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Names of people & places are anonymised in this article.
A member of Radstock Ministries and I had an immensely fruitful trip to our focus country from March 10-18th.
Thanks to those who prayed and gave, we were able to gather our six dear brothers in the Gospel Partnership from the four corners of ‘Azakstan’ for a Gathering in the hills of its neighbouring country.
It was an immensely uplifting time as we heard the stories and reports and dreams of these six intrepid pastor-evangelists.
As we prayed and shared together, we were able to testify to God's good hand upon them, maturing them as men of God and growing their ministries in their reach and fruitfulness.
The sense of partnership has increased since we last met together. Both among them as collaborators together in mission in ‘Azakstan’ but also with us in the UK. We had sweet fellowship.
An excellent outcome was their unanimous commitment to formally join the Radstock global network of churches. (www.radstock.org).
This will help connect them with a wider family of mission-minded churches and praying groups which is something we have always tried to foster. We praise God for this progress.
Let me tell you about Micky.
When I first met him in ‘Azakstan’ 8 years ago I wasn't impressed to be honest. I was more struck by the godliness of his sister who was faithfully serving their small church in the heart of a Mslm province.
Micky seemed to have only comfort and financial advancement as his priorities. So I was a bit surprised when his Pastor selected him as one of two young men to put through theological and mission training and send out to church plant in the north of ‘Azakstan’: A seriously hard task!
This last trip, I sat with Micky in the camp in the snowy hills. As our gas fire belched out scorching heat and C02 I risked telling him my observations on his life and ministry:
"I wasn't confident in your maturity when I first met you. I felt that your Pastor had made a mistake in setting you aside for ministry. You seemed only to want to be comfortable and to escape the challenges of living as despised Christian in a hard place."
As I spoke, Micky's face fell.
"But". I said, "having heard your reports and listened in on your gospel heart and heard about the hardships you face in the capital of ‘Azakstan’ for the sake of the gospel, I have to conclude that I was wrong and your Pastor was right. I'm so glad you are part of this band of pastor-evangelists. I'm honoured to be your partner in Christ's work."
I am learning from these men that discipling is way more than imparting information/classroom training.
Discipling is a relational/life sharing/modelling process. This Pastor has invested in Micky such that Micky has seen what sacrificial service looks like close up.
Time and again these six men demonstrate wonderfully Christ-like characteristics as they minister and disciple.
The existence of this band of 6 intrepid brothers church planting in a seriously unengaged land is a miracle.
I marvel at what God has brought about directly as a result of the utterly devastating natural disaster last decade in ‘Azakstan’.
It was a heavily restricted area and still remains so. Aid and the gospel were able to get in during that time and now our ‘Azakstan’ Gospel Partnership is getting well established and has great enthusiasm.
Not long after that natural disaster, I made many enquiries to missions and agencies and returned missionaries from neighbouring countries as to what exactly has been done and is being done for the Kingdom in ‘Azakstan’...
The answer from all was a resounding: 'nothing as far as we know'.
I was told by John, the son of missionaries to a neighbouring country, of the times he would stand as a child with his parents at ‘Azakstan’ Point and look out over the hills towards ‘Azakstan’.
They would remark sadly that there was nothing going on there for the gospel and no Christians in ‘Azakstan’ as far as they knew. Then John and his missionary parents would pray.
This last trip, we stood with our 6 ‘Azakstan’ Gospel Partnership brothers at ‘Azakstan’ Point. We too prayed.
Then we made a video for John.
The video began by reminding John of his childhood at ‘Azakstan’ Point and the sadness they felt for the unreached land of ‘Azakstan’ as they looked and prayed over the hills.
Then one by one all six of our partners filed past the camera and said: "Hello John, I am a church planter in ‘Azakstan’".
God is building His church!