Reading Room Update

A Morning to Treasure

Our schedule was overbooked with preparations for the upcoming football outreaches and Eagles Team practices. Pastor David and I agreed on a quick drop-in at the Reading Room before a lunch meeting.

The Spanish Team accompanied us. As the van approached the Reading Room, we heard the sounds of laughter and pleasant conversation. In a recently constructed "lean to" addition, Reading Room Host Ko Gyi was teaching English phrases to 20 high school students in a very animated way. These neighborhood students are on summer break now. His kindness and enthusiasm set the stage for a great learning atmosphere. We lingered a few minutes, then moved inside the Reading Room proper.

 Reading Room hostess Alice teaching

Reading Room hostess Alice teaching

 Host Ko Gyi is an engaging teacher of mathematics and English

Host Ko Gyi is an engaging teacher of mathematics and English

To my great joy, I saw four tables full of little boys and girls also learning English! Hostess Alice had brilliantly transformed the space from a library to a pleasant classroom. The children were attentive and focused on their important work. Due to poverty, these neighborhood children have no way to attend regular school. The government schools are overcrowded and understaffed with one teacher to 50 or 60 students. There is a shortage of textbooks. For these 34 students and their parents, this makeshift classroom is a literal lifeline for their future. The fact they are learning not only Burmese grammar but also English gives them a great advantage.

Alice has a quiet grace and authority about her, coupled with a mother's heart for the children. She and her husband are investing in the future of each of these children while demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by their character and work ethic. They are born teachers and lovely disciples of Jesus.

 Pastor David gives a new textbook to one of our 34 students

Pastor David gives a new textbook to one of our 34 students

I experienced many rewarding moments while on this recent trip, but I will never forget the beauty of the students learning in an atmosphere of Christian love. Every dollar invested in this creative outreach is reaping maximum goodwill in the neighborhood while lifting children and teens through loving, quality instruction.

Host couple shares their favorite aspects of serving in the Reading Room in Myanmar.

Please pray:

1. For Ko Gyi and Alice as they tirelessly serve the community by hosting the Reading Room and teaching

2. Open hearts to the demonstrated love of Jesus, both students and their families.

"Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:16

Firefall Football Challenge Cup #4 Recap: Fun & Fruitful

During our last meal together in Myanmar, the Spanish team and I debriefed the mission. Dan Fernandez of Athletes in Action Spain has led the team each of the four years, plus leading training last November for the coaches in Myanmar. He marveled at the ways God worked in our midst. A near palpable peace and joy surrounded all of us during the matches (8 each day). In the evenings, all players gathered for awards (Man of the Match trophies and shirts), silly songs, laughter and a marked increase in hunger to hear spiritual truth through music, testimony and short preaching by Pastor David.

 We enjoyed four days of exciting matches

We enjoyed four days of exciting matches

On Good Friday evening, our last night together, Pastor David shared that this was an important day to Christians. He went on to say he was usually with his own church preaching about what happened to Jesus on this day. Did they want him to tell them what happened to Jesus on this day? There was a resounding "yes" from the 150 young men there.

 Pastor David, a masterful MC for our evening activities

Pastor David, a masterful MC for our evening activities

David shared for about 15 minutes about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. You could have heard a pin drop. I prayed silently, knowing these words of truth were entering hearts all over the room with power. We had set up a table with many copies of the Evangelistic Burmese Bible and Jesus Film DVDs. They were invited to pick up a Bible or Jesus Film as we closed the evening if they had a interest, no pressure. Many moved quickly to take these items. It was holy ground.

Fellowship shared during football matches brought down barriers, connected towns and villages and ushered in an atmosphere where Pastor David sowed seeds of eternal life into hungry hearts. God's Word will not return void. It will produce a harvest!

Thank you for praying for us and for giving sacrificially to sponsor players for the challenge cup. The local coaches will continue to follow up and share the love of Jesus throughout the year. What a privilege to have a small part in what God is doing to bring people to Himself in Myanmar through sport. Thank you, Firefall partners!

 The victors!

The victors!


Eagles Team: physical, relational & spiritual hunger met

 Some of the Eagles pose with Spanish team and Pastor David

Some of the Eagles pose with Spanish team and Pastor David

We had six training sessions and two meals with the Eagles Boys Team while in Myanmar. As I watched the Spaniards interact with the boys from poor Buddhist and Muslim homes, I could not tell who was enjoying the time more…the Spanish team, I think! These athletes are masterful at using football to demonstrate physical affection, teach boundaries, respect and discipline, impart character traits and just show these little boys they are worthy of time and attention because they are created and loved by God. By the end of the first training session, they had given nicknames to each player which stuck with them throughout the week, to their delight.

 After training, the boys listen intently to their sport heroes

After training, the boys listen intently to their sport heroes

 Eagles enjoying noodles and affection

Eagles enjoying noodles and affection

Pastor David invited the boys to attend all aspects of the football challenge, even the night meetings. They sang, laughed and soaked in words of life that were shared. We saw many of them leave with a Bible clutched in their hands to take home. There will be follow-up for them during their weekly meetings with the House of Glory coaches.

As we said our goodbyes after the last noodle shop meal together, there were tears wiped away from the eyes of both the Eagles boys and the Spanish team. The bonds of love formed on a mission like this are unforgettable and life-changing. Thank you for making this time possible through your love, prayers and giving. I pray these boys will always remember the demonstrated love of Jesus they tasted during these very wonderful days we had together.

coming soon

Check back over the next few weeks (we'll email subscribers, too) to read more about our Reading Room updates and how God is expanding its influence in the community. Also, what came of Nancy's lunch with visionary women leaders.

Firefall Challenge Cup #4: March 28-31

We are so excited to announce our 4th Firefall Football Challenge Cup at the end of March. In honor of this announcement, we asked Pastor David, who leads the outreach, a few questions about the program.

Insights from Pastor David

What results and benefits have you witnessed from the past three years of Firefall Challenge Cup outreaches?

Through launching our vision of Firefall Challenge Cup four years ago, we have been able to touch many young footballers by playing together and sharing the good news. We have seen footballers come to Jesus and accept Him as their personal Savior and Lord after they listen to the good news at the outreach. We could see many young footballers' lives are transformed in different cities now. We are still following up with some footballers among those actually interested in Jesus after hearing about Him at the Firefall Challenge Cup!

When we Christians offer this kind of outreach, non-believers see us in a positive way as they realize we are not separated from them, but we are with them by playing together.

You began to mentor 15 sport leaders in your nation last year. What is your strategy in doing this?

Through mentoring sport leaders in our nation, my dream is to touch more young footballers in every city in Myanmar for sharing the good news as networking and equipping events are offered for coaches. Then we would see the great transforming in the lives of these young people, our new generation!

How can Firefall partners stand with you for Firefall Challenge #4?

We look to Firefall for partnership in prayer, provision and mentoring. Thank you for helping the team from Spain to come! Please help us as much as you can to continue our football outreach through Firefall Challenge Cup #4 as we are praying and preparing to touch young footballers by playing together and sharing Jesus effectively. If we include the Eagles Youth team, this time together will reach over 150 players.


Miraculous Conversion through Firefall Football Cup

 New disciple of Jesus, Pastor David and Glory Coach Jack

New disciple of Jesus, Pastor David and Glory Coach Jack

My name is Hein Soe Lat. I was raised in a very strong Muslim home. Though I heard about Jesus since my childhood, I knew Him as just a prophet. I was not interested in any other religions or beliefs, since my parents strictly guided me in Islamic teachings. I graduated from the Law University and started a boarding school as my vocation.

I have been crazy for football since elementary school. My favourite team is Arsenal FC in English Premier League. I play every day until today. I am 30 years old now.

In 2016, I got the opportunity to participate at the Second Firefall Challenge Cup in our hometown as a player on the Glory Football Team. I played in the daytime and I heard about Jesus in different ways at the night time. Though I was not interested in that on the first night, I decided I would actually like to taste Jesus in my own life after I heard about His resurrection and eternal life! Then, I started to read the Burmese Evangelistic Bible offered me on the last night of the tournament.

I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord as Pastor David explained more to me about Jesus. Now, I follow only Jesus as a good disciple. I share about Jesus as much as I can to some of my friends and those who are playing football.

Thank you, Firefall Partners!

How Can You "Join the Team"?

When we divide all Firefall expenses among the 150 football players who will be impacted, the cost is $65 per playerWould you prayerfully consider sponsoring 1 for $65, 3 for $195, 5 for $325, 10 for $650 or even 20 for $1,300? 100% of your gift will go to this creative evangelistic outreach.

Update: We reached our goal!

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Thank you for supporting this outreach program!

We can't sponsor this event without you, so we appreciate your support and look forward to the difference it will make in these players' lives.

Shalom from Israel

israel trip: part 2

Shalom again from Jerusalem, the city of our great King. (Scroll down to see Part 1)

Our tour officially ended today. The days were jam packed with information, joyful discovery and revelation. My heart is full.

I feel renewed and refreshed by God’s grace. I thank our wonderful Holy Spirit and you who prayed for me.
 

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I am sharing a photo of St. Ann’s church near the Pool of Bethesda. The church is elegant in its simplicity and the acoustics are unrivaled. What a special place to pause and pray in reflection of Jesus healing the paralytic.

Our time at the Garden Tomb was meaningful.

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Thirty-seven pilgrims worshiped together and shared communion, people who were strangers only ten days ago. How beautiful is the body of Christ.

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The photo of me standing by the tree honoring Corrie Ten Boom and family is a treasure to me. This tree grows in the garden beyond Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum. The Ten Boom family held a weekly prayer meeting for the fate of the Jews for ten years and risked their lives to aid and house Jews in Amsterdam during World War 2.

As I learned of the heroic and selfless acts of so many to bless the Jewish people, I am amazed and struck to the heart.

I leave you with a lovely view of the Mount of Olives taken from within the Old City. I pray you will join me in faithful prayer for the peace of Jerusalem and for the awakening of those living here.

Peace and love from Jerusalem,
Nancy

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IsraeL Trip: Part 1

This is day 6 of my Israel travels, and what a joy it has been. Thank you for praying. My friend Terri and I are having a wonderful journey, soaking in the land and learning about the history of the time when Jesus lived here.

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I really enjoyed the tranquility of the Jordan River baptism site. Surrounding the riverbank are beautiful tile presentations of Mark 1: 9-11 in many languages.

My heart leapt when I found the one in Kachin language from our beloved Myanmar.

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I chuckled when I saw the tribal language from Eritrea, mentioned to me at dinner the night before from a couple in our group from Ethiopia. They are lovely.

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The languages remind us that soon, those from every language, tribe and nation will worship the Lamb of God forever! Rev. 7:9-10.

Jerusalem is a melting pot and the focus of so many at this time. It is a privilege to be here and to pray.

With love,
Nancy

2017 in Review: Expansion & Innovation

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The word that comes to mind when I (Jim) reflect on the work of Firefall International in 2017 is expansion and innovation. OK, that’s two words, but we’re seeing the Creator give innovative strategies to expand the kingdom of God and bring glory to His Name!

Through your prayer and support the Lord is transforming lives, families and whole communities despite cultural and spiritual resistance to the gospel.

Think about Jesus with the woman at the well, or the woman caught in adultery. To anyone who knew the context, Jesus’ witness was dead in the water with no way to penetrate the cultural resistance to the good news of love and forgiveness. Then (and this is what makes the story engaging) Jesus found a creative way to penetrate the wall of rejection and build a bridge of redemption. The result was life and a transformed community. Jesus wins!

Jesus is still opening hearts and transforming lives, even when it requires penetrating cultural resistance through:

When we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…,” we can thank the Lord for visible answers through Firefall associates and their innovative expansion of the kingdom of God. They are wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

At the end of the day (or year) we enter into the joy of the harvest (Psalm 126:5-6), rejoicing with the angels that sinners repent (Luke 5:7, 10)!

Thank you for your investment in Firefall and the vision to transform nations through compassionate partnership. We give all the glory to God!

Together in the harvest,

Jim, Nancy, Grace and Firefall Associates

Month of Harvest: Football Ministry

Myanmar - USA - Spain

Working together for eternal victory! 

 Glory Football Club - 2017 National Amateur Champions

Glory Football Club - 2017 National Amateur Champions

Four years ago, Dan Fernandez and others from Athletes in Action Spain joined Firefall International in a partnership with Pastor David to demonstrate the love of Jesus through sport, namely football (soccer to us in the USA). Prior to this time, David was discouraged in his efforts to share the gospel with those who had no reference for Jesus Christ at all. Traditional methods of witnessing or handing out tracts were having no effect. In desperation, he cried out to the Lord. As he prayed, he heard a challenge to use something he was passionate about to build a bridge of relationship for heartfelt conversation in the future.

Hear what the football ministry has meant to Dan:

For David, this "passion" was simple…football! He began by coaching young men in his town with an interest in football. At times, the number was up to 90, coming from Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu backgrounds. Of these, 14 have already received Jesus Christ as Lord. Many more are coming to David with spiritual hunger and questions. 

Please pray with us in this season of harvest. Dan and players from Spain will return to Myanmar in late March 2018 for Firefall Challenge #4. This is four days of football matches and evenings of laughter, music and testimony from athletes about the love of Jesus.

In the past four years, Glory Football Club has won 14 trophies, becoming the amateur champions of the township (2015), region (2016) and just last week, the entire nation! The players realize they are not as good as many other teams and should not be winning. They remark that they feel an unusual power or strength with them as they play. David is more than happy to explain Who this power is! He wisely waits until they have a comment or question before sharing.

 Local citizens celebrate Glory footballers

Local citizens celebrate Glory footballers

The benefits of the football team have been many. Parents thank David for offering an activity to keep their children off the streets, away from drugs and constant internet gaming. Some of these parents formerly looked down on David as an outsider, but now they are friendly. Community leaders and authorities who once persecuted David for this faith are now thanking him for his coaching leadership and welcoming the team with flowers and trophies at citywide parades. 

In addition, the Eagles team for young boys was formed as an outreach two years ago. The members are 8-16 years old and from a very poor neighborhood. 

 Eagles Team with Spanish Athletes

Eagles Team with Spanish Athletes

They practice on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, learning the basics of football, having snacks and exposure to concepts of respect, diligence and good sportsmanship in an atmosphere of fun and encouragement. Firefall assists with funds for equipment and nutrition for the practices. 

In early December, Dan and his wife from Spain will join Jim and Nancy in Myanmar to train 15 Christian athletes selected by Pastor David to replicate this type of sport outreach throughout the nation. With your financial and prayer support, we can continue to invest in creative strategies to lift the community and share about God's love through Jesus Christ to hungry hearts.

 

Giving Update: We Need Your Help

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Great news! We are now at 38% of our goal of $50,000 for October, Month of Harvest!

Only one week to go! Please prayerfully consider your investment in the work of Firefall International. If you would like to "join the team" and help us continue the Firefall football ministry, use the button below to give (and notate it is for the Month of Harvest).

"Don't you have a saying,'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." John 4:35

Prayer Points:

  1. Continued spiritual hunger and open hearts among football players
  2. That new converts become grounded disciples who make more disciples
  3. That the December Training of the 15 leaders will be multiplied across the nation.

Month of Harvest: Reading Room in Myanmar

Connecting Community through Books & Conversation

It's the third week in our Month of Harvest campaign, and we've got a great story to share about a creative outreach that Firefall has been funding since day one.

Three and a half years ago, we partnered with Pastor David and House of Glory Church in a creative vision to lift their city through the establishment of a reading room. We rented a small room, bought books, tables, chairs and some tea making equipment. We held a party to launch this gift to the community. Pastor David selected a key woman, full of the love of Jesus, gracious and a woman of books, to be the hostess of the room. To our great joy, this "God idea" has developed in most amazing ways. 

 Military wives visit Reading Room

Military wives visit Reading Room

Here's how it works, The Burmese people love to read and drink tea together, talking about what they are reading. The people are avid readers. Sadly, Pastor David's city has no lending  library facility as we would know. We outgrew the small room quite early on and rented a much larger place, with room for many more books and an outside seating area for community discussions about good literature, hosted by Pastor David on Saturday afternoons. During these sessions, he takes off his pastor "hat" and puts on his "reading man" hat, facilitating lively discussions with Buddhist military officers, monks, medical doctor, politicians and anyone else who wishes to pay the one dollar membership to join the Reading Room.

We now have nearly 900 members. Sometimes the topic is a Burmese novel, sometimes it is world religions. At this time, Pastor David is well equipped to answer their questions about the person of Jesus Christ. If someone wants to know more about this Jesus, Pastor David or church members will meet them at their home or at a public tea shop to share further. We keep the Reading Room a neutral zone, there to lift the community and serve the many members from all walks of life. This concept has worked well. 

 Storytelling competition hosted by Reading Room

Storytelling competition hosted by Reading Room

The room has been the site of storytelling and speech competitions for school children. A national news team brought their cameras and interviewed Pastor David and the hostess. Goodwill is growing between community leaders and Pastor David, thanks to this unique outreach. Some are contacting him to ask more about this Jesus.

Recently, a man of influence met with David in a tea shop to learn more about Jesus. After three months of talking, he shared his desire to follow Jesus all the days of his life. Then he asked about water baptism. He destroyed the many idols his family had worshipped for decades. Recently, David had the joy of baptizing this man and his son. They are now members of House of Glory…all because of the reading room.

 Tea Shop fellowship enhanced thanks to Reading Room

Tea Shop fellowship enhanced thanks to Reading Room

How can you help the reading room?

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Are you a book lover or fellow reader who would like to see this outreach continue to flourish? Help us keep the Reading Room and other projects growing by donating to our October goal of raising $50,000.

We're 29% there, but we need your help to continue the work you have helped us start in nations like Myanmar. Use the button below to give and find specific prayer points below.

Prayer Requests for the Reading Room

  • Continued favor with the community, growing relationships with the members, hungry hearts open to the news of Jesus Christ
  • A desktop computer, printer and shelf 
  • Monthly funds to supply daily newspapers, weekly journals and monthly magazines to serve the members more fully

Read the first and second Month of Harvest blogs!

Month of Harvest: House of Hope in Vietnam

Caring for Children in Vietnam

Imagine you’re a child and your parents have uprooted your family to a new city, so they can find work and pay for food and school. Or imagine something happened to your parents and you have nowhere to go.

I don’t know about you, but it’s very difficult for me to picture myself in one of these positions, and I really wish I could do something to help the children and families who find themselves there.

 Minh and Blessing

Minh and Blessing

Although this is currently happening in countries across the world, Firefall associate Minh and his wife, Blessing, are doing something to help through the House of Hope ministry in Vietnam.

Not only have they taken in several orphans for nearly two decades, they have also been teaching English classes and feeding and educating children while their parents are at work for the past few years. They have a singular passion for reaching children in their community and have already noticed a difference in the environment of their part of the city with fewer children on the streets or susceptible to violence.

 

 

 

Many Ministries of Hope

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For the daycare side of the House of Hope ministry, about 20 kids enjoy teaching, group activities and three meals a day. Then, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 5-8, Minh hosts English classes for about 30 different children of varying ages, using the Bible to help them improve their writing, listening, reading and speaking skills to help them get a leg up in life.

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We are thrilled to partner with Minh and Blessing in their pursuit to educate, house, feed and empower these children who could have so easily been forgotten. In fact, this summer three volunteers from Pine Bluff, Arkansas visited the House of Hope to help out for a few weeks.

Read about their trip in this Cuppa with Nancy post

Minh invites any Firefall friends interested in serving to come volunteer with the children. Contact us in interested.

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Are you also passionate about helping children learn, grow and learn more about the gospel? If so, use the button below to give to our Month of Harvest campaign and goal of $50,000 for ministries like this one.

With your help, we will be able to continue to support the House of Hope and make an impact in dozens of children’s lives, while allowing Minh and his wife to fulfill their unique calling in their community.

Prayer Points:

  • More local staff to help out and English-speaking volunteers
  • Resources to keep the ministry running as more children join
  • Wisdom and encouragement for Minh and his wife

Month of Harvest: Humanitarian Aid

Firefall Meeting Needs

During October, we’ll take a look at some of the ways Jesus is using your financial investment in Firefall International to transform lives, and even whole communities through our Month of Harvest campaign.

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Your generous giving helped people in desperate need suffering from floods, fires, natural disasters and violent persecution. You also brought clean water to two villages.

It’s hard for me to imagine spending hours each day carrying water from a distant stream for my family. All the while knowing that after all the strain and struggle the water would be dirty and infected. What would it mean if all of a sudden I had access to abundant, clean water because someone half a world away cared about my problems?

Well, you cared in Jesus’ name and provided clean water wells.

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In two villages in Myanmar (Burma) the Christians are no longer seen as a threat to the community but as a great blessing. These church plants are now seen in a positive light. Instead of threats of violence, these followers of Jesus hear expressions of thanks. The kingdom of God is coming to these villages through acts of compassion, provision of clean water and hearts that are now open to the life-giving gospel of Jesus.

This month, would you consider a generous gift for the ongoing ministry of Firefall International? God is using you to change lives for His glory!

Give below and notate “Month of Harvest” on PayPal to help us reach our $50,000 goal during this Month of Harvest.

Prayer Points

  • Pray for the house churches in these 2 villages that they can bring others to Jesus.

  • Pray for hearts of the villagers. Pray that their gratitude for water brings openness to the gospel.

  • Pray for new believers to become strong disciples who disciple others.

Check back in next week for another story of exciting Firefall projects.

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?