‘Christianity Today’ magazine features special report on the Church in Japan

This month’s issue of Christianity Today includes a special report from long-time friend of the DNA Soohwan Park who has been closely involved with the recovery efforts following Japan’s massive series of disasters in March 2011.

Redeeming Disaster

Click here to read the full story

As an associate with the Marketplace Institute at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada, and in collaboration with the DNA (including DNA Korea) , Friends with the Voiceless (Japan), Food for the Hungry Canada and Food for the Hungry Intl., Soohwan completed extensive field research in Fukushima, Japan’s prefecture now famous for its nuclear disaster following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Her story in Christianity Today, titled “Redeeming Disaster,” takes a sober look at emergency-relief efforts and their tendency to overlook three vital aspects: spirituality, story and sustainability. She recounts how many local churches made great sacrifices to meet deep, invisible needs in Fukushima.

“Disaster relief is complex,” Soohwan says. “Theologically, it involves restoration of all things that were broken and all relationships that are in need of reconciliation in order for a community to flourish (Col. 1:15-20). Fundamentally, this is not the work of a professional agency but of ordinary people in a local church loving their neighbors out of love for Christ. Christian relief work happens only when the local church realizes its mission to serve the world, giving themselves for others and restoring the fabric of a broken society.”

Soohwan’s report reflects many of the DNA’s Seven Core Truths, particularly #4: The local church is God’s principle agent in his primary agenda of advancing his kingdom.

This story will appear in Christianity Today – Korea this September.

Click here to read the full story and gain a better picture of how God is at work in Japan.

Follow Soohwan's blog at www.FearNotFukushima.blogspot.com.

Follow Soohwan’s blog at http://www.FearNotFukushima.blogspot.com.

A great fourth quarter… and a song! Remembering a hero of our faith

Looking back on 2012, we’d like to honor our good friend and colleague, Ric Nesimiuk. Ric completed his journey here on October 21, 2012 after a difficult battle with brain cancer.

Those of us at the Disciple Nations Alliance came to know Ric and his dear wife, Gail, in 1996 when, after a successful career in real estate, they moved to Southeast Asia.

Ric and Gail applied their gifts to serve and love the Burmese people in the country of Myanmar.

Ric and Gail applied their gifts to serve and love the Burmese people in the country of Myanmar.

Ric and Gail both were active champions of the DNA training messages, and God gave them favor with many local Christian leaders. In 1988, Ric organized the first-ever DNA Vision Conference with future DNA leaders and champions from all over the world.

Of that time, Gail writes: “…remembering well how the first [Vision Conference] changed my own life and direction of ministry!! Bob and Darrow, you changed and filled our lives with God’s map for our lives … what an awesome adventure it has been!”

Ric was instrumental in helping bring unity to the Christian church in Myanmar, organizing many more Vision Conferences and training programs, and bringing key leaders together, often for the first time.

Ric was instrumental in helping bring unity to the Christian church in Myanmar, organizing many more Vision Conferences and training programs, and bringing key leaders together, often for the first time.

Aung Thet and his wife, Charity, are DNA colleagues in Myanmar. They write:

Our beloved friend Ric was a man of relationship. Whenever he came to serve in Myanmar, his priority was building relationship. He built a strong and deep relationship with the people: pastors, ministers and Christian leaders. 5-cropHe found the potential in the leaders. This was so appropriate in Myanmar, a country of relationship. Ric never rushed ministry. He connected the relationship of the leaders to be stronger and deeper. He looked for ways to bring leaders and people together. For several years, he raised money to bring the leaders together in Chiang Mai. They talked together, listened to one another, sharing the issues and problems. In 2006, these leaders formed the National Prayer Committee which is now effective and extending throughout Myanmar. The effort Ric has paid is fruitful. We keep building on the work he so cherished.


Where some persons may choose to coast in the last quarter of life, Ric and Gail have done just the opposite. Instead, they pressed deeply into their calling and shared generously from their gifts and abilities to bring blessing, reconciliation, and healing to others. In sports lingo, they’ve had a great fourth quarter!

What is not so well known is that Ric also had a song. He was trained professionally and loved to sing. In his final year, he was able to share this love and gift with others as well.

Take a minute and enjoy hearing him sing one of his favorite songs, “Overshadowed.Hear Ric sing! Following the first song, you can hear Ric tell his testimony and express more of his gift for music.

The point is to live life well, no matter how old you are. But, especially for those of us in our 50’s — take a principle from Ric, and don’t leave anything on the field in your fourth quarter. Make sure your “to-do list” represents the calling and priorities you claim to be most important in life. In turn, it may just be the best and most fruitful quarter of your life on this side of eternity.


Richard (Ric) Bruce Nesimiuk
May 29,1938 – October 21, 2012

Lyrics for the song mentioned above:


How desolate my life would be,

How dark and dreary my nights and days,

If Jesus’ face I did not see,

To brighten all earth’s weary ways


I’m overshadowed by His mighty love

Love eternal, changeless pure.

Overshadowed by His mighty love

Rest is mine, serene, secure.

He died to ransom me from sin,

He lives to keep me day by day,

I’m overshadowed by his mighty love,

Love that brightens all my way.

With burdened heart I wandered long,

By grief and unbelief distressed;

But now I sing faith’s happy song,

In Christ my Saviour I am blest.

Now judgment fears no more alarm,

I dread no death, nor Satan’s power;

The world for me has lost its charm,

God’s grace sustains me every hour.

Not a curse, but a blessing: caring for the differently abled in India

There are people in the world who see a problem and walk the other direction, and then there are people who stare the problem in the face, ask God what can be done, and respond in obedience to the often long, tough, amazing road ahead.

Geeta Mondol is the latter. Her problem was the lack of appropriate education for her son diagnosed with autism, and the lack of care for all differently abled children in her city of New Delhi, India.

Geeta's son, Samarpan, has inspired her to

Geeta’s son, Samarpan, was the inspiration for her work.

“People said it was his karma; let him work it out with his birth,” she says. To which her spirit revolted and she said to herself, Where are the Christians?! Autism is not a curse, and those who have it are equally made in the image of God–that is the biblical worldview. They are not to be cast out or tied to their beds, as is done to some of the children.

In India, Geeta describes, running schools has turned into a profit-making activity. Many classrooms have 60 children per teacher, and her son wasn’t getting the attention he needed.

“Until very recently, Christian schools were well known in the country for their discipline and inculcating good values among students; similarly, Christian hospitals were renowned for their quality service,” Geeta says. Where are the Christians when it comes to differently abled children and their families?

When Geeta prayed about this, God responded with a vision which has grown over the past five years into the robust Ashish Centre: an early intervention center for differently abled children and their families. “Ashish” means “blessing” in Hindi, reinforcing that all children are blessings from God.

Here, children participate in occupational, speech and behavioral therapies and receive vocational education. The Centre offers support groups for parents and training for other organizations.

The main purpose of the Centre is not simply to provide services but to produce a whole society where every person is considered valuable and important, where differently abled children and their families are properly supported. It is a long-term focus on changing the mindset and attitudes toward disability.

Presently, in Hindi, the national language of India, there is only one word to encompass the wide range of mental challenges: “pagal,” translated as “mad.”

“There are many types of disabilities,” writes Geeta, “and working with them requires skill, patience, creativity, intelligence, and a certain level of tenacity along with warmth … but most of all, what is required is FAITH and LOVE. Faith that makes us learners at HIS feet. We ask the Creator how to work with HIS creation. We look upon our children as being made in HIS image: unique, loved, and knit by God’s own hand.”

In 2007, this Centre opened its doors with 10 students. Today, there are 300 children on the waiting list and another 250 waiting to get onto the waiting list. Half of the students are receiving scholarships because, while the program is costly, the center has committed to serving everyone, regardless of caste, creed, race, religion or any other factor.

In contrast to traditional schools, at the Ashish Centre, there is one trained educator for every four children, plus one assistant for every two children.

The foundation of all programs at the Ashish Centre is a biblical worldview, and all staff complete a five-day training before they are allowed to work with the children. A biblical worldview allows the staff to see the children differently, which is the basis of the Ashish Centre’s methods.

“When you start viewing them differently,” says Geeta, “they start responding differently. When they start responding differently, you see improvement.” All children show 50-percent improvement in the first year, she says.

Many others have noted the effectiveness of the Asish Centre. In 2011, the Centre’s thrift store won the Intel Social Innovation Award for employing people with mental challenges. Replicating the Centre’s model, Geeta was invited to help set up a center in the Indian city of Bangalore, and the government of a nearby country now is asking her assistance. She also has seen transformation in her own staff as a result of the values upheld by the Centre.

These are the biblical values the Centre teaches and exercises:

  1. Each child is created in the image of God.
  2. Each child is created for a purpose.
  3. Each child is born with the potential to achieve that purpose.
  4. No one is exempt from giving back to society.
  5. All of us are differently abled.

Watch Geeta expound on this in under a minute:

A biblical view of disability – with Geeta Mondol from Disciple Nations Alliance on Vimeo.

A biblical view of disability – with Geeta Mondol from Disciple Nations Alliance on Vimeo.

Geeta and Raaj, her husband, are long-time friends of the DNA and formed their training for the Asish Centre from DNA worldview materials. Geeta first encountered the DNA at a Vision Conference in India in the ‘90s (when the DNA was still part of Food for the Hungry). From there, she joined a small team in India which was actively sharing these worldview teachings. She formally launched the Ashish Centre in 2007.

“While working with children who have special needs,” says Geeta, “what is required is not just a degree or a diploma in special education. What is required is the heart of a mother, the faith of a believer, and the humility of a person who may not have all the answers but does know One who has all the answers.”

To get involved in the Ashish Centre’s incredible work, e-mail Geeta at ashishcentre@gmail.com. Check out their website, and like them on Facebook!

After a decade in the field, an American missionary has the ‘scales removed from his mind’

Philip Renfroe compares the years after his “second conversion” to waking up early in the morning and walking through a very thick fog. As the day progresses, the fog lifts, but early on, you can’t see where you are or where you’re going.

“Even though I had been a missionary for over 10 years,” he says, “in my heart, I cried out and said, ‘Lord, I had no idea I was blind from these things. But I’m asking you to remove the scales from my mind and to help me see the truth from a biblical-worldview perspective.’”

After working for years as a medical doctor in a rural Kenyan hospital–a 300-bed facility serving half a million people–Philip learned new things about Kenyans that changed his whole perspective.

All of this resulted unexpectedly from a great trial facing Philip’s Christian colleagues. But isn’t that just how our God loves to work–to take a hopeless, difficult situation and turn it into something profound and life-changing?

While working through a difficult conflict in the ministry, one of Philip’s colleagues suggested seeking outside counsel. Dennis Tongoi was brought into the picture–he is DNA’s representative in East Africa and the leader of DNA’s partner Samaritan Strategy Africa.

Instead of discussing strategy, budgets and business, Dennis talked about what it means to have a biblical worldview. He explained the impact of animism on African churches and the impact of humanistic secularism on Western churches, giving specific examples that resonated with Philip and his group.

“He was answering questions that I had as a North American missionary well over 10 years,” says Philip. “As he was talking, I can still picture in my mind sitting in the chapel of this Bible college where we were meeting … and the Holy Spirit came to me and said, “Philip Renfroe, you are a secularist.’ I knew in my heart that the Holy Spirit was right.”

Dennis encouraged the ministry leaders to change their whole approach to this certain problem, but his involvement didn’t stop there.

“Dennis Tongoi is a dear friend; I love him as a brother,” Philip says. “God has used him as a mentor to me.”

A few months after meeting, Philip attended a DNA Vision Conference led by Dennis. He soaked up more DNA teachings on biblical worldview and seed projects, deciding his missions organization, World Gospel Mission (WGM), needed to hear these things.

Infiltrating the organization

Philip and Dennis organized another Vision Conference, this time for 70 Africa Gospel Church leaders and 30 WGM missionaries. Out of that grew a vibrant ministry at the local Bomet Prison (learn more about that).

Philip’s next plan was to have Hubert Harriman, president of WGM, meet Dennis. This came to fruition in the lobby of a Nairobi hotel.

“As I sat and listened to him,” recalls Hubert, “the illustrations he used and his thoughts, it reminded me a lot of [famed theologian] John Wesley.”

Dennis (top right) conducts “Trainer of Trainers” workshops as a strategic way to multiply DNA teachings.

Hubert, a former pastor, began to see what Dennis meant by “humanistic secularism”–how he and the Western church had set a division into something that meant to be whole.

There are two rails, Hubert says: the rail of the spiritual (holiness) and that of the social (people’s needs). The tendency is to separate the two.

“I had the same tendency and realized these rails run together; they make a track. If we don’t run these two rails together–parallel–we will get off track,” Hubert says.

WGM is an organization more than 100 years old; an establishment like that doesn’t change quickly. But when its top leadership experiences a head-and-heart change, as Hubert did, movement can be swift.

Hubert and other top leadership dove deeper into DNA teachings, assembling a conference with 20 WGM country directors from around the world to talk about integrating physical and spiritual ministry. The board of directors then agreed to adopt a more intentional focus on wholistic community transformation, with Philip in charge.

This plan enables WGM field workers to go back to established churches and help them discover how to minister wholistically to their communities. New missionaries not yet deployed will be trained as well, and even the 30-plus employees in WGM’s administrative office in Indiana will have a two-day training this coming January.

Hubert wants to show churches: “Let’s not just deal with these four walls; there’s a community around you.”

Contact Philip Renfroe or Hubert Harriman at wgm@wgm.org.

From hobby to calling: An artist discovers the purpose for his talent

“Whatever art you produce, it’s for My glory.”

For most adults, a year and a half of unemployment could be recorded as a low point in life–a time of wandering, disappointment, perhaps even depression. But God is with us in the valleys, as Colombian artist Luis Sanin can attest, and sometimes that time of waiting is when God sculpts us more into his likeness.

A civil engineer for 22 years, after Luis was laid off, he returned to his long-held hobby of art.

“Reposo Salmo 23” (“Rest, Psalm 23”), oil on canvas, 2010.

“I started painting again,” he says, “and it was like if I would have caught a virus.”

Luis felt the Lord tell him very clearly, while in church one day, that this gift was to be used for the glory of God–an instruction he took seriously.

While developing his skill in the studio, Luis wrestled with just how to marry his talent with his faith in a way that would impact the world. He needed his abstract pieces to tell a story, to share an important message.

After much research, Luis became inspired by Makoto Fujimara, a Christian artist who shares his biblical worldview through his work. Luis then began to connect with other Christian artists in his home of Medellin, Colombia, and found the connection between the arts and worldview while serving as a language interpreter for Darrow Miller.

“I thank God for allowing people to intersect my life and end that drought I went through,” says Luis, whose “flood of ideas” has led to local art shows and the sale of various paintings.

“Lluvia Acida” (“Acid Rain”), acrylic on canvas, 2009. Some of Luis’ pieces speak to the biblical command of environmental stewardship.

For him, however, it’s not about the sales and the critics. “I can have communion with God when I paint,” says Luis. “It’s a way of worship. I can have communion with the Trinity reflecting on how they brought about creation, inspiring and calling us to be culture makers in their image and likeness and advancing it through the span of our lives.”

Luis says Darrow Miller’s book LifeWork has been foundational in giving purpose to his passion. “Whenever I paint something,” he says, “I ask the question, ‘What am I trying to paint here? Can fellow Christians and non-Christians relate to this, and will it resonate with their lives?’”

He echoes chapter eight in LifeWork, saying Christians are called to create Kingdom culture in the world, as culture is simply a reflection of what a society worships, and his art is a tool to help the Church assume that calling.

“Una Mano” (“A Hand”), mixed media on cardboard, 2010. Luis created this piece after being laid off; he says he felt God taking care of him and picking him up.

After a year and a half, Luis found a new job, but the journey to get there set his life in a whole new direction.

Luis lives with his wife and two daughters in Medellin, Colombia. Peruse his blog at luissanin.blogspot.com, or contact him by e-mailing saninforero@gmail.com.