Thursday, August 28, 2008

Update from Jan Korbel

I received this update from Jan Korbel a couple of days ago. Please join me in standing with her, trusting in the grace and power of Almighty God to meet her needs for the glory of his name and the good of others and the joy of her own soul:

Dear Praying Friends,
The immigration appeal process is long and involved - as is the case with most things here in Kenya. Yesterday we went to immigration and talked with a man that had been recommended to us by a Kenyan lady, Wanjiku, who is the registrar of churches and societies. Wanjiku is a friend of Craig Sorley's parents from when they lived and worked here.
The first man we met with was as friendly and helpful as we could imagine. I think he is a Christian man and assured us if it was up to him he would grant our request. However it isn't up to him at all. He talked with Mr. Chariot, the chair of the committee that makes these decisions and said that he would follow-up and see our file through the process. Since Mr. Chariot was not immediately available we returned later in the day to meet with him to ask for the best approach to appeal our class A permit (to be changed to a class E - missionary). He was not very convinced that we should be granted the class E since we are registered as an NGO. However in the end he gave us a list of things to include in a letter of request and also suggested we include letters from churches we have worked with.
After our two trips to immigration we paid a visit to the lawyer that helped Care of Creation through the registration process and recommended registering as an NGO rather than a church related society because he understood it would not be difficult to get a class E permit, considering the type of NGO we are. He agreed to present our appeal to the immigration committee.
Now it is for us to draft our letter of appeal, collect letters from churches or organizations we have worked with here in Kenya and pray, pray, pray for God's favor with this committee. The deciding committee meets every Thursday. It's my hope that we can get things to them by next Wednesday so they can consider it sooner rather than later. However, I am sure there is no guarantee that this will get on their agenda straight away.
Please continue to pray for God's favor with this committee. Pray that the letters we request from folks will come in quickly and say what is convincing. Pray that what we say is also understood. I think that being misunderstood as a mission organization is starting to take its toll on us. We are committed to a work that seems to need constant defending. I will let you know when I have more information about the process.
Thank you so much for your support, Jan

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Spurgeon on Prayer & Thanksgiving

I am preaching this week on Thanksgiving as it relates to worship, and in the course of my studies I came across the following simple but helpful quote from Spurgeon. I pray that you will have a most blessed Lord's day as you fix your eyes on the risen Christ and worship him with all your heart.

"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

No care but all prayer. No anxiety but much joyful communion with God. Carry your desires to the Lord of your life, the guardian of your soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and therefore thank God for His grace. He is giving you grace; give Him thanks, Hide nothing. Allow no want to lie rankling in your bosom; "make known your requests." Run not to man. Go only to your God, the Father of Jesus, who loves you in Him.

This shall bring you God's own peace. You shall not be able to understand the peace which you shall enjoy. It will enfold you in its infinite embrace. Heart and mind through Christ Jesus shall be steeped in a sea of rest. Come life or death, poverty, pain, slander, you shall dwell in Jesus above every rolling wind or darkening cloud. Will you not obey this dear command?

Yes, Lord, I do believe thee; but, I beseech thee, help mine unbelief.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Praise from Jan Korbel

I just received the following update from Jan Korbel. Thanks so much for praying! Let us keep persevering in prayer with her to the very end.

Hello Friend,
(If you feel like you are coming into this in the middle of a story, please see my blog listed below.)
GOOD NEWS! I don't have to leave the country. I was granted an extension to my current visa. I have 90 days more before I need to leave or get my work permit settled. I also applied to get an alien's registration card and was finger printed today - all ten digits! I should get my little alien card in about 5 weeks! -- I'm legal!
Tracy and I also talked to a man in immigration about our issue and wanting to change or appeal the Class A permit. We got some advice, but still have no clear idea of exactly what will happen. We will ask the Baptist Mission of Kenya to draft a letter and perhaps some other organizations or churches we have worked with, then we will return to meet the Chair of the committee that decides these issues in immigration to make our appeal. Please continue to pray that God would show us favor in what we bring back as a request and they will grant the new (Class E) permit. We will need to word these things in such a way that is winsome and convincing that we are in fact doing missionary work as opposed to something else. This process could take weeks. And once I am through it the Sorleys will go through the same thing because their permits under the Baptist Mission expire later this year.
While my visitor's visa was extended for 90 days, we only have about 60 days to appeal the Class A, because the form telling us permission has been granted for that permit is only good for a certain amount of time. Once that expires it will be difficult to get any kind of permit for me.
Thank you so much for praying. I put a short update on the blog and will write some more detail of the trip to immigration in the following days.
You are a blessing, Jan

Please Pray for a Chinese Pastor

I received the following report from Voice of the Martyrs this morning:

Pastor Zhang “Bike” Mingxuan, known for traveling across China on a bicycle to evangelize, was arrested by Chinese police just two days before the Olympics began. Pastor Bike was the inspiration for the recent partnership between The Voice of the Martyrs and China Aid Association to create the Olympic Prayer Band.

Learn More about the Olympic Prayer Band here

Pastor Asks for Prayer Band
Earlier this year, Pastor Bike pleaded with VOM staff to ask Christians to pray for persecuted Christians in China during the Olympics. The pastor voluntarily preaches the gospel openly in China despite being persecuted. He has asked for his identity to be revealed to bring continued attention to the persecution of Christians in Communist China.

Thanks to Pastor Bike’s inspiration and the commitment of concerned Christians across the United States, more than 800,000 prayer bands have been circulated. On Aug. 6, Pastor Bike was arrested while trying to deliver medicine to his ailing wife. His wife and another pastor were also arrested. We have also learned this week that Chinese officials are opening a full investigation of the Olympic Prayer Bands that were distributed to house church members within China. Despite this increased pressure from Chinese authorities, Chinese Christians continue to ask for prayer and to make their plight known.

Order your Prayer Bands today!
As the Olympics goes on, the harassment of Chinese evangelists continues to increase. Please help remind others to pray for persecuted Christians like Pastor Bike by ordering your prayer bands today!

More about Pastor Bike
Pastor Bike, president of the Chinese House Church Alliance, rode his bike more than 10,000 miles, visiting 24 Chinese provinces to introduce nonbelievers to Jesus Christ. Armed with a Bible and his business card, which declared “Believe in Jesus, Earn Eternal Life,” Pastor Bike brought the gospel to thousands of people. He and other Chinese evangelists have been repeatedly harassed by Chinese officials during this Olympic year. Please pray for the release of Pastor Bike and his wife.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Piper on Why Christians Sing

I'm preaching one more sermon on singing this weekend and in the course of my research I came across this quote from Pastor John and I wanted to share it with you. I'll be off for "family camp" for the next couple of days with Glory of Christ so I won't be able to blog but I should return Tuesday or Wednesday. In the meantime, my your eyes behold the glory of God in the face of Christ and may your heart sing in praise of him!

The following is an edited transcription of the audio (you can find it here).

Is it true that Christianity is unique in the fact that it is a singing and rejoicing faith?

Absolutely. I don't think there are any other religions that sing like Christians sing. Christians really make music over their faith.

Even the sheer radio reality of Christian contemporary music is an interesting phenomenon. It has many pitfalls because of, perhaps, the way that theology is dumbed down in it or the way it is infected with an entertainment mindset; but the sheer existence of Christians who are always looking for ways to make melody about their faith--finding inspiring tunes growing out of their convictions about God and Christ and forgiveness and eternal life--I think that is an amazing and unique thing. I don't think there are any other faiths in the world that come close.

In fact some faiths, like Islam, don't even believe in singing. But what kind of faith could say that the human heart, with its readiness to make melody over almost everything it enjoys, should not do that over the most important reality in the universe? That's a really strange religion, I think.

The fact that Christianity is a singing religion bears witness, not only to the way we're wired as human beings, but to the kind of God we have: namely, a God who is one day, according to Zephaniah 3:17, going to sing over us. He is going to lead a choir and celebrate the fact that we are his. And we're going to join in singing that he is ours, because God is so valuable and so beautiful and so multi-faceted in his perfections that to leave out the emotional component--and not let it spill over in poetry and song--would be to leave out a key element in worship.

I really don't have a lot of patience, frankly, even with Christians who want to put a lid on music and singing, or put it back five centuries, or limit it to one kind of instrument, or take away all instrumental music and just let it be voice. I think that all of that is hopelessly defeatist, because we humans have explosive souls; and the reason we do is because God is explosively beautiful and great and glorious. He is going to call out from us song and music of every kind, and we might as well just let it out and try and bring it into its deep, powerful significance with truth.

That's the crucial thing: govern our music-making with true biblical doctrine.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Please Pray for a Missionary Friend

Please join us in praying for a missionary friend of ours who is undergoing severe trials. I do not know her wishes regarding security so I will not mention her name, I will only say she's serving in a difficult part of India. She recently wrote her prayer team (of which I'm apart) to say that she's at the end of her rope, and knowing what she's faced over the last year I can understand that. I wish I could say more, but I can't. Please join us in pleading for her before Jesus.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Please Pray for Jan Korbel

After a two month hiatus, I'm finally back to blogging again. I want to begin anew with a prayer request from one of our supported missionaries at Glory of Christ. Please join us in interceding for her situation.

Dear Friends,
Last week we were notified by immigration that I had been granted permission for a work permit and I should go down, collect the notice, pay some fees and fill out some forms to get the permit process going. I meet the man (James) that the Baptist Mission employs for immigration needs down at Nyayo House (the building that houses all the immigration offices). We climbed to the fifth floor, waited for the lady we needed to see to return from lunch, only to find they had held the notice long enough and then put it in the mail a few days earlier. (It never ceases to amaze me that anyone can find a record of anything in these offices.)
Sure enough, the notice arrived here on Saturday. I picked it up on Monday. When I opened it the form read that I had been granted permission for a Class A permit, we could get two years at once. The only problem is that a Class A permit for two years costs a little over $4200!!! I need a class E (for missionaries) permit. Two years for a class E is about $65.
Dorcas (our secretary) went to Nyayo House on my behalf today. She met James there. No, it wasn't a mistake. Care of Creation Kenya (CCK) is registered as an NGO (non-governmental organization, similar to what we call a non-profit) so I need an NGO Class A permit. Craig and Tracy had researched this when they were going through the process to register the CCK. They were assured that they could still get a Class E permit, even as an NGO. And that is what the NGO board of Kenya recommended for us in their letter to immigration.
Anyway, it's a big problem. I would appreciate your prayer. Tracy went into bulldog mode when she heard about it. Even though she and Craig are in Nairobi today taking the kids to the doctors and so on, she has made several calls including to the NGO board and will no doubt fight it all to the very end. In the meantime, I need to get my third three-month tourist visa in a row as my current visa runs out a week from Saturday. I must go on the day or the day before, no earlier or later.
Please pray about this. I know enough about the culture here to realize that 'fighting' something can result in additional trouble. One must be very careful how things are approached so as not to demand things or upset anyone's pride in what they do. There is also the opportunity for corruption to make its way in through such a process. No doubt we will have more help from James. We need to think creatively how to pitch the need for this position I fill to be a 'missionary position'. We may need to go back to the lawyer that helped us register... I do not know what all it will entail. I just know it will take a lot of prayer.
Thank you for standing with me in this, Jan