A Zeal for God and a Love for People

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I was on my way to the West Coast of Madagascar to visit a couple of churches when I received a phone call informing me that my mum was taken to the hospital as an emergency as she was not feeling well. As she was not able to make it last Sunday to church to listen to me preach (and she would never miss that for anything in the world), I knew there was something really wrong. I called Lily and told her to go to the hospital with the kids. She called me back half an hour later in tears, telling me I had to come back. My mum had passed into glory.

There is so much to say to celebrate what God has done in her life and through her life. She has left quite a spiritual legacy and so many reasons to glorify God. She has shared the gospel faithfully. She did so both with the highest in the Malagasy society rungs, ministering to the wives of people in authority or army generals, and with the lowest, walking sometimes 35 miles in the countryside at age 72 to bring the Word of God to rural villages. And she was faithful both outside the home, and within the home. I remember that when I was still in my parents’ home, even as a 22/23-year-old man sometimes coming home at 1am following business meetings or time with friends, she would still wait for me as she had committed to pray with me every night, and so she did. That’s my mum. The greatest thing my mother has given me is a model of love for God and His Word. I have decided to preach on Ecclesiastes 7:1-4 for her funeral on Friday May 5th 2018, as a tribute to her. Please pray for me, that God would find me faithful to His Word. Please pray for the service, that as her life was not in vain, so won’t be her death. And that even as we put her body in the grave, many would turn to Christ and would have, like her, the assurance of the future resurrection at the Lord’s return.

 

Sommet International de la Predication Textuelle

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A Madagascar 3M, nous affirmons que la Parole de Dieu est divinement inspirée, qu’elle est sans erreur et qu’elle est absolue. Nous affirmons qu’elle est suffisante pour contribuer à la vie et à la piété de chacun (2 Pierre 1 :3). Malheureusement, Les Saintes Ecritures ne sont plus la seule source de vérité divine pour les prédicateurs sur notre ile ; beaucoup leur ont suppléé les rêves, les visions, les traditions ou la sagesse humaine.

Le Sommet International de la Prédication Textuelle (SIPT 2018), qui aura lieu du 10 au 13 Octobre 2018, sera le premier du genre à Madagascar et, nous l’espérons, pas le dernier.

Cette conférence de 4 jours permettra de mettre en avant la prédication textuelle et inclura des ateliers, des prédications, de la louange, et des sessions de questions-réponses. Elle réunira des orateurs anglophones, francophones et malgaches, tous unis par leur amour pour Christ et leur attachement à la prédication textuelle.

Nous prions que 300 pasteurs et leaders d’église venant de toutes les dénominations, églises indépendantes et associations chrétiennes se joignent à nous pour cet évènement. Nous prions également pour que ce soit le lancement d’un mouvement local rassemblant les pasteurs désireux de revenir à la Parole. Nous souhaitons former une communauté fraternelle d’encouragement mutuel pour que chacun s’applique à dispenser droitement et avec passion la parole de la vérité (2 Tim 2 :15).

Sommet International de la Prédication Textuelle

  • 8 Prédicateurs de 5 pays différents

  • 300 Pasteurs et Leaders d’église

  • Un livre sur la Prédication textuelle offert à tous les participants

  • Un 2eme livre offert aux 100 premiers inscrits

Pour que cet évènement soit un succès, nous avons besoin de votre aide, par la prière et par votre contribution financière pour nous aider à couvrir les frais logistiques de la conférence. Merci de nous contacter sur contact@madagascar3m.org pour tout renseignement, pour vous inscrire ou pour nous supporter financièrement.

“Prêche la parole, insiste en toute occasion, favorable ou non, reprends, censure, exhorte, avec toute douceur et en instruisant.” 2 Tim 4:2

 

 

A Faithful God

An Unexpected Call

Another week, another miracle. Hasiniaina and Henintsoa were called to lead a youth camp in Ampefy, 90 miles from Antananarivo. As they had been already serving together in a ministry with youth and teenagers, the association “Avotr’aina ho an’nyankizy” (literally “Life Rescue for Children”) called upon them to lead their camp just 2 days before that camp started; a difficult challenge given the short time they had to prepare. They were told by many other team members that they were very blessed to serve together, yet they needed this opportunity to appreciate that blessing again, as both their hearts were heavy with concerns related to their future wedding. But they shook these off, put their trust in the Lord and taught the kids on the theme of “ A New Creature”, emphasizing what it means to follow Christ. “Avotr’aina ho an’nyankizy” is an association which takes care of orphans and poor children, exactly like Fitarikandro’s Ministry, where Hasiniaina and Henintsoa have been serving since 2015.

The first day was a day of discovery of nature and biodiversity. While visiting the “Geysers of Ampefy”, they saw firsthand the greatness of God, who created everything and who also designed a marvelous plan of salvation. The 80 teenagers were divided into 5 groups named Paul, Matthew, Maria Magdalena, the Samaritan Women and Cornelius. Five people made a profession of faith during the camp.

The second day started with a meditation on Colossians 3: “Think of the things above”. Then the teaching was about “Being a Real Follower of Christ”. The teenagers were very happy to discover and understand the real meaning of receiving Jesus as Lord, and not only Savior. They were told that following Christ in one’s daily life includes giving up everything and being ready to die at any time for the cause of Christ. They were challenged with life-defining questions, “Are you ready to surrender your will, your thoughts, your everything? Are you ready not to yield whatever the cost? Do you realize you have nothing to lose on earth and all to gain in heaven?”.

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Where is Your Home?

These kids and youth had a very difficult upbringing and have known poverty since their birth. As they are fighting on a daily basis for food or bed, it was easier for those teenagers and children to understand that their real home is not here on earth. It’s such a blessing to see their smiles and tears of joy when we talked about the fact that Jesus prepared a home for us in heaven and that death is not the end, but just the beginning of all that they would have been living for in the. The second day ended with the youths having to do a “news report”, during which they shared in their own words how to be a real Christian.

Getting Real…

The final day was all about applying what they had learned. Hasiniaina and Henintsoa talked about showing love and forgiveness to others. The teenagers were surprised as they opened their lessons with of the top 5 difficult words to say. The first one was “AcideDesoxyriboNucléose”, and the list culminated with “I am sorry, please forgive me”. It is even harder to forgive each other sins, but if we take a look at Matthew 18, we see the story of the bad servant. He was forgiven by the King but refused to show mercy to his friend. We often do the same.

The camp finished with a visit to “Chute de la Lily” waterfalls where they discovered the beautiful work of God once again.

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Ultimately, Hasiniaina and Henintsoa learned afresh to trust in the faithfulness of God in every situation. In his own words, “Even when everything seems gloomy and messy, we cannot forget that the Lord is on our side. We cannot overlook the fact that our real life is what awaits on the other side of eternity. Our mission here on earth is to proclaim His holiness and His love. We need to lose our pride and fear and keep our sight on the incomparable promised heavenly life. Our temporary afflictions here are nothing, really nothing. So, let’s all be strong and courageous!”

Catharina von Schlegel famous anthem is a fitting reminder of the sweetness of the promise those who believe in Jesus have to one day meet their beloved Savior:

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

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In One Single Act

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Though differing in their views on the extent of the atonement, evangelical theologians would mostly agree on the array of theological implications of the single sacrificial act of Christ. As we celebrate His death on the Cross this Friday, let us savor afresh the array of benefits which Christ wrought to His own in one single sacrificial act on a tree of torture outside Jerusalem. In one single act, Jesus secured:

Our Reconciliation

Reconciliation is broadly defined by a Greek lexicon as “the exchange of hostility for a friendly relationship” (BDAG, 521). Mankind broke the existing relationship with God at the Fall. Man is now separated from God and needs to be brought back into family fellowship with his Creator yet cannot do anything on his own to bring about this reconciliation. It is granted to man based on Christ’s perfect obedience and substitutionary death on the Cross. 2 Corinthians 5:18 has “us” is the object of the main verb, which has been argued to refer either solely to Paul and the apostles, or to all men, or to all believers. Yet, here Paul is calling the Corinthian church, especially its leadership, to be involved in the ministry of reconciliation. Paul elaborates on the divine ordination and accomplishment of that reconciliation. Every believer is made a new creation (v. 17), not only those with an apostolic ministry but to all those within the human race whose life has been controlled by the love of Christ (2 Cor 5:14). As such, the objective recipients of the reconciliation work of Christ are those who place their faith in Him.

Our Justification

Justification is the sovereign forensic act of God by which He declares the believers righteous, erasing their guilt before Him because of their sins, and imputing to their account the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21). Mankind has broken God’s law necessitating a punishment, which is death (Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:56; 2 Cor 1:9). This price has been paid in full by Christ on the Cross. It is granted by faith alone, in Christ alone (Phil 3:9; Rom 1:17, 3:28, 5:1). It excludes all those who have not come to saving faith. Moreover, faith is not what justifies the sinner, but rather the Object and the Enabler of that faith. This implies only two possible statuses before God, in line with the federal headship of Adam and Christ: man is either condemned or declared righteous now and on the day of judgment (Rom 5:10-21).

Our Substitution

Echoing the Reformers sentiment, Calvin has labeled the truths of 2 Corinthians 5:21 as the “wondrous exchange”, in which Christ bore the punishment for sins on behalf of sinners, dying in their place, and His righteousness was imputed to them. Thus, the sinners stand forgiven and adorned by Christ’s righteousness. Christ is the Suffering Servant fore announced as bearing the penal consequences of sin as a substitute, bearing the fullness of God’s wrath for sins (Isa 53:5, 10). This fully satisfactory payment and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness are the basis of the reconciliation and the believer’s justified stand before God. Additionally, the substitution necessarily leads to a union with Christ through mutual indwelling.

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Our Redemption

Jesus was not only a substitute but a ransom. This idea is conveyed in Scripture through the use of a word in the original carrying a legal and commercial idea of the redemptive act (Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 1:18). The concept replacement is reinforced by the use of another related word in 1 Timothy 2:6 which can only be found there: “…who gave Himself as a ransom for all…”.

Christ’s penal substitutionary sacrifice freed the believer from the bondage of sin and fully paid his debt to God for that sin.

The Greek verb translated “to buy” is also used to express the idea of redemption (1 Cor 6:20. It is defined as “to acquire things or services in exchange for money”. It was the word used in biblical times for the purchasing of slaves. In the same way as a master would go to the slave market, select and procure slaves, so the believer has been delivered, on account of Christ’s payment with His own life (1 Cor 7:23; Rev 5:9) from the kingdom of darkness and ushered into the kingdom of the Son who is now his owner and Lord (Gal 4:7).

Our Propitiation

A holy God is rightly angry against the nature, the presence and the effects of sin. Christ’s death on the Cross was the only propitiation acceptable to God to satisfactorily remove that anger (Rom 3:25; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). The propitiation was in the Greco-Roman literature a means to regain the favor of a king or a deity. The gift, if appropriate, made amends for the offenses of the one who brought it. The sinner has broken God’s holy law through his inherited sinful nature and his sinful deeds, words, and thoughts. The sacrifice offered to atone for these had to be perfectly spotless. Only One who never has sinned could be that propitiation, and so was Christ. The need for propitiation underlines the stark contrast between the sinner being under God’s increasing wrath (John 3:36; Rom 1:18) culminating on the day of judgment (Rom 2:5; Heb 10:26-27) on one hand, and the believers who are saved from that wrath, now at peace with God (Rom 5:1) on the other hand.

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The provision of Christ as penal substitutionary atonement is part of God’s salvific plan, which has been determined and ordained from eternity past. The time, means, purpose, and beneficiaries of Christ’s death have been fixed by the Trinity before the beginning of time as part of the New Covenant. The triune God has determined and designed from eternity past a covenantal relationship with a determined group of people. The divine plan of salvation indivisibly comprises an electing decree by the Father, a purchase of redemption through the blood of the Son, and a sealing by the Holy Spirit of an eternal union with God. What a joy to celebrate that One Single Act on this day.

The Real All-Star Showdown

The National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star game takes place on February 16-18 in Los Angeles. However, the REAL all-star gathering takes place a couple of weeks later in Sun Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles on March 7-9, for the Shepherds Conference. What makes it an outstanding event is not (only) the fact that it has one of the best line-ups of speakers a conference can put together, but because it is truly a star-studded event in the biblical sense of the term.

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Paul says of believers that they are to be “…children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Phil 2:15b-16a).

Daniel prophesied that, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)

The light of the Gospel is shining during Shepherds Conference. Around 1,000 volunteers from Grace Community church labor before, during and after the conference to provide next-to-none hospitality, putting Christian love and servant-heartedness on display for all in attendance to see.

Pastors from around the country and the world flock in every year to affirm their commitment to the Word of life and be refreshed by the preaching, the brotherhood and the time away from the every-day toils of the ministry. Someone summed it up well by calling it the “Christian Disneyland”.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to go to the US from February 27th to March 14th and thus am very excited to be able to spend time with my heroes; those who proclaim God’s Word faithfully from the pulpit and the no-names who serve Him devotedly. I also am granted the privilege to be of the speakers at a missions Conference, where I will talk about the central role of the Church in missions. The TMAI conference I will attend is on the very same topic and the Shepherds Conference will also be on the church! What a feast!

LA visit schedule March 2018

What makes it even more special is that my brother in the Lord and pastor Haja Ralambomanana will join me. We will be able to share this very special time. Very much looking forward to it and would appreciate your prayers for the whole trip.

Madagascar 3M launches its Youtube Channel

The purpose of our new Youtube Channel is to present the realities of the mission field in Madagascar with the purpose of inspiring people, especially locals to be involved in the Lord’s harvest work.

Our first videos are a 2-part interview of Dr. Ted Watts, surgeon missionary from the UK, who gets ready to serve at the Good News Hospital in Mandritsara, with his wife Rachel, and 2 children, Ethan and Jamie. You can follow find out more about them and follow their updates on their blog.

Dr. Ted Watts interview – Part 1

Dr. Ted Watts interview – Part 2

Praise God for men like him committing his whole life to serving God and proclaiming the Gospel. Our country still needs many more missionaries, many more vocational skills. And our country needs people who have the desire to train locals so that we, in turn, can train others also. We at Madagascar 3M share the same heart for the proclamation of the Gospel and the equipping of indigenous men for the work of ministry.

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Mutual Encouragement

Hasiniaina and I were in Tamatave on the East Coast last weekend, ministering to a couple of churches there and doing some groundwork for some of the Madagascar 3M projects for this year. We decided to fit into our schedule a visit to two churches from our denomination in the vicinity of a town 18 miles away. We have had a series of trials on our vehicles, mine with a wheel coming off leading to other related damages, and his with the drive shaft giving way 2 days before our scheduled trip. We ended up going to Tamatave by public transport and were blessed by an unexpected upgrade to a “VIP” bus because of a glitch in their booking system. That was very enjoyable. Once in Tamatave, some friends allowed us to use their scooter bike; hence, we had our means of transport for our 18-mile journey.

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We wanted to visit these churches in order to bring a few words of encouragement to them as we were aware that the recent cyclone Ava did some damage to their homes and livelihood. The first church we went to was in Antanimenakely, one location we visited during our teaching trip last August. It was heart-wrenching to see the house of the pastor completely wrecked.

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The church building also had some damage and needs to be repaired as we are right in the middle of the rainy season.

But the church in Antanambao Nosybe suffered even more harm as it has been totally destroyed. The concrete slab on the picture is what remains of the church.

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In the middle of such sights of destruction, we were the ones encouraged by the faith, resilience, and contentment of the people. They welcomed us into their homes, where 3 or 4 families were living as some houses were ruined by the hurricanes. They still found it in them to offer us coconut juice fresh from the tree and a hand-made basket, both being meager sources of income for them. They had big smiles as they were telling us how thankful they were that no one got hurt. They shared with us, in a non-complaintive tone, how they had to leave everything behind during the cyclone and run towards the higher grounds, crawl in a bunker-type building together with dozens and dozens of other people. They told us how happy they were to be back, trusting that God will continue to be with them as they rebuild. We were supposed to be the ones bringing words of comfort; we were the ones challenged and rebuked by their example of faith and serenity amid dire circumstances. Please pray with us for these dear congregations. Please pray that God will provide for them and for rebuilding the churches; that many will come alongside them and enjoy mutual encouragement.

Romans 15v5-6