The photos above are of a few of the 800 pastors I was privileged to teach in Lagos, Nigeria last month. They came from seven Nigerian states and at least three other west African nations. All received a book that is titled, What the Bible Says About a Saving Faith, written by retired attorney and good friend of mine, Bernie Koerselman. Bernie and I are on the same page regarding salvation by grace through a faith that works. His book contains hundreds of scriptures, and it has endorsements inside from such spiritual heavyweights as Chuck Colson and John McArthur Jr. Nationally-known Presbyterian pastor D. James Kennedy wrote one of the forwards. Through an individual’s generosity, we were able to have 5,000 copies of his book printed in Nigeria, and they were received like precious treasures by all 800 pastors at the conference.
I don’t think I’ve ever left a pastors’ conference more personally encouraged, as I received wonderful letters of appreciation from about 150 of the participants. I wish you could read them all, but I’ve included a few excerpts at the end of this newsletter for you. It is your prayers and financial help that makes this possible, so rejoice in how God is using you!
My teaching centered around the subject of discipleship, something that is lacking in Nigerian churches in general. As a result of this conference, future doors have been opened to help equip pastors in Liberia and Benin, two other West African nations, as well as for translating, printing and distributing one our books, The Great Gospel Deception, into French (the major language of several African nations, one of which I’ll be ministering in next week: Burundi).
I wrote to you in last month’s newsletter about the doors that are being opened for The Great Gospel Deception in a few places around the world. One of those places is Myanmar (Burma), where the book has now been translated into three languages. I can’t resist sharing a letter I received a few weeks ago from a Myanmar church planter. It will give you some idea of the need there. This letter is from a man who traveled over 500 miles, which could take many days in Myanmar, with the hopes of getting more copies to distribute to Christian leaders in his remote region of his country:
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am Cung Naw from Myanmar. This is my second letter to you concerning The Great Gospel Deception, the book which is written by you.
The issue of gospel deception that is expounded in the book of The Great Gospel Deception is relevant not only to Christians in the U.S.A. but also is relevant to Christians in Myanmar. For four decades the spiritual life of the church in Myanmar has been paralyzed by lack of clarity in defining her faith and lack of understanding her primary task. In fact, these are the results of deception in the gospel message among Christians in the country. Our uncertainty about the true gospel message is really detrimental not only to the spiritual life of Myanmar church as a whole but also to the task of advancing mission and evangelism in the country.
The message of “assurance of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” has produced Christians in Myanmar who:
* Claim to be children of God but are ignoring the call to discipleship
* Claim to be “justified by their faith” but ignore the demand of sanctification in their lives;
* Claim to be born – again Christians but show no transformation of lives.
The reading of The Great Gospel Deception has shed light on the mind and heart of its readers, including me, helping to discern the contrast between the true and false message of the gospel. I praise the Lord for bringing this true message of the gospel into Myanmar through the sacrifices given by your ministry.
I believe that the readings of this book by all Christians in Myanmar will bring a tremendous blessing to the country, bringing many deceived Christians to come to the knowledge of gospel truth, resulting in saving lost souls not only in the deceived church but also among the non-believers outside the church.
I have been serving the Lord as a church planting missionary to the Buddhist Bamar people in Monywa, Sagaing Division. In December 2003 Rev. John Siam Lian sent me 25 copies of The Great Gospel Deception. I distributed 24 of them to pastors and evangelists serving in the city of Monywa. Now the book is in great demand because it is highly appreciated by those who read it.
On February 20, I came down to Yangon, 500 miles away from my place, to get as many books as available from Rev. John so that I might be able to distribute them to Christians in the plain region. Even though John kindly gave me all the books left in stock (15 books), it is far from meeting the needed quota demanded by Christians in the region where I am serving.
I will continue to pray the Lord that He will continue using your ministry to be a blessing to Myanmar by enabling you to redistribute thousands of more books of The Great Gospel Deception among Christians in this country.
Your brother in Christ, Cung Nawl
I am so happy to report that we are being enabled to honor this man’s request, and more copies of The Great Gospel Deception will soon be printed to replenish the exhausted supply in Myanmar.
I just returned on Monday from ten days of teaching in Oregon and Washington in Russian and Ukrainian immigrant churches. I again wish I could share with you the many good reports of receptive believers in those churches. I’m leaving today for Oklahoma City for four days to meet with some church mission leaders there. When I return, I’m home for seven days before leaving for two weeks of ministry to pastors in Congo and Burundi, in Central/East Africa. I will write and tell you all about it when I return.
As always, thanks for your partnership. We are so glad to be working together to build God’s kingdom in a few places on His earth.
Excerpts from letters of pastors who attended the February Nigerian conference:
“Your words helped me realign my mind to the major focus of my work as a pastor—to disciple others not just preaching or gathering people on Sundays. I’m also challenged to focus more on my lifestyle, not just my preaching, to influence my leaders and members…the effects of your ministry are already showing in my marriage and ministry…my church leaders are more willing to follow me this week.”
“You made us to re-examine our lives and ministries as church leaders. You reminded us of the importance of being a servant and not a lord as many of us pastors have become….Your teaching on discipleship is a teaching every Christian leader all over the world should listen to…
“I am a pastor of a 500-member church in Lagos….I now have an insight to what I should do, and how I have to disciple my flock. In the next six months…I hope to have more sheep in my congregation that goats…”
“Sincerely speaking, I have only a little involvement in discipleship before now….I have been challenged to know that the purpose of my call is to make disciples…”
And finally, this letter from northern Ghana, where we held a pastors’ conference in January:
Your teachings about discipleship, according to the pastors in town, were like a mega-dose that detoxifies our minds any time we are thinking of the Kingdom business. Our way of discipleship has changed and we now think the New Testament way of discipleship. I have started to train up some few people who will be area supervisors. They will take care of the house churches. I have changed my thinking altogether. I met one Pastor Anthony in town who also said they have started something like home cells in a village called Nyangoa. Your teachings were a topic of discussion in town….One thing that impresses me is they are putting the teachings into practice and it is working for us including me.
Concerning your book, “The Great Gospel Deception,” which you gave to all the pastors on the final day, I have read a lot of books but have not come across a book like yours. I thank God for making it possible for me to get in contact with you and to have read your book. To me it is like a divine encounter. Pastor, there has been a great exchange in my life after you left. This is what others also have to say about your book.