Learning About the Persecuted Church

Families who have experienced persecution in Myanmar who Firefall supports.

Families who have experienced persecution in Myanmar who Firefall supports.

My "history" with the persecuted church goes back about 10 years ago, to my first internship at Voice of the Martyrs in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. If you've ever been to Bartlesville, then you know that there is not too much there other than a few oil museums, a cute little downtown (where the office was located) and a Frank Lloyd Wright building. They also had some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever experienced, since the land is so flat compared to my home state of Arkansas and now home of North Carolina.

I spent that summer not doing quite as much writing or editing as I had hoped, but I got to do plenty of learning. I learned about how the persecuted church spans countries and languages and cultures. I learned countless stories of Christians who had been beaten or even killed and yet did not give up their faith in Jesus. Most of all, I learned to look up to this strong and brave community of believers.

And I'm glad that today, along with Firefall, I'm able to have a part in supporting persecuted Christians (especially in Myanmar). This can range from sharing stories of persecution and ways to help to all of you through an email or having specific people to pray for myself.

That's why I'm so excited that I get to attend Firefall's upcoming Eyewitness Accounts of the Persecuted Church on October 14.

It is a special event taking place at the Garland County Library in Hot Springs, Arkansas that will be featuring stories from the persecuted church in Myanmar from our very own Firefall associates Pastor David and his wife, Dimte.

I would encourage anyone who can to register to attend this free event and be able to join the conversation about this important topic.

Who knows what type of inspiration, prayer points or stories you will leave with?

Cuppa with Nancy

Summer of Surprises

Volunteers in Vietnam teaching children

Volunteers in Vietnam teaching children

Arkansas summers are not my cup of tea, or should I say not my tall, frosty glass of iced tea!

Being freckled and fair, these 115-degree heat index days leave me drained and surly if I am honest. I long for the delightful breezes of April and October and the comfort of my old jogging suit. For me, summer in Arkansas is to be endured, at least the months of July and August. 

This summer, however, has been one of "suddenlys" and surprises. In May, our associate in Vietnam wrote to ask if he could spend a few days with us in early June as he was between Seattle and Pittsburgh on business. We enjoyed hosting him for a few days of fellowship and relationship building. During a conversation with a pastor and longtime friend of Firefall International, I shared the concept of sending college age volunteers to Vietnam to work in a children's center serving orphans and underprivileged children. Some preschoolers are guarded in their meager homes by siblings aged 8 or 9 while both parents work to put food on the table. This pastor immediately said, "I have two guys who need this opportunity. Can we set something up for July?" A day or two later, I found myself in the Little Rock airport introducing our associate from Vietnam to the two young men who would soon be spending a month serving in a culture a world away. 

Here we are in late July and the guys have been there two weeks already. The trip has been beneficial to both the college guys and the kids. The guys are gaining the priceless gift of a larger worldview enhanced by the compassion that cross cultural service gives if we come to it as learners, not experts. The children have grown in their English language acquisition, an amazing "lift" for disadvantaged children there. New friendships have been forged, treasured memories formed and a newfound appreciation of the many advantages in their lives. They toured a hospital a few days ago where 2-4 people share one small bed due to overcrowding. 

I have had the joy of hearing from the guys via Messenger every day or two about their strange and wonderful summer. At first, I had to face some jealousy that I was the "sender" and not the "goer" this time. As I embraced my assignment of coach and cheerleader, my days have been full of prayers for them and the children, plus laughter as they are stretched by new foods and customs. They are not fans of soup for breakfast. 

What a joy to be a tiny part of something God has sovereignly orchestrated to touch all these lives.  Hopefully, I will remember the summer of 2017 as the first time we launched volunteers to SE Asia and not another dreaded Arkansas scorcher. Their joy has become mine and that is sweeter than a giant gulp of southern sweet tea!


Bridge to Life & Video Interview

Our Firefall International associate in Vietnam was visiting us last month. We were sharing lunch in a restaurant on a rainy Saturday when he related a painful memory. Even though both of his parents were still living, he had been abandoned by his family. He remembered standing in the rain as a 7-year-old. With night falling he had no place to go to get out of the rain. He asked himself, “Where can I go tonight? Where can I stay?” Underneath those questions was a deeper one. “Why doesn’t my mother love me enough to take care of me?” He shed tears at our meal as the pain of that moment returned.

Over 30 years later, no one would know the heartache of abandonment he lived through. He is a loving husband and father of two. He has built a home for orphans (he was caring for 9 street children when he and his wife were married!) He is reaching out to his neighbors with the gospel through English lessons, which Firefall International is helping to sponsor there. He’s also helping to send the gospel to an unreached people group in the remote mountains of Vietnam.

The early church was faced with adversity and persecution. That caused the believers to scatter like seeds in the wind throughout Asia Minor, taking the gospel with them and planting vibrant churches as they went (Acts 8:1-4, 11:19-21).

For the early church, and for our associate, adversity was turned into opportunity. He became a bridge to life for the orphans and street children of Vietnam.

What adversity are you facing today? How can God work through it to make you a bridge to life?

Well Project Update

Well Project Has Begun in Myanmar

You might remember in our newsletter last month that we wrote about House of Glory planting a house church in a village of Nepalis in Myanmar. There are about 400 people in the village, and they need a well so they can have safe drinking water. 

It gives us great joy to share with you that the well is now being dug for the village just outside of Pastor David's city. Very soon, a community of 300-400 people will have access to clean water all year-round.

The well will hold about 2,500 liters (about 660 gallons) of water and should be completed in about two weeks.

We are sharing photos of the dedication of the well site, which was last week. There is a small house church nearby. The water will be shared as a blessing from the love of God and your love, too, as a friend of Firefall. Let us pray for success in the drilling process, for a free flow of pure water and for news of the One who gives "living water" made known to thirsty souls in this area.

Praying to dedicate the well

Praying to dedicate the well

The combination of good works accompanied by a living witness has proved very fruitful in this nation. May this water open the hearts of many to hear of the love of God for them.  

Cuppa with Nancy

A Symphony of Serving

I've been home from Myanmar for a few weeks. Yes, it's wonderful to return to my husband, my creature comforts and my two labs. Of course, there's no place like home. Each day I return to memories of the acts of service I received while there. To witness and partake of joyful serving is to be touched, softened and changed.

I am enriched by spending time among a community of Jesus followers who have learned how to serve. Pastor David's mother remembered my favorite Burmese snacks and welcomed me with them at the football stadium. Sister May insisted I wear one of her coats during a chilly night of Firefall Football Challenge activities in her courtyard. Jonah, our driver, arrived at our hotel on time and with a wide smile on his face, even when we had tire trouble on the road.

At May's farm, food for 200 was prepared, aluminum plates were filled, delivered and later washed in a symphony of serving. The laughter in the kitchen among the cooks and servers made the rest of us jealous to be with them. They understood the secret of serving and their joy was contagious.

I return with a deeper appreciation of the way serving touches the heart and paves the way for the love of God to enter. I know this because I experienced it firsthand. There's a fresh longing in my life to follow the One who said,"For who is greater, the one who is at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." Luke 22:27

Time to give it away!

Team Reflections

A few weeks ago, Nancy and the team returned from their trip to Myanmar for the Firefall Challenge Cup #3!

It was a fantastic trip with new relationships formed, personal growth and lots of fun football (soccer) playing. 

We want you to hear directly from the Spanish soccer players about how the trip impacted them. Make sure you're signed up for our email newsletter to get the full trip report next week!

soccer players
To serve in such a different reality has made me think about my service and commitment in my daily life.
It is an honor for us to help you and the Firefall ministry.
All my trips to Myanmar change parts of my life. It was really a blessing to me to bring a Spanish group with me. This makes me feel really happy, and is worth all the time invested in this project. 
It's been a challenge for me, and I think that it was the first trip of thousands.

It’s changed the way I see things, and it gave me another point of view to understand God and the different ways of sharing his word.

Jesus Gives Life (Easter Post)

On my last trip to Yangon, Myanmar, Nancy and I took our U.S. ministry team through both a Hindu temple and a Buddhist holy site with hundreds of temples. In both places people were repeating prayers and making offerings, hoping that they could merit a better reward in the next life. It’s always hard for me to see these acts of empty worship. Sincere, certainly, yet empty.

A woman who grew up as a Buddhist recently gave her life to Jesus. When asked about the difference she observed, “Buddhism has some good teachings, but Jesus gives life!”

People who follow the teachings of Buddhism or Hinduism live in a vain hope that somehow they can merit divine favor. We who hope in Christ have already entered into the blessing of our loving Father through the offering of a perfect life, given for us, once for all (Hebrews 7:27).

While other religions may offer good teachings or good advice, we bring good news to a suffering world. We have news of a historical event. Jesus rose from the dead, defeating sin and death, and now lives to make us alive in him. Like the woman said, “Jesus gives life!”

He is risen. He is risen indeed!

I'm on the Prayer Team with You

When Nancy and I (Jim) travel to the nations, we always ask for your prayer support. I vividly remember times facing critical situations. There were times when we saw miracles of provision, or direction, or protection from the schemes of the enemy. In those times, we stopped to thank the Father for the miracle, but we also thanked Him for praying partners, knowing that the miracles were answers to your prayers.

I’m With You

This time I’m with you. I will be at home, working at my job, going through the routines of life, and praying for Nancy and our Firefall partners half a world away. I know how important it is to be on the prayer team!

Praying Daily

It is a great blessing to know that many of you follow the ministry itinerary day-by-day, praying specifically, praying fervently, and praying in faith that Jesus will be glorified. I join with you responding to the plea of Jesus, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:38

On the Winning Team

Together, we can transform nations through the power of prayer as we partner with Nancy, the group from Spain, and our Firefall team in Myanmar. You are just as much a part of this ministry team as they are. You are the unseen warriors in the battle to rescue souls from eternal darkness.

Thank you for going on this trip in prayer. We share together in Jesus’ finished work. He defeated death, rose in victory and reigns forever!

If you would like to receive Nancy's trip prayer itinerary, comment with your email or sign up for our email newsletters below.

A Cuppa with Nancy

Sand in My Shoes

Today’s cuppa is a fine Earl Grey tea from Sri Lanka, crafted by Dilmah. This is the first tea of its type that does not need milk to tame it for my tastebuds. Just a sliver of lemon and I am good to go! The fruity and full taste is simultaneously bracing and calming. It is a tea I will surely pack for teatimes, both morning and afternoon, during the many hotel stays to come.  

As my departure date for Myanmar ticks down to one week away, my expectation and excitement is rising. Crazy as it sounds, I love travel! Many ask how I can stomach the 16-hour, non-stop flights, the cramped seating, the oxymoronic “airline cuisine” and the jet lag which gift wraps both the departure and return across multiple time zones. 

To my mind, these things represent a small, low door one stoops to pass through into a wide arena of tastes, sights and experiences.  

My work with Firefall International gives me the privilege of strengthening national believers who are introducing the person of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard of Him.  I receive much more than I give. My heart is enlarged and challenged by interacting with heroes of the Christian faith.

My grandmother loved to travel, too. She used to say, “I’ve got sand in my shoes,” as she and Pa rambled across southwestern USA for month-long tours in their camper after retiring from their dry goods store in our small Kentucky town. I get it. Jim can attest that I am happiest when there is an open suitcase in a corner of our bedroom. I fill it with culturally appropriate clothing, a few creature comforts and items like copies of “The Jesus Film” on DVD in the Burmese language. Sometimes it’s vitamins for children, whatever is needed at the time.

Please do not pity me for the globe-crossing treks I make. To others, they might be torture. In my eyes, this love of travel is part of God’s design of me for the work He has given. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

How satisfying to realize that my delight in travel is part of God’s design and delight, too.

The suitcase is open, the packing list lies beside it. Let the countdown begin! Please join me on this adventure by praying day by day. A prayer itinerary will be emailed out next week, so make sure you're signed up for our emails.


Have you heard of AmazonSmile?

If you're an avid Amazon shopper, then today is your lucky day! Especially if you also love to give to good causes (like Firefall International).

If you haven't used AmazonSmile before, then you'll find that it's a 1-click way to give back to your favorite nonprofits! And, even better, today they are giving even more (5% of purchases) to the charity of your choice.

You can easily contribute by going to smile.amazon.com whenever you're shopping on Amazon. After selecting your charity, it will save it to your profile so it counts toward your purchases every time you buy starting at the smile.amazon.com. 

Isn't it great how easy it is to give?! No Prime membership or shipping required.

Here's step-by-step how to use amazonsmile:

  1. Go to http://smile.amazon.com. (You can do this on a laptop or any mobile device.)

  2. Sign in to your Amazon account.

  3. Select Firefall International Inc. as your preferred nonprofit.

  4. Shop away!

Thanks for helping us make a difference in the nations...even while you're buying that new kitchen gadget or last-minute birthday present!