Parent’s Progress 10.03.13

This week we are bringing you a tool from our friends at Simply Youth Ministry on spotting teens (or others) who self harm.

Self-Injury Info For Parents


As with any destructive behavior, if you are unsure how to handle yourself, your child, or the situation, seek immediate help from a professional.


Transition to National Leadership


It has been said a missionary’s job is to work himself out of a job. That’s exactly what is happening in Malawi.

Willson.Family.6.13Missionary Ryan Willson, along with his family, will leave Malawi in December 2013 after serving as principal of Great Commission Bible School, in Lilongwe for four years. Before his departure, Ryan will train Rev. Bern Kalukusha to become the first Malawian principal of the Bible school.

The Willsons’ express their excitement regarding this transition: “We have always prayed that one day the Great Commission Bible School and other key ministries would be led by pastors in the Free Methodist Church of Malawi. It is our strong conviction as missionaries not to be doing jobs that national leaders can do for themselves. God has equipped His church in Malawi, and we believe the Lord will help them to carry out the on-going ministry that has been taking place since the early 80s.”

Picture2Great Commission Bible School’s goal is to train up the next generation of Africa’s church leaders. Designed as a modular school, classes are held four times a year. Each intensive session, lasting a few weeks, offers three courses. Young men and women come from all over the country to this Lilongwe campus. Many individuals, especially those in the northern and southern regions of the country, travel great distances to attend classes.

A total of 45 courses are taught throughout the five-year program which also requires students to be engaged in church planting. Through their courses and experience in evangelism at the Bible school, students become pastors who work to bring about spiritual transformation in their villages.

Great Commission Bible School Evangelism

Great Commission Bible School Evangelism

The school was opened in 1983 as the Malawi Bible School. Established by missionaries Henry Church and Phil Capp, it was designed to match the needs of the Malawi church. The school closed for a year and a half, then re-opened as Great Commission Bible School in October 2006. Over the course of the school’s history, hundreds of teachers from the U.S. have traveled at their own expense to fill the role of Bible or English teacher during one of the modules.

Ryan requests prayer for the school’s new leader, as well as for Rev. Annie Mdazyola who will become the first Malawian coordinator of International Child Care Ministries when Ryan’s wife, Jennifer, leaves that role in December. Pray these leaders “will be a sweet fragrance to those they lead. Pray also for the church, that they will be supportive of these leaders as they carry out the work of the Lord.”

Learn more about the Free Methodist Church in Malawi

View “Learn the Truth,” a video about Great Commission Bible School

Ryan and Jennifer Willson speak of their future plans:

For nearly seven years we have poured our lives into the people in the Free Methodist Church of Malawi. Our children have grown up in Malawi and the Lord has changed us through our time serving here. Africa will always have a place in our hearts. While we love Africa, we have discerned that God wants to send us to another mission field.

When we made the difficult decision to leave Malawi, we did not know where our next place of ministry would be. It is now with great joy in our hearts that we can share Ryan has accepted an Associate Pastor position as the Family Life Pastor at the Tonasket, Free Methodist Church in WA. Some of you may know that Ryan previously served as the Youth Pastor at this church for several years before we moved to Malawi. We are excited for this new assignment and feel blessed to be returning to a place we have previously called “home.”


This article was originally seen on

The Saga Continues

From Vancouver, Washington, I contacted the superintendent of the California Conference (now, Sierra Pacific Conference) to let him know of our intentions to return to our home conference for pastoral ministry.  The Ministerial Appointments Committee thought we would be a good match for the Redwood City Church, about 35 miles south of San Francisco on the west side of San Francisco bay.  This was another congregation that had been through some hard times.  It had declined in numbers significantly since its relocation to its new facilities in the early 1970’s, but there was still a core of committed disciples of the Lord Jesus who wanted to see the church continue in ministry to its community and the world.


Hope Heals Our Broken Dreams


For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4


1 Peter 1:3Romans 5:5

We were out of options the day the sheriff’s car pulled into our driveway. After a series of unfortunate events, things had gone from bad to worse to hopeless.

The officer’s smile did nothing to relieve the discomfort of this dreadful moment. As she handed me the papers, I began to cry. Acknowledging the baby in my arms and the toddler peeking out from behind me, she kindly said, “I’m sorry.”

“Thank you,” I whispered, as I slowly closed the door.


Here’s To The Crazy Ones


I’ve seen the ad below several times, and I’m moved by it every time I see it. As a leader, it’s sometimes hard to see beyond circumstances, trials or roadblocks. Sometimes culture, money and people hold back progress. It’s natural.

As I watched this ad again, I was moved by the people Apple placed in the ad. However, as I listened to the narration and moving music, I created my own commercial in my heart’s eye.

My Crazy Ones

I saw images of Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster in slow motion. Feathered in were Francis Chan and David Platt. There were images of Bishops Matthew Thomas, David Kendall and David Roller, whom I wholeheartedly serve. There are innovators like Steve Fitch and Kevin Austin, who make causes their vocation.  Dr. Reed Sheard is a man who has modeled for me how to balance the head and heart of leadership.


Moving In

This is part 4 of a discipleship series first posted on Light and Life Magazine.


llm_aug13_disc4BY KELLY SOIFER

In my devotional reading, I recently came upon these words: “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18).

In context, Solomon is dedicating the temple, which will house the Ark of the Covenant. This fulfills promises made to King David by the Lord. Solomon’s opening prayer is very moving. I could almost hear the wonder in his voice at the possibility of being able to encounter God so intimately in worship.

Certainly, this sets the stage for the good news as proclaimed in the prologue of the Gospel of John: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

This becomes all the more remarkable when


Going Through

This week we are featuring a series on discipleship from Light and Life Magazine. This is part 3.

llm_aug13_disc3BY KELLY SOIFER

In a recent Harvard Business Review blog post titled “How and Why to Be a Leader (Not a Wannabe),” Umair Haque makes this stunning statement: “We need a new generation of leaders. And we need it now.”

In the first line of this secular article, I detect a hunger for authentic wisdom, moral direction and spiritual meaning. My hunch is confirmed as Haque adds:

“Leadership — true leadership —is a lost art. Leaders lead us not to a place — but to a different kind of destination: to our better, truer selves. It is an act of love in the face of an uncertain world.”

As we think about what it means to be God’s church, living out our call to reveal “the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10), we must consider how to speak into our culture in 2013 and beyond, just as Paul did when he encountered the pagan idols and philosophers on the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17).


Four Simple Words

This week features a series on discipleship first posted at Light and Life Magazine.

llm_aug13_disc2BY KELLY SOIFER

My article in the August issue of Light & Life Magazine [LLM] states, “Jesus’ ministry is distinctive in the effectiveness of His leadership development.”

However, on human terms, that may be hard to discern at first. Don’t forget we are told in Acts 1 that Jesus, after three years of itinerant preaching and ministry, left behind only 120 believers. After the Resurrection and Ascension, they were huddled in the Upper Room, most likely praying with fear and trembling after having seen what happened to their beloved teacher and leader. Would they meet the same fate as Jesus?


Taking a Risk

This week we will share a series of posts on discipleship from Light & Life Magazine.

llm_aug13_discipleshipBY KELLY SOIFER

Nearly 90,000 results appear in the “leadership books” category of While I do not own 90,000 titles, my bookshelf has 17 books on the theme.

Despite this wealth of resources, Jesus’ ministry is distinctive in the effectiveness of His leadership development. For example, in calling the disciples, He says, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people” (Mark 1:17).

The next verse stuns me: “At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Jesus’ leadership development approach appears deceptively simple: He calls; they follow. But there is so much more to it.


Are You Experiencing Neck Pain In Your Ministry?

by Pastor Rick

Three weeks of neck pain. I don’t want to get into any comparison with anyone who has chronic pain that lasts for years. But three weeks of neck pain for me is not common. Three weeks of neck pain can cause some problems.
First, there’s the neck pain. For me, it means three weeks of telling my energetic children they can’t jump on me and use me as a jungle-Rick. It’s three weeks of turning my whole body to face people. And it started out as three weeks of guilt-free non-exercise.