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Ebola Follow Up
By John Sexton

The American news is so fickle! We have heard virtually nothing about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa for many weeks. However, the epidemic still has been present there. The good news is the number of Ebola cases is decreasing.

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In fact, there is a possible vaccine for it now, but it cannot be tested due to the decreasing numbers of cases. The bad news is that Ebola is now present in West Africa and will probably periodically crop up in the future. We are taking advantage of the interest in preventing Ebola to teach general health concepts in these countries.

Last March, Hugh Davis and I taught students from a West Africa seminary to be health teachers. I was also able to return in September and give them further training in Ebola prevention. In the U.S. in February I was able to meet with church leaders from the region. During these meetings, the leaders shared how the students trained in September have taught in a variety of settings. They have plans to do health and evangelism outreach to 25 towns. This will be a mixture of Ebola teaching, general health teaching, and evangelism. I will be joining them in the next few weeks as they reach out to five of these towns.

It is such a delight to see these churches have such a spiritual zeal and also a zeal for helping those they meet throughout their communities. In addition to the above projects, I was able to go to a "new" country and train their church planters to be health teachers. Their goal is to offer help to all throughout their country. They also would like to have a course on "Serving in the Community" which we have taught in a neighboring country. I am praying that another missionary living in this area will teach it with me, enabling more duplicating of ministry.

Pray the outreach of the national Church that the listeners will take the health teaching to heart, and that God's word will also penetrate their hearts.

John Sexton is an MTW missionary and nurse practitioner. If you're a health educator and want to learn more about volunteering, email medical@mtw.org.

 
What Is Reality?
By Kathleen Shumate

Jonathan and I have begun to feel the stirrings of homesickness. Everyday life (especially with kids) has its routines and doesn't allow for a lot of sitting around and contemplating. You just do it. Of course you speak Chinese if you go out in public. Of course you walk half a mile to the market in the alleyway to get the best deal on vegetables. Of course you breathe in the heady scent of cherry blossoms and revel in the shocking green of spring, and also earn a dozen or so mosquito bites whenever you step outside.

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Of course we provide entertainment to dozens of people on the MRT (metro), either because we are wearing only one layer of clothing in the winter, or because the baby is toppling over from belly laughing at an impromptu game of peekaboo.

Of course. But then I remember the old "of courses," and I recall that life is a little different now. Mainly I miss the friends and churches we love, but I even feel a yearning for things I never thought were special, like driving to H.E.B. to buy whatever groceries we crave. It's in those moments that it hits me: we moved to a new country. What on earth? What were we thinking??

It's not that I don't like it here. I love our new home with all my heart, not because I have a naïve view of it, but because God made this land and people and they are lovely. It's ok to feel the paradox of loving two places, without forgetting our previous home of decades. Thankfully we can keep up with our loved ones from a distance, but I know that what used to be home to us will never be the same. People will move, or move on, and our lives will not intertwine in exactly the same way. We'll miss their special times and they'll miss ours.

The good thing about this tension is that it forces me to face Reality, the Reality that's so easy to forget when we are comfortable: We aren't meant to spend our lives honing a system of maximum pleasure and comfort. We are meant to spend our very selves for God's kingdom. We are here not because we have calculated that settling in Taiwan will give us the best possible life. We are here in answer to God's call: as beggars who have been given bread, eager to share this bread with anyone we can, in a place where most people are living and dying without Christ. We are here to be a small part of God's plan, watching in awe as He expands His kingdom to include every tribe, every tongue, every nation.

Kathleen Shumate and her husband Jonathan are serving with MTW at Christ's College in Taiwan. You can follow Kathleen on her blog at www.adventurersarewe.com/blog.

 
Why Missions Is a Big Deal
By Ben Johnson

The word of God is powerful.

As a missionary who is in the process of trying to convince fellow followers of Jesus Christ that missions is important, there are times when it feels like I'm jumping up and down, waiving my arms around like a fool, and screaming at the top of my lungs, "Hey everyone, getting the gospel to the nations is a big deal!!!"

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But my words feel so powerless. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of people listening. But I just cannot come up with the words to explain how earth-changing the task of missions really is.

So I'm going to let God do the speaking.

Let's start with Genesis 12:1-3:

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Gen 12:1-3 ESV)

Thousands of years after this promise was first given, we can see much of its fruit. God gave Abraham a son, Isaac. That son's family eventually ended up in Egypt where they became slaves and were delivered by the hand of God. The world watched as God, in is loving power, guided His people through the desert and placed them in a land that was his gift to them. In that land the nation of Israel and the temple in Jerusalem became the center for the worship of the living God. If the world wanted to know who created them, who gave His rich blessings to those who followed him, and who would bring salvation, they looked to Israel to show them.

The world was blessed by Israel's ministry.

But God wasn't done. It was from within the people of Israel that God raised up a Savior, Jesus the Messiah. He lived, died, and rose again to bring salvation and blessing to all His people. And before He left this earth, He sent his disciples out, not just to the Jewish people, but to all the nations of the earth. Salvation was for everyone who would call on the name of the Lord.

Through Jesus Christ, the family of Abraham grows. It expands beyond national boundaries and ethnic lines. And as it expands, it brings the message of light and life wherever it finds darkness and death. Abraham and the faith he displayed continue to be a blessing to people throughout the globe today.

But what did this involve for Abraham? What did God call him to do? What was his job? Was it his responsibility to make sure he had a son? No. In fact, he tried having a son his own way and it lead to pain and suffering. Was it Abraham's job to multiply his family and bring them back to the land God showed him? Nope.

Did Abraham orchestrate the events of history so that the Messiah would be born in Israel, deliver his people, and then give the news of this great gift to the world? Not a chance.

God called Abraham to do one thing:

Move.

He told him to leave his family and set out to a place God would show him. While this was no small thing for Abraham, it was all God wanted of him at the time.

But that one thing showed God and the world something far bigger. Abraham believed what God told him. He believed that God would give him a son, a nation, and a Savior. The day he told his household to pack up was the day he proved his faith by his action.

Those of us who follow Jesus today are in the same situation. God isn't calling us to convert the entire world. But he does ask us to do something.

God has called the Johnson family to move to Thailand. How is he calling you to move? Where is he calling you to go? What is your piece of the missions puzzle? What task has our Lord given to you so that the world would know Jesus Christ and experience the same blessing as Abraham?

When you've taken that step in faith, stand back and watch God bless the world!

The Johnsons are itinerating to go to Thailand with MTW. You can follow them at www.johnsonfamilymission.com.

 
From the U.S. to Christo Redentor by Divine Appointment
By Sandy Trotter

"We apologize for the inconvenience, but everyone will need to get off the plane. We cannot land in Atlanta because of a low ceiling."

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There we were, once again at the gate, realizing that we could not possibly make the connecting flight to Guadalajara from Atlanta. There was not another flight until the next morning. As Larry was standing in line to make all of the changes, he began to speak in Spanish to the man behind him. Larry told him that we live in the southwest part of Guadalajara, and he replied that he lives in the second section of Bugambilias, which is exactly where we live.

Larry helped change his flight for the next day. He seemed to have some interest in Christianity, and Larry invited him to our cell group and church. He spent the night in the airport while we got a simple hotel room, but the next morning we "bumped" into him in the airport as he was about to board his plane to Guadalajara.

I saw this delay as a complete inconvenience and was so stressed about all I would have to do when I got back a day late. However, God had a different plan. Wednesday evening we were cleaning up after the Bible study when the door bell rang. There stood the man from the airport who came by to apologize for not making it to the study. We invited him to informal tea and conversation. The next week he was seated on one of our couches participating in the study, and was one of the last ones to leave.

What I saw as an inconvenience God ordained as a divine appointment. Pray for this man to meet Jesus.

Divine exchange
A few Sundays ago I was struggling to open the nursery door when I turned to see a young lady walking into the church with her Starbucks coffee in hand. I stopped to greet her and then asked her to sit with me on the front row. She agreed and began to share her story with me.

She told me that she had spent one year in the United States as an exchange student. She lived with a Christian family who introduced her to the love of Jesus Christ. She had fully embraced the gospel and was looking for a place to grow and find Christian fellowship. She had been back in Guadalajara since August but had not been able to locate a church.

The family in the States found Cristo Redentor online and had listened to one of Larry's sermons, so they sent her our way. She just "happens" to live in the next community which is about five minutes away from the church. I just "happened" to be in the foyer when she walked into the church. And she just "happened" to be looking for someone who could help her grow in her newfound faith.

We have begun meeting to study the Bible on Tuesday afternoons. Her hunger for spiritual things is amazing as is her freshness in discovering the rich truths of justification, adoption, and sanctification.

What a blessing to be a part of the spiritual journey of this beautiful 17-year-old high school student. Her spiritual mom in the States wrote to express her gratitude for our interest in continuing to disciple this young woman. The reality of God's care has overwhelmed me as I know that this precious woman is just one of His many children who need to be nurtured and loved. What an amazing and loving God we serve! He really cares about all of our needs. We need to be ready to be those vessels through which He can flow.

Be a vessel for God in Guadalajara! Bring a team from your church to Mexico this summer. Visit www.mtw.org/explore to learn more, or email go@mtw.org for longer-term opportunities.

Larry and Sandy Trotter are MTW missionaries serving in Guadalajara, Mexico.

A Cord Of Three Strands: Pastoring Missionaries from Far Away

By Susan Fikse
Archie Moore answered his phone. He didn’t say what many of us might: “I’m at the stadium in the middle of a Braves game, can I call you back?” Instead, Archie stepped out of his seat, left the cheering crowd behind, and found a quiet place for conversation. Counseling and encouraging the woman on the other end of the line, Archie offered to pray.

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Blaire Oakley Smith still remembers the moment, because as Archie prayed with her on the phone that night, she could picture him on the other end of the line—on his knees in the middle of the Braves stadium, praying. “I was going through a difficult time in Berlin dealing with circumstances back home, and that was huge for me,” Blaire recounted. “Archie always answered his phone—no matter where he was. And he would often pray with members of our team on the phone. When he prayed, he would drop to his knees, no matter where he was. Who else would get down on his knees in the middle of a Braves game for me? For him to take the time for me that night meant so much.”

Pastoring “Over There”

Archie and Glenda Moore serve as a Pastoral Associate Couple for MTW’s missionary team in Berlin. Although the Moores travel to Berlin only one week a year, former team leader Ken Matlack (who currently serves as MTW’s international director for Europe) claims Archie as the team’s pastor, joking that they “loan” him to Greenwood Church in Greenville, S.C., the rest of the year. Archie considers the Berlin team an extension of his South Carolina congregation: “It’s just an extended pastorate,” he said. “You do over there what you’re already doing here.”

For Archie and Glenda that means encouraging, counseling, caring, and praying for the Berlin team all year—one week on site and the rest of the time through emails, phone calls, and prayers. Archie explained the role: “Pray for them, with them. During the good times, during crisis. Listen to them. Share their joys, their heartaches, their burdens, their concerns.” The Moores know from experience what a difference that kind of support can make. “We were missionaries to Korea in the 1970s. We experienced the need for pastoral care,” he said. “It can get lonely. We know what that’s like. It thrilled us when people from the States came to minister to us. We saw from our own experience its importance and the need for it.”

A Picture of Love

While Blaire Smith pictured Archie kneeling in prayer at a Braves game, Kay Burklin remembered another picture. A former member of the Berlin team who now serves as director of mercy ministry for MTW, Kay recounted a story of one of the younger members of the Berlin team getting into trouble. While Kay struggled with anger at the disturbance this incident caused to the team, she remembered Archie opening his arms wide to this young person, and the child racing to his fatherly embrace. “This was such a picture of the Father’s love through Archie, and the way I always remember him,” said Kay. “He did not just accept us, but loved us unconditionally.

That’s just Archie.” Archie and Glenda schedule their annual visit with the Berlin team during the team’s retreat, when there will be more time to meet with each of the missionaries personally and spend time together as an extended family. From a team leader’s perspective, Ken appreciates the time Archie spends with each member of the team individually. “They may feel more comfortable talking with a pastor than someone in leadership,” he said. “They open up to Archie.” But perhaps even more important to the team is the follow-up throughout the rest of the year. “Archie and Glenda are people of prayer,” said Ken. “They very specifi cally pray for the requests of our team. Each individual member knows that they can contact Archie any time they feel the need for prayer.”

Prior to coming to Berlin for the retreat each year, the Moores contact the team for a wish list of items to bring from the States. Archie described with excitement in his voice the privilege of fulfilling the team’s requests, even though it meant lugging two heavy suitcases through airport terminals. “It may sound silly, but it’s real,” he said. “The first thing the team would do when we arrived was to tear into the suitcases we brought. It was like Christmas—whatever time of year!” Blaire remembered, “Every team retreat we would have a cereal night, eating sugary American cereal. It was such a treat!”

But Blaire also remembered a more serious demonstration of love. One year during the team retreat, she got sick—even requiring an emergency room visit. So, on their final day together, while the team was celebrating communion, Blaire was in bed. “Archie and another member of the team came to my room and ministered communion to me. It was powerful to me to know that I wasn’t forgotten,” she said. “Then I rode back to Berlin with my head in Glenda’s lap. When you’re sick, it’s nice to have someone you consider family there for you.”

Why Pastoral Associate Couples?

Kay and her husband, Heiko, now serve as a Pastoral Associate Couple for another field, and Kay sees the high bar Archie and Glenda set for the role. “They are really the penultimate pastoral associates!” she said. But seeing the other side, she also realizes that the benefits of the relationship are not just for the missionaries. “It sounds really sappy,” she said, “but we have gotten more than we’ve given. It is one of the most enriching things we do as a couple.” The pastor’s home church also reaps the rewards, she adds. “It can really expand the ministry outlook of your church as they get involved with the missionaries you serve. It’s a win-win!” However, Ken does not take for granted the support of Archie’s church in South Carolina. “They set Archie free—we’re very thankful to the church for giving him the time,” he said.

Archie emphasized that support from the local congregation is essential for any Pastoral Associate Couple: “The church needs to realize this is not a time for a pastor to go over and have a vacation—it’s long hours. Nor is it competition for the local congregation. For this work to be productive, Pastoral Associate Couples commit for five years. The church needs to feel part of the ministry. Elders, deacons, and the congregation need to say, ‘This is good!’ ” He also pleaded with those considering a role as a Pastoral Associate Couple: “Please, pastor, have your wife in this with her whole heart!” He explained that Glenda helps ensure that the single women and missionary wives receive special attention on their visits to Berlin. “She’s more valuable than I am,” he said. “Those ladies and children grab her!”

Ken agrees that Archie and Glenda have set the bar high as a Pastoral Associate Couple, but he says the most important thing for those considering the role is to view it as more than an annual trip. “Pastors need to see these people as part of their congregations—staying in touch and encouraging and praying for them throughout the year is important. It might not mean that much time, but it means being available,” Ken said. Sometimes, it may just be a matter of answering the phone.

Interested in becoming a Pastoral Associate Couple? Join us! We’re hosting a training and fellowship for new and existing Pastoral Associate Couples July 13–14, 2015 at Ridge Haven Conference and Retreat Center in Brevard, N.C. Contact Krista Gibson in MTW’s Spiritual Life Department for more information at krista.gibson@mtw.org or 678-823-0004 x2351.

 
Goliath Must Fall: Two Gospel Stories

We'd like to share with you two stories from a hard-to-reach, largely atheistic European city—two stories that declare the gospel to be "the power of God unto salvation."

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We listen too often to the taunting voices of the Goliaths of this world, defying that our God exists or is powerful. We stand, like the Israelites, trembling and fearful on the cliffs of Elah, hoping and waiting for a champion. These two stories are stones thrown by our Champion. Helmet or none, His gospel will prevail.

Andrea
We thought of Andrea* as someone seemingly unreachable by the gospel. She defied our human strategic plan: She's over 50 and as stereotypical of our city's residents as you get—blue collar, straightforward, caring, and staunchly atheistic. But the Spirit began wooing her heart through death—not her own, but Anna's.

Anna, the daughter of our team's national partners, was born in a near vegetative state. For 15 years she required constant care. Her parents loved her because she was made in God's image. Their love and stubborn commitment to the value God places on life led to the conversion of just about every nurse who aided her. Anna died in October of last year. Her parents knew her death was coming, but it was nonetheless painful.

Sarah, one of our teammates, meets with Andrea regularly. At a meeting in early December, Sarah noticed Andrea was particularly disturbed because she knew Anna and the family. In fact, Andrea's own son of 26 years is bedridden. She said, "I have no categories for how someone can go through that much trauma and still have hope. I have no hope. I want to live with hope." Sarah shared with Andrea the hope found in Jesus and Jesus alone.

Andrea never should have come to Christ. She's older, guileless, and atheist. But in December she did. God's grace is always surprising. It defies our expectations. Nothing, or better yet, no one is beyond the reach of God's grace.

Monika
At our church's New Year's service, Monika shared how she recently came to faith. Her story is dramatic and powerful. Her father was a head of a cabbalistic order and believed she, Monika, was the reincarnation of Joan of Arc. Her grandmother was a witch, her brother a shaman.

Monika was dedicated to witchcraft as a baby. She was abused, went into prostitution, became a Wiccan, was plagued with demons, and tried to commit suicide. In her desperation, she turned to her pimp for help. He was a shaman who told her that she needed to sacrifice her baby (by drowning him in the bathtub) in order to get rid of the evil spirits that plagued her. Thankfully, she refused to do that. God refused to let evil prevail.

Through many miraculous things and a Christian friend who invited her to church for refuge, God rescued Monika out of this horrible life. Since then, her life has completely turned around. She is now assisting in one of the most prominent ministries to those caught in human trafficking. She continues to receive death threats today. Literally, today she spent the morning with me praying about a recent threat on her life. Just the other day she found animal parts in front of her doorstep. This young lady is now in our church.

Pray for Monika, that God would continue to heal her, give her a new purpose, and protect her life from physical harm, which is a real possibility. Spiritual syncretism is real, dangerous, and absolutely destructive to the human soul. It promises power and influence but leaves its victims shackled in darkness and self-destruction because that is what the human soul does to itself under the influence of our adversary.

Pray for Andrea, that she would grow deep roots of faith and be a witness to those like her—unlikely subjects—of the reality of the grace of God. Pray also that the power of the gospel would continue to break people's chains in our city and throughout Europe. Pray for more stones to be flung by our Champion.

*Names have been changed. Photos are stock images.

 
A Year Worth Celebrating in Ethiopia
By Jason and Liz Polk


Celebration

The picture quality of the images is not the best, but they are priceless to us. These photos were taken in November 2014 at the first anniversary of our Suki church plant fellowship. Nearly all of these men and women have become new believers in the past year. They have encountered Jesus Christ through the Scriptures in new and profound ways. They have experienced the power of praying with and for one another. They have learned and internalized the hope of the gospel as we have memorized the Apostles' Creed together. And as you see in the picture—they also know how to celebrate together.

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This is no small thing. They come from different ethnic groups. They grew up speaking different mother tongues. Many were taught from young ages to view one another with a measure of distance and suspicion. They come from backgrounds of incredible pain, poverty, and challenge. And yet, for the past year God has been weaving their lives together as a redeemed community of Jesus Christ. Words only begin to express the beauty of what God is doing in their lives, and in our lives through them. Please pray for the Suki church plant as we continue this journey together in 2015. Pray God's kingdom would increase throughout Addis Ababa.

Handshakes
In early 2014 Jason and our son, Nathan, travelled to Gambella, Ethiopia, to conduct a preaching seminar for the Anglican clergy serving in refugee camps along the border with South Sudan. On one hot Sunday morning Jason and Nathan had the joy of standing in this amazing welcome line.


In Gambella, Ethiopia, 200 men, women, and children stood in line to greet one another.

After the worship service, each member of the congregation exited to a long line of greetings and handshakes, afterward taking their place at the end of the line to greet all those coming after them. The result was a long snaking line of 200 men, women, and children all greeting one another with the grace and joy of Christ.

About 100 handshakes into this event, Nathan looked up and said, "Daddy, my hand is tired of handshakes." But after a short rest, he rallied to finish strong with another 50 or so greetings. Whether he realized it or not, he was participating in one of the foundational beauties of so many African cultures—to greet is to know and be known by someone, to belong to one another. It is being human together, and in this instance, being human together as the body of Christ.

Community
Several months ago we began a Church Renewal Network of pastors and elders from our area of Addis Ababa. We wanted to help bring together Ethiopian ministers with similar vision and passion for reaching the city, all in the hope that we grow in sharing life and ministry in community with one another. As we went around the table sharing our hopes for this network, one Ethiopian pastor particularly touched my heart when he said, "I have been in ministry for over 20 years and never had someone with whom to talk about how things were really going. I am so thankful for this gathering." Pray that this fellowship would grow in number and in shared vision for our city.

Tears
Liz began a Bible study in our home with one dear friend earlier this year. Our friend has been reading the Scriptures for the first time in her life, even though she has been connected to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church since she was a child. They are working through the gospel of Mark, and at many points our friend has been moved to tears: tears at the tenderness of Jesus in ministering to beggars, at finding the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments in Scripture for the first time, at the humble obedience of Mary in accepting her role as the mother of Christ, at hearing God speak through His Word. We praise God for her openness to his Word and humble faith in Him. Pray that Liz and our friend would continue to find Jesus more beautiful as they encounter him together through the Gospels.

Consider serving in Ethiopia! Email go@mtw.org to start a conversation.

 
Short-term Missions in Mexico: A Life Changed

MTW missionary Jamie Burkemper, along with Mexican national church planter Fernando and his wife Miralda, met Claudia during a short-term outreach in Claudia's Ciudad Juarez neighborhood this summer. During a prayer walk through the city, they noticed a neighborhood they'd never been able to access before. Today, the gate was open.

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It was in this neighborhood that they encountered Claudia. She said that she'd been given a Bible by her daughter but had trouble understanding it. Claudia welcomed them into her home. By the end of the visit, she hadn't just found a church, she'd found Christ.


After praying with Jamie and the others, an excited Claudia asked them to stay put while she ran to the bedroom. When she returned, she was holding her cell phone with the text message conversation she'd just had with her daughter. "Have you found a church yet?" her daughter had texted. "I am praying you find one tonight."

Encounters like the one with Claudia are repeated around the city. Jamie explained the method used by the volunteer teams who come each summer: "We spread out in groups of two and three … and walk around the city, praying, handing out flyers, and inviting people to English camp." The previous summer, English camps—run primarily by short-term teams—helped many women in the community come to Christ and caused their congregation to triple in size.

Are short-term trips effective?
Even though stories like Claudia's happen regularly, missionaries often hear the question: Is it really effective to spend eight days onsite with missionaries in a foreign country?

"One of the elders from Denver asked that question," said MTW missionary Dave Diaso. "This is what I told him: The church in Ensenada hadn't done a VBS in three years. When they heard a church from the States was visiting, it gave them the energy and excitement to pull a VBS together. We had 60 kids come and 80 percent of those kids didn't go to the church. It was an amazing outreach opportunity."

Dave also explained that the Denver team provided an unexpected opportunity for him to develop relationships with the people in Ensenada. After the team was gone, they left behind a foundation that Dave could build upon.

Room for the Holy Spirit
Short-term teams are full of unexpected opportunities. They create space for the Holy Spirit to work, and you never know how He will work. Or what opportunities He has waiting—like Claudia meeting Jesus for the first time..

Claudia herself marveled at God's sovereign design. She asked Jamie, Fernando, and Miralda how they'd gotten into her neighborhood, as it was usually closed. They pointed out the open gate through which they had entered and with renewed awe, Claudia assured them that the gate was never open.

Never.

Except when the Lord decides to unlock it, just so He can send one of His messengers to answer the prayer of one of His children.

Join us this summer in Mexico! Visit www.mtw.org/explore to learn more.

 
From the Streets to Safety
By Cheryl Crocker

I wanted y'all to meet Michael. I met Michael on a recent medical trip I led to the Philippines. Michael is 7 years old, believe it or not, and lives at Ang Bahay Parola (ABP), an MTW home for street children in the Philippines. Michael was abandoned to the streets at 3 years old, having been dropped off at the local trash dump.

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He was "taken in" by the guards there who have a small little hut. They mainly gave him a place to sleep and watched over him a little during the day.

These security guards are a pretty rowdy bunch. They do a lot of drinking and use coarse language when they are off work. Somehow the men heard about the street center and brought Michael there, knowing that they were not the best people to bring up Michael. Michael looks like he is about 4 and also has a developmental level of a 4-year-old. When Michael first came to the home he wanted a little juice with his liquor and cursed like a sailor! He had never had milk before, but they were able to transition him from cocktail hour to having a little milk after dinner.

It has been a hard transition for Michael-he has lots and lots of past trauma of almost every kind and has had (and will have) much to overcome. But now Michael feels safe and knows he has a home.

The thing that drew me to Michael was what I call the "Michael glare." There was another little boy trying to hone in on his "box drum" time and he was having none of it. As one of my teammates said it was the kind of look that says, "If you persist in this behavior, I am not at fault for what will happen to you!" It sort of reminded me a little of my own glare that I have been known to get once in a while myself!

Our medical team was at the children's home doing yearly medical check ups on the boys. There are four boys there with tuberculosis. The boys really need your prayers, as does the staff as they try to keep the boys isolated from the rest of the children and get them to keep their masks on all the time.

We covet your prayers for all these boys, for Michael as he adjusts to his new life, and especially for the ABP staff who are precious. They love those kids so much.

Children at Ang Bahay Parola are sponsored through MTW's ONEChild program. To sponsor a child like Michael, visit MTW's ONEChild Sponsorship page.

Jesus at the Stoplight and the Supermarket
by Craig Pohl

In Chile, we've noticed that certain periods of the year seem to be marked by spasms of intense activity sometimes followed by a bit of a lull. The last quarter of each year is jam-packed as the close of our academic and calendar year coincide with a crescendo of Christmas and New Year's celebrations. Now that we can catch our breath and look back, we invite you to rejoice with us in the ways the Lord has enabled Lonquén Valley Presbyterian Church to reach out to their community-and how He continues to open doors for our family to serve together with our new church family in unique opportunities.

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Evangelism at the Crossroads
Without a permanent location, no local malls or other popular gathering points, church leaders have been looking for new ways to meet folks in Lonquén-a semi-rural, semi-residential area on the outskirts of Santiago. "What about El Cruce?" someone asked. El Cruce is what some locals have dubbed the meeting place of the two main roads which crisscross the area. The intersection is also quite near the town hall where we worship. Perfect!

So, on two consecutive Saturdays in November about half of the church headed for El Cruce to share a message of Christ's redeeming love in a dynamic visual presentation (timed to fit with each cycle of the stop lights). Others greeted passersby with a warm personal invitation to join us for worship and a custom-designed pamphlet explaining the gospel message. Many thanked us for our efforts; a few were put off. Several enthusiastically remarked, "We had no idea there was a church so close by!" And at least one person we met has joined us for worship on several Sundays.

A few carols to go with your produce?
In December our church's Brazilian pastor, Egimar Olivera, approached the manager of the largest supermarket in the area (also near El Cruce) about the possibility of singing Christmas carols at the entrance of the store and distributing invitations for the Christmas Eve service.

We were all surprised by the response: "Of course! But your choir might need more room. Why don't you plan on presenting inside? We'll free up a large space in the center of the store." Our family is pretty sure it's the first time we've played and sung "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" between discount signs and dish soap displays. However, we also trust and pray that it's not the last time that many in the Lonquén area of Santiago will come into contact with Christians living out their faith-in the center of everyday

We're so thankful to serve alongside a church that launches such creative outreaches. Pray with us for increased fruit in Santiago as people have opportunities to hear the gospel in the midst of their daily routines.

Craig & Stacy Pohl are MTW missionaries in Santiago, Chile.

 
Arequipa, Peru

Known as the Vatican of South America, Arequipa, Peru, is a city with few evangelicals. Though our ministry there is just over a year old, we already see encouraging evidence of God's work. A small congregation recently asked MTW missionaries to pastor their church and is eager to reach their community with the gospel. Watch and be encouraged.

 Forced to Flee: Refugees in Ukraine
By Bob Burnham

A few weeks ago, as Andrea and I were getting ready for bed, we heard the familiar chimes of Skype, alerting us to grandma's incoming call. Unfortunately, she looked concerned and her first question for us was, "Are you ok? Donetsk is all over the news and it seems really close to you!"

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We've heard from many friends and supporters wondering how we're faring during the unrest in Ukraine. While the fighting has indeed intensified in the east in recent weeks, things are still mostly quiet here in Odessa.

That doesn't mean that life is the same, however. We've had about a half dozen bombings, all at night, targeting pro-Ukraine centers (like clothing drop-off points for soldiers, tourism shops, banks, etc.), but there have been no deaths so far. Over the last year we've seen that the two armies have been evenly matched, resulting in a slow-moving storm. If it does progress to Odessa, we believe there will be time to leave.

Although we are safe for the moment, the growing conflict has affected our position here and our churches and ministries. Not only are there new challenges, but the conflict has also opened new doors for outreach. One such opportunity is serving newly displaced refugees. Food, shelter, and counseling

More than a million people have been displaced by the fighting, mostly from east Ukraine, and many of them have come to the Odessa region. We made an appeal for financial assistance so we could help many of these refugees. Through that humanitarian aid fund and our counseling center, we were able to meet immediate physical, emotional, and spiritual needs at a temporary refugee camp two hours away from the city center.

At 9 a.m., on February 6, our counseling and trauma specialists piled into a van packed with 440 pounds of chicken, 200 pounds of fish and chicken liver, 550 pounds of vegetables, and 360 eggs, in order to deliver these provisions to refugees living in a children's sanatorium (about 170 persons in total including disabled people, elderly, and children).

Our counselors talked in-depth with several refugees who had arrived that same morning and tried to help them get their bearings regarding everyday issues of life and also talked with them about Christ. Most refugees readily give thanks to God and to all the volunteers who have been helping them along the way. They also pray for aid-givers and, of course, for the terrible war to end. Some of the people who escaped reported that the organization helping evacuate people from the war zone relies heavily on volunteers, many of whom are Christians.

Hearing their stories
Lena Kolker, our Springs Counseling Center director, told us more about who they met and what those people had just witnessed.

"We spoke with five newcomers, all placed in one room since little space was available. There was a 60-year-old man in a wheelchair, his niece, a man who looks after the disabled man, a woman with poor eyesight, and her 10-year-old grandson. All of them looked lost and very tired and after we introduced ourselves they told us about their recent experiences. They were all neighbors, living in Debaltsevo (a city that has been shelled for more than a month with fierce fighting in the streets). We asked them why they had not left for a safe place earlier and they told us that they did not want to or could not easily leave their homes and kept hoping up until the last moment that the war would end. They dared to escape only when all the houses around them had already been destroyed.

Hiding in fear
"We asked what was happening to them and their families during this time. They told us that it was very frightening to go out, since the barrage was going on almost without ceasing. There were many corpses lying in the streets (civilians and military men from both sides of the conflict). No one could bury the dead because they were afraid of being shot. Some people dared to bury their family members right at their doors or simply left the corpses locked in coffins at their houses. They were all afraid to go to the cemetery, since shells often fall there. These people had learned to distinguish who was shooting and with which weapon.

"They could sleep only in between bombardments, because all the remaining time they simply lay on the floor, covering their heads with their hands. They told us that the first time they slept well was when they traveled by train to Odessa. They said that they themselves witnessed many people die; they saw people hit with shells and dying in torment because there was no one to help them. Miraculously, they managed to leave Debaltsevo. Their bus was fired at, but fortunately, they survived."

Andrea and I had wondered why so many people were hesitant to leave such awful conditions. Lena's account of the stories from two older women from the town of Pervomaisk, Valentina and Elena, explains why they did not leave for so long.

"Pervomaisk was controlled by the terrorists for a long time. Valentina, together with other residents of Pervomaisk, lived in a basement for 40 days, where there was neither light nor gas, heating or a toilet. They poured vegetable oil on a plate, put a string there and lit this string. This was the only light source for the basement, day and night. Constant shelling was going on, so Valentina only dared to run when an unexploded shell landed in the courtyard of the house where she was hiding.

The courage to leave
"Three months ago, she somehow got in contact with a volunteer from another town, who encouraged her constantly on the phone and advised her as to which path she should walk in order to get out of the town. Valentina said after the 40 days in the basement, she thought she would go blind from the bright daylight outside.

"With the help of the volunteer, she found where they evacuated refugees. They gave her food, provided all the necessary things, and bought the train ticket so that she could reach Odessa. Unfortunately, her son remained in Pervomaisk since he did not believe that the volunteers helped free of charge and was sure that it was some trap.

"Elena arrived at the refugee camp a week ago. Because her children and grandchildren remain in Pervomaisk, she weeps all the time, and feels guilty that she is safe and her family and friends might perish at any moment. Both of these women sleep badly, wake up at night and cannot understand where they are; they are having flashbacks."

The counselors asked the kids to participate in some drawing therapy to help describe their emotions. Here is one 9-year-old's family portrait, showing his family under a dark cloud. He, just as all of them, is dealing with the horrors of war.

Next steps
The refugees were grateful for the help and persistently asked our counseling team to come visit again, which our counselors are eager to do. If it is financially possible, they can go several times a month. The food our humanitarian aid office brought to the refugees will be sufficient for a week. We have a detailed account of their expenses and will make certain that all the food brought in the future reaches the needy in a timely fashion. Our counseling team donates therapy sessions free of charge to refugees and only takes a minimal sum from donations to cover their costs. We would greatly appreciate your prayers for these refugees. Pray that their physical and emotional needs would be met. Pray for protection for their families. And most importantly, pray that they would find the peace available through Jesus Christ.

Your gifts are still needed. Click here to donate online and help refugees in Ukraine (Ukraine: Odessa Humanitarian Aid #95969).

 
Fighting Sex Trafficking in Cambodia


Exploitation of the poor through sexual slavery runs rampant in Cambodia. Mission to the World's church-planting team in Phnom Penh is tackling the problem by reaching out to enslaved women with the message of Christ and providing skills and training needed to live a better, more productive life.

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Khmer women, from the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, are often forced into the sex industry by their own family members. In Cambodian culture, daughters are expected to provide financially for their parents. For poor and uneducated women, the sex industry is often the only place profitable work can be found, leading parents to sell girls for sex. Once this becomes the pattern of their life, and once families come to depend on the income, it is nearly impossible for the women to leave the sex industry on their own.

MTW is working with established sex-trafficking ministries such as Daughters of Cambodia and Precious Women, organizations that have years of success in rescuing and rehabilitating Khmer sex workers. Outreaches to the KTV bars (karaoke bars where women can be purchased for sex) provide a welcome break for the enslaved women and an opportunity for them to hear about a way out.

Women who choose to leave are given a job, such as sewing or doing nails, that pays fair-trade wages. The women also receive counseling, life-skills training, and on-the-job childcare. More importantly, they hear about the grace of Jesus Christ. Many of the rescued women embrace the gospel without hesitation and participate in regular worship and Bible study. Gradually the women move on to work in other business-as-mission companies such as the Daughters of Cambodia's Sugar and Spice Café or White Linen Boutique Hotel—businesses where the women receive industry-standard training and experience that will enable them to get a job anywhere in the hospitality industry.

Ministry to victims of sex trafficking is not just the work of missionaries. Gospel Commission Fellowship (GCF), an MTW church plant now led by Khmer nationals, is becoming increasingly involved in sex-trafficking ministry as well. Female college students who are involved in the church's dorm ministry participate in KTV bar outreach efforts. The church also helps sponsor an annual International Women's Day celebration party designed to shower rescued women with gifts. Church members give money and donate their time and skills to making the party a success and communicate to the women that they are deeply loved not just by the church but, more importantly, by Christ Himself.

Help fight sex trafficking in Cambodia with a donation to MTW's Freedom Project #94835.

This article was originally published in byFaith magazine and is republished with permission.

 
Medical Outreach: A Week of Divine Appointments

The weeklong trip marked the first of its kind for our Medical Campus Outreach team in Peru. A group of 23 Peruvian medical and dental students, along with several medical missionaries from the MTW team and six healthcare providers from the U.S., came together for a medical outreach trip to a town located along the Pacific coast of southern Peru.

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The purpose of the trip was to provide Christ-centered dental and medical care to the people in the local community, as well as opportunities for Bible study, worship, and life together for the entire team. One of the things that made this trip unique is that the majority of the students who participated are not yet believers. But by God's grace, many were impacted by the gospel that week.

Yasmin
One of those, Yasmin*, became a believer as a result of God's work in her life during the trip. Yasmin is a dental student and is spending her summer break working in the dental clinic at the Christ-centered clinic where the MTW medical team serves. She told Mary, the young lady we have hired to help us with women's ministries, that she wanted to receive Christ. They prayed together. This was not only significant for Yasmin, it was huge for Mary as well to see one of the first girls she invested in come to Jesus. It was amazing to see how Yasmin even arrived on the trip. Mary was instrumental in the whole process of befriending her, then helping her to get a job at the dental clinic, and finally encouraging her to go on the trip. We rejoice with the angels in Yasmin's new life.

Jaime and Naldo
On the final day of the trip two students, Jaime and Naldo, came up to one of the missionaries and together told him that God had a plan for them being on the trip. They referred to a lunch that the missionary and another leader had invited them to where they basically were given no back door for not going on the trip. They both said it was a "God thing" that they went to the lunch and then that they decided to go. They both are really close to making decisions to follow Christ.

Valien
The story of another student that particularly touched the team is that of Valien. Valien has been around the MTW ministry for the entire three years that the team has been in Peru. He started as an atheist and God gradually softened his heart. First he became more of an agnostic, clearly thinking through the possibility of God. The team now believes he has probably come to know Christ. Recently Valien sent a message to one of the missionaries saying that he wanted to cry about how God is working in his life, but jokingly mentioned that men don't cry. "It's beautiful to see how God patiently loves rebels to himself," the missionary said, referencing Valien. "There is a glow in his face that I have never seen before."

Ready to serve? We are looking for a primary care physician who speaks Spanish to serve on the Peru team from six months to long term. Let's talk. Email us at go@mtw.org. 

* Names have been changed throughout.

 
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