Carlson and Naomi Becker, UB missionaries in Macau, sent the following report on March 22. It tells about the launch of the Living Stone church on Taipa island. This is the third UB church in Macau.

We have involved our Cantonese language tutor, Larry, and his wife, Anna, in the ministry as well as a couple who have just moved back to Macau after having lived in Vancouver, Canada, for some years. Their names are Mike and Ellen, and they seem very interested in helping the church get a good start. Mike moved back to Macau to take over his father’s business. They live in the apartment building just a few feet from the front door of our center.

The Opening Celebration was held in the afternoon, and we had over 60 people present. There were about 12 from Hong Kong and about that many from Living Waters, a few from Living Word, and many other churches were represented as well. We had 11 visitors in church on March 19.

Our classes have been larger this term, for which we are grateful. It is harder to get to know each student as well as when they were a little smaller in number. We just had our morning “Current Events” class over for breakfast, and we had a really great time with them. We are enjoying getting to know them, and the opportunity to see them outside of the classroom is very helpful to us.

Sunday evening Bible study is larger right now, and we are thankful for that. One of the attendees recently went back home to Mainland China to spend time with her family. Before she left, she talked to Michael and me about what it would be like at her home. Her parents will have a picture of a departed ancestor, probably her grandfather, hanging on the wall. The family would offer sacrifices of food and flowers to the picture in hopes that the ancestor would bring them good fortune and watch over them. As we discuss some of these things in class, we find that many of the younger Chinese do not believe in these practices as do their parents. If they practice them, it is because they don’t want to offend their parents.

On the other side of the picture, we would have to say that the people are very friendly, and we feel very safe and appreciated. We are making some very good friends and are praying that God would lead them to believe in Christ as their Savior.

  • Jean Bell (with husband, Wes, right), one of our endorsed missionaries serving with Wycliffe in Brazil, received news on March 26 that her mother had passed away.
  • Marilyn Reeck is in North Carolina taking a course called “Learning that Lasts.” Roger Reeck is Tegucigalpa, Honduras, teaching a one-week linguistic seminar to Honduran missionaries as part of youth With a Mission’s missionary training course. He will then travel to the States to join Marilyn. Their youngest daughter, Elisa, graduates from college on May 10, and they will be able to attend her graduation.
  • On March 28, Jennifer Blandin, missionary in Macau, sent this note about the new Living Stone church in Macau. “Living Stone continues to grow and reach out to people. After our opening ceremony, the number of visitors has dropped, but the number of regular attenders has increased. This month Michael Chan has started a ‘family’ small group to reach out and care for people we have come in contact with.”

Thank you: the words seem too simple to be meaningful. But to a tired soul who wonders if the investment is worth it, they can bring some short-term replenishment to the brittle dryness. That is what I hope happens through this short paragraph.

Thank you for the investment you are making in your ministry, your cluster and the people in that cluster. Thank you for the time several of you are making now to deal with conflicts in your churches(and those of you who have not yet done so will probably experience this privilege sooner or later). God modeled for us in the Scriptures that there will always be the “good, the bad, and the ugly” to deal with. But by His grace we are more than conquerors. It’s never fun to deal with such stuff. We usually wonder if it is worth it. But it is.

Thank you for the time you’ve put in to help station new pastors. Thank you for praying for each other and supporting each other. Most of all, thank you for being like Isaiah and others who simply made themselves available to be used. Our Father will richly reward you for it.

Don’t forget that this site is for your use, to share stories of what the Lord is doing. That will be an encouragement to us all.

Pray for these:

  • Dirk Small is doing with a difficult situaiton in one of the churches in his cluster.
  • Mark Ralph, not to be outdone, has TWO situations he is addressing. The Bishop is meeting with him and those churches today to seek a solution.
  • We have a number of church openings right now and limited personnel to consider. Ask the Lord to bring us or raise up some strong young bucks.
  • Pray as we take time next week to flesh out the Bishop’s five initiatives.
  • Pray and ask the Lord to do something fresh in each of our lives this week.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
We are in need of locating a few, really sharp young pastors who can help us change our leadership DNA. Do you know any student that is currently in a seminary anywhere? Could you give me the person’s name and where he is attending school? I really want to begin building a list of strong potential “young bucks” to change the genetic DNA of our herd. You can send directly to me by email.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
Just received some promotional material that churches can use to present the real truth of the Da Vinci Code movie that will be out May 19. It And got me to thinking about what our churches are doing, if anything, regarding the movie and subject matter. Sometimes these are tough calls to make. Do we do anything, or ignore it compeletly? The only problem is that some of your attenders read the book and some believed it was true. Other attenders will go see the movie and some will come away convinced that the claims it makes are true. Does that make any difference?
I personally believe that the book is a direct attack upon the reliability and trustworthiness of our Scripture.
The people you minister to every week will have questions about the book and movie. Will you be prepared to answer with answers that will satisfy them?
Just wondering if anyone is planning to combat this subversive material…that many will believe is really true. And if you respond to this please state whether or not you have read the book and/or plan on seeing the movie.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
The Turnaround Church Seminar is coming quickly–April 18 at Huntington University. See my March 14 posting for more details. If you need registration forms, let me know. This would be good for board members, staff members, commission chairpersons, pastors…anyone who is interested in seeing their church turn around. We should have a good response to this seminar. I will attend, and I hope to see you there!

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I recently came across this quote that moved me. How about you?
“It is a marvel to me how men continue at ease in preaching year after year without conversions. Have they no bowels of compassion for others? No sense of responsibility upon themselves? Dare they, by a vain misrepresentation of divine sovereignty, cast the blame on their Master? Or is it their belief that Paul plants and Apollos waters, and that God gives no increase? Vain are their talents, their philosophy, their rhetoric, and even their orthodoxy, without the signs following. How are they sent of God who bring no men to God? Prophets whose words are powerless, sowers whose seed all withers, fishers who take no fish, soldiers who give no wounds–are these God’s men? Surely it were better to be a mud-raker, or a chimney-sweep, than to stand in the ministry as an utterly barren tree. The meanest occupation confers some benefit upon mankind, but the wretched man who occupies a pulpit and never glorifies his God by conversions is a blank, a blot, an eyesore, a mischief. He is not worth the salt he eats, much less his bread…. If the Lord gives you no zeal for souls, keep to the lapstone or the trowel, but avoid the pulpit as you value your heart’s peace and your future salvation.” (From “Lectures to My Students,” by C.H. Spurgeon. pg 32)

When I first started in ministry, the goal seemed to be to get things done. The primary way people were influenced and helped was with the teaching. Sunday preaching, teaching times, and classes were the major focus. Families were stable and safe for the most part. Parents were communicating on some level with their children. Mentoring, imperfect though it may have been, was happening.

Things are different today. While I still do believe that Sunday morning is the most important event that happens in the life of the church, the need to strategically devote our time to “being with people” the rest of the week will determine true life transformation. Office visits and five-minute conversations in the sanctuary or hallway won’t cut it. And for those who have staff members on their team, it is imperative that you spend non-planning meeting time with them just to ask, “How is it going, really?”

For men to be influenced, it is more likely that they will open up and share what is inside them if they are on the golf course with you, or helping with a project, or driving to an event together. Those minutes and hours will provide sudden “God moments” when something will come out into the open. Probing follow-up questions can then give opportunity to explore the questions or situation more fully.

We must be careful how much time we give to whom. Timothy was told to entrust what he had learned to “reliable men” who in turn would be able to influence others. While every person in the church is important, and we must care for all, long term investments must be reserved for those who can help make a difference by replicating the effort in the lives of others. So we must ask some crucial questions:

1. Is this person reliable?
2. Is this person desiring to grow and is he teachable?
3. Is this person going to be around for a while?
4. Does this person apply the initial truths we have discussed?
5. Is this person leading his home in godliness?

There are other questions you may want to ask. The key is to make sure that your investment is able to bring a return (as best as you can determine at the time). All of us have invested and seen the fruit go out the door or never show up. But with wise selection, we can increase the possibility of success.

The teen and twenty-something generations are longing today to spend time with and hear from older adults that they know care about them and are interested in sharing life with them. They have had few meaningful interactions in their lives that they feel have prepared them to successfully navigate the nuances of life. They want to hear our experiences, and know how we handled what they are facing.

Many adults are in the same boat. They feel their failures and challenges but find few places to share their “low times.” If we provide a place, time and circumstance where they know it is safe and their vulnerability will be met with a loving attitude and a desire to help them succeed, they will open up.

So look at your schedule. Work at not doing much alone. Take someone with you. Plan who will travel with you to that retreat. Invite someone to help you with that project at home. Make time to be “with” people. Men with men, and women with women, for obvious reasons. And if you say you don’t have time, you are admitting that you don’t want to be effective in what you are doing. That is how crucial this is for today.

Michigan Conference’s mid-year session was held in February at Brown Corners UB church in Clare, Mich. The delegates took action to disband the conference as of July 2006, in compliance with the vision of the 2005 US National Conference.
The delegates heard reports and recommendations from conference ministries. Here is a summary of the actions taken:

  • A new association consisting of Michigan Conference churches will be formed. Articles of incorporation and bylaws are being developed. Information on the new association will be mailed to local churches in time for their June board meetings.
  • The Lane-Dulcenia Home, Carson City Christian Camping Center, the insurance program, and oversight of a fund balance for quizzing will come under the umbrella of the new association.
  • Camp Living Water (Luther, Mich.) is working on a name change and will consider if and how they might wish to participate in the association.
  • The conference’s Cabinent of Missions will disband, and the Roger Carey Scholarship Fund will be administered under the authority of the Michigan Regional Women’s Missionary Fellowship.
  • The Board of Church Multiplication has eliminated the paid position of Director of Church Planting in Michigan Conference. The new church being planted in Portland will proceed as a locally sponsored effort by Sunfield and the Wesleyan denomination.
  • $100,000 earmarked for the Portland plant has been reallocated to church planting projects in Michigan, under the oversight of the national Church Multiplication Leadership Team. If any money is left after five years, the CMLT will have the freedom to use the funds for church planting anywhere.