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Leyte, Philippines, 9 July, 2012
We are in our 4th week of HG in Leyte, Philippines. We give God all the glory, honor and praise. This is His school and He is in control!!
We thank and praise God for His presence with us and for breaking into our sin and brokenness in our lives helping us to come to Him and give it all to HIM. HE is mighty to save and deliver us. We give thanks for the way the students have received a deeper revelation of God as Father in the past week.
Pray this will deepen in the next few weeks to come. Pray for the students to continue to be released into their true identity. Pray for us for protection and that all that God wants to accomplish will be achieved! Pray for continued breakthrough for the students and that God will continue to pour His love into their hearts for the communities and nations around us. Pray for the renewing of the students minds and hearts as they learn to walk out in courage and faith the new seeds and fruit God has planted in their lives. Pray for courage and faith to speak out what God is showing them.
We thank God for the numerous testimonies of encounters with God. I had a picture of God coming in the worship – not just individually but for us all together – we were all on the canoe together. Please pray for this. God is showing us more about who He is through our worship!
HG Leyte 2012
From Bob Ekblad, Tierra Nueva (New Earth) – God loves violent men: Urgent prayer alert for Guatemalan inmates (March 29, 2010)
I am continually moved by how realistic Jesus is about dealing with crime. Rather than punishing criminals, which God knows does not change them, Jesus loves them, calls them to follow him, empowers them with the Holy Spirit and then sends them on a mission to announce the Kingdom of God to the world.
Cain is the first—and we see that God’s ministry priority from day one outside the garden is to deal with this violent, resistant humankind embodied in Cain. The Lord does not succeed in stopping Cain from killing his brother Abel, even after his timely intervention in the heat of Cain’s anger, one-on-one counseling “why are you angry…” personal mentoring “if you do well…” and discipling “sin is crouching at the door, and it’s desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain kills his brother anyway, and God does not give up on him or on anyone following in his footsteps.
The Lord confronts Cain for his murder, advocating for the voiceless victim by directly questioning the powerful: “Cain, where is your brother?” God confronts the perpetrator with the secret sins, the hidden crime as the One who sees and hears the cries of the oppressed, and knows every clandestine burial site: “the voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” (4:10).
The Lord describes hard consequences coming to Cain as a result of his killing, which leads Cain to speak to God. God’s response reveals hard consequences coming on those who decide to take out violent men in the name of justice. “Whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold”—a strong warning to anyone trying to fight violence with violence. God puts a sign of protection on Cain to keep people from killing him— showing special interest in violent perpetrators. This continues through Scripture and must inform our mission priorities.
While Cain goes away from the presence of God, like the prodigal son he’s coming back—and the Father pursues him with open arms. We see God’s preferential option for sinners in his choice of many key biblical characters who were violent men or criminals: Moses, Samson, Jacob, Judah, David, Matthew the tax-collector, Simon the zealot, the Apostle Paul.
God cares about violent perpetrators for many reasons. He longs to see an end to violence of every kind and pursues would-be violators and seasoned killers to help them face their sin and receive healing for their deepest wounds—before they do more damage to others and themselves. Since the violent are those who remain alive, who “win” over and against the weak, God pursues these survivors, winning them over through the only effective violence, the violence of love– the kindness that leads to repentance.
God’s mission continues throughout Scripture, and is ultimately successful in Jesus, who undoes the entire system of vengeance by letting himself be delivered over into the hands of violent men for our (and their) salvation. Should this not be one of our highest priorities today?
Right now in Guatemala three men are incarcerated in a maximum-security prison that’s not secure enough for those on the inside. These men are notorious gang leaders serving time for real offenses. I had the pleasure of ministering to them in 2008, and have the highest praises for chaplains who care for these not-lost-any-more sheep. All three have been found by Jesus in the past six months and are studying the Bible together and praying in their common cell. Rival gang members are being transferred in increasing numbers into the same prison, and have been yelling curses and threatening to kill them every night—and things are heating up. A few weeks ago they rioted, breaking through many walls in an attempt to kill these men to avenge the killings of their own in past years.
But these three have been marked with the sign of the cross, and prophetic words have been spoken that God is raising them up as pastors to their gang. This week their lives are in the balance. During Holy Week many government officials and prison workers are going on holiday. Rumor has it that riots are planned for this week to kill these men. Our prayers are crucial at this time.
- Please pray for the protection and peace God afforded Cain to be on these men—and for the 70×7 forgiveness that Jesus taught and embodied to overcome the 77 vengeance curse of Cain’s descendant Lamech (Gen 4:24; Matt 18:22) that menaces in Guatemala. Jesus accomplished this as he died at the hands of violent men, between two criminals. And we worship him for this unfathomable love that saves.
- We are praying that these three men will be transferred to a prison where they will be safe to grow up into their highest callings in Christ.
- We are also praying for God’s powerful presence of love to stop the rival gang members in their tracks as the resurrected Jesus stopped Saul in his on the road to Damascus. We long to hear all these gang members testify with Paul:
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate his perfect patience, as an example for those who could believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim 1:12-17).
- Bob Ekblad
Prayer Cover for Holy Given: Leyte International School of Missions 2010 (5 April – 28 May, 2010)
We would really appreciate some prayer covering for the Holy Given staff, guest speakers and students who will be attending the school. Please pray for God’s protection, provision, grace and presence to be upon all of us as we prepare for the school, and simply more of Him!!
From Pastor Ferds, World Evangelism Bible College in Leyte, Philippines (our partner for Holy Given Leyte)
Dear Holy Given Family,
Glory to God for His faithfulness endures forever!
Thank you for your prayers extended to us! God did so many great things while we were in Luzon. We were able to effectively and fruitfully minister to a group of believers through “Living by Faith” seminar. The church is in pioneering stage and the pastor is in great testing in his family life and ministries. As we were sharing testimonies of God’s faithfulness and love, we felt the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of us. While preaching the word of God, tears of joy flowed from many eyes as we began to look back to the cross of Christ and embrace the resurrected Christ of the cross. There was so much of an increase of faith on the complete work of Christ on the Cross. They started to “talk the walk” and “walk the talk.” No need to struggle. No more stress and worries. Every debt is paid in full! Every need is met at the cross. All we need to do is Only Believe…
Another testimony of God’s amazing grace… A small church on top of a mountain was encouraged when we visited them. The pastor said we were the first one to visit them in spite of the bad condition of the road and the more than 100 feet above the sea level hiking. After we preached the word of God, the congregation requested for another preaching as they were so hungry and thirsty for the pure word of God. Praise God for allowing us to minister to them that they may also minister to me in so many great ways! They were not time conscious. They were not in a hurry. They greatly enjoyed the fellowship of the saints, the breaking of bread, praying for one another and heeding the Word of Life in their hearts.
We also learned that not even one evangelistic crusade was accepted at the area in the past because of the catholic defenders. Glory to God for the favor to have the permit to conduct a crusade and more than 100 souls received the Lord that night. Hallelujah! Now, it is a good problem for the pastor… following up on the new believers and making sure that they grow in faith in the Son of God.
The Lord is opening my eyes to see many small churches that are in great need of encouragement and love. They are everywhere. Amazing grace and new mercies every morning! We are now working our calendar to pay attention not only to the cries of the Lost but also to the sobs of the saints in those isolated mountains and interior villages. Please continue to bear with us in prayers. Together, let us all bring the message of the Cross of Christ that will bring Salvation, Sanctification and the Seal of the Holy Spirit to those who will believe. Amen!
More of you Jesus!
In His Service,
Ps. Ferds Consebido
World Evangelism Bible College
Reaching to the Ends of the Earth