In association with Escape Ministries
Read how a ‘wicked man who turned away from his wickedness’ is now being used to spread the kingdom of God around the globe
Anyone in Christian circles today in the UK will have at some point received emails asking for help from places like Africa and India where there is so much poverty.
It’s all too easy to read these emails and with the hit of a button they are deleted and forgotten. We are all probably guilty, because the reality is that there are unscrupulous people out there and we want to be sure money or resources we send will actually reach those in greatest need.
John Lawson, founder of Escape Ministries in Newhaven, Sussex, recalls how he has wrestled with this dilemma for some time. He explains how beginning a dialogue can help.
He has found that by offering to come and minister, at the same time explaining that as an unfunded faith based ministry he is unable to send money, provokes some interesting responses. Sometimes a rude reply, sometimes a “Thank you for your prayers” and sometimes silence. But John is keen to point out that every now and then there is a pastor who “sticks with you”.
One such man is Pastor Stephen Sitoko, who ministers in a rural area close to Webuye in Kenya. The area is heavily populated, used mainly for subsistence agriculture and is home to the Bukusu and Tachoni tribes.
Pastor Stephen first contacted John around four years ago. Stephen persisted in his contact, never asking for money. He would call John at his own expense, praying for Escape Ministries, always offering a kind word of encouragement.
Based on his genuine desire to form a trusting two-way relationship, Escape Ministries began to send Bibles, clothing, toys, pencils, children’s books and other supplies to Pastor Stephen’s village.
Knowing that Pastor Stephen was a Manchester United fan, John even wrote to the club and was surprised to receive a free shirt for Pastor Stephen by return post. Escape Ministries have also established a link with Richard Smart, a missionary from Hastings, who, using the services of ‘Tools With A Mission’, helped get all the provisions to Uganda and then over land to Pastor Stephen’s village in rural Kenya.
John has recently responded to a request from Pastor Stephen to come to Kenya, and preach the Gospel in outreach events, churches, in prisons and on the streets. The mission will include discipleship, training in evangelism and equipping believers for works of service. John has committed to this by faith, and is currently without funds. The trip is planned for April next year.
John explains that the common problem that exists in Africa and other developing countries is lack of sound biblical discipleship. He talks from experience, having been part of missions to Bangalore, Andhra Pradesh and Ooty in India. ”I have also served in Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda and South Africa and I have seen what a difference can be made by establishing strong biblical foundations.”
John’s vision in working with Pastor Stephen is to focus on one small village to equip the saints in the area of evangelism, to train others to share their faith effectively and to train equippers. This method is referred to as the 222 of evangelism in reference to 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
There is nothing better than local people preaching and teaching local people. Local churches must become empowered to preach the Gospel. John believes that God wants to light a series of ‘bush fires’ – one bush (local church) burning so brightly that it lights another bush and before long the whole area is on fire with Holy Spirit.
Escape Ministries will be linking up with Richard Smart in Uganda as an extension of its mission to Kenya. Richard, who has featured in previous issues of this paper, has visited Uganda for many years, encouraging and equipping people to become self-sustaining. He works closely with Ugandan pastors, training them in the Word and building a culture of accountability.
Richard uses his accountancy experience to teach pastors business and management skills so that they can oversee projects that will produce income for local people. At the moment Richard is raising finance to buy land to start up a pig farm in Uganda. There is much demand for pork in the locality. When up and running the initiative will employ local people, finance missionary work, education and support for orphanages.
Richard’s dedication is shown by the fact that he previously remortgaged his home to buy a tractor for a group of Ugandan farmers.
Escape Ministries is run by John with the help of his wife Carolyn and a few others on the mission field. As John recalls, “It has been an amazing journey these last seven years of living by faith: I am always blown away by God’s provision.”
He goes on to say, “My dear friends, there are two kinds of ‘missionaries’; those who go down into the well and those who hold the rope.” If you would like to be a ‘rope holder’ who supports John, or if you would like John to come and speak at your church, then please get in touch with him:
John Lawson, Founder, Escape Ministries, Newhaven.
Telephone 01273 911 900, email firstname.lastname@example.org;
NEW BOOK – ‘If A Wicked man’
John’s story (‘If a Wicked Man’) is due for release in October this year
“…When a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.” (Ezekiel 18:27)
This is a no holds barred, hard hitting biography written in the style of a novel and aimed at the secular market. While there is so much of John’s childhood and his previous gangster existence throughout the book, the integrity of the Gospel remains intact. The book will be launched into the true crime genre and will be available in mainstream booksellers which is a real answer to John’s prayers to go ‘under the radar’ to get the Gospel into the hands of unbelievers.
An abbreviated version, ‘Take Him Down’, is available for download from Amazon.co.uk
Will YOU help set the prisoner free?
Former gangster and reformed character John Lawson says, “We are currently looking for investors to help us buy enough books to give away freely in prisons. We have been offered the unheard of opportunity to order these free giveaway books at cost price, direct from the printers. Please do consider making an investment and sowing a seed that will enable someone in prison to read this book and receive the Glorious message of salvation. Every £2 donated will enable one prisoner to receive a copy.”