‘News’

9-25 | Barclay College Symposium | Dr. Dave Williams to Present Dissertation Manny Garcia to Respond

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Listen live by clicking here!

The God Who Sees Me

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Life is hard.  That is a fact, and it is one that rings true for each and every resident of planet earth.  It is also a fact that life is much harder for some of us than for others.

According to recent studies, 1 in 4 children experience some form of child abuse or neglect in their lifetimes,¹ and 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience domestic violence.² To make matters even worse, national news outlets recently reported that more than 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania alone.³

The ugly fact is that it is likely that you or another member of your family has been or will be a victim of traumatic abuse, neglect or domestic violence at some point in life.  The worst part is that this pain is most often inflicted by a close relative or trusted friend, the very people who are supposed to keep us safe and sound.

As usual, the Bible is not blind to this fact.  Bible characters are very real people who lived in very real places at very real times.  Times that were not so different from ours.

One of these characters was a young Egyptian girl named Hagar (cf. Genesis 16), a runaway slave who fled to the Canaanite desert in response to an escalating pattern of abuse and neglect at the hand of her masters, Sarai (Sarah) and Abram (Abraham).  Hagar was pregnant as well, so she was accompanied on this treacherous journey by her unborn child. A surrogate mother, despised and rejected, forced to wander in the wilderness. Hungry, homeless, hopeless and all alone … or so she thought.

In the midst of her desert of despair, Hagar experienced a divine visitation. An angel of the Lord appeared to her with a hopeful and promising message to deliver.  Hagar would not die in the desert. She would return home and give birth to a son named Ishmael (“God hears”), and his descendants would be “too numerous to count.”

Once the angel had departed, Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me” (El Roi), for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

I couldn’t help but think of this story earlier this week, when a new foster baby arrived at our daughter, Sarah’s home.  His name is not Ishmael, but I have no doubt that our good and beautiful God has heard his cries. El Roi has clearly seen the broken lives of his birth parents and the traumatic series of events that ultimately led to this little one’s arrival at his new foster home.  And now, perhaps for the very first time in his very brief life, he is safe and sound, delivered from the desert of despair by “the God who sees.”

According to the apostle James, the brother of our Lord Jesus, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).  Abuse and neglect make children into orphans and parents into widows. God sees them. Do you?

We have a dream of God’s Kingdom coming to heal the sick and the broken … the homeless and hungry knowing that God cares and has sent friends to help them … orphans and widows and the sick believing that their Creator knows their name.

“We Have a Dream: A Commissioning Prayer for EFC-MAYM”

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” – Psalm 68:5-6, NIV

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

 

¹ https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/index.html

² https://ncadv.org/statistics

³ https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/14/us/pennsylvania-catholic-church-grand-jury/index.html

Leadership Institute, Sept 10 | Church Leadership & Administration PART II

Monday, August 13th, 2018

We eagerly anticipate Tom Showalter’s second class on “Church Leadership and Administration” on September 10, 2018, which promises to be a rich and most helpful learning experience. Tom enlightened us last month to a style of church leadership patterned after Jesus’ servant leadership and transformational ministry. He will journey with us even deeper in our desire to be transforming agents for Christ.

Tom is certainly well prepared to teach us. He has taught and ministered among numerous Friends as a Friends pastor. His responsibilities as Iowa Yearly Meeting General Superintendent are giving him a broad base of experiences in teaching pastors and other church leaders. Tom’s leadership on the Barclay College and William Penn University’s Boards of Trustees and the Board of Friends United Meeting are adding to his deep well of effective leadership methods. His educational background, with the Master of Arts degree in Transformational Leadership – Professional Studies from Barclay College, has given him valuable insights into ways church leaders can minister to their people, to open their hearts to the transforming work of Christ. Tom, in his love for us and the Church, is enthusiastic to teach us from his insights, experiences, and practical wisdom.

Here are the places you can interact live with Tom: Eliyazer Biumba and Mitaci Ekwenya, Congo Friends in the Abilene, TX Friends Church, St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul in Nigeria, Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie Pastor at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, Linnette Moodie, a Jamaican Friend, Mary Carter-Haynes Pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica, Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, Barclay College (Jackson Hall), North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Bethel Friends Church, Fowler Friends Church, and New Hope Friends Church.

If you need to listen to Tom at a different time, here is the YouTube link to Tom’s presentation here.

Tom will provide the best counsel for us in his class on Monday September 10, 2018 (the second Monday in September, since the first Monday is Labor day) at 7:00 p.m. central time.

With anticipation to learn more about being a transforming church leader,

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

Giants in the Land

Monday, August 13th, 2018

As our children and grandchildren return to school this month, one of the first questions they will surely be asked is, “So what did you do on your summer vacation?”

As for me and my house, we love to camp, so one of the highlights of our summer was to embark on a 10-day road trip across the American west with my younger brother and his family.  During our 4,000-mile pilgrimage we were able to take in a staggering variety of breath-taking vistas and awe-inspiring wonders of the natural world along the way.  Needless to say, it was an epic adventure. But there was one particular sight that stood out to us above all of the rest … literally.

During our visit to Yosemite National Park, we took a short yet strenuous hike down a peaceful trail that leads to the Tuolumne Grove, one of the few places left in the entire world (outside of fairy tale books, that is) where you can stand in the presence of genuine giants and live to tell about it.  The Giant Sequoia trees that populate the western Sierra Nevada 

may be gentle giants, but by no means does this reduce the “shock and awe” factor when you behold them for the first time.
Giant Sequoias are the largest trees in the world.  Record trees have been measured to be over 300 feet tall and more than 50 feet in diameter, with bark as much as 3 feet thick at the base.  With a total weight of several million pounds, these pine pillars are true freaks of nature.  Like Frodo and his friends from the Shire, we all felt like Hobbits in the presence of the Ents that day during our visit to the Tuolomne Grove.

Upon further review, however, we discovered that there is much more to Giant Sequoias than initially meets the eye.  What I found most fascinating and most compelling in correlation to Christian discipleship and spiritual formation, in particular, is what is actually required for Great Sequoias to grow so strong and tall:

COMMUNITY: Giant Sequoias cannot survive on their own.  They only grow in groves.  Their shallow roots can extend more than 200 feet from each tree, creating a massive, interdependent root system. The sustainability of each individual tree hinges upon the health and vitality of the wider community.  There are no lone rangers among Giant Sequoias. Cooperation is non-negotiable. 

Giant Sequoias must remain closely connected to one another in order to thrive … and so must we (cf. Ephesians 4:15-16). 

ADVERSITY: Giant Sequoias cannot reproduce without the stress and pressure that accompany an occasional forest fire.  Fire brings hot air high into the canopy which in turn dries and opens the Sequoia cones so they can release their seeds. Periodic wildfires also clear competing vegetation.  Without fire, other shade-loving trees will crowd out young Sequoia seedlings, preventing germination. 

Giant Sequoias must be willing to endure the heat in order to bear fruit … and so must we (cf. James 1:2-4). 

LONGEVITY:  Giant Sequoias are no overnight sensations.  In fact, it has been documented that some of these trees have been around for more than 3,500 years, dating back to the days of Moses and the founding of the nation of Israel. Giant Sequoias are completely counter-cultural in this respect.  They don’t speak the language of instant gratification. On the contrary, they stand as towering testimonies to the truth that the best and most beautiful things in life take time. 

Giant Sequoias require lots of time in order to reach their full potential … and so do we (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:11a).

When our family looks back on this year’s summer vacation, I have no doubt that we will always have many wonderful memories.  But when we recall our time in California, I hope we will never forget the larger-than-life lessons we learned during our visit to the Tuolumne Grove at Yosemite National Park.  Community, Adversity and Longevity are not only essential for the healthy growth and development of Giant Sequoias.  They are essential for the healthy growth and development of spiritual giants as well.

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Leadership Institute, Aug 6 | Leadership & Administration

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

We have a wonderful blessing coming our way in the Church Leadership Institute for Ministry. Tom Showalter will be teaching our new course on “Leadership and Administration,” with the first class on August 6, 2018. We are all well aware that the strength of our churches is directly related to the strength of the leadership, so Tom has graciously agreed to share ideas and experiences that he has gained during many years of effective Friends Church leadership.

Tom Showalter is the General Superintendent of Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends Churches.  He enjoys the opportunity to work with pastors and other church leaders to challenge them toward church health.  Tom is involved with various boards and committees, including two college boards (Barclay College and William Penn University) and Friends United Meeting board.

Tom was recorded as a Friends minister in 1994 and served in pastoral ministry in various locations and settings throughout Ohio as part of the Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region.  He is married to Rose and has four children. His eldest daughter, Paige, is a NICU nurse in Columbus, Ohio; his second daughter, Victoria, is married and lives in Des Moines, Iowa. Tom resides in Oskaloosa, Iowa, with his wife, who homeschools their two younger children, Grace and Josiah.

Tom is a 2014 graduate of the Barclay College Master’s Program in the Transformational Leadership-Professional Studies tract.  The capstone project for the degree was based upon research completed regarding millennials and entitled, “Understanding Millennials to be More Effective in Disciple Making.”  His undergraduate work was completed at Malone College in Canton, Ohio.

Jesus’ model of servant leadership as found in John 13 provides the example and framework for Tom’s ministry as he strives to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

We invite you to hear Tom, and to share in discussion with Tom and other members of our Institute family. Here are the locations where the technology is set for videoconferencing with WebEx: Friends Community Church (Angleton), Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, Barclay College (Jackson Hall), North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Bethel Friends Church, St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul in Nigeria, Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Linnette Moodie, a Jamaican Friend, Anthony Moodie Pastor at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, and Mary Carter-Haynes Pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica.

If you would like to receive a WebEx invitation for you to log in at a more convenient place, please inform me, and I will send it to you.

Some of you will need to view the video-recorded session, which will be available on YouTube, thanks to Drew Davenport, when you click here.

Whether participating in the live session or listening on YouTube, you will prosper, because Tom will provide valuable guidance to us through his teaching. The class begins at 7:00 p.m. central time on Monday, August 6, 2018.

Looking forward to being with you and Tom,

Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

Ministry in San Antonio

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Under the weight of immigration pressures, the Spanish-speaking people of San Antonio are often reluctant to make new friends or even to talk with people on the street.  When Pastor Runy goes out to the Home Depot to meet people as they are coming and going, the people often turn away from him when they see him approaching. There is fear and distrust even among fellow Hispanics.  That is only one of the challenges that has faced the San Antonio Friends Church over the last 6 years since they began meeting.

But God has been faithful and the Lord has brought fruit in its time.  Pastor Runy and the other Friends have waited expectantly and served faithfully, seeking ways to honor God and minister in the community while sharing the good news of God’s salvation.  It didn’t happen all at once

Day by day Friends have prayed.  They have seen healings and they have also seen tragedies and loss.  They have faithfully met for worship and had times of encouragement and infilling with God’s presence and have faced long periods of drought while those they had ministered to turned their back on the one who gave his life for them.  They have studied God’s word together and sought ways to care for other people in Jesus’ name, and yet for one reason or another people have for the most part heard and moved on.

But over the last few months, there have been people who have heard and responded.  In the home group studies new people have come in and said “yes” to Jesus. Three new families have recently become a part of the church and through meetings in their homes there are another three families and friends who are also responding.  There is a sense of the power and glory of God at work.

Attendance is still only about 30 and there is still a long way to go.  They have plans for camping together and a baby shower along with pastoral visits, ongoing Bibles studies, prayer, and worshiping the Most High God.

There are churches across EFC-MAYM that are looking for a key to growth and expanded ministry and sometimes just looking for a key to survival.  Maybe when we say “key” we mean something simple and easy. It seems to me that faithful ministry and worship is enough. May the Lord bring the harvest in its time and let’s pray for one another as we walk as obedient friends.

David C. Byrne, Director: CHM

 

New Job Opening | Student Ministries Pastor | Northridge Friends Church

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Northridge Friends Church (Wichita, KS) is seeking a half-time Student Ministries Pastor that puts a high premium on building relationships—with youth and among youth, with parents, and with the congregation—to be disciples of Jesus and to lift him up, that all may be drawn to him. We are a growing and committed community who seek to make Christ known in our neighborhood, city, and world. For more information or to apply please email our search team lead, Brandi Stockebrand at searchteam@northridgefriends.org or call 316-734-9541. 

Adventures in Missing the Point

Monday, May 7th, 2018

I recently had the privilege of attending my niece’s wedding at Buckingham Friends Meeting House, located in a quaint village just a short drive from Philadelphia.  It was a beautiful ceremony, but it had extra special significance for our family, as we all found ourselves sitting in the very same place and on the very same benches where our very first American ancestors once sat, most of whom were laid to rest in a nearby cemetery.

Established in 1702, Buckingham Friends Meeting served as a house of worship for some of the earliest Quaker immigrants to this country.  Many of them were first generation Christians as well. The Friends movement was still relatively new, but its founding fathers and mothers were slowly disappearing (Margaret Fell died the same year that the meeting was opened). Now it was up to this new generation of Christ followers to carry the torch, faithfully and fearlessly bearing witness to the revolutionary gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the New World.  And this they did, through great personal sacrifice, some of them giving their very lives in the process.

Sadly, it became painfully clear to me during my visit to Buckingham that the torch had been dropped at some point along the way. As I walked around the meeting house and read through the literature that was most prominently displayed, I was unable to find any direct reference to Jesus whatsoever. And yet it was George Fox himself who declared with great joy, “There is only one, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition.”

Some might describe this as a classic example of “mission drift.” Others might attribute it to an inevitable process of cultural adaptation and accommodation. I can only summarize my personal feelings that day with one word: heartbreaking. It was as if they were missing the whole point. To borrow from the Apostle Paul, it seemed as though they had embraced “a form of godliness” while “denying its power” (2 Tim 3:5). Correct me if I’m wrong, but were not the first Friends seeking to do the exact opposite?

As we look back over church history, including our own history as a people called Quakers, I would like to think that we might be smart enough to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t have to repeat them. But when I survey the overall health and vitality of the American church in general, and the Evangelical Friends Church in particular, I can’t help but wonder …

  • Like our friends in Buckingham, is it possible that we are devoting so much energy to preserving and protecting our Quaker traditions that we are missing the whole point of the gospel? (cf. Mk 7:9)
  • And are we also in danger of exchanging the very power of God for an empty form of godliness? (cf. 2 Tim 3:5)

I don’t have all of the answers, of course, but I would humbly offer these questions as potential “queries” that each of you may want to share with your congregations as well at some point in the near future.

In the midst of such growing concerns, I must tell you that I am encouraged by what appears to be happening at our two Friends-related colleges and universities here in Mid-America:

  • I recently finished teaching a course on “Spiritual Formation and the Transformational Journey” for students enrolled in the School of Graduate Studies at Barclay College.  The course concluded with a three-day, intensive, face-to-face gathering on the Barclay campus. It was a wonderful, life-giving experience for all of us, and I am deeply grateful to have a small part in helping Barclay continue to fulfill its critical, core mission as a community that is called “to prepare students in a Bible-centered environment for effective Christian life, service and leadership.” 
  • I had the privilege of speaking in chapel at Friends University several weeks ago during their Quaker Heritage Week, at which time the building that houses the graduate school was renamed in honor of John Woolman and Elizabeth Fry.  I was also invited to share this same message with the Board of Trustees during their spring meetings. I couldn’t be more thrilled by recent developments at
    Friends, as the University seeks to return to its roots as a “Christian University of Quaker heritage,” that “equips students to honor God and serve others by integrating their intellectual, spiritual and professional lives.”

During these increasingly dark and difficult days, when the hearts of so many appear to be “growing

 cold” (Mt 24:12), may those of us who are part of the extended family of Friends here in Mid-America “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” (Heb 10:23) and to our core calling and true identity as faithful Friends of Jesus, remaining ever mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus himself: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (Jn 15:14).

For the love of God, we can’t afford to miss the point.

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Leadership Institute, May 7 | Evangelism and Outreach

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

I am eagerly anticipating Alan Amavisca’s teaching the Leadership Institute course on Evangelism and Outreach. The first class in this course will be May 7, 2018. We all know that for the Kingdom of God to become realized “on earth as it is in heaven,” the Church needs to reach out and evangelize. This is our call from Jesus, who invites us to follow Him as His disciples. As Alan enables us through his teaching to fulfill Christ’s call, he will give us a strong Biblical foundation for evangelism, outreach, church planting, church multiplication, and disciple-making.

We are very blessed that Alan Amavisca will be our teacher. He has given his life to the ministry of church multiplication, evangelism, and disciple-making. Alan spent fourteen years as a missionary/church planter in Central America, ten years as a pastor on the Yorba Linda Friends Church ministry team, and then nine years as Director for Missions and New Church Development at Evangelical Friends Church Southwest. He has also served at length on the boards of PMI (a Latin American mission to the Islamic world) and Solidarity (an incarnational ministry serving migrant populations). His current role, as the Director of North County Project, allows him to focus on grassroots disciple-making: both with emerging young leaders in the church (in a learning community called The Lab), and with unchurched people who want to know more about Jesus. Alan and his wife, Barbara, live in Placentia, California and have four children: Andrea (and her husband, Scott), Aaron (and his wife, Melissa), Kirsten (and her husband, Jordan), and Stephanie (and her husband, Chad), as well as six grandchildren.

Our desire is to make the Institute classes available to as many Friends as possible; therefore, we have many sites where you can join in live, for the interactive discussion with Alan. Locations where you can interact with Alan and other Institute participants are: St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul in Nigeria, Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie Pastor at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, Mary Carter-Haynes Pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica, Linnette Moodie, a Friend in Jamaica, Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Bethel Friends Church, Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, and  Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

We recognize that everyone is not available at the time of the meeting, so Drew Davenport will upload the video-recorded session (usually within three days) to YouTube. Thanks, Drew. Click on this link to see and listen to Alan.

I assure you that you will be grateful to learn from Alan, when he teaches Monday, May 7, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. central time.

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

The Primacy of Prayer

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

In his introduction to The Journal of George Fox, Quaker statesmen William Penn makes this fascinating observation regarding the enduring legacy of the man now known as the founder of Friends: “Above all, he excelled in prayer.”

This emphasis on the primacy of prayer in the life of our spiritual forefathers should come as no surprise for those of us who aspire to be faithful friends of Jesus in our own time and place. We follow a praying Savior, after all. According to the Gospel of Luke, often referred to as “the praying gospel,” nearly every transformational moment in Jesus’ life and ministry took place “as he was praying” (cf. Lk 3:21; 6:12; 9:16; 9:18; 9:29; 10:21; 11:1; 22:32; 22:44; 23:34; 23:46; 24:30; 24:50).

I have been following Jesus for more than 40 years now, and I must confess that I have found prayer to be the most essential and most challenging of all the spiritual disciplines. But what has helped me most in recent years is the discovery that prayer is not limited to a few, specific methods or models that are unique to any one Christian denomination or church tradition. As my good friend, Fil Anderson likes to say, “There are as many ways to pray as there are moments in the day.”

Over the years, I have found that the more my prayer portfolio has expanded, the more freedom, depth and joy I have experienced in my walk with Christ. This has also helped me to more readily embrace biblical admonitions to pray in ways that once seemed unattainable, such as “pray always” (Lk 18:1) and “pray without ceasing” (1 Th 5:17). I have found it much more do-able to pray always when I am better equipped to pray all ways, and much more fruitful and effective to pray as I can, not as I can’t.

But perhaps the most life-giving and liberating reality I have discovered on my journey is the fact that we are never alone when it comes to this life of prayer.  Scripture reminds us that God the Father “knows what you need before you ask him” (Mt 6:8), that God the Son “always lives to intercede” for us (Heb 7:25), and that God the Spirit “intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Rm 8:26).

As we learn to pray with God, not just to God, we grow to understand that prayer is simply a matter of staying in the conversation, i.e., continually and intentionally resting in the gracious embrace of our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, the Lover of our souls, the One who longs to communicate with us “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex 33:11).  And somehow, in the midst of this unfolding friendship with God, we are mysteriously and progressively transformed in such a way that others can actually see in us an imperfect yet increasingly authentic reflection of the very face of God (cf. 2 Co 3:18). As C.S. Lewis has testified, “prayer doesn’t change God; it changes me.”

We will be continuing this critical conversation on the primacy of prayer during our 2018 Ministry Conference, to be held July 26-29 on the campus of Friends University in Wichita. Our conference theme, “Seasons of the Soul: Rediscovering the Ancient Paths of Prayer,” will be enriched by the ministry of our guest speaker, Fil Anderson, Executive Director of Journey Resources, and it will be reinforced through participation in a wide variety of prayer exercises throughout our time together during the 147th annual gathering of the Evangelical Friends Church-Mid America Yearly Meeting.

Please make plans now to join us at this year’s Ministry Conference in Wichita. More details will be coming soon!

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Job Opening | NWYM General Superintendent

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

The Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends is seeking a new General Superintendent.  We are looking for a mature, experienced leader to help shepherd our yearly meeting following a time of transition.  The new superintendent will be working with different yearly meeting boards and committees, as well as local churches and meetings throughout the Pacific Northwest, to carry our shared revitalized vision for the future, and to discern God’s leading as we move forward into the future together.  Strong administrative skills, matched with a mature and passionate relationship with Jesus, will be needed to help strengthen the community of faith called Northwest Yearly Meeting.

For more information about NWYM, visit our website: nwfriends.org. The application documents and process can be found there beginning March 30, 2018.  Application deadline is April 30, 2018.

Leadership Institute, April 2 | Final Class on “The Personal Life of the Leader”

Monday, March 12th, 2018

David Williams is devout in his intention to counsel and guide us in maintaining the healthiest possible lifestyle as church pastors and leaders, as he teaches our Leadership Institute class on April 2, 2018. Church leadership burnout has reached epidemic proportions, and much of the problem lies in neglect of the leader’s personal and family life. It is far too easy to minister to the people in the church to whom God calls us and neglect our own and our family’s health. But the revealing question is, “How can I minister faithfully to other persons and other families, if I do not care properly for my own life and family?”

David Williams is well prepared to teach us about care of ourselves and our families. He has led numerous retreats and workshops in soul care; he has taught college undergraduate and graduate courses, giving spiritual counsel to students; and as Mid-America Yearly Meeting Superintendent, he has provided spiritual nurture for numerous pastors and other church leaders. He will continue to share with us knowledge he has gained from his experiences, study, and teaching. David has been for many years my treasured personal friend, teacher, mentor, and encourager.  Many of you can testify to the same.

Our hope in the Institute is that as many of you as possible will be able to share interactively with David at one of these sites: St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul (pastor in Nigeria), Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie (pastor at Dover Friends Church in Jamaica), Mary Carter-Haynes (pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica), Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Bethel Friends Church, Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, and Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

You may be unable to join us for the live class. If so, you can click on the link below to view the video recording on YouTube here.

You might gather a group in your church to view and discuss the video of David’s presentation.

The living Christ, whose resurrection we will have celebrated in our Easter worship services, is our Divine model for healthy spiritual living. He maintained a rhythm of ministry in the world and retreat to a solitary place for prayer.

Hopefully, you will be able to share with us Monday, April 2, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. central time for David’s last class.

Celebrating the resurrection of Christ, and looking forward to seeing you at the Institute,

Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

Friends Multiplication Conference News

Thursday, March 8th, 2018
 
SAVE THE DATE!
 
National Friends Church Multiplication Conference
August 1-3, 2018
A gathering of evangelically-minded Friends leaders, students, and others who have a heart for church planting and who want to be faithful to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission through the Friends Church.
 
WHO WILL BE SPEAKING: Dave Ferguson – Lead Pastor of COMMUNITY Christian Church in Naperville, IL. Dave loves helping people find their way back to God and starting new churches. Dave also provides visionary leadership for NewThing, an international church-planting mission. He is President of the Exponential Conference, equipping church planting leaders around the world. He is the author of The BIG IDEA(2007), Exponential (2010), On The Verge (2011), Discover Your Mission Now (2013) and Finding Your Way Back To God (2014). Dave will come with a special message for Friends you won’t want to miss!
 
WHAT: The 2018 NFCMC will feature inspirational messages, “best practice” workshops, and time for fellowship and synergistic networking with other forward-looking Friends from around the country.  Recognizing that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people, a number of different methods and approaches will be discussed.  This conference will be informative, stirring, and help us refocus on God’s call with a “gates of hell shall not prevail against it” passion.  Christ is in the process of building His Church.  With God’s help, we need to prayerfully consider how we might shed a maintenance-mentality and stir up a strategic church multiplication movement among evangelically-minded Friends!  
 
JOIN THE STORY: This conference is an extension of the growing events held in 2013, 2014 and 2016.  Although planners anticipated originally that only 30-40 might attend the first gathering (which would have been a great start), the first conference brought together 100 Friends who affirmed a commitment to support and encourage a church multiplication movement!  Follow-up conferences were demanded by popular request, including this one.  These grass-roots efforts have given birth to a National Friends Prayer Network with a regular newsletter, a website (www.FriendsMultiply.com), an inspirational quarterly “Catalyst Conversation” video conference, and a leadership team of Friends from around the country: Multiplication Catalyst Ministries.    God’s heart is for the world.  Church multiplication is part of His mission.  We sense His leading and want to join Him in this story that He is writing.  But we are still in the toddler stage of development.  We need God’s help, and yours.  We are praying and anticipating that the 2018 NFCMC will help us take those next steps forward together to make a difference in this country and world for Christ!
 
WHERE:  The campus of Barclay College, Haviland, Kansas.
 
QUESTIONS?  Contact:
Jim Le Shana, NFCMC Planning Team, 607 N. Kingman, Haviland, KS, 67059.
Email: jim.leshana@barclaycollege.edu   Work: 620-862-5252   Cell: 714-337-7596
 
Watch for More Information!


Some of the attenders at the 
2016 NFCMC!

A New Monasticism

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

During this season of Lent, Carol and I have been participating in a weekly online retreat entitled “Into the Wilderness.”  The theme passage for each week is taken from one of the many biblical references to those times when God’s people have been called to spend extended time in the desert, those unusually dry, difficult and dangerous places where, ironically, God chooses to do some of His very best and most transformative work.

One of the original Desert Fathers and a pioneer of the modern monastic movement, Anthony of Egypt (251-356) was called to leave the comforts of home at a young age and go into the vast wilderness that lies between the Nile River and the Red Sea.  There he spent twenty years of his life alone in a cave in an effort to wean himself away from the trappings of an increasingly pagan form of Christianity.  Like so many before and after him, Anthony was driven deep into the desert not out of fear, but out of a desperate desire to discover a purer, simpler and more primitive path of Christian discipleship. 

Abba Anthony emerged from his cave a changed man, passionately devoted to a dynamic ministry of preaching, teaching, healing and spiritual direction. Anthony’s biography, an ancient literary classic written by Athanasius of Alexandria, led many of his contemporaries to reconsider the validity of the Christian faith, including Augustine of Hippo, who went on to become one of the most influential Christian leaders in church history.

More recently, an increasing number of church leaders have suggested that the body of Christ is in dire need of a fresh injection of Anthony’s monastic spirit in our own time and place.  In fact, twentieth century German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, penned the following statement in a letter to his brother in January of 1935 while attempting to remain a faithful disciple of Jesus during the Nazi reign of terror led by Adolf Hitler:

“The restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ.  I think it is time to gather people together to do this.”

During these opening days of the twenty-first century, a “new monasticism” has been gradually emerging at the edges of the established church.  These holy experiments in radical Christian discipleship can be found within nearly every Christian tradition, including our extended family of Evangelical Friends here in Mid-America.

Friends of Lawrence (formerly known as Lawrence Friends Church) is one such example. Lawrence Friends Church closed its doors in September of 2014, following a prolonged pattern of increasing dysfunction and decline, in order to allow freedom for Christ to birth a new movement of the Spirit in the local community.  After a sufficient season of “lying fallow,” allowing adequate time for careful assessment and prayerful preparation, a new expression of Christ-centered ministry, Friends of Lawrence, was born in July of 2015.

Friends of Lawrence is now entering into a new and exciting phase in its growth and development as a new monastic mission.  Over the past few years, the foundations of fruitful and effective ministry have been well established through the faithful and sacrificial service of our self-supporting missionaries, Jeremiah and Wendy Williams.  Close, personal friendships have been formed, deeply spiritual conversations have taken place, and the property on the corner of 16th and New Hampshire is slowly but surely being restored to its original beauty.

Jeremiah and Wendy are in immediate need of our prayerful support and practical assistance if this dream of rebuilding a vital center for missional ministry in Lawrence, Kansas, the original headquarters of EFC-MAYM, is to become a reality.  With the blessing of our yearly meeting elders, Carol and I are devoting two weekends a month from February through July to provide personal, on-site support for Friends of Lawrence.  Approximately $40,000 in one-time contributions from individuals and churches must be received by April 1 in order to complete the first phase of the renovation process. 

Would you be willing to pray about what type of personal contribution the Lord may be calling you and/or your local church toinvest in Friends of Lawrence?  Additional information, including an online giving portal, can be found on the Friends of Lawrence website.

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Leadership Institute, March 5 | The Personal Life of a Leader – Part 2

Monday, February 12th, 2018

David Williams will bless us again in the Church Leadership Institute as he teaches our second class on “The Personal Life of the Leader,” March 5, 2018. We especially welcome David’s teaching, because we live in a time when stresses in society are enormous. We, the church leaders, need to be watchful and take care not to allow external pressures impose upon our personal and family lives. David is devoted to enable us to strengthen and enrich our spiritual lives and overall health amidst the strains and tensions in our culture.

David Williams has a breadth of experience in healthy leadership, as a Friends pastor, as a college professor and administrator at Barclay College, and as a Yearly Meeting Superintendent (Lead Pastor of EFC-MAYM)), and he has been intentional to observe wholesome spiritual disciplines to maintain his own spiritual, emotional, and physical health, while fulfilling his vocational responsibilities. Additionally, his Doctor of Ministry education provided numerous, rich resources from the Bible and Church history, which are helpful in healthy living and leadership. He will continue to share these with us in his commitment to help us maintain the healthiest possible lifestyle and church leadership.

We hope you will join us for the live session, in which we will see and converse with David and one another. Sites where the classes are live are: Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, Barclay College (Jackson Hall). North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha NE, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul in Nigeria, Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie Pastor at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, and Mary Carter-Haynes Pastor at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica,

If one of these locations is inconvenient for you, and if you inform me, I will send the WebEx invitation to you. Or if you prefer to view the video-recorded session at a different time, here is the YouTube link.

We have several people around the world, who participate in the Institute by listening to the recordings.

I am eager to hear David Williams’ counsel on ways to enrich our personal and spiritual lives as Church leaders, Monday, March 5, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. central time.

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Development

Dust in the Wind

Monday, February 12th, 2018

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” I was once a high school student. In fact, I was actually sitting in a theatre in Wichita when these very words from the opening scene of the very first Star Wars movie scrolled across the big screen for the very first time back in the summer of 1977.

Yes, I am that old.

Back in the day, I was a big fan of what is now referred to as “classic rock.” One of my favorite bands was a group called Kansas, made up of six ordinary guys from nearby Topeka. I loved their unique brand of innovative and progressive rock music, but I was also deeply fascinated by their faintly spiritual song lyrics. I later discovered that the band’s founder and main songwriter, Kerry Livgren, had grown up in the church but had drifted away from the faith during adolescence and had begun seeking “truth” in earnest from every imaginable source.

Kansas did not have a ton of big hits, but in the summer of 1977 Kerry wrote a song called “Dust in the Wind” that he reluctantly agreed to include on the album, Point of Know Return. According to Kerry, the song was a very personal reflection of his own spiritual journey at the time. “The lyrics almost spewed out,” he later wrote, “a reflection of my inner despair and longing for something that would not pass away, something eternal.”

The prodigal son eventually found his way back home to the Father’s house in 1980, but it was “psalms” like this one that helped Kerry to translate the deepest cries of his heart into a personal prayer language. Thanks to its beautiful, yet haunting melody and thought-provoking lyrics, the song has remained surprisingly popular over the years.

What Kerry could not have known when he wrote “Dust in the Wind” in the summer of 1977 is that I was at a very similar place in life at the time as well. I, too, was wrestling with “inner despair” and “longing for something that would not pass away.” Thanks to the mysterious and relentless grace of God, Kerry’s honest and transparent songwriting was one of the key influences that also led me to return to the Father in, you guessed it, the summer of 1977.

As we enter together into this season of Lent, a special time set aside on the church calendar for each of us to return to the Father through a process of personal reflection, repentance and restoration, we do so with complete confidence that our good and beautiful God will be with us at each and every step along the journey, including those times when we may find ourselves in places of “inner despair and longing.” And on Ash Wednesday, in particular, when many will receive the sign of the cross on their foreheads as an outward symbol of an inner desire to “repent in dust and ashes,” may we all be reminded of this unshakable assurance:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love … as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:8, 13-14).

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Marvelous Moments

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Let me be clear.  I am not, have not, and never will be a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide.  As a lifelong member of Buckeye nation, cheering for Alabama would be a blatant breach of sports etiquette, second only to marrying a Michigan fan.

I am, however, fully capable of recognizing and appreciating gridiron glory wherever it may be found, even in the most unexpected places.  And so I have to admit, somewhat reluctantly, that what I witnessed during Alabama’s victory over Georgia in this year’s NCAA College Football Championship was a thing of pure beauty.

Just in case you missed it, Alabama was down 13-0 at halftime so they decided to shake things up by replacing their starting quarterback, the guy who got them to the big dance, with a highly touted but relatively unproven freshman from Hawaii by the name of Tua Tagovailoa, who then proceeded to lead the Crimson Tide to a 20-point second half, setting up an overtime showdown with the Bulldogs.  Georgia kicked a field goal on the first possession in overtime, then gave the ball back to Alabama for one last shot at the title.  After Tau was sacked for a huge loss on the first play from scrimmage, I think it is safe to say that nearly everyone watching the game had all but given up hope on the prospects of another national championship for Alabama at that point. Everyone, that is, except Tau.  Against all odds, the pigskin poet from Polynesia calmly took the snap, dropped back into the pocket and threw a perfect, 41-yard spiral to fellow freshman, DeVonta Smith for the game-winning touchdown.  Cue the band and let the bedlam begin.

It was, without question, a truly marvelous moment in sports history.  But what made the moment much bigger, infinitely more meaningful and, dare I say, divinely providential, was what took place after the game was over.  When asked about his performance during the postgame interview, Tau took a deep breath, searching for just the right words.  Having gathered himself, he peacefully and publicly declared to millions of viewers from all around the world:

“First and foremost, I would just like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  With him, all things are possible.  All glory goes to God.  I can’t describe what he has done for me and my family. I just thank God I was put in the place and the position that I’m in now.”

What a marvelous moment indeed.  And what a marvelous testimony to the difference that Jesus can make in the hearts and lives of those who trust in him.

Just to be clear, I share this story not to try and make the case that God will give us national championships just because we believe in him.  I’m confident that Georgia has just as many devout believers as Alabama.  We all must cope with our fair share of devastating losses in life, regardless of how talented, hard working or spiritually mature we may be.  But I also know from firsthand experience that we can become so accustomed to sorrow and loss that we may have trouble recognizing and/or receiving good news even when it slaps us in the face. Worst of all, our dreary demeanor prevents us from giving full glory to God for all of the good and beautiful gifts that accompany us on our journey with Jesus, including every little victory that we experience along the way.

With this in mind, I am compelled to begin this new year by praising God for just a few of the many marvelous moments he has allowed us to share together as an extended family of Friends during the past year, including the following: the official launch of a new church among our Bhutanese and Nepali friends in St. Paul (MN), the hundreds of young men and women whose lives were transformed through our student ministries (including over 400 students and adults who participated in summer camp), the practical assistance provided by Family Promise on behalf of more than 500 homeless people in Greater Wichita alone, the celebration of the Barclay College centennial, the revitalized work of our Texas Area Friends Disaster Service in response to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, the investment of over 200 local church leaders in seven Area Leadership Retreats, the life giving rest and renewal provided by our Pastor’s Sabbath Retreat, the six men and women who were publicly recorded as ministers of the gospel during our annual Ministry Conference, the addition of two new staff members to our yearly meeting leadership team, and the countless examples of newfound faith, renewed hope and healing, recovery from addiction, and fresh calling to vocational ministry that are impossible to measure this side of heaven.

Of course, this is just a small sample of the many marvelous moments that we have had the privilege of witnessing in our midst throughout EFC-MAYM in recent days.  To borrow from the Chronicles of Narnia, “Aslan is on the move.”  May we continue to follow him faithfully and fearlessly in the days ahead, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

– David O. Williams, General Superintendent

Job Opening | Lead Pastor | Newberg, OR

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017
Newberg Friends Church, the historic “mother church” of Northwest Yearly Meeting is searching for a lead pastor with significant public teaching and preaching gifts, a readiness to support evangelical Friends biblical testimonies and a clear commitment to Christian evangelism and world missions. The goal is to find God’s leading for ministry to begin in July 2018 or as soon after as possible.  
 
Resumés and letters of interest may be directed to Newberg Friends Church, Ron Stansell, clerk of Elders at P. O. Box 487, Newberg, OR  97132 or preferably by e-mail to rstansell@georgefox.edu

Leadership Institute, Jan 8 | Josh Bunce on NT

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Josh Bunce will conclude our fascinating journey through the New Testament in his third class on January 8, 2018. Having entered a new year and having so recently celebrated the birth of Christ, we will come with new life in a spirit of celebration. We will also come with anticipation of Josh’s informed teaching. In his final class with us, Josh will center his teaching on the General Letters and Revelation,

With a seminary education and college teaching experience, Josh is giving us excellent instruction, while providing us a model for our teaching. And his teaching is through the lens of Friends faith and practice. Josh is leading us in a deeper experience of the written Scriptures, while encouraging us to listen to the Inward Voice of Christ for clear understanding and interpretation of the events and messages in the Bible. He is helping us to appreciate and understand more profoundly the eternal truths of God revealed in the Bible. I am excited for this last class with Josh, who is my personal friend and colleague, and who continually keeps me informed of new, scholarly Bible resources.

I hope you will make this class a priority and join us at one of these locations:

These are the locations where you can listen to and interact with Josh and other Friends in the Institute: St Paul, MN Friends Church (at the home of Kumar Tamang, with Friends from Nepal and Bhutan), Canadian Yearly Meeting (Montreal Monthly Meeting at the home of David Millar, and the  homes of Paul Etienne Mungombe  and Jonathan Esongo, Friends from Congo), (Quebec City Meeting with Musato L. Dems and Alphee Ndahond, Friends from Congo), All Nations (formerly Sudanese Community) Friends Church in Omaha, Palmer, Alaska (at the home of David Miller), Noatak, Alaska (Robert Sheldon, Superintendent), Louisville, KY Friends Church and Stone Mountain Friends Church in Atlanta (with Friends from Rwanda and Burundi), Samson Retnaraj (EFM missionary in Nepal), Mncedisi Nkomo (pastor in Zambia), James Nduwayo (pastor in Rwanda), Faniyi Paul in Nigeria, Amuri Edouard with African Friends in Chicago, Anthony Moodie at the Dover Friends Church in Jamaica, Mary Carter-Haynes at Amity Hall Friends Meeting in Jamaica, Kickapoo Friends Center, Marshalltown Friends Church, Indianapolis, with Steve Turner, Lighthouse Fellowship Church (at the home of Jerry and Mary Louthan), Friends Community Church (Angleton), Neighborhood Friends Church (at the home of Tom and Bonnie Bousman), Friends Ministry Center (Wichita), Bangor Liberty Friends Church, North Newton (at the home of Merl and Eunice Kinser), Fowler Friends Church, New Hope Friends Church, and Barclay College (Jackson Hall).

If you have a conflict Monday, I invite you to view the video recording on YouTube Here.

This will be the third class in our study of the New Testament and our sixth class in the Bible. I am sure that you, like me, are growing immensely. Josh will begin at 7:00 p.m. central time onJanuary 8, 2018. This is the second Monday in January, since New Year’s Day is the first Monday.

Hoping you can join me in hearing Josh in his concluding class,

– Dave Kingrey, Director of Leadership Institute

HMB Update | A New Arrival

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

What would you expect to be reality and reaction of a man and woman, perhaps with other children in the home, when the announcement is made of a new arrival coming soon to their family?   The gift of new life brings enthusiasm and excitement all around. Perhaps it was planned for a long time, and perhaps not, but reality is a newborn is coming. Most leaders across our family here in middle America are inclined to lend a hand as needed. This is the situation presently as a new baby church is developing here in our Mid-America Friends family.

Through communications from a parent in Africa, a refugee family has recently arrived in Abilene, in west Texas, named Ekwenya and Veronica Mitaci, along with their six children. This communication was sent to all by Pastor Manaseh Kisopa, who is the Pastor of the Evangelical Friends Church in Congo at the Uvira Monthly Meeting, as well as the treasurer of the Great Lakes Theological Training School, in Africa. Veronica Mitachi is the daughter of Pastor Manaseh Kisopa.

In late 2016, this communication was circulated through various leaders of Evangelical Friends International. This letter was a plea from a father to Friends leaders in America to connect and to assist their family to adjust to a new culture, and to settle with a connection to the Friends family of God. Randy and Charlene Littlefield traveled to Abilene TX and through a connection in a Not-For-Profit Administrative office, were able to speak with an officer who knew of an Ali Mitachi, about whom we were told worked in a local hotel. As we entered the hotel, we were connected with the maintenance/repair manager, Ali Mitachi. We introduced ourselves, and found that he was the brother-in-law of the Ekwenya Mitachi family, and was also a refugee now living in Abilene for nearly 10 years. Ali Mitachi spoke excellent English and explained that his relatives had only recently arrived in the city. We explained the communication from Pastor Manaseh Kisopa, and his desire for his family to connect with the Friends Church. Ali understood completely, and with an exceptional Kingdom perspective, communicated that he felt that Ekwenya would be a great Friends Church planter. He then explained that Ekwenya had already obtained a job at a local restaurant. Since the family only spoke Swahili, he made a phone call for us and found that the entire family was at home at their apartment. So we were invited to come visit.  

What a delightful experience we had as Ali introduced this family and translated from English and Swahili for a couple of hours.   During that time we met the six children, from age seven to seventeen, including two girls and four boys, one of whom was named after his grandfather Manaseh. The mother, Veronica, was already busy in her kitchen preparing a native delicacy of fried bread, which they called “Versace”. She then served this delicacy to her children and guests around the kitchen table. I explained that we have the privilege to work with the leaders and churches of Mid America Friends to plant new churches across our region. They knew the process well from their experience with the Friends Church in the Congo, and communicated that they had been praying that God might use them to help plant a new Friends Church in this community. God has a way of working ahead of us through His Holy Spirit, and that work becomes very evident when we have the chance to pray together. As a result, through that single visit, we came away feeling sure of Jesus’ confirmation.

We are very early in the development process with this pastor, however are very excited, as is the father-in-law Pastor in the Congo, about this opportunity. Additionally, through consultation with EFM leadership, please pray with us that others across Mid-America churches might have connections of others in Abilene, TX, or the Swahili language, and/or, that you might just be the one to experience the burden to assist, even from afar, to pray and then possibly, to let me know who may be interested in serving with this effort. We are now forming our new Partner Church Advisory Team, with the leaders from Texas Friends Churches and any other church across Mid-America. We typically would meet with the local leadership at least monthly over some internet-based online tool, and use our standard Home Missions process we call our “Journey Toward Maturity”, to guide this exciting cross-cultural new church planting project.

We continue to trust in Jesus’ promise that “He will build His Church, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it!” Simply contact me at newchurches@efcmaym.org or 913.683.3831 or Janet at the Ministry Center office, if you would like to explore with us what our God is doing in Abilene TX. God bless!    

– Randy Littlefield, Director of Multiplication Ministries