2023 February Newsletter
Greetings from The Keystone Project and All Our Disciples in the Nations!
“AND AS YOU GO, PREACH, SAYING, ‘THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.’ HEAL THE SICK, RAISE THE DEAD, CLEANSE THE LEPERS, CAST OUT DEMONS. FREELY YOU RECEIVED, FREELY GIVE. DO NOT ACQUIRE GOLD, OR SILVER, OR COPPER FOR YOUR MONEY BELTS, OR A BAG FOR YOUR JOURNEY, OR EVEN TWO COATS, OR SANDALS, OR A STAFF; FOR THE WORKER IS WORTHY OF HIS SUPPORT.” (MATTHEW 10:7-10)
This passage is part of the record of Jesus calling and sending out the twelve disciples. Jesus gave them power and authority to proclaim the kingdom of God and to do the works of the kingdom. Having been with Jesus on the mission, the twelve were now ready to go on their own. The Lord gave them specific instructions to follow. While we cannot impose His instructions to them on every missionary or minister of the gospel, we can and should seek to discover and apply the principles those instructions were designed to impart.
The call to discipleship is the call to go (Matthew 28:19). Jesus did not make disciples just so they could have a personally rewarding “quiet time” with Him, although such a practice is important. He made disciples to send them out (Mark 3:14). He described the ministry of the disciples as proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God with supernatural signs affirming that message. In this, we can see that the method of their ministry (supernatural signs) attested to the veracity of their message (that the kingdom was near).
The principle here is that the methods and tools of our ministry – what we do and how we do it –and the quality of our lives ought to reflect the message we are preaching, which is the gospel of the kingdom of God (Matthew 24:14). As the above passage points out, this principle applies not only to the kingdom works we do but also to how we finance our ministries. The principle is that we are to give what we have received “freely” – without charge, without begging.
By law and history, religious ministries are “non-profit,” not merchandising their services for profitable gain but freely giving those services to those who need them. Therefore, ministries function through the non-merchandised support (donations) of those they are serving, “for the worker is worthy of his support” (Matthew 10:10). Notice the word worker, implying that ministry staff are to work among the people they are seeking to reach. Again, we are workers, not beggars. William Barclay wrote, “The Talmud tells us that: ‘No one is to go to the Temple Mount with staff, shoes, girdle of money, or dusty feet.’ The idea was that when a man entered the temple, he must make it quite clear that he had left everything which had to do with trade and business and worldly affairs behind.” Sadly, this principle, taught so clearly by Jesus, has been exchanged for a commercial model in which many churches have marketed themselves to their communities and congregations. My point is not to criticize these churches, most of which are well intentioned, but to point to a higher way.
Many of you know that The Keystone Project has never charged for our training. Students who attend our training events here in Keystone, SD, pay only for their travel expenses and an application fee. The application fee was added to the application process because we were getting so many applications (literally thousands of them) that we could not process them with our limited staff. Graduating students receive an electronic version of our ministry content, again, without charge. In addition, we do not charge students for their accommodation or food while they are with us. These we provide with great joy at our own expense and have done so throughout the history of our ministry.
Why do we do this? Why not “charge” for our training? A common argument is that people do not value what is freely given to them but place a higher value on what they have purchased. I appreciate that point of view. However, I have attended conferences that cost me much and some that cost me nothing. The value I placed upon them had nothing to do with the price of admission but with the impact of their content. We are teaching by example what Jesus taught and practiced– “Freely you received, freely give.” Many have told us this principle is impossible and impractical in the modern world. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps that is the point – that when we obey Christ, we will do the impossible and the impractical. We find the Lord not dancing to the music of His generation but living opposite to it (Luke 7:31-35). I cannot follow Him if I am not willing to do the same; besides, I never was a very good dancer!
Brothers and sisters, it has not been easy to finance the ministry of The Keystone Project. Many of you know that we were blessed by the donation of our ministry center and a hotel to help support the ministry. We have always acknowledged that these properties do not belong to us but to God. We use them as we receive them – freely. Yes, the hotel is a for-profit business, but it does not provide sufficient revenue to fully support the ministry. It costs us thousands of dollars to house and feed our students for our training events. We also travel internationally and domestically to share the word of God, but the hotel revenue is not enough to finance these trips. Most of us pay our own expenses when we travel. In fact, we had to cancel a trip to India last year due to a lack of funds.
There have been many months when we have raised our support on our knees. Many times, God has provided in ways that we never dreamed of nor could have imagined. I wonder if modern, consumeristic Christianity has not taught us to fear living on the edge – knowing that if God does not show up and do something supernatural, we cannot make it – rather than believing that He is our provision. Yet that is precisely the message of the gospel, the message we preach. We were lost, and God showed up and supernaturally redeemed us by providing Himself as the sacrifice for our sins! Our provision is not money or methods but Christ alone. That is the God I serve. That is how we live and do the work of the ministry. I do not fear failure nor the discomfort of having to trust God for every need, and I do not care if others think we are foolish. My goal is not success; it is the revelation of the glory of God. I can buy success. I cannot buy the glory of God. Therefore, we shall continue to follow Jesus and offer ourselves, our training, and His word without charge for as long as He allows. I would rather have to explain to Jesus why I trusted Him for every need rather than why I marketed what He freely gave to me. I urge you, beloved, do not be afraid to do the impossible and the impractical. Live on the edge and watch God work!
In Jesus’ name!
• Please continue to pray for our disciples around the world, especially those living and working in dangerous areas of persecution or where they are affected by the pandemic.
• Pray for the financial success and growth of The Keystone Project.
• Pray for our staff, who work so hard and have sacrificed so much to serve the Lord through the mission God has given to us.
• Thank you for praying for our Benin trip. It was a huge success! You can read about it in David Saldivar’s report as part of this newsletter.
• From February 20-24, we will be conducting a vision-casting training seminar here in Keystone, SD. As of this writing, we have 41 students confirmed and 11 volunteer coaches. The content of this training event will equip those in attendance with the motivation and information they need to launch movements of multiplying disciples and to live a life on the mission of the kingdom of God. If you would like to attend any of our training events, you can find the details on our website www.keystoneproject.org. As always, this training is offered to all at no cost, including hotel and food. I hope to seeyou here!
• In addition to the upcoming February 20-24 five-day training, we also have scheduled, by God’s grace, the following:
o March 13-31 – International Leaders Training
o April 17-28 – US and Native American Leaders Training
o August 22-September 12 – Trip to India
o October 2-27 – International Leaders Training
We appreciate your prayers and support for these events, thanking the Lord for all of you and praying for His blessings in all that you do for His glory!
For God’s Glory,
President, The Keystone Project, Inc.
Christianity Changed The World For The Better
Today, we are told by many of the major institutions in the United States (big tech, mainstream media, education, and even our own government) that Christianity is oppressive. Christians are labeled intolerant and condemned as bigots because they don’t approve of whatever hedonistic lifestyle or reprehensible behavior that others so shamelessly engage in. In our public schools, the most that you might be taught about Christianity is when you study about the Crusades, Salem witch trials, or the inquisition and then something about forced conversions. Missionaries are painted as white saviors and colonizers exploiting the very people whom they are called to reach, trampling on their cultures. Christianity and the work of missions are often mocked in the public sphere.
But history tells us a different story.
Robert Woodberry, a political science professor at the National University of Singapore, backed by a massive amount of extensive research, published a report in the American Political Science Review that showcased the impact that missionaries have had around the world, titled, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy.” Woodberry found in his research that:
“Conversionary Protestants [missionaries] were a crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, most major colonial reforms, and the codification of legal protections for nonwhites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These innovations fostered conditions that made stable representative democracy more likely — regardless of whether many people converted to Protestantism.”
Many of these missionaries went to some of the most dangerous places in the world and gave their entire lives so that the Kingdom of God might be established in the midst of those who were marginalized and oppressed. They would teach them to read and write at a time when no one would even imagine a thing could be possible. They would even help them to develop their own written languages, so that they could read the Bible in their native tongue.
Robert Woodberry writes about the people of Nagaland and Mizoram (North-East India) saying, “They did not have a written language before the 1890s; they were hunter-gatherer people. And now they are almost all Baptists. Kerala and Goa have large Catholic populations and a significant number of Protestants by Indian standards. These areas have the highest literacy rates in India, particularly women’s literacy.” Missionaries would also teach them about concepts of private property and spread new skills and new crops. He says, “In Ghana, they introduced cocoa and cotton, various things like that where they were trying to help indigenous people make money and have self-supporting churches.”
We can pretend that Christianity is oppressive for not affirming every action and belief that someone wishes to engage in, however grievous it may be, but the truth is that Christianity has given people more than they realize.
Before the rise of Christianity in Rome, it was so harsh for one to live that it is difficult for us to imagine just how oppressive a time it was to be alive. Rodney Stark writes in his book, Cities of God: How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome, “This Christian Religion did not merely offer psychological antidotes to the misery of life, it actually made life less miserable. The power of Christianity lay not in the promise of otherworldly compensations for the suffering in this life as has so often been proposed. No, the crucial change that took place in the third century was the rapidly spreading awareness of a faith that delivered potent antidotes to life’s miseries here and now.” They loved their neighbor as themselves. They did unto others as they would have done to themselves. Church members nursed the sick, even during pandemics; they would visit the orphan and the widow and the poor. “They had created a mini welfare state in an empire that had practically no social services whatsoever.”
Christianity changed the world for the better. But we still have a lot of work to do. There are still those who have not heard of Jesus — 3.3 billion people. We need more laborers. The world needs more laborers and missionaries who will give their lives so that God’s glory will fill the nations of the world. It is for that very reason that we are looking for interns who will engage in the mission of the Great Commission this summer. We are looking for college students, ages 18-25, who will participate in the Keystone Project Summer Internship for 2023 and join us in making disciples of all nations. Please pray that the Lord would provide us with the interns that He has called and chosen. If you know of anyone that you think would be a good fit or interested, please encourage them to apply via the Keystone Project website www.keystoneproject.org!
Restitution to Revelation
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
It can be challenging to look at the number of unreached people groups around the world and the work that remains to be done to fulfill the Great Commission. But nothing is impossible for God. We just finished a Vision-Casting Training in Benin Republic. We witnessed how God summoned more than 450 leaders from 14 African nations. They were challenged and equipped to launch disciple-making movements among the unreached people groups of Africa. The numbers, the divine connections, the expansion of the network, and the level of response have greatly encouraged us to continue sharing this training in the nations. It allowed us to see how God is mobilizing the Church to finish the Great Task of making disciples of all the nations. Our host, the president of the largest association of churches in Benin, Rev. Ernest Oueounou, prophesied that the training would unleash a flame that would go to all of Africa and that it would forever change the countenance of the Church in that continent. I believe God is doing it! We stood together with the Church in Benin, claiming and redeeming their land from the dark forces of voodoo to be consecrated for God’s redemptive purposes and the expansion of His Kingdom.
When we first visited Benin in 2021, we quickly saw that God had His finger upon this nation. At that time, God revealed to us that it was a time of restitution for the people of Benin. The Word of the Lord was confirmed on the day we were leaving Benin, as we witnessed the restitution of historical treasures that had been taken by the colonizers and were in France for many decades. That day was proclaimed as a day of restitution for Benin. This time, there was a new campaign called “From Restitution to Revelation.” It was amazing to see God again confirming what He was doing in that nation and what was about to spread across all of Africa. The students kept talking about how the training changed their way of seeing the Scriptures, how it changed the way of doing Church, and how it changed their understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives and ministry. It was indeed a time of revelation! We are now seeing the emergence of churches and ministries embracing a missionary and missional lifestyle. We can’t wait to see the mystery of the Gospel revealed to the nations of Africa – Jesus, the hope of glory! This time was truly historic and has forever changed the direction of many lives and countries in the years to come. To God be the Glory!
God bless you!
ABOUT THE KEYSTONE PROJECT
The Keystone Project is a global missions network of churches and leaders committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.