Henna Now @TGC

Cindy is now at The Gospel Coalition for Women. She is serving with a dozen women at the IMB booth, sharing the gospel while painting Bible story designs on ladies' palms with henna, an ancient Asian art form.  May meaningful conversations occur that move us all to abide deeper in Christ, to grow daily as we pray and study His Word and then, with joy and love, share naturally out of that overflow.

Feast before the fast.

We thank the Lord that on the 5th of June twenty-four refugees and sixteen volunteers gathered at our home to feast and fellowship before their long thirty days of fasting. It was a beautiful night, including some pontoon boat rides and delicious food. We engaged in many sidebar conversations and saw God sweeten relationships for His glory.
One resultant blessing: A volunteer guest at the cookout heard about the Wednesday afternoon ladies' ESL (English as a Second Language) tutoring and joined in the next week. One of the refugee students praised our teaching team as being "So kind!" We replied, "Thank you, but only God is truly kind." We explained our motives for helping them. "We can't do anything good to earn merit from God. We serve you because God in Christ has loved us so much. We want Jesus' love to flow through us to you."
Friday night Mark and I returned to this same apartment and had the privilege of breaking fast with one young refugee family. Pray for these families who are fasting and praying. May the Holy Spirit prepare their hearts for spiritual transformation and may Jesus the Messiah reveal Himself to them during these days and nights.

Not So Fast

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting will begin soon. As a follower of Jesus Christ, have you enjoyed the practice of Christian prayer and fasting?

Let's be clear. There is an indisputable distinction between fasting as a Christian and Muslim fasting. Muslims fast for merit -- hoping to add weight to the positive side of the scale of divine judgment.

A Muslim's hope -- the more merit earned through good works, the better his chance that Allah will allow him into paradise.

As redeemed followers of the living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our motivation for fasting is quite different. From approximately June 6th, during the daylight hours of the subsequent thirty days of Ramadan, many sincere Muslims will abstain from food and drink. Muslims will experience cherished family time at community evening meals. They will read the Qur'an at the mosque and pray. Their hope is to earn Allah's merciful favor.

So what about fasting for Christians? Clearly, God's grace cannot be earned. In fact, those two words don't fit logically into the same sentence, since grace is defined as "unmerited favor." Grace is not grace if it can be earned in any way. Grace is an undeserved gift from God. His grace is "lavished upon us" Ephesians 1:7-9, NASB.

So why fast and how do I get started? David Mathis at Desiring God Ministries has written a helpful beginners guide for Christian fasting.

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Fasting for Beginners

Article by: David Mathis

Chances are you are among the massive majority of Christians who rarely or never fast. It’s not because we haven’t read our Bibles or sat under faithful preaching or heard about the power of fasting, or even that we don’t genuinely want to do it. We just never actually get around to putting down the fork.

Part of it may be that we live in a society in which food is so ubiquitous that we eat not only when we don’t need to, but sometimes even when we don’t want to. We eat to share a meal with others, to build or grow relationships (good reasons), or just as a distraction from responsibility.

And of course, there are our own cravings and aches for comfort that keep us from the discomfort of fasting.

Read More

New Life

We are so thankful for all of your responses to the announcement about this New Day in our lives and ministry. If you missed that first letter, you can read it at RefugeeMemphis.com. God is so good to lead us on this new journey, and we are grateful.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:13-14, ESV).

Mothers are especially remembered in May.

Please pray for three beautiful, young Afghan mommies and new babies here at "RT" in Memphis, the apartment complex where many newly-arrived refugees have landed. Two of the three had their babies in the last two weeks.

Luke James born 1/7 to Emily and Sam.
Praise the Lord for a dozen volunteers from five churches that put on a baby shower for these women. Not only did my mom come, but two dear friends helped from afar - D and S. D suggested the Bible reading and a specially-crafted prayer for Muslim ears. S is an Afghan follower of Jesus; she recorded the reading of Psalm 139 and the prayer for the honored guests to hear in their language during the shower. After helping to setup, Mark disappeared to spend time with one of the husbands, when the Lord opened a door for a deeper, spiritual conversations.

Please pray for these three families -- for healthy babies and mothers, and for the continued work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

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New Partners -"Nations Within"of Navigators

Our previous letter mentioned emerging new partnerships. We are excited to partner with our 1979 campus Navigator leader, Mark Lewis. He directs the ministry among the many nationalities living in the United States who have a primary cultural identity distinct from most Americans.
 
Nations Within exists to advance the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom through generational discipleship. The bouquet of nationalities within our country creates a kingdom opportunity not to be ignored, rather to be sought out and served, toward the end vision of Revelation 7:9.
"After this I looked, and behold,  a great multitude that no one could number,  from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Rev 7:9, ESV).
Memphis Cup

Memphis Cup of Nations - May 21

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. will kick off the third annual Memphis Cup of Nations and Family Festival to celebrate our diverse international community.
The Memphis Cup of Nations seizes the universal passion for sport, connects the nations and builds community. Sixteen teams representing 16 different nationalities will compete in a day-long soccer tournament. The event will recognize the
often overlooked 100,000 plus internationals in our city. Find Out More about Memphis Cup of Nations

A New Day . . .

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In Athens the Apostle Paul found an altar with an inscription to an unknown god. As he preached the gospel of Jesus to the Athenians he chided them for worshiping an obscure god with no name. How much better, Paul explained, to worship the true Lord of heaven and earth. In fact, Paul described God as orchestrating the allotted times of our lives, and even the boundaries of nations. As we see the international crisis today unfold, we might ask, Why does God work in this way? Morris grandkids small size-0105

Paul answers: So that people everywhere "should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each of us." (Acts 17:27, ESV).

Recently God has redrawn our "allotted times and boundaries." He has led us to a new season of ministry among refugees, whose boundaries have certainly been upended!

Last month, we prayerfully chose to step away from a ministry and an organization that we have loved like family since 1983, The International Mission Board. Increasingly, Mark was spending half of his time in Richmond, Virginia -- making work with internationals here unsustainable.

We evaluated our current season of life at age 58, fasted and sought counsel before making this significant decision. Essentially this means three things:

1. Refined Focus - We now have time to give ourselves wholeheartedly to God's work among immigrants scattered from their homelands, landing in our city.

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." Col. 3:23, ESV

2. Dependent Faith - Since we are no longer receiving an IMB salary, we are fully trusting the Lord to provide our needs, knowing this journey will require frugality, hard work and diligent prayer.

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19, ESV

3. Partnering for Discipleship - God is gathering a tight knit group of long time and new friends with whom we partner in ministry. Three young couples and a lovely single lady moved into the refugee apartment complex called "RT." Together we meet weekly to pray, share, worship and plan.

Now we are free to deepen our involvement with Hussain Andaryas. Last month the Andaryases ofAfghan Christian Media hosted us for a wonderful weekend.  We fellowshipped around delicious Afghan food, worked on some important projects, prayed and enjoyed a long walk together.

In addition, we have reconnected with Mark Lewis, our university Navigator campus leader from 1979. He invited us to travel to Chicago last month for an enriching Navigator gathering of theirNations Within ministry focusing on internationals in the United States. We learned so much!

Many of you have prayed for us for years. It is prayer that we value above all. This new new day in our lives and ministry will only be fruitful with God's intervention and the empowering of His Spirit. Thank you for your continued prayers. Now, please share with us ways we can pray for you.
"It is always & altogether His work before it is ours." (Miriam Adeney)