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INC World News - June 2018 Part 1 of 2
If you are in the UK, you are enjoying the start of beautiful summer sunshine and if you are in Australia it is now approaching winter. If you are in Egypt you have sunshine all the time, while in Bangladesh you get rain much of the time. Always remember that whatever the season, it is always the right time to advance the kingdom, because NOW is the day of salvation! Wherever you are, let’s make the most of every opportunity.
It is my privilege to travel to many places, now totalling 91 different countries. In most countries where there are INC churches I have seen first-hand and verify the amazing work you are doing. Your INC family is growing continuously. Thank you for your labour of love to advance the work. You are deeply appreciated!
There is so much news from each church and every country. This is only a brief report of a few places – part 1 of 2. Even in two newsletters all cannot be reported.
In March 1993 Neil Miers, then International President of COC, laid hands on myself and Ruth, commissioning us to pioneer a church base in the United Kingdom, raise up leaders and plant churches in this nation. On 8th June 1993 the Schmierer family arrived in the UK on an ancestral visa, as Ashley’s grandmother was born in the UK.
In August 1993 began a great move of God and Brighton’s CityCoast Church was planted. Many phenomenal people joined and we are forever thankful that God’s grace was with us in such a great way. For an exciting and fulfilling 25 years we have lived in this country, privileged to be called by God for such a purpose. Now with many churches planted and amazing memories, thousands of lives have been transformed across the UK and beyond. Over the past few years Ruth and I knew the time had come to transition the UK leadership to the next God-appointed leaders, so in March this year Pastors Julian & Sharon Melfi became the leaders of INC United Kingdom.
Julian and Sharon joined COC/INC in January 1996 and later planted London Citygate Church. This couple had already been in ministry for several years and felt called by God to join this growing movement. Julian has served on the INC UK National Executive for many years and is renowned as a man of faith and excellence. Citygate Church is now a thriving, growing church with a great testimony. It is a blessing to know that INC UK is in good hands. Ruth and I continue to minister for this movement in the UK and across the world, while living in United Kingdom.
Photo: UK leadership transition from Ps Ashley & Ruth Schmierer to Ps Julian & Sharon Melfi - London
Egypt: INC across the Arab nations is led by Fakhry.Hanna with an influential church base in Cairo, Egypt. Recently the Egypt church held an evangelism conference with 1,100 people and saw over 500 decisions for Christ. Then in Upper (Southern) Egypt, making the most of every opportunity, they held a 5-day outreach at the cultural ‘Virgin Mary Feast’ where 1,500 attended daily meetings and many came to Christ.
The Cairo church organised a special day for orphans and street children. 1,000 children were given clothes, food and a Bible booklet.
Syria: Syria’s INC work is growing with the purchase and renovation of a church building. During the Syrian civil war two of our people were killed but now the work is becoming very strong. We praise God for His grace over the church through this very difficult time.
Sudan: A couple have recently been sent from Egypt to Sudan to establish a church in that nation.
Photo: Ps Fakhry.Hanna & Mary - Egypt
Ross & Kathy Abraham lead INC Australia and the Oceania region.
Ross reports: 2018 has seen a strong start for INC in Australia. We launched a brand new structure and have seen a high degree of lean-in from pastors across the country in response. In the words of Deputy Chairman, Geoff Woodward, “We are building new wineskins and believing God will pour in the new wine.”
Some other highlights include:
• A church in South-East Queensland received a significant donation a couple of months after starting to believe for their own building to buy. This allowed them to buy outright and fit out!
• Red Frogs had a presence safeguarding athletes at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
• Global Care is active in Tathra after severe bushfires.
• Elevation Church planted a church in Yamba, NSW.
• Several churches are adding additional services throughout the week.
• Easter attendance saw significant growth across Australian INC churches, while the national church trend declines.
Klemen & Carol Vidic, our leaders in Slovenia, report that a lady was sent home from hospital with last stage cancer. The cancerous tumour in Tarin's head had already spread throughout her body, so her medics said it was best to go home to say goodbye to her husband and two teenage daughters.
Klemen was holding a healing school and advertised it on TV that day. Tarin saw the advertisement with Klemen inviting people to come to his healing school, due to start the next day. She asked Klemen when would be the best time to come, as she could only stay a few minutes because her body was so weak. Klemen told her to come at the start, believe God for her healing and stay for the whole school. That is exactly what happened. She came 10 minutes early, looking almost dead. Knowing she may not survive the 45 minute lesson, Klemen went straight to her, laid his hands on her and commanded healing in Jesus’ name. She fell to the floor, then stood up—completely healed.
The next day this grateful lady brought her daughters to the healing school. They were so happy, because they had their mother back!
Photos: Ps Klemen & Carol Vidic - Slovenia
Tarin testifies to being healed of cancer, Slovenia
Bongani & Lindiwe Dumane lead INC’s work from their Pretoria base, Dominion Life City Church. They are an amazing couple whom I have known for many years. Bongani is gifted in engaging the church with relevance in spheres of influence in society. Following are two of the many things Bongani & Lindiwe do to achieve this.
Every year since 2014 they have held a 12 month Leadership Academy, focused on training leaders and building capacity within the church. Numbers in this academy have grown each year, now also attracting students from other local churches. A highlight of this Leadership Academy has been partnership with a private company that trains executives in government and corporate South Africa. This company is the sole licence holder in Africa for a US-based training agency. By this company 30 people were fully sponsored through the training program with accreditation in leadership development.
Also Dominion Life City Church hosted a strategic business seminar to which the government Department of Small Business Development sent a delegation to help facilitate. The main event speaker was the CEO of Gauteng Enterprise Propeller – Provisional Economic Development Agency. The main purpose for the seminar was to bring small business people into an environment of networking and empowerment.
Photos: Ps Bongani & Lindiwe Dumane - Pretoria, South Africa
Ps Bongani congratulates a graduate of the Leadership Academy
INC Algeria’s Spring of Life Church at Makouda is led by Nourredine & Cherifa Benzid. They pioneered this work that now has over 600 members and saw 50 added to the church over the past year. Their story is inspiring—to people who know them, they are living legends of faith. They have had a difficult journey, both in their personal lives through the death of their daughter and in ministry enduring much opposition. However, their thriving church is now the second largest in Algeria. Once meeting in a cramped, dilapidated building, our Algerian family has worked hard and now owns a multi-functional church facility. Nourredine is one of the happiest people you could meet. Ever since I have known him, he says, “Prayer is my oxygen, without it I die.”
Nourredine says to all in INC: “We believe we are so blessed to have you as partners. We can never thank you enough for everything you are doing for us. I believe our Lord Jesus Christ will reward you for every minute you have spent praying for us, for every thought, for every word of encouragement and for every penny you have sown into this small part of God’s Kingdom in Algeria. Thank you brothers and sisters. We also pray for you. We love you.”
Photos: Ps Nourredine & Cherifa Benzid with son, Zakarie
Spring of Life Church - Makouda, Algeria
Christopher & Protikkha Sarkar are amazing people who lead our Bangladesh work. I have been there twice in the past year. At a pastors’ and leaders’ day it was remarkable to see the depth of quality in the leaders Christopher has built. INC is one of the largest and fastest growing church movements in Bangladesh.
INC Bangladesh update:
- Total number of churches: 369
- INC church membership: 69,200
- In the past 6 months
- 3,200 won for Christ
- 23 new churches planted
- 38 water baptisms with at least 120 each time (from Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist communities)
INC Bangladesh is very active in bringing hope to vulnerable people. This involves rescuing homeless children and educating those from the poorest families to release them from the poverty cycle.
For many years they have operated three Hope House orphanages for many children and for twenty-five years they have prayed for a facility that they could call home. In the past six months, with the help of an INC UK businessman land has been purchased. In the last two months, four feet of land-fill has been added to raise the level beyond the annual flood zone. Construction of a large three-story, multipurpose accommodation and training facility will commence later this year. The church also runs four schools, educating 539 children.
Bangladesh is the country most affected by climate change, resulting in increased flooding each year. In July 2017 Bangladesh faced a devastating flood—the worst for many years. Many INC church buildings were washed away and thousands of INC families became homeless and scattered. INC Bangladesh was able to distribute urgent supplies to many flood victims who are now slowly rebuilding their lives.
Photos: Ps Christopher & Protikkha Sarkar with son, David - Bangladesh
Ps Ashley Schmierer with school children - Bangladesh
INC’s leader for South America, Maickel Caroca reports:
“God has aroused a great revival in our churches in South America, where the work is spreading like wild fire to many new countries. INC has a strong foothold in this continent.”
Chile: In April Maickel & Romina Caroca opened their new church auditorium in Valparaíso, Chile. It was packed beyond seating capacity on the opening night. This is certainly one of the most influential churches in the nation.
Maickel works with an exceptional team of leaders across South America. INC’s leader for Chile, Jaime de la Melena, reports that new churches are being planted and weekly many people are coming to Christ. Our Chile worship team is now so renowned that they are being asked to minister at other conferences across South America.
Argentina: Guillermo (Gary) & Cintia Flores, INC Argentina leaders, recently hosted Argentina's national conference at Buenos Aires. Many leaders from other South American nations were present with reports of impacted lives. Every year Cintia hosts an influential South American women’s conference, attracting women from numerous nations.
Photo: South American pastors with Australia's Ps Ross Abraham and Ps Peter Pilt at INC Argentina Conference 2018
Peru: In Peru Luis Estefo reports that, despite economic problems in this nation, they are growing and will soon expand to other cities. He ministers through Global Care to needy people and delivers God’s Word of revival to seeking hearts of the people of Peru.
Brazil: Ricardo & Simone Figueiredo, INC leaders in Brazil, are experiencing a move of God with hundreds of people at churches of Rio de Janeiro and Petropolis.
Photo: Ps Maickel Caroca and Ps Ricardo Figueiredo minister at INC Brazil Conference - Influence 2018
Colombia: INC is positively impacting Colombia, a nation renowned for crime and drug problems. Our leader, Marcos Vidal, now has seven church locations across this nation.
Venezuela: Venezuela is a nation in political and economic crisis with an inflation rate of over 400%. Juan José Soteldo reports that Global Care is demonstrating the compassion of Christ through feeding starving people. In areas of desperate need, they have witnessed notable miracles of provision.
Dominican Republic: In the Dominican Republic INC’s Jeremiah King reports, “We have a strong base in Santo Domingo and we are now opening another church in Punta Cana.”
Ecuador: INC Ecuador leader, José Daniel Pino, has developed a training model of education. God has opened effective doors through which José now works with 900 pastors across Ecuador. INC’s church in Quito has experienced phenomenal growth over the past six months.
Ps Maickel Caroca writes:
“The nations of Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile will come together at our 2019 South American Conference. “Go” conference will be held in Valparaíso Chile, where all the world is invited!
The work in Thailand, led by Jonathan & Judy Vickers, continues to grow with new areas of opportunity presenting themselves.
The headquarters and mother church, situated in Chiang Mai, is experiencing new growth in both the Thai and international communities throughout this strategic city of northern Thailand. New inroads and relationships in the ex-pat community are providing key outlets for the Gospel through many specialist groups forming to meet needs across the city. The COC/INC Bangkok city churches are also experiencing tremendous growth among college and university students, as they are being reached by on-fire believers.
The national expansion program of COC/INC Thailand has launched several new city churches over the past year with considerable fruit. Numerous new outreaches are developing, as many aspects of the vision combine together to focus on communities with desperate needs for both the Gospel of Christ and practical assistance through welfare-based projects. COC/INC Chiang Mai supplies a Bible to each new believer, as intercession teams continue to press in for more of God’s presence and more people won for Christ.
COC/INC recently increased its CATCH programs, (Community Anti-Trafficking and Crisis Help) with new full-time intervention workers, specialist safe houses and prevention teams.
The new Mae Chaem Community assistance and Training Center is in its final stages of completion. Preparations are underway for the new programs and ministries that will utilize the new property, including a ministry training school for regional pastors and leaders, as well as medical, health and hygiene community projects.
Photo: New facility at Mae Chaem, Thailand 2018
Solomon Islands: On 30 April, 33 students from Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and PNG commenced this year’s Balasuna School of Ministries. This is the first time in 20 years that international students have come to the Balasuna School.
Murray Townsend and some volunteers, including teams from Elevation Church on the Gold Coast, built a new toilet and shower block for the students.
Photo: Ps Murray Townsend, daughter Madi, Denaye & Jacob Grobler (Beenleigh) with young Solomon Islanders, November 2017
Fiji: Sevu Cakau, INC National Chairman of Fiji, recently returned from crusades in the northern islands of Fiji. There 100 people made decisions for Christ and two new INC churches were planted.
The COC College students and staff in Fiji were excited to see one of their distance education students win a gold medal at the recent Commonwealth Games, held at Australia’s Gold Coast. Fiji's Eileen Cikamatana claimed the gold medal for weight lifting in the women's 90kg division—Fiji’s fourth medal in Commonwealth Games history!
Photo: Eileen Cikamatana, Fiji Gold Medalist, 2018 Commonwealth Games
Natural disasters in the South Pacific
Tonga: Tropical Cyclone Gita swept through Tonga on 03 February, flattening buildings and causing severe flooding. Some INC churches in New Zealand and Australia responded quickly with funds to assist the Nuku’alofa church, led by Ps Peni Mafi, to purchase essential supplies of food and water.
The church building that had survived the storm was used as a shelter for families whose houses were flooded.
Papua New Guinea: On 25 February, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake near Tari in the Southern Highlands had a disastrous effect on a large area. Huge landslides buried villages and many people died; buildings were destroyed and roads were blocked.
Ps Ben Solu from Mendi reported damage around his town and that two COC/INC church buildings at Lake Kutubu had collapsed.
INC Conference: 10-12 July 2018
Many INC International leaders will attend this year’s Australia/Oceania conference.
You can register online https://inc.org.au/about/events/2018-inc-conference/
INC faith legends mentioned in this newsletter will be there. This is your opportunity to feel the strength of the movement across the world and meet these international leaders.
INC International Transition
In March 2019 I will stand aside as INC International President after working in this role for more than ten years. For the past three years I have felt God’s Spirit guiding this change. Other INC International leaders and I are currently looking at the best way forward to lead our growing movement.
INC is Ruth’s & my family, so we look forward to continuing to serve this great movement for many years to come. Our future role will be more as a father and mother within the international movement, rather than as strategic leaders.
Words cannot express the tremendous honour and privilege that we have enjoyed. It is ironic that 43 years ago I forbade Ruth to attend COC/INC for seven years, until God opened my eyes and I was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Over the past 35 years, my experience has been truly diverse—from sleeping on hut floors with no mattress to places more like a palace; I have taught thousands of leaders and trained pioneers; I have witnessed God’s love reaching countless lost people and I’ve seen His power work astounding miracles.
From one founding church in Brisbane, Australia, Ruth and I have watched this outstanding movement grow from strength to strength across the world. We thank God for His grace and for the many people along the way who helped mould our ministry.
INC family, we love you all. You are amazing!
Ashley & Ruth
INC International President