Thursday, September 24. 2015
Last week was GRN Australia’s AGM and tomorrow we have an open day at our office. Both events are a lot of work. They also give pause to reflect on recent events and to think about the future; to rejoice over all that God has done and give thanks for answered prayer.
GRN's 2015 AGM
I am so thankful for the answered prayer. We have several new staff members doing jobs we specifically asked for: graphic designers, studio staff, computer people, recordists, and translators. We have finished major tasks: digitising all our analogue recordings and having our 5fish app released on iTunes as well as Android.
The year has brought its share of challenges, which leaves us in no doubt that we are depending on God in every respect. Just our growth has brought along challenges as we get new people working well and productively. There are prayers to which we have not seen answers, or at least have not fully recognised the answer.
We see challenges ahead. We need a new roof. We need more studio space – praise God for the new studio staff! Our work in South Africa, Myanmar, PNG and South Africa is growing – praise God! And Lord, please help us!
It’s looking back at God’s faithfulness in the past that gives hope for God’s help in the present and the future. So these opportunities to report back to our board, members and ministry partners really are a joy and hopefully they also build up the faith and hope of those who receive the reports as they rejoice with us.
Monday, September 21. 2015
I love motor racing and a while ago when the Monaco Grand Prix was run, I remember looking at the yachts and boats along the track where it passes close to the sea. I was thinking to myself how wonderful it would be to have seen the race from that vantage point. I remembered the royals and thinking: “Wow! They have an even better vantage point”. A life of privilege. How great is that.
I had to hang my head in shame as I realized that I am a son of the Greatest of Kings. I have been called to a life of privilege. The following verses say something about that:
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
I am indeed privileged to have been called by my Father to work alongside Him in His vineyard. It is clear from the above that He doesn’t need me to build His kingdom. He made me and He can call up the stones to deliver His message of hope. Yet He chose me to walk alongside of Him and see what He is doing. I am indeed privileged beyond my understanding and it is never going to end. How can any privilege on earth match that?
Monday, September 14. 2015
You might be aware of GRN’s 5fish for AndroidTM app for listening to GRN’s recordings on your mobile phone. What you may not be aware of is that the 5fish app can work without being connected to the Internet. GRN knows that not everyone we are trying to reach has a mobile phone with mobile data enabled. Mobile data is still relatively expensive in many parts of the globe and the availability of high-speed mobile broadband can be very patchy in remote communities. That is why we have worked hard to make 5fish work without the need for an Internet connection.
The recordings still need to make their way onto your device somehow, but that does not need to be via the Internet. Recordings can be transferred using Bluetooth or SD cards.
Bluetooth is very popular in many countries for copying MP3 music from one phone to another. The sharing function of the 5fish app allows you to share recordings via any appropriate technology or apps available on your device, including Bluetooth. Recordings can be shared as individual MP3 files or grouped in a ZIP file. Not only can the recordings be shared, but the actual app can also be shared as an APK installation file. Bluetooth can be good for sharing a few files, however for large numbers of files it might be best to copy the files to an SD card.
Sharing files via this method requires the right kind of device. Your device might have a large primary storage area (emulated external storage) as well as an SD card slot. By default the 5fish app stores all recording and APK files on the primary storage. You can place an SD card from a friend’s phone into your SD card slot and copy the files from the primary storage area. Alternatively there are phones with multiple SD card slots or some devices that allow to you plug in an SD card adaptor.
You still need to get the files onto your device somehow. Free WiFi is increasingly available around the world. You can download content while in range of WiFi for sharing while offline. GRN are increasingly making available SD cards pre-loaded with recordings for free or cost price.
GRN is doing more to help you share content offline. GRN’s compressed video (3GP) files will soon be available on 5fish. We are also introducing features for helping you control your mobile data by allowing you to switch off background data generated by the 5fish app.
For more information please refer to the 5fish for AndroidTM support page.
Monday, August 31. 2015
Every job has it’s strengths and weaknesses. So why work at GRN?
For me the motivation is Jesus. He has made all the difference in my life. At GRN we introduce others to Him. We tell them His story in a way that they understand – we use their own voices and music to tell it in the most culturally appropriate ways possible.
So like any job, working here has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and some days are more enjoyable than others. But there is the overriding knowledge that I’m playing a small but important role in others hearing, understanding and responding to the story of Jesus.
Wednesday, August 12. 2015
I spent last weekend at the ReachOut conference. Attended by roughly 600 people, its purpose is to encourage and equip delegates in cross cultural mission. Whilst it’s always exciting to be involved as people take steps on their walk of faith, what really thrilled me was seeing the unity of purpose of the 38 organisations involved. Rather than being possessive of the delegates who approached their stand, the mission agencies & Bible colleges would refer people to other stands if they felt it was appropriate. Different organisations have different strengths, focus areas and needs.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Cor 12:12
GRN has a particular role to play in the body of Christ. As well as making recordings and distributing them to those who need to hear of God’s saving love, we serve other organisations by supplying materials for their missionaries to take to every corner of the world. ReachOut was not only a wonderful opportunity to introduce the delegates to 5Fish & the Saber, it enabled us to link with other mission agencies and explore some exciting possibilities.
To misquote Psalm 133:
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people work together in unity!
Thursday, August 6. 2015
One of my first acts as Australian CEO in 2012 was to close down our base in PNG.
We travelled up there knowing there were problems. While I was there it became apparent that we should be working there. A nation of 7 million people with 870 languages plus dialects, where the vast majority identify as Christian but where many cannot read, many have no Bible in their own language, and where many church leaders are not well trained.
Along with an appreciation of the need for GRN to be working in the country came the realisation that the work which was limping along there was so corrupted that it had to be stopped – it was beyond fixing.
And so we have prayed, looked, investigated, asked questions and prayed some more. A false start, travelling up to interview an applicant who proved unsuitable, led to a meeting with Vincent. Vincent applied to lead out work there. We returned to interview him, a positive event, and also found potential members of an Advisory Council.
And so we returned last week to induct our new GRN PNG team. Vincent Gigmai is our base leader. Kathleen Sakias chairs our Advisory Council. We also spent a week with them in orientation and training. It was an exciting time – and now the hard work begins.
Please pray for Vincent, Kathleen and the Advisory Council as they make a start. At this stage they are setting up an office and Vincent is preparing for a longer training period in the Philippines where he will get a better idea of what he is trying to do.
We pray that one day there will be a GRN team in PNG working with the church and missionaries to making recordings and teach people how to use them. We hope to see the church in PNG grow and develop with the help of GRN resources and would love to see GRN PNG reach out into the Pacific to help their neighbours in the tasks of evangelism and discipleship.
If you would like to pray for the work in PNG please contact us and ask to be put on their prayer letter list.
Thursday, June 18. 2015
I often wonder “In whom am I really trusting”? Am I trusting my own ability? The ability of another? The government? A doctor? Luck? God? Sometimes it can be hard to tell.
As I look back I can see the amazing way God has brought new staff to GRN Australia. He has provided us with a wonderful place to work. We have people who faithfully pray and support the work in a variety of different ways. We have a good board and a clear vision.
We are getting established in Vanuatu and about to re-commence work in PNG. We are hearing of recording trips being carried out in different countries and are excited at the possibilities for God’s kingdom as a result of those recordings being used. 5fish is making our materials available to a whole new audience via mobile phones. We give thanks for all this.
As I look forward I see a financial year with many challenges. We need a new roof and a new retaining wall. We need three new studios, a small meeting room and a prayer room added to our workplace. We have planned an ambitious recordist training course and a final payment is due on the Philippine’s new office. We would love to see staff here and our overseas centres better supported.
This is all rather daunting when you consider the work involved, planning required and how much it’s all going to cost. However, Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. So the challenge is to keep my eyes upon things above, to trust in God and His provision of all we need to accomplish this, and to trust Him to bring it all together in His own time and way.
As I look at the last few years God has provided in the most marvellous ways – people, equipment and resources. It does encourage us to trust and to move forward in faith. We don’t want these things for our own benefit, but for the good of the kingdom.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Monday, April 27. 2015
I’ve recently returned from attending the GRN International Council meetings in Thailand. GRN Centre Directors meet every four years to plan, network and make decisions. I was invited to get to know the directors and build a relationship with them that will enable us to serve them better. I also videoed them telling stories about how GRN is impacting individuals and language groups.
I was thrilled to see the quality of leaders GRN has across the world. Many of these leaders are paying a great cost to see God’s Word made known in the languages of their nation. Some were suffering extreme persecution. Many lacked financial resources. But they appeared to be people of integrity and spiritual maturity, and often had a deep sense of calling from the Lord to the work of GRN. I was astounded to hear how much time and focus some of these centres place on prayer.
It was also very encouraging to see that they all seemed excited about and committed to the same vision. There was no sense of different centres having different visions. Rather, they all seemed committed to giving everyone the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus in their own heart language.
The other area that stood out to me was unity. From the start, the feeling was that of good friends happy to meet together again. There appeared to be considerable trust and respect. One of the highlights of each day was the country reports where Directors shared what was happening in their countries. There was time for questions and then we prayed for them. From their reports I received some ideas for how we can do things better here in Australia.
I came home feeling privileged to serve these centre directors. I’m keen to assist their work however I can from a distance.
My feeling is that it is a united and godly team. If you are considering supporting GRN I believe it's a good place to invest your finances, time and prayers. (Psalm 133)
Feel free to contact me if you want to get my thoughts on anything.
Tuesday, April 14. 2015
Well.... it all depends on what you do with it.
One of our guys here had an idea and he tried a little experiment on Facebook. He paid $10 to advertise. He chose a major language spoken in an area very reluctant to engage with the good news about Jesus. He advertised to users of that language who also used a couple of selected "Christian" words in their posts. He advertised with GRN materials - Bible stories in their own language.
The result: about 17,000 people saw the ad, about 1.700 watched an average of three and a half minutes of Bible stories. Around 170 people liked the post, almost 100 commented and nearly 30 shared it with their friends.
He tried again with $100 in a different language. The result? Multiply the above figures by ten. We were amazed by the response.
Pray that God's people will be creative and seek new ways to reach the lost using technology. Pray for those who hear the Good News via technology: for the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and minds to bring them to repentance and faith, and that they'd find real, live Christians to help them and for fellowship.
Please pray for those who see our advertisements: that they'd watch the video and for God's work in their hearts and minds. Consider sponsoring one of our advertising campaign - it's a very easy way of getting the Gospel into some very hard to reach places.
Wednesday, April 1. 2015
I'm back from two weeks in Dolphin Bay Thailand. A beautiful place I shared with 48 GRNers for our four yearly council meetings.
I was encouraged and inspired by my colleagues, many of whom live and work in very difficult places: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Bangladesh.... We heard stories of entire villages coming to Christ in Nepal, helping typhoon Haiyan survivors in the Philippines and sharing the good news with hundreds at the same time, over 170 groups using GRN resources in Malawi to grow in their faith, of progress in making recordings after a decade or two of persistent prayer and effort, of workers dealing with death threats, bombings, terrorism and epidemics. It's a real privilege to work with these brothers and sisters and to be able to support them in their work. It's wonderful to know that the work we do in the Australian office allows their work to be effective.
From Australia we provide prayer support (please sign up and join our prayer team - it's a vital part of the work), technical support, training, equipment, encouragement and money (you can also sign up to help out financially). We also design and manufacture the Saber - a robust hand wind mp3 player which doesn't need batteries and can easily be heard by a group of 100 listeners. Nothing else works for large groups in truly remote locations where little cash is available. It's encouraging to hear first hand how our work has enabled people to hear God's word and come to faith in Christ.
The meetings were also encouraging because of the good will, unity and shared purpose and vision we shared. The meetings were long, and big decisions were made which will affect how GRN operates in the future. It was all done with a sense of trust in the Network's leadership and an understanding that changes were necessary. I am very thankful to be part of a Network which is united and seeking to work together.
So I left Thailand very happy that the meetings were over, very thankful to be a part of what God is doing through GRN, and very thankful for the way God is choosing to use GRN Australia.
Tuesday, March 31. 2015
A very good friend said to me one day: "Preach or tell the Gospel every day and if it is absolutely necessary and completely unavoidable, use words!" Well, what now? I am working with an organization whose primary form of communication is words or rather recordings of words. Yes, it is true, we do have pictures for some of our recordings, but somehow I don't think that that is what Derek meant when he implied visual communication. He was talking about what can be called, "The Living Testimony or The Living Witness." Acts chapter 1:8 says:"... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses ...... to the ends of the earth."
A changed life is the first sign we look for in a "new" Christian, because that is what we can see and not just what we are told. What constitutes a changed life? Is it something that can be faked? I am reminded of a friend who always seemed to have a hard expression on his face. He had this tough guy image that never slipped. When he came to a new life through Jesus Christ he was still the same man. Still tough in every way but somehow also less severe and approachable. Gone was the warning fist in the air, the one finger salutes and the outward signs that were his “stock in trade”. So, I don’t think it can be faked. Even as Christians we still make mistakes. The difference is Christ in our lives and that makes all the difference in the world. So we do in effect become witnesses for Christ from the first moment we are “saved” from destruction and eternal death. How does that apply to the recordings we use to tell people who have never heard the Gospel in their heart language?
The first thing we were taught on an intensive radio “techniques” course was to employ the “Theatre of the Mind” in our radio programmes. This term was as foreign to me then as it must be to some who are reading this. It is the creation of a “mind picture” through description that in turn creates understanding. This description often includes sound effects to enhance the picture, but is always basic and easy to understand. The mind is a truly wonderful creation of God. We all have the same basic organ with the same connections and yet each of us is different. Each mind is as unique as our fingerprints or the retinas of our eyes and yet each group exposed to the same circumstance identifies with others of that group to establish yet another unique identity. Each script we write and each program we record and produce must take account of all these idiosyncrasies. It is the only way in which we can effectively appeal to that theatre which will paint the picture that will trigger a response and the picture is so much clearer in their heart language!
Wednesday, March 18. 2015
Social media is the number one activity on the web.
Personally I do not spend much time engaging with people on social media, but I can see great potential in using social media for evangelism.
Social media is based on relationships and dialogue, important for effectively sharing the good news. People trust comments and recommendations from friends. It is a place where we can live authentic lives openly and transparently in front of our friends. With such free flowing open communication everyone has the power to influence.
Comments and postings can go beyond your immediate circle of friends, potentially going ‘viral’ and reaching anyone in the world. There is opportunity to form new connections and relationships.
Effective evangelism will have an aim of discipleship, going beyond digital relationships and connecting people with other believers. It should not be used as a pulpit for preaching, but as a conversation place, like you would at a café.
Social media can leverage the power of other online resources such as video clips and outreach websites. There is a great collection of thought provoking videos and other resources on the yesHEis website which is designed to support Christians in online evangelism.
Social media is not free of challenges. If you want to become more intentional with your social media evangelism I recommend you check out this Ministry Magazine article by Miroslav Pujic. There are also some helpful tips on the Internet Evangelism Day website.
Finally, make sure your time online is not at the expense of offline relationships.
Monday, February 16. 2015
Some weeks ago we shared about Amos going to visit his home country of Chad. He has returned to the UK and was really blessed on his travels to the capital city of Chad and to his home village, which was a very long distance form the capital. He was delighted and blessed to see his family and friends and especially to give out the GRN materials we had given him to take.
He taught at a pastors conference during that time and I think all the pastors and Sunday school teachers wanted our materials. They loved the colourful flip charts and to hear the recordings on the Saber players. Joan had loaded the Sabers with the New Testament books Amos and I have been recording over a long time. We also put the Audio French New Testament from "Faith Comes By Hearing" on the Sabers.
I loved the fact that we could get the materials delivered directly to the churches we had aimed at without postage and custom problems. We Praise The Lord for this.
Here are a few photos...
Monday, February 9. 2015
If you are like me, you struggle to say ‘no’. No to tasks, email, TV, people, meetings…
Attempting to say ‘yes’ to everything that happens to come your way may seem noble, however the result is that everything suffers. You may do a good job at a lot of things, but never a great job.
The difference between saying ‘yes’ to everything and deliberately selecting what to say ‘yes’ to is like the difference between watching broadcast TV and video on demand. With broadcast TV others decide what you watch when, while with video on demand you decide what you will watch and when you will watch it. I often feel as if I have wasted my time after watching broadcast TV, however after watching a DVD on a Sunday night with the family I usually feel it was a good time spent together. One viewing experience is aimless, and the other is purposeful.
Are you in control of your activities? Saying ‘yes’ to everything means that you are leaving it up to others to determine how you spend your time/energy/money, life is unpredictable, and you rarely finish the things you should in a timely fashion.
Martha thought that she was doing the best thing by being busy serving. However Jesus points out that her sister Mary had chosen what really mattered, listening to Him. (Luke 10:38-42)
What is it that God has you here for? What is it that is really worthwhile? Where should you be fully investing your time and effort? To be fully devoted to the answers to these questions it will be necessary to say ‘no’ sometimes.
There are times when it is best to say ‘yes’. We need to help those in genuine need. We need to say ‘yes’ to God. We need to put other people’s needs before our own. The Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24) teaches us that there is a time when we absolutely need to say ‘yes’ even if it is interrupting whatever we are doing.
Leslie Samuel says it well in his video “It's More Important To Say No Than To Say Yes”. Join me in saying ‘no’ more often so that we don’t merely do good things, but achieve great things for God’s glory.
Monday, February 2. 2015
Family Name; Bajram&ValbonaRoha
"This Family they get 6 Children and they live in very difficult situation. We send a food parcel to this family and 2m wood. Also this family every day they going out in streets to collect cans to seal for living.
Bajram( Father) he is disable and children not going in school because they not have enough cloth , shoes and bags for school.
This food parcel and wood for this family was very helpful during this winter time. Its sad to see this family every day on streets in rubbish bin to find some think for family.
Thank you very much for your help to provide this help for this family,
Victory Church Kosova"
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