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Portraits of grace : stories of salvation…
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Portraits of grace : stories of salvation from Wesleyan world missions

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0898272017, Paperback)

INTRODUCTION

Foreign missions is not about missionaries to foreign lands, buildings in foreign places, or philanthropic endeavors for foreign social needs. It is about the great commission and the command to "make disciples of all nations." This book is the real story of foreign missions, men and women who have been saved by faith through grace. There are missionaries, buildings, and philanthropy in these stories of grace but the real story is the salvation of individual lives. When I was a teenager my parents were missionaries in Papua New Guinea. In those days our pastors could not read and there was no Bible in their language if they could have. The pastors would come to the mission once a week to learn a Bible story which would become their sermon for the coming Sunday. My friends were Papuan boys my age who were attending the mission school. One week four or five of us decided to go to a friend's village for the weekend. This was an excellent experience, so the next week we went to another friend's village. On one of these trips we were in the local church on Sunday, which was our habit, and the pastor came to his time to preach. He looked out at the congregation, abruptly stopped and then addressed me directly. "Johnny, can you read?" I answered that I could. Then he asked if I had a Bible. I did. He got very excited and asked if I would come and read the Bible and tell them directly what it said. I figured, "Why not?" So I did. I read what it said and told them what I thought it meant. It was simple; I didn't know any big theological words, Hebrew, Greek, homiletics, hermeneutics, or doctrinal technicalities. I just knew what it said and what it seemed to mean to me-that was all. This became a rather popular thing and I found myself and my friends going to at least two churches each Sunday to read and explain. It was fun and they treated us nicely. I didn't think of this as "ministry." I was just a kid doing what kids do. One week the reading was about salvation by faith. When I finished, I realized that maybe somebody needed to be saved. I had no idea how to give an altar call, so I just stopped abruptly and asked, "Does anybody here want to get saved?" A typical New Guinea man was sitting in the back. He had the highlands wig which looks like an elongated hat with a couple of bones pushed up beside his ear on each side. He had no shirt, shoes, or pants-just the loincloth in front and leaves to cover behind. His body was smeared with pig grease. He raised his hand, then stood up and said, "I think I need this." I told him to come forward, kneel down and we would pray with him. He did and the Christians gathered around and began to pray, but I noticed he didn't pray. I stopped everyone and said something like "Hey, guy, you gotta pray." He looked at me blankly and then said he didn't know how; he'd never prayed before. I told him to repeat the words I would say and prayed a very simple prayer of repentance. Much to my surprise, the Lord saved him! As I continued the circuit to the village churches over the next year or so, I always looked for this man. The next time I came to his village, this man who didn't know how to pray was called upon to lead the congregation in prayer. Before long he was leading the song service. He looked different, acted different, and was growing in the grace of God. The last time I saw him, he was teaching a Sunday school class out under a large tree near the little village church. Not only was he a disciple, he was discipling others. This is how I realized the power of the Word and the meaning of making disciples. I knew for sure that the power wasn't in the preacher. The power was in the Word. People learned all they could and then taught what they knew to others. Within the stories of this book you will see that pattern repeated time after time. The power of the Holy Spirit flows through His people, but is not limited to their efforts; He enhances their efforts. The simple becomes profound when God is at work. Everyone who should be acknowledged in these articles has not been, especially the translators, often because we don't know for sure who they are. We know some of them are missionaries like Orai Lehman (Mozambique), Jeff Fussner (Indonesia), and Ed Parman (Mexico). Some are national leaders like Lal Pulamte (India), Fely Pablo (Philippines), Cedric Rodrigo (Sri Lanka), and James Coleman (Liberia). To these essential people we give a big "Thank you." Without you this book would not be possible. This book was the brainchild of Dr. Donald Bray, the general director of Wesleyan World Missions. He had heard many of these stories as he traveled the church and wanted you to hear them too. The area directors, mission directors, regional and national superintendents of the various mission units have also been very influential in getting these stories of grace together. I would especially like to mention Fely Pablo, the wife of the general superintendent (Dr. Alfonso Pablo) of the Philippine General Conference of The Wesleyan Church. She has worked tirelessly to collect, translate, type and send by e-mail or "snail mail" stories from the Philippines. Finally, I thank my wife, Marge, for typing, editing and encouraging until the task was completed. Our prayer is that these stories of God's grace will touch your hearts and give you a renewed vision of what Wesleyan missions is all about-making disciples. -John Connor, Editor

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:31 -0400)

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