have listened to the Music almost every day since.

I’ve been touched by Nichole Nordeman’s ability to capture the moment in lyrics and the music is powerful.

Obviously, this is part of what we do everyday around the world and so it strikes a chord (so to speak) in me. Story, Song, Drama, Poetry, Village Proverbs – they are part of life in most places  – even here in the US.

The only downside of Music Inspired by The Story is that it’s not enough.  I want more.  :-)  You see, there are a select few stories chosen to tell The Story (much like a Phase I program for T4 Global) and I wish there was a follow on project that would fill in the gaps.  This form of communication is so compelling that I find myself wondering where this has been here in the US?!

As I said before here, just a few segments based on the Bible is not enough.  (By the way – I’m not criticizing Music Inspired by The Story – just rejoicing in what it does to point me to God and I wish there were more).  In our work at T4, we must always be pressing on to get more of who God is and who Jesus is into the hearts of those we minister to.  Some days, it feels as if our work will never be done, but it’s a worthy endeavor!

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Happiness is hearing

An Angika pastor listens to Bible stories, songs and dramas recorded in Angika language.

I can’t speak for everyone but my experience is that hearing someone speak my language when I’m surrounded by folks speaking other languages quickly grabs my attention.

So I can understand the broad smiles that come when folks hear recordings of Scripture stories for the first time in their own language.

Especially when their language is a minority language not spoken — or recorded — by many.

In north India distribution of Angika recordings began in January.

Tomorrow, Feb. 17, Surjapuri language recordings will be dedicated and launched.

By the end of March, Lord willing, Magahi, Maithili, Bhojpuri and Panchpargania speakers in Bihar will be smiling as they listen to Scripture stories, songs and dramas, along with valuable social development information, that’s been recorded by T4 Global partners in Bihar.

If you interested in seeing more people smiling in the world CLICK HERE.


Posted in Friends, India, Oral Learning, Orality, Susie Brown, Technology, Tim Brown | Leave a comment
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