Rich Gardner

The Transformation of Rashalang

Last year, December 2016, Peter organized a training in his home town, Rashalang, at a local church. The church leaders and members that they trained did an evangelistic outreach in the village, and started a new church in August of 2017! They invited us to come back and teach the new members the basic follow-up materials. This January, 2018, Peter and his team of volunteers led a week long follow-up training in which there were 80 people! Ezekiel Bot, one of the volunteers, went out and evangelized during the training, and seven adults and over twenty children gave their lives to Christ!

One of the new converts testified in front of the whole congregation that he had been drinking and doing drugs, but he knows he cannot live that life anymore as his life now belongs to Christ, and he asked for their prayers to help him to stand firm in his faith! He came the next day to worship, and we taught him from the follow-up lessons.

We need to pray for this new church, that God will cause it to grow. Some of the new members are struggling with substance abuse, and the church has been mocked in the community as a church for addicts, but the new members have shown that they are serious about changing their lives, praise God!

Rich GardnerThe Transformation of Rashalang
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Ministry on the Go: Siberia Edition!

Rich and Carl flew to Moscow and traveled to Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, where they were planning to regroup before going on to a remote location called Ungut to conduct a training for thirty local pastors. While in Krasnoyarsk, they discovered that the man who had been responsible for organizing the training (and Roman had met twice with) had developed serious brain swelling and a tumor and hadn’t been doing any of the preparations! He said there were 8 people at Ungut who could be trained.

Rich, Carl, and Roman decided that they would still conduct the training for the eight. While they were in Krasnoyarsk, they met with the gathered pastors and ministry leaders. Rich presented on the ministry of FFICM to train nationals to follow-up with new believers, and Carl spoke about the unique need to minister to pastors, who are often isolated from the rest of the church.

The church leaders were moved by the presentation and would like to partner in the future! The pastor of a retreat center outside of Krasnoyarsk opened up to Carl and said that he felt as though Carl had come to speak directly to his heart.

After the meeting, Rich, Carl and Roman prayed over the city.

Pictured above are Roman, Carl, and Rich, after praying with church leaders.

Maxim, the pastor who had been moved by Carl’s testimony, invited them to visit the center for recovering substance abusers he runs. During the drive, Carl, with Roman translating, ministered to Maxim and helped him work through a difficult interpersonal situation. They were told that they would have to walk over a mile in the snow at the end of the drive, as there was no road leading straight to the center, but when they got to the field, there was a tractor attached to a cart. They all piled in, gratefully, with the supplies!

Click the link below to see the sled ride as it happened!

siberian sled ride

Rich and Carl spoke to the group, and one of them, Yuri, made a decision to receive Christ at the meeting.

The next day, Rich, Carl and Roman drove to Ungut, a location far outside of cell-service and communication.

When they arrived, they discovered that the 8 people at the camp were not pastors or ministers, but also recovering addicts. Rich and Carl decided to reschedule the training, as their ministries focus primarily on equipping nationals and pastors.

Roman, whose ministry is primarily evangelism, stayed in Ungut to see what he could do, and ended up sharing the gospel with 30 children!

We thank you all for your prayers for the trip and for Rich, Carl, and Roman as they worked together! We would deeply appreciate your prayers for protection and wisdom for possible future trips to Siberia, as the enemy was able to thwart the training in Ungut by striking at the pastor who was responsible for the organization. Please pray for hm and his family. We thank God for bringing eternal fruit from the trip, and for accomplishing his purposes!

We were blessed to minister in this beautiful country, and pray that God continues to break in to Siberia in power!

 

Rich GardnerMinistry on the Go: Siberia Edition!
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Adventures in Kansk

Kansk is a beautiful town on the edge of the river Kan–a river which was once the site of a terrible battle, after which legend has it, the river tasted of blood for many years. Now the river Kan is a peaceful city where a pastor and his family hosted Sarina, Rich, and Roman in Kansk while they carried out their ministry.

pastor and daughter

While in Kansk, the pastor’s best friend, who is not a Christian, asked if Sarina would visit his family and hang out with his daughter, who is interested in America and is learning English. Her name is Ana–though they call her Anya. Sarina loved hanging out with Anya and her family; they talked about their different school systems, social media (Russians don’t use Facebook very much, they have their own version) and their families. They both like a lot of the same music and tv shows because Anya listens to a lot of American music and movies!

Sarina was overwhelmed by the hospitality of Russians in general and especially Anya’s family, “They offer you tea or coffee every five seconds and keep asking until you say yes, so you have to drink really slowly! They really pampered us.”

“They love their fruit and their drinks– they offer you tea or coffee every five seconds, keep asking until you say yes so you have to drink really slowly. They really pampered us!”

Christians don’t drink in Russia as drinking to excess has become such a problem, but they all drink Kvas, a Russian non-alcoholic drink that Sarina described as, “kind of like Kombucha, but instead of tea, it’s fermented bread excess.” They also drink a green drink called Tarragon that “looks like swamp water, but is bubbly and sweet!”

Anya’s family had Sarina over at their “dacha”—a summer house which is right on the banks of the river Kan. They have a banya built into their house. They told Sarina hat they sleep in their banya in the winter, which she could not believe she was hearing accurately until she saw them moving sleeping bags and blankets out of it before they turned it on.  

Sarina did the banya, 7 or 8 times–you go into the hot steam and then run out and jump into the river. She even up to the highest level (where it burns when you breathe and is 203 degrees!) and received the traditional Russian whipping with hot birch branches to improve circulation, before then running out and jumping into the river. They were all impressed with how many times Sarina let herself be hit with birch branches!

the river Kan

After the banya she went out to feed the fish with Anya. She had a hard time understanding that they really meant they were going to feed the fish, so she kept saying that she was a vegetarian, but at last they led her out to the river and she and Anya fed fish pieces of bread and relaxed while while a lightning storm flashed over the river.

Sarina and the rest of the team thanks you for your prayers for them on the trip as we continue to to get to know Russian culture and pray that our partnership in the gospel with them will continue to be fruitful!

 

Rich GardnerAdventures in Kansk
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Nigeria Evangelism conference 2017!

The Nigeria evangelism conference was a powerful time—The conference was held in a building that seated 1,000, but there were 2000-2500 additional people outside! The theme of the conference was, “The True Gospel”. Each of the speakers spoke about the nature of the true gospel, and warned about alternative gospels (such as the prosperity gospel and the gospel of good works). The prosperity gospel especially has taken root in Nigeria and other West African countries; everyone was greatly encouraged to hear so many wonderful teachings about the true gospel!

FFICM’s staff and volunteers conducted follow-up trainings with the 3000-3,500 evangelists that were there, along with smaller group sessions. Although we had some technical difficulties related to the printing of the materials, everyone was greatly encouraged by the teaching.

The governor of plateau state even showed up with his entire staff! He shut down the government in order to come and attend the conference. 

Rich also spoke on the true gospel on Friday following an all-night prayer vigil with all of the evangelists.

The FFICM team met with the Cameroonian delegation, and the Cameroonians urged FFICM to consider cancelling our post-conference trip to Cameroon, as there were youth from the English-speaking part of Cameroon planning to declare independence in early October. The military had increased its presence, and there was talk of shutting down the borders (which would have meant that the staff would have been trapped in the country, unable to return home.) FFICM decided to reschedule tentatively for November.

Please pray for the evangelists as they will conduct a massive joint outreach in the north at the end of October, and pray also for peace in Cameroon!

Thank you for your prayers and support;our hearts were greatly encouraged by this conference. We are in awe of the love, courage, and devotion to the true gospel shown by all brothers and sisters present–and we pray that you are encouraged with them as well as you are true partners with them in prayer!

Rich GardnerNigeria Evangelism conference 2017!
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God’s Bridge

Bonga is an economically depressed area far out in the wilderness, where there is no running water. They ended up changing accommodations mid-trip, because half the team got tired of having only Rich’s old coffee pot to heat water to bathe with!

Animism is the main competing religion to Christianity; the evangelists from the area told Rich there are over 1,000 witch doctors active. Bonga is well-known for a couple of other reasons as well, it is within a half a mile of where coffee was discovered, and has a beautiful natural bridge called “God’s bridge”. 

When Rich, Roman, Eskendir and Eyasu arrived, their local hosts urged them to come on a walk to see it before the training, saying it was only ten minutes away. They decided to go see it, as Eskendir also told the group that he had been baptized there in secret during communist times!

By the time Rich, Roman, and Eyasu realized it would take much longer than ten minutes, they had already been fighting their way through deep mud down treacherously steep terrain for so long that they did not want to give up. Rich said that this was by far the most physically challenging trip he has ever gone on–and he has hiked over mountains to reach people groups in Nigeria!

Along the way, they also saw a poisonous green snake that their guides told them if it bit any one of them, they would die if they didn’t get help in time.

The bridge was stunning to see, and Rich was glad to have seen it. However, on the trip back up, he fell completely down at last, was covered in mud, and had to be dragged out by the arms by the others. By the time they fought their way up to the training location, they were an hour and a half late. The rest of the team wanted Rich to take time to clean up, but Rich walked straight into class, and said, “Now, the rest of the team may remember it differently…” and proceeded to tell a long tale wherein he singlehandedly pulled all of the other men up the hill of mud, and fought off a poisonous snake to save their lives. The entire class howled with laughter through the story, and the training began with everyone in high spirits.

In Bonga, we had planned for 60 evangelists, but the local church paid for twenty three more of their people to come and join, calling back missionaries and workers from hundreds of miles away. Eyasu has already reported that they have begun training 1,121 church leaders and members in the evangelism and follow up training.

They need prayer as they begin doing this! Please pray for us and for them as we need more resources, more personnel and more funding, to do more trainings in Ethiopia to meet the need, and as they continue to work for the Lord in this challenging area!

Rich GardnerGod’s Bridge
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Eyasu’s report: trainees to reach 2,667!

Our training went very well by God’s grace, though it was so exhausting! Rich’s commitment is very encouraging. I’ve known him since 2007, studying together at Western Seminary, and the more I know him the more I see his commitment and strength.
We had two trainings in two weeks.The first week we trained 81 evangelists. We invited and budged for 60 but church leaders wanted to train more; at their own expense, they added 21. It was so awesome.

The second week we invited 60 again, as it is always our plan to train effectively and to have enough ministers for the area but again, 4 more people came, so we trained 64.

The total number of trainees was 145. When they go back to their assigned areas, they promised to train and disciple immediately, and have already written down the names of 2,667 people that they plan to train and disciple in how to evangelize and follow-up!

At the same time the trainers and trainees will evangelize and bring people to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I discussed with Rich that as we train them how to follow up new believers we have also to follow our trainees up too so that they may do as they have promised.

Please pray for Ethiopia and for all of these committed new trainees!

Rich GardnerEyasu’s report: trainees to reach 2,667!
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Peter’s report: Taraba

In May we went to Takum, where the headquarters of CRCN and RCCN are located, to conduct a refresher training for those we trained in October of last year. Some of the leadership of the churches and denominations were there. The leadership of New life for All also participated throughout the training.

This refresher training opened my eyes to see how much we need to go back to places where we have trained people, to see what they are actually doing, and how they are doing it—and to learn how we can help them. We need to know answers to questions like these: What are the challenges they are encountering as they begin to use the training? How can we help them to overcome some of these challenges they are encountering? What were their plans during the strategic planning and how are they working on achieving them? How can we improve on our trainings or materials? We were able to ask these questions of our trainees in Takum and to help them work through the challenges they were facing.

We had series of obstacles and challenges on the trip.  As we left Jos, after we had picked up all of the seven sets of the follow-up materials, we forgot the Gospel cards in the office! The good thing was that all those who were with us in Takum were people we had trained before, so all of them came with their own materials and that made it easier to teach. But on the second day we discovered that the follow-up materials we had brought had been printed with mistakes—some of the pages had been mixed up. So we had to call Jos so that they could print the materials correctly, and send them to us.

We then left for Jalingo, but on the way, the top gasket of our car blew off, and the car had to spend the night being repaired. We arrived in Jalingo to discover that there had been serious miscommunication between the leadership there and the training schedule had not been arranged—so we had to immediately work to reschedule the trainings for the middle of the week, and split up into two groups.

We started in the first group with just 12 people, but by the time of our short break, there were 26 people. The people that came had all come for the training before. Because of this, it ended up being a refresher training. We asked them to tell us what has been happening with the training they received before. They started by the explaining how they had been going out as individuals to use the materials, but not as a group. We strongly encouraged them to strategize together and to support one another. Those we had trained from CRCN (in Takum) had gone out as a team to use the materials. They were able to plant a church—their ministry was much more effective when they worked together! Also, those who went to Kebbi State with New Life for All for the outreach in October used the materials there. 

Others shared that they have not been using the materials because they did not fully understood how to begin to use them on their own, but with what we have taught them now, they understand how to work together and think strategically, and will be able to effectively use the materials.

 One of the leaders said that he did not actually fully understand the materials when we taught them the last time, but with this second teaching he now understands exactly how we expect him to use the training to evangelize and to work with new believers.

After that week, we went to a different location in Jalingo, where we were to meet pastors from different denominations based on the arrangements we had last year with one of the reverends from Reformed Church of Christ in Nations (RCCN). He was to work on the arrangement with other pastors in his denomination as well as the bishop of the Lutheran church (who was also among the people we trained at Numan in 2015). The bishop was to talk to 20 pastors from his denomination. There was a miscommunication when the man we sent to set the training up went to see Reverend Ande. The second time he went, he did not meet him personally, but left the message with his secretary, who did not deliver the message, and so they were not expecting us. This was why the mobilization was a failure. Also, a part of the United Methodist Church refused to come, because we had invited a faction of the Methodist church which is revolting against their bishop.

With regard to the Methodist faction that is splitting, the General Secretary for New life for All went and talked to the bishop to let him know that we were coming again this time to train pastors from the Methodist Church. But when we arrived at the venue, there was nobody in the venue. So Reverend Ande called some of the leaders of his denomination, and asked them if they could send some of their pastors and evangelists to attend the training starting Wednesday. Also  a man we who came with us from Jos called some his friends from the Redeemed Peoples’ Mission church, and we were able to have 23 people who came from Wednesday to Saturday.

The vice president of RCCN (who is one of those that sent his pastors to be part of the seminar) came again to see how we were doing and how many of his pastors were there. He said, “This is what the church needs now in a time like this”. He wants to speak with us to find a time we can come and do a presentation about our training to the general counsel (of which he and Reverend Ande are members). He wants us to come next year, or at the end of the year to train more than a hundred people. He also said that the RCCN and CRCN together have over a thousand pastors (five hundred in each denomination) that he would like us to train.

After the training, some of the pastors gave their testimonies;

One of them said this seminar is different from any seminar he has attended because this training made him understand that we need to go back to the basics, to the foundational issues of our faith, when working with new believers. He said that this seminar taught him how to relate with new converts. He said, “The materials were very simple, and I learn how to bring my teaching to the new believer in simple terms, the way one would talk to a young child.”

Another pastor said, “I went somewhere and opened the Gospel card, and some people were just looking, and they started coming to me. I started preaching to them, and they all gave their lives to Christ.”

One of them said, “I believe with what I have learned here, my life will never remain the same. From the gospel card through the seven follow-up lessons, the new believer will now not be a foreigner to me. I want to assure this ministry that I will go back and impact the church and the pastors that have not been able to come here.”

One of them said that before they were using a theological strategy in which they tried to impress the new believer with how much they had learned about the faith and how much they knew, but this training showed us how to keep it simple, to keep our teaching at the level of the new believer just as one would approach a new born baby. He said, “This actually changed my perspective, and now I will not over-feed the new believer.” He is among the eight people who will be going to a village where there is no church in order to plant a church there. So he believes that the materials will be of great help to them.

In the same way Rev. Collins said that even though this is his twenty second year in ministry but he has not attended a training like this anywhere, in which people are taught to relate to new believers, and how to translate wha they have learned to a new believer in order to enable them to have assurance in their faith. He said, “I have also learned how to be a model to the new believer. I have already planned to start the training with the elders of the church, the leaders of the agencies in the general church. I want to be sure that every member of the church knows his or her faith in Christ.” 

We then concluded with the presentation of certificates the the prayer of dedication. They also wrote down their phone numbers and emails so that they can communicate with one another. They want to call the group together again some time to hear what is happening with each member.

 

Rich GardnerPeter’s report: Taraba
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Rich (continued)

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700 converts in one meeting, not one of whom remained in the faith…

making JF 1In 2001, Rich and Janice Gardner partnered with the Great Commission Movement to dub the Jesus Film for the Afizere people of Nigeria in their native language. Teams from America came to Nigeria to help show the film in 40 villages in 10 days. The impact seemed to be tremendous. Four thousand people made decisions for Christ. In one village alone, 700 people had come forward.

A month later, Rich returned to this village to see how all the new believers were doing–anticipating that the churches would be full to bursting. He went around the village and asked at every church. He could not find a single convert from the Jesus film showing. He asked the pastors if any of the new believers had been followed up with, and they said no.Watching JF

Rich was grieved and wondered, “What have I done? Will they be less likely to respond to the gospel ever again because they will say, ‘I tried that, and it doesn’t work.’” Rich vowed to never again show the Jesus film without a plan to follow-up new believers.

jesus film showingRich and Janice partnered with Bitrus Dasar from Great Commission Movement, who had also become disillusioned by showing the Jesus Film without an effective follow-up plan. He had seen situations where after they had shown the film in a village three times and had many commit their lives to Jesus…later they could not find even one disciple. 

They decided to show the film again, but this time they trained hundreds of workers from many denominations in follow-up, and picked 52 of their best workers to be in charge of each village where they would show the film. The workers were to meet with the new believers in groups twice a week to help them understand their new faith, for as long as was needed to help them transition into the local congregations where they could receive further discipleship and support. This time there were 5,800 people in classes, and they started ten new churches in addition to swelling the congregations of the existing churches.

Rich and his colleagues were excited—they knew the churches in the area had been strengthened, and they knew that the new believers were well-equipped to grow in their relationship with Christ. All those that had been involved with the training praised God and were greatly encouraged!

Jesus speaks izere

Jesus speaks Izere

Rich GardnerRich (continued)
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