Can He use me too?

Can He use me too?

I’ve served as an ambassador for Christ in two countries overseas twice in short term trips and once in vocational ministry for a longer period.

I am not a big-shot theologian from some fancy seminary.

I am an ordinary person.

I struggle with temptations like anyone else.

I often become tongue-tied and suffer from a slight social awkwardness (the exact degree may vary based on who you ask).

It’s okay.

I’ve learned to embrace it.

I state my flaws because I do not wish to give the impression that I walked around other countries with a silver tongue, quoting scripture and thumping bystanders with my biblical rhetoric. However, God did use me, a weak individual (2 Cor. 12:9) incapable of right action without Him, to glorify His name by empowering me to share the good news about Jesus among the nations.

And He can use you, too.

I recall a man visiting my church talking about his work with some tribe off in the middle of who-knows-where and me telling God “not for me” when I was sixteen. Six years later, God said, “Yes, for you.” However, my mind and heart had changed to where I wanted to go. Emphatically, I prayed, Lord, send me (Isa. 6:8) daily. But, how did that transition happen?

At an early age, I heard and knew that God loved me. He died for me (John 3:16). He paid for my mistakes so I could be right with Him. He came back from the dead (Rom 10:9) so I would one day rise again, too. I did nothing to earn salvation, but received it as a gift through faith (Eph. 2:8-9. But… these facts, theses immutable truths as I understood them, did not impact my life. Why?

Well, I remained spiritually immature for many years (1 Cor. 3).  As the Pharisees, I did right for the sake of right. When struggling with sin, I ran aimlessly. Not towards Christ, but to functional saviors like video games, food, and running… anything to keep from plunging into the same pitfalls and patterns that would lead to sin. Anything but God. Anything but Christ. Because I could overcome anything on my own sheer force of will. Oh, how wrong was I?

Although in many respect s I had abandoned God, he did not abandon me.  At eighteen, I met several individuals who truly loved the Lord and delighted in Him and His word. They were weird.

And, I wanted to be just like them.

 

In the time that followed, I found something that eluded me until that point, Community. These young men and women implored me to seek God daily through prayer, scripture, accountability, and encouragement.  And I did. And I experienced more growth then ever prior.

Gradually, God worked on my heart and liberated me from my addictions (note the plural tense).  Christ set me free (Gal 5) through His word, His Spirit, and His body (Community). Christ molded me through this process to be more like Him. It was not easy. It was not immediate. It was often painful. And it took time.  Ultimately, God changed my heart to be more like His and redirected my path in life. Though I had plans and ambitions for my future, those changed. Not to say God wrecked my dreams, but that my heart’s desire changed. Just as a friend mentored me (2 Tim 2:2), I wished to disciple others as Jesus commanded all believers to do in the Great Commission (Mat. 28:19).

Jesus radically altered my reality.

God used me to glorify him and make him known among the nations on the far side of the world three times, despite my ordinary struggles, my brokenness, my bitterness, and despite me. And I endeavor to continue to be more like Him and to grow His Kingdom. Even though I often fumble over my own words, I can still have confidence when sharing the good news of Jesus because the creator of the universe commanded me to do so.

Jesus overcame me. He overcame the grave. And he can certainly overcome you. If nothing else, let my testimony provide a defense for his power to heal the broken and to use the ordinary to grow His kingdom by making disciples of all nations.

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Chris Chilton serves as a team member with 1520 Unreached in Austin, TX and as a member of Wells Branch Community Church. Thank you for all your work Chris.

Start Here. Go Everywhere.

Start Here. Go Everywhere.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will
be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of
the earth.” Acts 1:8
One of my favorite slogans is held by a College in the northwest corner of Harvey
County, Kansas. I first saw it on a billboard while driving down I-35 from
Nebraska to Texas. It simply says, “Hesston College – Start Here, Go
Everywhere!”.
That caught my attention;Start Here, Go Everywhere”. I knew what they were
trying to say, in reference to a college experience, but that slogan has stayed
with me as it relates to the Great Commission Jesus gave His disciples in Acts
1:8. The work of reaching the world with the life changing reality of Jesus Christ
was to extend well beyond the His death, burial and resurrection. Matthew, Mark
and Acts clearly record our Lord’s final words to His disciples. Mark states it most
succinctly; “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”. Jesus told
His disciples while standing just outside Jerusalem, “Start Here, Go Everywhere!
Fast-forward almost 2,000 years.
We at Wells Branch Community Church still take His Great Commission
seriously. We are a family of believers committed to reaching people with the life-
changing reality of Jesus Christ. It’s who we are! It is why we exist! It is the
reason we have sent James and DiDi Myer and support the work of 1520
Unreached in Tanzania. For WBCC, Austin is our “Start Here” and Tanzania is
our first door to “Go Everywhere”.
Gala and I have just returned from a two-week visit to Tanzania. It was not only a
blessing to catch up with our family, but it is life changing to see the work that is
being accomplished and the growing 1520 Unreached Ministry. By working with
two seminary trained, experienced Tanzanian pastors and their families, Pastor
Eliah Chilendu and Pastor Jacob Mwakibinga, James is seeing a God-sized
mission develop. These men have moved their families into Zaramo villages.
James is engaging with the culture, developing a ministry team, and forming over
ten church communities in remote areas. The Gospel is being lived before the
church. They have weekly Bible and theology lessons and monthly all night
prayer meetings. The study of the Word of God and discipleship is changing lives
and people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ. It was a highlight for me to be
able to preach to 25 fellow believers at the church in Kwala Village on November
15th.
I am in awe to realize that less than one year ago, that church did not exist;
this is the power of God just as He promised.
As I process my Tanzanian experience, the power of the Holy Spirit in and
through the lives of the 1520 Unreached efforts is beyond belief; the wisdom, the
opportunities, the protection, the open doors, the changed lives. Jesus told us as
we start here and go everywhere we could expect His power and such results!
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We enjoyed our time with the family in Tanzania. Here Gala and I are with James, DiDi and Moses

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Pastor Jacob and Eliah outside of Pastor Jacobs fish shop in the Kwala village.

#unreachedlivesmatter

#unreachedlivesmatter

You are probably familiar with the hashtags #blacklivesmatter or #policelivesmatter. For the most part, I don’t think that the majority of us would disagree with either of these statements. (Granted, I know there are some people who do and we’ll keep praying for these people.) These trending statements have been used to shine a light on injustice against a particular group of people. Areas where maybe our words say one things but our lives and actions say another.

Often when we look at the Bible there are many “commands” which make us feel like it is compiled of a list of rules and regulations. The truth is, when boundaries are drawn and things need to be repeated, it’s probably because it goes against our very nature as humans to do those things. This is something that was pointed out to me by a friend who led our community group a couple of years ago. He ended every conversation about some sort of “command” in the Bible with this reminder, “If it’s a command, it probably doesn’t come naturally. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a command.”

The writers of the Bible were God-inspired to use the phrase, “fear not” 365 times. If we as a human race weren’t so inclined to fear, maybe we wouldn’t need a reminder for every day of the calendar year! In the same way, the sad fact is that statements like #blacklivesmatter exist because our society and its actions denote otherwise.

When God gives a commandment, it is meant to bring and give life. It is my assumption that trending statements are meant to do the same.

Here is my opinion. And what I think God wants us to understand about how He loves His people.

 

There is not one group of people that is more or less important than another … and our words AND ACTIONS should reflect that part of God.

Equally so, when 1520 Unreached decided to be a single-minded ministry, they decided to solely focus on people groups with less than 2% being evangelical Christians with no indigenous church planting movement/resources to evangelize their own people, otherwise known as an unreached people group.

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Children of the Zaramo people group.

Why?

Is it because we consider those without any church MORE important than those in communities surrounded by other believers and able of evangelizing their own? BY NO MEANS! On the contrary, it’s because they are neither more NOR LESS important than #blacklives, #policelives, #americanlives.

And the truth is, the current message that we are sending to those living in unreached people groups is that they are just not as important.

Now hear me out people, I know that somewhere in you there is a voice that wants to jump up in disagreement, but first let me present some numbers.

According to aboutmissions.org,

  • American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministries.
  • 5% on cross-cultural efforts in already reached people groups.
  • 0.5% to reach the unreached.
  • Only 0.1% of all Christian giving is sent to the mission efforts in the 38 least evangelized countries in the world!
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Small Zaramo child holding a Gospel of John.

Now don’t give up hope. If we believe that the Lord will fulfill His promises to us, and we do, then we can find hope and rest in this prophetic passage.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from EVERY nation, from ALL tribes and [ALL] peoples and [ALL] languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” –Revelation 5:9

This is the verse that 1520 Unreached derives its vision statement. Our vision is that “Every man, woman and child in all unreached people groups has the opportunity to hear and respond to the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ, at least once.”

Our heart longs to one day stand in the presence of the Lord, in this very scene mentioned in the above scripture. Standing next to our brothers and sisters, knowing it was our words, prayers and our funds that reached them from across the world.

 

How?

What are practical ways to reach the unreached from where YOU are right NOW.

Give

Find local churches and organizations that are sending missionaries to work in these unreached areas.

You can visit 1520 Unreached’s support page here or donate to Well Branch Community Church’s Well Project 11666273_10107291573475184_1260321006876417191_n_clipped_rev_1

Pray

Pray for those missionaries daily. Pray for the leadership in those areas and for the indigenous people.

1520 Unreached support group meets every Friday morning in Austin, TX to pray for the Unreached. You can join us in setting an alarm to pray at 3:20pm (15:20) daily for unreached people groups around the globe.

Go

This begins with prayer, but if you feel like the Lord has equipped and called you to reach the unreached, reach out to a local organization or leader and work towards being sent by a church to an unreached people group.

 

So ultimately, it is not that there is a group of people more or less deserving of our love, care, resources, time and efforts, rather it is that we truly believe that we are equally as loved and cared for by an all-knowing and all-powerful God, and our lives as His people should reflect that.

 

So it is absolutely #alllivesmatter, and in light of that it leads us to display with our lives that #unreachedlivesmatter.

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Swahili/English Bibles being passed out in a Zaramo unreached people group.

Faces & Bibles

Faces & Bibles

These are the faces of the children who 1520 Unreached has been able to reach because of YOUR SUPPORT! Visit the support page to join the monthly giving team.

“For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.” 2 Corinthians 10:14-16

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From Prison to Mission

From Prison to Mission

Eddie & Teresa Franz returned from Tanzania a couple of weeks ago after spending 18 days on the ground with James, DiDi & Moses Myer. Eddie & Teresa will be writing multiple blogs in the near future about their experiences in Tanzania (& oh man did they get the full Africa experience) but we’d like you to get to know a bit about their story and who they are first.

 

Meet Eddie Franz

 

“I was standing in my cell being counted.  The guards were counting us to make sure none of us had: broken out of the cell block, climbed up and down a 15′ wall, and then scaled not one but two razor wire fences with 10′ of razor wire between the fences.  Not really a necessary count considering no one had ever escaped this federal prison, but one of at least 5 daily counts none-the-less.  During this particular count I made sure I the guards did not see my face as they walked by my cell.  I possessed 2 huge shiners (black eyes) that I did not want them to know about.  If they would’ve seen my black eyes I would have been taken to the hole for at least a month, or forced to tell them about the fight I was in. If you understand prison there is really no choice here.  So for obvious reasons I gave the guards my back. It was at this moment that something inside me broke.  Maybe it was my pride or maybe it was my heart, either way I was done.  I grew instantly and insanely tired.   It was in this brokenness that I realized  my entire adult life had been an act.  “Acting” tough and “acting” cool for over a decade was exhausting, and I was obviously horrible at it.  It go me nothing except a nine year prison sentence.   I was tired.  I had know idea who I was, or who I was supposed to be, but at that moment I decided to begin the task of finding out.

Thats me front left.

The guys in these pictures  were my friends/brothers.  They were closer to me than anyone I had ever met.  We would bleed for each other, to the point of death if need be.  That was even our motto, “till death.”

That’s me on the left

How could I walk away from a group of men that put their lives in my hands and vice versa.  To this day I love these men and pray for them, but I was changing inside and it was my destiny to travel a different path.

Months after the fight I was transferred to a minimum security prison. (where the inmates were different than the guys you see in the pictures.)   Not better or worse, just different.  They were men that I didn’t care to impress.  It sounds great to not have to impress anyone, but I was used to the attention that I got from doing crazy things, trying to impress.  The aloneness I felt at this new prison was staggering and profound.  It was that aloneness though, that removed the other voices long enough to finally hear God’s.

There was a group of men who came to this prison every Thursday for no reason except they cared. They usually taught bible studies, but one Thursday they showed a movie and some inmates invited me, to which I replied, “no thanks.”  The movie was, “Passion of the Christ” directed by Mel Gibson. The christian inmates continued to pitch it to me by saying, “Mel Gibson made it, so it has to be good.”  Say what you want about the sanity of Mel Gibson, but the irony of a man who starred in Lethal Weapon being the one responsible for me hearing the Gospel, is not lost on me.   I left the movie asking myself,  “was it true?”   I had to know.  So I went on a search for the truth and found only Jesus.

Fast forward 4yrs.  Still in prison, but my entire life was devoted to serving Jesus.  As much as I used to be devoted to destruction, I was now much more devoted to life.   I modeled my life after Philippians 2:17  but even if I am poured out as a drink offering for the sacrifice and service of your  faith I will rejoice.  It is amazing the difference Jesus can make.  People saw life in me where before only death was visible. I truly was a new creation.  Little did I know what God had planned next in life.

Fast forward 2 more years.  Not in prison.  I married an amazing woman and was blessed with two of the best step kids you could ever ask for.  I was serving at my home church, WBCC,  and feeling like nothing could be better.  That is until I head a sermon from James Myers on Missions.  He preached an entire sermon with a coke bottle on the podium, and the entire time I am wondering why.  At the end he says that one day he was in Tanzania looking for a group of unreached people, he came across a man who had never heard the name of Jesus Christ, but he was holding that bottle of coke.  So in about 100 years coke was able to do what 2000 years of evangelism was unable to do.  It struck me at that moment that we as Christians are making the Holy Spirit look weaker than Coke.  That to me was unacceptable.  My wife turned to me at that time and simply said, “we have to go.”  I agreed.

Next time I will tell you all about this trip, and who this man with me is.

Once again that’s me on the left.

Eddie Franz”

Visit Eddie’s blog here

“For freedom Christ has set us free ….” Galatians 5:1

Missionaries & Motorcycles

“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.. Ebola.”

We want to start off this post by putting everyone’s heart at ease about what seems to be the “elephant in the room” about our team being on the ground in Africa …. Ebola. The Ebola pandemic is concentrated in West Africa currently, many many miles away from East Africa, where Tanzania is located. We are praying for West Africa, those affected by the outbreak and their loved ones, and for it not to make its way towards our mission field.

Home is where you make it.

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The team has been on the ground for about 6 weeks now, building a home, chicken coop, goat house, and shed in preparation for DiDi (Endurance) and Moses to arrive. We are happy to announce that the house is near completion, with finishing touches to be completed in the next 3 weeks, just in time to welcome the entire Myer family on August 25th!! Endurance & Moses will finally be reunited with their father and husband, James. While James is waiting for his family to arrive he has some special little ones to keep him company. A number of local children have adopted our missionaries as their own. Below are pictures of Jessica and Ezekiel, some new found friends for our team.

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Adding to the Body of Christ with Zaramo Brethren

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With the house substantially complete and the men itching to share the gospel, our missionaries took a construction break and ventured into the Zaramo community to proclaim the good news. Meeting with a group of 4 men on the side of the road, Trevor shared about the love and life of Jesus Christ. God stirred their hearts and three of the men accepted Christ and are looking forward to learning more about Yesu Kristo and the book written by God that they’ve heard so much about. Hallelujah!

Coming Home

Two of our missionaries – Trevor Batton and Robert Spivey, who travelled with James to help lay the foundation for him and his family, have returned state side after their stay in Tanzania. Both men have returned with a fire in their hearts to keep reaching the unreached. Keep praying for Trevor as he finishes his last year at Texas A&M University. He has committed his life to fulfilling his calling of taking the Gospel of Christ to those who have never heard. He will join the Myer family in Tanzania next year. Robert is returning earlier than scheduled due to some unforeseen medical issues. Pray for the Spivey family as they continue to pray about where the Lord would have them serve the unreached.

“Piki-piki”

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The Myer family is completely funded by supporters like you and because of your support, they were able to purchase their first family vehicle for the mission field, a 200cc Chinese motorcycle or as they would say in Swahili “piki-piki”. This vehicle will provide a way for the family to go into town when needed, but most importantly, it will be a way for them to spend intentional time with the Zaramo people group. This motorcycle will take aquaponics, agricultural education, and most importantly the gospel out to the Zaramo. These things are possible because of you giving to, supporting and praying for this ministry. We cannot thank you enough for being a part of the vision God has placed on our hearts to reach the unreached. Asante sana! (Thank you very much!)

Become a Supporter

So what can we do? For those of us who want to be an active part of God’s mission of reaching the unreached but aren’t quite ready to fly over and join the Myers (yet), what can we do to spread the Gospel into these unreached parts of the world? My advice – be ZEALOUS.

 

Be a zealous goer.

You can contact the Director of Communications (me) for ways to get involved with being a zealous goer and join the Myers on the ground in Tanzania.

Be a zealous giver.

As always, you can support the Myers or any of the members of the team by going to our support page.

Pray Zealously

Pray. Pray. Pray.

-Native pastors to join on mission with the Myers and take the gospel to the Zaramo

-The Zaramo & surrounding tribes; that the Lord will prepare their hearts and minds

– Pray for swift healing of James’ bacterial infection

-Travel plans for DiDi & Moses as they leave in for Tanzania on August 24th

-Pray for protection from Ebola and Malaria

-James serving alone until DiDi and Moses arrive

-The 1520 unreached team stateside and their efforts to spread awareness about unreached people groups

Snakes, Shovels & Souls

“We are celebrating many victories in Tanzania this week, but there are still needs to be met and many people to be reached.”

Snakes Snakes Snakes

Since leaving the states on June 23rd, our missions team has experienced all too well the inevitable change in culture that has come with their move to Tanzania. James Myer, founder of 1520, had his first close encounter with a black mamba only a couple of days after being on the ground and later that week, two of their dogs were killed by boa constrictors. What would be a lifetime of snake experiences here in the states, is only the beginning for the Myers. “[We] are not worried” says James reminding us of the words of Jesus in Luke 10, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”

Construction Many of 1520’s supporters have asked about the progress of the construction and the mental state of the team. It has been our heart’s joy to see photos and hear stories of the progress being made daily on the land. Below is a gallery of photos from some of the current projects that are being built to sustain our missionaries. John Myer has been spearheading the building of a goat house that will house goats to provide milk as well as meat for the family in the future. All of the team has been hard at work with laying the foundation of the Myer’s earthbag* home. And apparently all you need to remodel your toilet seat is duct tape, thank you for that revelation Robert Spivey! It also seems that the African made tools might not be strong enough for these American workers, many have met their end at the hands of our missionaries. Missionary Care Missionary care is one thing that we focus on here at 1520unreached and it’s been difficult for us not being able to serve the team hands on now that they’re in Africa. For that reason we are so grateful for the Chalinze Baptist Church family who provided our team with such a wonderful meal consisting of wali, chapati, samaki, kchambari & kiazi, as well as fellowship. It’s amazing and humbling to see how the Lord will take a family whose house is a 8×8 mud hut and use them to provide for our missionary team while they are on the ground. It really leaves us here in America with no excuses not to serve those around us. Souls Saved 

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Robert Spivey & James Myer with Serena & Majunto who just received Christ

James was given the opportunity to speak this Sunday morning at the Chahua Baptist Church. While they were building this week and preparing for this service, the team had prayed for the Lord to move in the hearts of the people in the area. Their prayers were answered this morning. A Muslim man, Majuto, featured above in the red shirt, had a rough Saturday when his Muslim boss heard that he would be attending a Christian church and fired him from his job. His family, after hearing this, explained to Majuto that if he believed in Jesus he would not be able to return home. That didn’t stop him from making his way into church this morning. After hearing the gospel presented, Majuto trusted in Jesus as his Savior. Serena, the woman holding her baby, was walking by the church this morning and came in to listen to the “mzungu” or white man speak. She also came to faith in Christ this morning.   We are celebrating many victories in Tanzania this week, but there are still needs to be met and many people to be reached. Be in prayer for Majuto as he is now homeless and jobless. Pray for the spiritual growth of our new brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray that our team will not grow weary in doing good.

As always, if you would like to donate, please visit our Support page.

John loving on some of the local children

John’s goat house

The beginning of setting the foundation

Foundation is up and so is the door

Toilet – Before

Toilet – After

Tool Casualties

Homemade African meal

One Week on the Ground

“Continue to pray for the Lord to work even in the building phase of this ministry.”

The team has been on the ground in Tanzania for just over a week now. In that time, they have gathered their supplies to begin building the house that the Myer’s will do their ministry out of in Chalinze. They attended a church service on Sunday there in Tanzania. Putting first things first, the team put up a shower that they will use throughout the building phase of this journey. Continue to pray for the Lord to work even in the building phase of this ministry.

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Muhammad… 7 Months Later

Muhammad… 7 Months Later

7 months after Muhammad heard about Jesus for the first time he has a Bible in his language. We left early this morning to search out Muhammad. After driving through the African backroads for hours and hiking into the thick overgrown bush, God answered prayers, we found Muhammad herding his goats. He immediately recognized me (not really a big deal, considering I am the only white person / american he has ever met). He was overjoyed to have a bible. He said he has prayed to Jesus every night since we left and asked God to give him the “Holy Book”. We were also able to bring him glasses so He can read. I gave him 2 bibles and he told me that was not enough. He needed to give all his family a Bible so they all can learn about Jesus. Never before has this village even seen a Bible.

Baby Moses has arrived.

Baby Moses has arrived.