It is my honor to feature Pastor Chad and Mindy who currently pastor New Hope Church, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Pastor Chad is the founder of Of the Word Ministries, a new ministry to pastors. Pastor Chad and Mindy have been married and pastoring for 22 years and they have eight children ranging in age from 6 to 21 years old. Five of their children are adopted privately from places such as the Ukraine and California. Two have Down Syndrome. Pastor Chad and Mindy have been homeschooling for 19 years. In addition, they have worked with 29 more children over the years in foster care. Oh, and did I mention that Mindy and their daughters Lizzie and Gracie are volunteer firefighters? Continue reading “Fire Fighters, Fire Keepers, Heart Healers”
I have heard people say “The pastor has it so easy, he doesn’t have to go to work. What does he do all day? All he has to do is write a few sermons a week.” So, the following few questions are aimed at setting the record straight. —What does a day in the life of a pastor, or a pastor’s wife, look like?
Anonymous Pastor, Kathmandu, Nepal: Actually I had the same thought when I was a teenager, manual labor is hard work, being a pastor would be easier. I would liken that comment to a child saying, “I can’t wait til I grow up and can work a job and not go to school anymore.”
I’m sure each pastor and city will vary, but being a missionary has changed my daily tasks quite a bit. A daily task, that in America would be a simple errand, can take hours. This is hard to explain, but in short America is very efficient country. Continue reading “Setting the Record Straight: A Day in the Life of a Pastor”
Pastor Schmoyer, were you raised in a Christian home and why did you become a Pastor?
Pastor Tim Schmoyer: Yes, I am very thankful that both my parents love Jesus and raised me to love Jesus, too. I’ve been a Christian for 33 years.
I was 17 when I took a trip with other teen Christians to Israel. We were in the desert at night when the youth leader asked us to surrender something to the Lord. So I thought, I could spend the rest of my life giving up this or that to the Lord. But I needed to give him everything. I didn’t know what that meant until the following week when my youth minister took me to visit a Bible college and while I was sitting in a class, the Lord reminded me of my promise to give everything to Him. Continue reading “The Preacher and the Writer”
What has being a pastor/ pastor’s wife cost you?
This comes at the expense of a broken heart. —Pastor Pablo Catala
Physical and emotional stress; personal time and freedom; often any sense of security because things change so much in your life; and struggles with self-worth as you are constantly being evaluated, of which you mostly only hear about your shortcomings. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer
As a missionary it has cost convenience, comfort, seeing family… but the promised reward of souls far outweigh the costs. —Anonymous Pastor, Kathmandu, Nepal
What is the hardest part of pastoring?
Seeing what people need to do and watching them not do it, no matter how I present it or how I word it, no matter how much time I spent with them and then having to hear the lament of,“Pastor, you were right,” which does not comfort me as I’m seeing the carnage of their bad decisions. —Anonymous Pastor
Expecting to be loved, understood, maybe even appreciated? They have no idea how needy we are. —Anonymous Pastor’s Wife
Sometimes your own children reject everything you’ve lived for and still you must keep going. —Anonymous
Realizing how much you don’t know, and feeling like you never do enough, aren’t good enough, or that you might misspeak something heretical. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer
What is your biggest challenge and most unexpected hardship in pastoring?
I guess my passion for the church gets me in trouble. —Janet Foley
Making sure that in the midst of building God’s church I don’t lose my marriage or children to the devil’s lies. Stretching time and making sure none of the 3 most important elements of your life are not cheated: God/ family/ work. —Pastor Pablo Catala Continue reading “Pastor, Pastor’s Wife~ What Breaks Your Heart, What Keeps You Going?”
I recently had the privilege of being on an outreach team to help Pastor Pablo and Nicole Catala’s pioneer church in Bridgeport CT. I was struck by how laid down, how wide open and vulnerable their hearts and lives were for God and the people of their city. I watched them love people with the love of God. I watched the ease with which they outreached, their children alongside them—truly a team, like a machine in sync. I took note of their home. Everywhere I turned there were photographs of their family and decor that shouted in unison about God and family. I learned their story later and asked them to share it. Here it is.
The Catala Story
Nicole Catala: One night my husband and I were fighting and basically done with our marriage. We both never had an example. We were only 6 months married and wanted to go for a divorce! That night my husband packed his clothes and left the house. The very next day I got a flyer from someone that there was going to be a healing crusade right across the street in Poe Park, put on by Victory Chapel in the Bronx, NY. As I was looking at the state of my life I knew I needed a miracle. I didn’t want my life to be just like the life of my family: Divorced, having multiple children from different men. I decided to go to the first night of the healing crusade. I was in a state of depression at only 18 years old and felt there was no hope for me and my eight month old son. Continue reading “From Dope Dealer to Hope Dealer”
PART 3 of 3: Family First or Church First? An interview with dragon slayer, disciple maker, Pastor Brian Williams and his wife Ruth from Agape Missions International, Nepal.
Question 20: How do you have the energy and balance your time between studying, preaching, writing, caring for your family, and other ministries?
Family First or Church first?
- Is the God we serve only a community God?
- Is the God we serve only a personal family king?
- Is the God we serve only a serious father?
Here below is some type of weird ideology based on the world’s value system:
- God first.
- Family second.
- Ministry third.
Now, where do we find that in the Bible? Nowhere, can we find any of this in scripture. That unbiblical and soulish concept is propagated by intellectually challenged, worldly people in the church.
Here is another piece of theology that betrays biblical orthodoxy:
Family ministry or Church ministry? But not both as a priority?
Now, where in the Bible do we find such an either/or dichotomy so as to prioritize one over the other? This comes from an unbiblical worldview of splitting values when none is required. This is opposed to the Judeo-christian way of doing things.
Thus seeking FIRST the kingdom of God, is:
Church Family Ministry,
Family IN Ministry and
Family AS Ministry.
Here is what I believe is the pure Bible worldview on family and the kingdom of God. This truth encompasses all three of the concepts below in perfect unity without surrendering any of the three ideas.
- Participating in local Church Family events IS ministry.
- Families involved in spiritual exercises IS ministry.
- Fun family activities in a family IS also ministry.
To speak about Biblical balance in another way, let us look at these three sentences:
Our church is our family and our family is our church.
We are to minister IN our immediate-family/joint-family which IS our ministry too.
Our nuclear family is called to a BE type of ministry, as well as serving God in a DO type of ministry also.
Let us dig a little deeper without excluding any of the three threads mentioned above.
- Church Family Ministry
Many families reluctantly drag their kids and their spouses to a local fellowship. It’s a sad thing when a family enjoys every other program in their locality other than a church program. Many research studies show that those who have a committed church community as their primary social network live longer. Do we go to a local church and give our time, talent and treasure to that church community together as a family? Or do we just warm the carpet and do a bench warming activity there? Paul mentioned this priority beautifully in Hebrews 10:25 “Not FORSAKING the ASSEMBLING of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”
2. Family “IN” Ministry
Most families wait until their children reach college for them to serve God. Then, it’s sometimes too late because they are already fixed and anchored in their ways. They have received no training at home. If we do not fellowship, evangelize, pray and enjoy the Bible together as a family, why will they do it when they grow up? The Jews were wisely commanded by God to tell their kids stories of what God did. Why? The word of God was supposed to be on their doors. Why? I think it was so they would read it, remember it and enact it every time they went out into society and came back home. They had Sabbath meals with great Bible symbolism so that they could experience Emmanuel in all the areas of their family life. The family that prays and does spiritual stuff together stays together.
Joel 1:3 TELL your children about it, Let your children TELL their children, And their children ANOTHER GENERATION.
3. Family “AS” Ministry
So many people show their families by their lifestyle that they serve a boring God. If our God and our Parents do nothing but pray, read the Bible, go to church and evangelize, then we have shown our God as a fun killer at worst and a dull God at best. Do we dance with our kids? Do we play football with our kids? Do we go cycling with our kids? Do we watch movies with our kids? Do we go on picnics with our kids? Do we read books with our kids? If we have no recreational activities with our kids then we serve and portray our God as a spoilsport, a very grumpy old man who has is no fun and joy. On the other hand, fun was created by God but perverted by the Devil. We must take back what the devil has stolen.The family is itself a ministry and we must enjoy it without having to do stuff that is Christianese only. We are definitely not called to participate in sinful activities but there are other things we could do like, going to, zoo’s, picnics, parties and sports events.
That is why 1 Cor 10:31 counsel’s us in this way “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or WHATEVER you do, do all to the glory of God.“
Some concluding thoughts:
The family that prays together stays together.
The family that plays together stays together too.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.
Discerning Family Seasons:
So in conclusion, we must strike a healthy balance between investing our time for church community moments and a time for our personal and private family seasons. We must apply wisdom when we are to do which and for how long. Sometimes “family ministry” is the priority, other times the “church family ministry” is the priority, and still at other times, “family fun ministry” is the priority. Only the Holy Spirit can help us put the kingdom first by creating that balance in the prayer closet for each of the days of our week.
On average how much time does it take you to put together a sermon, including research and study?
Depends on Question number 20.
How much time do you spend in personal Bible study and prayer a day?
Depends on Question number 20.
What is the hardest part of being a pastor/ pastor’s wife?
Balancing Question number 20.
What is your biggest challenge in your ministry?
Implementing Question number 20.
What most breaks your heart?
People neglecting the values of Question number 20.
What has being a preacher and your ministry cost you?
Do you ever want to quit?
What keeps you going?
Our quiet time.
What most encourages you?
The ongoing testimony of God lovers.
Who inspires you?
Those who incarnate the Bible in their localities.
What has been the most unexpected benefit of your ministries?
Serving at risk people has brought out the best in me, my wife and five kids.
Do you have someone you can talk to for counsel, direction, encouragement, prayer—someone you can be really open with?
My wife has an Indian lady and I have an American and Nepali guy whom we are accountable to.
How do you keep your heart and zeal for people and God, in spite of people’s failings and some turning against you?
Serve them in His power and strength.
What are some things your church and others could do to lighten your load or refresh you and your family so you can better serve God and them?
People living out the gifts that they have been given.This lightens our burden and revives us.
What do you see as the biggest threat to the Church today?
Atheistic believers, worldly Christians and religious denominational-ism.
What do you believe is the key to revival?
Praying and evangelizing.
How do you feel about Jesus’ return, the rapture?
I am to serve Him till He returns. I am a PAN–Millennialist—Everything will pan out when He comes back.
How are mission trip teams like the one my daughter, Abigail, came on with Adventures in Missions this past summer helpful to you and your ministry?
The greatest ministry your daughter and her team left behind was probably not Bible studies, hand-outs and eloquent speeches, (they are great too). But it was mainly by empowering the local leaders in Tami Nepal and our networks.
They did this by birthing and serving long term relationships, by an act of deep interpersonal koinonia in the hearts of the local long term workers. We are hoping for not only short term success for the short space of time they were here but the long term successes by them investing generously their time, talent, treasure, (money and things etc), and touch, (prayer), in me, my family, my team and my partners. This model of “one-another” ministry was lovely to see in practice. Working together with the Holy Spirit and each other is key to our mutual success. This is only possible when short-term people/teams leave a legacy behind with us, their co-workers. Nothing is worse than an individual or team coming here and doing fast and furious ministry all by themselves while the local ministers are just tag-alongs.
The African Proverb is so true:
If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.
Abigail and her team were lovely in being our friends and continue to be close to us by e-mail and Facebook. We pray and hope some of them come back again to be with us.
What is your favorite memory of your ministry?
From Street Kid to Pastor
by Kayla Strickler
Sachin was the name behind the face of a child beggar on the sweltering side streets of Nepal. Street kids are extremely common in this country; they often spend their days begging, sometimes at the urging of their very own families. Street kids typically lie, fabricate tear-jerking stories, or play dumb to coax more money out of unsuspecting travelers. Sachin was a kid that needed no such ploys; he had an obvious physical challenge in one leg. Even so, he traded the street life for a job in the carpet industry when the enticing opportunity arose. And just like that, he became a statistic and joined the ranks as one of thousands of Nepal’s child laborers.
In Nepal, child labor for the carpet industry is rampant. Despite many efforts to bust the business over the last several years, the fight to end child labor is still far from over. World-famous carpets come from Nepal—the smaller the knot and the finer the carpet, the better and more valuable. Consequently, tiny agile hands often work 16-hour days and stitch until their fingers bleed raw.
As Sachin grew into adolescence, working hard hours in this industry, he encountered someone who introduced him to a life of faith in Christ. As a new believer, he began attending a church that was willing and able to put a roof over his head; but this supposed miracle was short-lived. The life of that roof expired when the church abruptly changed their policy and chose to no longer support street kids. As quickly as the roof had been put over his head, it was taken away. Sachin found himself blindsided. He was physically limited, uneducated, and now completely homeless.
In his destitute and dejected state, an Agape affiliate got word about the boy with the sick leg and bleeding, carpet-making fingers. Before long, Sachin came under Agape’s wing to be developed as a leader through an internship, with a roof over his head, and no longer needing to work slave hours six days a week. The boy that was once on the streets now had a roof, food, a family, and above all, a chance in life.
Around the same time Sachin was beginning his journey with Agape, another miracle was being worked out in someone else’s life who would also soon join forces with the mission.
Agrata, a bright and steadfast young woman, joined Agape to grow and help fulfill her calling as a leader. As one of only two Christians in her otherwise Hindu family, she needed a place to live as her current living situation fell through. Staying where she was meant stress and ill health because of the tense environment; going back home to a Hindu family would mean re-crucifying the Jesus so important to her, (since returning to a Hindu family would mean renouncing her Christian faith). Caught between a rock and a hard place, she found a third option and made her home for the season in Agape, where she could live and grow with a community of believers.
Agrata and Sachin’s love grew fast and strong. Two years into their internship with Agape, their romance was a beautiful avalanche rushing down a hill, gaining their faith and maturity before they got married, but to the besotted couple, the avalanche was already gathering great speed. Brian’s wish was that they spend another six months in a development program growing really unstoppable. They quickly tied the knot and set out on their own, blissfully in love and choosing to branch out on their own.
A local church they had been attending helped the couple secure a place to live and work: two rooms, one for a meat business to support themselves, and one room to live in. Soon, they started a family. Life continued in this security for a comfortable length of time. When they were pregnant with their second child, they happened again upon Agape’s staff. When they did, Agrata and Sachin came bearing news of all the great things happening in their lives: pastorship, children, business… Except, one thing was noticeably amiss—Sachin and Agrata had grown weary of working in the meat business, and their hearts yearned to focus more on ministry. They rejoined Agape, reunited in the place they first met—this time with two little ones in tow. But, in the blink of an eye, they chose to return to their church and meat business. Then, the unthinkable happened. The infamous earthquake hit with ferocious strength, and left their home, business, stability, and life all rubble in its grip. Sachin, Agrata, and their two kids were officially homeless.
They came to Agape for help. In Brian’s own words, “Sometimes a couple needs help two or three times, to establish themselves…” And so, with great love, Sachin and Agrata found themselves back at their roots. In another beautiful partnership with Agape ministries, Sachin and Agrata were blessed even more than before. The couple remained with Agape until they were on their feet again after the earthquake. In due time, they had a well and a house built with a room for church, two bedrooms, and a washroom. They now serve faithfully in Nepal, running their own church, bringing more and more people to the knowledge and saving faith of Jesus, the one who can do exceedingly and abundantly more than anyone could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
What is your vision for your ministry, your calling?
Small is Beautiful!
It’s not terribly important how big a work we have, but rather how big a work God does and is doing through us.
Tami Asia Calling:
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:5 For every man shall BEAR HIS OWN BURDEN.
CAR CUP Nepal/ TARA School Nepal/ WARM Nepal
(Who is God? What is true/ real Religion?)
Click for Video: Meet Ruth
James 1:27 PURE RELIGION AND UNDEFILED before God and the Father is this, To visit the FATHERLESS AND WIDOWS in their affliction, and to KEEP HIMSELF UNSPOTTED FROM THE WORLD.
Psalms 68:5 A FATHER TO THE FATHERLESS, and A JUDGE OF WIDOWS is God in his holy habitation.
Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even A CUP OF COLD WATER to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly NOT LOSE THEIR REWARD.”
Psalms 113:6-9 KJV Who HUMBLES himself to BEHOLD the things that are in heaven, and IN THE EARTH! He RAISES UP the POOR out of the DUST, and LIFTS the NEEDY out of the DUNGHILL; That he may SET HIM with PRINCES, even with the PRINCES of HIS PEOPLE. He makes the BARREN WOMAN to keep house, and to be a joyful MOTHER of CHILDREN. Praise ye the Lord.
Click for Video: Meet Our Team.
Bethesda Bishram Nepal
Hebrews 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his OWN WORKS, as God did from his.
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from DEAD WORKS, and of faith toward God.
Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ,who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from DEAD WORKS to serve the living God?
Click for Video: Meet Brian
Bethel Ashrm Nepal
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same COMMIT THOU TO FAITHFUL MEN, who shall be able to TEACH OTHERS ALSO.
Together we do a great work for God
Rev. Brian Reshma Williams
***You can read my post featuring my daughter, Abby’s stories of her mission trip to Nepal here: Echoes
****Please respect the request of the interviewees that neither the link for, nor any content from this article be posted on Facebook. However, please feel to share the link to this post on other platforms.
Thank you for your consideration. © 2017 Rachael M Colby Tattoo It On your Heart
Part 2: Women at Risk, Children at Risk and a Judas—Continuing the Conversation with Reverend Brian Williams and his wife, Ruth, of Agape Missions, Nepal
Brian, where do you currently preach?
I oversee 200 churches, so I find myself travelling to these pulpits in India and Nepal. That brings me to our vision.We see this fleshed out in Bethesda Bishram, Agape’s second house in Kathmandu, Nepal, and it serves different functions. Throughout the year, you may find it populated by local pastors attending seminars, short-term missions groups working with Agape, or a family trying to get themselves back on their feet.
Bethesda Bishram serves a different purpose than Bethel Ashrm. It is a house for rest, revival, refreshing and renewal for leaders and their families. It is a place of retreat and fellowship.
Agape recognizes the importance of rest because it allows us to listen to the Lord and His will for our lives, because without retreat, there is no surrender. The purpose is to invest in the leaders of Nepal, so that they may be sustained. It gives them a chance to escape the fishbowl experience, the sense that one is always on display, of public ministry and find refuge, strength, and rest in Christ.
Ruth, did you think when you became a Christian you would become a preacher’s wife?
No, but I love the practical teaching style of my husband.
You are a church planter and overseer of churches and the author of five books on Biblical economics. Why is this important? What is your vision?
I have a simple dream. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will use these Biblical Economics seminars for the glory of Jesus by helping the priestly people of God walk in financial fruitfulness. My prayer is that the kingly royal anointing would be upon them and that they will experience good success in every area of life. They will be the head and not the tail of their community or society, the top and not the bottom of their locality or village.
My prayer is that:
It is high time that the Peter’s of today walk out their humble calling with their heads held high and not be frowned upon as old school missionaries. The Bible is never out of date and my desire is that there will be an explosion of the biblical Peter model of volunteer missionaries all around the globe. That they will destroy the fads and gimmicks of false doctrine by continuing a life of volunteerism faithfully.
My prayer is that:
The Priscilla’s and Aquila’s of today would not be shunted out of modern missions as irrelevant. My prayer is that many couples would turn their homes into churches and their workplaces into pulpits. That they would not accept being called second class workers of the gospel, which they are not. Accepting a salary or making a profit must never be allowed to be frowned upon by modern Constantine’s. That they would boldly remain in their holy calling thus defeating the false teachers of today who have demonically labelled them as the, ‘half time calling,’ people.
My prayer is that:
The Paul’s of today would continue to faithfully obey the higher calling of God by walking in financial wisdom as per the season they find themselves in. Many times the people of God in this dual model have walked in financial ignorance and so when crushing financial times have arrived they have left the ministry. I hope these books help multiply these amazing street smart Paul model missionaries who will be salaried or free volunteers as and when the need of the ministry hour demands.
You have a ministry for at risk women, rescuing some and their children from the sex trafficking trade and also a ministry to the sukumbasi (slum/street) children as well as developing leaders through two leadership homes. What is the road that led you to these ministries?
The Agape Mission International was founded on the great Commandment (Matt 22:37) the great Commission, (Mark 16:16) and the great Commitment, (Isaiah 61:1-3). The vision the Master gave me in 1998 was of a river flowing down a mountain to the lowest and the least in society. The hurting the helpless and the broken are whom the love of God and the power of God works best in and through very easily.
James 1:27 “PURE RELIGION AND UNDEFILED before God and the Father is this, To visit the FATHERLESS, (Children at Risk), AND WIDOWS, (Women at Risk), in their affliction…”
That led us to work with children and women at risk and not just orphans and widows.
Can you tell us about your Women at Risk Ministry?
We have 8 projects for women caught in sexual trafficking and exploitation.
WARM (Women At Risk Ministries) Nepal projects below:
1. A Tailoring Shop.
Therefore, those desiring tailoring skills are welcome.
2. A Computer Lab.
Then, those desiring software and hardware skills are welcome.
3. A Language Class.
Those desiring English Language speaking and writing skills are welcome.
4. A Beauty Saloon.
Also, those desiring beauty parlor and fashion sector skills are welcome.
5. A Food Outlet.
For those desiring cooking, baking and chef skills are welcome.
6. An Adult Literacy Center.
And, those desiring pre-school teacher training and educational skills are welcome.
7. A Candle Making unit.
Plus, those desiring scented candle-making and interior decoration skills are welcome.
8. A Handicraft Products workshop.
Finally, those desiring sewing, jewelry and crochet skills are welcome.
What is the process for rescuing and restoring women from the sex-trafficking trade?
We rescue and restore women from cabin restaurants, dance bars and elsewhere.We have intervention programs as well as prevention programs.
Please read more here:
Our training center continues to train more than 50 ladies daily. One girl aged 14 years who was sexually abused in an orphanage was rescued by our team. She is now going to school, and has accepted Christ. Another girl who was married with a child was thrown out of her home after she accepted Christ. She is now taking beautician training amongst us.
From my daughter’s accounts from her mission trip to Nepal, and from reading some of the stories on the links at your site, it seems like many women, some with infants, end up in the trafficking trade as a result of their husband’s abandoning them.Why is this? How does the culture in Nepal view marriage?
Marriage is viewed very highly in Nepal. The problem is that the men find it very easy to run away from their wives and children. I think it’s a manhood issue rather than a marriage issue. Most women remain faithful till the end.
Prostitution and brothels are illegal in Nepal, but trafficking takes place when poor villages girls are falsely lured into better job opportunities. They are tricked and taken to India, the Middle East Muslim majority countries and Kathmandu’s dance bars and cabin restaurants, (actually brothel’s).
Please read more here:
Some are called Dalit untouchables. What does that mean?
In Hinduism there is a caste system.The low caste, the high caste and all the rest in-between.The low caste people are the untouchable dirty Dalit people. There is a passage in the Rigveda, (Hindu scriptures), which enumerates the four castes in the being of the Heaven-Man called Purusha. The Brahman is called the mouth of Purusha, as having the special privilege as a priest of addressing the gods in prayer. The arms of Purusha became the Rajanya, the prince and soldier who wields the sword and spear. His thighs, the strongest parts of his body, became the agriculturalist and tradesman,the chief support of society, and his feet,the emblem of vigour and activity, became the Sudra or labouring man, (Dalit-Untouchable), on whose toil and industry all ultimately rests.
Can you tell us about your Children at Risk ministry?
We operate two non formal schools in the slums.We also have a street kids soccer and feeding program.The purpose is to serve the poor but also model these ministries for local churches to start their own work amongst the marginalized.
We minister to more than 100 kids on the streets and in the slums daily.We feed them, give them basic education, play music and football with them and tell them Bible stories on a daily basis. More than 50 of these children now attend children’s church every week.
We want to educate, empower and equip them. Our hope then is that they become good family people with sustainable jobs.
Please read more here:
What is the craziest situation you’ve experienced during your ministry that you are free to share?
Every Ministry Has a Judas
by Kayla Strickler
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 2 Corinthians 2:17
Thirteen years ago began Tamasi’s story with Agape ministries. Tamasi originally belonged to another ministry in Kathmandu run by a reputable African man named Chibuzor (Nigerian for “God first” or “God leads”). Chibuzor ran a successful ministry in the city, but when he fell in love with a Norwegian woman, he elected to leave the beautiful mountains of Nepal for his soon-to-be wife’s homeland. Chibuzor left the ministry he had put so much blood, sweat, and tears into to another African brother. Under this leadership, Tamasi was the ministry manager.
One otherwise still and peaceful night, Chibuzor appeared to Brian in a dream. He bore a message, and through the hazy outline of the dream’s frame spoke: “Brian, I don’t care about any of the office affairs that may occur—I want you to take care of Tamasi, my manager. Don’t let her go. Keep her with you.” Chibuzor vanished. Brian’s eyes opened.
Only one short week later, Brian’s phone rang. It was Tamasi. Through anxious breaths and a crack in her voice, she failed to disguise her worry as slowly the story unfolded. The man who Chibuzor entrusted his ministry to had embezzled everything he could, including money, sensitive documents, and other information from the computer, and had disappeared—never to be seen again. He vanished still $3,000 indebted to the landlord of the rented ministry building, but in his disappearance, the debt now fell on Tamasi. Her plea to Brian was for help, so that she would stay out of jail for a nonpayment that was never meant to be hers.
Brian and Agape ministries stepped in to help. In God’s sovereignty and promise that he works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), when Brian showed up to help Tamasi with the situation, the landlord instantly recognized his face. “Brother Brian!” he shouted. “It is you!”
The two jovially talked. With a puzzled look on her face, Tamasi watched the curiously joyous interaction. It took a moment for the realization to strike: Brian and the landlord were old football friends. Through his glee, the landlord agreed to loosen the reigns on debt collection and simply told Brian to call him whenever he was ready and able to pay. Tamasi’s dilemma and fear of imprisonment were eradicated. But this wasn’t over. A hazy picture of Chibuzor flashed across Brian’s memory. He remembered the dream he had a mere week ago and knew that he was to do more than just help Tamasi stay out of jail. So, looking at her background and skill set, he offered her a job in Agape’s ministry for women at risk.
And so began the long stretch of Tamasi’s work with Agape. For quite a few years, the partnership was fluid. But in time, word started getting back to Brian about Tamasi speaking ill of him and the ministry behind his back. (Nepali culture is known to be indirect in a way that fuels gossip, but this particular flame grew like a wildfire whose smoke was extra poisonous.) Soon enough, other team members couldn’t ignore the flames. They couldn’t ignore the tension in the air. Team members started asserting their opinions that Agape needed to dismiss her from staff, and even Brian agreed. But one thing was stopping him: the memory of Chibuzor speaking to him through a dreamy haze. As Brian remembered Chibuzor’s words, he knew what he had to do. The more he prayed about it, the more he remembered both the dream and the story of Judas. In Brian’s words, “Jesus still chose Judas. Everyone needs to have a Judas.”
And so, even though according to Brian, the last three or four years she was with Agape were “hell on earth,” every year at Christmastime Tamasi’s salary still increased. She was treated exceedingly well, even when Agape didn’t want to and their hearts told them to let her go. Then, out of left field one day, Tamasi unexpectedly left. She explained she was not feeling well; that she needed to stay home and take care of herself. She mentioned her husband and her mother as other reasons. She had been trying to get pregnant; she explained the doctor advised her to rest, and then she may be able to conceive. All seemed like plausible reasons, they thought.
But rotting fish will eventually smell.
Around six months later, all of the Agape students from the women’s center inexplicably started attending another institution. The mystery was solved when Brian learned that Tamasi had started her own center, and the drama unfolded tenfold when he rushed to check the records from the Agape program: Tamasi had stolen and deleted them all. Brian had no way to even contact the women who now attended Tamasi’s program instead of Agape’s. To add exponentially more fuel to the flame, Tamasi had approached one of Agape’s biggest financial supporters and slandered the ministry, spreading accusations of corruption. The donor believed Tamasi’s lies and began to put his financial support towards Tamasi’s ministry instead.
According to Brian, there are many lessons in this story. “She keeps me humble,” he says. Even though Brian wishes he could run into her on the street and confront her, it is a choice to love people—it is a choice to not be offended, and stand ground. It is a choice to love a betrayer despite their betrayal. It is a choice to focus on the fact that Tamasi still does something people will benefit from. It is a choice to lean on the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians describing people peddling the word of God for profit. It is a choice to acknowledge that some preach the word with an attitude that is good and some with one that is bad; but what is most important is that the truth still gets preached. It is a choice to look at people like Tamasi and intentionally not to come against them, even when the opponent is outgunned.
Perhaps most people would choose retaliation. Perhaps many would look at Judas and shout about how he should have never been with Jesus in the first place. But Jesus still used Judas, and every ministry will have one. How will you react to your Judas?
What is the religious climate in Nepal? What is the Anti-Conversion Law?
Nepal is a secular country with some degree of religious freedom. Nepal has gone through dictatorships, civil wars, guerrilla warfare, and earthquakes, which has made the people of Nepal very resilient in good times and bad. Nepal has never been under foreign rule, so it is very welcoming to tourists, but we still must be careful of sharing our faith in a wise way.
The Anti-Conversion Law bill passed in parliament several years ago and it roughly goes like this.
You cannot force anyone to change their religion.
You cannot bribe anyone with money etc. to change their religion.
You cannot force a person to not become an atheist if he/she wants to.
To this they added last month, (September 2017):
You cannot harass any other religion that is not yours.
This Bill was passed into law by the first female president of Nepal. The funny thing is that Christians and all other religions believe and agree with the bill. As you know none of us in the Christian faith convert anyone or practise the above four points. The Spirit of Christ leads them to the Father.
So it’s business as usual…
We are open to get persecuted but not because of our foolishness. Therefore, all our churches and work in the slums and with women offer practical education, job skills and adventure evangelism with local churches, so we will always be okay. Of course the enemy goes around like a prowling lion and we must be alert also.
*To be continued in Part 3: God, Family, ministry. Which is priority?
**Did you read Part 1?
***You can read my post featuring Abby’s stories of her mission trip to Nepal here: Echoes
***Please respect the request of the interviewee that neither the link for, nor any content from this article be posted on Facebook. However, please feel to share the link to this post by e-mail and on other platforms. Thank you for your consideration.
© 2017 Rachael M Colby Tattoo It On your Heart