A call to prayer – 30 Days in the Harvest

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Call to Prayer – 30 Days in the Harvest

We, Dan and Robin, are moving into a time we call 30 Days in the Harvest.  During this time we, along with other ministers and some people from our church be more purposeful while out and about in the community, not only prayer walking but seeking opportunities to directly approach people to try and share the message of Christ.  Last year when we did the 30 Days in the Harvest it was a time of intense spiritual battle and attacks.  We need prayer as we move into this year’s 30 days.

We are seeking people who will commit to praying for at least 1 minute each day from June 24th to July 31st.  Our suggestion is that you set an alarm on your phone to go off each day at the same time.  I, Dan, have an alarm on my phone set for 10am.  No matter where I am or what I am doing I take a minute to pray quietly about the harvest in Portugal.  No one has a clue that I am praying unless I invite them to join with me.  

We ask that you would pray the following:

1. That God would protect us, our kids and our team.  We also will have a team from our sending church here during a portion of this time so prayer for their spiritual protection as well.

2. Pray we would meet people of peace (Luke 10) who are looking for God. 

3. For those involved in small groups to commit and invite their friends and family to the group.

4. For God to raise up Portugues believers and send more workers to Portugal (Luke 10)

5. We would see a discipleship movement of 1000 groups.

6. Pray for where we will be evangelizing each day (SEE THE LIST BELOW).

 

June 24 – Carcavelos

June 25 – Sao Marcos

June 27 – Alcabideche

June 28 – Sao Marcos

July 1-7th – Carcavelos, São Marcos, and Alcabideche

July    8 – Oeiras and Carcavelos 

July    9 – São Marcos 

July  10 – Carcavelos

July  11 – Olivais

July  12 – Cabeço de Mouro

July  13 – Olivais and Carcavelos

July  14 – Olivais

July  15 – Alcabideche

July  16 – Carcavelos

July  17 – Constancia and Tomar

July  18 – Monte Abraao and Tapada das Merces 

July  19 – Oeiras and São Marcos

July  21 – Vale de Amoreira

July  22 – Belas 

July  23 – Oeiras 

July  24 – Torres Vedras 

July  27 – Troviscal 

July  28 – Olivais 

July  29 – Sao Marcos

July  30 – Carcavelos and Alcabideche

Thank you for your prayers!  We appreciate them greatly!

IF YOU WILL COMMIT TO SPECIFICALLY PRAYING FOR THIS 30 DAYS, EACH DAY AT A SPECIFIC TIME, WOULD YOU PLEASE LET US KNOW, BOTH THAT YOU ARE PRAYING AND AT WHAT TIME? 

Dan and Robin Been

My Visit to Guinea-Bissau

In early May I traveled for the first time to the country of Guinea-Bissau (a former Portuguese colony) for a 5 day trip. Our teammate, Roberto Fife, also went and there we met up with Geraldo Borges, a gentleman who helps oversee missions and missionaries supported by the Brazilian Christian Church/Churches of Christ.   The purpose of this trip was to observe the ministry taking place, to see the needs, and to discern whether our Portugal team could somehow help with the teaching, training, and discipleship of church leadership as the church planter missionary who began this work years ago had to leave due to health issues.  The Brazillian churches are still invested and wanting to help in ministry here however Portugal is much closer to Guinea-Bissau and therefore our team could possibly help with leadership development.

I thought I’d use this blog to talk about my trip and share some of my observations.    

First, most of our time was spent in the capital city, Bissau, though we did spend our first day on an “island” to participate in the final portion of a youth retreat.  To get to the island we had a 2-hour boat ride and then had to walk through a canal since the tide was too low for the boat to go farther.  It was quite an adventure!  Referring back to the capital city however, it reminded me of a large Nampula.  For those who don’t know, Nampula is where we lived for over 9 years in Northern Mozambique. 

Second, during my time here I saw and felt several contrasts to my experiences of/in Africa, specifically from living in Nampula.  Guinea-Bissau is less definitely less developed than Mozambique. I was amazed however that so many people owned cattle and pigs and a large number of people had tin rooves (as opposed to grass/straw). All three of these things are signs of wealth in Mozambique. Another observation was that there was no lack of water.  The country looked like a huge rice field and people are not subject to starvation and large scale food shortages here.  These factors do not mean this is not mal-nutrition or that the country isn’t poor.  It most certainly is.  In fact, there is deep abject poverty just as there is in Mozambique – it just manifests itself differently.  There is a major lack of medical care available and schooling is extremely minimal.  I found the people were much less aggressive than what I have experienced over the years in Mozambique.  For example in Mozambique when I go running, people will yell at me, make fun of me and follow me. However, in Guinea-Bissau, no one did that.  Even on the 5k walk to visit a ministry site people ignored us.  I felt safer than I normally do in Mozambique.  

Third, I was pleased to see that the church is a “young church”. Lots of young adults are coming to know the Lord. With that said, there are still very few people in the country who know the Lord. 

Fourth, the ministry of the Brazilian Christian Church/Churches of Christ is not just church planting/evangelism. They have an elementary school, which is much needed. The missionary we visited, Adriana Lopes, works hard to create and adapt curriculum to help those around her. Adriana has an important ministry.   

Here are some pictures…. it was a great trip! Be in prayer with us (meaning our larger Portugal team) as we seek how we might be able to assist the work and ministry going on here.

A Seminary Class and a Cyclone

I flew into Pemba, Mozambique on the afternoon of the 23rd of April and then rode the 2 hours by car to the town of Montepuez.

I’d been invited to teach a class at the Bible School our former colleagues with Good News For África have started.

The class, Principles of Discipleship and Evangelism and Starting (Planting) New Churches, went well, despite the effects of Cyclone Kenneth dumping an incredible about of rain.

Caught out on a run by the early cyclone rains.

I had 13 students total, 10 from several villages in that province (Cabo Delgado) and another 3 who had traveled from the province of Zambezia.  Each of these students are either ministers or deacons with their local church.  In addition to the normal syllabus, I was able to include some extra concepts found within a couple Disciple Making Movements trainings in which we have recently participated.

On Sunday I preached at a local church and afterward got to meet the wife of one of my students. Why was that noteworthy you may ask? Well, when the cyclone hit she was not in town as she had gone out to work in their fields so concerns for her had been high. You may have connected the dots. She was trapped out there in the wind and the rain. She was eventually able to find shelter at someone’s house. Imagine being outside when a cyclone hits!

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Please pray for these ministers, their churches and their communities.

Also, please pray for Mozambique as a whole.  Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc in the center of the country in May and now Cyclone Kenneth has caused quite a bit of destruction in the north of the country.  Life is always hard and fragile in Mozambique – such disasters increase that reality.

Pray for the communities destroyed.  Pray for individuals rebuilding homes, businesses, etc.  Pray for families who’ve lost loved ones.  Pray for those offering relief and help.  Pray that God’s light and Truth will shine in the midst of tragedy.

 

 

Networking, Planning, Strategizing, and Training

We (our team), greatly desires to see Christ made known in Portugal.  That desire, and our larger vision for seeing/starting 1000 groups that are healthy, multiplying and involved in missions drive what we do.  

We long for ways in which more people might be reached. With that in mind, we are always looking for ways (tools) to improve our knowledge of how to reach individuals and start small groups/plant new churches.  

During the last two weeks of March and the first week of April we, in partnership with a few other church planters, had several opportunities to network, strategize and receive further training.  Thank God for these things and ask Him to bring about a church planting movement in Portugal.  

  • During the weekend of March 22nd and 23rd the Evangelical Alliance held a two day forum in which the larger (though actually very small) evangelical community could come together to worship, view ministries happening in Portugal, and participate in several different workshops. Dan was on a panel with several others about church planting.
  • On March 29th we had a meeting with two men from Proclaim International.  The objective was to plan how this ministry can help us organize multiple outreach concert events during the first two weeks of December.
  • Finally, from April 1 – 5th we, our teammates, and participants from other parts of Portugal were able to go through a level two (Four Fields) training for Disciple Making Movements.  It was challenging but very good, and we’re looking forward to the conversations of how to implement some of the things we learned into our Portuguese culture and context.

Remember that in all of Portugal there is less than 0.6% of the population involved in an Evangelical church. That number includes all immigrants so the total number of Portuguese reached with the gospel is even less.  Pray for that people would seek Jesus and His peace for their lives.  

Prayer

One of the most powerful things we can do is pray.  We have the privilege to plead with God and talk with Him.  The God of the universe listens to His people. When we read the scriptures we see that prayer is powerful. 

  • In prayer, we seek God’s will to be done, his good and perfect will. 
  • In prayer, we seek to align our desires to His. 
  • In prayer, we plead for the lost around us. 
  • In prayer, we talk to God about our desires, fears, hopes, dreams, and concerns. 

He listens to us; He also allows us to influence His choices.  Yes, God already knows the outcome because He is outside of time and space, but He hears our prayers, receives them and He responds.  I am not saying God is not all knowing, he is all knowing.  I am not saying that He is caught off guard, God is never caught off guard.  But for some reason, he listens to us and responds. 

Please pray!   Portugal is such a spiritually dark place.  I’ll easily say we feel more spiritual oppression here than we did in other ministry locations.  Below I have posted lots of pictures of the street names and neighborhoods where we are ministering. Please use these pictures to pray for these areas!  I have included some ideas on how to pray.  After the photos and ideas of how to pray you will find Scriptures that show the power of prayer and how it changed things in the past.  

Photos and ideas of how to pray:

Ask God to bring about a harvest – to continue to work in these areas.  (Mat. 9:36-38)

Ask God to help us meet people who are peaceful and trustworthy (Mat. 10:11)

Ask God to “speak to people” through various means (other believers, guiding their hearts and minds, dreams about Jesus) and pray people would not harden their hearts to Him.  (John 16:8 and Heb.4:7)

Ask God to help us meet people who are seeking Him but do not yet have faith in Jesus.  (Acts 10)

Ask God to guide people who are seeking him to us and our teammates. (Acts 10)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”     1 John 5:14-15 NIV

“…… pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”     James 5:16 NIV

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”       Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV

Biblical stories of prayer and how God responded: 

“Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year……..In her deep anguish, Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’ As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.’ ‘Not so, my lord,’ Hannah replied, ‘I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord…….’  Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time, Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him.’ ” 1 Samuel 1:6-20 NIV

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“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, ‘Put on your clothes and sandals.’ And Peter did so. ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,’ the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.’ When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’ ”     Acts 12:5-14 NIV

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“In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, ‘I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.’ Then the astrologers answered the king, ‘May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.’ The king replied to the astrologers, ‘This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.’ Once more they replied, ‘Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.’ Then the king answered, ‘I am certain that you are trying to gain time because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.’ The astrologers answered the king, ‘There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.’ This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. He asked the king’s officer, ‘Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?’ Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: ‘Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.’ Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, ‘Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.’ ”       Daniel 2:1-24 NIV

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“So he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.”       Psalm 106:23 NIV

 

The Harvest is Plentiful

If you have not heard of “30 Days In The Harvest” let me tell you about it quickly.

In Luke 10:2  “He (Jesus) told them (the disciples), “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

The idea is that many people are searching for something – some purpose, something more than themselves.  Many are open and seeking God, whether they realize that’s who they’re seeking or not.  We, as Christians, need to be on the lookout – seeking those open to knowing more.  We need to be in the harvest so that we can share Truth with those searching.   

One could argue that we are always in the harvest.  And while yes, Christians should try to shine light and be ready to give an answer for our Faith at all times, the truth is we don’t / aren’t always focused on that.

While in Poland at a European church planting conference last April I heard two people talk about “30 Days in the Harvest” and how they had the opportunity to share the gospel and pray with people. 

The concept is this: During a 30 day period people clear their schedule as much as possible and then dedicate a certain amount of time per day to purposefully interact with people in the community with the goal of identifying those open to knowing more about Jesus.

I did not think much of the idea at first (ie. this won’t work well in my context) but God spoke to my heart and challenged me to dedicate “30 Days in the Harvest.”

I returned to Portugal and talked with Robin about the challenge God gave me.  I also talked with our team and three other ministers/missionaries with whom I have been praying and with whom I have doing prayer walks. 

Everyone I talked with was excited to try to participate in the “30 days” idea.  Each of us made various time commitments but are concentrating our efforts in the areas where each of us are trying to plant new churches.  Remember that since there is less than 0.6% of the population connected to an evangelical church it is important to associate with credible churches/ministers/missionaries to create unity in the body so that Portuguese can come to know Jesus.    

Since we have started.  We have interacted with 169 people. The gospel was shared with 82 of those approached and 46 of that 82 said they were interested in knowing more about Jesus.  Several of those 82 have given us (or the other ministers) their contact information.  Some were uncomfortable giving us their information but willingly received our phone numbers.  

I have also done several prayer walks and participated in a youth outreach.

Pray for the seeds that have been planted.  Please pray for the remaining two and a half weeks.  Pray for those interested – that they will follow up with us or meet with us to learn more about Jesus.  Praise God that so many people are hearing about God’s plan of salvation and ask Him to “water” the seeds we are sowing.  Pray for an abundant harvest.

Below are pictures of areas where we have been working and praying.