Monday, June 24, 2013

Meet the 20schemes Team: Mez McConnell

Mez McConnell is the pastor of Niddrie Community Church in Edinbrough, Scotland, one of the three churches behind the formation of 20schemes. According to the Scottish government, Niddrie is the most economically deprived scheme in the capitol city and ranks 31st in Scotland on the deprivation scale.

Mez is also the Director of 20schemes in the UK. Once you've listened to Mez' testimony, we think you'll understand how the Lord has fitted him to pastor a scheme church and help plant/revitalize gospel churches throughout the schemes of Scotland.

Mez McConnell's Testimony from 20 Schemes on Vimeo.

If you'd like to know more of Mez McConnell's story, read his book, Is There Anybody Out There?: A Journey from Despair to Hope.

You can learn more about our work with 20schemes here.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Sharing 20schemes with Houston Lake Presbyterian Church


"Give me Scotland or I die!"

This was the fervent prayer of John Knox in the mid-1500s. And Scotland did become a bastion of Christianity, standing firm against religious tyranny and later sending missionaries all over the world to share the gospel.

Sadly, Scotland's rich spiritual heritage is now a distant memory, especially in the schemes. We were privileged to share the mission of 20schemes -- gospel churches for Scotland's poorest -- with Houston Lake Presbyterian Church in Warner Robins, Georgia, this past Sunday. During the School of Discipleship (adult Sunday school), Jeff explained the hopelessness and destructive cycles faced by many living in Scotland's schemes, then he outlined the plan to reach those in need with the gospel by planting gospel churches right in their midst:
  1. Identify 20 schemes as priority areas.
  2. Where possible, identify church revitalization partners in or near those schemes.
  3. Recruit church planters, female outreach workers, and ministry apprentices to send into those schemes.
  4. Develop church partners to support and resource our work in the schemes.
  5. Invest in indigenous leaders by providing training, resources, and support.

After the service, we were able to chat with many in the church family. They were encouraging and asked many thoughtful questions about 20schemes and our work with this ministry. A number of folks also signed up for our e-newsletter, which we hope to begin sending out monthly. We're thankful to Pastor Paul Bankson and the elders for inviting us to share.

Scotland once sent out missionaries to unreached people; now missionaries will be going to unreached people in Scotland and, Lord willing, new leaders will rise up from within Scotland as the Lord works through His Word. Will you partner with us to see this accomplished?

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Joys of Partnership

One of the perqs of working toward partnership development for 20schemes is the opportunity to meet many different people we might not normally get to know, and also to reconnect with folks we haven't talked with in a while. Recently, we've had conversations about 20schemes with a a couple we went to church with seventeen years ago, a former supervisor of Jeff when he was (temporarily) in roofing sales, and a mission-minded newlywed barista at our favorite office-away-from-home.

A couple of weeks ago, our kids helped out at a kids' camp up in North Georgia; it was a good excuse for us to meet up with our friends, Nathan and Christine, who live up in that neck of the woods. We had a great time catching up on their lives, hearing how they are leading their family in the Lord, and sharing our new adventure with them. And it was exciting to hear about two local churches they were investing in, one an established work and the other new. (Wish we would have taken a picture of them!)

The next evening, back in Middle Georgia and still kidless, we were able to spend the evening with Joe and Barbara, dear friends who had encouraged us during a trying and transitional time many years ago. We were encouraged to hear how their (now grown) children are walking with the Lord and how Joe and Barbara are using their empty nest years to invest in eternal things through their local church and community.

Several weeks ago, Jeff and I headed over to the Starbucks located on the campus of Ingleside Baptist Church. We've gotten to know several of the employees there over the past year or so, but that day there was a new barista in town, a barista named Becca.We were excited to hear that Becca and her husband, Philip, have a real heart for missions and are seeking the Lord's direction for their future. And Becca was excited about our involvement in the ministry of 20schemes. We've chatted with Becca several times since then, and she's helping us share the mission of bringing the gospel to the schemes of Scotland. And we were glad to meet her husband, Philip, recently and hear his zeal for bringing the gospel to the unreached.

Each of these couples is enjoying a different season of life right now, but each of them are deliberately invested in gospel work within their sphere of influence where God has placed them at this time... always watchful for further opportunities to share His saving grace.

Are you invested and watchful? Would you partner with us?

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Mercy Ministry: Is it What You Think?

Imagine Jeff's surprise last week when a pastor he'd just met here in Middle Georgia stated that he was already acquainted with the ministry of 20schemes through his friendship with a Scottish pastor, Mark Shenk. Mark is pastor of Duncan Street Baptist Church in the UK and just happens to be on the 20schemes advisory board. Coincidence? I think not!

Turns out that Rodney Queen, pastor of Central Fellowship Baptist Church, had preached in Mark's pulpit and has invited Mark for a visit later this year. Because Rodney's work with his own church mirrors the work of 20schemes in many ways, he was eager to share with his own congregation what Mark had to say about mercy ministry and 20schemes. Here's the video he shared:

Mark Schenk - 20 Schemes from 20 Schemes on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sharing 20schemes with Central Fellowship Baptist Church

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up is bright designs
And works His sov'reign will.
     - William Cowper, 1774
We had the privilege of spending this past Sunday at Central Fellowship Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia.  Jeff and I started our morning in a couples' Sunday School class, while the kids visited the youth department. Shane and Abby Gottwals lovingly shepherd this class and, as is the case in many Sunday School classes, Shane kicked things off by asking for praises and prayer requests. We were soon taken by the obvious missional focus of the folks in the class as they shared about evangelistic and discipleship relationships they were building, within and outside of the church body. We noted that the church seemed particularly and deliberately invested in discipling people with addictive issues and ---- sin. Shane also allowed Jeff some time to share about our ministry.

Jeff shared briefly about 20schemes in the morning service as well, and we enjoyed getting to know the Coats family over Mexican food (an essential to building any friendship). Sunday evening, Jeff was able to preach the gospel. He shared that while we seldom run into a demon-possessed person (Mark 5:1-20) in our everyday lives, we have all dealt with sin-possession in our own lives -- and there is only one cure: a saving encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. After the message, Jeff shared the video testimony of Paul, who now wants to share his faith in the One who saved him with those who don't know.

After the service, as we mingled with the church family, Jeff chatted with a couple of guys who had been blessed -- and saved -- through the addiction ministry of this church. We couldn't help but think of the parallels to the work in the schemes of Scotland in ministering to the sin-possessed there. It was a great joy and privilege to fellowship with this church body on Sunday, hear of how the Lord is working in their midst, and share how they might become involved in gospel work in Scotland.


We're very thankful for the gracious invitation of Pastor Rodney McQueen, who (unbeknownst to us) had already been aware of the work of 20schemes through his friendship with our board member, Mark Schenk. God works in a mysterious way, indeed.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

From Living Among the Dead to Life Everlasting

This past Sunday, Jeff preached the power of Christ to subdue and save a demon-possessed man who was living among the dead (Mark 5). We'd like for you to meet Paul, a man from the schemes of Scotland who also once lived among the dead. In this video, Paul shares his testimony as he is baptized at Niddrie Community Church.

When Jeff visited Scotland this past February, he had the privilege of meeting Paul (along with several other newly saved schemers). Paul had just found a volunteer position -- his first job. He was filled with the joy of his salvation and the joy of being useful. And like the former tomb dweller of Mark 5, his joy overflows as he shares the life-changing power of Christ with everyone he meets.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Sharing 20schemes with Cathedral of Christ Baptist Church

This weekend, Jeff had the privilege of sharing both the gospel and the mission of 20schemes with Cathedral of Christ Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia. He preached from Mark 5, sharing the seemingly hopeless story of the demon-possessed, self-destructive, cast-off tomb dweller and how an encounter with Christ radically changed his life. Jesus went straight to the root of the man's problem -- sin and evil -- with just a few words. The demons recognized and submitted to Jesus' authority and left at his command. Those who witnessed the immediate life transformation of this man had no capacity to understand what had just happened. They responded out of fear, begging Jesus to leave the area. But the man, who had a new desire to be a Christ follower, responded out of obedience. He was a man with a new master and a new mission. This new believer went to tell everyone he knew about the amazing freedom that Jesus had given to him.

 Cathedral of Christ's pastor, Monty Febuary, knows the transforming power of Christ firsthand in his own life. Jesus saved him from his own self-destructive life, and now he proclaims this truth to others. And as I listened to Jeff preach today's message, I was reminded of another man who once lived in a cemetery before he encountered the saving power of Christ in his own life. Once dead in his sins, Paul is now sharing the goodness of God with all who will listen in the scheme community of Niddrie. We'll share his testimony in our next post -- you won't want to miss it.

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