March Prayer Points

March 4th, 2015

Thank you for taking the time and effort to stand with us in prayer for the needs of Vision Nationals. Yours may be an unseen role, but it is critically important to the continuing success of our ministry.

Apart from God hearing and answering the persistent, believing prayers of His people, there’s really no way to account for all that God has done during our 23-year history. It is true, just as James said it was, that the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

THIS MONTH, PLEASE PRAY FOR…

The youth of our churches. Though much has been written and said about India becoming the youngest country in the world by 2020, we are seeing the effects of that demographic change firsthand. So just a few weeks ago we convened a youth summit, the first of its kind, for our churches in Vizag. Sixty-five teenagers joined us for a day devoted entirely to encouraging them in their faith. The response was extraordinary. God began a great work in many of their hearts, and we continue to hear stories of just how impactful the event was. Pray for our youth. They are the future leaders of India, and we thank God for the opportunity to influence them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The construction of new churches. There are two church buildings currently under construction, with plans to break ground on at least a dozen more in 2015. Pray that God will provide the financial resources we need to build these new facilities. Our hope and prayer is that each new building we erect becomes a place where people can encounter the risen Christ.

Our Tokyo-based partners, Joey and Yisel Zorina. Joey and Yisel are in the early stages of planting a church in Japan’s largest city. Pray for them as they endeavor to proclaim and demonstrate the Good News of Jesus among the Japanese, the second-largest unreached people group in the world. And pray that the Gospel will take root and grow in the hearts and lives of those who participate in their upcoming outreach events on March 8, April 5, and June 6.

The nationals we train and educate. Through Master’s College of Theology, week-long conferences, and regional training events, we equip hundreds of men and women for ministry every year. And for more than two decades, God has graciously sustained this aspect of our work. As we prepare to make make some much-needed changes and improvements to our equipping ministry, please keep us in your prayers. We long for God to be glorified in all that we say and do.

Master’s Village. Though we’ve been involved in transforming the lives of children for almost 20 years, we know that our work is far from over, that God has more for us to do, and we are genuinely excited about what lies ahead. The God of orphans has not been silent. In fact, in recent months He’s been inviting us to expand our ministry to India’s vulnerable, abandoned, and orphaned children. Pray that we would continue to be responsive to His voice.

India. We consider it a great privilege to make disciples of Jesus Christ in this context, and we are so humbled that God has called us to serve Him here. Pray that God would be pleased to continue building His church through us. And please keep our pastors, their families, and their congregations in your prayers. They face many challenges as they extend God’s kingdom into the unreached areas of India.

Our church planting ministry. Every month new churches are forming in the states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Please pray that God will provide the resources needed to keep up with the demands of this ever-expanding branch of our ministry. And pray for our pastors and their families as they venture out in faith, bringing the Good News of Jesus to those who so desperately need to hear it. Our prayer is that in the months and years to come thousands will hear and respond to the Gospel as a result of their obedience.

Sudhakar, Ravi, and Prakash. After recent hospitalizations, Sudhakar, Ravi, and Prakash have all returned home, but they remain very sick. Please ask God to restore each of them to full health, and pray for their families as they care for them. Pray, too, for our churches and pastors as they minister to the needs of those who are sick and dying.

Our ministry to children. Right now there are ten children from our child sponsorship program enrolled in college. Three of them will be graduating in the next two months, two with degrees in engineering and one with a degree in theology. Please pray for our kids. Education is a lifeline for those trapped in poverty. Our prayer is that we would be in a position to care for, educate, and empower hundreds more children in the coming years.

The wisdom and strength to carry out our mission. As we continue to plant churches, train nationals, and care for the most vulnerable we are desperate for God’s empowering presence, for the wisdom and wherewithal to carry out our mission. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Join us in asking God for the strength we need to accomplish His will.

Let me just end this month’s prayer letter by saying thank you for your love and support. We couldn’t do what we do without you. We are humbled and grateful that you have chosen to partner with us.


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Why Japan? Why Not Japan.

March 2nd, 2015

As part of our Ten Thousand Churches initiative, Joey and Yisel Zorina are in the early stages of planting a church in Tokyo, Japan. We are thrilled to have them on board, and we can’t commend them to you highly enough. It is an honor for us to feature this post, written by Joey, here on our website. It is our hope that you’ll begin praying and giving so that Joey and Yisel can establish a vibrant, Gospel-centered church in Tokyo.

*****

tokyoA few days before I first set my foot on Japanese soil in September 2004, a friend of mine asked: “Why Japan?” In all honestly, I could barely give adequate answers apart from the fact that God had called me, and that I knew it intuitively, along with confirmations from His Word and affirmations from my church leaders. There’s no doubt that Japan is leading technologically and materially rich when compared to other countries, but the spiritual needs are often unseen. Like every country in the industrialized world Japan has its own share of social problems despite all of its advances in various fields. The truth is that Japanese people are made in the image of God, and they are the 2nd largest unreached people group in the world, with less than 1% of the total population Christian.

Tokyo is an influential major global strategic city.

It is estimated that 5.5 million people move into cities every month. By 2050, the world will be nearly 70% urban. People move into cities faster than churches do. And Tokyo is the world’s most populous metropolitan area. As of May 2014, it has a population of 13.35 million and is key to reaching the rest of Asia. Also, there are at least 25 unchurched cities in Japan, where there is not a single church serving as a lighthouse for those living in spiritual darkness (not to mention the smaller towns and inakas, or rural areas). Besides, Tokyo is a city center where people worship money, education, wealth and power. The Gospel is much needed in this great city.

Japan’s low birthrate, aging population and its future.

The ongoing aging and decreasing population in Japan could trigger profound changes. Over 25 percent of the Japanese population are now 65 years or older. And 20-year-olds this year made up only 0.99% of the population. That figure is hardly enough to meet the needs of the society and economy, much less keep up with the nation’s pension system. It is estimated that in 2025, 20-year-olds will make up only 0.88 percent of the population.

Chances are that the government may open up and allow large numbers of foreign workers to come to Japan. Meanwhile, if the relatively small but powerful ultra-nationalist groups gained control, Japan could possibly become very hostile to the Christian faith. If the ultra-nationalists group prevailed, legalized persecution of Christians could possibly return. Currently, missionaries can freely receive “religious visas” to work in Japan but this could change if the ultra-nationalists gained power. I agree with what a fellow missionary said that, “We need to prepare….[and] for the church to thrive in these conditions, we need a contextualized Gospel for Japan that is not perceived as ‘foreign’ to Japan….”

Suicide, hikikomori, overwork, and a pervasive sense of gloom.

The suicide rate for Japan is about 60 percent higher than the average globally. For more than a decade, 30,000 people committed suicide every year. Thankfully, over the last 3 years this number has dropped just slightly. But even with a modest drop in the suicide rate, today alone more than 70 people will take their own lives.

And suicide is now the leading cause of death among men aged 20-44 and women aged 15-34. While Tokyo certainly has the highest number of suicides due to its staggering population, Iwate Prefecture (affected by the triple disaster of 2011) recorded the highest rate in 2013. The most common reasons for suicide are divorce, debt and bankruptcy.

Beyond the staggering suicide rate, a recent poll by an online market research firm found out that of those turning 20 years old this year, only 34.4 percent felt optimistic about Japan’s future. Few know what they want to do for a living. It’s as if they’ve reached adulthood and their lives have stalled. Furthermore, there are approximately 1 million hikikomori (modern hermits or shut-ins) in Japan, representing at least 20% of all male adolescents, or 1% of the total population. Millions are socially withdrawn and spiritually lost.

Work, too, has become enormously burdensome. In some cases people die of karoshi, which is a Japanese term used to refer to people who die of exhaustion due to overwork. Though some measures have been taken to ensure that employers do not abuse their employees through overwork, we still hear horrendous stories of overwork from our people. The corporate demands can literally be life-threatening. Despite these pressures, we have great hopes for Japan in the power of the cross. As a veteran missionary friend wrote,

“Japan’s epic disaster in March of 2011 was a huge catalyst for change in relation to the Gospel. Due to the way thousands of Christian volunteers responded, the general perception of Christians became far more positive. The presence and spirit of Christian volunteers was noticed and much appreciated by survivors. Remarkably, almost 4 years later, many Christian volunteers continue to reach out to those affected by the disaster.”

Young people, especially, need to be reached with the Gospel.

The average age of a pastor in Japan is well over 60 years, and there is often no younger generations to replace them. Young people need older and godly men and women to lead them into adulthood. They need imperfect but godly Gospel-driven role models in the home, workplace, community and the church. Sadly, some churches have only about 10 members, and many do not have pastors. A church with more than 100 active members is considered a flourishing ministry. Due to the smallness of some churches, there is also lack of financial support for pastors from their congregations, and so pastors often have to work other jobs. Having another job in a hard working culture like Japan, where overwork is not uncommon, can be spiritually draining when coupled with the demands of pastoral ministry. A pastor friend, in another prefecture, had to do pulpit supply for a smaller church while pastoring his congregation. And a few years ago I had to fill in for one 80-year-old pastor, who was looking for a younger Japanese pastor to succeed him. But his successor turned out to be another older man only slightly younger than him. This is not uncommon in Japan.

TheBridgeHaving said all this, it is indeed an exciting time to serve in Tokyo. I work two-part time jobs, while leading our church plant, which is still at an early stage. The timeline and process for church planting in Japan are slower than in other countries due to the spiritual climate and hard cultural soil. Spiritual warfare is very real here, but our authority is in the name of Christ and in His Word. Our hope rests on the One who promised that He would build His Church — over which the gates of Hades shall not prevail (Matt. 16: 18). My wife Yisel is working full-time as a kindergarten teacher in a secular school. We’re grateful that four of her co-workers, including two managers, have also joined our community and are regularly hearing the Gospel. We currently have about 10 non-Christians coming regularly to our tiny apartment, and we are in touch with about 60 people more through our outreach events. Though the soil is hard, many have heard the Gospel and their responses have not been negative. Even those who are a little skeptical have not rejected our community or us. It is hard for a rich nation to enter the Kingdom of God, but with God all things are possible (Matt. 19: 23-26).

Would you please consider partnering with us with your prayers and monthly giving?  

  1. Please pray for our weekly home gathering where we share meals, open the Word, pray, worship and fellowship; and our life on life discipleship, etc…
  2. Please pray for The Bridge music outreach to Jazz musicians, their friends and families coming up on March 8th to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the 3/11 triple disaster.
  3. Please pray for The Bridge Easter gathering on April 5th and The Bridge Live on June 6th.
  4. Please pray for gospel-centered churches to come alongside us and partner with us.
  5. Please pray for more laborers to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel in Japan.
  6. Finally, please pray for the name of God to be glorified among the Japanese in Tokyo and beyond.

Feel free to write to us — a note letting us know that you’re praying for us is a huge encouragement. You can also connect with us on Facebook and learn more about what we’re doing in Tokyo by visiting our website. If you would like to receive email updates please sign up for our monthly newsletters and forward it to others you think might be interested. Thank you so much.


If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to support the Zorina’s work in Tokyo, you can do so via our online giving page. When prompted, simply choose “Zorina Support” from the drop-down menu.

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A Church for Kalvapalli

February 23rd, 2015

To date we’ve planted more than 500 churches in South Asia, and by God’s grace we hope to plant thousands more. We’ve also trained hundreds of pastors since our inception. Equipping indigenous leaders, many of whom are first-generation Christians, is in our DNA — it’s central to who we are. And we wholeheartedly embrace James’ definition of true religion and seek to practice it throughout our network of ministries.

If you were to distill Vision Nationals down to its essence what you’d find is a ministry committed to bringing the Gospel to the nations through the local church. We are a movement of first and second generation Christians eager to proclaim and demonstrate the Good News of Jesus among the least reached and least resourced people on earth.

It is not an easy thing to establish a church in a community with no known Christian presence. Many of our pastors experience varying degrees of hostility and opposition as they begin sharing the Gospel in a new place. It is not uncommon for the saving message of Jesus to be perceived as a threat. Stories of persecution, even martyrdom, have garnered international attention in one state where we work. Planting churches in a context like India is a challenging, rewarding, and sometimes dangerous endeavor, but the faith of our pastors compels them to make disciples no matter how difficult the circumstances.

Kalvapali Church

Kalvapalli Church Construction Site

One such pastor is Madhu Naik. Though he lives in a neighboring town with his wife and two young children, Madhu felt called by God to go to a nearby village called Kalvapalli. He began sharing the Gospel with villagers, and in a short amount of time dozens of people began to confess that Jesus is Lord. A church quickly grew around this confession, and before long there were more than 40 people worshipping Jesus every Sunday. It became clear that the congregation would need its own building, so Madhu approached us and asked for financial assistance so that he could begin building a church in the village. Moved by his story and his faithfulness, we quickly gave Madhu’s project the green light, and today a church is being built in Kalvapalli.

Now numbering more than 60 people, Kalvapalli Church continues to grow. It is our prayer that in the months and years to come their building will be filled to capacity and become a testament to God’s grace in the predominantly Hindu community in which it’s being built.

The exponential growth of our church planting ministry has created an extraordinary opportunity to give towards the building of new churches. In most cases, a new church, like the one being built in Kalvapalli, costs $5,000 to build. Typically the pastor oversees construction of the building, and the congregation makes a small, but sacrificial contribution towards the project. We are then able to provide a generous grant so that the building materials can be purchased and construction can commence. With more than 40 churches waiting to be built, your tax-deductible donation to the Church Building Support fund can make a huge difference on the ground.


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Inspired by Valentine, Loving Persecuted Christians

February 14th, 2015

Despite its commercial success, Valentine’s Day wasn’t conceived in a brainstorming session at Hallmark’s corporate headquarters in Kansas City. According to Common Prayer, the story goes something like this:

A Christian priest in Rome, Valentine was known for assisting Christians persecuted under Claudius II. After being caught marrying Christian couples and helping Christians escape the persecution, Valentine was arrested and imprisoned. Although Emperor Claudius originally liked Valentine, he was condemned to death when he tried to convert the emperor. Valentine was beaten with stones, clubbed, and, finally, beheaded on February 14, 269. In the year 496, February 14 was named as a day of celebration in Valentine’s honor. He has since become the patron saint of engaged couples, beekeepers, happy marriages, lovers, travelers, young people, and greetings.

Globally it’s estimated that 200 million Christians currently live under persecution — that’s 1 out of every 10 Christians worldwide. And in the most hostile environments, the threat of martyrdom is constant. In fact, Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that 100,000 Christians now die every year because of their faith — that’s 11 believers every hour. Let that sink in. What that means is that by the time I finish researching and writing this post more than two dozen Christians will have been killed.

Knowing that Christians are the most persecuted people on the planet, what can we do? First of all, we can pray fervently for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Intercession is the most powerful form of advocacy. There is nothing else like it. We can also give generously to organizations that are serving the persecuted church.

Pastors Pradeep and Marsel

Our own efforts to plant churches among the unreached peoples of India have been met with intense resistance. Many of our pastors, their families, and the congregations they serve have experienced persecution. Some are living through it right now. Pastors Marsel and Pradeep come immediately to mind. These men and their families are suffering immensely because of their faith. It’s an almost unimaginable existence, one that we can barely fathom in the West, but they press on, unbroken. When I met them last November, I held back tears as they shared their stories. Persecution, and what it means to endure in the face of it, became so much more real to me that day. It was something I’ll never forget.

This Valentine’s Day, as you enjoy the company of those you love, remember to pray for those who are being persecuted — Marsel, Pradeep, Sirendra, and millions of others, each of whom is our brother or sister in Christ. Like the humble priest who came to the aid of those who were suffering under Claudius, do what you can. It wouldn’t hurt to take a few of those dollars you’re going to spend on chocolate or flowers and make a donation to an organization that serves the persecuted church.


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Master’s Village: Hope and a Future for India’s Poorest Children

February 3rd, 2015


India’s on track to become the youngest country in the world by 2020, and extreme poverty continues to be an extraordinary challenge, with 33% of Indians living on $1.25 or less a day. Building on our strong history of making a difference in the lives of India’s poorest children, our hope and prayer is that through Master’s Village we can be in a position to care for, educate, and empower hundreds more in the coming years. We envision Master’s Village becoming a place of refuge for the most vulnerable, yet potential-laden demographic in all of India — children who come from materially poor families or who have no family at all.

Filmed on location in India by the generous and creative folks at Let There Be, this brief, inspiring film shares more about how you can be a part of bringing hope to India’s poorest children.


Since 1992, Vision Nationals has been fulfilling the Great Commission in India. Through your prayers and financial gifts God has graciously sustained our work.

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Multiplying Your Impact Through Asset-Based Giving

February 2nd, 2015

National Christian FoundationVision Nationals is now partnered with National Christian Foundation to handle all donations of stock, mutual funds, restricted securities, and all other asset-based giving, including real estate. NCF is the largest Christian Community Foundation in the country and facilitates all stock donations for Vision Nationals at no cost. Giving stock to support Vision Nationals is now easier than ever before!

Why Give Stock?

By giving appreciated stocks or mutual funds to Vision Nationals — instead of writing checks — you’ll pay less tax, give more, improve your personal cash flow, and have the opportunity to rebalance your portfolio…tax free!

For More Information

To give stock or other securities to Vision Nationals, please contact Tom Ward at tom@visionnationals.org or 302-437-5251 for stock transfer information. For other unique ways to support our work, watch this brief video from National Christian Foundation.


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We Can’t Do This Alone

January 30th, 2015

vn_blog_need_your_help_3

As we prepare, by faith, for our next season of ministry in India, we are thinking and praying a lot about what it means for us to impact future generations. Though we’ve been involved in transforming the lives of children for almost two decades, we know that our work is far from over, that God has more for us to do, and we are genuinely excited about what lies ahead. From where we stand, the possibilities seem endless. But there is one major hurdle that we need your help to overcome.

Over the next two years what we’d like to do is separate our ministry to children, which includes a children’s home and school, from our equipping ministry, which encompasses a Bible college, seminary, and training events for pastors.

THE NEED

India2012WEB-179It has become increasingly clear that if we don’t begin working towards the creation of a second campus we’re simply going to run out of space at our current site. In addition, our ministry to at-risk children cannot expand until we have more room. We need the square footage, and a second campus, dedicated exclusively to caring for and educating children, will allow us to grow. It’s also a much better arrangement for our kids.

India’s on track to become the youngest country in the world by 2020, and extreme poverty continues to be an extraordinary challenge in our context, with 33% of Indians living on $1.25 or less a day. Building on our strong history of making a difference in the lives of children, effectively breaking the cycle of generational poverty in scores of young lives, our hope is that we can be in a position to care for, educate, and empower hundreds more children in the coming years. We envision this second campus becoming a place of refuge for the most vulnerable, yet potential-laden demographic in India: children who come from materially poor families or who have no family at all.

THE VISION

Our vision is to purchase 5-6 acres of land roughly ten miles from our current campus and begin building two modest children’s homes (one for boys and one for girls), a cafeteria, and eventually a school. We’ve already done the legwork and identified three plots of ground that would be perfect for this expansion, at a minimum cost of $50,000 per acre.

What will emerge on this site is a place called Master’s Village. And while we’re still working out all the details, including what this new campus will look like, we believe that Master’s Village will change the lives of thousands of children over the coming decades. But we can’t build it without your help. Would you consider making a financial gift so that Master’s Village can become a reality?

FOR THE CHILDREN

We realize that this is an ambitious proposal, but our faith in God compels us to believe that all things are possible. For the sake of the children we are called to love and care for, we invite you to partner with us as we bring Master’s Village to life.

If you’d like to make a donation to our New Campus Fund, you can do so online, by phone, or by mail. Just let us know how you’d like your gift to be designated by choosing New Campus Fund from the drop-down menu or writing it on your check.


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