October 2014 Prayer Letter

Times of Instruction

Times of Instruction

Teach Us to Pray conducted our first ever camp for youth in Western Fiji the end of August. My life was greatly impacted by the church camps I attended as a boy. I went into ministry as a result of those experiences. Young people today face so many challenges that it was a true blessing to be able to affirm them in their faith and their calling to walk in purity and uprightness before God and with each other.

The youth we served were all hand-picked because of their leadership qualities in their respective villages. We gave them a better understanding of who God is for them and who they are in Him. We provided a place for them to have a great time together eating, playing, laughing, and worshipping as they learned together. Our friendship camp was transformative for those who attended.

Here is what some of the campers had to say about their experience: “The best camp with the right people with a good purpose to serve the Good, Mighty and Loving God!! God is truly awesome! He loves you and me!” “Dear Jesus, I’m now a champion because now I know my identity and I’m so sure that I’ll have a great future. The campers just reminded me of who I’m supposed to be. It’s true that I miss them more than anything in this planet earth. Meeting all the youth was a huge happiness for me. Dr. Ken, thank you for the message and for sponsoring me to come. God does provide. The camp came alive. I’ll never forget the friendship we made together. This friendship camp was something else. Every time I think of the friends I now miss, I have to wipe away my tears.” “One thing I really appreciated about this camp was that everyone was allowed to laugh and just be free to be themselves and have a great time together. I am so thankful.”

We plan to do at least one camp a year, bringing together more leaders from various isolated villages and allowing them to meet with Jesus and each other to be encouraged.

We did a variety of interesting things together each day. First thing in the morning everyone gathered outside the dorms for exercise to music. This was a great wakeup. Then came showers and breakfast. After we ate we had about an hour-and-a-half of worship and teaching. Then we had free time for sports—volleyball, swimming, practicing for the worship dance competition the last evening of camp, and generally getting to know each other. Many of these youth rarely get out of their isolated villages and so don’t have much opportunity to meet in a large gathering with other believers. After lunch we had more worship and teaching and trips to local points of interest. One afternoon the campers learned how one of the nearby villages extracted salt from the ocean and packaged it for sale. We also took them to a beautiful local resort beach where they could play in the sand and have a great time swimming. For the few city kids, this was a real treat. But a lot of time was spent getting to know each other, building friendships that will last for a lifetime. We deliberately structured a lot of free time for personal interaction between the campers and between campers and staff.

18th and Final Fiji Friendship Post

I want to thank all of you on the prayer team who prayed for this most recent trip to Fiji. Both the medical/evangelistic outreach and the First Fiji Friendship and Leadership Camp were very successful. I know this is the result of your prayers and support. God maintained my health and stamina throughout a sometimes grueling schedule. He also allowed a beautiful afternoon of reflection at a wonderful beach between the two events. Very refreshing.

The debrief with the camp leadership team was very fruitful as we assessed what went right and what can be improved next year. Everyone was encouraged by the feedback we have already received from the youth who attended. Here is a testimony from just one of those:

Dear Jesus,

I’m now a champion because now I know my identity and I’m so sure that I’ll have a great future. The campers just reminded me of who I’m supposed to be. It’s true that I miss them more than anything in this planet earth. Meeting all the members was like a huge happiness for me. I am so thankful a hundred times that Cuvu Navilomani Atama invited me and we represented the Nadroga, Navosa area of Fiji. Dr. Ken, thank you for the message and for sponsoring me with a scholarship so I could come. To all the people from Suva, I love you guys and thank you for the ride. God does provide because I was so worried about our transportation. My friends from Nadi town through to the Rakiraki area, but especially my pastor and his wife, yes thanks very much to this family because they really helped the camp come alive. I love all this people because I’ll never forget the friendship we made together. This friendship camp was so something else because every time I have to wipe my tears. Though it was a bit sad because all the others live so very far away, but I do wanna meet them again and that’s my prayer. Oh, sorry I missed out something…To all the members of the Atama family, thank you very much. It is my prayer to God that he will continue to provide for them and bless them.
My love,

Abby Roko

This is just one of the comments from those whose lives have been enriched from this time together learning about Jesus and Father God and experiencing Their love in and through each other.

I now have about 45 new Facebook friends, with more being added each day. The leaders in Fiji have a planned follow-up schedule to maintain contact with all who attended to continue t mentor them and to establish long-term relationships with and between them.

I arrived home last night about midnight. Didn’t have any sleep for about a 20-hour period because I had to be at Nadi airport at 2:30 a.m. for the 10 1/2 hour flight leaving at 5:50 a.m. We left about 45 minutes late. Anyway, made for a loooooong day. Did manage to get some sleep last night, though none on the plane, and am now unpacking and getting back into the traces here.

Once more, my most profound thanks for all you did to make this mission such a success. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Blessings!

Ken

17th Fiji Post–the Final Day of the Friendship Camp

It is Saturday evening and the first annual Fiji Friendship Camp is in the books. I don’t think many of the campers or the staff got much sleep last night. I finally settled down around 2 a.m. but or co-director’s wife was awake all night. What wonderful servants she and her husband were. Without them, we could not have held the camp. We should all sleep well this evening.

Goodbyes

Goodbyes

We were up around 6:15 a.m. to spruce up the school grounds, leaving them in better shape than we found them. The youth did a spectacular job. Then bucket showers before breakfast, where farewell tears were already beginning to trickle down some cheeks—and not only of the young ladies. Lots of us taking photos of groups of new friends.

Then, though it was a lot like herding cats, we got everyone into their official camp tee-shirts and assembled for the official camp photo. More spontaneous photo ops for friendship groupings, then into the meeting room to sing while I put the finishing touches on a PowerPoint presentation I assembled of the activities of the week. That was a phenomenal hit. I believe I got every person into at least two or three shots.

I also asked the group to sing me an unaccompanied hymn or song. Their voices are truly lovely, much more so in my opinion than when they sing with drums, keyboard, bass guitar, etc. I gave out a few more Bibles, then spoke very briefly about the woman with the issue of blood. You can never take Jesus by surprise and you can always come to Him even with the most hidden thing affecting you and He will personally respond with love and healing, never allowing you to go away in hidden shame.

Then the selected camp spokesperson officially thanked me on behalf of all the campers for the week of teaching. I was really touched and moved by the comments as well as by the many individuals who came up to me personally afterwards to say goodbye.

Cuvu, her one of her daughters and I drove back to Nadi where I am back at the Grand Melanesian Hotel. Monday the camp leaders will debrief the week and make plans for future Friendship Camps.

All of you who prayed were a vital part of affecting the lives of these young people who will be leading the church in the not too distant future. The youth were moved to know that so many of you cared about them even without knowing them personally.

Thanks and Blessings!

16th Fiji Report Friendship Camp Day 5

volleyballFriday, the last full day of the first Fiji Friendship Camp, was the best day yet. In the morning session I spoke on the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. This teaching basically allowed me to tie together all of the various strains of thought I had been presenting on Jesus, the character and nature of God and who we are in Christ. I have had both leaders and students come up and express real appreciation for the new understandings they have gained over the week. Jesus was very present throughout the entire week.

During the afternoon there was a rousing session of volley ball. Then the youth practiced their dances for the highlight of the social activities, the evening dance competition. That program did not end until midnight. We had a bonfire, but it was so late by the time we had awarded the prizes (much coveted chocolates) that we did not gather in any formal way at the fire, but allowed students to go to the fire and meditate or sing as they might want before turning in.

They turned in around 2 a.m. However, I don’t think many of them actually slept.

Now it is morning cleanup and baths, a closing gathering and good-byes by around noon.

Thank you for being so much an integral part of this week through all of your many prayers and petitions to Our Father, which art in heaven.”

Blessings!

15th Fiji Report Day 4 Fiji Friendship Camp

fijibeach2On day 4 we had yet another outstanding day of camp. I taught the final two sessions in the morning on the character and nature of God—you only see and know God by seeing and knowing Jesus. Filter everything through Him. In Him you can see the very face of God. Lights went on. Some very good questions. They were intrigued as they thought about what it meant for Jesus to be fully and completely a person just like them who did all He did in the power of the Holy Spirit as He watched what His Father was doing, did only that, and constantly prayed and was in dialogue with God so that He only said what the Father was saying. Lots of questions about that. The implications of that for their personal lives and ministries sank in.

Then some free time to practice their dances for Friday night competition. Then to Natadola beach for a lovely swim in the ocean. Water a bit chilly, but all too wonderful. They buried themselves in sand, rolled in sand, frolicked in the water and had a fantastic time. his was my first time into the ocean on this trip and I loved it. This is a friendship and discipleship camp. These young men and women are forming friendship bonds that will last throughout their entire lives.

This a.m. I speak on the Lord’s prayer.

Thanks and Blessings!

14th Fiji Report The Third Day of Camp

Day 3 campIt has been another fantastic day of camp. One of our intercessors wrote me an email that I got early this morning indicating the Holy Spirit had really showed up during her morning prayer time and indicated God would act in a mighty way among the youth today. He certainly did. The two morning teaching sessions were powerful and very well received. We covered some very difficult material regarding the nature and character of God, but everyone was tracking.

Then the youth had a great time in their activities, practicing their group dances, swimming, generally getting to know each other and interacting with the leadership team at some deep levels.
The speaker tonight is the pastor of Cuvu Atama’s church. Cuvu is our camp director. The pastor mostly gave his personal testimony, which was amazing and then challenged the young people to respond to God’s call and purposes in their lives. There was a very moving and powerful response.

I will teach twice more tomorrow, finishing up on the character and nature of God and moving into the purpose of prayer.

Thanks for praying for this camp. I let the kids know this morning that you were praying and they were delighted beyond words that so many folks would be holding them up before Father God.

Thanks and Blessings!

13th Fiji Report the Second Day of Camp

Bridge Jump

Many of these kids don’t live near a river, so this is a special treat. And an accommodating bridge.

Day two of our friendship youth camp has just ended, although there is still an incredible amount of chatter and singing going on at 11 p.m. Last night the students were up until about midnight. They are having such a great time together. The worship was incredible. Remarkable singing, deep expression of passion for Jesus. Tears of joy.

I spoke on who these young people are in Christ—why they exist. It was remarkable to watch them tracking as I presented the simple message of the love Jesus has for each of them. How God selects the small things and the seemingly unimportant things and glorifies them to His purpose. There are no insignificant people among His kids. All have a redemptive purpose in His extravagant, excessive love.

Afterwards I heard some moving stories concerning some of those to whom I spoke—like the young man who does not even know who his father is because his mother didn’t even really know. The shame that comes from that in a status conscious society and the significance that he has a real, true Father who loves him for who he is. No one is a mistake. Some of the youth are beginning to respond and tell me about themselves, etc. This is most encouraging in terms of our purpose to establish relationships and friendships among leaders from each village.

The directors of the camp have decided to provide more opportunity for me to speak to the campers and present the message of the nature and character of God that I have been introducing. They are hungry to hear of their Father’s great love.

Pray for my ability to continue to connect with them and to adequately portray Jesus as well as teach about Him and implant new understanding in their hearts and minds.

Thanks and Blessings!

12th Fiji Report

FijiCampIt is 10:45 p.m. Monday night and the sound of kids laughing and having a good time fills the night.

Our youth friendship and discipleship camp began with a kind of twist. Some of the buses had arrived with kids before Cuvu and I got to the Lomawai Secondary School where the camp is being held. Everyone was sitting around with their luggage and bedding waiting patiently for our arrival. When we got here we discovered that although the camp has been in the planning since February and the school was booked months ago, it was only this morning that anyone on campus was told by the authorities in charge that we were coming. As a result, no one was here with any keys to give us access to any of the buildings.

Around two hours after we arrived, one of the teachers who I know from past outreaches arrived, greatly apologetic to begin to open the various dorms, etc.

The kids and we took it all in stride. Everyone was soon settled in and we ate a very late lunch and the cooks began to prepare for the evening meal. We had a couple of hours of informal meetings with ice breakers as many of the campers don’t know each other. I was asked to give an impromptu greeting and actually began my teaching on Jesus, giving a description of His birth that identified His coming with people just like them. Then I talked briefly about how when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet after they had been arguing about personal greatness, that the Scripture says that He knew who he was and so took upon Himself the role of servant. When you know who you are in Jesus, you can take on whatever role He gives you. You don’t need pride of place.

Four of the youth gave very moving personal testimonies on the spur of the moment. Then the evening meal began about 30 minutes ago.

Tomorrow the teaching times begin in earnest. It’s an excited, good group of seemingly very mature young people. They want to see Jesus and that is who I want them to encounter.

Thanks for your prayers.

Blessings!

Eleventh Fiji Report

On Thursday, my last day in Suva city, I met first thing in the morning with businessman and friend, John Samisoni, to discuss the results of the Wai medical outreach and plans for the upcoming youth camp. We also caught up with each other on family and other ministry activities. John has been a friend since I first began coming to Fiji in 2003 and he has contributed in many ways to the success of what TUtP has been doing in Fiji all these years. He is a valuable source of insight into all manner of things Fijian. His passion is Jesus—loving Him and making Him known, especially to Hindus.

Next came coffee with the Dean of the Anglican Cathedral, Rev. Claude Fong Toy, born and raised in Fiji. He shared with me how he came to know and love Jesus and how he became involved in the Anglican Church. Fascinating account.

As Dean, Rev. Toy is in charge of planning clergy conferences and other clergy gatherings around the country. The recently appointed director of the Anglican seminary is evangelical. Together they hope to be able to turn the clergy back toward genuine faith. He would like me to do a seminar on prayer for the Suva clergy when I return to Fiji early next year.

After lunch I met with Dr. Joe Koriouvueta, Permanent Secretary for Social Services, Poverty Alleviation, and Women’s Needs for all of Fiji. Dr. Joe is also the director of GIFT, the group of Christian doctors TUtP works with to conduct our medical clinics. Currently there are about 16 doctors associated with GIFT. I’ve known this man of God from the beginning of my time working in this great nation. He has such a heart of love and compassion and he has faced a daunting task in his position. There are elections next month and whatever the outcome, he is likely to retire from public service and devote himself to GIFT. He showed me the architectural drawings for the GIFT center and warehouse that should be completed before this coming December. He and his wife will move into an apartment in this new facility once it is completed. From these permanent offices, he is confident GIFT will be able to more effectively serve the needs of the poorer people around the islands.

Then in the evening I took a taxi over to the house of Reggie Kumar, an Indian pastor friend I’ve also known from my first days in Fiji. Reggie wasn’t home as he and his wife were attending his church conference in Nadi, but his son Reggie Jr. and his daughter Charisma were there. Jr. is the young man just finishing dental school at the top of his class who helped out one day last week during our outreach. He has a year of internship after completing his studies this December. Then he hopes to become a qualified oral surgeon over the next three years. He also wants to continue to serve at our future medical outreaches. Our dentists who have observed his skills are very impressed with this young man.

Then yesterday morning I made my way back to Nadi where I will be meeting with our Fijian team over the weekend to finalize everything for next week’s youth camp. I just had a long conversation with the camp director, Cuvu Atama, the daughter of Ratu Osea Gavidi, the paramount chief TUtP has worked with since 2003.

Face-to-face contact is so very important in Fijian culture. It was fantastic to be able to meet up with so many important friends and partners during my brief stay in Suva.

Please pray that all continues to go well. Throughout the day next Monday, 150 youth plus staff will be traveling from villages all over the main island by various means of transport to the Lomawai Secondary School campus in western Fiji where the camp will be held. Pray that the Spirit of the Lord will powerfully impact students and staff as we focus on Jesus.

Blessings!

Tenth Fiji Report

I have been in Suva since Saturday afternoon.  On Sunday I met with the Dean of the Anglican Cathedral and we talked about the state of the church in Fiji.  Unfortunately much that plagues the church in the U.S. is also present here as well.  But this man is an evangelical Christian and a man of prayer.  I’ll meet with him and some of his staff this coming Thursday at noon for prayer and to discuss opportunities for TUtP to minister in gatherings of clergy during future visits.

On Monday I met with the Viti Resource Landowners Association (VRLA) at Ratu Osea’s house.  This is the group with whom we are cooperating in our beekeeping and agricultural projects.  I brought them up to date on the outcome of our clinics in the Lomawai region.  I also let them know the impact the California draught was having on our ability to bring over our beekeeping team.  They need to know the potential difficulties we will be facing should the drought continue.

Seniloli is a member of the VRLA and so I had opportunity to meet with her and go with her to the Hibiscus Festival at Albert Park in Suva to visit the women’s craft fare.  Over the past two years I have been working with some business students from Azusa Pacific University who want to be involved in helping indigenous people develop better income in their skill areas.  Seniloli is a much respected older woman who teaches traditional craft to younger Fijian women and tries to assist them in design and marketing.  Last year I brought about $500 worth of items from some of her students for the APU students to sell.  We are attempting to establish ongoing relationships between students and crafters to build their income and to help them manage their businesses more successfully.

This morning I had breakfast with Peter Schulz.  Peter and his wife are from New Zealand.  I first met them in 2007.  Peter conducts the only prison ministry in Fiji and has had a great deal of success since TUtP brought Freedom in Christ staff in 2009 to do training sessions in Suva.  The impact of the FIC training transformed the prison ministry and the results have been phenomenal.  Peter was telling me how many Muslim and Hindu men have come to Jesus in prison as a result of this ongoing ministry.  He has been challenged by the authorities to begin to minister to men more directly after they are released from prison, so I am connecting him with some folks in Suva who can forward his ministry goals.  I will also make contact with the FIC team in the States to come back and take the program to the next level of effectiveness.

My schedule for the remaining days in Suva is rapidly filling and I’m not likely to be able to meet with everyone I would like to.  That’s the case most of the time.  I have yet to reach Dr. Joe Koriovuata and Dr. Eric, but hope they will be able to return calls soon.  Elections are coming in Fiji  within 30 days, and I’m quite certain their plates are very full as they are Deputy Secretary for Social Services and Deputy Secretary of Health.  Still, it would be great to see them again during this trip.

Please continue to pray.  I very much depend upon your sustaining intercession.

Thanks and Blessings!