“And They Call Him Alleluia”
When Fernando came to the orphanage, he didn’t talk. Didn’t look at anyone. And certainly didn’t want any physical contact. He had been found tied to a tree in Acapulco, abused and neglected, a tortured young soul. At Casa Hogar he experienced a new life—he was fed and clothed and just plain loved as he heard about Jesus. After many years of care, Fernando now even gives hugs and is happiest when singing praises to his Savior and King. And when choosing a family name, what did they call him? They call him Alleluia. Sponsor a child »
Puerta de Esperanza Offers Hope to Young Mothers
Young, Abandoned, & Homeless
She searched for small jobs to provide food for herself and her infant daughter. Y usually found work washing clothes and often used the laundry soap to wash her baby, too. Living on the streets of La Ceiba, Honduras, was hard and dirty. Y was 15 years old, alone, and angry. She felt abandoned. In fact, Y had been abandoned. Her mother had left her with her grandmother when she was just a baby. Her baby's father left her while she was still pregnant. Shortly after Y's daughter was born, her grandmother died, and her grandfather left to live with a new woman. Y had nowhere to go. No family to lean on and a young baby to care for. She tried to make the odd jobs enough, but they weren't. She realized she needed help. Y arrived at a missions hospital with her malnourished 15-month-old daughter, who weighed just 15 pounds. Then, almost two years ago, God provided Y the opportunity to live at MTW's Puerta de Esperanza (Door of Hope).
Puerta de Esperanza (PDE) was started in 2011 by MTW missionaries as a way to break the cycle of single motherhood, poverty, and abuse prevalent in Honduras. In Honduras, 50 percent of children are born to single mothers and 80 percent of those do not even have a father listed on their birth certificate. The average age for a first-time mother is just 15 years. Poverty is rampant and many of these young girls end up in abusive situations just to provide for their children. New Life, New Heart
Y's life was changed immediately when she arrived at PDE. In fact, her arrival at PDE was just the first step. With feelings of abandonment and guilt weighing heavily on her, she struggled to be part of the family at the home. Over the last two years, Y has shown increasing responsibility and achievement, graduating from beauty school and holding a job at a hair salon.
But it is the changes in Y's heart that make her story so compelling. Y has truly struggled to see how she is loved by God and others. She is slowly seeing God's grace working in her life. Y says now, "God truly loves me and my daughter. He loves me just as I am. I have also learned to forgive from my heart." Y's understanding of grace is helping her to break the cycle of poverty and abandonment. She is healing from her wounds and repairing relationships, including with her estranged mother. God's grace is softening Y's heart to bring small changes in her behavior and attitude each day, bringing hope for the future. Learning Independence
Puerta de Esperanza is already filled to capacity with four young women and their children. The young women are cared for by two housemothers and the house is managed by MTW missionary Shannon Ordoñez. As the girls live in the home, they are also being prepared to leave. They are involved in a local church, learning to rely on the fellowship of the church body. They go to school, work, budget, contribute to the financial needs of their children, cook, clean, and take care of the home. Our vision is that they would graduate in two to three years and independently support their families and raise their children to know more of Jesus. Transforming Community
Puerta de Esperanza and the families that live there are part of MTW's larger work in Honduras to plant churches and transform the La Ceiba community. We are praying that with the community's support, these girls will break free of the cycle of bondage that has held their families for generations. Often this cycle includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, poverty, a lack of forgiveness, shame, and bitterness-and we know that the only hope of healing is Jesus Christ. We are privileged to offer that hope to these girls and to see their lives and the lives of their children transformed as they begin to grasp the truth of God's grace. Puerta de Esperanza is the focus of MTW's 2013 Year End Gift. Please consider making a contribution online. You may also make your donation by mail or phone. Please indicate project #98601.Make checks payable to Mission to the World. To donate by phone, call 678-823-0004.
View the video »
In downtown Athens, at the foothill of the Acropolis, God is actively building His Church. MTW missionaries Phillip and Kay Luther have come alongside national pastor Giotis Kantartzis to support his vision for expansive church-planting in a region that is hungry for truth.
Child Sponsorship Works From MinistryWatch.com
Child sponsorship programs are big business in the US but many have wondered about their effectiveness. At MinistryWatch.com, we have been concerned with the trend of many Christian child sponsorship programs leaving the gospel behind. We are therefore very happy to report on the impressive results of a study of Compassion International’s child sponsorship program recently undertaken by Bruce Wydick of the University of San Francisco. The Stanford Social Innovation Review reports:
"Wydick and his colleagues followed more than 10,000 adults in Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, the Philippines, and Uganda. The adults who had received charitable sponsorship as children are one-third more likely to have finished high school, and on average they complete more than a year of additional education. They are also 35 percent more likely to have a white-collar job."
MinistryWatch.com has long favored Compassion among the various child sponsorship groups because of their inclusion of the gospel message along with their efforts to help the children and their families overcome poverty. Now, we have additional data to back up the fact that Compassion International is making a real difference in the lives of many who need help the most. Read more about the Compassion International study at MinistryWatch.com
What Is Happening With Islam?Arab Spring, Arab Summer, Arab Fall, Arab Winter . . .
Egyptian youth are disillusioned. So are Iranian youth. Recent demonstrations in Turkey indicate that the same is true in that Middle Eastern country.
It is not just youth culture that is at odds with an older generation. Sunni and Shiite differences are exploding into increasing violence in Lebanon, Syria, and Pakistan. Read more...
In Japan, Statistics Don’t Tell the Whole Story
The statistics are real. Japan is the second largest unreached nation in the world with less than 0.5 percent of the population claiming Christianity—a statistic that has not moved in over 100 years. Suicide is the leading cause of death for males between ages 20-44 and females 15-34.
Yet, as scary as these statistics are, the numbers almost never penetrate the heart in the same way as a face-to-face interaction does. I want to share three snapshots of Japanese life I encountered during my summer internship with MTW that will help paint a picture of the deep needs and spiritual climate in Japan.
Praying to false idols
On one of my first days off, we visited Senso-ji in Asakusa, an enormous Buddhist temple and one of the largest tourist sites in Tokyo. A sea of people pushed their way closer and closer to see the beautiful architecture from almost 300 years ago. Many came to learn more about the Japanese culture and get a taste of it here. Others actually came to “worship”—to give their offering, say a prayer, and inhale some of the incense.
A late-night jam session
One night, as pastor Nagata san and I sat together after an evening event put on at the church, a middle-aged businessman walked in to say hi to us. I recognized him from a church-sponsored guitar class a couple weeks earlier. He immediately grabbed a few guitars from the front and he and the pastor started jamming to the Beatles. The man explained that he was being let off work early (around 11:00 p.m.!) that night. He usually only has four or five hours between his travels to and from work and often finds himself hiding from the police because of his drunkenness during the night.
Work pressures and the family
I had the great privilege of co-leading a Bible study for a couple with pastor Nagata san. It was an interesting dynamic because while the wife had been studying the Bible for a few years, the husband had barely opened one before. I learned to love this family quickly, especially once they invited me to stay at their house my last weekend in Japan. I loved the three boys and their crazy energy.
And yet, as much fun I had eating meals with them, going bowling, visiting an art museum, and watching Harry Potter, it was not all easy. One conversation that I had with the husband taught me much about the weight of the pressure so many millions of Japanese men carry with them daily. This man, like so many Japanese men, works very long hours at his business which is more than an hour commute one way. The result is that he has very little time to spend with his family, and when he is home on weekends he must spend most of that time resting for the week ahead. He is even considering moving into his parents’ house during the week because they live so much closer to his office, but the boys would miss him too much.
I tell these three stories because they were three of the most difficult moments I experienced emotionally and spiritually during my two months in Japan. God was beginning to work in me in exactly the way I had been praying He would, by revealing to me the desperation of this country in new ways.
It was difficult to see so many offering prayers and throwing 500 yen to false idols who can never satisfy. It was difficult to witness a man who found his only sense of joy by playing 1960s pop music and getting drunk as an attempt to forget the pain and fatigue of this world. It was difficult to witness a father whose life revolves around his work because of the cultural pressures put on him. And yet, beyond this hopelessness, there is hope. There is hope in a Man who can fix all the wrongs that this world has done, conquer all of the idols we have built, bring peace to the anxious, and purpose to those who have none.
A picture of hope
God truly is doing work in the nation of Japan and I was a humble witness. I observed the fruit of children coming to church and Bible schools and learning about God’s Word. I was surprised by the number of non-Christians coming to church events and then finding an interest in Christ. I met a woman in one of my English classes who became a Christian after only studying the Bible seriously for about three months. Such short conversions are nearly unheard of in this nation. I learned recently that the wife of the couple I mentioned earlier has decided to take the leap of faith and requests to soon be baptized. I cannot begin to describe the joy that news like this brings me even from 6,600 miles away.
One of the best glimpses I got of God’s hope for Japan came in the form of a little girl’s wish. One of the missionary families took me to the onsen (public baths) and in the lobby is a “wishing tree.” At the wishing tree, children take a piece of paper and write a wish on it, then hang it on the tree in hope that it might one day come true. I watched as one little girl hung her wish on the tree. While I couldn’t read her Japanese writing, I soon learned its translation. The young girl’s greatest wish was that “everyone would come to know Jesus Christ!”
I love the reminder that we need to constantly revert back to a childlike faith—one that hopes beyond the “possible,” that ignores the statistics, that remembers Jesus as a God who has the power to command that all the earth bow down in worship and sing the praises of His name (Psalm 66:4).
Jesus can save this nation, and He is doing it one family—one person—at a time.
A.J. Ozanich is a junior at Kent State University and recently served as an MTW summer intern in Japan. For more information on MTW internships visit www.mtw.org/internships
Native America and First Nations
View the video »
We serve best when we seek first to understand. From the Cherokee in N.C., to the Lummi in Washington, to the Cree in Hobbema, Canada, MTW is shining the light of Jesus among Native American and First Nations peoples. Learn about the cultural distinctions of native peoples across North America and how MTW is serving alongside them.
Building on the Mountaintop
Short-Term Mission Yields Hometown Impact
"Anyone who has been around a PCA
church long enough has seen the
slideshows and heard the stories.
“I went to bless others, but I ended up
being more blessed myself!”
This is a frequent refrain from people returning from short-term
mission projects, and it illustrates how the Holy Spirit works
in ways that we don’t expect. Individual spiritual development
and “mountaintop experiences” are common. But the impact
The Privilege of Relationship
Thoughts on My Internship in Ethiopia
My time in Ethiopia has come to an
end. We had gone to love and serve
some of the
in the world. But what I realized was
that over the course of two months
we had become far more than just
teachers serving the needs of these
kids; we had become their friends.
Cambodia: Our First Two Years
This month marks two years of ministry for Sokha and me as a married couple in Angkjeay village. God has been gracious in sustaining us in spite of the difficulties we have faced both physically and spiritually. About nine months ago, many tall trees were cut down and electricity poles were put up along the red dirt road to Angkjeay village.
We smiled as we thought that soon we were going to have electricity. However, nine months and counting, the electric lines have yet to be put up. Some days the poles are hopeful reminders that electricity will come to our village, but other days they cause frustration as we wonder why the wait has to be so long. It seems a fitting comparison to our church planting work in the village—some days are filled with joy as we see many signs of God's grace working in people's lives and some days are filled with frustration and disappointment as it seems like the wait to see a flourishing church plant is just too long. No doubt, church planting requires both patience and perseverance and we are in need of your prayers that God would be merciful in giving us both as we enter our third year of living and church planting in Angkjeay village.New baptisms bring increased persecution
This past Sunday was an exciting milestone for our church plant. This was the first time for baptisms in our church plant. Seventeen villagers were baptized and four more plan on being baptized this Sunday. These newly baptized believers need much prayer as they often face much persecution from their friends and families for believing in Christ. This past weekend, one 20-year-old girl who had planned on being baptized was forced by her mother to the leave the village and go to the city so she wouldn't be baptized. Other villagers are spreading rumors that when you get baptized, evil spirits may possess you, you will be under a spell, you will die, or you will forget your parents. But even in midst of all the lies and chaos, we see Christ faithfully building His Church.A snapshot of village evangelism
A few days ago we stopped by a student's home to look at the family's new house. As we sat talking to them, one of the relatives asked, "Teacher, do you offer any offerings or burn incense sticks to spirits to ask them for their permissions before you build something?" Sokha was thrilled to have the opportunity to answer such a question. It is uncommon for people to ask questions about our God.
Sokha began, "I believe our God is the creator of all. He is also a spirit, but he created the rest of the spirits. He is more powerful than them all. So asking Him for protection and help is all I need.” She went on to explain that the spirits this family worshiped were fallen angels who had rebelled against God. “They are not here to protect us, but to harm us and make our lives more miserable. They want us to end up in hell with them."
The woman and the rest of her family who were there said, "What you've said is reasonable. What freedom you have as a Christian! I have to offer incense to the spirits of my dead ancestors and consult with fortune tellers before I do anything. I actually wanted to buy a truck, but the fortune teller asked me to wait for five years. He said if I bought it now, I would become poor." This lady's beliefs are fairly typical of most people in the village.
Please pray that we will have continued evangelistic opportunities and that the Holy Spirit would be at work to free many from the bonds of Satan and sin. As Sokha and I enter our third year of church planting in Cambodia, pray that we would persevere with faith, and that in the midst of discouragement and frustration, we would clearly see the kingdom that God is actively building in Angkjeay village. Luke and Sokha Smith are MTW missionaries serving in Cambodia. For more on the work in Cambodia visit www.plantingcambodia.com.
On the Road to Faith
by Bob & Andrea Burnham
A challenging question at English camp
“I think most people here don’t believe I’m a Christian. What do you think?” The question came from Kostya, a young professional in his 20s who was attending our five-day English camp this summer. His raised eyebrows and intent stare revealed that he wanted an honest answer, not spin. The six others seated at the table with us, their attention glued to me, wondered how I would answer him.
Kostya’s question revealed a common misunderstanding: just as an American living in the Bible belt might claim Christianity (not based on sincere faith, but on locale and traditions), many Ukrainians think they’re Christians because Ukraine is culturally Russian Orthodox—even though the average Ukrainian may have never opened a Bible, never prayed, and most importantly, never repented and given control of their life to Jesus.
For the last three days we’d been sleeping in tents, eating all of our meals together, having lessons, playing games, and discussing what the Bible says about making big decisions in life. Living in that kind of close proximity gave us a chance to see one another’s character more clearly. For the last hour I had addressed the entire group, about 35 people, and explained how God’s Spirit reveals our self-centered motivations and sinful nature, and how because of that, faith in a perfectly sinless, righteous Messiah—Jesus Christ—was the only way for us to stand before a Holy God. I also explained that being a “follower of Christ” meant forsaking all else and surrendering your life and all your decisions completely to His guidance.
The heart of the issue
I couldn’t see into Kostya’s heart, but from my conversations with him there were no indications that he had approached God honestly in this way, so I answered, “Kostya, I think you’re in transition.” There was a long pause before Kostya slowly nodded his head and with a slight smile replied, “I think you’re right.” When Kostya first arrived, he thought the only “sin” he had was smoking, and that he could conquer it. Using the words of Jack Miller, I told him, “Cheer up, Kostya, you’re a lot worse than you think! It’s only when we realize the true condition of our heart that we begin to see our need for a Savior, and the depths to which Christ’s love came to redeem us .”
Kostya was one of many at this camp who have begun to experience God’s love in a new way. Halfway through the camp, Lena, a young woman who came to know us through my weekly English class, approached us and said, “I’ve never seen a group of people like this before. Usually, even among my friends, we start talking and gossiping about someone the moment they walk away from us. No one here is doing that.” Another young lady, Olya, agreed with her. “This is my second time coming to this camp. The first time I came I was shocked at how kindly everyone treated each other, always encouraging one another. I had never seen a group like that and didn’t know what to think. This year I didn’t think it would be the same, but it was!” We had prayed that God’s love would shine through the believers, so that any newcomers would be drawn to the One who first loved us.
Please pray that the Holy Spirit would continue His good work of opening eyes, unstopping ears, and softening hearts in these young people so they would embrace the good news of salvation through Christ alone.
Bob and Andrea Burnham serve with MTW in Odessa, Ukraine. You can follow them at www.burnhamsnapshots.com.
Beat the Fear and Taste the Joy
In their book Do Hard Things
, Alex and Brett Harris say that one of the hardest “hard things” for teenagers is stepping out of their comfort zone. “Everybody likes to feel strong and smart. That means as soon as we start to feel stretched or pushed past our limits, we hit the brakes, slam into reverse, and scoot back to our comfort zones.” This spring, 16 teens from Florida resisted that impulse and launched from their comfort zone into “the God zone” on an MTW short-term missions trip to Jamaica. Read more...
2013 Children's Project: ONEChild to One Child
This year children in VBS learned about the needs of children in places like South Asia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Haiti, and how sponsorship can help them attend school, get medical care, and receive food (often their only meal of the day). They also found out that these kids regularly hear how special they are and how much Jesus loves them.
We received one letter from a church in Alabama:
Dear Mission to the World,
We so appreciate the opportunity during VBS to highlight and focus on missions, especially mercy missions. It is a delight to see the love and compassion that our children have developed for other children around the world through this annual project and we thank you for the opportunity to have our children participate!
First Presbyterian Church
P.S. Our check will be arriving there soon. We are giving the adults the opportunity to collect a few more dollars for the cause.
VBS children enjoyed writing the sponsored children, sharing pictures and drawings about life here in America.
And the sponsored children wrote back!
As part of ONEChild to One Child, children in many different countries learned about each other this summer. A huge thanks to all of the children and churches that participated and helped provide school supplies and uniforms for those without.
UPDATE: So far ONEChild to One Child has raised close to $4,000 to provide uniforms and school supplies for children around the world, but more are needed! The project remains available to churches for teaching children about needs around the world, and donations are still being accepted to Project #96021.
Business Training Offers Hope for Young Mothers
I am not a business person, never have been. That's why when the Lord asked me to start a used clothing store for the girls in my ministry, everything in me wanted to say NO! From my point of view all I could see in my future was paperwork, legal fees, rent, and more work. But God had a different plan.
I work with a home for young single moms in La Ceiba, Honduras. These girls were desperately in need of job training. They needed to learn how to be responsible workers, keep a schedule, receive a paycheck, budget their money, and get some experience. The Lord dropped all the necessary pieces into place. Suddenly people were giving us clothes to sell, without me even asking. We found a place where the owner dropped the rent way down, and we had volunteers build our clothing racks. I just didn't feel like I could tell the Lord no when He was making this decision so clear.
In September of 2012 we started working with Business as Mission (BAM) through MTW and opened the store in October. Since then our financial success has been little, some months gaining and some losing. But I cannot be more affirmed than I am by seeing how the Lord has used this store and the BAM program to show people Jesus and expand His ministry of mercy.
We hired a few outside girls to help at the store. One of them came back into a relationship with Christ when we took her to a church conference with all the store workers. Because of that she left a bad relationship and moved into our home. Another of our workers now has money saved in the bank and is following a monthly budget due to the direction she received while at the store. Another one of our workers is walking with Jesus and is now able to go to university because of her job at the store. And our girls received exactly what they needed: job training, experience to put on their resumes, budgeting strategies, and some lessons in responsibility.
The girls have moved on in various directions with work and school. I'm eager to see how the Lord continues to work in them and through them to accomplish His purposes. And through me, as I recognize the wisdom of saying "yes" to Him.
Shannon Innes Ordoñez serves with the MTW Honduras team and Puerta de Esperanza, a home for young mothers and their babies, in La Ceiba, Honduras.
Raising Support Successfully:
A Team Approach to Ministry
Two-day intensive on effective support raising January 30-31,2014. Details »
Global Disaster Response Training
April 29-May 4, 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA Details »
Advanced Medical Leadership Training (AMLT)
Effective Health Teaching Course
Ministering to Oral Cultures in the 21st Century
Today it is estimated that almost 5 billion people are oral learners. That is two-thirds of the world’s population.1 An oral learner is someone who chooses to learn and communicate by oral means rather than written.
An article »
What If Your Church Grew Exponentially Overnight?
What would your church do if it suddenly grew 25-fold on one day? And then daily after that more were added. What if within a few weeks there were 10,000 adults plus their children? There just would not be the time and personnel to teach all of these people.
Here are just a few examples of what I often mistakenly think are non-negotiables:
Book Review – Forces for Good
Everybody knows that non-profits lost momentum with the most recent economic crash. Many organizations had to lay off employees, others went under. The premise of this second edition of Forces for Good, is that it is worthwhile taking a look at the survivors....
An article »
News about MTW's work
around the world
Insight for Leaders