Things To Pray For In August

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The Lord is busy building His choir from every tribe, language and nation, and what a privilege we have to play our parts in that. What a privilege we have as a family of churches to be able to help handout the invitations both at home and abroad, all for His glorious grace!

Here then are some specifics of how you can be praying for things that are going on around the world in the next month…

  1. Please pray for Riley Spring (Australian Church Planter) and the Sovereign Grace Church of Parramatta ‘Planting Team’ as they run a ‘Public Information Night’ at Tara Anglican School on Thursday 8th August, ahead of the launch of Sovereign Grace Church of Parramatta next month. Please pray that there may be some in the area who are interested in joining the church plant or hearing more about it and that they would come on the night!

  2. Please pray for Joselo Mercado, Lead Pastor of Iglesia Gracia Soberana in Gaithersburg, as he heads to Puerto Rico to run a Homiletic Workshop there on Saturday 17th August, in partnership with the Simeon Trust.

  3. Please pray for Songhwan Kang, Senior Pastor of Lord’s Grace Church in Seoul, South Korea, as he continues to train 14 Church Planters on a monthly basis. Please pray for wisdom for Songhwan in this process, both in the training of these dear brothers, and also in the potential adoption of some of these churches. This is the answer to many years of prayer for Songhwan and so please pray for grace to abound to this work.

  4. Please pray for our three key leaders in the Philippines - Jeffrey Jo (Cavite), Nilo Ebo (Cebu) and Pete Valdez (Bohol) - as they continue to work through the Sovereign Grace ordination process. In the midst of already very full lives, please pray that God would give them much grace to complete their studies as they begin to prepare to take the ordination exams.

  5. Please pray for our key leader in Nepal (name withheld for safety reasons). The scene in Nepal is making it increasingly more dangerous to openly share the Gospel and yet incredibly, and wonderfully, the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ is boldly going forward more than ever. My friend told me that they have baptised 99 people in the last 12 months. He was ecstatic and thrilled as he told me all about this. Please continue to pray for our dear brothers and sisters in Nepal. That God’s hand may be close to them in all that they do.

Let us pray with confidence my friends. It’s true… The Lord really does hold the whole world in His hands!

Church Planting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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I first met Michael Granger about a year ago and I quickly discovered, to my joy, that all of the encouraging things that I had heard about him were so wonderfully true. Michael has a B.S. from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is an ordained Sovereign Grace Pastor and as part of his theological training he attended the Sovereign Grace Pastors’ College. God willing Michael will be planting a Sovereign Grace Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2020, and so for your encouragement, here’s some of his story...

‘My initial exposure to Ethiopia was back in 2004 when, at the age of 19, I first ventured into the country. Effected by the impact of the HIV/Aids epidemic, I shortly thereafter co-established an NGO to work with street-children alongside some local partners. Over the course of many flights into Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, I also met and fell in love with my future bride, a local girl named Kenean. We were married in 2011 and have had four beautiful children - Moses, Eden, Elijah, and Jerusalem. Though Elijah passed away one week after his birth day in July of 2017 and is buried in Louisville, Kentucky.

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In January of 2018, our family then relocated from the USA to the mountain on which Kenean grew up in the Southwest corner of Addis Ababa. Since then I have been a full-time student studying the culture and also the language of Amharic while Kenean has been home-schooling the kids.

As a family we have a deep affection for the Ethiopian people and for the future of the nation. The purpose of our mission then can be summed up in three categories: 1) Disciple-making that results in new Christ-centered churches being established; 2) Theological training for the next generation of Ethiopian leadership; 3) Business as missions.

God willing then, in the summer of 2020 we will be starting a new church in Ethiopia’s capital - Addis Ababa. While Ethiopia is arguably the 7th poorest country in the world and therefore often effectually overlooked, Addis Ababa is one of East Africa’s largest cities with population estimates ranging from 5 – 11 million. It is a mega center of international activity including over 110 embassies, the United Nation’s African headquarters, an European Union’s representative office, and also Africa’s largest international policy issuing entity - the African Union.  With Ethiopia’s history as the only country on the continent to have successfully fought off European colonization, it stands as the torch-bearer and example to many other nations in a post-colonial era. And, because it was never colonized, the racial tensions that exist in much of sub-Saharan Africa are virtually obsolete.  

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For these and many other reasons, we see Ethiopia as perhaps one of the most strategic gospel advancing countries in all the world and pray, hope, and dream of a God-breathed revival that spills over into the failed and spiritually suppressed states of Somalia, Sudan, and Eritrea. 

So in 2020, years of affection, praying, and training will culminate in the endeavor to plant a missional gospel-centered church that trains up a local plurality of elders so as to equip the saints of Addis Ababa to reach their city, the unreached tribes in the countryside – and if God answer’s our prayers – the surrounding nations in East Africa. It is a futile vision if left to the ingenuity, training, and cunning of man. But, with confidence that we are in God’s will according to Matthew 28, we advance on our knees with the words of William Carey in mind, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”   

Please partner with the us on mission by praying for East Africa, that the Lamb who was slain would be glorified in all that we do!’

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Church Planting In Santa Cruz, Bolivia

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An update from Jorge Del Castillo, Bolivian Pastor & soon to be Sovereign Grace Church Planter…

In 1972, our God, through a young preacher named Julio Cesar Ruibal, promoted a spiritual movement that reached our entire nation - Bolivia - and even neighboring nations. As a fruit of this, in the following years, Churches and Christian institutions were established. Our Christian Congregation in La Paz Bolivia where we have served for more than 39 years was a result of this movement.

In 1992 our Church contacted Sovereign Grace through the Deloglos family and during all these years pastors have visited us and various E-teams have come to work with our Church. We have also attended the annual Pastors Conferences and seven Bolivians have had the opportunity and privilege to be trained at the Sovereign Grace Pastors College: Johnny and Pablo Dueri, José Troche, Jorge, Marcelo and David Del Castillo and Oscar Vargas. All of our families have been blessed and profoundly transformed by the teaching, principles and values learned at the Pastors College.

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Reflecting on the years in which we lived away from God and how the Lord saved us, rescued us from a vain way of life, brought us to the communion of his Church, placed us in his purpose, and gave us a passion in our hearts to reach others who are lost in the world as we were. We now long to bring others into the communion of the Church and preach to them so they will become disciples of Jesus Christ, as Jesus has commanded us.

That is why we want to plant a Sovereign Grace Church in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. A reformed and continuationist church that God willing will begin church gatherings in January 2020, built on the values and principles of Sovereign Grace that have so blessed us.  A church that will belong to the family of Sovereign Grace Churches.

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Santa Cruz de La Sierra, the city that we have chosen for this plant, is a department (State) of Bolivia that has a territorial extension of 370,621 km2 and an estimated population of 2,862,811 inhabitants. It is the department (State) that has the highest population, population migration and territorial extension in Bolivia. It also has a very important role in the economic development of our country. Very soon my family and I, along with my son David and his family, will be relocating to make this city our home.

It is our hope that our church will be impacted and shaped with the Gospel, and the importance of planting churches. By strengthening our members, it is our prayer that we will be able to affect the city, the rural areas, the country and even beyond our borders, all for His glory.

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A Growing Mexican Region

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An update from Carlos Contreras, Senior Pastor of Gracia Soberana de Ciudad Juarez and Regional Leader for Mexico…

Sovereign Grace Churches adopted its first International Church a little over 30 years ago, when it embraced our church Gracia Soberana de Ciudad Juarez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. In 1999 God then allowed us to send out my friend Hellman Avila to plant Misión de Gracia, a Mexican Church in the city of El Paso Texas. And since then, the Mexican region has grown to officially include 7 churches.

However, in addition to this, we are currently in the midst of adopting a church plant in the city of Orizaba in the state of Veracruz and also working towards the adoption of 3 other churches (Cordova, Veracruz; Torreón, Coahuila; and Moroleón, Guanajuato). That means that hopefully by the grace of God there could be 11 or 12 SG Churches in the next couple of years in 6 different Mexican states and 3 different countries (México, USA and Costa Rica). We never imagined 30 years ago what God in His mercy had planned for us, but He has granted us the privilege of witnessing our prayers being answered. 

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All of this has required that we work to develop different contexts that will help equip and encourage our pastors, most of which are young. With this in view we started our first Pastors Conference in 2013. Our desire was to provide a Latin American context in which our pastors could benefit from the same equipping, vision and encouragement received through the SG Pastors Conference in the US.

Our Pastors Conference is called Fieles a Su Llamado (Faithful to His Calling) and it has proven to be a wonderful context to celebrate our union, equip and encourage leaders and their wives, and also demonstrate our values through the generosity and service of dozens of volunteers from our church that hosts the conference. Our next Conference will be this coming October and special guest speakers will be CJ Mahaney, Jon Payne and Bob Kauflin. 

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Another equipping context we are very excited about is our continuing partnership with The Charles Simeon Trust.  With their help we were able to start our very first Expository Preaching Workshop in Juárez in May 2014. Since then we have conducted 11 of these workshops in 4 different cities and are planning on doing 3 more next year. Abelardo Muñoz, one of our pastors has led this initiative and serves as one of several SG instructors.  Most of the pastors from our region have been to 2 or more of these workshops as we are committed as a region to seek excellence in the study and preaching of God’s Word.

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And in this past month of July, we were so encouraged to host our very first Pastoral Training Week with the intention of having a yearly intensive time of Theological teaching and discussion in a format similar to the SG Pastors College. We enjoyed an attendance of 19 pastors, including Hellman Avila, Joselo Mercado and myself as instructors. It was a wonderful time of intense study, panel discussions on practical application and Spirit inspired worship and prayer times. But the highlight for many was the sweet times of biblical fellowship and fun among brothers.

Manolo Quintal, pastor of Sublime Gracia Church in Silao, Guanajuato put it this way: “God surpasses our desires! For years we had a desire to meet brothers with a sincere faith in Christ with whom we could enjoy a partnership. Now He has granted us not just that, but He is building ever stronger ties of deep fellowship among all of us… I am very excited to see what God is going to bring to our churches and cities as a result of what happened this week, and to see what He will do in our family of churches”. God has truly been so good to us.

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Things To Pray For In July

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Psalm 121.1-2 says, ‘I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.'

As we pray, that’s whose listening and that’s who we get to come to! The LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. The One who will not let our foot be moved, who is our shade at our right hand, and who neither slumbers nor sleeps. The LORD is the One who will help us and so as we pray, oh my, what a privilege and what an opportunity!!

With that in mind then, here are some ways that you can be praying for all things Emerging Nations in the month ahead…

  1. Please pray for Mark Prater and the Prophecy Team from Covenant Fellowship Church, PA, as they head to Sydney, Australia, 25th-31st July, to serve at the Sovereign Grace Churches, Australia Retreat (think Celebration's of old). During their five days on the ground in Australia they’ll be serving the dear members of Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney, Sovereign Grace Church, Parramatta, and their respective Pastoral/Leadership Teams. Please pray that God would really bless this time and that hearts and lives would be changed and encouraged as a result.

  2. Please pray for David Del Castillo (and his family) & Jorge Del Castillo (and his family) as they seek to make their move from La Paz, Bolivia to Santa Cruz, Bolivia in preparation to plant our very first Sovereign Grace Church on Bolivian soil in the fall. God willing Jorge will be making the move this month / early August, with David to follow in early September. Please pray that all goes to plan with the selling of the two houses and that their transition to this new city goes well for all involved. Please also pray for Chris Deloglos (Emerging Nations Delegate to Bolivia) as he heads over to Bolivia this month to serve and encourage these men in this great endeavour.

  3. Please pray for the country of Liberia and our Key Leader there, Dyonah Thomas. Liberia is well acquainted with civil crisis and protests, aswell as major health challenges like Ebola, so many of which just serve to keep the country on a journey of poverty, corruption and infrastructural challenges. Please pray that the ‘Grace Life Community’ would continue to thrive in the midst of all that is taking place in Liberia and that the wonderful Audience of One would continue to keep them safe and sound there.

  4. Likewise the country of Ethiopia and our Key Leader there, Michael Granger. There has recently been an attempted coup in Ethiopia and so the government, as a result, have been regularly turning off the internet nationwide, aswell as rationing out electricity nationwide. In addition, Michael has been struggling with a Tropical Viral Infection like Dengue Fever, a sickness that recently had him in the hospital for over 7 days. Please therefore pray for Michael, his dear Family and Country. God willing the Sovereign Grace Ethiopian Church Plant is looking to go ahead in early 2020 and so please pray that God would continue to sustain and enthuse Michael and provide all that is needed to make this a reality, as is Michael’s heart.

Thank you so much. May His great and glorious grace abound to us all!

Por Su Causa Conference, DR

“If we want our marriages to prosper, we need to look at Jesus and his transforming grace.”

“If we want our marriages to prosper, we need to look at Jesus and his transforming grace.”

An update from Joselo Mercado, Lead Pastor of Iglesia Gracia Soberana in Gaithersburg;

We arrived in Santo Domingo on June 18 after some cancelled flights and interesting connections. There has been much on the news about an American mysteriously dying in the DR, but the 4 of us went with much faith to serve. On Wednesday the 19th I was able to meet as part of the editorial committee of the first Study Bible done by Spanish speakers that should be published sometime in 2022. this is a huge privilege to be able to contribute in this project with such a group of wise and godly man.

The Por Su Causa Conference was held in Santo Domingo from June 20-22 and has been taking place since 2011 and in previous years, John Piper, CJ Mahaney, John Macarthur, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, among others have been the speakers. This year was on the sexual revolution taking place and how we need to be equipped to face it as believers. There were 7 main sessions and I preached two of them, the Friday night session on marriage and Saturday morning session on the hope we have in the gospel on the midst of the sexual revolution.

During the conference my book on marriage was introduced and I was able to also take part on a panel on the role of the church during this time. There were around 3,000 people in attendance and thousands watch over the internet. I think I was able to bring the hope of the gospel and to help to apply this hope onto our marriages and parenting.

On Sunday I preached at Miguel Nuñez church on Psalm 73. Miguel is a friend of SGC for many years and it was a joy to preach at their two services. We take so much from this time, my family was able to see how it looks to serve when I travel, and we were so encouraged to see the hunger for sound doctrine there, as well as deepen friendships and gospel partnerships.

“The best way we can protect our children is by preaching the gospel to them.”

“The best way we can protect our children is by preaching the gospel to them.”

Gospel Partnerships In India

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An update from Erik Rangel, Lead Pastor of Legacy Church in Yuma, AZ…

This month’s visit to India was yet another glimpse of God’s unshakable kingdom and abounding kindness. Since God allowed us to participate in the founding of Allahabad Bible Institute (ABI) in 2013, we have been overwhelmed with what the Lord has done.  I regularly look forward to ABI’s graduation ceremony, welcoming the incoming class, and spending time with regional pastors for a couple of days in the word.  This year, as always, was better than anticipated.

It was a delight to see the growing number of ABI students, and how excited the graduates are to plant gospel-centered churches in unreached areas. Adding to the joy was the visit of Ravuri “JP” Jayaprakash, the Indian pastor that many of us met at the Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference last year. He gladly travelled several days for fellowship with likeminded believers. He expressed his joy for yet another visit from SG friends, Todd Peterson (El Paso) having visited recently. Having made a fast friend in Pastor Mike (anonymity preserved), JP returned home safely and assured that SG would continue to befriend him and pray for his labors in Andhra Pradesh. 

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The regional pastors conference concluded, we took the 23-hour train ride to the Himalayan foothills for a retreat with ABI directors and families.  It was a rich time of fellowship in the word as we sought God for next steps for their growing ministry. The graduates of ABI have thus far planted 56 churches in 5 years.  Despite increasing threats against Christians in India, the church marches on.

Our hopes for this trip were that God would allow us to celebrate with the ABI graduates, share with the regional pastors, and somehow connect JP with our biblically faithful friends.  As always, God did exceedingly, abundantly more.  Soli Deo Gloria!

With You for HIM,

Erik Rangel, Legacy Church

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Preparing For Mission In Turkey

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An update from Mark Waite, 2019 Sovereign Grace Pastors College graduate…

We are Mark and Becca from Sovereign Grace Church Dayton, Ohio. We have been married for five years, with our first baby arriving in December! Last year, our church sent us to the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College as a step towards transitioning to full-time missions in Turkey.

Turkey is a beautiful country, full of warm and kind people. Family ties are strong as well as hospitality to friends and complete strangers. However, beneath the veneer of a beautiful place and people lies a dark and destitute country.

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Nearly 80,000,000 Muslims live their lives here under a hellish blend of secularism and Islam with little access to the Gospel. It’s estimated that there is 1 gospel-preaching church for about every 1,000,000 people. Pastors have limited access to resources and training. Turkey is a strategic ministry location as it serves as a gateway to the Muslim world. It is also a destination for refugees and travelers from across the Middle East. 

We have had the privilege to visit Turkey on multiple occasions over the last 6 years. We love the place, the culture, and the people. Over the years, the Lord has given us significant relationships with a handful of Turkish Christians. We eagerly desire to be a part of what God is doing and feel that the Lord has been directing our lives here. 

We plan to move to Turkey in the Spring of 2020. Initially we will give ourselves to full-time Turkish language study. While studying, we plan to join arms with a small, Turkish church. Our prayer is that we learn from this church and be of encouragement to them. 

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Long-term, we desire to help strengthen existing churches and to help see more gospel-centered churches planted in Turkey. And in addition, I pray for the opportunity to take the training from the Pastors College and contextualize it to benefit pastors here. We desire to make our home a hospitable ministry-ground both to Christians and lost Muslims in need of Jesus. We pray that they would see the outworking of the gospel in our lives and family in this place that has very few Christians.  

Please pray that the Lord would bless our efforts as we prepare and plan with our church and continue to fundraise over the next few months. Please pray for us to have humble dependence on the Lord for all we need in this new season of becoming parents and moving overseas. Please pray that the Lord would go before us in Turkey, providing gospel friendships for us in a new context. 

If you would like to keep updated with our journey then feel free to subscribe to our newsletter: https://www.thesilkroadpost.org/email-subscribe

(Please do not repost any of this online for the security of our work in Turkey)

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Seoul, South Korea - June 2019

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An update from Larry Malament, Senior Pastor of Grace Church of Clarksburg, MD…

Most of our 12 strong team from Clarksburg, Knoxville & Orange County, arrived in Seoul late in the afternoon of June 4th, with just a few of our team arriving a day earlier. We spent Wednesday at the DMZ learning some history of the two Koreas.

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Early Thursday morning we then traveled an hour and half outside of Seoul to a Christian retreat center where the family retreat for Lord’s Grace Church was being held. All told there were about 40 families that attended. Our team worked hard as they led the children’s camp all day Thursday, all day Friday, and half a day on Saturday. They did a remarkable job and all the children were thrilled to participate.

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During the camp I shared three messages on “The gospel and community” with the adults. We returned to Seoul Saturday afternoon and then Sunday morning the entire team attended Songhwan’s church.

What a gift to worship side by side with members of the church as we sang in both Korean and English. After sharing lunch together each member of our team went home with a member of the church simply to get to know one another and build a friendship.

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On Sunday afternoon and all day Monday I then met with a group of church planters to teach them and then answer questions about SG and church planting. It was a very encouraging time. Next year another team will return and repeat what we did this year.

Things To Pray For In June

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In John Piper’s book ‘Let The Nations Be Glad!’, he writes, “Not only has God made the accomplishment of his purposes hang on the preaching of the Word; He has also made the success of that preaching hang on prayer”… And oh my, how true that is. It is why the Apostle Paul said in Col 4.3, “And pray for us too, that God may open a door for the Gospel”. We so need those “open doors” too my friends, as we seek to do what we can to take the Gospel to the Nations, and so here's how you can be praying for us in the month ahead...

  1. Please pray for Joselo Mercado (Senior Pastor of Gracia Soberana, Gaithersburg, MD) as he heads to the Dominican Republic, 20th-22nd June, to serve as one of the main speakers at the Por Su Causa Conference (www.porsucausa.org), led by our friend Miguel Nuñez. Joselo will be teaching in two main sessions and so please pray that God would give him the grace to serve in a humble and effective way in those messages, dependent upon the Holy Spirit. Please also pray for the hundreds in attendance and thousands online, that the glories of the Gospel would change their lives.

  2. Please pray for Larry Malament (Senior Pastor of Grace Church of Clarksburg, MD) and the 12 strong team from three different churches (Clarksburg, Knoxville, and Orange County) who are heading to South Korea this month to serve Lord’s Grace Church and our dear friend Songhwan Kang. Each year Songhwan’s church hosts a family retreat called 'The Gospel & Family’ where there is a children’s camp and a series of seminars for the adults. Please pray for the 12 strong team as they run the children’s camp, and please pray for Larry as he teaches the three seminars, teaches on the Sunday at Lord’s Grace Church, and shares at the Church Planters Gathering on the Sunday afternoon.

  3. Please pray for Erik Rangel (Senior Pastor of Legacy Church in Yuma, AZ) as he heads to India, 7th-21st June, to serve at the Bible College there that he’s been partnering with for the last 6 years. Jayaprakash, one of our main partners in India will be joining Erik for some of the trip. This will be a 24+ hour train ride for him though and so please pray for safety for that travel and also for good gospel friendships to blossom on this trip amongst like-minded (i.e., evangelical, reformed, continuationist) brothers.

  4. Please pray for Brendan Willis (Pastor in Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney, Australia) as he begins to liaise with our Global Partners about our Sovereign Grace Theological Certificate that we are putting together in partnership with Moore Theological College. This could be such an important piece for the training and establishing of Sovereign Grace Churches in other countries, especially in Third World settings, and so please pray for this endeavour. 

  5. Please pray for Myself (Dave Taylor), Rich Richardson, Mark Prater & Tommy Hill as we continue to prayerfully and wisely put together our Emerging Nations budget for our next financial year, September 2019-September 2020. With 27 different Countries to consider and with the potential of 4 Global Church Plants, we are in great need of His wisdom and grace in this.

Thank you so very much. May His great and glorious grace abound to us all.

SG Philippines Pastors & Wives Conference

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Last year marked our very first Sovereign Grace Philippines Pastors & Wives Conference and it was an absolute joy to build on that conference this year, with our second Sovereign Grace Philippines Pastors & Wives Conference held in Cebu, Philippines. 

For myself (Dave Taylor, Lead Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church, Sydney and Director of Emerging Nations), Lynn Baird (Pastor in Sovereign Grace Church of Pasadena, California) and Dave York (Lead Pastor of Covenant Life Fellowship in Roseburg, Oregon), our journey began in Manila, where we had the privilege of serving our friend Jeffrey Jo and his wonderful Church. I have known Jeff, his Elders and Church (CCSGM) for a number of years now and it continues to be an absolute joy to serve them and call them friends. 

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On the Saturday Jeff gathered all of his key leaders together, aswell as some guests, and we ran a leadership summit entitled ‘Famine In The Land - The All Encompassing Role Of The Scriptures In Our Daily Lives’. It was a wonderful day of worship, teaching and fellowship. We reconnected with old friends and continued to make new ones. It was a truly fantastic day, as was the Sunday, when Myself, Lynn & Dave had the privilege of speaking in the three CCSGM Churches in Manila.

Three different locations, but one same aim and one same glorious King. It was a pure joy to be with these leaders and churches.

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On the Monday, we then relocated to Cebu and the Pastors & Wives Conference began. One of the things we get asked about in the Philippines, literally every trip we go on, is the question of manhood and womanhood. The Philippines is filled with Churches being led by Pastors, and what they call ‘Pastoras', women who are carrying the role of Pastors, and so it never takes long before we get asked about our value of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. That’s why the title for this years conference, in a desire to stand alongside and serve our dear brothers and sisters there in the Philippines, was ‘God’s Grand Design’ and the theme for the entire time was Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, in the home, in the church, and in all of life. 

In headline, in God’s kindness, the conference could not have gone any better. The teaching was well received by all of the 80 plus pastors and wives that we had in attendance. We were thanked numerous times for coming and serving them in this way, something that it was a pure delight to do, and once again His Dwelling Place Church in Cebu, led by our friend Nilo Ebo, did a wonderful job of pulling everything together to run a conference. The time was blessed in every way and God willing, we look forward then to making this an ongoing annual gathering, continuing in 2020.

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All of the 20 plus churches in attendance are pursuing formal partnership with Sovereign Grace, something that we are eager for aswell, and so please pray for us all as we continue to move forward in this.

To that same end, please also pray for our three key pastors there (Jeffrey Jo, Nilo Ebo & Pete Valdez) as they continue to work through our SG Ordination Process. These men are such a blessing to serve and work with, and so please pray that His grace would truly abound to them in this process and in the months and years ahead of partnership. May all the glory be His. 

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Covenant Mercies - 17 Years In Africa

Photo by David Sacks

Photo by David Sacks

Update from Doug Hayes, Pastor in Covenant Fellowship, PA, and Executive Director of Covenant Mercies…

It’s hard to believe it was seventeen years ago – in February 2002 – that we established Covenant Mercies as a separate nonprofit alongside our church, for the purpose of serving orphans in collaboration with indigenous churches in the developing world.  The elders of Covenant Fellowship set me apart to lead the work, and in December of that same year I was blessed to set foot on African soil for the very first time.  Sovereign Grace was beginning to invest into some relationships on the continent, and I was asked to lead a construction team to Uganda, to assist some believers there in constructing their first church building.  

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Now, anyone who knows me will confirm that the term “unskilled laborer” doesn’t go nearly far enough to describe me.  While I tried to make myself useful on the building site, my main goal was to get to know Ugandan church leaders and explore ways we might partner together to serve the multitudes of children in their community who had been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  By God’s grace, we launched our Orphan Sponsorship Program about six months later, with approximately 200 children in rural eastern Uganda, a bold mission, and a vision to see God’s mercy touch the lives of the fatherless in Africa through partnerships we would continue to build with His people there.

Fast forward to 2019, and we have formal partnerships on the ground in four geographical regions: western Uganda as well as eastern; Ndola, Zambia; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  As I write, we have approximately 1,400 children actively under sponsorship, and hundreds more who have graduated from our program.  As the critical importance of education has become increasingly clear to us through the years, we have engaged in several special initiatives to ensure a quality Christian education for as many of our children as possible, most recently through a brand new primary school project that we broke ground on in Uganda just last month.  

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Through all the years of growth and change, one thing has remained constant for Covenant Mercies:  our commitment to work with and through God’s people on the ground in the areas where we are serving.  Whether in our home communities or in “emerging nations” around the world, God’s explicit intention is to work through the local church. What a joy it is for us in Covenant Mercies to join hands with our brothers and sisters around the globe as they embody the love and mercy of Christ in their own communities, and reach out to the lost in His name.

Photo by David Sacks

Photo by David Sacks

God's Grace In Guadalajara, Mexico

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An update from Roberto Estupinian, Pastor, Gracia Soberana in Guadalajara…

Thirty-five years ago, a man of faith with his family, planted a church in Guadalajara (second largest city of Mexico, with a population of about 7 million). His name is Luis Bermea. As the time passed, he felt the need of being in partnership with other gospel-centered churches that shared the same values in doctrine and practice.

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In God’s sovereignty, in 2012, he was introduced to Carlos Contreras and the Sovereign Grace family of Churches. After a couple of years, Luis requested a formal adoption to SGC. The church was adopted in 2014, and since then it has been a walk of communion and partnership in Christ. 

An important need the church, was the need for a plurality of elders, so Luis and the leadership started to pray to have another Pastor in the team as soon as possible.

In 2015/16 I went to the Pastors College, sent by Gracia Soberana de Ciudad Juarez, after PC I returned to serve in the Juarez staff as a Pastor in training, and started the process of ordination, which I completed in 2018. In November 2017 the Pastoral Team, and Carlos as Regional Leader, asked me to pray about if I would like to consider moving to Guadalajara City, and become part of the pastoral team, and serve this church, if it was the Lord’s will. So I visited the church www.igsg.org.mx prayed about it, and finally confirmed that was the Lord’s plan for our lives.  

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We moved with my family last December. It was a sweet and sour experience; we left a church that we deeply loved, but also had great expectation of how the Lord may use us to spread the Gospel in another city, and to share with the what we had received. Five months on, I can say that we are more than blessed. The church is a wonderful church, they are faithful disciples. We are about 190 people (adults and children) and growing. We have an average of about 6 guests every Sunday, we now have a staff of two Pastors, and we are training 2 potential Deacons or Bi-Vocational Elders (Mario and Gerardo).

We have seen great progress in six months. We have established weekly Elders meetings, a preaching series on the book of Romans, an Alpha Course, a Parenting Class and a Membership Class with an attendance of 20 in each class. We are having good fellowship among the pastoral families, and my wife and I have found great grace within the church. 

We have also had some events in the Region in partnership with other ministries. In April we had the Charles Simeon Trust workshop for Expository Preaching, and we had 60 Pastors from all over Mexico attend. Carlos Contreras, Jeremy Meeks, and myself were the instructors. It was a true blessing to witness how all of the Pastors were blessed and equipped, and how the Church responded. In addition, in October we are having a Gospel Coalition event for Women, with around 400 attendees.

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I am impressed on how fast our Church is moving towards a unified integrated team and am happy to watch how my family loves the city as well. We ask for you prayers, for wisdom, for opportunities for the gospel, for a smooth transition, and for continued grace in our own lives and parenting.

In Christ, Roberto.

Songs For The Nations

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I recently asked my friend Bob Kauflin, the Director of Sovereign Grace Music, if he could update us on how our music is being used around the world. I’m so grateful for Bob and all things Sovereign Grace Music. It always amazes me how so may folk globally have heard of us through our songs!!! Here’s Bob’s encouraging update…

One of the privileges we’ve experienced in the 30+ years Sovereign Grace Music has been around has been seeing our songs translated into other languages. Currently, we have songs translated into 30 languages–with Spanish, German, and Russian leading the way in number of songs translated. But we also have Sovereign Grace songs translated into Indonesian, Catalan, Chinese, Farsi, Finnish, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Manipuri, Nepali, Tagalog, Thai, Welsh, Yoruba, and more.
 
Right now, we’re working on establishing teams in each language that can oversee translations, and maintain the balance between lyrical equivalency, melodic faithfulness, and aesthetic relevance and beauty. In other words, we want to make the songs sound as much as possible like they could have been written in the translated language.

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The fruit of our labors has been evident as we’ve received encouragement from various countries in which our songs are being sung, as well as requests to translate more songs. On YouTube, our translated songs are actually doing better than our English songs. Of our top 20 videos on YouTube, 15 are Spanish! We also recently produced three Chinese songs, and are excited to release our first Portuguese album this year, containing 15 songs recorded in Brazil.
 
Ultimately, we’re praying God would raise up songwriters of every language to write songs in their native tongue that are theologically informed, gospel driven, and emotionally engaging.
 
It’s been a joy to work with different individuals over the years like Roxana Muñoz, Frank Huck, Fabiano Medeiros, Michael Ostanin, Daniel Lobo, and many others, to translate our songs. Please pray God will continue to raise up men and women who would partner with us in seeing the gospel proclaimed in song to every tribe and tongue!
 
Here’s a video recorded last year of the Spanish translation for “O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer”.

Things To Pray For In May

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Like a child to a Father, that’s how we get to come to the Lord. Once His enemies, now seated at His table, how amazing is that!! Here then are some things we can be praying for and talking to Him about over the next month…

  1. Please pray for Lynn Baird (Pastor in Sovereign Grace Church, Pasadena, CA ), Dave York (Senior Pastor of Covenant Life Fellowship, Roseburg, OR) and Myself as we continue our serve in the Philippines, 26th April - 5th May. Last weekend we had the privilege of preaching at the Church of the Cross of Christ Leadership Summit in Manila, God was so good to us, such a great time with a wonderful Church!! We’re now relocating to Cebu to run our second ever Sovereign Grace Churches Philippines Pastors Conference, and so please pray for us and the 80+ delegates that are planning to attend that conference. All these delegates are pursuing partnership with Sovereign Grace Churches and so please pray that this conference is a blessing and encouragement to everyone in attendance.

  2. Please pray for Joselo Mercado (Senior Pastor of Gracia Soberana, Gaithersburg, MD) as he heads to Puerto Rico, 16th-20th May, to partner with the Simeon Trust in teaching hermeneutics and expository preaching to around 50 pastors and leaders. Please pray that God would help Joselo to preach with zeal during this time and open many doors for good relationships with these brothers.

  3. Please pray for Sri Lanka following on from the terrorist attacks on a Christian Church on Easter Sunday. The explosion at St. Sebastian’s Church was one of numerous blasts unleashed by eight suicide bombers at six different sites in three cities. 250 people lost their lives in the explosions. Please pray for their families, that they may be comforted by the great Comforter at this most difficult time, and that the word of God, even in and through this tragedy, may go forward in this country.

  4. Finally, please pray for the Emerging Nations Team (below). We are continually amazed by all of the opportunities and doors that are opening up to us at this time, yet are consistently aware of our need for wisdom, insight and grace. Please pray for us as a team, that God may continue to give us all of those things in the days, weeks and months ahead, and as a result, that we may serve Him well. There’s a big world out there and so may His grace abound to us all.

    … Thanks so much for standing with us in prayer, we appreciate it very much!

Emerging Nations - Meet The Team

One of the things I get asked at different times is just, “How do you do it all? I mean with stuff going on in 27 different countries, across 6 different continents, just how do you do it all?”, and my honest answer to that is, “I don’t”.

In God’s kindness I get to work with a team of wonderfully able, skilled and servant hearted men, who work ‘together’ with me to seek to establish and support indigenous Sovereign Grace churches and partnerships around the world.

I’m eager for you to meet them so that you can recognise them, give thanks to God for them and be praying for them, and so here goes…

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Dave Taylor

Sydney, Australia

Area: Global - Director

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Andrew Leung

Sydney, Australia

Area: Global - Assistant to Dave Taylor

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Brendan Willis

Sydney, Australia

Area: Global - Theology

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Eric Turbedsky

Orange, California, USA

Area: Asia-Pacific

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Lynn Baird

Pasadena, California, USA

Area: Philippines

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Dave York

Roseburg, Oregon, USA

Area: Philippines

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Erik Rangel

Yuma, Arizona, USA

Area: India

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Todd Peterson

El Paso, Texas, USA

Area: India

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Doug Hayes

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Area: Africa

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Ben Kreps

Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA

Area: Africa

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Brian Chesemore

Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Area: Africa

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Nathan Smith

Bristol, UK

Area: Europe

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Carlos Contreras

Juárez, Mexico

Area: Mexico & Central America

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Joselo Mercado

Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

Area: Latin America

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Bert Turner

Copley, Ohio, USA

Area: Brazil

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Kalib Wilkinson

Dallas, Texas, USA

Area: Global - Region TBC

I thank God so much for each of these men!!

Colombia & Venezuela

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An update from Joselo Mercado, Lead Pastor of Iglesia Gracia Soberana in Gaithersburg...

Kalib Wilkinson and I met at Houston Airport on Thursday, April 11 to spend two days in the Colombian Caribbean Coast.  The purpose of the visit was dual. On one part we desired to connect with Pastor Eduardo Osteicochia from Merida in Venezuela and then on the other, we went to serve a network of Biblical Churches in the North part of Colombia.  

Because of some flights delays we were able to connect with Pastor Eduardo in Bogota and spend 5 hours with him catching up and just encouraging him. In headline, Pastor Eduardo is very interested in adoption into Sovereign Grace and so we’re looking forward to exploring this possibility further. The situation in Venezuela is very difficult and so Iglesia Gracia Soberana was able to collect around $2,400 to help support the saints in there in Venezuela.  

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We then headed over to Barranquilla and once there I got to preach 3 times on the Friday on the Gospel Centered Church and then 3 times on the Saturday morning on the Gospel Centered Life.  We were able to connect with dozens of pastors, which is wonderful,  but more closely with a group of 7 pastors that are organizing a network of churches to promote training in the northern part of Colombia.  Around 11 million people live in this area and it was so amazing to see how the Lord has used Sovereign Grace Music to shape so many of the Churches that we came into contact with.

Kalib was a huge blessing throughout this trip. People loved him and it is very encouraging for Hispanics to see Americans that demonstrates love by putting themselves in a vulnerable situation of being in a different culture.  

Some of the churches that belong to the network are very interested in the type of government, care, and values that SGC have. With that in mind I will be having some follow up conversations in the weeks and months ahead.

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Growing Gospel Partnerships In Brazil

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Submitted by Bert Turner, Pastor at Covenant of Grace Church in Copley, Ohio…

Larry McCall, Pastor at Christ Community Church in Winona Lake, Indiana and I were in Brazil from March 1st to March 14. Our trip began with a wonderful week with the Sovereign Grace Church plant in São Paulo, led by Pastor Fabiano Medeiros. We taught a retreat over the Carnival holiday that included the SGC plant, Igreja Graça Soberana and another church, Comunidade Bíblica do Calvário – led by Pastor Marcos Arrais, that is pursuing adoption by Sovereign Grace Churches. With 24 million people, São Paulo is ranked as the fourth largest city in the world.

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After the retreat, we flew 850 miles to the city of Rio Grande, the southernmost city in the southernmost state of Brazil (the state of Rio Grande do Sul).  Larry and I had a delightful four day visit with the church, Igreja Nova Vida, led by pastors Lisandro Canes and Emerson Soares. We are humbled that Lisandro and Emerson are also pursuing adoption by Sovereign Grace Churches.  We were amazed as person after person told us of following Sovereign Grace Churches for years – listening to teachings by CJ Mahaney, singing Sovereign Grace worship songs and loving the Sovereign Grace Seven Shared Values.

While in Rio Grande, I met with Pastors Milton Medeiros and Pablo Gomes. Milton (brother of Fabiano) is the founder of a family of eight churches called Espaço Christão.  They are eager to pursue a growing relationship with Sovereign Grace Churches.

We ended our trip some 1,100 miles to the north in the Marvelous City, Rio de Janeiro where we met with a Brazilian producer, Elivelton Horst, who is recording 15 Sovereign Grace Music worship songs in Portuguese later this year. There is a growing hunger in Brazil for Christ-centered, theologically rich music, so this will serve them well. 

We are so excited to see all that the Lord is doing in Brazil and Lord-willing, we are eagerly looking forward to being a part of planting and building with many more churches there.

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Fabiano & Marcia Mederos

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& Elisa Canes

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Second Trip To Cuba

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From Carlos Contreras, Pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico:

During our second trip to Cuba I had the joy of being joined by Joselo Mercado to meet with Havana Pastors Eddy Cambria and Juan Viñeta who have requested Sovereign Grace adoption. Our desire this trip was to explain the essence of the foundational values on which Sovereign Grace churches are built.

It was humbling to see the desire of these men to see their churches be built similarly. They have been investigating SGC for the last 3 years and are eager to one day be a part of our family of churches. Joselo and I returned with a sense of being tied together to these men.

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We were also joined by my friend Ulises Vallin and his wife Raquel. Ulises was born in Cuba but left in his early 20’s and has lived in Spain for the last 15 years or so, where he became a Christian and met and married his wife. Ulises and Raquel have a vision to move to Havana to plant a church with Sovereign Grace. Ulises is a longtime friend with Eddie and Juan who are encouraging him to plant.

I would say that the highlight of the trip was being able to meet for a whole day with these men and their wives and two other interested pastors and their wives for a time of sharing about our understanding of Biblical Fellowship as a primary element for building the church. It was humbling to see how something so basic and significant in the lives of SG churches for decades can be such an eye-opener for them. As we talked there were tears, vulnerable transparency and laughs being shared. It was truly a Holy moment.

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Croatia Trip

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From C.B. Eder, Senior Pastor of Christ Community Church, Sinking Spring, PA…

On February 4-11, John Reyes (Fellow Pastor in Christ Community Church) and I had the honour of traveling to Croatia to visit our Sovereign Grace Church plant near the strategic capital city of Zagreb.  Pastor's college graduate Mario Vucenovic and his wife Jen, have been laboring hard with their six children to proclaim the gospel and care for the souls of the believers in this precious work that just celebrated its one year anniversary! 

Church of God's Grace is now officially recognized by the Croatian government, and is gaining momentum as long term missionaries Daniel and Kaitlyn Crocker were sent out to join them in their labours.  Mario and Jen, and Daniel and Kaitlyn, make a great team together, and what a joy it was to see the church growing in size and in passion for Jesus! 

Mario and Jen will be returning to the U.S. this summer for a relationship building and fundraising furlough.  Please pray for that effort to secure them funding which will strengthen the church heading into its future.  Thank you for your giving to Sovereign Grace, which has helped strengthen this work, and please pray about becoming a prayer and financial partner for this Sovereign Grace church plant! 

If you are interested, please contact Mario Vucenovic at mvucenovic1@gmail.com.  He would be very encouraged to hear from you.  Our international church planters are in need of as much encouragement and support that we can give them, being on the mission field far away from their Sovereign Grace sending churches, regional fellowship, and friends and family.  As we plant more and more churches internationally, may God give all of us grace to encourage these servants well!      

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