N17 wrap up, but more to come

September 3, 2017

Dear New Hope,

The N17 team is BACK from our time in Windhoek, having had an incredible experience of seeing God powerfully work in the lives of the Agape Youth kids, and among our missionary partners serving there so faithfully.

To be sure, we are still in the midst of processing our time there, and will be doing so for some time to come.  We will be meeting several times in the coming months to debrief, and have plans to share stories from our experience with you all, our broader New Hope body.  Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, here are some preliminary thoughts from the team members on ways in which we saw God work, places we were stretched, and specific areas that you can join us in praying for God’s continued working through the faithful service of the We Love Africa Foundation and it’s teen-focused ministry, Agape Youth.

Ways we saw God at work:

  • From year to year, real, visible, heart and life change in the Agape Youth group.  Joy and happiness in children that did not make sense given their life situation, injustice and abuse.
  • I saw the Lord pierce the hearts of young people with conviction and I saw him strengthening the faith and resolve of his Namibian children — our young brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • In the powerful forward movement of the Gospel against oppositional undercurrent of false teaching, fatherlessness, and tribal disunity.
  • No matter what tribe, what poverty, what abandonment & abuse the youth identified themselves with, once the power of the Gospel preached by Steve transformed their hearts, they were filled with deep repentance & true joy they had never known.
  • Witnessing the richness of true joy and hope stemming from the impact of the gospel in the lives of the youth.
  • In the softening of hearts (my own included!) and in the forming of friendships that will, Lord-willing, last into eternity for His glory

How we were stretched:

  • Fully trusting in God and in sufficiency of prayer when things went wrong or were not going well.
  • The needs of the Agape Youth members are manifold, and their experiences are different from mine in so many ways. So I was deeply challenged to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to serve them. Thankfully, the Spirit works through weak instruments, and God’s Word is powerful and effective, regardless of cultural differences. I’m convinced of this now more than ever.
  • In this third year, I felt God asking me to be genuine with the children in ways that I had not been in previous years.  This was tough.  The novelty of knowing someone for past two years had to mature into deeper understanding and engagement.  I felt God pushing me to use all that God has done in my life & surrender my agenda and pride.  This wasn’t easy for someone who is so task-oriented.  It was hard to let-go of my agenda of getting to know every single kid in my group deeply.  But when I did, God answered and directed me according to His will.
  • Fighting off physical sickness. I would have been regretful if I let it affect me and did not give my all.
  • Trusting God to enable connections to form within my group, when I don’t feel like youth ministry is a particular strength; the risk of reaching out in love to cross barriers and meet people as Jesus did – where they were at – and feeling quite inadequate to the task if relying on my own strength and wisdom

Area for which we are committed to pray:

  • Long term health for a very powerful ministry that is creating a youth movement in the poorest children in Windhoek, Namibia.
  • More laborers for the harvest! The Hongs and Jen need more people to come alongside them and help in the short term and over the long haul.
  • All the saints serving Agape Youth: Steven & Seo Yeon Hong, Jennifer Chon, who pour out all that they have and then some.
  • All the saints serving We Love Africa: Sr. Park family, Jr. Park family, Kim family who often work without much needed encouragement and man-power to carry out the arduous tasks of ministry of Kings Kids & frontier missions of the Himba Tribe.
  • That the team will effectively share and report on what is happening and what the future vision of this ministry is, and in result garnering even more support and awareness from the church.
  • For continued unity, encouragement, and growth in God’s Spirit among our brothers and sisters serving tirelessly in Windhoek, with incredible long-term vision and Christ-like, faithful servant-hood: Steve & Seoyeon Hong, Jen Chon, the Kim family, and the two Park families.
  • For growth and maturity of faith among the teens of Agape Youth, and especially that God would continue to raise up leaders from among them to shape this beautiful youth movement for His glory and their great gladness!

 

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Dear New Hope,

Our team of SEVEN – Alex, Sharon and Kate Lee; Rob Freire; Dan Sin; Chris Yoon and Becca McAteer – have now all arrived and are at work in Windhoek, Namibia, Africa where they will be serving for ten days as part of New Hope’s annual mission trip.

Before leaving, they were each asked to respond to a few questions, in order to help guide your prayers as they are sent forth in God’s Spirit and care:

During this year’s mission trip to Namibia, I’m most excited to see God…

-in the eyes of the weakest, most poor, hungry children of Africa

-fill children (and our team) with a deeper realization of his majesty and mercy.

-save

-work in the lives of the youth throughout the camp.

-uniting us to serve together as one body of Christ.  I’m especially excited that Rob Freire, our pastor is joining us this year!

-at work among the Windhoek youth and missionaries, and to see the kids experience the love and joy found in knowing Jesus.

During this year’s mission trip to Namibia, I’m I’m feeling a little apprehensive about…

-physical health of everyone on the N17 team including the missionaries already there and our ability to work together well.

-leaving my family for a week-and-a-half and about serving in a context that is new to me.

-fighting off the enemy.

-leaving our two sons at home in the care of grandparents.

-connecting with the youth

-making comfortable, natural connections with the kids in my group, and also about leaving my family behind in the midst of some instability/ medical concerns

During this year’s mission trip to Namibia, I could use prayerful support for…

-my heart and any lingering feelings of bitterness, irritability, and judgmental feelings towards others.  To have the fear and love of God become much bigger than the fear of man.

-the development of a humble, listening heart that is ready to learn and be changed by the young people we will spend our days with.

-To leave the current worries of my life behind, and instead devote myself fully to serving Him.

-The peace to leave all my distractions behind and being fully patient and understanding in any problems that may occur

-patience & discernment required to walk in step with the Holy Spirit and not let my eager excitement to produce impulsive actions and words.

-diligently pursuing regular, sustained time in God’s word (and also in memorizing all of Psalm 8!)

Thank you for your faithful support and prayers as the team serves, learns, grows and experiences God’s hand at work in powerful, beautiful ways for His glory!

 More updates to come…

N17 Day 3

August 22, 2017

Hello NHF!  We hope y’all had a great day of Sunday worship with Pastor Eric.  So much to update you on.  Sunday we went to 3 worship services: 1) Kings Kids (Windhoek toddlers), 2) Agape Youth (our kids that we will take to bible camp), 3) Korean Missionary service.  Dan Sin was brought to tears as he listened to the toddlers sing God is so good in English, Herero dialect, and then in Korean!  Then for Agape Youth service, Steve gave a powerful, biblically faithful sermon from Romans on glorification and how it ties into justification and sanctification.  Heavy stuff!..yet stated so simply and clearly and the kids all were locked in and absorbing!  We were all floored at the scripture drenched prayers of some of the children during the service.  The last service was with the Korean missionaries at a local reformed Baptist church, and Rob delivered a beautiful message on the same text from Romans!  Not pre-planned but just so happened to be on similar themes.  Rob wonderfully adapted suffering endured by the Apostle Paul and greatly encouraged the missionaries and Steve/Seoyoen.  The day was closed by a nice braii (Namibian BBQ) at Senior Pastor Park’s home and we had a nice 30th birthday (Dan Sin) and a belated birthday for Jen Chon.

Monday was a busy day visiting the homes of the Agape Youth worship team members who live in Ehambo (town in Windhoek), seeing up close how they live.  We met some of their families, and Pastor Rob was able to pray for them whilst in their homes.

It was so encouraging to see the faithfulness of some of these kids.  Their homes have so little in terms of material items, but some of their homes/rooms had scripture written on the walls and one even had pictures of our Linda Yoon and Steve/Seoyeon.  As we walked through their town, holding the hands of children (9 and 10 years old but the size of a 4 or 5 year old), it was so encouraging to hear some of their stories….. of recently coming to Christ, having transformation of lives, and of being involved and loving the ministry of Agape Youth in Windhoek.

New Hope, please pray for the team; for physical health, spiritual protection and team unity especially with the Korean missionaries.

IMG_2714Today, we will continue to prepare for the Agape Youth Bible camp (which begins on Thursday), have a return visit to Hope Village orphanage, and then another visit to more homes of children in Agape Youth.

Thank-you so much dearest brothers and sisters.  We are blessed and thankful for your continued prayers.

In Jesus, N17 Team

 

Namibia 2017 day 1

August 19, 2017

Hello New Hope,

Most of the N17 team has successfully arrived (sans Becca who will join us on Monday) in the beautiful country of Namibia in the continent of Africa.  We have already begun to see God working in the form of traveling mercies for the team.  The day started with a minor blip with Dan Sin having to wait 20 minutes for a below average ice coffee only to be rewarded by a slightly cold but still delicious Shake Shack burger at JFK.  Then Kate was almost not allowed entrance to South Africa because of a new law requiring her to have her birth certificate in addition to her passport.  Luckily, Alex’s mother was able to come to the rescue waking up at 4 am to locate the certificate and send a photo via iMessage.  Disaster averted.  Finally, in the excitement of being in Namibia and seeing Steve, Seoyeon, Jen Chon, Pastor Kim, the team left Sharon’s back pack with many valuables including (MacBook air, kindle, gifts/supplies) on the front sidewalk of the airport.  4 hours later Steve, Pastor Rob, and Alex returned to the airport looking for the back pack with little to no hope.  Then a very nice Namibian security officer (whose name happened to be Alex!!) escorts us to a back room, opens up a safe full of guns and M-16 rifles and pulls out Sharon’s back pack with ALL of the items perfectly intact!  What are the odds of a back pack filled with expensive electronic devices being left at a busy African airport sidewalk and then being retrieved 5 hours later with all items intact?  Praise God!

Then on the drive home from the airport, we were again greeted by some local baboons on the side of the road welcoming us back to Namibia.  The day ended with another beautiful night filled with the beautiful, dark, star filled sky, then a delicious home cooked meal from our dear sister Jen Chon and finally a wonderful night of Prayer, focusing on Acts 11.  Steve reminded us of the great example of the short term missionary, Barnabas,  and how…he came and saw the Grace of God…full of the Holy Spirit and of faith…and a great many people were added to the Lord.

Our theme verse this year is Psalm 8; O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth….The Majesty of God is so easy to see as we gaze at the stars in the beautiful African night sky.  Thank-you New Hope for your prayers!

I have recently completed a book on parenting by Paul David Tripp titled Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, and I give it my highest recommendation. Paul has written extensively on the gospel and other issues which I also recommend, but this latest edition on parenting takes the cake.

Now before you dismiss this topic as irrelevant depending on your stage in life, I must say the principles laid out in this book are not only applicable to parenting, but to anyone’s life as a Christian. The fascinating aspect of this book, is that you can substitute almost every situation with parent for the word Christian, and still arrive at a principle of Gospel truth that can sincerely change the way you understand relationships.

With that said, this book convicted and challenged my approaches to Christian parenting despite some other titles I have read. I found the examples engaging and relevant and his writing style is easy to read. You can easily finish this book in under 2 weeks, as the chapters are concise and to the point, making reading a chapter a day extremely feasible.

Each chapter takes a Gospel principle and unpacks how parenting relates to our understanding of each. A principle that most affected me was the chapter on Mercy. “No parent gives mercy better than one who is convinced that he desperately needs it himself”. This book really helped remind me of my need for mercy, and in response not only give my wayward children mercy, but others who I encounter.

This book also helped me realize I cannot save my children, only God can. I am unable to do the regeneration in my child’s heart, much like I was not able to regenerate my own. This frees me to love generously, and trust in the process God has in the power of the Gospel.

While the book does use situations to illustrate a concept or point, this book is far from a how-to. Rather, learning these principles will enable growth in every situation on how to think about yourself, God, and your child. This way, the principles guide all situations and not just isolated scenarios, so the book continually delivers.

Another area I believe most parents get caught up on is Authority. There are 3 chapters on law, grace, and authority, that really helped put into perspective how I ought to communicate these truths to my two kids. I began to see a change in the way I approached my children right after chapter 1.

If you struggle with confusion, burnout, despair, failure or inability, I can not recommend Tripp’s newest book enough, it will not only transform how you parent, it will transform how you relate to your Father in heaven. There is a freedom in seeing our heavenly Father love us, so we can properly love our children with passion and joy. Do not hesitate on picking up a copy! I sincerely believe I will be reaping the benefits for years to come.

-Dan Lisa

Dear New Hope,
This Saturday we had our second Agape Youth Purity Seminar. The purpose of the seminar was to give the youth a biblical understanging of sex, marriage and purity. We had 9 boys and 15 girls make the pledge “Purity Code” to keep themselves sexually pure for marriage. They were given purity rings and necklaces and certificates as a reminder of their promise to God. This kind of teaching on purity goes so far against everything that is experienced in Havana, where sex outside of marriage is the norm. Not only that, where young girls give away their bodies for some bread or alcohol so easily. Our prayer is that the youth will be salt and light as they live lives of purity in devotion to Christ, shining the light of the gospel in the darkest places in Havana. Please pray for these kids to be given grace and faith to stand against the culture and resist temptations that are all around them.

God’s love,

Steve

Dear New Hope,
We had our first evangelism outing of the year this Saturday in an area called Samora Machel. God provided a great turnout of kids who were eager to share God’s word and they were able to find many kids in the neighborhood to share the gospel with. We use a gospel tract called “Two Ways to Live”. It’s an amazing thing to see God using these kids to bring the good news to other youth in Havana. What we’ve seen is that these evangelism outings really bring kids into Agape Youth and they end up staying, becoming regular members. Today, about 10 new kids came to our service through the evangelism outing. Praise God! Please pray that these new kids may experience the love of Christ at Agape Youth and have their eyes opened to see Jesus.

Other prayer request:
1. One of our boys we’ve been discipling for over a year in worship team decided to quit abruptly and is not even coming to services anymore. Please pray for God to soften his heart and give him a heart to come back.
2. Please pray that we can get our Koinonia groups started soon. (Kids leading groups during the week to read the bible and pray)

God’s love,

Steve