The Potters

Missionary profile: David and Sylvia Potter

By Engage magazine on February 18, 2013
Printer-friendly version
Image David and Sylvia Potter are serving as missionaries in the capital city, Port Vila, of Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific, on the Asia-Pacific Region. They began in 2003. David is principal of the South Pacific Nazarene Theological College, on the Vanuatu campus. He is also pastor of the Black Sand Church of the Nazarene, and filling in as the Vanuatu district superintendent for the time being. Sylvia serves as mission treasurer and is leading a Wednesday night Bible study. From 1992 to 2003, David served as principal of the Nazarene College of Nursing, and district superintendent of Mid-Ramu in Papua New Guinea for six months. They have two children: Wesley is 24; Jeffrey is 26 and engaged to Kristen Merki; Joel, 29, is married to Rebekah and they have three-year-old twin daughters, Dora and Sylvia; Engage: How did you first recognize God’s call to be involved in missions?
David: I felt the Lord drawing me to be involved in his mission in the world through missionaries, teachers, and pastors that shared in our local church.  I was 5 years old when I said a preliminary, “YES!” Kids can make important decisions!
Engage: What is your favorite aspect of what you do in your present assignment? Share any relevant stories to illustrate this.
David: I love to see our Nazarenes in Vanuatu grow and mature in the Lord.  Sometimes it is like watching fruit grow, something that is almost imperceptible.  Looking back, however, it thrilling to see the dramatic and profound changes in maturity and their increasing Christlikeness.
Engage: What are some of the challenges that you face in carrying out your work? Share any relevant stories to illustrate this.
David: Sylvia scheduled a treasurers’ workshop for all the district treasurers.  In spite of reminders, no one showed up!  It was discouraging!  Two hours later, however, nearly everyone showed up.  Even after 20 years of missionary service, we still have not adjusted to the difference in “time orientation.” The inconsistencies of this difference make it difficult to plan and organize events.  Perhaps “event orienation” would be a better way to describe it.
Image
Engage: Please share a story of a significant event or moment that has happened in your current assignment.
David: Purchasing land in Melanesia is often an impossible or, at least, a very difficult thing to do.  In February of 2013, after the District Advisory Board’s negotiations with three “chiefs,” we have been able to purchase an extendable 75-year land lease for a half acre of land.  This will be a future site for a District Center for all the Nazarene churches in Vanuatu.  We are praising the Lord again and again!
Engage: How do you maintain a close relationship with God and your family in the midst of the demands of missionary service?
David: Sylvia and I have personal times of prayer in the morning. We also, weekly, enjoy listening and participating in a worship service from Bethany First Church of the Nazarene through their CD ministry. We share in “family devotions at the breakfast table and then a time of extended prayer together at our bedside.  We open our heart before each other and before the Lord with the people and concerns of the day; then talk to our heavenly Father anytime, anywhere with “thought prayers”  throughout the day.
Engage: What are the rewards of what you do?
David: Relationships and friendships.  As we grow in our relationship with the Lord and with each other, our fellowship increases.  This is one of the most wonderful rewards of our missionary labors.
Engage: What are some aspects of the culture where you live that you have come to love or embrace?
David: We recently participated in a wedding that embodied many interesting cultural aspects:  the creation of  “laplap,” their national dish; the “heaving up” of the bride price (pigs, cloth, island dresses, baskets, and mats); and a variety of other cultural celebrations.
Image
Engage: What do you like to do for fun? 
David: Kayak on a lagoon or rent a catamaran for an hour or two. Visiting “The Summit,” a botanical garden on the top of a very large hill overlooking Mele Bay.  One Nazarene visitor to Vanuatu paid for us to go on a zipline with incredibly scenic views. On a day off, we may take a mat, pack a picnic lunch and a game, and spread the mat out at the beach – playing, resting, reading and wading.
Engage: What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
David: Sylvia and I have been registered nurses for over 30 years;  well at least we were, until we let our licenses lapse.  This has opened up many opportunities of service and usefulness.  Although we are now responsible for the training of pastors and those in ministry, the Lord continues to utilize our background to be a great benefit for the maintenance of our own health,  as well as the health of those in our congregations.
             
Engage: What advice would you have for others exploring a possible call to missions, or embarking on their first missionary assignment?
David: Prepare. Move in the direction the Lord leads.  It was 18 years from the time I applied to Nazarene Global Mission (1974) to the time I went out as a missionary in 1992.  In between, there were Work & Witness trips, Impact team, nursing training, spiritual development, training at Nazarene Theological Seminary, and ministry was happening all along the way.  So don’t sit and wait.  Do the next thing the Lord tells you to do.  Life and ministry are happening now, not just in the future.  Ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do today?”

Knowing God

KNOWING GOD Another Bozo on the Bus
by Wesley D. Tracy
The secret of the holy life is self-surrender. Always has been, always will be. That's the conclusion Mary Reuter reached in her 1,112-page Duquesne University Ph.D. dissertation.She was right, according to the saints in every age. They have termed it self-denial, self-donation, or self-surrender. After 30 years of spiritual detours and dead ends, Augustine found the essence of the holy life in a moment of self-surrender-and that's why we call him Saint Augustine. Teresa of Avila prayed, "Govern everything . . . O Lord, so that my soul will always be serving you . . . Let me die to myself so that I may serve You." Every New Year's Day, John Wesley led his people in a Covenant Service that included this prayer of self-surrender: O Lord Jesus, I give Thee my body, my soul, my substance, my fame, my friends, my liberty, and my life; dispose of me and all that is mine, as it seems best to Thee. Nineteenth-century Holiness pioneer, Hannah Whitall Smith, wrote, "I do give myself up unreservedly to God to be and to do just what He wills, and I do trust only Jesus to keep me . . . cleanse me, and sanctify me wholly" (Dieter 1986, 249). Her contemporary, Frances Ridley Havergal, offered her prayer of self-surrender in a song: Take my will and make it Thine- It shall be no longer mine. Take myself-and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee. A 20th-century pastor offered this prayer while considering a call to a bigger church: Today, O Lord, I surrender to You my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions. Do with them what You will, when You will, as You will. I release into Your hands my need to control, my craving for status, my fear of obscurity. Eradicate the evil, purify the good . . . The old-timers of my boyhood spoke of "putting your all on the altar," "dying out to sin," and "laying the unknown bundle on the altar." They knew that self-surrender was a step toward sanctifying grace. They knew self-surrender was a prelude to the sanctifying moment and an integral part of the sanctifying journey. That's why they would testify, "I am sanctified and I am being sanctified." I guess I heard that a thousand times. Contemporary believers also discover the need for self-surrender. Take Anne Lamott, for example. She does not know "Christianese," the language of church insiders. She grew up in California's drug and sex culture of the 70s. She fought alcohol addiction for a long time. Then she found Jesus Christ. With her fellow Christians holding one hand and Jesus the other she finally kicked alcohol. She has been sober for some two decades now. When she became a Christian, she tried to take charge of her life. She wanted to be a real Christian, not just a garden-variety believer. But the harder she tried, the more she failed. Then followed a pivotal prayer of self-surrender. She did not say, "I put the unknown bundle on the altar" nor did she sing, "I Surrender All." Instead, as she reported in Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, she said, "I told God I was taking my sticky fingers off the steering wheel, and that God could be the driver and I would be just another bozo on the bus." Have you ever heard a better prayer of self-surrender? The secret of the holy life is self-surrender. Always has been, always will be. Wes Tracy taught Christian preaching and adult education at Nazarene Theological Seminary. He has also served as editor of the Herald of Holiness and Preacher's Magazine. References: Dieter, Melvin E. and Hallie A. 1986. God Is Enough. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Francis Asbury Press. Holiness Today, November/December 2010

Saying Grace

Saying Grace

Dr. Stan Toler
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
My grandson has learned a new prayer. He’s five years old. Perhaps you remember this childhood prayer: “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food.” Such simple words for such a profound subject! But all of it has been proven in the Scriptures and in our human experience. God has been good to us in providing our temporal and spiritual needs. But it is goodness on an infinitely higher level. The classic hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” says, “Morning by morning new mercies I see . . . all I have needed Thy strength has provided.” That’s not a temporary message; it is a message in song that will echo throughout eternity. Hear it from the writer of the Revelation, “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come.” We might as well practice for that heavenly sing-a-long now. We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. (Revelation 11:17 NIV) Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:4)

Hope!

We’re all encouraged by a leader who stirs us to move ahead – someone who believes we can do the task given us and one who will be with us all the way…God is that kind of leader. He knows the future, and his plans for us are good and full of hope.  As long as God, who knows the future, provides our agenda and goes with us as we fulfill his mission, we can have boundless hope.  This does not mean we will be spared pain, suffering, or hardship, but it does mean that God will see us through to a glorious conclusion. In his latest sermon Pastor Barry preaches about God’s Blueprint for “Hope” from the book of Jeremiah.  The Israelite story (and ours) doesn't end without hope... Listen here.

Restoration & Reconciliation

The Israelites had a troubled, up and down, relationship with Yahweh, which ultimately led to them being exiled, losing the promised land,  and having God's blessing removed from them. And yet, in all of this, there is hope in God's grace…. In his latest sermon Pastor Barry preaches about God’s Blueprint for "Restoration & Reconciliation" from Hagai, Ezra, and Nehemiah.  The Israelite story doesn’t end in exile.  There were 3 key men that left Babylon to start the restoration and reconstruction of Jerusalem… Listen here.

Consecrate Yourselves!

Joshua says to the Israelites who are about to cross over into the promised land…”Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Perhaps you find yourself, today, like the Israelites, having had a desert experience, or currently experiencing a wilderness experience.  Maybe you are saying, “I could do with something amazing from God.” But how does this happen?  How can you get the miracle working power of God to intersect at the point of your need? How does God move? In his latest sermon Pastor Barry preaches about God's Blueprint from Joshua chapter 3. Listen here.

Pursuing Holiness – “We Believe”

We Believe …

By Jesse C. Middendorf

We believe … that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth, and also to the entire sanctification of believers (from “Agreed Statement of Belief” Manual, Church of the Nazarene, paragraph 26.7).

“The Holy Spirit bears witness …” This is one of the foundational understandings of the nature of assurance for those of us in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. This is a scriptural truth that is not based merely on theological formulations but on the clear teaching of the Bible. In Romans 8:16 (NIV) Paul writes, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” We believe that the Spirit is faithful to the seeking heart—probing, convicting, and inviting. When one utterly surrenders his or her will unwaveringly to God, the Spirit comes, transforming and assuring the believer that the work is done! This is true of both the work of justification and of sanctification. In Dr. Mark Quanstrom’s book, From Grace to Grace, he quotes John Wesley: “From what has been said, we may learn … what the life of God in the soul of a believer is; wherein it properly consists; and what is immediately and necessarily implied therein. It immediately and necessarily implies the continual inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit; God’s breathing into the soul, and the soul’s breathing back what it first receives from God; a continual action of God upon the soul, and a reaction of the soul upon God; an unceasing presence of God, the loving pardoning God, manifested to the heart, and perceived by faith; and an unceasing return of love, praise, and prayer, offering up all the thoughts of our hearts, and the words of our tongues, and the works of our hands, all our body, soul, and spirit, to be a holy sacrifice, acceptable unto God in Christ Jesus” (p. 96). The writer of the Book of Hebrews speaks of drawing “near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” (Hebrews 10:22, NIV). This is a vital truth! And the truth includes a conviction that this assurance is not a momentary thing, but it may be the continuing anticipation of the believer. It must be cultivated and nurtured. The ongoing work of the Spirit is the necessary means by which the disciple of Jesus walks in daily dependence. The Spirit not only accomplishes the work in the moment of surrender, but He also continues the work in the daily life of surrender and obedience as the believer lives in constant communion with God through the Spirit.

Coming Clean

Coming Clean

By Gina Grate Pottenger on September 19, 2012
Jyoti was born into a Brahmin class family in Western Maharashtra, India. Brahmins are the highest caste in the country, usually wealthy and educated. Her father worked in a bank, and her mother raised Jyoti and her brother. The family lived with her grandmother, who added conflict to an already troubled household.
“When I was a small girl, there were lots of fights in our house; there was a lot of problems and no one paid any attention towards me,” Jyoti says. “Because of that, I was very lonely. My brother had a lot of problems and that’s why my parents were more attentive to him.”
Hungry for attention, Jyoti became zealous about her family’s traditional religion, memorizing its holy scriptures and performing good deeds to earn praise and love from her family and others.
It didn’t work.
When she started college as a lonely 18-year-old, a young man eight years her senior began paying attention to her. In a culture where parents usually arrange marriages between young people, the two saw one another in secret.
Gradually Jyoti learned that Imran was a member of a different religion and a different caste. When her parents discovered the truth, they beat her and forbid her to see him again.
Believing she was in love with Imran, she agreed to marry him and move in together immediately.
“Since I was very insecure at home, what I liked was someone loves me and that’s what made me love him,” she says.
A rude awakening
Jyoti converted to her husband’s religion. But when they married, she realized Imran had no place to live, and in fact he was still engaged to someone else. Imran made Jyoti call his fiancée to break off his engagement.
ImageThe two moved from hotel to hotel until almost all their money was gone. Then they moved into a tiny hut in a slum where they slept on the ground. Jyoti had just one dress, which she washed each day before wearing again. It was a huge change from her parents’ comfortable home.
Soon, her husband lost his job and Jyoti became pregnant. There was little to eat and she became weak and sick. A family member saw her on the street one day and, noticing her gauntness, took her to her parents, who got her a medical checkup and helped her regain her strength until her child was born. She named the little girl Sayli.
From that point, Jyoti’s and Imran’s marriage became troubled. He would fight with her parents over religion, and beat her because she was trying to find work. At one point, she thought he was going to kill her. Several times she ran away to her parents, who would just send her back to Imran. Her family blamed her for disgracing their reputation.
“In all this I was praying to … god… and there was no effect,” she says.
Jyoti became pregnant twice more, and both times she secretly got abortions.
The next time Jyoti fled to her parents with her bruises, her mother decided it was better to let her divorce Imran and return home than to let her die. Even so, they still blamed her for her situation.
Seeking escape
Miserable in her family’s home, Jyoti wanted to escape them, and again, marriage seemed the only way. But this time, she went about it the traditional way by letting her parents collect marriage proposals.
A man named Harish made the first proposal. He was 12 years older than Jyoti, and infertile.
“I was very happy about that, because we already had a child. I thought I had made many wrong decisions which I had taken through immaturity, so I thought if I had a husband who is mature, he will help me make good decisions.”
Like Jyoti, Harish was divorced. After they were married, Jyoti discovered her husband was still in love with his former wife, who had left him after five years of marriage. When the first wife left Harish, she said, “When you get married again, I will tell you the reason.”
So Harish took Jyoti to meet his ex-wife.
“He told me, ‘Become her friend and ask her why she left me.’ Again I started feeling very insecure, the same insecurity which I had in my parents’ place. Then he also started beating me; we were not getting along right.”
Once she told him, “If you beat me again, I will also beat you.” After that, whenever he hit her, she hit back.
The marriage seemed ruined, and Harish told Jyoti ’s parents to take her back.
Image
Unwanted by everyone in her life, Jyoti decided that death was the only true escape. One day, she took Sayli with her on a motorcycle. She drove fast at a speed breaker on the road.
“I wanted to get myself an accident and I should die.”
Both were thrown from the motorcycle, but Jyoti was barely injured. Sayli, however, sustained a serious head injury requiring a skin graft behind her ear and a long recovery.
Harish cared for both of them, especially Sayli, who grew close to him.
Drowning the pain
Suicide hadn’t worked; another attempt to return to her parents failed; and Harish didn’t love her any more than before. So she went to parties, stayed out late and drank. Soon she was addicted to alcohol. And the couple were still beating each other.
“I became more cruel,” she says. “I had a lot of anger in my heart for him. I was very upset because I had thought my second marriage will work out. I had told him when we got married that I am totally forgetting my first husband, I don’t want to hear his name again. I wanted to start a new life. But I didn’t get what I wanted, so I was very upset and angry with him.”
Jyoti returned to worshipping many gods and going to the temple, seeking out advice from recognized spiritual leaders, meditating, reading the religion’s holy book.
“I wanted to see god. I wanted to ask him why all this happened in my life,” she says. “Even though I was trying to follow so many people who used to lead to different gods, yet I didn’t experience anything supernatural or I didn’t have peace in my heart.
“I started thinking that we follow this god idol, and suppose if this idol falls from my hand? That idol is not able to save himself. How will he save me? Even all the dust which are there on the idols, you have to clean that. They cannot even clean their own dust. How can they clean me?
“I was moving towards a decision that these idols are not gods. I wanted to come out of my addictions, but how much ever I tried, I was getting more involved.”
A new start
Image
Jyoti was still addicted to alcohol, and engaging in adultery and other self-destructive behaviors. Her relationship with Sayli was bad. Yet she was doing everything she knew to clean herself. Among them, she was working out at a gym where she met a Christian man. He told her that idols are not the true God, and he explained to her about Jesus Christ. Although the part about Jesus didn’t yet make sense to her, that very day she gave up anything to do with the idols.
The man introduced her to a Nazarene family and she began attending their church in 2011. Inspired by the preaching, she tried to give up her sins. Jyoti  would do well on Monday and Tuesday, but it would grow harder and by the end of the week her behavior was worse than before, not better.
She confided in the pastor’s wife, Jyotsna Gaikwad. Gaikwad told Jyoti, “What you have done is kept Jesus outside of your life. You try to obey Him, but you cannot. But if you take Jesus intoyour life, then He’ll help you to obey. His Holy Spirit comes and abides in you and He helps you to obey.”
They prayed together and she accepted Christ into her life.
Finding true love
The day of her baptism, something changed dramatically inside of her.
“I came to know He’s the greatest doctor in the world, because I was addicted for four to five years, and all this was over within one day.”
However she was still not getting along with Harish. They had no more hope for their relationship, so they agreed to divorce.
The next day, the Nazarene church held a marriage seminar; the speaker planned to speak about the husband’s role. Harish attended with Jyoti. But the speaker switched topics, instead addressing the wife’s role.
The message told Jyoti what she needed to hear: It was time to treat her husband with humility and respect, which she had not been doing.
“That day, I said sorry to my husband. I realized I was wrong. That day I realized I needed to be a good mother and pay attention to Sayli. I need to be a good wife. And even though I didn’t get a good father, good mother, a good husband, I got a good God, who was everything for me.”
While the Spirit broke the grip of most of her addictions early on, there was one thing she still battled: Lust. The family was continuing to hold parties and she couldn’t resist flirting with the men.
“I needed to read the Bible, grow up spiritually and I needed more to give time in prayer,” she says. “I started going to the prayer meetings and woman’s meeting and God did talk to me and the messages which came over spoke to me, and whenever I took the Bible to me, God spoke to me through that. It was a miracle that that lustful feeling disappeared from my mind and I started looking at people in a pure way.”
Image
God removed the lust, replacing it with complete fulfillment in her marriage for the very first time.
“Now I realize that my husband is really very good,” she says. “He is special for me. He actually accepted all my stupidity.”
When asked if she would say that they now love each other, Jyoti gives an almost surprised smile, saying, “Yes.”
A living testimony
Although Harish has not yet become a believer, he has also given up worshipping idols and attended his wife’s baptism service.
Twelve-year-old Sayli attends church with Jyoti, and she has also accepted Christ. She knows as well as anyone how her mother has been transformed by the love of Jesus.
“First she used to lie. Now she doesn’t. She used to scold me. But now she is very different: She’s loving,” Sayli says.
They are praying for Jyoti’s parents, who are ashamed of their daughter’s new faith in Christ, believing it will damage their reputation in society. Jyoti is prayerfully waiting on the right opportunity to share Christ with them.
Jyoti feels compelled to share about God’s love with anyone she can. She asked the Gaikwads to join her in visiting slums to talk to people about Jesus and start Bible studies. She is also involved in the church’s ministry to an orphanage where she leads singing and tells Bible stories to the children. She is a Sunday school teacher, and a member of the church’s local chapter of Nazarene Youth International.
“I lost all my old friends in all this, when they came to know about Christianity, that I have become a Christian. But God is my whole soul; He is my friend.”
*All names have been changed to protect privacy and security.

Nazarene Schools Among The Best

Nazarene colleges named Best Colleges by US News & World Report

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Global Ministry Center
By NCN News Staff  Once again U.S. News & World Report named several Nazarene institutions of higher education among "America's Best Colleges." The publication released their rankings for 2013 recently.
Rankings are broken down into specific categories. The first 75 percent of schools in each category are given individual rankings. The next group of schools is in a "rank not published" section listed in alphabetical order, followed by an "unranked" section.
Check out the full article here.
 
For more information on U.S. News & World Reportvisit this link.

Alabaster Celebration

Since NMI began this offering, Alabaster has completed a total of 8,823 projects.  Living Hope Church will be collecting our Alabaster Offering on the last Sunday of September.  

NMI celebrates $100 Million for Alabaster

By Nazarene Missions International on September 17, 2012
The Global Church of the Nazarene is celebrating a major milestone in the long-time annual Alabaster Offering. Late this summer, the denomination reached the $100 million (USD) mark in giving to this fund since its inception in 1949 through Nazarene Missions International (NMI).
“This amazing benchmark represents ministry to multiplied thousands of people in the past, present, and future of the Church of the Nazarene through the land and buildings Alabaster has provided,” said Global NMI Director Daniel Ketchum.
The Alabaster Offering provides funds for buildings and property globally. While the Church is first and foremost made up of the people of God, and not a location, buildings for ministry help provide a sense of permanence for churches. Observers in many cultures have often said that when they saw churches, schools, clinics and homes for leaders being constructed, they knew the Church of the Nazarene was there to stay.
Since NMI began this offering, Alabaster has completed a total of 8,823 projects. These include churches and chapels, Bible schools and other school buildings, mission and district centers, missionaries’ and national workers’ homes, land and other projects.
Eighty percent of the Alabaster offering is given to the Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, Mesoamerica and South America regions. Twenty percent is given to the USA/Canada Region. No Alabaster funds are used for administrative costs.
“Because Nazarenes have given generously, the vision that God gave Rev. Elizabeth Vennum 63 years ago lives on, providing places for spiritual development, evangelism and disciple making, leader education, and physical healing that will continue for generations,” added Ketchum. “We encourage individuals, churches, districts, fields, and regions to celebrate with Nazarene Missions International as we begin the journey to the next $100 million for Alabaster.”