On Thursday Feb 16 Pastor Seeva and I met with the Vice Principal and four others at the School of Industries here in Newcastle. This is a State operated school that educates high school age students with serious behavioral issues and those who have committed serious crimes but are not old enough for the adult prison system.There are a total of 25 students. I presented our vision with the soccer ministry at the forefront. However, as we started talking it became obvious there are other opportunities for ministry. We were told that most of the learners there had never really had any education and very few of them could read and write English. Both Pastor Seeva and essentially at that pint volunteered Deena since that was her area of expertise. Also when I explained to them I had a background in career counseling they indicated that was also a great need. As I began to present I was mindful that this was a state school so even though I told them we were missionaries and we would be sharing the hope of Christ with students, I was trying to convey this with utmost diplomacy. Towards the end of the presentation one of the counselors that was present said you speak of sharing Jesus but would you also be willing to pray with the learners because that is something they need desperately. That gave us a wide open door and needless to say we walked right through. The (Hindu) Vice Principal then indicated to us that he wanted us to share the Bible with the students and asked if there was a way we could provide "nice" Bibles for them that they could study. He also said he believed that these kids needed God and that was their only hope if they were to become good citizens on the outside. It was just an incredible meeting, we are so excited what God is doing and humbled that He has chose us for this opportunity. Deena and I are going to the site on Monday the 20th to meet and spend time with the students to begin the process of getting to know them and assess needs. I made sure I reminded all present that we were leaving on March 10 and probably would not be able to make it back for a few months. The Vice Principal said that was fine but he wanted us to meet with the learners to start the process so we could hit the ground running when we came back. He also basically told us we full access to the students and the school would print any materials we needed such as devotionals, reading lessons, counseling guides, etc. Please pray for these kids and the Holy Spirit's guidance as we seek clarity and vision for this important ministry.
Our time here for this vision trip is coming to close in a hurry as so it seems. We only have three weeks left in Newcastle and we have a lot to accomplish before we leave. Deena is working frantically on ensuring the reading curriculum is in place prior to March 10, our last day in Newcastle. Please pray for her, the teachers and administration as they work together to make this happen.
I am spending my time developing the soccer ministry organization and preparing us for full time ministry here. It is a lot of work but what a labor of joy!!
Please pray for appointments I have this week and that they will be informative and extremely productive. Pastor Seeva Pillay and I are meeting with an administrator of the School for Industries today. They have invited us to come in on a weekly basis to minister to their 30-40 students. This is essentially a juvenile detention center who houses troubled youth from all over South Africa. Even though it is a state run school we are going to have opportunities to present the gospel, both through the soccer ministry and through individual counseling sessions with the students.
I will also be meeting with two pastors this week to discuss how the soccer ministry will serve them in their efforts to evangelize their communities.
Please pray that both Deena and can complete the work we needed to set the foundation for us to come back, hopefully by the end of the year. We are moving forward at a rapid pace to serve here long term. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will be our guiding force and God will receive the full measure of glory in all that done through our work here.
Note: We are now preparing for full missionary service, if you feel lead to give to this ministry, you can now make tax deductible donations through our sending agency listed below:
Into all the World, PO Box 702558, Tulsa, OK 74170-2558, Designated for "Simmons"
Just to let you know that we are settling into the new house ; still putting up shelves, unpacking boxes, but it's such a pleasure to take our time in order to see how things work out. It's also a pleasure to sort through things again. This winter has been extremely cold all of a sudden, so bedding, linen, household goods, clothes have been distributed to those in need. Lamastre is attracting newcomers who are victims of the crisis and needing to find cheaper housing. Welfare families are struggling to make ends meet.
Pascal and I have taken up our 'normal' ministry activities now. I felt like I was coming out of quarantine ! We can't say we were isolated, because so many people helped us and continue to. But all my energy was put into this move and the first settling in and I felt quite cut off from my friends.
Continue to pray for Murielle who is devouring books on different aspects of the Christian faith. Pray for Tanya who is so keen on evangelism, and for her contacts. Pray as I accompany Evelyne and Catherine in their outreach relationships. Pray for the World Day of Prayer organisation, and for our future Bible Vacation Club in April. We really need to be guided as to whom to invite and inform.
Please also pray that the church property in the other village will be sold so the new manse can be paid for.
So life goes on and nothing is ever really predictable. Thank God for God, who watches over us and gives us strength for each day, and for His Spirit which guides us in our choices.
For Jesus it was important not only that we try to reach these standards of love and sincerity but also that we realise the occasions when we do not. Once we have understood what we have done wrong we can ask for forgiveness, and then make a serious effort to correct our mistakes. It is only when we do this that we can truly be a follower of God.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14)
The forgiveness of our sins is not without a cost because when we break laws, whether they be civil or divine, we should expect to face some consequences. However the price of our forgiveness was paid in a remarkable, symbolic way when Jesus suffered and died in our place. He explained this sacrifice by using bread and wine as symbols of his body and blood.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)
All of the followers of Jesus are joined together in a mystical union to make up one body, of which Christ is the head. When Jesus died it was like this whole body of believers died in him, and so his death becomes a meaningful sacrifice for the wrong doing of all believers.
We must humble ourselves in a way that allows us to truly understand what we have done, what we deserve, and what Jesus gave up so that we could be free. When we do this we will finally realise how much God has done for us
Eu voltei para a Australia dia 25 de janeiro. Eu sei que só se passaram 3 semanas desde que cheguei em casa mas tanta coisa já aconteceu desde então em um curto espaço de tempo!
Eu comecei meu trabalho com a SIM (Serving in Mission) como mobilizadora de missões e em apenas 2 semanas de trabalho eu já aprendi muita coisa.
Eu ainda tenho que aprender muito mais sobre a SIM, sobre como mobilizar pessoas para o campo missionário, sobre como trabalhar em uma organização cristã, sobre como Deus poderá me usar nessa função e muito mais. Mas eu estou adorando cada minuto desse aprendizado!
Nos últimos 5 anos eu trabalhei em um escritório de advocacia como a gerente geral. O escritório era altamente organizado e eficiente, com uma equipe que atingia metas e alcançava excelentes resultados. Por um lado eu sinto falta da estrutura, da organização, da eficiência. Eu gosto desse ambiente, eu gosto de controlar as coisas ao meu redor, de receber uma tarefa e atingir as metas com perfeição.
Mas Deus não me chamou para que eu fique na minha área de conforto por muito tempo. Ele já havia me chamado para uma aventura fora da minha área de conforto quando 6 anos atrás eu tive que deixar o Brasil, minha cultura, minha família e amigos para viver em um lugar completamente diferente e desconhecido para mim.
Eu passei por momentos bem difíceis quando eu cheguei na Austrália mas Deus me protegeu, debaixo de suas asas, e me segurou firme por cada passo que dei. Eu aprendi a confiar em Deus para tudo o que eu preciso. Ele me ensinou que ele é meu refúgio e minha força.
E recentemente ele me chamou novamente para fora da minha área de conforto para que eu entrasse em ministério em tempo integral, para me desafiar ainda mais, e para que eu confie ainda mais nele. Eu estou muito feliz por ele ter me chamado novamente para algo novo, e muito feliz por eu ter obedecido ao chamado! Eu estou muito feliz por estar servindo ao meu Senhor Jesus com toda a minha vida. Eu estou muito animada com a minha função de facilitadora da jornada de fé dos servos do Senhor para considerar participação do trabalho de Deus no mundo. É um privilégio ver pessoas respondendo ao chamado de Deus para missões e saber que faço parte do processo de envio ao campo missionário.
Mas tudo isso ainda parece muito desconhecido para mim e eu sinto que preciso de mais tempo para entender tudo o que tem acontecido comigo e os planos de Deus para o futuro.
Parece que foi ontem que eu estava no Brasil visitando familiares e participando dos ministérios locais. Eu vi muitos projetos pelos quais Deus tem usado seus servos para alcançar mais vidas para seu reino.
Eu não esperava me surpreender com os ministérios locais mas eu realmente fui movida pelas experiências que vivi e me sinto transformada. Eu acho que o fato de eu ter vivido na Austrália nos últimos 6 anos fez com que eu abrisse meus olhos para a minha própria cultura. Eu pude ver minha cultura com olhos críticos e pude amar o povo brasileiro ainda mais. Eu ainda estou passando pelo processo de entender as minhas emoções com relação aos projetos e a maneira como eu mudei minha maneira de pensar desde então.
Algumas das histórias que ouvi no Brasil mudaram a maneira como eu penso com relação aos outros, com relação ao sofrimento, com relação a mim mesma e com relação a Deus. Eu adorei a oportunidade de poder conversar com as pessoas, ouvir suas histórias e testemunhos de vida, chorar com elas, rir com elas, ver como a vida delas foi transformada e poder orar com elas.
Provavelmente as histórias mais impactantes para mim vieram do Projeto Nova que visa ajudar as pessoas envolvidas na prostituição. As histórias das meninas são uma mistura de sofrimento, exploração, abuso, vício, falta de opção, falta de reconhecimento, baixíssima auto-estima, e muito mais.
Muitas meninas começaram na prostituição quando ainda eram crianças, carregam o vício da droga e álcool, não sabem como sair dessa situação e precisam de muita ajuda em todas as áreas, incluindo médica, psicológica, e principalmente espiritual.
Mas o projeto tem levado o nome de Jesus até essas meninas e muitas tem visto sua vida completamente transformada.
A jornada entre a vida na rua e a conversão não é fácil pois existem muitos problemas ao redor do problema principal que é a falta de Jesus na vida delas. Mas Deus tem colocado líderes nesse projeto que estão sensíveis às necessidades, aos problemas, e aos métodos de ajuda. Mas principalmente as líderes estão levando o amor de Jesus para as meninas nas ruas.
Uma das meninas atendidas pelo projeto me falou que na semana anterior ao nosso encontro ela tinha tentado o suicídio. O inimigo falava para ela que ela não tinha valor algum e que se ela morresse ninguém sentiria a falta dela. Mas o Espírito Santo de Deus falava para ela que ela tinha valor e que Deus tinha um propósito na vida dela. Ela então parou de planejar como tiraria sua própria vida e começou a orar. E Deus a retirou daquele lugar perigoso em que ela se encontrava psicologicamente.
E enquanto ela me contava isso, lágrimas corriam pelo meu rosto e pelo rosto dela, e nós choramos e oramos juntas. Nós compartilhamos um momento muito lindo de comunhão com Deus e comunhão entre nós duas. Não havia nada mais importante para nós naquele momento do que a dádiva de mais um dia. E a oração dela era para que ela tivesse mais um dia, não para que ela pudesse viver, mas para que ela pudesse ter mais uma chance de compartilhar o amor de Jesus com pelo menos mais uma pessoa.
Eu achei isso lindo. Ali estávamos nós, entendendo que dependemos de Deus para que estejamos vivos no próximo dia. Que se Deus não nos der a chance do próximo respirar nós morremos. E que tudo o que queremos é poder viver mais um dia pois assim mais alguém vai ouvir a gente contar a história de Jesus e da salvação que ele nos oferece.
Eu ainda me pego pensando naquela oração e tento entender o que significa seguir a Jesus em total dependência e obediência, pois diariamente dependemos de Deus para sobreviver. Mas o que temos feito com o próximo dia que ele nos tem dado?
Nada faz sentido se não temos um relacionamento com Deus. O dia de amanhã não está disponível somente para que eu viva, mas para que eu use o dia para glorificar o nome de Jesus.
Nós aprendemos grandes lições ouvindo as histórias daqueles que não tem mais nada para oferecer. Mas eles tem o maior tesouro que precisamos e a única coisa que realmente importa: Jesus.
Eu não esperava aprender tanto durante minha visita ao Brasil, e nem esperava receber uma revelação de Deus de que meu lugar no momento é aqui na Austrália, trabalhando na SIM como mobilizadora de missões. Eu pensei que estando no Brasil eu ia ficar com saudades do meu povo e querer ficar pra sempre, trabalhando no campo missionário no Brasil mesmo, em um dos projetos que visitei. Mas para minha surpresa eu não pensei nisso, mas tive a certeza e a confirmação de que o meu chamado agora é para que eu mobilize pessoas para irem ao campo missionário, que eu facilite a jornada daqueles que obedecem ao chamado de Deus.
Com a ajuda de Deus eu espero contagiar os outros com essa minha paixão por missões para que muitos tomem a decisão de ir e cumprir com a missão de Deus em todas as nações.
Eu estou muito feliz de estar de volta em casa com meu esposo U-Don.
Nós estamos animados com o que Deus preparou para nós nesse ano e manteremos contato para que você saiba mais das nossas notícias através desse blog.
Nossa oração é para que você se lembre que você depende de Deus para viver o dia de amanhã.
E que quando Deus te der o amanhã, que você se lembre de usar o dia para a glória do nome dele.
I have been back in Australia since 25 January. I know it is only 3 weeks since I came back home but so much has happened in such a short period of time!
I have started my role with SIM as a mission mobiliser and after only 2 weeks on the job there is already so much I have learnt!
I still have to understand more about SIM, about mobilising people for missions, about working in a Christian organisation, about how God can use me in this role, and much more. But I am enjoying every bit of it!
For the last 5 years I have worked in a different type of office, with different priorities and goals. I miss the structure and the organised way of working like that. I am comfortable doing that, I like to control my environment, I like to be given a task and work on achieving it with a perfectionist approach.
But God did not call me to stay hiding in my comfort zone for too long. He has called me out of my comfort zone before when I had to leave my country, my culture, my family and friends, and step into something completely different and unknown to me.
I had a tough time when I first arrived in Australia but God kept me safe, under his wings, and sustained me through every step I took. I learnt how to trust him for everything I needed. He taught me that he is my refuge and my strength.
And recently he called me out of my comfort zone again to step into full time ministry, to stretch myself even further, to trust him even more. I am so happy that He has done that and that I obeyed him! I am really happy to serve him with my whole life. I am very excited to be a facilitator for people who are stepping into world missions. To see people taking up the call into mission and to help them to get there is such a joy and a privilege!
But all of this is still unknown to me and I feel like I need time to process all that has been happening to me and what God has planned for the future.
It was not long ago that I was in Brazil visiting my family and participating of local ministries. I have seen many things that God has been doing there through his faithful servants.
I actually did not expect to be surprised by the ministries because it is my own culture. But for my surprise I was really challenged and encouraged by it ! I think that living in Australia for the last 6 years opened my eyes to my own culture and made me see my own people with different eyes, more critical of the culture but also much more loving towards the people. I am still trying to process my emotions and how I have changed since.
Some of the stories I heard there changed the way I think about others, about suffering, about myself and about God. I loved the fact that I could relate to people, hear about real life stories, cry with them, laugh with them, share testimonies of how their lives have changed, and pray together.
Probably the most impacting ministry for me so far was the project called “Nova” (New) that brings the gospel of Jesus to girls who are working on the streets as prostitutes.
I have met a girl who is in the phase 1 of the project (meaning she just heard the good news about Jesus). She told me a little bit about her story:
(This is not the photo of the girl from the story but please do not reproduce this)
She started in the prostitution when she was only 9 years old. She became a drug and alcohol addict. She sold her body to pay for her addictions.
She became pregnant 3 times and her sons grew up being looked after by her colleagues in the brothel until 2 of the fathers took the kids from her and she was left with one son. The son who stayed with her also became a drug addict and a drug dealer by the age of 10.
All she ever knew was how to be a prostitute. She did not have a good self-image at all. She saw herself as rubbish, as an object, as someone who has to please others and is never satisfied. She always thought she was worth nothing. She has been infected with the HIV virus and she needs daily medication to keep herself healthy.
She is in her mid 30s now and she just heard about Jesus. She heard for the first time that she is worth a lot, that Jesus had died on the cross for her sins so she could be reconciled to God and not suffer punishment for her wrong doing. This was a “set free” message that touched her heart deeply.
She wanted to know more about this man who was God and gave his life to save her. So she started learning about Jesus and she left prostitution. She has been clean from drugs and alcohol for a few months now. She is still taking the medication for Aids.
I spoke to her before Christmas when she told me this amazing story of transformation she experienced in her life.
But her walk of faith is just at the beginning. She has ups and downs and life has been really hard for her.
She just realised the sins, the abuse, the lack of worth, the addictions and all the bad things that happened to her. She needs healing from all the wounds that she has in her body, in her soul, in her character.
She still does not know what else to do to earn her living. She has been baking cakes to sell in front of the church to pay for her rent. The project is providing workshops for her to learn a new profession so she can sustain herself.
During Christmas she had a tough time and she tried suicide. But God once more protected her and gave her inner peace to stop harming herself.
I met her again after New Year’s Eve and she told me about the struggle she went through and the pain that was all too hard for her to take.
She told me that as she tried to end her life she remembered Jesus and his suffering. Her own-self kept telling her how much she is worthless and she should end it all, but a small sweet voice told her that she is worthy and that there is a purpose for her life. So she decided to stop trying to end her life, listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice and pray. She prayed for the next 4 hours without stopping asking God to take her away from that dangerous place she found herself in. And he did.
During our meeting, as she told me this story, both of us with tears in our eyes, started to pray together. We had the most beautiful moment of prayer and dependency on God to sustain us. We were praying for her to be able to be alive. There was nothing else we wanted more than one more day for her. As she prayed she asked God that she would have one more day not so she could live, but so she could share his love with at least one more person.
I thought this was beautiful. There we were, realising that we depend on God to be alive the next day. That without his provision of the next breath we die. And all we want to do is to have another day so someone else can hear us talking about Jesus.
I still keep thinking about her prayer and what it means to follow Jesus that way, to remember daily that I depend on God for a next day. That nothing really matters if we do not have a relationship with God. That the next day is not for myself so I can live, but for him and for the glory of his name. I did learn big lessons from the people over there who have nothing else left, but they have what matters the most: Jesus.
And I must say that I was not expecting this, but I experienced a confirmation from God that what I am doing at SIM is really something he chose for me to do right now. I thought that being in my country and involved with local missions would make me prefer to stay there and work in the field myself. But surprisingly, even though I did love everything about it, I know that it is my job now to mobilise people to go from anywhere to everywhere. There is so much need everywhere!
With God’s help I will be able to pass on to others my contagious excitement about missions and I will facilitate sending people out to the field to fulfill God’s mission to all nations.
I am very happy to be back home and re-united with my husband U-Don.
We are looking forward to seeing what God has prepared for us this year and we will be happy to share our journey with you.
May you also remember that you depend on God to live one more day.
And when he gives you the next day, may you use it for the glory of His name.
In John 6:28-29 the disciples asked Jesus what work the Father had for them. Jesus answered saying The work of the Father is to believe in the One He sent. On January 30, 2012 after being here four weeks, found out first hand that God's work is not always easy as we endured probably the most trying time in our lives. That morning my wife and I were involved in a jarring car accident (our two sons were not in the car). Later that day our son Micah who contracted a stomach ailment and became very dehydrated. He had to be rushed to the hospital and was there for four nights. These unforeseen incidents basically brought our ministry to a quick halt for an entire week. There was a point we started questioning our calling and in our weakest moments we thought of packing it in and going back home. However, we quickly realized that God has called us to this place and he was going to use us to bring glory to Himself. God never said serving Him would be easy and any setbacks we endure in this world are minute and insignificant when compared to God's eternal plan. We prayed that His word would find fettle ground (as Jesus taught with the parable of the sower) and that we would persevere and be productive till the end in accordance with His eternal will and calling. This week as I researched and began to write the constitution and rules for the soccer ministry we are starting I could not help but think how much of a privileged it was for God to call us to this place at this time and trust us with such an important work. Even with the immense challenges we have faced since we set out on this journey January 1st. I can't imagine anything being more rewarding than to work exclusively for our eternal Father till our last breath not matter what misfortunes this life may bring. We so dearly appreciate your prayers for His provision as we serve out the rest of this trip and as we prepare to come back to serve full time! Dan Simmons
If you've been following our blog you might wonder if we're still around. We are! Our holiday by the beach was a great time of doing very little but building sandcastles (Sean blogged on this on the WEC website - http://wec.com.au/story/building-sandcastles-planting-churches). Now we're back into the swing of things.
Clarissa started school this week, she is going to the same school as Georgi (Enfield Public). She is happy to be there and easily relates to other kids there. Georgi is in year 5 and settling in a bit more slowly but is still happy to go to school which is great.
We had a planning meeting with our teammates in Sydney last week which helped to put focus into this year for us all. Among other things, we'll regularly relate to students in local Bible Colleges; run several Missionary For a Weekend experiences, a couple of Testdrives; organise some nights to help people interact with 'real life' missionaries from Cambodia, West Asia & Asia; Jan will continue on our WEC Australia Board & of course we'll continue in our role as Team Leaders - infact Sean will spend a lot more time on this aspect of our ministry in the year to come, especially resourcing the team to do ministry well.
Last week, Sean shared with a group of Koreans visiting Australia on what WEC is, a very different experience - and he will do so again next Thursday (16th). Next week Jan will be attending a 'Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills' Course here in Sydney, every day 9-6 makes for long days!
Sean is also doing a course over the next 8 weeks 1 day per week on 'Biblical Storytelling for Cross-Cultural Church Planting', telling stories is something he's always been good at (;-)) but this will help frame stories that can be used as a tool to help people think about Jesus.
A longer blog this time, but we do say thanks for your prayers and support. We'll blog more often again now - whatever that may mean!
We have been here less than two weeks and already we have experienced the power of His name..... in an earthquake!
Having lived through an earthquake now (and over 200 aftershocks) I can’t but reflect on a couple of things:
· He is God, we (humanity) need to be reminded
· What we take for granted as stable is not always so
· I spend little time meditating on the power of who God is (His Name).
· What lays dormant in our hearts come to the surface in times of trouble ie fear, prayer etc
I wonder if many people have continued to reflect on the fragility of life and determined to seek to know God. Were they reminded that Jesus is returning soon and there WILL be an enormous earthquake :“There were flashes of lightning, voices and peals of thunder; and there was a massive earthquake, such as has never occurred since mankind has been on earth, so violent was the earthquake”.Rev 16:18 CJB
What does it take to get humanities attention?
This song reminds of His Majesty: Shout To The Lord by Chris Tomlinson
We are happy to announce that our missions blog is operational. We will post ministry updates regurally along with pictures, videos and other information that applies to our mission in South Africa! Please stay tuned!!!