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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.

 
How Could God Use A Missionary Like Me?
By Mike Pettengill


Many churches sacrifice teaching on the eternal wellbeing of others to make room for teaching that emphasizes temporary personal joy. It is sad how in recent years the words sacrifice, martyr, and submission have become less popular and considered more extreme in our churches. Willing to make personal sacrifice is what being a disciple is all about. God calls us to be willing to give all we have.

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Many churches sacrifice teaching on the eternal wellbeing of others to make room for teaching that emphasizes temporary personal joy. It is sad how in recent years the words sacrifice, martyr, and submission have become less popular and considered more extreme in our churches. Willing to make personal sacrifice is what being a disciple is all about. God calls us to be willing to give all we have.



Seeking Answers
With these teachings in my heart I can’t help but ask, how could God use a missionary like me? I turn to Scripture for answers and find Genesis 12:1 where we are told, “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, then in Matthew 28:19-20, Christ says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” And, the same question torments my mind, how could God use a missionary like me?

Returning to Scripture we find Romans 12:1, where Paul says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Then in Romans 10:14-15 he says, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” And, all I can do is ask, how could God use a missionary like me?

Still doubting, I turn my attention to great theologians, like John Piper who says, “A God-centered theology has to be a missionary theology.” Charles Spurgeon tells us, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” I continue to ask, how could God use a missionary like me?

I Am a Missionary
Doubts flood my soul and torment my thoughts. I am a missionary, but I am not a doctor, construction worker, or pastor. What can I contribute? I became a Christian as an adult and I have a degree in political science. I am not a graduate of seminary or medical school. Daily, I look at my life and find nothing that points to the fact that I can be a good missionary.

I live in a Latin country, in a culture that is not my own. For years I have served as a missionary never feeling equal to the task. Always feeling I was an insufficient vessel for sharing God’s good news. Yet, I have seen the sick healed, the hungry fed, and the lame walk. I have watched as gang members lay down their guns and picked up a Bible. I have witnessed blind children receive sight. I watched as a 13-year-old pregnant, rape victim shared the joy of Christ. I observed an abusive alcoholic father follow the Lord, put down the bottle, and become a true spiritual leader in his home. However, I continue to ask, how could God use a missionary like me?

Throughout Scripture God uses insufficient vessels to bring himself glory. The great disciples in Scripture, the ones who stumble in their faith and return to God, they were just as insufficient to the task as I am. The great Moses was a murderer. David, who was a man after God’s own heart, couldn’t keep his hands off his neighbors. And the missionary Paul began as a persecutor of Christians. Yet all I can ponder is, how could God use a missionary like me?

How Could God Use You?
Now, you have an important question to answer. How could God use a missionary like you?

Pastors and church leaders: Are you preparing your flock to leave your church? Are you equipping them with the knowledge they need to share the gospel and the heart to take it into the world? David Livingstone, missionary to Africa, said, “The best remedy for a sick church is to put it on a missionary diet.”

Moms and dads: Are you preparing to send your babies into the world? Are you praying God will take them from you and place them in harms way so he can be greatly glorified? If you are worried about sending your children on the mission field, remember God had only one son and He sent Him to be a missionary

If you are NOT called: If you know God has not called you to full-time missions, if you know He has called you to serve elsewhere, are you praying He would send your best friend, your boyfriend, your parents out into the world? If God is not currently calling you to serve as a cross-cultural missionary pray fervently for those He has called.

If you ARE called: If you know God has called you to missions, if you are certain He wants you to leave your home, know this, God is worthy of sacrifice and He is calling his people to give all they have, even lay down their lives, so His gospel can reach the world. Charles Spurgeon said, “If God has fit you to be a missionary, I would not have you shrivel down to be a king.”

If you are scared: If you, like me, feel you are a called to be a missionary, but you are insufficient to the task, I tell you, brother, sister, embrace God’s glory. Know that if you are called to be a missionary God has great plans for you. The great missionary C.T. Studd said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”


Mike Pettengill is a full-time missionary serving in Honduras with MTW. To learn more about the Pettengills’ work visit Pettengill Missionaries.
 
 "Salvation is Not Free"

Sitting in the living room of one of the ladies from her church in Uganda, an MTW missionary listened to a Bible study discussion focused on "love endures."

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Some of the women shared personal stories about enduring bad marriages. One lady commented, "Love must endure. You must work hard. You must endure to the end. Salvation you know is not free." Several nodded in agreement. The missionary was heartsick that these church women did not seem to understand one of the most basic teachings of Scripture—that salvation is by grace alone, a free gift of God.

The Church in Uganda and across Africa has grown rapidly in recent years, but sadly much of this growth has not been built on a solid foundation. Much theological education and discipleship is still needed to train the Church in the gospel of grace.

MTW missionaries and national partners in Uganda are working to change that. They are committed to sharing God's Word in their community and formally training pastors in Uganda and across the African continent. Pray for those serving in Uganda, and for God to build that solid foundation of grace among His people.

We have critical needs to fill several positions Uganda. Learn how you can serve. Contact us at go@mtw.org.
 
 A Conversation that Transcends Cultures


An MTW missionary woman struck up a conversation with a young Japanese lady at English Café Night.

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The young woman was dating a foreigner and considering moving across the ocean to be with him, so she wanted to know what it was like for the missionary to move to Japan with her husband. The missionary explained that though it was hard to leave family behind in the U.S., they knew that God had called them to Japan and trusted Him to take care of them. A spiritual conversation then ensued-the kind of conversation that would never occur between two Japanese at this stage in the relationship. And yet God made a way for the conversation across cultures.

The missionary then introduced the young lady to a Japanese friend whose husband is a foreigner. The young lady asked about the friend's conversion from Buddhism to Christianity. Suddenly the kind of conversation that would never occur between two Japanese who'd just met, was underway. The missionary was overjoyed to hear her friend share the gospel with this girl in Japanese.

People from every tongue and culture are building His Church together.

We have lots of opportunities to serve in Japan, from summer internships to longer service. Interested? Let's talk. Email go@mtw.org.
 
The Crisis in Ukraine

It's been a prolonged season of both turmoil and prayer in Ukraine. Anyone who has watched world news this year is well aware of the precarious political and social situation that has unfolded and continues to unfold across Ukraine. It's impacted the lives of MTW personnel on the field and could have implications for future ministry.

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A majority of the team in Odessa, one of three MTW ministry sites in Ukraine, continues working with little interruption in their ministry. Although they are the closest in proximity to the "occupied" portions of the country, they are finding open doors and opportunities to minister the love of Christ in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Refugees fleeing their homes in war-torn areas are finding rest in Odessa, and the MTW team there is helping to care for the displaced, both physically and spiritually.

In February of 2014, previously peaceful demonstrations in Kiev turned violent, provoking a situation described by some as "revolution" and by others as "civil war." In the midst of this, MTW has striven to care for field personnel according to the specific needs and locations of the various teams. Some left their ministry site for a few weeks or a few months to remove themselves from the "pressure cooker" in which they were living. Others opted to return to the U.S. for Home Ministry Assignment (HMA). And still others have remained, ever watchful of the situation, and yet fully focused on working hand-in-hand with their Ukrainian partners to advance the gospel and minister to the needs of those around them.

Two MTW families remain on-site in Kiev (with one additional family on HMA), and continue to monitor the situation closely. Although the violence has shifted east, being in the capital city carries inherent risks.

The team in L'viv is geographically removed from much of the unrest. However, the church is experiencing significant stress from sending their men off to fight in the war. Many church members and MTW personnel have relatives who live in the war-torn areas of the country, adding a level of stress and concern for extended family. As a result, opportunities to minister to those who are hurting abound.

To hear what God has been doing to build His Church amid the turmoil, read our MTW Ukraine Network article, "This is our 9/11" Summer 2014). And check back here at mtw.org/news in upcoming weeks. We hope to have more stories from the field in Ukraine coming soon.
 

Events

 

Vision Trip:
Gonaives, Haiti —ONEChild
June 6–13, 2015           Details »

Vision Trip:
Japan
Sept. 22-Oct 2, 2015 
                            Details »

2015 Disaster Response Training Events:
 


Spring
   April 28- May 3, 2015 in Pennsylvania
Fall
    October 20-25, 2015 in Tennessee

 



 

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